Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

This month I am determined to finally finish my Indigo quilt top and backing and get this thing basted!

Linking up with March 2015: Lovely Year of Finishes - Goal Setting Party.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes: October Goal

I recently came across A Lovely Year of Finishes and thought it would be great inspiration to get some of my many WIPs completed!  For October my goal is to finish my Indigo quilt top + backing and get it basted.

Linking up to October: A Lovely Year of Finishes Goal Setting Party.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A cape

On vacation recently my daughter was on the lookout for good cape material. That is to say material to make a cape in the style of her favorite Disney princess...I have so far declined to make a full costume, but I was on board for a cape. I envisioned something super simple and hopefully durable.  We did bring home a shimmery piece of fabric, and after moving it from spot to spot around my studio the last few weeks I finally took an hour to sew up the cape; mission accomplished!

Here's how I did it:

I had bought a 3/4 yard cut of fabric and used it as-is in a big rectangle.  I had pre-washed the fabric, so first I ironed and then trimmed the sides to be straight. I also trimmed of both selvedge ends. I then basted both long edges of the fabric (I find a basting stitch is a fast and easy guide for hemming). For the two long edges I wanted just a narrow hem so did a 1/4" seam:

Break to check out the awesome lego tractor she just built.

I then folded along the basting stitches; I did a quick finger press first and then used my point turner to run along the edge in front of the iron (the point turner is a fairly recent acquisition and I love it - no more burning the tips of my fingers with steam - yay!) Then fold the edge over again and press. Repeat for other long side and then edgestitch both hems. I did a slightly wider hem for the bottom edge.

Break again somewhere in there as she had now finished the trailer, complete with puppy and apple.

For the top I made a 1/2" casing and then draped the cape around my daughter's neck to estimate the length of elastic. I inserted the elastic, leaving just a 1/2" or so sticking out of each end and then made two 12 1/2" strips of single fold binding with some coordinating blue fabric to use as ties. I decided it would look nicer if the ties were enclosed in the elastic casing, so I tacked one edge of each tie to the end of the elastic with a couple stitches and then after fussing with it for a bit managed to get the tie edge into the casing. I used a zig zag stitch to secure the tie and elastic at the same time. It would have been better to use my walking foot for the zig zag stitches as it was a lot of layers and they didn't want to budge so the stitches were a lot closer together than I intended; oh well. It's definitely secure. :)

 Tie a bow on the happy recipient and let the lego playing recommence. :)

Morning Inspiration

Coffee in hand, I spent the first part of the morning in the porch, with a stack of quilting books to keep me company.  I've been on the hunt for pattern inspiration for an upcoming quilt I'm planning.  And even though I didn't find any ideas for that particular quilt, I didn't make it past the first book.

Usually when I am in this mindset I go to the bookshelf, pull out a stack of books I think will have the kind of quilt-inspiration I'm looking for, and then page through them fairly quickly, looking for ideas to jump out at me.  But something about the book itself and the quiet of the morning led me to slower perusing.  I'm not sure what it is that draws me back over and over again to books by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke (of Material Obsession fame), as I don't usually want to make the same quilts they've made, but I often find that at least one of the books they've authored together or individually is one of the firsts I pull off the shelf.

And today was no exception. Making Quilts totally hit the spot this morning.  Filled to the brim with ideas by the time I got to the last quilt, I left the rest of the stack untouched and went straight to the computer to capture my ideas.  Some of the quilts I just enjoyed looking at, and some gave me ideas for future projects.

I love the wonky flying geese in this one.

I'm not sure when, but at some point in the future I have plans to try my hand at complicated circle blocks. More circle-inspiration favorites: Camelot quilt and Jen Kingwell's designs.

I'm feeling particularly inspired by this quilt. I love the cheddar background. I love the handmade look of the appliqued pickle dish blocks; the combination of such precise piecing with each block just slightly different in overall shape from the next. Each perfect and yet imperfect. Oh yes, I want to make this quilt.

And then another strike of inspiration. I love this quilt; I cannot help but think what a perfect picnic quilt it would be. And I had to run and grab the FQ stack I've had for at least two years, the one that's been waiting to become just such a quilt. And again I think yes, I must make this!

An album quilt; this too is on my someday list. Not this exact quilt. Album quilts feel too intimate to make the same as another. They tell stories, and mine will tell my story. Someday.

And last but not least, something bold and bright and beautiful to leave you with. I am energized and filled up; ready to make and create. I can't start any new projects just yet, but I love having all these ideas brewing in the background, pondering and planning what they will become.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Keeping the streak alive, I once again wasn't able to participate much in Kids Clothes Week last week.  But I did manage to sneak in a bit of time to organize the patterns I want to sew next, and I did actually sew for a couple hours, so I guess I participated a little bit. :)  I have been looking through a lot of shorts patterns lately looking for just the right one for an outfit I have in mind.  I saw that Dana, of MADE, has a new basic shorts pattern out (and very nicely priced I might add), so I decided to start with this and make a a test pair to see how the fit works and figure out what I might want to modify with the next pair to get to the vision in my head.  The pattern does not include the instructions for sewing - those are in free tutorials on her site as there are many variations; you can read more about that on her site.

I started sewing the shorts last weekend, and had almost finished them in one sitting, but I got the elastic in and discovered I needed to take off another inch when I tested the fit.  Unfortunately I was out of time to sew, so they languished until last night when I fixed up the elastic, sewed up the opening and finished the hem on the legs.  Voila, shorts!

Done just in time for an evening photo shoot and my daughter asking if she can please wear them right away - of course sweet girl (as my heart swells - totally love that she gets so excited about the things I make for her).

For this pair I went with the basic kid shorts and let my daughter pick the fabric she wanted - she's been telling me she wanted a pair of PINK shorts and luckily I had fabric on hand that fit the bill. :)  I went with a size 5 so hopefully they'll still fit next year...

I used French seams for the outer leg seams and sewed a piece of ribbon inside the back for her to be able to differentiate front from back.

And here she is modeling them:

Ah, summer...

Linking up with Finish it up Friday.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Summer Hat and Dress

I finished up this hat and dress just in time for the 4th.  It's just a lucky coincidence that they coordinate and look somewhat patriotic. :)

The hat is the Bucket Hat from Little Things to Sew (Oliver + S).  I used a stiffer interfacing than I've used before on this hat; this one is made by Bosal and I think it was a medium weight fusible interfacing.  It made hand stitching the inner cap a little more difficult as the brim is rather wide to hold in your hand without bending it too much, but luckily it turned out fine.  I skipped the additional lines of top stitching on the brim; I'm still undecided on whether I'll end up adding those at some point.

Here's a shot showing both fabrics (the hat is reversible):

 The dress is the Rollerskate Dress, also by Oliver + S.  I made View A, with some modifications. I didn't include the bow on the front, and I also added in a strip of navy blue fabric for the elastic casing (the pattern calls for just one fabric for the outer dress).

Making this modification was pretty simple; here's how I did it.

First I cut out all fabrics according to the pattern directions, omitting the marking of the elastic casing lines - in my case there would be no need to mark these as I planned to just stitch along the seams of my casing fabric.  Then I took the front dress piece and both back pieces of the outer dress fabric (floral print) and laid them one at a time over my light box with the pattern underneath.  Sliding my ruler along the elastic casing markings on the pattern, I marked a spot half way between the two lines on the dress fabric at several points and then freehanded connecting the dots to make a cutting line:

 Since I was planning to have the navy fabric be just a bit wider than the casing width on the pattern, I didn't worry about modifiying the length of the outer dress fabric; the dress would turn out to be the same length.  I planned to cut a strip of navy fabric 2" wide; minus seam allowances this would mean a 1" wide strip of additional length, but since I was also taking away 1" of length from the dress fabric because of the new seam allowances, I would end up with the dress being the same length as the pattern called for.

 To make my navy piece, I used the original pattern to draw the left and right edges, and then traced along the cut dress fabric to get the top and bottom lines.  I did this for each of the back pieces and the front piece.  I then sewed the navy fabric to the dress fabric, pressed, trimmed and finished my seam allowances.  I was worried about bulky seams distorting the gathering, but in the end decided to finish the seam allowances.  I also decided to press the top seam open so as to not add bulk to the bodice and I also did not want the navy showing through the front, but for the bottom I pressed the seam down toward the skirt to reduce bulk in the casing section.

After this I followed the pattern directions for the rest of the dress, being careful to line up the navy seams - I love using forked pins for this as shown in the photo below.  If you've never tried them I highly recommend them; I use them for piecing quilt top seams as well.

Sometimes my helper joined me to work on her sewing; in this case she was sewing a face of her own design on plastic canvas.

I used a light soft cotton sateen for the lining and we picked out a green button together to use for the back.

I did also add a bit of hand sewing to strengthen a couple of the seams - before sewing the elastic casing I hand stitched at the base of the slit on the back of the dress as it's a point where two different stitching lines meet and with the small gap I was worried about that spot getting pulled and coming apart when she's getting into and out of the dress.  I also had to fix a spot on one of the shoulders; as you can see in one of the photos above, the seam allowances around the arms and neckline are quite narrow and the first time she put the dress on she told me she heard a snapping sound - sure enough the seam had started coming apart.  Some hand stitching quickly fixed it up and I added a bit on the opposite shoulder in the same place to ensure that one stays together.

This was a quick and easy dress to make, even with the modification, and I love how it turned out.  Luckily she loves it too!

Linking up to Finish it up Friday.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunset Star Mini Series - Choosing Fabrics

One of my goals for the year is to take a few sewing / quilting classes to learn and work on new techniques.  I started on that a few weekends ago when my mom and I took a class on the Sunset Star quilt from Edyta Sitar's book, Scrappy Firework Quilts.

I signed up for the class a couple months ahead of time and spent most of the time leading up to the class wondering what fabrics I was going to use.  I wanted to only use fabrics from my stash and had planned to make just one block and finish it as a wall hanging.  My initial thoughts on color were to use softer pinks and oranges, set against a low-volume white/cream background.  As the class drew closer,  I still wasn't 100% sure on pink and orange, so pulled a few multi-colored fabrics from my stash, to see if any of them sparked an idea for a new color palette.

I really like the option on the left above.  Wouldn't the block look great in whites and blues to look like big winter stars or snowflakes?  I'm still tempted to make up a block for a pillow.  I really like the option on the right as well, but the color palette wouldn't match my decor at all. (To see what this might look like as a quilt check out Rachel @ Stitched in Color's pretty Vintage Tangerine quilt.)

I also pulled a couple options closer to the original color palette I had envisioned.

Still not having a "this is it!" moment, I pulled out my current favorite source of inspiration, Quilting from Little Things.  When I got to the "A Wing and a Prayer" quilt, inspiration struck.

I needed to go darker and add brown.  I started pulling fabrics from my stash - dark browns, dark pink/reds, oranges and golds.  I fanned out the fabrics to mimic the look of the starburst block they would become.  I added and swapped some fabrics to finalize my selection and also took some photos, which I changed to black and white on my computer to check that the values of the fabrics were overall going from dark to light from the inside to the outside of the ring, with a bit of overlap between rows so that they would blend nicely.

Here's the full-color version:

And after changing to black and white to check values:

I was pretty happy with how the values blended between rows, so the only fabrics left to choose were the low-volume whites I wanted for the background.  As it turns out I have a very small selection of those in my stash; luckily I had enough to work for this part of the quilt...did I mention that in my moment of inspiration I decided to go from a one-block wallhanging to a queen-sized quilt for my bed?  So much for being in this for the technique and not a new project! :)

Next time around I'll talk through the rest of the prep work for class, as well as some tips on strip-piecing I picked up in the class and a bit of what I'm thinking for the overall quilt design.  But first - how about a look at the fabric pulls I did w/ my mom for her block? (She stuck to the one-block wallhanging idea).

Like me, my mom also wanted to just use fabrics from her stash - batiks in particular.  We pulled out all of her batiks and spread them across her living room floor.  It was fun to sit in the middle of all the fabrics and start matching things up.  Here are the three options we came up with.

First, a pink and purple option.  We started with one of the fabrics at the bottom of the photo and went from there.  In this case the light pink fabrics would make up the outer ring of the starburst, so a dark background made more sense.  It happened that my mom had some yardage of a dark purple that worked perfectly for this option.  This picture doesn't do the colors justice - in real life that background fabric is a deep purple and less black than it looks here.

Next up a more earthy color palette:

I liked this option, but it was my least favorite of the three.

And last but not least another earth-colors palette, but this one more woodsy, inspired by the fabric in the background of the photo:

I really like this pine tree fabric and think it would be so fun to make a big bed quilt with this combination; definitely makes me think of cabins and the north woods.

So, which did she pick?  Tune in next time to find out and see her [amazing] completed block.