Sunday, 30 March 2014

Finally - Project 6, the quilt

This was one of my 52 projects for last year.  I have never made a quilt before so I signed up for the Craftsy Block of theMonth 2012, and I started working on the blocks way back in March last year.   

By June I had completed all the course blocks, as well as a few extras so I could make this into a full double bed quilt.  I managed to sew all the pieces together, pin together the quilt back (a plain white) an organic cotton wadding and the quilt top.  I quilted two of the blocks, then sort of ground to a halt.  The quilt was carefully draped at the top of the stairs for a good 6 months!

Just after Christmas I was at a BBQ and I met Rona, from layer upon layer.  Obviously we got to talking about sewing, and quilting.  She had a couple of ideas to make quilting the centre blocks in the quilt easier, and a cool way to bind the edges with two colours.  A quick wander round her web site and I was inspired to get back to this quilt.

I originally intended to use leftover fabric from my stash, but started off with black and white prints and decided that I quite liked the monochromatic look, so ended up supplementing my stash with fat quarters from Spotlight.

One of them, in particular, had a slightly spooky connection, which I didn’t spot until I was quilting a block that used it.  I had an old friend, who is now living overseas called Craig Love.   

The day after I spotted his name in the quilt I got an email from him saying that he was coming back to NZ for a couple of weeks.  Spooky or what?

Having done the whole quilt in black and white I was toying with the idea of binding it in red.  When I checked up on Rona’s method of binding with two colours, it seemed perfect for my quilt, adding a little pop of colour, but still having the black and white effect on the back.

Amy Gibson is very good at explaining how to do the various blocks, and they get progressively harder as the course goes along. She also explains how to do the sashing, quilting and binding.   I would definitely recommend it as a good way to tackle a first quilt. 

Practice Quilt
I didn’t have a rotary cutter and cutting mat when I made up the blocks, but I got a set for Christmas.  I had a little play and knocked up a quick single block quilt to practice binding before I did the big one, and accurate cutting is seriously easier with the right equipment.

Now that I’ve finished the quilt it sits on the end of the sofa, in case I get chilly on winter evenings.  It’s the wrong colour scheme for my bedroom, but I really want to be able to see it on a regular basis.  The quilting isn’t perfect, and there are things that I would do better if I did it again, but it was a fun project and satisfying to finally complete it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Viewers' Choice

MissBossy Patterns was a little indecisive about her choice, but I’m pretty sure that what she wanted was this Guy LaRoche jacket.   

Since I am defiantly sewing myself a new working wardrobe (even though I don’t have a job) this fits nicely into my plans.  I bought the pattern several years ago, because I loved the curved front on the jacket.  It is only a three quarter sleeve, and a rather loose sleeve design, so it’s not a cold weather jacket.  For me that was a plus as Auckland only gets a couple of months of true winter weather, and even then, it’s not honestly cold.  Much as though I love jackets, they don’t get as much wear as they did when I lived in the UK.

I used a rather plain fabric; a navy blue poly cotton with a reasonable amount of body.  I didn’t want the fabric to overpower the curved lines.  So that it wouldn’t be too plain, I added piping in a grey satin which I had left over from a high school ball gown for my daughter.  I had quite a bit left over, so I used the same grey satin for the lining.

The pattern went together quite easily, although getting the corners right on the side panels took a little time.  It’s not put together like any other jacket I’ve made.  The sleeves are kimono, rather than set in, and there is a side panel that goes from the hem, under the arm to the end of the sleeve.   

I probably won’t use this pattern again, but only because it is a distinctive design so there probably isn’t room in my life for two of them.

The pattern calls for a press stud closure, but I felt that it would look a little amateur with sewn on studs, so I placed a single button on the left side, and a crocheted loop on the right side, which is hardly visible. 

The finished garment is not as striking as I anticipated, and I actually prefer the look with that beloved curved collar sort of flopped down.  

That said, it’s a very usable jacket, and a little different from the standard corporate navy blue blazer.

I actually wore it to an interview last week (although I didn’t get the job :(

I also made a blue and grey dress to wear with it, using more of the same navy and a grey light weight wool blend that was in the $1 stash.  There wasn't enough to do much with, but enough to just do the centre panels.  I used one of my standard patterns, which I bought in the late ninties
I'm pretty sure that this is out of print now, but I've seriously got my money's worth out of this pattern. I just did a quick count in my wardrobe and I still have three of this jacket, and five dresses.  I know there are have been more which have since been culled.  The long V neck dress is my go-to princess line dress.  It's a really simple dress, which is carried by the fabric or accessories.  I've made it up in plain fabrics, prints and one previous forray into clour blocking in black and white.  I have tweaked and fitted this dress to the point that I can sew it up in a couple of hours (really, it's that simple).

Unfortunately I recently had a small accident while diving without my wet suit jacket.  I was bashed against some rocks and grazed both my upper arms.  While this was a very minor mis-hap resulting a few surface wounds, my arms did look a bit of a mess.  

Since I wanted to be remembered as the woman who was perfect for the job, rather than the woman who looked as though she'd been attacked by a shark, I wanted sleeves on this dress, so I tweaked my standard sleeve block to fit this dress.

 Although it was a quick and simple make, I can see this dress getting a lot of use.  It's really comfortable, even in hot weather, easy to wear, but actually looks quite classy.  Of course, the vertical colour blocking is also very slimming.  Overall, I felt pretty smart for my interview (even if it didn't do me any good).

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Lining a dress

A few weeks ago Helen Chaffin asked for some advice about sewing a fully lined sleeveless dress on the Monthly Stitch facebook page.  While I’ve done this several times I had great difficulty explaining it.   

I’ve been sewing up a new working wardrobe in preparation for the (hopefully soon) day when I get a job, and it includes a dark green sleeveless dress, so I thought I’d try and explain the process with pictures. 

I sew up the dress, and another dress out of lining.  At this point I don’t sew the shoulder seams, or the back seam.  I will be putting a zip in the back seam.  If you’re putting the zip a side seam then leave this seam open instead. 

I have two dresses that I can lay out more or less flat.

I then lay them right sides together and stitch up the neck seam, the two underarm seams and the back neck seams.   

The shoulder seam is left open 

I trim my seam allowances and clip where necessary, but I don’t understitch yet, nor do I press it.I just turn it the right way out.

The shoulder seams, with the unfinished edges, are still open.

The next bit is really hard to explain, so I’ve tried a video.  This comes with several disclaimers:
a)   I am not an experienced videographer, in fact I had to read my camera’s instruction manual to find out how to take video.
b)  I didn’t tidy up my sewing studio, or even myself, before taking this
c)   I have no idea how to edit video, so this is as it comes out of the camera.
With that disclaimer, here it is!

So long as your shoulder isn’t too narrow you should be able to sew all the way round with the machine.

So when you turn it the right way in again, it’s all neatly sewn up.

I hope that this helps someone, because I’m pretty sure that my explanation on facebook was more confusing than clarifying.

Being Bossed Around

It’s all very well letting my readers boss me around, but the curious kiwi didn’t tell us what to do in the event of a dead heat. Although only a couple of people thought I should make the Simplicity Track Suit, the Butterick Retro Dress and the Guy LaRoche jacket received exactly the same number of votes.  I’m not quite sure what the rules say about this, but Eileen commented that she couldn’t vote, but liked the jacket.  I’m not sure whether she ever managed to vote, but I’m going to assume not, and add her vote to the jacket total, so I have a winner!

I’m really looking forward to this jacket, so I cut out the pattern last night and pinned the pieces onto my dummy.  While she’s not an exact match to me, she’s pretty close and it’s a good way to start the fitting process. While cutting it out I noticed the pattern was dated 2003, so it looks as though I've had the pattern for about ten years - definately time she came out!