Sunday, June 28, 2020

The fruits of small compositions

I connected with two quilting friends this week—one via social media and another in person. 

Block 37: Monette. Center fabric from M&S Textiles Australia.
Coordinates from Forest Fancies by Lisa Kirkbride for P&B Textiles and Meridian [P&B Textiles].

Tari, my quilting friend in Florida, commented on all the fun fabrics in my EPP [English paper pieced] Glorious Hexagon blocks I've been working on since the lockdown. Using scraps and discontinued fabric samples for the blocks, I'm reacquainting myself with fabric collections and taking solace in the hand piecing process.

Variation of Block 3: Sarah.
Fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics, Lewis & Irene.

Some blocks are from The New Hexagon book. Others are cobbled together from various pieces and unused paper templates.

Block 49: Irene
Fabrics from P&B Textiles.

I don't have a big picture plan, layout, or color scheme for this EPP project. I'm just creating one small composition at a time: choosing fabrics from the scrap basket and coordinating colors and prints as I go. 

There is feeling of success and accomplishment with each completed hexagon.

Improv Star in batiks

I ran into the other quilting friend, Jamie, in a quilt shop. She follows my blog and we're friends on social media. She told me that my blog posts have inspired her to start sewing garments. 

Block 5: Caroline
Fabrics from Lewis & Irene, P&B Textiles.

Jamie was wearing a lovely denim-blue dress she had made using a border print fabric. She did a great job and the dress looked so cute on her. Her pattern hack was the addition of pockets in the side seams.

Block 41: Betty
Fabrics from Lewis & Irene, Art Gallery Fabrics, P&B Textiles.

I commended her for making an outfit to suit her creativity, needs and lifestyle. It's a few of the many perks to sewing one's own wardrobe!

Small compositions.

We chatted briefly about our current fabric passions—mine was rayon and hers was linen. As we parted, we encouraged each other to keep sewing and looked forward to each other's next makes. 

A gallery of small compositions. 

Enjoy the successes of small compositions

The world today is overshadowed with severe health threats, political chaos, physical and emotional trauma... it's stressful, draining and so tiresome. It's a relief that our crafts and hobbies can deviate and distract from the news of the day—providing stability and calmness, if only for a short time. With each project or composition, we get to learn or see something new. We can make choices to modify a pattern—add pockets, change the sleeve length, omit a collar, rearrange the pieces in the patchwork. 

I am enjoying the creation and success of my small hexie compositions. It's refreshing to have choices, make decisions, express a personal vision, and have control over the process and outcome. 


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Not shopping at big stores? Make your summer wardrobe yourself!

The grass didn't have much chance to grow between my first rayon MixIt Top and my second. This is MixIt Two in another Art Gallery rayon fabric... this one from the Abloom Fusion collection.

MixIt Top from The Sewing Workshop.
Rayon fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics.

I love the summery colors of this floral rayon print. For this second make from my MixIt pattern, I added another inch of length to the sleeves. The other pattern modifications are in this post.

MixIt Top in Budquette Abloom print from Art Gallery Fabrics.

I was talking to Kim, the owner of Chattanooga Quilts this week. She was telling me that she and her daughter have decided to sew some summer dresses for themselves... since it's not quite comfortable to shop at the malls just yet.

To be honest, I can't remember the last time I shopped for clothes—either at a mall store or online. I would rather support and buy fabric at the small business quilt shops and fabric shops that I do business with... and make my own wardrobe. #lovedclotheslast #memadewardrobe

Dressed for summer in a rayon MixIt Top and the Valencia pants with pockets.

I'm wearing this second MixIt with one of my Valencia pants (pattern also from The Sewing Workshop). The fabric is a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.

So, Yes! You CAN get fabrics for garment sewing at quilt shops—rayon, knits, linen, and top and bottom weight wovens! Art Gallery Fabrics and other fabric companies that cater to the quilting industry not only produce beautiful quilting cottons, but also fabrics suitable for garments and wearables.

If your local quilt shop hasn't stepped into carrying these substrates yet, tell them you are interested! As quilt shops and independent sewing centers begin to reopen from the lockdown, they want to know what consumers are interested in learning/making/buying so they can restock their shelves accordingly.

Reach for a rayon on your next visit... and make something summery to wear!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Mixing Australian aboriginal textiles and batiks: a bippity boppity boo quilt

I got a wonderful surprise this week! This quilt top was loaned out to 3 Hens and a Chick quilt shop to use in a shop display illustrating how different kinds of fabrics—Australian aboriginal prints and batiks—can be successfully mixed in a project. The top was returned to me this week... quilted and bound! It felt like my fabric fairy godmother waved her magic wand and *poof*... bippity, boppity, boo!

Charm Squares on Point. 42.5" x 48"
Featuring fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia and Majestic Batiks.

This quilt uses 5" charm squares [purple colorway] from M&S Textiles Australia. To complement the Australian aboriginal designs, two batiks [from Majestic Batiks] in a medium/dark value were used for the alternate squares, setting triangles and outside border. [Note: 3 Hens and a Chick quilt shop carries fabrics from M&S Textiles and Majestic Batiks.]

Charm Squares on Point. 42.5" x 48" (finished size).

The designs and color palette of the batiks chosen were more subtle so they would not compete with the Australian prints which were the focus of this quilt. The narrow inside border is from 2.5" strips from a pre-cut strip roll [M&S Textiles Australia]. The lighter value of this fabric framed the charm squares and provided contrast with the background and border fabrics.

Mixing Australian aboriginal fabric prints with batiks.

The lovely long arm quilting was done by Cheryl Johnson, one of the chicks at 3 Hens and a Chick quilt shop. The edge-to-edge pattern of swirls, spikes and waves complements the more organic fabric designs without distracting from them.

Long arm quilting on the outside border.

The backing fabric is Spirit Dreaming, also from M&S Textiles. This diagonal design affords movement on the back... and the use of this fabric print for the binding, created a subtle striping effect—without having to cut the fabric on the bias!

Backing and binding fabric: Spirit Dreaming from M&S Textiles.

A noteworthy point of observation: the binding was sewn down by hand! (Oh, my fabric fairy godmother is sooo generous!)

5" charm squares of batiks and 

National Sewing Machine Day
As we celebrate National Sewing Machine day (June 13)—yesterday, today and through the year—I hope you seek out and contact your local quilt shops and independent sewing machine centers for supplies and equipment. These businesses carry the "first quality" fabrics you will want to work with and the machines and proper tools to get the job done—professionally and correctly.

As the world came to find out over the past few months, Sewing is a Super Power as sewists and quilters poured their experience, expertise and talent into making masks, scrub hats and hospital gowns. Quilt shops and independent sewing centers not only supported the makers and recipients of these endeavors, they continue to provide:
  • inspiration and instruction
  • "first quality" fabrics 
  • unique kits and projects
  • machine quilting services or resources
  • machine repair and maintenance services
  • notions and tools
  • patterns and books
  • support and camaraderie
  • These things you don't get in the big box stores.
... and now and again they can pull out a secret magic wand and perform a little Bippity, Boppity, Boo magic! I hope you cross paths with your fabric fairy godmother (or godfather) soon.

Thanks again to Cheryl, Carol, Teresa and Sherrie at 3 Hens and a Chick quilt shop for a wonderful surprise. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The MixIt Top with Kushukuru rayon, a Make Nine finish

Had I known how soft, flowy and wonderfully slinky wearing a rayon top would feel, I might have finished this Make Nine project last year! Here is my new MixIt Top, another Make Nine 2020 finish.
Rayon MixIt Top—a Make Nine 2020 finish.

From M9 2019 to M9 2020
The original intention was to make "something" using rayon fabric through participation in the Make Nine 2019 challenge. I made Rayon a Wild Card project. But it didn't happen.

Still wanting to try this fabric and hone my sewing skills, I moved this project from the 2019 list to my Make Nine 2020 list.

Cutting out pieces of the MixIt Top [pattern by The Sewing Workshop].
Rayon fabric from Kushukuru by Jessica Swift for Art Gallery Fabrics.

During the last two months of shelter-in-place, I have been able to complete quite a few of my Make Nine 2020 items. Taking inspiration from the participants and garments of Me Made May, the time had come to tackle a new substrate—rayon.

My MixIt Top: process and modifications
In October 2019, I chose the MixIt Top [pattern by The Sewing Workshop] for its simplicity and loose, casual fit to fulfil my Rayon Wild Card project. If I was going to try sewing with a more drapey fabric, a simple pattern with minimal garment pieces seemed a good idea. The test muslin was made last year as well. My pattern modifications were:
  • narrowed the shoulder
  • lowered the bust dart
  • added an inch to the length
  • lengthened the sleeve (personal preference)
  • I also opted to omit the top button and button loop (for a more breezy, casual look).

Adjusting the bust dart and adding length to the pattern.

The fabric is a rayon from Art Gallery Fabrics. It's called "Everlasting Imprint" from the Kushukuru collection by Jessica Swift. (This print also comes in a cotton woven.) Kushukuru means "gratitude" in Swahili.

Lengthening the cap sleeve.

Would you believe the pattern pieces for this top were also cut out last October?? It was just waiting to be sewn! On the last day of Me Made May, I jumped in.

It took one day. 
May 31. 
The last day of Me Made May 2020.

MixIt Top made during Me Made May 2020.

I still have to topstitch the side vents, but I couldn't wait to try it on! I wore it all day... unfinished side hems and all. Heavenly.

Why did I wait so long? I guess life just happened... as it often does... and takes us to alternate routes. However, a second rayon MixIt is already on the cutting mat.

Back and side vent view.

In this unsettling time... amidst the turmoil, protests, political mayhem, unkindness and injustices... I hope you can find a little comfort in the small, everyday things—like using your hands to make something... cooking, baking, gardening, sewing... or feeling the softness of a lovely textile against your skin.

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