Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ren Faire Wear


I've actually been doing a lot of garment construction lately. In fact, my dear friend Caroline and her adorable daughter Mayah have been wanting me to teach them how to sew (and crochet) for years. And during my recent time off the stars finally aligned and we managed to squeeze in a couple sewing lessons. Mayah really wanted to go to the Renaissance Faire and was determined to dress "authentically" so our first sewing lesson was actually an outing to Jo-Ann Fabrics to learn about picking patterns and coordinating fabrics, etc.


Mayah and Caroline were determined to make the skirts themselves. I was going to help them with the waistbands, but with limited time Caroline ended up taking the skirts on without me. And I'm extremely proud of her!



Since these costumes were just for fun, we decided to cut a lot of corners to keep the cost and difficulty level down and the comfort level up. That meant no lining or boning on the vests and using solids and sale fabrics all around.


The second lesson was all about cutting. We started with Mayah's vest and she learned how to differentiate pattern pieces, what all the marks mean and (my favorite) how to use a rotary cutter. I think I blew her mind with that one! Do you remember the first time you used a rotary cutter and how your life was forever changed? It's fun to see it happen for someone else. We were able to get all of the pieces for Mayah's vest cut and marked before the end of the second lesson. Unfortunately that's where the lessons ended (temporarily) as our schedules started to conflict and the Ren Faire was close to closing for the season.


In the end, I whipped up both vests for them. Avoiding the lining and the boning, these came together so quickly. But since we weren't lining them, I did overlock the seams to prevent the brocade from fraying. So, we'll have to resume lessons on another project, but at least they looked "authentic" at the Faire. (And don't their skirts look great?) Again, I am so proud of these ladies!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All Caught Up


Phew! I am finally caught up on all my past-due bee blocks. What's even better is that I'm ahead on my May blocks too, so I'm back in good shape and I can finally start focusing on other things. The most tardy of the blocks was a "Bright and Happy Tree" for Aud in the Sewn Together Bee. February was her month and granted, she sent her fabric late and told us not to worry about a deadline for getting them back to her but I still felt bad being so behind on her block. And it was a relatively easy one too.


She sent us the tree trunk already quilted onto the background and batting and simply asked us to attach scrappy leaves however we desired. I decided that this would be a fabulous time to pull out my Sizzix Big Shot Cutter and break in my Hexagon Die. The thing that made me most nervous about this block was the free motion appliqué method she wanted us to use to attach the leaves. I've never free motion quilted before. So my stitch length is a bit off in places but I think it was a noble attempt for my first time.



Then I caught up on the April Blocks for Sarah in the Bee a Lone Star(burst) Bee. She had the same color scheme that ??? did but she sent along the white pin dot fabric for the backing of the stars. Unfortunately the color looks a little blown out in these photos, which is a shame because I really love how these turned out.


For the Hope Circle's blocks for April, Rachel asked for a simple Purple Strip Block measuring 48" x 6.5" in total. I kept in simple and did alternating square in square blocks strung together. The small centers measure 1.5" and I used some leftover 5" charms for the larger centers.


Finally, for Stacey's April Block in the Sew Fun Bee she wanted a 12.5" block for a boy. Her only requirements were no pinks or purples. I decided to paper piece a sail boat for fun using this pattern. I don't know why but I had a boat stuck in my head. So I'm done! Thank god. I swear I'm never going to let myself get so behind again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: Overlock Foot

It's time for another Triple "T" Tuesday. I know, it's been a while. How many of you out there wish you had a Serger in your arsenal to help give your garment seams a finished look? Did you know you can achieve something very similar with your own machine? If not, then I'd like to introduce you to the Overlock Foot.


Many of you might already have this little beauty in your tool kit and not know it. If you don't, it's a heck of a lot cheaper and easier to just buy one of these little babies than to go out and buy a whole new machine. Granted, in quilting there's not much need to finish your seams, although I do know some people who like finishing their binding to reinforce it. I haven't tried that yet, but I just might on my next quilt. But if you're even thinking about garment construction this little beauty will definitely come in handy.

(The Top Side of the Overlock Stitch)

Recently I was making some dresses for my nieces and I wanted to reinforce the seam allowances for two reasons: I was too lazy to line the dresses and regardless of lining and I didn't want my seam allowances to start fraying after just a few wash and wears. So, rather than buy a Serger, I just pull out my trusty Overlock Foot. It's easier than pulling out another machine.


Every machine is different so be sure to read your manual for stitch settings but here's how I use mine. Swap out your foot as normal. Although this foot looks a little funky, you should be able to use it with the same arm you use for your 1/4" foot. You're not going to stitch with the same settings though, so make sure you know what works for your machine. Here are my normal settings:


And the settings I use for the Overlocking Stitch:


On my machine all I have to do is change the mode and the settings automatically change. Line up the raw edge of your seam allowance with the little knob on the right edge of the foot. Then just stitch as you would a straight stitch. The machine is going to work a little slower and be a little more jerky than when you're doing a normal straight stitch but the machine does all the work. It's amazing! And when you get to the end you've got a professional looking, locked seam allowance. And no more fraying! Easy peasy, right? Seriously, I'll never finish another garment without it.

(The Under Side of the Overlock Stitch)

Hope this helps! Do you have a great Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming edition of Triple "T" Tuesdays.

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Bee Blocks

Sorry I disappeared last week. I am officially back to work and I ended up shooting all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That means long hours and no time to breathe. But today I'm settling into my new office and starting pre-production on a new show. We don't start shooting until mid-June so I have a little respite. Saturday my husband had to work all day so I got to play in the studio without any guilt. I have a few things stewing in my head that I can't wait to work on, but first my mission is to eradicate my MUST Do List and that means catching up on Bee Blocks. The exciting news: I am almost 100% completely caught up. Yippee!




The Hope Circle of do. Good Stitches is actually taking May off so we can all work on getting caught up on everything, so I finally made the Antique Tile Blocks that Robyn asked for in March. She wanted a bright color palate and her only other requirement was that the center block was solid white, using this tutorial. Otherwise we could go as scrappy as we wanted, but I kept it pretty simple. One thing about the tutorial - perhaps, I just missed it and I'm crazy, but I couldn't seem to find the correct cutting measurements for the center square anywhere on the page so if you're wanting to make this block just know you need a 4.5" X 4.5" square for the center.




Then, I finished up Melanie's blocks for April in the Bee a Lone Star(burst) Bee. This bee started in April and we're on a condensed schedule so we make two Lone Star Blocks using this tutorial every month for two different people. I was invited to join this bee by Sarah who I "met" through a swap last year. I still need to make her blocks for April. Funny enough Sarah and Melanie had the same color palate so it made things a little easier.


Finally I finished up (on time I might add) the Dear Jane blocks for Corley in the Sew Fun Bee. She asked us to help her out by making two to three hand stitched blocks. She sent us the templates and white fabric, already pre-cut and ironed onto freezer paper with a desired color for each block. She sent me block C-3 "Rayelle's Fence" and asked for it in purple as well as block D-ll "Snow Crystal" in blue. I attacked "Rayelle's Fence" first. This was my first ever attempt at hand stitching a quilt block. I mean, I have a background in garment construction so the concept of hand stitching isn't completely foreign to me but I've never done a whole block by hand before. I was so excited about this challenge. I found the block came together so quickly. I finished it in an evening before April even ended. In fact, I had so much fun with it I immediately told Corley that she could send me more blocks if she wanted.




Personally, I'd never make a sampler quilt for myself. It just doesn't fit my style so I wouldn't ever think to undertake a Dear Jane myself so I am so grateful and thrilled that Corley was brave enough to ask us to attempt these blocks for her. It helped to further motivate me to do my Double Wedding Ring entirely by hand. The "Snow Crystal" block was more complex than the first block because it incorporates Y-seams and appliqué. As soon as I got the hang of the first Y-seam it was all downhill from there. Seriously, if Corley wanted to send me more, even in months to come, I would gladly make more blocks for her. I was disappointed that I ended up with one of the packages with only two blocks, not three. If only I was into Samplers. That's the fun of working in bees. Now, I'm only behind with three more. My goal is to finish them this week so I can finally get all caught up. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We Have Winner

I consulted with Mr. Random Number Generator to help me pick a winner in my Milestones Giveaway. After careful consideration he chose...

Congratulations to Melinda who said...

Melinda, email me with your mailing address and I'll pop your stack of solids in the mail for you. Thank you to everyone who entered and helped me make my Milestones special!

Monday, May 7, 2012

City Weekend Beginnings


I had a wonderful Birthday Weekend! Thank you for all the well wishes. I have been running around a lot but I'm getting caught up responding to comments I promise. I didn't get any time in the sewing studio this weekend, but I did dive head first into my City Weekend Quilt. I am so excited! I started by sorting the templates into their own bags but there are so many little tiny pieces to sort through that I gave up after a while, thinking that I can continue to sort through these as I work. It all doesn't have to be done right away.


I'm still in the planning stages but I decided to pull the lighter blue colorway out of my stack entirely. What initially attracted me to this line when I first saw it in Purl SoHo oh so long ago, was the vibrant teals and tangerines in the line. Looking at the stack and planning out how this quilt will come together the softer yellows and blues weren't working for me so I yanked them. Don't worry. They'll get put to use on another project I am sure.


With a new base stack I pulled two fabrics that I planned to use for the four pieces where the arches converge. The Green and Blue grids called out to me so I'm starting with them. All weekend I've been basting them onto the proper templates. I figure it's the easiest place to start while I figure out if the overall design I have lurking in my head is going to work.


Basically, I pulled the Park Ramble prints and put them to the side. This line has a lot of prints in the collection with tiny repeats which I think will work well on the very small arch pieces, but the Park Ramble prints are large and also some of my favorites so I am considering using them in the center of the arches, but alternating the colors. I think it would be a great way to showcase these larger format prints but I'm worried it might look busy. Normally Double Wedding Rings have the same fabric in the background throughout, but I'm trying to think outside the box.


Next time I have a moment to sketch I'm breaking out my journal and going to attempt a little mock up. But what do you think? Will it look scrappy and cool or too distracting?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my Birthday, so I decided to give myself a present. Lately I've developed a fascination with hand sewing. Coming from a background in garment construction, the concept of hand sewing was foreign to me. Yes, there are times and places (though few and far between) where hand sewing is necessary but I would never think of hand sewing an entire garment. So when I started quilting, the thought of making an entire quilt by hand seemed daunting and impossible. I greatly admired anyone who had the time, patience and skills to do so but I never thought I could be one of those people. That's not to say I don't like to work by hand. I love to cross stitch and I find hand stitching therapeutic but I never thought my stitches could be small or consistent enough to effectively quilt by hand.


Thanks to the wonderful world of the Modern Quilt Guild, Flickr, Swaps, Virtual Bees and Blogs I've really expanded my skills over the past couple years and with that I've gained more confidence. I've always been one to take on a challenge. I hate to run, but I decided I wanted to run a marathon so I set my mind to it and made the impossible possible. Three years ago I completed my first marathon and loved it. So I'm adding another thing to my bucket list. Call it my marathon quilt. I've decided I want to made an entire quilt by hand. And I'm really excited about this one.


So, I gave myself a birthday gift. I bought a set of English Paper Piecing templates and I'm finally cutting into my coveted City Weekend stash to make myself a Double Wedding Ring Quilt. I've always wanted to make a Double Wedding Ring, and I've been looking for the right excuse to cut into one of my favorite lines so I think this is the perfect project. I'm still in the planning stages. I have an idea that's a little out of the box for this one but I'm not sure if it will work. I'm going to try and get some sketches up before I start cutting. I'm also a little nervous because the templates for the arcs are smaller than I anticipated but I think it will be okay because most of the prints in this line have very small repeats, save a few. I wanted the pieces of the arcs to be a little bigger, but what can you do. It should be okay, right? What do you think?


I'm putting it in my head that this quilt will take me at least two years. I don't want any pressure on the timeline. It will be one of those things I can just work on intermittently when we're sitting on the couch, or I'm having a sewing date with Liberty and Ramona. Wish me luck. This one has me fired up!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One More Go 'Round

If you're looking for the Kona Solids Giveaway you can find it here. Otherwise, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


I can't believe we're almost finished with the Round Robin in A Dozen Quilters bee. It's the last round this month. Although I did screw this round up royally. In all of my confusion, returning from South America and being behind on many bee commitments, I accidentally worked on the wrong quilt center first. I was supposed to work on Christy's Red & Aqua center first and send that off to Jenny. Instead, last month I worked on Patty's picnic quilt and sent that one off to Jenny, reserving Christy's for April. Ugh. So now I've gone and screwed up the whole schedule. I'm sorry ladies!


Christy sent out a cute red & aqua center and in keeping with the diamonds and angles in her center I decided to keep my additions simple and added 4.5" HSTs in red and aqua, framing her original design. I love working with red and aqua. It's a favorite color combo of mine. So now, it's finally off to Jenny but then it has to go to Patty before it reaches home. I'm such an idiot!


But this is the last month of, what's looking like, a successful Round Robin on all fronts, despite my blunder. I received Jenny's center from Christy. And I think I have plans for this one. I'm thinking maybe some blue curved piecing at the top, but I'm still contemplating what to add to the other three sides. What do you think? I'm definitely open to suggestions.


There was another quilt top in the envelope as well. My own! It's made it through the rounds and finally made it home. This little quilt top has had quite the journey. And it turned out vastly different than I ever imagined it would but that's part of the fun, isn't it? Just check out the cute little appliquéd half circles on there.



I sent along a journal with the quilt and had each of the ladies sign it. I wish I had a chance for Julie to sign it too since she was such a big part of this quilt top. I don't remember who suggested sending along a journal with the quilts. I think I was the only one who did but I love the idea and I think I'm going to continue sending this journal around any time I participate in a project like this. And somehow some extra scraps found their way into the package as well. Perhaps I can incorporate them into Jenny's quilt.


Oh, and one last thing. Tell me, have any of you ever seen something like this happen before?


I'm baffled! Didn't know this was possible. And it was a new blade too! Thankfully no injuries. Just a cautionary tale. Rotary blades can shatter under the right circumstances. I was cutting some brocade for a vest that I'm making for a friend and the blade was having a little trouble making clean cuts of the two layers so I gave it a little extra pressure and Bam! It shattered. Crazy, huh? Be careful out there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Milestones Giveaway


I actually had a post concocted in my head for yesterday so I could bring Triple "T" Tuesdays back, then I looked at my blog stats and realized that my next post had to be special. Then I missed it entirely because I had some meetings and the day completely got away from me. (Yes, I'm going back to work. So sad.) But why is it special you might ask? Well, this actually marks my 300th post! I missed my 2nd Blogoversary this year, but I didn't want to miss this milestone. But that's not all, my friends. Very recently I also achieved another milestone and reached 500 readers on Google Reader. I am shocked, quite frankly. Thanks guys, I love each and every one of you. Lastly, my birthday is coming up at the end of the week so there's one more reason to celebrate. So in honor of all three I'm having a little giveaway because who doesn't love fabric?


I went through my stash and pulled a sweet little stack of Kona solids for one luck person. Most of them are fat quarters, though one or two might be a little bigger or slightly smaller. I pulled 11 different fabrics so that's over 2 yards of Kona. Who doesn't like that? It might be my birthday but you're getting the present!

What do you have to do to enter? It's easy. Just leave me a comment. That's it. And if you'd like to tell me what you'd like to see more (or less) of on my blog I'd love it. I'm always trying to make this blog better so getting feed back from you is the best. I'll keep the giveaway open until Monday, May 7th. Only one entry per person. And if you're a "No Reply" commenter make sure I have a way to get in touch with you. Good Luck! And thanks to all of my wonderful followers!