archives: sewing

a sweet granny square baby quilt

There’s no denying that Pinterest has helped me as a sewer. With no central location like Ravelry to go to, it’s hard to see a lot of quilts or garments in one place to gather inspiration and ideas. My “Quilty Inspiration” board is one of my favorites to revisit. I can see trends in my own liking (I started out loving on total rainbow quilts, have moved to different palettes lately), and I can also see that there are certain blocks/quilts that are executed in ways that I prefer over others using the same basic design. Sometimes it’s really easy to see what I like about one execution over another (modern color combinations, say). Sometimes it’s easy to see but hard to know how to execute (some kaleidoscope quilts work SO WELL and others don’t; I know it’s about the tone of the fabrics but picking fabrics to do it seems intimidating). For granny squares, I seemed to like a certain type and not others. What was the defining characteristic, I wondered.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

It was the outer ring’s paleness/quantity of white. I liked the quilts best when the granny was treated as a series of concentric rings, and when the outer ring’s contrast with the background fabric wasn’t overly stark, whether because of the high quantity of white or the color of the square. This gave those quilts a sort of “instant vintage” quality, and I definitely wanted that for this baby quilt. So I set about making a bunch those kinds of blocks myself. It wasn’t super easy (and I’m sure you’re all eyeing that block in the lower left and saying ‘hmmmm you didn’t want a stark contrast, you say?’ Whatever, it can’t be EXACT.) but it was a fun exercise. I used up a decent amount of scraps to make it, too, which was satisfying. It also used up every last inch of Kona Snow I had in my stash. In fact, the outer ring of sashing is a white cotton batiste I used as a lining in my Cambie dress; the difference is more tactile than anything and I’m totally fine with that because I was NOT going to buy more fabric just to finish this top! The colors I chose are gender neutral by design, with a mix of all the colors of the rainbow—but all generally softer, more baby.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

Because my ability to successfully baste has left me, despite all the best precautions (I starched the top this time! It was suuuper flat!), I wasn’t keen on too much machine quilting. I just did some machine passes in the sashing to get it all held together, and then I hand-quilted around each motif and the center square. I picked hand-quilting colors based on the colors in the blocks, and had a lot of fun doing that part. I still need more practice to be good at hand quilting but in some ways I like the truly handmade look of it.

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

pepperknit.com: granny square quilt

Backing is a whole piece of fabric in a fun polka dot—I like when a quilt is small enough to be ale to do that! (And I’m really happy to be slashing up my stash so expertly.) The binding is a cheerful Kona yellow (not sure which shade). The label was just hand-written with washable marker and then stitched in some black perle cotton. I love that it’s my own handwriting (OK, a stitched version of my handwriting, so it’s a little weird but pretty close) and says nothing more than what I mean. I am so happy for my friends who are expecting this little one, and can’t wait to be Aunt Erin to their kid, even if from afar (they live across the country from me).

simple handwritten quilt label

I mailed this quilt (via just USPS, what was I thinking! I should have gotten tracking info!) so it would arrive in time for the baby shower; happily the host of the shower tells me it arrived safe and sound. Yesterday was the shower, so I think I can safely post these pictures today!

 

X marks the spot!

string quilt

Last weekend, my knitting best friends and I got together for another weekend away. This was the tenth time we’ve done it! It’s only the fifth time we’ve swapped something—and this round, a crafter’s choice, I got to make for JulieFrick! Because it was our tenth meetup, I chose to make a big “X” mini quilt, in colors that I thought she would like. Well, I thought she would like them after we created a spreadsheet to note favorite colors, and she specified “I like most all colors when they’re a bit “off” of their standard rainbow-bright versions.” This required some serious stash-digging, because when I stopped to think about it, I like colors specifically when they are bright!

It’s just a basic string quilt, but I did it as a quilt as you go, using wavy quilting lines (I neglected to take a close-up shot). This was the first time I’d made an actual quilt using QAYG, so the backing part was a stumbling block. (Every other QAYG I’ve done was a pillow top.) I decided to do a whole cloth backing and stitch in the ditch along the “X” to hold it all together. We liked its flatness so opted not to wash it. The binding is a slightly darker shade of the stone color I used for the X (both Kona cottons, from fat quarter packs, so I have no idea what the color names are).

string quilt

I decided the piece needed a really great label to commemorate the occasion. I designed this in Photoshop using various fonts, which I then traced onto some Kona and stitched using embroidery floss. “Celebrate” probably could have used a bit of a different treatment, but it feels pretty festive! It was fun to stitch it up. When I have the time to devote to the label, I am always happy with the results. I should start planning the labels first!

embroidered quilt label

I love that I got to give this to Julie in person. She’s one of the most interesting and passionate people I know—I learn so much about how to be a better person from Julie. She makes amazing jams and other preserves, can knit and crochet anything she wants, and works tirelessly in service for the good of the world. How lucky am I to be her friend! I feel that way about every one of these women, actually: They’re my people. I learn from them, maybe I help them learn some things, and I trust them implicitly. We spend these weekends eating amazing meals, knitting/crocheting/stitching, and sharing deep—and truly shallow—conversations (this time, while bobbing in the pool). We are already planning our 11th weekend away, and I cannot wait.

knitting circle

diptych

delicious dinner

farm pano

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bonfire

 

blogger’s quilt festival: plus quilt

Just in under the wire! I wasn’t going to join in on the Blogger’s Quilt Festival this time around, but when I mailed the Plus Quilt to my cousin I asked if he’d be sure to take a picture of him and his now-wife with it. I expected, I don’t know, just a cell phone shot at arm’s length. Nothing crazy. But I should have known—we are related, after all—that he’d make this something awesome.

plus quilt with the recipients

plus quilt back with the recipients

plus quilt in st louis

Turns out they took it with them to the place where he proposed to her (with the tree)! It’s a park in St. Louis—he did not tell me where. How cute are they to have done that. And then they went with it on to a baseball game where the temps were nippy, and they were able to take a pic with the Arch in the background (below). How awesome is that?!

chalk-writing inspired quilt label

Info about the quilt is more detailed here, but it’s a really straightforward quilt. Blues and greens on their request, and cut so that I had a long bar of a plus and the two small squares, rather than all individual squares. My favorite part is probably the quilt label, which I made after being inspired by the latest chalkboard-writing craze. It was fun to design that and get it stitched up, and I was proud that I finally took the time to make a proper label. It’s that last detail and I tend to not give it the proper attention. Kind of like buttons on a cardigan or something—I just want it done already, why do I have to bother with these bits!?

Anyway, the quilt came together quickly, and as you can see it’s very large (Patrick is like 6’3″ or something). I’d definitely do another plus; it’s such a perfect motif for a wedding quilt and allows for so much variation and play with patterns. I’ll submit this to the Modern Quilt category!

a pink and purple pillow

For Christmas last year (wow I’m late blogging this), I made my friend Beth a pillow in all her favorite colors: pink, more pink, and some purple too.

QAYG log cabin pillow

I did it as a quilt-as-you-go using narrow strips of some of my favorite fabrics. A QAYG log cabin is easy enough except if it gets slightly off kilter, there’s no squaring it up! So this spirals every so slightly. I just squared it at the end and called it a day.

QAYG log cabin pillow

I closed the backing (Kona Berry) up entirely and stuffed that sucker really full so that it would be a super comfy addition to her bedroom–perfect for propping yourself up to read a book or watch something on a tablet.

QAYG log cabin pillow

Pillows for everyone, I say!

cambie dress

cambie dress

Cambie has been in my stash of patterns for ages. Actually, I think I bought the paper pattern at Fancy Tiger Crafts when I was in Colorado more than a year and a half ago. I bought fabric for it last summer (a lightweight cotton; got it at Joann’s). I bought a zipper in the fall. And no progress was made until a week before I intended to wear it, when I unfolded the tissue and set to. In general I had no real troubles; I didn’t make a muslin because I wanted it done fast and because you can’t truly assess the fit until the whole thing is done, and I really didn’t want to sew an entire muslin. But it was my first time doing a garment with a lining, and it was definitely my first time ever ever sewing a zipper. Oh, and it was an invisible zipper. As a result, I paused several times to Google for help and discovered that a lot of others who have made this dress are accomplished enough that they barely talk about some of the details that I wanted guidance for. So, I figured I’d write up everything I searched (though it reveals me as the complete novice I am), in the hopes that it’ll help someone else.

“tracing tissue pattern onto freezer paper”
So I’d heard of people doing this but hadn’t done it before. I set the tissue pattern down on my table and placed a piece of freezer paper over and I could NOT see through it to trace the lines, so I googled to see if people do something special. No result I found talked about how to do it because apparently it was so easy. And it was, duh: my table is dark so that obscured the lines; I put another piece of freezer paper underneath and it got much easier. I did not use the freezer paper to stick to the fabric; I used it just because it’s sturdy. Tracing was a breeze, but time consuming.

“understitch pocket openings”
OK this is super easy but it took a few results to find one that summarized it cleanly enough. All it is is sewing the “inside part” to the seam allowance in a stitch right against the original seam line. (They say this helps keep the inside part from rolling to the front. I’m unclear why the pattern doesn’t call for you to understitch the entire top edge, and I’m debating just doing it anyway, but this was for the pocket opening.) This video gets right to the point and shows it very clearly—it’s super straightforward, but I appreciated being able to see it.

“cambie dress interfacing waistband”
So my interfacing tells you to cut the interfacing piece 1/4 smaller than the piece all the way around. I wasn’t sure if it mattered if I did that or not. Ultimately I decided not to bother cutting it smaller because it was easier to just match it, and it gets cut off anyway in the serger. That, I suppose, is an argument for cutting the interfacing smaller so there’s less waste, but whatever.

“cambie dress waistband”
My next question was how come I cut 2 pieces of the waistband out of the main fabric when you only need one for main dress. But oh! I’m a smart cookie and I realized that it doesn’t tell you to cut a piece of waistband out of the lining fabric. So you must use the main fabric piece in the lining—logically, it’s a more sturdy fabric just like an interfaced piece of main fabric is sturdier than the dress. Then I found a lot of blog posts that showed the insides of their dresses and I could actually see that they used the main fabric for the lining’s waistband. Mystery solved.

“threading a brother 1034d serger”
This is not about the Cambie dress, but my serger’s threads got all out of wack while it was sitting on a shelf, so when I went to use it… I couldn’t. I had to re-thread it entirely, and I always forget the steps. I’ve used this video before and it continues to be the most helpful. I was cranky about having to re-thread it and I considered just finishing my seams with a zigzag stitch, but I’m really glad that I sucked it up and just got the serger working. I realized what was the point in having it if I didn’t use it!? Plus it gives me such comfort to know that the seams are well finished.

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“sewing invisible zipper”
I had never sewn a zipper before—though I’ve read in several books and on blog posts the steps, so I had the gist—and I’m glad I searched “invisible” zipper, because I learned that there is a foot for invisible zippers! I don’t have one of those so this video was helpful  but not exactly applicable; this video for using a normal zipper foot totally did the trick for me! I definitely could have pressed the zipper out flatter and gotten the needle closer to the teeth, but hey, there will be a next time.

“cambie dress lining”
I knew the creator of the Cambie had blogged about sewing the lining to the zipper, and I followed it closely. I find it so funny, though, how all mentions of the bottom of the zipper are kind of glossed over in that tutorial and other sites that talk about sewing a lining to a zipper. It’s an awkward area, and I wondered how to tackle it—the answer seems to be: just as best as you can. So I did that, and it’s not visible, so it seems to have worked!

Looking at all this, it is clear I was really clueless about sewing this dress, and I suppose I was, but look! It’s done! It fits okay!

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The top of the bodice could probably benefit from a little taking in, but there is no way I was taking out the lining in order to make this adjustment. Also I think that I need to figure out how to cut different sizes for different parts of a pattern. I cut the size based on my bust measurements, and oddly the bust seems too big and the waistband slightly snug? I don’t really know how that works, but I guess I don’t want as much ease in the bust as the finished dress measurements give. I was suspicious of this when I picked a size but I went with it. I don’t really regret it.

When I sewed down the straps I deliberately pulled them down far and the bodice up high to keep it as flat as possible, but that made the armpits way too tight. I could wear it, but I knew I’d be uncomfortable, so I took that out and dropped the strap just a touch more. Not a lot—the sweetheart neckline would have gaped drastically if I’d dropped it to where it probably “should” sit—but this helped a lot.

cambie dress sleeve

I hemmed it to just above my knee, as I feel that with my short height (5 feet 4 inches) that just-below-my-knee length is awkward. This meant chopping 4 inches off the main fabric at the hem. I hemmed the lining so that it ends close to the seam on the main fabric, so that I could tack the lining to the seams if I wanted, but I did not blindstitch the lining to the waistband. I’m unclear why doing that would be useful, and I also think I might go back to understitch the top edge of the bodice. Still considering that. I didn’t take pictures of the dress turned inside out but I assure you it looks fantastic. The lining is a white cotton batiste.

I love the pockets, and I’m proud that it doesn’t look totally homemade. The zipper matching up gives me a secret thrill every time I pull it up. And it’s cute! I wore it to my cousin’s rehearsal dinner in Savannah last weekend, so we were able to get these shots with some live oaks in nearby Chippewa Square. At one point, a cousin of mine walked up and stuck her hand in my pocket and complimented the cuteness of my dress—and she didn’t know already that I had sewn it (though I’d told everyone else). SUCCESS.