OMG I love this pillow. Love it. The mere afternoon it took me to make is a measly price to pay for the joy this is going to bring me.
I completely literally followed Let’s Eat Grandpa‘s examples (this one being my favorite), using her tutorial. I’d never tried “quilt as you go” before, so it was something to cross off my list as a sewer. I loved watching the vortex (because that’s how I see it) come together, and feeling the texture as it happens is cool, too. I’d like to do more with the technique, given how easy it is. (You can see that I forgot to quilt one segment, but that’s ok with me.)
The case is backed with some Kona Coal, which sort of blends into our couch. I did a simple pocket with a decent amount of overlap to be sure nothing would show and to make it so I wouldn’t need a button. (It’s not the prettiest back, so I’ll spare you a picture.) It covers one of our existing couch cushions, which have always tended toward the flat side. I tried to counteract that but I didn’t go far enough, it’s clear. How do you determine the best side length, anyway? The old pillow cover is 16.5 inches square. This one is 15.5 inches square. I could probably go even smaller, though Jason says he loves it just as it is. And the truth is, I love it too much to edit it down at all!
Now that I’ve started sewing my own clothing (ha, look at me, talking like I’m making a whole new wardrobe already) I’ve been thinking a lot about fit. When I shop for clothing in retail stores, I try items on to see how they look, but I don’t think about how they fit. I realized, in making a Washi Dress, that I don’t know how to really assess how something fits yet. But I like to think this one looks pretty good on! (All photos by Caro Sheridan; the last photo by our host, Phil!)
I didn’t make a muslin of the Washi—my bust measurement went fine with one of the existing sizes, and I knew the skirt was forgiving enough to not matter. It came together fast once I got the shirring to work (which, upon further reading, I’ve learned I did not do correctly, but it functions fine, so I’ll just be improving my technique for the future. In case you are wondering, the problem is that the elastic is wobbly on the back, which means I didn’t have it properly under tension. I’ll be playing with that once I get more elastic.). I went with a tank instead of sleeves and made white bias binding out of Kona Snow for the armholes. (Now I wonder if I should’ve used that for the neckline too, but I’m not doing it now.) I tried it on once it was all assembled, modeled it for my boyfriend and a friend, and asked if I needed to change anything. They said it looked fine.
But does it FIT fine? I’m not convinced it does. The bodice should probably come lower. The bust darts don’t make the bodice shape to me in any real way. The neckline gaps just a bit (maybe partly because my “featherweight” interfacing was too heavy in combination with the cotton, lightweight though it is, or maybe because I forgot to clip the curves). I know there’s room for improvement if I take this one on again.
Wearing it while tromping around Star Valley Flowers‘ farm in Wisconsin, however, I discovered it is a great garment for wearing. It’s comfortable, breezy, and the fullness of the skirt means it requires absolutely zero effort at all. If I add a white cardigan, I’ll happily wear this to work and show off my handiwork. But I won’t make this dress again without significant revisions. This field of sunflowers are actually part of Driftless Organics‘ farm, across the street—we couldn’t resist them!
I knew I was coming to a glorious location here in western Wisconsin (that’s the Mississippi River in the background—I had never seen the Mississippi before!), so I wanted an FO that I could rope my favorite photographer, Caro, into shooting for me. But I wasn’t going to be able to knit anything in time, and I wasn’t going to drag a quilt halfway across the country, so it was time to actually sew some clothing! I think the tight deadline plus the almost insane panic I felt that I would be missing out on gorgeous photo shoot locations were what I needed to finally get over my fear and start cutting into fabric for garments.
It was super steep on that bluff, you guys, and I was wearing flip-flops. (I stopped about halfway down to a stone ledge that friends were exploring.) So excuse any weirdness in these photos. But about this shirt, the Tova Top. I used a quilting cotton, which I knew would probably be too heavy; it hangs pretty well in spite of that. It does feel slightly stiff, though, and I’d be interested in trying this out in a more appropriate fabric—plus running it through the wash a few times.
The inset probably gave me the biggest trouble, because working around its corners was tricksy. I actually picked it out once; it came out much better the second time. The collar was also somewhat mysterious to me (fold over what?) until I actually did it, and then it was pretty clear—it came together without too much hassle. Confession time: Practically every seam in this garment had to be sewn twice! A combination of always forgetting to change a setting (lengthen stitch length for basting, but forget to switch it back!), being slightly confused by the black and white step-by-step photographs in the tutorial, and being almost a complete novice (those garment sewing classes I took 10 years ago are in my brain somewhere, but not at the front of my brain). In all, though, this top wasn’t hard to make at all and it came together in a 2-day intensive.
One major delay in the process was learning how to thread my serger and get the hang of using that. Illana gave me the serger years ago (she had a new one) but it had literally never come out of the box upon being transferred to my possession. And of course I got it threaded and ran out of thread soon after, so I am now an expert on threading that machine! But I figured if I was going to start sewing garments I ought to get them finished as well as I could. Caro, a professional, told me she peeked inside my garments and approved of the job I did, so: PHEW!
I’m looking forward to the weather turning so that I can wear this more! The flap at the front really is very revealing if you’re not standing still, so I’ll need to wear a camisole underneath, and if I were to sew this pattern again I think I’d add a button or somehow cause that to be more closed.
When I last posted, I had just finished knitting the lace batwing top to wear to a bridal luncheon during my cousin’s wedding weekend. Knitting that flared up my carpal tunnel so badly I knew I needed to take a long break from knitting. (I didn’t exactly do this, and I knit a few more little things. That? Was a super bad idea, and the pain has reached seriously frightening levels, so now I’m completely off knitting until I can get up the nerve to call a hand specialist. It sucks.) This means that I’ve actually been spending time watching TV while doing nothing at all—unfathomable for me normally, and so so boring. But it also means that there’s been a lot more quilting, because so far that hasn’t bothered my hands very much. First up? A wedding gift quilt for the two who got married in April!
I’d asked my cousin for color preferences and she said “blues.” This necessitated a trip to some quilting shops for some stash development—how did I not have a good range of blues? Navies, khakis, greens, and purples actually matched their blue and khaki wedding colors, and it turns out they coordinate perfectly with the colors in their living room. I wanted to find a few “special” fabrics but came up empty on that front. However, the one cream with little oars was perfect for them, since they like to kayak often, and Jason donated a plaid shirt that never fit him so that he had a presence in the quilt too.
I have several different triangle rulers and opted for an isosceles one; I cut all the fabrics into triangles and tossed them into one of those big blue Ikea shopping bags, giving it a big mix regularly. Then I set up my flannel design wall and started building the rows by grabbing from the bag without getting caught up in planning the sequences. The only pieces that were immediately put back were ones identical to the one just placed. I ended up with a nice random arrangement, and just a little bit of rearranging at the end gave me a nice balance of colors, patterns, etc. Then I got to seaming!
Though it felt as if I had thousands of triangles, I’d really only cut enough to make the blanket throw sized, and once I realized this I couldn’t bear to cut any more or seam them up, so it is a modest 5-something feet by 5-something feet big. I am in awe of those who have made multiple triangle quilts. While simple in theory, it was a lot more time consuming than I’d expected it to be! I didn’t get the hang of matching my triangles for a long time, despite many attempts to systematize the process.
For the backing, I couldn’t resist my “signature” back, with a little stack of strips of the fabrics used on the front. The main fabric for the backing is Kona, not sure the exact name right now but I suspect it’s actually the color called “brown.” I embroidered their names and the date of their wedding right onto the back, rather than make a label, and I really like the effect. The binding is the same khakis used on the front (both Kona), hand-sewn down; I finally remembered to tuck my “by pepperknit” label into one corner. I quilted lines a half inch from all the seams and greatly underestimated the amount of thread I’d need to get this done; I ran out of two spools in the process! I also had some serious issues with the basting–lately I can’t seem to get my quilt sandwich to come out right on the first try. I’m not sure what is going wrong but I’m blaming the batting, because I know I’m doing a very good job taping the backing down. Should I be taping the batting too? Something is off and I really need to figure it out before I do my next quilt, because it’s not as if I didn’t rearrange my entire living room (separating our sectional sofa even) in order to have as much clear floor I could. Anyway, we’ll see if I can remedy this for my next quilt.
I gave the quilt to Meg and Josh at our annual family beach week, just like I did for her brother last year, so we did a little shoot in the backyard of our beach house on the one rainy, cold, terrible weather day. And her husband proved that it’s the perfect couch blanket for curling up with a book. (Note: That is a different cousin sitting on the couch with him.) I hope they love it and enjoy a lifetime of curling up together under it!
I somehow ended up with a copy of this book, 5500 Quilt Block Motifs, and every now and then before bed I browse it. The blocks in the book are all individually inspiring to me—as potential quilts. I have a long list of blocks from this book that I think would make great full quilts if blown up. I find it both inspiring and soothing to think about quilts before bed—in fact, if I’m having trouble falling asleep because of work stresses or something spinning around in my head, I shift gears and mentally plan quilts. Getting caught up in both color planning and actual math (calculating sizes based on internal blocks) is better than counting sheep for me—I zone out and drift off to sleep in no time. But I wake up with ideas solidified in my head, so it’s a win-win. My recent mini quilts are a perfect example of that. But this traditional square caught my eye; it seemed perfect for a Big Birthday present for my dear friend, Holly.
It came together over a few weeks last fall, using fabrics in a variety of colors that coordinated, many from my stash. Rather than make HSTs by stacking two squares and cutting on the diagonal, I cut each triangle individually, decided on my preferred placement, and sewed them together. I wanted all the pairings to be unique, rather than structured in pairs. It was also not that useful to work it as HSTs because there are a lot of triangles that don’t have an opposite one. The backing, which is hard to see in the photos she took, is just a zig zag using up extra triangles I’d cut, and the binding is the Kona Berry that I used as the background for Rosie’s Spoked. The quilting is just double lines along all the angles.
Holly took these pictures for me on her birthday weekend trip to Mexico. She took the quilt with her on her trip. Sniff. It’s just the best to make something for someone you love, and then find out that they love it exactly as much as you’d want them to, you know?