Sunday, March 17, 2019

Visible hand stitching with Stonehenge Solstice

One of the projects on my Make Nine Challenge 2019 list is one that incorporates visible hand stitching. I didn't know specifically what the project would be when I made the list, but trusted that something would cross my work table that lent itself to hand stitching. Here it is. 
Collar detail on Siena Shirt: hand stitching with 5 wt. perle cotton thread.

The Siena Shirt
This is another shirt using my go-to Siena Shirt pattern from The Sewing Workshop. (My third shirt using this pattern.) This time, the fabrics are from Northcott's Solstice collection—a collection of quilting cottons designed to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Northcott's Stonehenge blender line.
Siena Shirt [The Sewing Workshop] made with fabrics from Northcott Solstice.
The Solstice color palette is a complementary turquoise-blue-green/rusty-orange scheme with celtic motifs on several of the pieces in the line. It's a beautiful fabric collection in Northcott's top-selling color scheme.
Back detail: hand stitches with  8 wt. perle cotton below the yoke.
In addition to the decorative stitches on the collar and at the back pleat, I decided to do the top stitching along the seam lines by hand rather than by machine as prescribed in the pattern instructions.
Hand stitched top stitching along at a seam.
The hand stitched details are done with Eleganza 5 wt and 8 wt perle cotton from WonderFil Specialty Threads.

Today I celebrated St. Patrick's Day with needle and thread. Hand stitching a cotton shirt featuring celtic motifs.     #makeninechallenge #stonehengefabric

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Collins Top: my first Make Nine Challenge finish

One of the items on my Make Nine 2019 Challenge list—the Collins Top, a pattern by In the Folds—is finished!
Collins Top from In the Folds.
Fabric is Nikko Geo by Diamond Textiles.

With a pre-washed piece of Nikko Geo—a lovely yarn-dyed stripe from Diamond Textilesfrom my stash in hand, I pulled the pattern from the envelope earlier this month and began the making process.
Ready to start my Collins Top.

With a yarn-dyed fabric, lining up the pattern pieces on the straight of grain is a cinch!
Laying out the pattern pieces.

This pattern has opportunities for changing the directions of the stripes for a more interesting top. The pattern instructions actually encouraged it!
Collins Top front view.

 I like the wedge at the bottom of the back center panel. Nice detail!
Collins Top back view.

My Pattern Modifications
I set an objective to document my projects for the Make Nine Challenge, so these are the modifications I made to this pattern. They were minimal.
Neckline bias binding on my Collins Top.
  • added 3/4" length to front and back.
  • took in about 1/8" at each seam at the neck. The neck was too open for my liking.
  • eliminated the back opening and button closure. This was an option in the pattern instructions and the neck opening was still large enough to pull the top on over my head.
  • made the bias neck binding visible. The pattern instructions were to roll the binding completely to the inside of the top. Since I had other details featuring the striped fabric, I thought a bias striiped added to these details.

I finished the neck, sleeve and bodice hems by hand. Voila! My new Collins Top is finished! One project down and 8 to go for Make Nine 2019.
Collins Top back view.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Odette Top: it's all about the raglan sleeve DARTS!

Generally speaking, I don't much care for raglan sleeve tops—for myself. I have narrow, slopey shoulders, so with a set-in sleeve, there is definition where the shoulder meets the arm, and the silhouette is more tailored. A style I like.

Then I met Odette—a knit top pattern from The Sewing Workshop.
Odette and Ivy Tops pattern from The Sewing Workshop. Note the dart in the raglan sleeve.

I've made the Siena Top (The Sewing Workshop pattern), so I'm 'comfortably' familiar with the sizing, fit and wearing ease of the tops from this pattern company. With a piece of knit fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics [Willow Blooms Spices from the Spices Fusion collection] already pre-washed and longing to be sewn, I decided to give Odette—a top with raglan sleeves—a go.
Odette Top (front).
My Odette Experience
Odette in M (medium) was just as accommodating as my experience with Siena. No mods needed! Yes, believe it! Ms. gorilla arms didn't even have to lengthen the sleeves!
Odette Top (front) showing front peplum.
Making this top could not have been easier. And the best part? The shoulder darts in the sleeves! For someone that doesn't care for raglan style sleeves... the darts made the fit and shaping feel like it was a set-in sleeve.

Edge finishing
One of the things I really like about The Sewing Workshop patterns is that the instructions include when to finish the seams and edges. You don't have to think about it—the pattern tells you when in the process to do this step.
Serged edges in contrasting [red] thread.
My inside detailing for this top is the red thread used to finish the seam allowances and hems. A nice contrast to the black print with the pink floral accents. [And for full disclosure... the red thread was already in the machine.]
Finishing and serging the edges with contrasting thread.
Serged hem finish in contrasting thread.

I <3 this top! The raglan sleeve has other potential design options—like using contrasting fabrics for the sleeves and the bodice. And a short sleeve version would be great for warmer weather.

I highly recommend this pattern. Give it a try. I've changed my mind about raglan sleeves because of the sleeve darts in this pattern! Thank you, Linda Lee and The Sewing Workshop for caring about and adding the details.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Make Nine Challenge 2019: progress check

About a month ago, I pledged the Make Nine Challenge. This is the progress on two of my projects—a knitted vest and a jacket.
Lolita Vest. Make Nine Challenge 2019.
Lolita Knitted Vest
After a setback on the Lolita Vest (I was photographing it and found a mistake; decided to frog 3-4 inches), I've gotten past the second armhole, and the neck and shoulder shaping. Knitting the left front remains.

Yarn-dyed woven Jacket
Another Make Nine project is a jacket made with yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles. I'm incorporating leftover bits (the 4-patch diamonds) into this piece to fulfill the recycle and repurpose goal I've set.
Yarn-dyed woven Jacket back. Make Nine Challenge 2019.
These are the two jacket fronts. For the pockets, I'm thinking side seam pockets is a better option over patch pockets.
Yarn-dyed woven Jacket front. Make Nine Challenge 2019.

I've seen a few beautiful finishes from others participating in the Make Nine Challenge and was feeling behind. But stepping back and evaluating these two projects, I feel good about my progress. These pieces were both UFOs [unfinished objects] and they've been revitalized and are now back on track.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

48 Farmer's Wife blocks

Forty-eight Farmer's Wife blocks complete. There are 111 patterns in the book... if one were to make all of them.
48 Farmer's Wife blocks made with Art Gallery Fabrics.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fabric inspiration at YLQS

With the start of a new year and the cold winter weather encouraging more indoor activities, quilt shops and sewing centers have been busy creating fabulous things with fabric! In my recent travels, I saw many inspiring projects that shops have in the works for upcoming classes, kits and samples.
Art Gallery's Color Masters bundle combined with a background fabric
at Stitcher's Playhouse.

The classic Jacob's Ladder block with Art Gallery fabrics
Jeanne at Stitcher's Playhouse paired a box of Art Gallery Color Masters fat quarters with a background fabric. She used the classic Jacob's Ladder quilt block—a combo or 4-patches and half-square triangles—in a solid setting. An interesting positive/negative effect.
Jacob's Ladder block made with Art Gallery fabrics.

Mixing yarn-dyed textured wovens with printed cottons
Go ahead... mix yarn-dyed wovens, printed cottons and even batiks... in the same quilt block! Margaret at Quilt Connection is assembling 14" sampler quilt blocks with Diamond Textiles' yarn-dyed wovens and printed cottons. One block even combines a yarn-dyed plaid and a batik!
Combining yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles with printed quilting cottons
at Quilt Connection.
The randomness of the stripes in this yarn-dyed woven keeps your eye bouncing around this block.
14" sampler block at Quilt Connection.
In this block, the Primitive Stars fabric in the sashing complements the Ohio Star units.
14" Ohio Star sampler block.
This is probably my fav. It combines Primitive Stars (the sashing) and a black striped woven. The rotation of the 'butterfly' units cause the stripe to go in vertical and horizontal directions.
This block features two yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles.

Australian aboriginal designs are perfect for an Expedition
Debbie at Calico Rose is making the Swoon Expedition Travel Tote using M&S Textiles Australia. It's got at least two zippers and a bunch of pockets. This is going to be a stunning bag when she finishes!
Swoon Expedition Travel Tote with M&S Textiles Australia fabrics
at Calico Rose Fabrics.
Calico Rose has a great selection of M&S Textiles fabrics and pre-cuts—with many more on the way. Debbie chose this M&S Textiles print—Bush Plum—for the lining. Bright, colorful and exciting!
Bush Plum design from M&S Textiles Australia.

Love Letters for a SignAge Quilt
I caught one of the Sew Special sessions at Sew Many Ideas where Juls announced the shop is offering fabrics, kits and a class on this SignAge quilt from Art Gallery Fabrics. The XOXOXO fabric on the back is an Art Gallery fabric from the Letters Capsule collection. Perfect for Valentine's Day—or any day when you need to spread a little LOVE.
Sign Age Quilt at Sew Many Ideas.
Coordinating fabrics in the quilt from the Art Gallery Denim Studio are also available at Sew Many Ideas.
Letters Capsule collection from Art Gallery Fabrics at Sew Many Ideas.

What's inspiring you? 
As for me and my projects... I'm plugging along on my Make Nine 2019 list and the Farmer's Wife sampler blocks. And the inspiration I saw at these quilt shops gets me excited and charged up about making!

What project are you excited about today??? Contact any of these quilt shops or visit YLQS [your local quilt shop] and take a class, pick out a new project, and get excited about creating something beautiful and fun with fabric.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A pattern is just a jumping off point

While cutting pieces for my Farmer's Wife sampler this weekend, I had an epiphany. Because I'm machine piecing these blocks—not printing and using the templates; not using the EPP [English paper piecing] method—I was omitting the five-unit blocks as the pieces were not nicely divisible into 6 inches (the finished block size). Then it hit me...
Modified Farmer's Wife block #32.
I've already modified the assembly of several of the blocks to make machine piecing easier, so why not modify the designs to better fit my construction method, too? It's MY quilt! I can do that. Right??

Modifying the Block Patterns
The Farmer's Daughter block #32 is a good example of my modification process. I decided to use part of the 5-unit design to make a 3-unit, nine patch block. My Cat's Head block: easy math, 9 patches vs. 25, less cutting, quick assembly.
Modified Farmer's Wife Farmer's Daughter block.

My Fruit Basket Block #42 is now a 4-unit Pint of Blueberries block. The top and side rows of half-square triangles were omitted.
Modified Farmer's Wife Fruit Basket block.

My Block #27 is one Starling instead of four Darting Birds.
Modified Farmer's Wife Darting Birds block.
The *new* relaxed guidelines I've implemented makes this sampler project much more fun! I'm still doing the cutting math, but I'm able to use more of the block patterns in the book. I think the variety of blocks with small and larger pieces is a nice change. It's MY sampler, right?

My Farmer's Wife Sampler Progress: 36 Blocks
There are 111 blocks in The Farmer's Wife book. Here are 36 I've made so far. Using the book as a jumping off place, I have more block possibilities to suit my machine pieced assembly method.
36 blocks for The Farmer's Wife sampler quilt.
Fabrics are from various collections from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

I'm taking the "Make Nine" Challenge 2019

With the lingering exhilaration and motivation from participating in the 100 Days 100 Blocks Challenge in 2018, I'm excited about joining Rochelle and other makers for the Make Nine Challenge this year. Anyone else want to come along for a fun and creative making journey? (Beware—I'll be sending out personal invites to a few of my creative BFFs).
My Make Nine Challenge 2019 List

After reading details about the Challenge on the Make Nine Challenge website, one of the appealing things is embodied in the tagline on the Instagram image: "A gentle, self-guided slow fashion initiative for fabric and yarn lovers."

Make Nine Challenge 2019 #makenine
The keywords for me were "gentle, self-guided." This makes it a better fit for my unpredictable schedule these days.

The inspiring Instagram posts (#makenine) showing how participants were documenting their 9 makes also got me intrigued.

Gathering ideas and supplies
When I made up my mind to take the plunge, I thought it would be fun to go and buy a new sketchbook to document the adventure. (Much like shopping for school supplies at the beginning of a new school year.) With a personal goal to use materials I already have for upcoming projects, I re-thought a trip to the art supply store and found an 8" x 10" sketchbook I already had. Check.

My Make Nine 2019 project list
Be sure to download the free planning worksheet from the Lucky Lucille blog. It will help you organize your thoughts and give you a visual reference of your project choices. A gazillion potential projects immediately popped into my head, but I pared down my Make Nine to a "most-desired" list... and left a little flexibility in the list as well.

Three patterns for Make Nine projects. Picasso Top, Raggy Jacket, Collins Top.
  1. Picasso Top, pattern from The Sewing Workshop
  2. Collins Top, pattern from In the Folds
  3. Jacket using Diamond Textiles yarn-dyed wovens. My go-to pattern is Raggy Jacket because I already have it fitted to me.
  4. A yarn project—hat, socks or an easy vest
  5. Pillowcases—I didn't make new ones for us last year
  6. Tote or project bag with a zipper
  7. Project incorporating vintage textiles, recycled or re-purposed elements
  8. Project with visible hand stitching, embroidery, kantha, sashiko
  9. Wild Card—I'm on the lookout for something to make with rayon fabrics

Fabric Pulls
Here are fabrics for a few projects on my Make Nine list. I'm going to try mixing knits and wovens for a Picasso Top.
Fabrics for the Picasso Top. Knits from Art Gallery.
Cotton wovens from M&S Textiles Australia.

Fabrics for pillowcases (Art Gallery Fabrics).
Vintage quilt blocks with a coordinating Art Gallery print from the Soulful collection and a gray yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.
Vintage quilt blocks coordinated with new fabrics.

Personal Challenge Objectives
I decided to write down goals and objectives for my Make Nine. For projects not yet nailed down, this will guide choices for fabrics and materials.
Personal goals and objectives for Make Nine 2019.  #makenine
I've pasted these objectives and goals in my sketchbook.
  • use existing resources/stash
  • incorporate a new technique from a workshop, book, etc.
  • finish or incorporate abandoned UFOs or WIPs
  • document in sketchbook and digital (blog, social media)
  • upcycle, recycle, repurpose or incorporate something vintage or rescued
  • have a mix of challenging and easy projects
  • incorporate visible handwork
  • sustainable
  • infuse care and creativity into the making, be flexible, enjoy the process, wear proudly
With a plan in mind, I hope to make good progress in 2019 through this Challenge. I'm confident I'll be inspired and motivated by fellow participants. 

It's not too late to join! Make a list and share your progress and successes.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Tennessee Intersections: new block design for charity quilts

Last year, there was preliminary discussion in my guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, about supporting our community service organization with a number of bed size quilts. Through my efforts organizing the fabric stash, I pulled a handful of bright, fun prints for experimentation on a block design that could be used for the charity quilts. 
Using scraps and strips to design a new block.

Block Design Parameters
The attributes I kept in mind while creating the block:
  • easy to piece (a beginner skill level) 
  • quick assembly 
  • minimum number of pieces
  • ideal for fabric scraps (various colors, various prints)
  • no fussy points or seams to match
  • a "gender friendly" design

Designing the block
The design process began with miscellaneous 2.5" pre-cut strips in various lengths. These were from the scrap stash. The "plus sign" or "cross" seemed to fit the requirements. The first version looked like this...
Version 1: Pluses or crosses.
Changing the placement of one strip resulted in Version 2. I'm calling the block "Tennessee Intersections" since there are so many roads in this area the have crazy jogs in them.
Version 2 of the block design.

Auditioning layouts
After making several blocks, it was time to see what they looked like in a setting. This layout uses a block rotation.
Block rotation layout.
Consistent block orientation with a half drop between columns.
Half drop layout option. Blocks set solid.
I settled on this layout—easy and forgiving with no seams to match. Borders were added to get an appropriate bed size.
3/4 drop layout with an alternate block.
I'll be taking the quilt top for Show and Tell at the guild meeting this week.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Spicing up the Farmer's Wife sampler with more AGF prints

Picking up the Farmer's Wife block project... and making progress. These 9 have hit the finish line.
Farmer's Wife blocks (from top left): #75 Rosebud, #55 Linoleum, #39 Friendship
Middle Row: #71 Kitty in the Corner, #48 Homeward Bound, #35 Flower Basket
Bottom Row: #56 Maple Leaf, #40 Friendship Block, #61 Northern Lights

A benefit of tidying up my studio space is that more Art Gallery prints (were uncovered) have been introduced to the fabric smorgasbord for these blocks. Close-ups of my latest favorites are:
Farmer's Wife Block #39: Friendship 

Farmer's Wife Block #40: Friendship Block

Farmer's Wife Block #55: Linoleum

Farmer's Wife Block #71: Kitty in the Corner 

This sampler quilt project started with a fat quarter collection of Art Gallery's Color Masters, but the addition of the Elements blenders and prints from other AGF collections has made this sampler more robust. Each block is a gem on its own and I believe the expanded range of values and prints will add complexity to the composition and delight to the eye.

Plus, it's just more interesting and fun for the maker!

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