Thursday 26 April 2018

Simple Folk BOM - Month 3

Three months into Sarah Fielke's Simple Folk block of the month and I'm keeping up. Each month seems to have a different challenge- be it a different aspect of appliqué or working out the spacer blocks that go in between, there's always something new to learn or a skill to improve.  The instructions are generally very detailed and the videos are a supportive visual security blanket, but  I do have moments of uncertainty.  With this block, I got a bit doubtful about how much to cut away on the reverse.  There is a porthole style element in the centre of the star shape so that was all explained and worked well but general cutting away for applique, that's not been covered so far. 

For the rest of the block, I followed my instincts and trimmed the larger layers back to a 1/4" seam allowance to reduce bulk.  I'm going to take a look at my finished blocks and do the same, they do feel rather thick untrimmed!

As always, fabric choice takes time on these blocks. I'm aware that there's lots of yellow from the corner triangles and in the spacer blocks (see below).  I'm also allowing for the scrappy pink fabrics in the mini 9-patch squares so it's a balancing act.  I haven't bought the acrylic template sets that Sarah sells for this BOM- they would make the process a lot easier, especially cutting, but the cost with overseas postage is against me at the moment, so I used template plastic and made sure I cut accurately and transferred all the seam points so I can pencil them on the fabric pieces- essential for aligning those tricky shapes and with patient construction the block came together well. I made a test block out of scraps before committing to the good stuff and that was definitely worth doing! 

 The other element in my fabric choice considerations is the tiny circles that punctuate many of the appliqué blocks.  I did end up auditioning a lot of colours and motifs in my search for the Goldilocks effect!  These are my rejects, saved for potential future use.

Here's a little layout of what will be the top left corner of this quilt. The cobalt blue will be bordering these blocks, framing the grey backgrounds and as a canvas for lots of animal-themed appliqué around the edges. I am enjoying seeing the variety of blocks from BOM participants all over the world. Observing the choices and dilemmas of so many other quilters, all working on the same pattern in such a variety of fabrics is fascinating!

Tuesday 24 April 2018

April Fabrics at Village Haberdashery, Plush Addict and Eternal Maker

A change of weather and suddenly garment sewing starts to look a lot more attractive!  Here are my dressmaking and quilting fabric choices for April from sponsors, Village Haberdashery, Plush Addict and Eternal Maker.

  1. Cotton Lawn: Watercolours. A beautiful digital print from Lady McElroy with a painterly vibe.  Hard to resist whilst the spring blooms are finally bursting forth in the UK!
  2. April Baby Quilt Fat Quarter Bundle: I love this primary brights bundle of fabrics featuring Heather Ross' Kinder range.  It would make the happiest baby quilt!
  3. CocoWawa Chestnut Sweater and Top Pattern: This is a simple make with a cute bow feature- I chose this as my daughter wears similar sweaters to this with the keyhole/bow back detailing so I thought some of you might like it- for yourselves or when sewing for others!

  1. Fat Quarter Bundle: Andover Bijoux Warm (14 fabrics). Small-scale ditsy and blender prints by Kathy Hall, all in warm tones- there's also a Marine colourway and a Neutral bundle
  2. Dashwood Corduroy: Four designs to choose from (top to bottom) Grey Butterfly, Teal Flowers, Brown Flowers, Purple Pomegranate.  These fabrics are 150cm/60" wide. 
  3. Geranium Dress, Made by Rae (Newborn to 5 yrs). I thought this sweet dress with its wide size variations would be a good fit for the Dashwood Corduroy.  Plus the mix-and-match nature of the pattern means you could easily pair a woven cotton bodice with a corduroy skirt.  A range of sleeve and skirt variations are also included.
  1. Rainbow Stripe Jersey.  Amazing sparkly lurex rainbow stripe on with grey background. 90% cotton/5% Lurex jersey/5% Elastane
  2. Kona Neon Bundle. I must be craving colour as my choices seem to be super bright and saturated- and making my eyes very happy!  Includes FQs of the following Kona colours: Breakers, Azure, Key Lime, Bright Idea, Cantaloupe, Orangeade, Sassy Pink and Bright Pink. 
  3. Kokka Double Gauze, Rings Green, by Ellen Baker.  To temper the brightness down, I was drawn to this darker print which has a playful graphic quality and I love the minty green.  Double gauze too, what's not to like?  Suitable for an Ogden Cami, a pattern which I've felt compelled to order, I see so many good versions online!

Thursday 19 April 2018

Cocoa Stripe Frankie Dress

I bought the Tessuti Frankie pattern a couple of years ago and over time I've made a couple of tops which see a lot of wear, especially Spring and Autumn.  I've been keeping my eye out for the right fabric to make the Frankie dress which is just a longer more flared version of the top and I found a Cocoa and white woven stripe in cotton spandex at Girl Charlee. I checked the weight with Mark and he said it was slightly heavier than their Bolt Cotton (220g/m2 compared to 180g/m2) (see a Bolt clothing example with these PJs) and it worked out as the right weight for this style. The fabric is a designer overstock and is lovely quality. I would use it for tops and dresses with an A-line shape or gathered at the waist like a Colette Moneta.

I used a mix of my tweaked Frankie top pattern and a fresh PDF print out of the dress laid over the top. Stripes are tricky to cut and this is a cotton with 5% spandex which means great recovery but also the fabric curls very easily when laid out flat. My solution is to mark the centre front fold with pins, then cut a vertically symmetrical half with the pattern pinned on and lay the cut-out fabric along the fold matching up the stripes on the uncut fabric. The first half acts as a pattern piece and stripes can be matched exactly. I repeat this for the back. For sleeves, I cut them one at a time and use the first face as a pattern for the second, laying the right side to right side to create a mirrored pair.  I did the same process on my Sew Over It Molly Dress.

As with my other Frankies, I used a Liberty lawn facing rather than jersey which is a departure from the original pattern; they recommend a jersey facing. I am wearing a nude colour cool-feel stretch slip underneath which I often wear under shift or jersey dresses as it smooths any underwear lines and stops bright colours showing through, plus it seems to make all dresses hang better.

Size XS body, S sleeves and armhole,  3/4 sleeves, short dress length. The only alteration was the front neck is dropped down in the centre about 1/2" more than the original line. For reference, I'm 5'5" with a 33" chest. You can read my general thoughts on the pattern construction here. I pinned and basted all the stripes to pattern match the sleeve and side seams.

I'm really happy with the end result.  It's a simple shape, I really like the close fit at the shoulders and the trapeze style flare from the bust line downwards. It's incredibly easy to wear, forgiving on any belly ins and outs and perfect for warm weather, although the elbow length sleeve option is on my radar when I make another!   Girl Charlee kindly supplied the fabric for this blog make. 

Saturday 14 April 2018

Spelling Bee Saturday: Jar of Hearts Block

Hello again and welcome to my third stop on the Spelling Bee Saturday! I am this Saturday's guest blogger for the mega Fat Quarter Shop and Lori Holt sew-along and this time, I've sewn up antoher picture block, 'the jar'.  The heart always makes me think of Christina Peri's Jar of Hearts song... 

This one is quite a busy block but I think I've just about got away with it; the aqua gives sufficient contrast.  
Here are the fabrics used, some are from a few years backs so I only have minimal details!
Background: Heather Ross Tiger Lily, Small Roses in Cream
Jar: Denyse Schmidt, DS Quilts Collection, Daisy Mae for Fabric Traditions (2011)
Lid: Alexander Henry
Heart: Various red scraps

I loved this block so I made a second, this time with a linen background:

Background: Robert Kaufman, Essex Linen
Jar: Riley Blake recipe print (2011)
Lid: Alexander Henry
Heart: Suzuko Koseki for Yuwa Button fabric, Cloud 9 Checks, Lecien Old New floral, and a sketch type print.

For all the blocks I make from this book,  I've used Lori's design boards to organise the block pieces, it stops me losing the little bits! They are quick to make and are a great use for cardboard and batting offcuts. Here's a jar block before construction begins...

My plan is to sew an 'I Love... style quilt using the Picture Day layout from the Spelling Bee book.  Here are my blocks so far,  I'm hoping to alternate the backing fabrics.  The Globe block was still having it's embroidery addition when I was photographing these. I've mixed in some of my Sew-Ichigo designs (lamp and radio) alongside Lori's blocks. These all have a finished size of 6" square.

If you've been following along and want to check other people's blocks for inspiration, the Instagram hashtags are:  #SpellingBeeSaturday and #fqsquiltalong
  • Links to all the Spelling Bee sew along blocks so far are here
  • My review of the Spelling Bee book is here where you'll also find links on where to buy the book.

Friday 6 April 2018

Wendy Ward's A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knits: Book Blog Tour!

I am so happy to be a part of Wendy Ward's A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics book blog tour.  The book actually came out at the beginning of the year but sold out so quickly, the tour had to be delayed to allow the second run of copies to be printed!  Wendy has a particular talent for demystifying and simplifying the sewing process and knitted fabrics are her specialism.

I made the Kinder cardigan which comes with three length options. Wendy has posted lots of versions of these on Instagram and it has been a popular pattern with many social media sharing sewists.  I made a test garment from some gold french terry that's been in my stash for a while: I wanted to check the sizing and experiment with length and pockets. As with Wendy's other books, the patterns are full-size and printed on paper sheets at the back of the book and you trace off the pieces you need. Some pieces extend over two sheets and there are extension lines, matching scissor symbols and numbered points to help you match the pieces - just remember to transfer all the markings when you are tracing off the relevant section.  A quick reference key for locating the pattern pieces for all the garments can be found on page 23.

I made a tester version first in some gold coloured french terry that I've had for a while. I traced the smallest size, extended the length beyond the shortest option but not as long as the mid-length option. I also included the pockets but placed them higher. You do need to plan the length of the Kinder before you stitch it up as the pockets are sandwiched in the neckband and side seams and the neckband creates the hem length.  I chose long sleeves without the cuff. There are five size options and you use your actual bust measurement to decide. Wendy includes finished measurements for bust, sleeve and back on this garment so you can make pattern alterations if needed before you cut out. This pattern has plenty of room built in so it can be layered over clothes.

Good result, great pockets, but I thought the shortest length would suit me better and work well with skirts and dresses. The fabric for the second version was kindly supplied by Minerva Crafts. It's Atelier Brunette french terry which is a wonderfully soft, mid-weight, french terry sweatshirt fabric- this is the same weight, different print.  It is stretchy, especially for a french terry and the colour is a deep navy with bronze/gold sprinkles.  I've used this fabric before and I find it easiest to hand baste all my seams before overlocking to manage the stretchiness and keep the seams even whilst sewing. If you've been following the book tour, you'll remember that Zoe used the same fabric and also made the short version, before going on to make a longer version in Ponte de Roma. You can find other sweatshirt fabric options here at Minerva.

So let's talk more about the Kinder. I see it as the beginner-friendly cousin of Wendy's MIY Langley cardigan. Construction is simpler and with a neat finish and the result is a wardrobe stalwart that will enjoy lots of wear! As with the other book patterns, it can be sewn on a sewing machine or using an overlocker and a sewing machine. On the Kinder, the hems are finished with straight stitching on the machine as no stretch is needed- so on my version, the neckband top stitching and all the hems are sewn with a long straight stitch. My favourite part is the neckband which just like the Longley cardigan, fits like a dream and sits very nicely on my neck. My only change on this version was to taper the sleeves from armhole to wrist and shorten the sleeve length by 1"/2.5cm at the cuff.
There's a plethora of guidance in the book for sewing the Kinder, as well as the other patterns and for sewing knits in general. There are extensive fabric recommendations for each garment and all the photo samples have fabric credits so you can recreate the look. Wendy suggests beginners start with a stable knit for the Kinder as it's loose fit doesn't rely on stretch.  Ponte Roma would work well, as would sweatshirt, jersey or scuba, so there are lots of options.  As with Wendy's other books, instructions are detailed and clear, supported with generously sized diagrams and photographs and there's something to learn for all levels of sewing experience. The aesthetic is clean and modern with classic basic shapes suitable for everyday, active and loungewear. There are lots of other bloggers to catch on the tour all with different styles and the tour continues with the Minerva Crafts Blog

A big thank you to Wendy's publisher, for sending me a copy of the book for being part of the book tour.  They are also offering blog readers 25% discount when buying a copy of A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics via their retail site, Just enter the code BLOG25 at the checkout, valid until 21st April 2018. Bargain!

Monday 2 April 2018

Simple Folk Month 2

I completed the second month of Simple Folk, Sarah Fielke's block of the month for 2018.  You can see my first month's blocks here. The swan block was straightforward; the hardest element was choosing the right balance of fabrics and I'm not totally happy with my choices but they're ok and in the whole quilt, I'm sure they'll be fine.

I've been following the directions pretty much to the letter so those tiny eyes are turned by hand.  I do use Karen Kay Buckley's perfect circles for any circles that fit the sizes I have but the eyes are too small for that.

The second block was a bit more challenging and I panicked a bit getting it all to fit and ended up trimming the odd leaf and tweaking the placement.  I'm happy overall but the top pollen circles were a bit of a squeeze and the vase is a little wobbly.  The fabric layers certainly build up and guidance about cutting away has only just come up via Facebook group discussions so I'll incorporate that more into future blocks and go back and trim on what I've sewn so far where possible. 

Meanwhile, I'm storing my blocks in a block book, made from a free tutorial included in the BOM.  The block is from 500 Quilt Blocks, I still have some of my favourite blocks from the book! 
I'm happy with my blocks so far and I'm feeling more confident with the applique techniques as it progresses.