Wednesday, April 30, 2014

basting is the fun part

basting is the fun part

Here I go English paper piecing (EPP), and basting is the fun part.  Quick hand stitches baste fabric around paper templates - crisp corners, fancy shapes, in mere moments.  It's as if EPP seeks to redeem an otherwise weighty word.

No sooner had I finished that handstitched dress than I began plotting new slow-stitching project(s) with a free, unhindered spirit.  But shorter ones this time.  For starters, much shorter.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

little strings of Cheer {how to's}

in AMH Voile + Liberty Lawn

My sewing table has been crowded lately with patient little fabric stacks, several corresponding to last week's "to make, to do."   One morning I set out to craft a little string of cheer.

crafting some cheer

little string of cheer

It's one of the simplest things I've ever sewn, but I'm quite charmed.  Much thanks to Emily Moss for the inspiration!  I tacked the bitty thing up in my dining room to soften that wall of frames.  And then my husband picked me a posy of the last azalea blossoms (so sweet) which were happy to keep the bunting company.

good morning

There were enough extra flags leftover for a second string of cheer, which I've used to adorn the wall beside my writing desk.  These are super easy and super quick.  Don't resist!

little string how to's

1.  Choose your very most favorite fabric bits and bobs.  What better way to enjoy them?

2.  Cut fabric flags ranging from 2" to 2.25" wide and 2.75" to 3.5" tall.

3.  Choose your bunting string.  I used baker's twine.  Ribbon, regular string, pearl cotton thread... lots of things that would work as well!

4.  Press fabric flags 1/2" toward the wrong side.  Stitch at 3/8" from the folded edge to secure fold.  If sewing with voile or lawn, use a fine needle, short stitch length and do not backstitch to maintain smooth raw edges.

5.  Use a safety pin to string your flags in a pleasantly random order. 

6.  Arrange on your wall with washi tape and enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2014

this weekend

I'll be real... overall this weekend was pretty lousy.  I had lots of time to myself but didn't feel like doing anything, even sewing.  Eventually I put on my big girl panties and decided to sew anyways.  Out of a passel of available projects, working with my bee blocks sounded the most promising.  And you know what?  It turned out to be bright shiny spot in my day.  I did have fun and I'm eager to get back to it today.  So, before I have a finished quilt top, I figured I should catch you up!

scrappy happy inspiration pull


Remember this fabric pull?  I asked my bee mates at the Love circle of do. Good Stitches to make traditionally pieced blocks of any kind, any size in these sorts of colors. I made a mariner's compass and some tiny plus blocks for my contribution.

Check out some of the blocks I received!

dresden closeup
large dresden by Natalie at Greenleaf Goods

do. good stitches love circle blocks for march
log cabin series by Ara Jane at you know what i love

Connemara
connemara from Daisy at Ants to Sugar

Bee blocks ready to go! #doGoodStitches #lovecircle #friendshipbraid #crossstitchblock
friendship braid and cross stitch blocks by Deborah of Little Ms Sew-Unsew


Plus many more treasured bits and pieces!

My bee mates really impressed me with the quality and quantity of blocks they contributed.  I think I could make two quilts with these blocks, if I stuck with the "lots of negative space" concept I had imagined. Instead, I decided to tuck the blocks in here and there, creating a pretty dense quilt with so many sweet blocks.  It's turning out to be a really girly, bohemian sort of quilt, and I'm a fan. 

juggling bee blocks!

 Here's a teaser.  More soon!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

oddities

String blocks for do. Good Stitches

Isn't that good enough to eat?  Today I'm loving these bright, scrappy string blocks, made for the Love circle of do. Good Stitches.  Why haven't I made a scrappy string quilt yet?  I've got the strings for it, that's certain.  Thinking that's my next string quilt (not my next quilt, mind you). 

Oh, and good thing I made an extra, cause one block had a fatal encounter with the rotary cutter.  Oops.  I'll send it to Jacey anyways, just in case she wants to put it on the quilt back or whatever.  I favor including the oddities whenever possible. 

foundation pieced!

This morning I wanted  a quick, mindless sew.  Foundation piecing always does the trick.  Using the paper as the guide makes it easy to select long-enough strips without measuring.  These are 8.5" square unfinished blocks, easily cut from printer paper.  You add the strips one at a time, sewing right through the paper with a short stitch length.  The needle perforates the paper so that it can be removed when the quilt top is assembled and before backing/quilting.  For more string block tips, see Jacey's post

Hmm... what's next?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

freshly stocked

Today I've added some fresh stock to my Etsy Shop.  Happily I do sell quilts here and there when I keep them on Etsy, so today I added some quilts I had been saving for a someday-craft-show.  Probably won't do a craft show again, if Etsy keeps working.  It's just more convenient this way!  I listed...

Shelburne Falls quilt

Improv in Shelburne Falls.  Which tempted me to start another improv quilt.  Temptation which I shall resist at present.

Nursery Versery mini quilt

Nursery Versery Mini.  Surely this level of cuteness belongs with some baby soon.

 27

Raindrops and Sunshine.  A happy, scrappy quilt made for Curves Class encore.

Jade Princess twin quilt

and Jade Princess.  This twin-sized quilt is a favorite of mine, but we don't need it and it's hogging cabinet space.  Off it goes (fingers crossed)!

I also re-posted some stock that didn't sell the first time, now at lower prices.  All of the above links are to posts on the blog about the projects, since I figured some of you may have missed the original posts and would like to learn more about the journey.

If shopping is more your thing, jump over to my Etsy Shop!  And thanks for looking.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

to make, to do

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and experience a moment of crystal clarity?  Suddenly your mind starts racing with a million ideas, all of which seem positively FANtastic at the time?  The other night I tossed and turned, but mostly in a good way, my mind churning with things I wanted to make or do.  Of course I could not go back to sleep until I jotted the ideas down.   So now I have a list!

to make.. nesting cubes
from Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner

***Make these fabric nesting cubes with my friend Heather.  She has some great fabric for the project and I'd love to help her get started sewing for her baby.

Lovely Liberty of London flag buntings
photo and bunting by Emily Moss

***Sew a mini scrappy bunting to soften up my photo collage in the dining room.  It really  needs something with soft edges.

to do... paint kitchen


***Paint the kitchen "spring linen" peach.  Quick, while my husband says it's OK!

photo and tutorial by SnowyBliss

***Make a bouquet or two or three of fabric roses.  Because somehow I've never yet made fabric flowers.  Do you think they'd be pretty or silly?


***See if a friend from Florida might be like to come up for a visit and paint a mural on that big blank wall behind my piano that looks quite a lot like this Anthropologie wallpaper.  (Yeah, that one's a little far fetched, but remember, it was 3 am.)

Sleeping Bag Tutorial


***Make Aria sleeping bag like Liam's in Heather Ross' soon-to-be-reprinted unicorns.  Fabric not expected until July though...

***Plan a homeschooling road trip for next spring.  Because, if I'm going to take so long getting pregnant, I may as well use the time wisely.

to sew... hexagons!


***Consider a new hexagon project.  Now that my dress is finished, I can start a new English Paper piecing project totally guilt-free!

Well then, time's a-wasting!  What's next on your list?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dressed at last

Easter, 2014

Once upon a time I threaded a needle and took the first stitches on a very long journey....

Anna's Garden stitching

Two years ago I started work on a DIY kit from Alabama Chanin.  I didn't let myself fret too often over how long it took.   This was the one project I would pick up and put down on a whim.  And now, just in time for Easter Sunday (and thanks to some prodding by some good friends), I'm finally wearing it!  I almost can't believe it myself.

in Alabama Chanin

and it fits!

Alabama Chanin DIY kit

Guess what... I love it!  Up until the very last moment I wasn't sure how I'd feel when I put it on.  But, I think it fits well and, most of all, I'm thrilled to know that I created it by hand, every. last. stitch.   Yes, this is handstitched garment, made of two layers of jersey.   The beautiful floral design is brought forth via reverse applique.  It's not hard.  But, time consuming?  Definitely.

Since my sewing journey, I've made several things Alabama Chanin style, but this is the first whole garment.  I really wouldn't have taken the plunge if I hadn't received the gift of a DIY kit that spring.   With the kit, you receive all the pattern pieces cut in your size and already stenciled, so you can get right down to the sewing.  I followed the measurement guide and ordered a large.  It needed taking in here and there in the bodice, but that was a cinch because it's jersey, not quilting cotton.  Mmmm.... I'm seeing the light on this jersey business. 

You can shop the Alabama Chanin site for DIY kits or consider one of the Alabama Chanin books authored by Natalie Chanin (this one is my favorite and comes with a stencil!).  Find my other posts on the project here, here and here.

And now, how about some of the girly in her Easter dress?  She was feeling mighty feisty...

me and the girly on Easter

twirling

clearly feeling fiesty

free spirit

Aria in Marissa dress

love those freckles

full of life

my beautiful girl

Just before we went in, I let her take over the camera and snap a giggling montage.  Because I don't much like having my picture taken, so best get in a few more while I'm already putting myself out there (and she's making me smile).

photos by Aria, haha!

Thanks for your love and support!

xo,

Rachel

Friday, April 18, 2014

{Flourish} a Marissa dress

the Marissa dress, pattern by Sis Boom

for Aria

Voila, my third Marissa dress!  This excellent pattern by Sis Boom was my very first handsewn dress and remains my favorite.  It has some special style details and really smart construction.  I absolutely recommend it!

fabric from Pink Chalk!

You can find the pattern (sizes 6 months to 12 years) and the fabric I used at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  Or you could find the fabric...  With Anna Maria Horner's Dowry collection on sale for $8.95, the Flourish print is now out of stock.  Bummer.  Dowry Dresden Bulbs would be a nice substitute or browse fabrics by Amy Butler for another large scale floral print or choose something more springy by Cori Dantini.  I'm sure you can manage (wink!).

tulle for fluff, lining for comfort

The Marissa dress pattern includes a lined bodice, but not a lined skirt. Each time I've made this dress, I've wanted a really full finish, so I add tulle and a muslin skirt lining to keep the tulle off her legs.

modified Marissa dress

The dress finishes with a smooth lining if you follow the assembly order for attaching the skirt to the bodice that I detailed here.  And I always use an invisible zipper too.  It's what I'm used to!

in Flourish Cherry by Anna Maria Horner

My favorite thing about this version is the way the linear floral pattern gathers up into the skirt.  It definitely emphasizes the twirly, girly skirt and pretty waist.  Looking forward to seeing Aria in it on Sunday!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

a Scrappy Finish

Simple Strings finished

Are there many things as satisfying as using your own two hands to turn something unwanted or leftover into an object with function and form?  Scraptacularity is exactly that - when scrappy potential reveals itself. 

zigzag quilting

This quilt is composed of blue and green strip scraps, plus a generous helping of neutrals.  It's destined for a nephew's twin bed.  I cut all my scraps into straight strips ranging from 1" to 3.5" wide, in even 1/4" increments.  The 1" and 1.25" strings I sewed together side-by-side to make wider strips.  Then, all the strips were pieced randomly until they were wide enough for this bed quilt.  Lastly I joined the rows together.  Very user-friendly.  Really the cutting part was the most work.

repurposed backing

For the backing I was excited to use a large piece of fabric that's been sitting around since I made Liam's bed quilt.   This soft blue/green stripe fabric was his duvet cover.  There was nothing wrong with it and it was such a huge piece of fabric, that I hoped it'd come in handy eventually.  So perfect with this quilt!

zigzag scrappy binding

Did you notice the quilting?  Zigzags!   To keep things easy I followed the row seams.  So simple and so durable this way.  Do you know how forgiving zigzags are?  Zigzag quilting should get more love, me thinks.  And for the binding... more scraps!  Detecting a theme?  But really, I do like low volume geometrics for binding.  Those pezzy prints are especially great.

A scrappy twin quilt

I'm quite happy with this finish and with the timing.   Tomorrow I plan to start Aria's Easter dress... and hopefully to finish it too.  Wish me luck!
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