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.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dreaming of Dresses

It's almost time for Kids Clothes Week and I am dreaming...mostly of dresses.  And maybe about pajamas, tops and shorts...but let's start with the dresses.

Last weekend one of my favorite fabric stores that specialize in apparel fabrics was having their annual anniversary sale.  I went in with no list or plan and left feeling so inspired.  Look at these beauties:

I started having visions of sweet simple dresses, soft and flowing and plenty comfortable for playing and walks and reading and going on adventures or just staying home and hanging out.

I ended up with two Anna Maria Horner Field Study prints; one a rayon challis and the other a cotton voile.  First up the rayon.  I love the white polka dots over this print and the mustard color feels perfect for a late summer / fall outfit - maybe a dress paired with some dark brown boots?

The cotton voile I ended up pairing with some Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Black:

My first thought was again for a fall outfit, with a top such as the Ayashe blouse made from the voile and pants from the linen, but I could see this also being very cute as a tank or short-sleeved top and shorts for summer...

My favorite fabric is this pretty blue Amy Butler Cameo voile; it goes with my daughter's eyes just perfectly - so of course I want to find the perfect pattern for it.  I bought the last three yards on the bolt so I can make a dress for now and still have fabric left for another outfit down the road.

I also bought a couple yards of this fox print; my daughter loved it and so far has asked for a blanket, skirt and dress to be made from it.  My thoughts?  One article of clothing, with the scraps going into a quilt, and I got the tree fabric from the same line to save for the quilt:

In looking at patterns for all these lovelies, these are at the top of my list:

The Roller Skate dress from Oliver+S.  There are some beautiful versions of this in their Flickr pool.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The Geranium dress from Made by Rae.
A couple of my favorites:

The Tea Party dress from Oliver+S (thinking the fox print for the bodice with something else for the skirt, but not sure yet).
Sidenote: Check out the Alabama Chanin-style versions of this dress; definitely on my someday list.

And now I have to put all this aside to focus this week on finishing quilting a big project and getting done my next block for block-of-the-month...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sewing Day

Earlier this month I had the chance to spend an entire Saturday sewing with my mom and sister, the first time the three of us had sewn together.  A group of local crafters get together each year in the basement of one of the local churches for an all day event: 8 am - 9 pm.  This year was our first year attending; we had a great time.  There was lots of room, which allowed us to have a really nice set-up.  The three of us put our machines together at one table, then had the ironing board next to us against the wall, as well as a couple tables next to us to spread out on - one long rectangular table with my large cutting mat and then a couple round tables for piling fabrics and blocks.

The kitchen is in the back of the picture above.  I meant to take a picture as the event was pot-luck and there were crock pots plugged in to every available outlet.  Plenty of food to keep us fueled for the day!

That last picture also shows my fabrics neatly laid out on one half of the table - by the end of the night I had used nearly all of them and they were nowhere near this organized!

Here's a look at some of our work - the triangle blocks in the front of the picture here are my sister's (her first quilt!) and in the back some batik blocks my mom was finishing up from last year's block-of-the-month program:

In addition to helping my sister with her project, I spent the day working on wonky log cabin blocks.  I am piecing them on a muslin foundation - each one takes FOREVER!  This could partly just be me as I am not a grab-and-go sewer; I tend to think for a while before settling on which fabric to use next.

By the end of the night I only had three new blocks done; they started out as 8", 9" and 12" blocks.  The 9" block ended up getting cut off to be rectangular.  I was SO happy with how they turned out!

The block on the left above is the first block I had made for this quilt, in Fall 2011.  For that block I had used an Anna Maria Horner Good Folks fabric, fussy cut, for the center flower.  The three on the right are the new blocks, and I used fussy cut pieces of a Madrona Road print.  I have been wanting to work on this project again for months and was glad to fit in some time for it.

I ended up liking these so much I'm seriously considering framing them.  They don't really go with our decor, but I might put them up anyway.  It's going to take me quite a while to finish the quilt and I don't like to think of them sitting in a box for so long...  I'm adding bits of embroidery to each of the log cabin blocks in this quilt; I haven't done that on these yet.  You can see a close-up of the embroidery on the original block here.

In addition to sewing it was fun to walk around the room throughout the day and see what some of the other ladies were up to.

This lovely quilt was pieced using vintage pieces from a family member's stash of fabric.

And this scrap quilt also caught my eye:

The lady holding the quilt above (I cannot recall her name) was also kind enough, with her daughter, to give my mom and I a tour of the church's quilt room.  The room was specially built during a church addition back when there was a large group of women who would sew quilts throughout the year, both for charity and to raise funds by selling quilts at the church's annual outdoor festival.  There were shelves upon shelves of donated fabrics of all types.  There are only a few ladies left who volunteer their time and many of the quilt they make are tied, but there were two quilt frames set up in the room for hand quilting the "special" quilts.  Here's one they were working on:

All in all a fun day, and it was great that it was only a few minutes from home.  Next year I want to remember to either bring some kind of mat to stand on, or bring a project where I'm sitting at the sewing machine most of the day.  This year I spent lots of time standing, bent over the cutting table and my back and feet were definitely aching by the end of the day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Block-of-the-Month 2013: Block #6


This block was both easier and more difficult than the other blocks I've made for this quilt.  A traditional version of this block is very straightforward, squares of the same size, and quarter-square triangles, all the same size.  Figuring out the measurements for a smaller block than the pattern called for was pretty simple.  But since I am making each of the blocks in this quilt wonky in some way, and because of the construction method of this block - joining diagonal rows together, there were a couple joined units that were tricky to figure out the math on.

I cut the center square and pink squares to size, and then the corner squares as well as all of the triangles a little large.  Combined with the wonky piecing I had a lot of units to trim down.  For the pink square and dark purple triangle units, I used a small square ruler to first trim along the sides of the purple triangles to line up with the square edges:

Then to trim the long purple edge, I used a larger ruler to measure a 1/4 inch from the edge of the pink square, using the 45-degree line to run along one side of a purple triangle, and the bold white line to run through the points of the square to make sure it was straight:

The outside corner units were more difficult to trim.  The purple square was larger than it should be and the triangles had been sewn on wonky, at different angles.  I ended up sketching out a paper template and using that to help with placing the second green triangle before sewing and then to help line up my ruler to trim afterward:

The photo above shows how I trimmed the sides of the purple "squares".  I used the small square ruler to measure the correct rectangle size on the bottom portion of the unit, and then lined up a triangle ruler along the top edge to cut at a 45-degree angle to get the side of my square.  To trim the other purple edge I would rotate the square ruler 90 degrees and line up with the left edge and then flip the triangle ruler, line up, and trim.

There were a lot of bias edges in this block, and because of making the corner units wonky I also ended up with bias edges on the outside corners of the block.  Those corner squares ended up pretty close to square but not perfect.

While it's not my favorite block I've made for this quilt, I do like it quite a bit.  The color scheme was pulled from the border fabric I have planned for this quilt.  So far I've been using darker pinks and lime greens, but it was time to start pulling in some mint green and lighter pink.  You can probably spy the green, pink, and blue flower in the border fabric that I used for this month's color inspiration.

Linking up with Finish it up Friday.