posts tagged: finished!

pillow crazy

Making that first pillow has started me on a pillow obsession! Here’s my second one:

shattered chevron pillow

It was inspired by this block , which used this tutorial, I’m guessing. Obviously this could not be done as a quilt as you go though so it’s just a block that was quilted like a normal quilt top. I pulled a lot of old scraps and a few untouched but loved fat quarters in teals and mustards. It really came together pretty easily, though if you don’t plan out your angles at the beginning you end up with a lot of frustrating waste.

I specifically oriented the chevrons so the seams would all be parallel, so that I could do half-inch quilting lines and they’d match within each section. I picked a path near the middle and then just echoed from there, even though it didn’t always hit the apex of a chevron exactly. I backed it with Kona Coal just like the first one, making another deep pocket. The final dimensions of this one ended up closer to 14.5 square because of some loss when I squared the block up and then some shrinking from quilting it. You can tell it’s a more puffy pillow!

shattered chevron pillow

I’m trying to decide what to do for the two other pillows on the couch that I’d like to redo. Half-square triangles? Something else? This is such a fun way to play with new techniques.

 

washi tunic

Once I had my Washi Dress under my belt, I was keen on sewing something else, and I was also interested in finding out if I could get the Washi pattern to fit better for me—via a tunic.

cotton washi tunic

For this, I actually did a muslin of the bodice at one size down from the size I used for the dress, and omgsotight; it was NOT an appropriate change! But it led me to focus on the dart; I made it deeper but kept it at the same location, to try to tuck the fabric under my bust more. (I could’ve done more on this, in retrospect.) I didn’t lengthen the bodice, which I’ll revisit if I do this pattern in the future. On the bottom I used only 2 pleats, one on each side, by cutting the Small size for the tunic bottom and making slightly larger folds just to make the pieces match. I wonder if this pattern could hold up to a no-pleats version well or not.

cotton washi tunic from the back

After trying it on, it just didn’t seem fitted enough. I know, I know, the Washi isn’t meant to be fitted, but that’s not my style! So I added waist shaping—in the most slap-dash way: I just drew some curves and sewed them atop the existing seams. A pass through the serger dealt with the excess fabric, and I’m a lot happier with the way it fits on the sides now. For this one, because the cotton was heavier, I didn’t bother interfacing the facings, and I didn’t even tack them down (I didn’t understand how to do that, anyway) but they stay put just fine.

cotton washi tunic neck detail

As to the sleeves—there is no denying that the pattern gives a bit of a football shoulder pad effect. There’s a reason so many people are pictured wearing Washis with their arms akimbo! I wanted to mitigate that from the outset, and the only way I could figure out how was to increase the curve of the curved part of the sleeves. I could’ve gone even further, but I’m pleased enough with the result. I wore it to work (it’s the first of my sewn garments to be worn for real) and a coworker who is always stylishly dressed and has never once commented on my appearance (boring as it normally is) complimented me on my shirt, not knowing that I’d made it. Success! Farm dog Rex approves, too.

My final thoughts on this and all the garments I sewed in that week is that it’s time to graduate to “real” patterns. Though these are graded, they also are using design elements (like elastic and the gathering/pleating) to basically get around actually fitting the pieces. It’s time for me to get patterns that are truly more my style, learn to put in a zipper, and also explore some real fabrics. I’m ready.

cotton washi tunicPhotos again by the amazing knitwear/handmade-wear photographer Caro Sheridan. I love our weekends away with knitting friends and yes, I made 3 garments in preparation!

 

quilt as i go

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.

quilt as you go vortex pillow

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.)

quilt as you go vortex pillow

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!

quilt as you go vortex pillow

washi dress

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!)

chevron washi dress

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.

chevron washi dress back

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.

chevron washi dress

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!

in the sunflowers in the sunflowers

tova top

My first sewn garment!!

tova top in quilting cotton

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.

IMG_4088

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!

tova top in quilting cotton

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.

tova top in quilting cottonI’m telling you, that bluff was steep.