Wednesday 27 February 2019

February Arrivals at Plush Addict

We are getting an early burst of Spring in the UK at the moment and I'm feeling the buzz of plants and colours emerging as I look at Plush Addict's latest arrivals for my February sponsor post.  I've chosen quilt cotton bundles in a range of sizes and a knit fabric suitable for tops, leggings, dresses and more. 

  1. Makower Fern Garden FQ Bundle.  I love the botanical illustrations in these vintage style prints, great colour palette too. Check out the Fern print, I think that's my favourite.
  2. Dashwood Stitch FQ Bundle.  Very cute modern mix of bright colours and sewing themed prints from Bethan Janine for Dashwood!  Six prints, also available as yardage.
  3. Art Gallery Sage Sunswept Canyon Knit.  I love Art Gallery knits, they are always great quality and have a good recovery to them.
  4. Dashwood Amelie FQ Bundle.  Adorable collection from Jilly P for Dashwood.   Her simple bold style is so distinctive and I love it!

Monday 25 February 2019

Kansas City Star Sampler Book Review

As a fan of 1930s quilt blocks, I've been tracking the publication date of The Kansas City Star Quilts Sampler and jumped at the chance to review it!  It's a mix of archive patterns from the Kansas City Star newspaper with modernised instructions and a history lesson.  In the 1920s American newspapers started to regularly feature quilt patterns.  This was popular with readers and the Kansas Star column started in 1928 and lasted until 1961 when they were replaced with TV listings- a sign of changing times.  The blocks featured in this book are a range of sizes just like the originals, although the sizes have been standardised a little, and there's an option in the last few pages to combine them all in a sampler.

The blocks are presented in decade order from a few 1920s blocks, a large selection of 1930s and 40s blocks during the height of the quilt revival, a smaller range from the 1950s and three blocks from the 1960s.  It's a detailed book with 64 blocks and 263 pages in all.

Throughout the book, there are regular profile pages compiled by quilt historian, Barbara Brackman and these are a fascinating read.   They are largely stories of the women, like Edna Marie Dunn, who helped to shape the quilting industry as we know it today: developing illustration aesthetics and quilt block design, creating businesses and methods of producing patterns like mail order and syndicating content to reach more customers.

Each block includes a snippet of the original pattern illustration and instructions alongside the 21st-century version.   Construction is largely through full-size templates which can be found just after each block instructions so you do need to be happy to use this method to make the majority of the blocks. Many designs are 12" x 12" blocks. The sampler at the back of the book is made by changing the sizes of many of the blocks enlarging and reducing when you print off template copies.  

There are a few blocks which have rotary cutting instructions or combine templates and rotary cutting.  Only one block is foundation paper pieced (Carnival Time) and there were some other blocks that would've benefited from FPP rather than individual templates ( Crazy Anne #2 for example) but that's a subjective viewpoint!   The templates could also be traced without seam allowances for English Paper Piecing.  There's one appliqued block (1955 Rose Cross) and one other block with an appliqued element (1936 White Lily).

I chose a couple of blocks, starting with 1941 Radio Windmill.  I still have a stack of 1920s Farmer's Wife 6" blocks from 2011 and want to add these together to make a small quilt so I opted for similar colours.  I used a scanner to copy the templates and then printed at 50% to produce a 6" x 6" finished block.   I made templates from plastic, drew on the reverse of the fabric and add seam allowances when I cut the fabric pieces. 

This block uses partial seams and brief instructions are given.  All the book instructions assume prior quilting knowledge.  You can find a beginner tutorial for partial seams here.  This block needs careful seam point alignment so I use vertical pinning to match the points and then just a single pin at the end of each seam. 

 I did make a slight error not realising that there were two mini block layouts needed to create the final layout so my food fussy cutting which was all in one direction has had a bit of spin but I love the final 6" block.  Japanese prints throughout and the strips and the food print were from Rosegarden Patchwork.

The second block is 1953 Eight-Point Snowflake and I have sewn this design before but many years ago and in a bigger size.  Again, I reduced the templates by 50% for a 6" finished block.  This block is all about the Y seams which is a technical challenge I really enjoy!  The instructions show the direction of each seam but otherwise, you need to be familiar with inset seams (I wrote a blog post on Y seams here) and these could also be hand sewn which is a great way to familiarise yourself with this sort of precision sewing.  A couple of the fabrics I used were from a few years ago when I started to my original 1920s blocks- the garden print, Denyse Schmidt floral and centre line print.  The gingham is from Rosegarden Patchwork

Here are the Kansas City Star blocks mixed in with my other blocks.  I do feel like adding to this so I think I will keep dipping into the book and sew up some other designs from across the decades.

 Thank you to Search Press UK for sending me a free copy to review.  This is definitely my kind of quilting book.  I love the history additions and there are some quirky block choices in with the more familiar selections.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Assembly Line Apron Dress in Twill

I've been wearing this Assembly Line Apron Dress since late December so it is about time I shared it here.  It's a great pattern - all the Assembly Line patterns that I've sewn (V-neck dress, Two Cuff Tops) have resulted in frequently worn garments that definitely bring me joy. 

 I have a similar ready-to-wear dress to this, a charcoal cotton drill apron dress from Toast which has a similar pleat feature at the back waist.  I've worn it a lot so this pattern was love at first sight.  I bought it last year when Assembly Line patterns were just arriving in the UK (Draper's Daughter) and were sold in single sizes.  They are now available multi-size.  I bought an S but the fit was quite generous and I needed to reduce the size a little.  I used a cotton twill fabric from Clothspot (similar o the website).  It's got a bit of weight to it and soft fuzzy feel, it's got a lightly brushed texture so I had to cut so the fabric pieces all lay in the same direction- on the layout suggestions, pieces run both ways.  I'd also had the fabric sitting around for 6 months and although it was not in direct sun, the centre fold line created a big faded vertical line down the centre which I had to cut around.  You can see the main features on the pattern technical drawing.

  • Lengthened the skirt section front and back by 2".  The pattern includes lengthening and shortening directions.
  • Seam allowances are 1cm (3/8"), to reduce the waist I sewed 1.5cm (5/8" on all side seams, a total reduction of  3.8 cm (1 1/2").  The fit is comfortable.  When the back waist snaps are undone, you need to be able to  take the dress on and off over the shoulders so it can't be too fitted at the waist.
  • I didn't use interfacing on the side and top facings as the twill was quite thick.  In hindsight, I should've used it along the top of the bodice as it has lost a little shape there.
  • Strap length reduced by 1/2"
  • Hem reduced to 3/4" as I wanted to maximise the length.  When I make another, I will cut it slightly longer to allow for the deeper hem to match the topstitching features. 

It is a relatively simple make so most of my time was spent getting the top stitch details crisp and neat.  The front strap ends aren't enclosed in the pattern instructions but I did enclose mine which made it trickier when adjusting the strap length but a much neater finish.  The pockets are roomy and well designed to have a little extra room to slide a hand in, rather than being a flat patch pocket

I love the back pleat where the waiting fastens.  It creates an A-line skirt so plenty of room for walking, but without excessive fabric around the waist.  I used Prym anorak snaps from an ancient set in my stash and they are secure and don't feel bulky.

I find dresses like this perfect for everyday wear, it's truly an ideal uniform for my lifestyle!  I like the utilitarian, but feminine aesthetic.   I'm currently cutting out a second from a lightweight blue twill that I bought years ago to become a coat.  This time I'm going to add a cotton lawn lining as my Toast apron dress has that and I like the extra layer.  I'll try to share that one a bit quicker!  In the meantime, you can find the pattern at The Draper's Daughter or go straight to the Assembly Line website.  

Friday 15 February 2019

Introducing Joni

So I have been sewing but only hand sewing in very short, small sessions because we have a newbie in the house.  Welcome Joni, almost 9 weeks and collected last weekend.  A puppy is a mix of adorable cute, silliness, frustration and chaos.  We're all finding our way nicely through it with some ups and downs.  She is a King Charles Cavalier like Lottie but a Tri-colour and obviously, each dog has its own personality and ways.  It is a strange mix missing Lottie and welcoming a puppy but such is life.  My heart is full of the wonderful times we had with Lottie and I'm looking forward to the walks and beach adventures coming our way, just as soon as we've got through house training and vaccinations.

Our cat Buffy was very keen on Lottie, so she has been incredibly tolerant of a cheeky young upstart. The sun has been shinning with all the hints of spring so they've been united in their love of finding a spot with optimum warmth and light.