Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Sew Over It Dana Dress In Double Gauze

Back in September, I bought the Sew Over It e-Book, Work to Weekend and made the Dana dress, as we are heading towards December, I thought it was time I shared it!  It was still warm when I sewed it up and I made it for my birthday at the end of September.  I'm guessing next time I wear this it will be late spring.  The pattern fabric recommendations all feature drape - viscose and rayon wovens, crepe, georgette.  I find crepe and georgette a bit impractical for my everyday wear so I used a soft cotton double gauze, very similar to the fabric used for this dress which I wore repeatedly during the summer.  I picked it up as an end of roll from Stitch Fabrics at Festival of Quilts so I only had 2 metres (wide width) and had to cut very creatively.  This included piecing strips to make the belt, to squeeze the dress out of what I had and there were only tiny scraps left over.  This fabric has more drape than a Nani Iro/Kokka double gauze and is very soft.

I made a straight size 8, no changes.  I usually find I am a size 8 in less fitted SOI patterns and a size 10 in those with less ease.   The fit is good apart from the V which is too low for my small bust- too much rib revealed!  It's a relatively straightforward make with added interest from the covered button placket.  I hadn't sewn one of these before and this fabric was a little bouncy for creating the extra pleat that lies over the fastenings, but I made it work. 

As the V-neck is generous, the dress fits over my head without needing to unfasten any buttons so I omitted the button holes and stitched shell buttons through the placket layers.  I hand stitched the V where the front pieces crossover to secure it.

My only addition was a belt loop at each side seam.

It's a very informal style to wear- I really liked the patch pockets, especially in this fabric and the sleeve length is flattering.  I also liked the tie belt- I cannot bear anything restricting around the waist at the moment.  However, the belt also has a touch of dressing gown about it which makes me wonder whether this style has staying power in my wardrobe.  I'll have to see how much wear it gets next year, maybe it was a bit of an Indian summer fling!   

Friday, 2 November 2018

A Very Vintage Christmas Sew Along

Welcome to my post for week two as part of A Very Vintage Christmas Sew-along!  with Fat Quarter Shop and Lori Holt.  You can read all the SAL info including the schedule here.  Before I get into details about my make (Gingerbread House block made into a Snowglobe cushion) I'd love to show you a little more from Lori's brilliant new book!

I don't know how Lori does it.  Her books are packed full of makes - quilts and small projects - and her designs have such wonderful retro references; she must never stop sewing to make all the things, and as with her other books, the photographs are beautifully styles.  This book one is obviously Christmas themed, but many of the blocks and projects could be used for other times of the year, and as with her other books, it's spiral bound for easy use and the blocks instructions are for both 6" and 12"finished squares.

I especially liked the Vintage Christmas projects.  These are quick useful makes and I can never resist making more Christmas things, even when I already have quite a few!

The two colour quilts caught my eye, book marked as a future project maybe!?

The Gingerbread House block was fast to sew up.  Lori uses her tried-and-trusted technique of drawing diagonals on the reverse of squares and rectangles to create the 45-degree angles that make up details like the window awning, chimney sides and roof.  I like to tick the cutting list as I prep the fabric, as well as using a design board to lay all the pieces out before I sew.  The Snow Globe cushion used the 6" block and it only takes a few pieces of background fabric to create the snow globe effect.  I cut my red background slightly wider to produce a cushion bigger than the 12" square size in the book.  Mine is approx 16" square.

For the chimney smoke, I drew the line on removeable marker, threaded my machine with Aurifil 12wt in the top thread/50wt in the bobbin and stitched slowly, tying the ends in on the back.   A larger needle size helps with this.  I used a 100/16 Superior Needle.

Fabrics Used
Chimney/House -Kona Wheat
Roof- Riley Blake?  It was given to me and I'm down to tiny scraps.
Window/Door Glass- Cherry Christmas by Aneela Hoey for Moda
Door and Window frame- unknown scraps
Window Awning- Red Hatch from Day Sail, Bonnie & Camille for Moda
Grass and Path, Eat Drink and Be Ugly, Sandy Gervais for Moda
House/Globe Background- Sevenberry Dots blue on white
Globe Base- Cosmo Cricket Early Bird for Moda (I really miss Cosmo Cricket fabrics!)
Red background - Cherry Christmas by Aneela Hoey for Moda
Binding- Ta Dot in Ceda by Michael Miller

The Vintage Christmas book is available at The Fat Quarter Shop (USA)
In the UK, it looks like stock is still arriving but these shops usually sell Lori's quilting books: Patchwork DreamerSew Hot, Hulu Crafts.

I'll be back later in the Sew Along with a Vintage Pinwheel block!  

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book Hop: Helping Hands

Welcome to the second stop on Karen Lewis' new Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book!  This book tour flows between blogs and Instagram accounts. Check out #wabisabisewing on Instagram to find posts related to the book.  'Wabi-Sabi' is a Japanese aesthetic celebrating beauty in that which is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It embraces flaws, irregularities, wear-and-tear and finding contentment in what we have.  Karen has created twenty home decor projects embracing a wabi-sabi approach and covering a range of techniques (piecing, applique, sashiko for example).  She uses a variety of natural fibre textiles -barkcloth, linen, quilting cotton, denim- and a restrained colour palette to make a beautifully harmonious sewing book.   

I chose to make the Helping Hands mitten-style pot holder.  Part of the book's ethos is to use what you have so I used offcuts from a couple of projects- barkcloth from a dress and a heavy Art Gallery denim from a bag- along with thread, large eyelets, small hammer style rivets, leather, insulated fleece and wadding scraps all from my drawers and cupboards.

There are cutting plans, photos and diagrams alongside the written instructions so it's a quick, simple make. You can't tell from the book photos, but the upper section is shorter than the back section to make it easier for your hand to slide in.

I added some hand stitching in linen thread as I had such a lovely colour match, I couldn't resist fitting it in somewhere!  

I used a single rather than a double binding as the fabric was quite thick.

For me, Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a springboard type of a book where looking through it leads me on to make something inspired by it, so, after making Helping Hands,  I made another potholder- standard rather than gloved and with other fabric scraps.  This time I used linen left over from my Burnside Bibs and some Japanese print kitchen-themed scraps. I pinned the scrap on to the top layer, frayed the scrap edges and used running stitches and linen thread to attach one layer to another.

 I've recently been trying the Clover open-sided metal thimble for any hand sewing where I need a bit of push and I really like it!   It does leave a bit of a metallic scent on the skin but it is strong and with the adjustable prongs at the front, I found I could easily adjust it for a close fit.  I used a size M.

The quilting was the same sashiko stitches pushed through the layers.  The lines are a little wobbly and uneven as hand quilting is not my strongest sewing skill, but the effect is soft and textural.  For the loop, I used Prym snap pliers to cut out a little hole in the potholder corner and in the leather before slotting the small rivet pieces in and using a hammer to close them together. I've had these rivets for ages and I've put off using them as I wasn't really sure if I'd need a special too, but it turns out that a wack with a hammer is perfect!

Wabi-Sabi is such an appealing idea. We could all do with finding perfection in the imperfect, rather than constantly striving for more.  Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a lovely gentle book which guides you through the projects; nothing too challenging but still plenty to learn, and there are fast or slow makes depending on your mood.  The photos are pure eye candy with Karen's trademark blues, greys and mustards flowing through the imagery, gorgeous! I've got a copy of Wabi Sabi Sewing to giveaway today on Instagram today @verykerryberry and watch out for other's doing the same in the book tour.

Large Eyelets
Small rivets
Wabi Sabi Sewing book - Amazon, Book Depository, signed copy
Insul fleece
Linen thread
Prym Vario Pliers
Clover metal thimble

Monday, 22 October 2018

October at Eternal Maker and Plush Addict

Time for a visit to my sponsors, Eternal Maker and Plush Addict and rummage through their new arrivals...

Eternal Maker

  1. Essex Linen Classic Wovens Navy Check.  Timeless, large woven check, love it!
  2. Comic Book Heroes FQ Bundle.  No shop puts together a curated bundle quite like Eternal Maker.  These fabrics are also available singularly but the easy route is buying them in a quilt-ready stack like this!
  3. Snowy Polar Bears Japanese Cotton.  I find these softly coloured cute Japanese fabrics irresistible, especially as the weather gets cooler.
  4. Equations in Black, Science Fair, from Robert Kaufman.  A great take on a text fabric, also available in white.

  1. Mammoth Flannel in red from Robert Kaufman.  Extra squishy cotton flannel fabric, ideal for adult lounging PJ pants. Not a huge amount left of this, just saying!
  2. Stretch Cotton Jersey- Swans in Yellow.   Cotton lycra blend so good recovery and ideal for tops, dresses, leggings etc.
  3. Riley Blake Blue Carolina, 11 Fabrics.  This is the first time I've seen this collection from Christopher Thompson, The Tattooed Quilter and there's a pleasing mix of pretty prints.
  4. Sevenberry Leopards in Black. Leopard print seems to be everywhere in the shops this year so I couldn't resist this print. 

Monday, 8 October 2018

Tips and Tricks for Taking Part in an Instagram Photohop

If you are a sewer and on Instagram, chances are that you've taken part in at least one photohop. These usually take place over a month, are themed (e.g. quilting, dressmaking, sewing) and you post a daily photo following a daily prompt from the organiser and have a hashtag so you can search and meet other people taking part.  There may be giveaways and prizes which are sponsored by fabric shops/companies/designers as an incentive for taking part and aiming to complete all the prompts.

This September, I co-hosted the  #GreatBritishQuilter photohop with Sarah Ashford.  This involved us each posting a daily prompt at 8am plus posting our personal response to the prompt, whilst also prepping the images and texts for a month of prompts and giveaways! September was a busy month for me so I knew I had to get organised and along the way, I discovered some tips and tricks that were helpful as a participant as well as a host. Instead of my previous photohop experience of scrabbling around on the day of a prompt trying to create a particular image, getting frustrated and usually abandoning the photohop or posting intermittent responses, I felt more relaxed, I could actively read comments and 'meet' the other people taking part and I really enjoyed it!  Here are my tips and tricks...

1. Print and Plan
Before a photohop starts, the organisers post an image with all the prompts.  For the #GreatBritishQuilter I posted a PDF in a blog post so this could be printed off at a large size.  If this is not the case, screenshot the prompt post and print it off so you can write on it and plan your photos.  This may sound time-consuming but a little time spent doing this before the photohop starts will save you time and stress on those difficult days when the unexpected has happened and finding an image of your favourite fabrics is not going to happen!
Read through the prompts and have your phone/tablet/laptop/desktop or wherever you have the majority of your photos stored.  The likelihood is that you'll already have some images that will work for the prompts- I've shown these below with an asterisk.

Now you don't have to use these older images, you could take a new one, but it's good to know that if push comes to shove, you have at least something to hand.  I did this mainly on my desktop computer so I made sure that all the photos I thought I might use were copied into an iPhoto folder.   For example, I found a photo from a family holiday in Amsterdam a few years ago that was perfect for prompt 27. Show Us a Rainbow:

This image ended up as one of my most popular posts!  Although there's no fabric, there's a definitely a rainbow and it was a great example of how quilt inspiration can be anywhere! 

Next, look at either a week or 10 days ahead at the photos you will need to take.  These are marked 'To Do' on the prompt sheet above.  This gives you a focus so that you can think, ok, on the next day with good light, I need to get my fabrics out and take a pic, or,  I need to walk to my local fabric shop and take a photo of the outside.  If you can get ahead,  work out what you have and what you need, a photohop becomes so much easier!

2. Cloud Storage: Dropbox
I found straightaway with my old photo search that I had some images on my phone, and others on my desktop (they'd been long deleted on my phone).  Because Sarah and I were co-hosting, we also needed all the prompts and text files in a place we could both access and Sarah had already done this using Dropbox.  I already the free version of Dropbox as Cloud storage for files on my desktop and I have the app on my phone, so we had a GBQ folder for the prompts images and text files, and we separately had our own folders for our personal images- for me this was KGBQ.  I copied all the photos I thought I might use into this from my various photo devices and numbered them to correspond with the prompt number. On the Dropbox app, when you open an image and hold your finger on it, an option comes up to 'save to camera roll' - this is on an iPhone, I assume a similar/same option for Android- and then the image on your phone and easily available to post on Instagram. 

There are other Cloud storage websites and apps, choose the one that works best for you.

3. Utilise Current Projects

I was making a quilt for an exhibition in September so I maximised the number of prompts that this project could cover, it was 7. My current WIP, 11. Project Last Finished, 20. Walking Foot, Free Motion or Hand Quilting, 28. Quilt Basting,  with different photos as appropriate. 

4. Get Creative
Some prompts can make you scratch your head- how will I show that in photo form.  For me this was 'Quilty Quote'.  I didn't want to repost a meme I'd found on Google images, so instead I used the Over app and wrote a quote from one of my favourite sewing songs, Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton.

On many of the prompts, people came up with all sorts of visual and linguistic interpretations and it was part of the fun of reviewing each day's responses!  Don't be afraid to get creative with a prompt!

5. Try Something New
There's usually a prompt in a photohop that may mean you need to try something new- whether this is   creating a Boomerang video or working out what a 'Flatlay' is.  Google is your friend here,  do your research, google what it is and have a go.  Some of the first time Flatlay images in #GreatBritishQuilter incredible!

6. Instagram Drafts
I had no idea about Instagram drafts before co-hosting #GreatBritishQuilter and when Sarah mentioned it and how helpful it could be, I was straight onto Google and working out how to do it- this video tutorial is helpful.  This a relatively recent addition to Instagram and now I've found it, I use it all the time!  It allows you to prep a series of posts, edit them as many times as you need to and save them as drafts.  When it comes to posting, you tap drafts instead of your camera roll photos and you can post quickly and easily.  A revelation!  The carousel feature which allows you to post multiple photos in a single post is also very helpful if that's something you've not found yet- example of how it works here

7. Use a Photo Editing App/Website
Sometimes you want to add something extra to your prompt image like additional text, or collaging a series of images and there are lots of websites and apps available for this, many offer basic features for free.  I use Picmonkey and Layout App and Kim recently suggested Canva which is a free app to create images and designs.  I made the first image using Canva for the first time!

8. Use the Suggested Hashtag
Follow your hosts and use their preferred Hashtags.  It means they can find your posts, like and comment on them, and other people taking part can do the same.  Photohops are all about finding new people in your tribe.  I met loads of new-to-me quilters in #GreatBritishQuilter, found out new tips, shops, books and so much more.

I hope these have been of help and also encourage you to get prepared and take part on a whole month of photo prompts.  I found #GreatBritishQuilter got me through an emotional month as our daughter got ready to leave for University and gave me fresh creative inspiration.  If you have any additional tips, please share in the comments!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

September at Plush Addict and Eternal Maker

There's still bright sunshine in South West UK and some amazing autumnal colour, it's time for a visit to my regular sponsor shops, Plush Addict -good timing, Plush Addict has free UK postage this weekend- and Eternal Maker.

Plush Addict
(click image to see in detail)

  1. Dashwood Studio Cool For Cats FQ Bundle (8 fabrics). Another wonderful collection from Dashwood.   Six cat themed prints along with some tonal grid style blenders, an quilt waiting to be made!  Separate yardage of each print is available.
  2. Dashwood Dovestone Wildflowers (Rayon) Viscose  This fabric sold out super fast last time it was in stock, so you have been warned.  This is a super drapey wide rayon fabric, perfect for kimonos, dresses, palazzo style pants, skirts, tops-  any garment making where drape is essential!  This fabric needs gentle prewashing and as with rayon/viscose generally, care when cutting, sewing and pinning. Also available in gold and grey.
  3. Makower Dream 20 Fabric FQ Bundle.  A pretty mix of blush pinks, creams and soft blues.  Available as a bundle or separately.

Eternal Maker 
(click image to see in detail)

  1. **PRE ORDER**Trixie Fat Quarter Bundle by Heather Ross (21 FQs)  This is a hard one to resist.  Pre-order (currently due March 2019) so maybe a potential Christmas present.  I love the addition of the little gingham to this collection.
  2. Wool Mix Spot.  Reversible poly/wool blend woven fabric which is ideal for winter coats and jackets.  This reminds me of Boden coats!  This would be very cute with the Named Clothing Lourdes cropped jacket for cute little A-line jacket.
  3. Lady McElroy Serenity.  Gorgeous large digital floral print on viscose on a sunny yellow background.  Wide width and lots and lots of drape.  This is a lovely dressmaking fabric!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Book Review: Easy Precision Piecing by Shelley Scott-Tobisch

I love tips and tricks and when it comes to piecing, so I leapt at the chance to review Easy Precision Piecing by Shelley Scott-Tobisch on Search Press' new releases.  
Shelley is a new quilter to me but she has many years experience of teachingand she and her husband Bernie run easyprecision.com which sells their classes, retreats, books and products related to precision piecing.  I'm just reviewing the book and I'm concentrating on how many tips and tricks I can pick up and put into use!

You can see from the contents, it covers all the different elements that contribute to precision in detail. There are projects, six in total, but for me, they are a secondary feature of the book.  This is a resource for people who want their seam allowances to measure a scant 1/4", always have their seams nest together neatly, cut fabric accurately and get neat points on every half square triangle.  The layout is well organised and highly functional - there are lots of headings, extensive cross-referencing, TIP signposts for mini tips and Precision Piecing Key sections (see  the headings below with the blue background) which highlight particularly useful information. 

Most of the methods and tips are don't require special resources, but I was rather taken with the idea of using an applicator pen for starch. The Easy Press Pen mentioned is not something I could find here but I did find a refillable brush pen on a favourite UK website, Cultpens.com and I'm going to try this  on my next foundation piecing project. Lots of the other equipment suggestions can easily be found at home - dry iron, double-sided tape, pencils, colour clips, lingerie mesh wash bag, plastic boxes and obviously a standard paintbrush brush will work for brushing liquid starch over seams too. I like ECOS Earth Friendly plant-based liquid starch.

I found this a gloriously geeky book, full of those little details where I thought, aha!  What a great idea!  I found some things that I knew and lots that I didn't, along with handy reminders on basics design ideas and organising methods.  A quick example - the adage, 'the bigger the number, the bigger the needle' I knew in reference to sewing machine needles, but what I didn't know that 100/16 needle is 1mm in diameter, a 90/14 is 0.9mm and so on.  My sewing mind is blown!  The presentation is practical rather than pretty-pretty, with an emphasis on clear photographs and detailed instructions.  I easily worked my way through the whole book- it ends with some handy tips on binding.  There's no index at the back, but as the cross-referencing is so extensive, I didn't miss this!

The Appleyard quilt which features on the cover is my favourite project.  It features more than 700 different prints and yet the colour wash effect is so gentle.  The quilt projects use the quilt block bases which are a printed paper pull-out at the back of the book.  These are a guide for fabric placement and pressing and reinforcing principles repeated throughout the book, so useful for a beginner quilter who wanted to have a practice run, but they are an extra rather than the core of the book.

Thank you to Search Press for sending me a free copy to review.  As ever, all opinions are my own.