Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Cottage Shirt in Yalke blue—30 minutes at a time

These days, it's more and more difficult to find longer, continuous blocks of time to work on our needle arts projects. I was talking with a fellow garment sewer last week about the new Cottage Shirt I was wearing, and she agreed. She mentioned an upcoming quilting retreat she's attending and is eagerly anticipating some dedicated work time for her quilting projects. If you have a sporadic schedule like me—or have too many balls in the air simultaneously (and who doesn't?)—you'd be pleasantly surprised at what can be accomplished in short spurts of time if you keep focused. My new Cottage Shirt is an example.

The Cottage Shirt [by The Sewing Workshop] in Yalke [from M&S Textiles Australia].

For this gament, I've paired another lively, smart-looking Australian aboriginal fabric—Yalke [blue colorway], by M&S Textiles—with the Cottage Shirt pattern from The Sewing Workshop. The Cottage Shirt is a new pattern for me. And even with my involvement in the 100 Days 100 Blocks project, the September Textile Love Challenge, and contributing to an upcoming quilt guild program about using orphan quilt blocks, this top took about 2 weeks to complete—sewing in blocks of time of 30 minutes to about an hour.

The Cottage Shirt in a 100% cotton fabric.

Here is a break down of the process, in manageable chunks.
  • pre-washing the fabrics can be done while doing other things.
  • read through the pattern a few times and familiarize yourself with it. This can be done while you're having morning tea/coffee or at lunchtime, etc. Reading through the pattern also gets you excited about working on the project!
  • Determine your size and trace the pattern pieces. 
Tracing the pattern pieces.
  • I did make a muslin to test the fit. Just a bodice muslin—no collar or sleeve cuffs were attached. I only made one modification to the armhole depth.
  • The pattern layout and cutting was easy. I was careful to match the pattern repeat across the side seams.
Pattern traced and pieces cut.

The sewing process can be accomplished in chunks of time: pre-pressing hems, finishing seams, attaching any interfacings, assembling collar stands and collars, etc. This pattern has minimal pieces (fronts, back, collar and stand, and sleeve cuffs), so there are not many seams or intricate piecing.

Cottage Shirt side vent.

Once I tried on the shirt in the fashion fabric (above), I decided a smaller side vent looked better on me. I just extended the stitching further down the side seam. While modifying the vent, I also decided to make the front/back lengths asymmetrical (photo below). This was an on-the-fly design detail decision. (My shirt, my rules!)

Cottage Shirt side vent modifications: smaller vent and asymmetrical hems.

The bottom hems are stitched down by machine which makes this finishing step quite quick. I hand stitched the sleeve band hems by hand as I enjoy the hand work.

The Cottage Shirt (front view).

Burying thead tails, making machine buttonholes and hand sewing the 5 buttons were the last few finishing steps.

Mid-September sunshine.
I accidentally took this photo, but when I saw it in my iPad photo feed, I liked it.

The mid-September weather is surprisingly in-the-90s hot here so it still requires wearing short-sleeve tops. I wore this shirt last week on business calls and received several compliments. The Australian aboriginal prints are always great conversation starters!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Another use for duck billed appliqué scissors

Has this ever happened to you?
A random fabric scrap inadvertently was quilted to the back of this quilt.

You finish free-motion quilting a quilt... flip it over, and... darn it! You've quilted a random fabric scrap to the back of the quilt! Geesh. Hate it when that happens...

Do you have appliqué scissors in your sewing tool box?
At a recent guild meeting, the program topic was Favorite Gadgets and Tools. Several members brought in their tried-and-true must-have tools, special rulers that made cutting and piecing more accurate, and tools and gadgets that made various assembly processes faster and easier. Several newer quilters sought advice, asking questions and the experienced quilters were quick to provide insight.

applique scissors
Duck billed applique scissors.

One of the questions was about those funny-looking scissors that had one fat and one narrow blade—appliqué scissors. Not long after this discussion, I found myself reaching for those duck billed scissors when I inadvertently quilted a fabric scrap to the back of a charity cuddle quilt.

Scrap removal
Inserting the duck billed blade between the scrap and the quilt back, I carefully snipped away the scrap—bit by bit—close to the quilting stitches. The larger blade lays flat against the backing to protect it from being cut. These scissors also have cutting ability right to their tip for tight places requiring small snips.

After enough of the fabric scrap is clipped away, just threads remain that can be pulled out from under the quilting stitches.

Fabric scrap clipped away using the applique scissors.

This quilt has a flannel backing fabric with cute kitty faces. Note that NO kitties or backing were harmed in the scrap removal process!

Scrap removed! No kitties or backing was harmed.

So, take a look in your quilting toolbox and get familiar with your tools. You may not use a few of them all the time, but when the situation arises, the correct tool is the best solution!

The finished cuddle quilt.
Finished kitty cuddle quilt.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

"September Textile Love" Challenge starts today

Welcome September! It's time again to celebrate textiles with the September Textile Love Challenge, hosted by Seam Collective. The Day 1 Introductions are beginning to stream on Instagram.
My Day 1 Intro to #SeptTextileLove challenge is posted on Instagram
at veronica.fiberantics. I'm standing in front of my design wall with
#100days100blocks progress.

I participated in this Challenge last year and was introduced to many textile and fiber artist as well as being very inspired by what was posted. Daily prompts encourage textile artists, makers, students and anyone with a love for textiles to share a picture in response to the prompt. The 2019 prompts are listed here and there is also a worksheet for download.

September Textile Love Challenge for 2019 begins.

People's interpretations to the prompts can be enlightening, inspiring, fun and thought-provoking. This year, the folks at Seam Collective have included prompts that touch on the idea of sustainability and sustainable practices. It should be a very intriguing September!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

My “Boho Wiksten” Make Nine project spans two centuries

When a plan comes together... it's magical! I'm calling this finish my Boho Wiksten top.

My new Boho Wiksten top. A Make Nine 2019 finish.

After checking off the pillowcases on my 2019 Make Nine list earlier this month, I was reminded of item 7—my desire to create a piece that incorporated or repurposed vintage textiles. All the elements were at the ready and this recollection was the prompt.

Although I originally had other ideas for some of the fabrics that came together in this eclectic mix, it was apparent that these materials were destined to play together for this project:
  • a digitally printed fabric sample from the Belle Fleur collection from P&B Textiles,
  • vintage bow tie quilt blocks from a rescued quilt top,
  • a piece of powder blue cotton embossed fabric from Diamond Textiles,
  • the Wiksten Shift top pattern—a pattern I had made, was familiar with, and was already fitted to my measurements.
Boho materials: Belle Fleur digital print, Cotton Embossed,
vintage feedsack quilt blocks, Wiksten pattern.

The Wiksten pattern
The Wiksten top is a simple, loose fitting, pullover with minimal seams and pattern pieces. It's a broad, clean canvas for patchwork or embellishment if you're looking to mix things up a bit. Ask your local quilt shop or sewing center to get it for you. I got my pattern at Topstitch Studio & Lounge.
Boho Wiksten, front view.

Since several different pieces of fabric were being incorporated—and I didn't have enough yardage of any of them to make the full top—I opted for the 2-piece back from the Wiksten shift dress version. This version offered a back yoke and back bodice with a gather detail.
Boho Wiksten, back view.

Piecing the back yoke
The back yoke offered a place to show the orphan quilt blocks. To get the most visibility for these repurposed pieces, they were set on the diagonal.
Vintage quilt blocks positioned on the back yoke.

A piece of muslin cut from the yoke pattern piece (the muslin is cut on grain) served as a yoke interlining. This interlining offered support, stability and a solid backing for one fabric piece that was quite sheer (see photo below).
Sheer antique fabrics benefited from a cotton interlining.

Because the patchwork was set diagonally, the yoke has an asymmetrical layout. What is "boho" if not finding interesting solutions to sewing challenges?
Boho Wiksten top: back yoke with gathered bodice.

Kantha stitching opportunity
Have you ever hand stitched through cotton feedsack fabrics? It's bliss! With the interlining in place for stability, I didn't pass up this opportunity for kantha hand stitching.
Hand stitching through feedsacks and vintage cotton fabrics.

Boho Wiksten: back yoke featuring kantha hand stitching.

Spanning two centuries
One of my favorite parts of this garment's story is the juxtaposition of antique quilt blocks (early to mid 1900s), an embossed cotton (a batik resist process), and a fabric printed digitally using 21st century printing technology!
1900 and 2000 fabrics and processes.

The floral design of the digital fabric features a bit of "pixelization"—definitely a term and design style not in existence until the latter part of the 20th century with the introduction of computers.
Detail: pixelation incorporated into the floral design of this digitally printed fabric.
Belle Fleur from P&B Textiles.

Additional antique quilt blocks run around the hem of this top. It makes me smile that the colors of the orphan blocks coordinated perfectly with the digital floral print! The powder blue cotton embossed provides a calm and restful background as well as interesting texture.
Boho Wiksten, side view.

Because several of the quilt blocks had bias outside edges that were "creatively pieced" by the original quiltmaker, the patchwork was sewn to the lower front and back bodice pieces by hand.
Boho Wiksten, back view.

Make Nine 2019
This Boho Wiksten top checks off another Make Nine 2019 project. And I'm pleased that it fulfills several of my Make Nine goals and objectives:
  • use existing resources and stash,
  • finish or incorporate existing UFOs, 
  • repurpose vintage or rescued fabrics,
  • incorporate visible handwork or slow stitching techniques,
  • use a technique from a workshop.
Boho Wiksten combines a variety of fabrics with mix-and-match success.

Mix it up!
I am absolutely thrilled with this top! If anyone ever asks if you can combine different types of fabrics into a single project (garment, quilt, accessory, etc.) the answer is an overwhelming "YES YOU CAN!"

In addition, this garment not only incorporates fabrics from different centuries, made with different manufacturing processes (cotton embossed, digital printing, screen printing), but I had the pleasure of doing hand stitching and using my sewing machine and serger to create something meaningful, unique and wearable.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

100 Days 100 Blocks Challenge: Day 49 perspective

At the nearly half-way point of the Kinship Fusion Sampler sew-along—aka #100Days100Block—here is what my first 49 blocks look like together. 
#100Days100Blocks2019 Kinship Fusion Sampler progress at day 49.
Fabrics are Tweed Thicket and Nikko III from Diamond Textiles.

I'm using yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles for my fabrics this year, so at a distance, the fabrics look much like solids. Up close, their inherent woven textures becomes apparent—especially the Nikko III fabrics.
Nikko III yarn-dyed cotton wovens from Diamond Textiles.

Still time to change navigation
The current process is that I compose each block individually—pulling colors and value for a single block's composition. Now, with only half of the blocks complete, there is still opportunity to rethink color and/or value placement for the remainder of the blocks.

The final block layout is not yet determined. The arrangement of the blocks (with color in mind), the introduction of sashing or background fabric(s) will play a part in the final composition and flow of the eye across the quilt.

One thing I did discover while putting the blocks up on the design wall was a missing piece in Block 46 (the block was smaller in one dimension).

This is the corrected block.
Kinship Block 46

It's good to stand back and look at the progress of your work every so often.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Pillowcases: a Make Nine finish

Back in January, I signed up for the Make Nine Challenge [#makenine]. Pillowcases was one of the projects on my list. After a lot of intricate piecing of 6-inch blocks for The Farmer’s Wife sampler, I am happy the tides turned toward easier sewing—pillowcases.
Four pairs of pillowcases. Make Nine Challenge 2019.

Pillowcases are always fun to make and especially fun to give—whether you have those "hard to get for" people or not. Pillowcases are personal, customizable, useful, easy to sew, and one size fits all!
Floral and Fishing themed pillowcases.

The colorful birds shown in various fabric prints is my personal favorite. The pillowcase cuff has rows of dog houses.
Pillowcases for the yarn lover. The birds and dog house pillowcases are for me.

A refresher of my 2019 Make Nine list and a status report:
  1. Picasso Top.
  2. Collins Top. Finished
  3. Jacket using Diamond Textiles yarn-dyed wovens. Finished
  4. Lolita Vest (a yarn project)Finished
  5. PillowcasesFinished
  6. Tote or project bag with a zipper
  7. Project incorporating vintage textiles, recycled or re-purposed elements
  8. Project with visible hand stitchingFinished
  9. Wild Card—something using rayon fabrics
Five finishes and four to go for Make Nine 2019.

Stan Leigh.
This is Stan Leigh, my studio sentry. She was supervising the photography for this blog post. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A scrappy state of mind

Once the storage boxes and bags of fabric scraps are out and within arm's reach, it's difficult to stop at just one scrappy quilt top. The Tea Cup quilt blocks from my guild's Cuddle Quilt workshop last weekend were the impetus for the fabric leftover frenzy.
Tea Cup quilt top. 93.5" x 76.5"

I finished this quilt top for the Choo Choo Quilters' community service program. The block we used is called the Tea Cup block, and this quilt top marries scraps and leftovers from my and several guild members' fabric stashes. Proof that many hands working together can achieve great results—and lovely quilts.

While tidying up the cutting table from the Tea Cup project, I organized a collection of orphan blocks, test blocks and patchwork experiments. This pile of WIP kitty quilt tops are now in the queue to be quilted.

Four small quilt tops awaiting basting and quilting.

The next scrap quilt needing attention is my Farmer's Wife project, which I started just about a year ago. I've decided to make multiple quilts from the 111+ blocks I've amassed. For this larger group of blocks, it's the layout dilemma of sashing vs. no sashing. I'm leaning toward a multi-color sashing for this group.

The Farmer's Wife blocks in a straight set layout.

Below is a smaller group of blocks in a more controlled color palette. I think the on point layout is a good choice since several of the blocks (tree and baskets blocks) are more suited to this orientation.
The Farmer's Wife blocks set on point.

And yet a few more blocks remain...
The Farmer's Wife blocks made with Art Gallery Fabrics.

Guess I'll be back to pulling out the fabric boxes and scrap baskets again. This time from my stash of Art Gallery fabrics.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Guild workshop: small numbers yield big results

I'm always amazed and delighted at the dedication and productivity of the work my quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, has when we get together for our annual Cuddle Quilt workshop. We have a small guild—a roster of about 25 members—but our small numbers are mighty when it comes to supporting our community service project.
Ginny (left) and I hold a colorful scrappy quilt top made by Linda.

This year, the Choo Choo Quilters are digging into their stashes and wallets to make bed quilts (twin and queen size) for a local organization. During yesterday's workshop, three bed size quilt tops were completed and great progress was made on several others.

Tea Cup quilt blocks
The completed Tea Cup blocks went up on a makeshift design wall (a flannel-backed tablecloth over a stand alone white board) early in the day.
Tea Cup quilt blocks on a portable design wall.

We gathered 140 blocks that guild members made. It was determined that the bed size quilt required a 9 x 11 layout, so we began arranging the numerous blocks on the floor. 
Working on a 9 x 11 block layout.

Ta-daa! A finished Tea Cup block quilt top (99 blocks).
Cristy (left) and Kay with the completed Tea Cup quilt top.

Crazy Patch blocks
Sherry and Ginny, the Big Quilt Coordinators, made pre-cut quilt block kits for workshop participants. The block was a stack-slice-shuffle crazy patch block. Here are blocks from two of the three colorways.
Crazy Patch quilt blocks on the design wall.

More crazy patch blocks.

Plaid Surprise blocks
The instructions for the Plaid Surprise blocks was distributed at the July guild meeting. Some of these blocks were turned in at the workshop.
Left: Plaid Surprise Disappearing 9-patch blocks.
Right: trimmings from the blocks will be used to create another block.

Easy Woven and String quilt blocks
Batting was measured and cut for the Woven Block quilt top and others.
Sherry cut batting for completed quilt tops.

Earlier in the year, the guild members made string blocks. This top is ready for quilting.
String quilt top ready for quilting.

Cutting tables and ironing boards were set up for shared use.
Cutting stations.

And we all enjoyed the sewing and camaraderie.
Cuddle Quilt workshop attendees.

Surplus Tea Cup blocks
I offered to take the additional 41 Tea Cup blocks home with me. This is a fast and easy block that I enjoyed making (and using up fabric scraps). I'll be piecing a few more blocks with the hope of getting enough for another quilt top.
Tea Cup blocks on my design wall.

2019 Cuddle Quilt Goal
This year's goal is 20 bed size quilts. We already have 17 that are in various stages of completion. I'd say that's quite an accomplishment for a small guild!

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