Monday, 27 May 2019

Walking Foot Quilting

There have been a few things going on recently so I was looking forward to a day of solid sewing at my local Modern Quilt Guild.  Sarah Ashford was running a workshop for us on walking foot quilting.  This was inspired by seeing Jacquie Gering at Quilt Con and also her book Walk: Master Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot and Craftsy/Bluprint classes on walking foot quilting.  We all prepped a series of 12 1/2" quilt sandwiches ready to be quilted.  I took some blocks which I'd originally sewn for 500 Quilt Blocks and added borders so I had a green colour theme and was ready to quilt with an Aurifil 50wt variegated thread.

Sarah is always very well organised.  She had inspiring samples ready for us and within the hour we all started with this curved grid which starts off with a horizontal and vertical free hand curved lines drawn with a Hera marker; the rest is echo quilting where the foot width is the guide.  She gave us lots of tips about stitch length and how to progress and the whirly grid came together without any difficulty.

I then started on a grid which I ended up completing at home. The original had diagonals crossing through the rectangle corners but I thought that might be a little dense and fight with the pinwheel so left it as a rectangle grid.

I spent most of my time trying out a boomerang variation but places my block on-point when I started planning my quilting lines.  These were marked with the Hera marker like the other blocks but a little harder to mark as the lines and the points I was aiming for kept moving off the block.  It was worth sticking with though because once it was marked up it was quick to sew and I'm very happy with the end effect.

It was a lot of fun to play with walking foot quilting on small samples in a room with everyone doing the same.  The sort of activity I would never do at home and it fired up my enthusiasm for the quilting process.  There was a room full of busy happy quilters sewing away!  Sarah always has lots of plans and besides teaching and writing, I know she has been working on a Great British Quilter podcast for some time and the first episode is now available!

Episode 1 features Jo Avery of My Bear Paw and I've had a preview listen!  It is a lot of fun, just what I want out of a podcast focusing on British quilters.  Jo is so chatty and shares her creative process with such enthusiasm and Sarah's hosting keeps it all on track whilst the interview sounds  like a talk between quilty friends.  I cannot wait for more!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit Pattern Review

Every year a pattern emerges that takes the online garment sewing world by storm and this year, I think it has to be the Zadie jumpsuit by Paper Theory.  Jumpsuits are everywhere, following on from dungaree dresses and overalls of previous summer, it feels like every pattern company is offering a version and this one has been a winner for sewers of all heights and sizes.  Search #zadiejumpsuit on Instagram and you'll see what I mean, they all look fantastic!  I love wrap fastenings and with this pattern, all you need is fabric and thread- no interfacing, buttons or zip.

This is a PDF pattern with large pieces so I had mine printed at Dottyprint.  I've used them several times and they have offered a quick and great value service.   There are equivalent services in other countries and it was certainly better than sticking many print sheets together!  I had this black cotton sateen in a box from my carboot sale buying days.  It's wide with a little body and drape to it.

The pattern has a suggestion of layout and is conscious about avoiding wastage so it's worth taking time reading the guidance and planning what will go where and getting creative with long pieces like the belt rectangles that can be pieced together from smaller bits which is what I ended up doing. I also sketched my finished layout for future use.  Seam allowances are 1cm with a few exceptions so it's worth transferring that info on to your pattern pieces. There are detailed instructions about sizing.  It is a generously fitting garment so I sized down a little and went my bust size rather than waist and hip so this put me at size 8 rather than size 10.   The tie fastening is easily adjustable and very forgiving.  I didn't make any other alterations, I'm 164cm or 5' 5''  for reference. 

The fit is pretty good for the first time making.  The crotch is a little long and I've already used the lengthen/shorten line on the leg pieces to reduce this by 5/8" for the next jumpsuit, but it's very wearable and black fabric detracts from any baggy bits.

I love the slanted pockets- easy to make and so nice to use, a generous size!  It's one of the best patterns I've sewn in a while.  Each summer I end up making a pattern multiple times (last year it was the Avid Seamstress Gathered dress shown here, here and here).  I'm already prepping another of these in blue chambray and a dress version in Lyocell chambray.  The wrap fits nice and close to my chest (even with a small bust) and stays in place all day.  It's also an instant outfit that can be easily dressed up or down for going out or dog walking.  I've also worn it on a weekend away and it makes for very easy wearing, a cardi or a top underneath makes this version suitable for any unseasonal weather too, vital for a British spring/summer!  The instructions are excellent, well written and with clear diagrams.  The trickiest bit is binding the wrap edge of the bodice/trouser pieces and then seaming the binding in on the trouser front. It's something you do need to take your time over but well worth doing as the rest of the construction comes together relatively quickly.

It's been washed and worn three times already, that's got to be a good sign!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

April at Plush Addict

I'm bringing my embroidery out from hibernation now that the light is brighter so, for this month's visit to sponsor Plush Addict, I picked out some embroidery related items in their new arrivals as well as threads and fabric.  There's also a 20% discount storewide discount for orders up to and including 29th April.  Find the code here!

  1.  Gutermann 10-x-100m Basics Shades Cotton Thread Set.  These thread sets are great value.  This one is a cotton selection and there are other colourways as well as sew-all polyester versions.
  2. Wooden 4-Drawer Storage-Box.  If you have that spring cleaning feeling and are clearing out and getting your sewing space organised these cute little wooden drawers are perfect for all the small items which need a home. 
  3. Owl Embroidery Floss Holder.  I couldn't resist this, such good values and very useful for embroidery projects.  Also available in other shapes including unicorn, flower and thread card.  The centre of each design can be cross stitched.  Find DMC stranded thread/floss here.
  4. Makower Sea Breeze FQ Bundle x 17Fabrics  Seaside collections are always popular and Sea Breeze has a lovely mix of nautical colours, stripes, spots and novelty prints.  Free cushion and bag patterns using these prints are also available for instant download.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Sew Over It Eve Dress Review

I'm all about the wrap fastening this year.  I've always liked a wrap dress or skirt and my middle age low tolerance for tightness or restriction is encouraging me to sew lots of wrap garments.  I bought the Sew Over It Eve dress pattern at the end of last summer and looking around clothing on the high street there are still wrap dresses and jumpsuits everywhere so it's a trend that's carried over from last summer.  This pattern does take quite a lot of fabric.  I found this rayon floral on eBay for a ridiculously cheap price,  still available at the moment.  It's very drapey, slightly shiny and was much easier to press and sew than I thought it would be!

I made version 1 but lengthened the hem so it was the longest length at the back all the way around.  I traced the pattern and made a quick toile for the bodice and then ended up removing a little of the fullness at the gathers below the front shoulder- taking out 1/2" each on each side.  I graded a UK size 8 top to size 10 at the waist and a size 10 skirt as that matches my bust and waist measurements and 3 metres of fabric are ample, although I didn't need to allow extra fabric for pattern placement of matching.

It's an easy and relatively quick sew.  The sleeves fit the armscye perfectly and the butterfly sleeve is soft and flattering to wear.  A longer sleeve would be good too...  

As I had extended the hem on the back and front skirt pieces I left the dress unhemmed for a few days so the bias on the side seams could drop and I could even out the length.  I waited until my daughter came home from Uni so she could measure up from the floor and pin an even line but I did find this handy post on the Colette blog on how to measure a skirt hem solo style.  The comments include some brilliant ideas about string and chalk.  My only departure from the instructions was with the belt.  Firstly, I sewed a long length of narrow tape into the short ends so it ran the inner length of the belt as I sewed the long seam, and then I used this to turn the tube through.  I snipped the tape close the short seam once done and removed the end fibres with tweezers.

 I also attached the belt slightly differently.  Rather than folding the raw edge over and pressing, I wanted the raw edge would be encased so before the wrap edge was folded over to the inside I sewed it into position as in the photo below.  When the wrap edge is pressed in, the belt then turns in too.  I then fol it outwards and secured with a few stitches on the outside edge.

It's a great dress to wear!  Dressy enough to feel like I've made an effort for going out and so comfortable that I could happily wear it all day.   The skirt is swishy and the front overlap is generous, no fear of revealing too much on a windy day!  I've some more viscose in my stash and it's definitely a dress that needs drape so maybe another with longer sleeves?  There are so many Eve dresses to look at online made in a range of lengths and sizes, check out the Sew Over it Pinterest gallery for inspiration or #soievedress on Instagram for a bigger selection.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Simple Folk Block of the Month Catch up

It's been a while since I blogged about my Sarah Fielke Simple Folk quilt.  It was one of her 2018 BOM and I was making good progress until around July when a mix of family commitments and a long work project took me away from regular sewing and it's taken a while for me to get going with it again.  I do sew sections of the quilt at the South West Modern Quilt Guild monthly meetings and I've just finished machine sewing border backgrounds which is dull but necessary canvas prep for the applique designs.  The bird is my final central picture block and is in part progress.  Choosing and prepping the fabrics for these blocks takes a long time and sometimes my choices change part way through if the colour or print isn't working; even the fabric texture can impact on the block.  In the bird block below, the legs were appliqued from some Japanese cotton lawn- anything thicker would've added to much bulk and frayed.  They are each about 1/8" in width. The tail fabric is a Denyse Schmidt print and is coarser than many of the other quilting cottons.  It was tricky to work with but I think I got away with it, despite the thick points.

This block has been tweaked a little from Sarah's original design- the top flower was redrafted.  I love the double leaves on this one, and the vase handles which I find much more pleasurable to sew than I first thought, curves are so satisfying, inner angles and points less so.

I am steadily working my way through all the tutorials.  That's the beauty of Sarah's BOMs, the tutorials and videos remain even though she's moved on to another quilt.  My aim is to complete the quilt top and have it professionally quilted before the year is out.

Meanwhile, Happy Easter!  We are having beautiful weather in the UK and I've been getting outside walking Joni, planting Alpines into pots to prettify my courtyard and spending time with my family.   It doesn't get better than that...I'm feeling very lucky.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Norman Hartnell Exhibition of Costume 1943

I chanced upon a random local costume exhibition with a twist this weekend after seeing a friend's Instagram post.  In our local historic guild hall, there was a two-day exhibition of Norman Hartnell's dresses, sketches and related items to raise funds for SSAFA, the Soldiers', Sailors and Airmen's Families Association.  Norman Hartnell designer to Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret.  He was also Godfather to Claire Williams, branch secretary for the Devon branch hence the local event.  She has a personal collection of dresses that he made for her, including her wedding and bridesmaids dresses, dresses she wore as a child with matching doll's frocks- all beautifully detailed with embroidery, original artwork with designs for the then Princess Elizabeth, needlework (beaded, gold work) from his couture house and evening dresses through the decades. There were about 15 dresses all wonderful to look at but difficult to photograph as the lighting wasn't great, but an enjoyable and unexpected local display for £5 entry.  In an upstairs room, there was an unexpected bonus extra of illustrations and a doll from a 1943 exhibition...


The original exhibition comprised of 20 dolls wearing international costumes, interpreted and designed by Hartnell, sewn at his London couture house with the spirit of make do and mend using the scraps from dresses.  It was sponsored by the Board of Trade with the aim of making connections between the London couture house and the Latin American Fashion Markets whilst also raising money for SSAFA.  The colour painted sketches have survived well.  Again, difficult to photograph but you can get a flavour of the designs from this Bolivian costume painting.  

This is a Hartnell with the Bolivian doll.  You can see the level of detail in the clothes and accessories.  The dolls were modelled by Helen Barclay and the faces painted by Hartnell.  

The most amazing exhibit was the original Bolivia doll.  I think she had only been recently discovered in storage and is now rather fragile and a little damaged but incredibly special to see.  I think she is also the only surviving doll. 

The exhibition ran from 1943-1946 and toured major cities in England and Scotland.  This image is from that time,  Queen Consort of King George VI with Norman Hartnell.  

This is a local poster from when the exhibition came to Exeter.  The entry was free so the money raised was through donations.  It raised £10 000 for SSAFA in total which seems like a large amount for the time-  the final years of world war two and just after.

The other sketches were rather wonderful- this is Peru...

I was rather taken with this preparatory sketch for Mexico.  The face reminds me of the actress Joan Crawford, very popular at this time.

I'm not really a royal fan, but I do like costume and history and this was such a quirky episode of fashion and wartime, a hidden gem!

Saturday, 23 March 2019

March at Plush Addict

There have been some hot deliveries at sponsor Plush Addict and I know a lot of you are big Libs Elliot fans so I wanted to be quick to show you the full Tattooed North collection.  There are also some great new arrivals in garment patterns and Spring in the Northern hemisphere combined with The Great British Sewing Bee inspiration makes it a great time to sew clothes!

Libs Elliot Tattooed North Collection for Andover: FQ Bundle 28 Fabrics
Lib's Elliot has nailed this geometric abstract collection.  All these prints are available as yardage (as stock allows) and I'm guessing this is going to be a very popular fabric range!  I like the range in scale across the prints and my favourite is Rocks in Gold, followed by Sand in Charcoal.   There's also a free quilt pattern to download too. On a side note, I really struggle spelling "Tattooed" correctly, is that just me?!

Tilly and The Buttons Eden Coat.  
Tilly is the queen of clear, simple, well-photographed instructions and that's so reassuring when tackling a bigger project like a coat.  Although it can seem a little overwhelming, a coat in this style has quite an easy fit so sizing is often much easier than a fitted bodice, and a coat is one of those garments that will see such a lot of wear.  This pattern includes instructions for making a raincoat in an anorak style, or a warmer longer duffle style coat.  Both include a lining, hood and optional zip. I especially like the duffle coat and though this fabric: Wool blend coating in blue/white combined with this Camel antic static lining would work well.  A large check so pattern matching shouldn't be too tricky and a good value wool blend. There is a wool blend solid charcoal if pattern matching is too scary!  These wooden toggles would be my choice, find others here.