To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
Just as 2015 kicked off with a baby quilt, so has 2016. The recipient of Disappearing Seven Wonders is now a big brother to a baby sister who needed her own quilt.
After pulling out a bundle of Pear Tree and coordinating fabrics a few months ago, all progress stopped. I couldn’t settle on a design for the quilt. Then I came across the Into the Wild pattern and was inspired to cut into the stack. I wasn’t incredibly faithful to the pattern (although it was great visual inspiration), but I like how it turned out with the fabrics I used.
The most obvious change to the pattern was adding a square in a square (in a square) to the center, highlighting a motif from the eponymous print in the line. I also added in a few more half-square triangles where the original pattern had squares, and dropped the top and bottom rows in favor of a square quilt due to the amount of fabric I had.
It’s backed with blush-colored, star-embossed Minky, using 70/30 Cotton/Poly blend batting in between. The batting is a bit higher loft than I normally buy—I bought it a few months ago for a different project, but decided to use it for this quilt instead, knowing that the high poly content works out fine with the polyester cuddle fabric. It gives the quilt a good texture in the looping quilting.
I quilted it with pink 40wt Aurifil in alternating free-motion patterns, building out from the center. My ability to free-motion stitch in the ditch has not improved since my first attempts, from what I can tell, but my consistency with feathers has improved. It’s bound in a textured green print. I’m very happy with how the quilting stands out on the back.
After a few months of not sewing (much), it was nice to jump back in with a relatively simple quilt. I hope it keeps the baby warm through her first winter and beyond.
January’s challenge from the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club was to use bias tape to construct curves based on something in your sketchbook. I’m not much of a sketcher, nor do I have a sketchbook, but I do occasionally snap photos for inspiration, and often find it in my surroundings. The bit of inspiration I decided to memorialize was also an accomplishment of mine during the month. Seeing my newly-retired yellow belt hanging alongside my white belt sparked the idea of a design, with the added complexity of knots in the bias tape. The result is this 11″x14″ mini-quilt.
Rather than add the bias tape to the block, then quilt, I made a quilt sandwich and sewed down the bias tape through all layers after quilting the background. I used a walking foot for all of it to reduce shifting. The knots wrap around one strip of bias tape that was intentionally left with a gap in the top-stitching.
The technique of using bias tape isn’t any more of a challenge than other types of applique—so long as you don’t try using straight cut strips to get curves (it’s bias for a reason). The intent part of the challenge was much more difficult for me. I’m not sold on the idea of making a normal-sized quilt just to try a new technique unless I’m really excited about it—both from a materials and time cost standpoint. At the same time, I’ve never been a huge fan of mini quilts.
I suppose this isn’t even technically complete. I haven’t decided how to finish off the edges of the quilt. I don’t want to bind it. I considered doing a faced binding. I’ve also thought about just leaving the edges raw and framing it. But for now, I can call my foray into bias tape on quilts done, and admire all of the gorgeous creations being posted on social media under the hashtag #mightylucky.
I’ve tried to keep a 2.5″ square of most fabrics from each quilt project I’ve done. This week, I finally decided on a layout for a meta-history quilt of my quilting journey and started piecing together some of the blocks.
So far, I have a block for the first eight quilts I made (2010-2011), and one for the quilt I need to baste and quilt this month.
2015 was an odd year—it went by in a flash and I sewed much less than I have in recent years. We traveled more than in the past and for longer stretches of time. I started a new role that is less about development and more about guiding a team, became co-leader of our local Girl Develop It chapter (an organization that aims to teach women to code), and made progress with the learning curve of both of those changes. Sewing (especially quilting) took a back seat. What I did sew, I did with real intention and a certain level of dumping things out of my brain and sewing space.
At the end of 2014, I made a resolution to clean out my works in progress (the quilting ones, at least). Three-fifths of my quilt finishes this year came from that collection, and I worked on a few others. The second part of the resolution—that I not add to the list—wasn’t met. I started two projects that are still unfinished.
* denotes a long-term work in progress that I finished
For the first time, this year was about finishing things—and in one case making a statement—not about gifting. In fact, the only quilt of the five gifted was the first—a quilt for a new cousin in my generation.
Getting the F-word out of my head and into a quilt was extraordinarily satisfying, and one of the unfinished projects is something else in that vein.
My one wearable was a Halloween/Cosplay costume for Mary Sanderson. I’ve loved Hocus Pocus for 20 years, and was happy to jump in when my coworkers wanted to dress up as the three Sanderson Sisters for our office costume contest.
Not only was this a slow year for quilting, I sewed very few smaller craft items.
But, I did nothing with others that will end up in a project of my own.
Again, this was the year of cleaning out works in progress. I went into detail on the ones I made progress on in a Mid-year Progress post.
Progress since the progress report: I finished one quilt, decided Drunkard’s Compass will never be completed as designed and returned the fabrics to my stash (there are a few blocks finished that may turn into a pillow cover or something next year), and found the heart block for the Miniatures 9-Patch during a massive organizational spree in November.
Farmer’s wife / EPP Crosses
Witches Bubble Brew
Meta history quilt
Double Wedding Ring
I Am Human
Work in Progress (such a meta name)
I have a couple of very specific finishing goals for 2016: I Am Human, Work In Progress, Miniatures 9-patch, and a baby quilt in January.
Beyond that, the majority of my guild (including me) decided to participate in the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club so I want to keep up with that.
I finally organized the larger pieces of my stash (comic book boards as mini-bolts for the win). I hope I can keep up with having my sewing room organized. I still need to deal with all of my scraps that are hidden in various bins and boxes.
I’m loathe to commit to much, because I think 2016 is going to turn out much like 2015 in terms of work and traveling. Looking forward to seeing how it goes!
Winifred: Don’t get your knickers in a twist! We’re just three kindly old spinster ladies.
Mary: Spending a quiet evening at home.
Sarah: Sucking the lives out of little children!
The big reveal (two months late): two of my teammates and I dressed as the Sanderson sisters from the movie Hocus Pocus, and won second place in our company costume contest! I was Mary.
I ended up hacking the bodice, apron, wig and cape together without in-progress photos and never technically finished it (safety pin lacing holes for the win), so this post will just show photos of the ‘finished’ costume as I wore it for our office contest with a few notes on modifications. I showed you the various skirts and chemise in previous posts.
The bodice (from Simplicity 5582) ended up being very straight forward, except that I bag-lined it instead of using bias tape to finish the edges. I wore my (also not completely finished, despite being made in 2012) regency corset under everything, as the bodice is made of a fashion knit with interfacing and a cotton lining, thus had no shaping ability. I have yet to finish the lacing holes and used safety pins the day of. The fit is horrible. Despite matching my waist measurements, there was no way the bodice would close (partly because of the added bulk from the skirts). I added an extra inch to the front, but it still wasn’t enough.
The cape is attached at the shoulders (more safety pins), and was only hemmed at the top: the sides are unfinished (the knit doesn’t ravel), and the bottom is selvage. I had to seam it up the middle due having two pieces of the fabric, and not enough forethought. I chose to use the knit because it had a printed pattern that looked like a rough texture, while being simple to work with for a costume.
The apron is just a rectangle of fabric (actually three (felt and fashion tulle), layered, to get some texture). attached to a waistband, with patch pockets. I couldn’t find any multi-colored fabric with the right boucle texture.
The hair was fun—it’s a mix of my own and a structured wig piece. I made a base out of a styrofoam cone painted black with wire in the top, then hot-glued hair clips to the bottom. Then, I attached a hair extension piece that matches my already-dark-brown hair and clip-in purple pieces to create the structure for the shape. When wearing it, I twisted my own hair up onto the base and used a ton of pins, which held it all in place. Since I already have bright pink highlights, it was a little more jazzed up and multi-colored than Mary’s, but worked out surprisingly well.
If I wear this costume again in the future, I’ll finish up the lacing on the bodice, and add the accessories that really make something like this work (rings, earrings, proper shoes), but it was a lot of fun for an afternoon at work!
It’s time to show two more pieces for my halloween costume: a third (a final) skirt and a chemise.
The skirt is made in the same manner as the petticoat, although I used self-fabric ties for the front because I ran out of twill tape. This time the fabric was wide enough to use the selvedges along the side seam, and the skirt is supposed to be short, so two yards did the work. The plaid fabric wasn’t quite right, so I topstitched lace in a few places before constructing the skirt. It’s still not very close to the original fabric, but it’ll do for a costume.
The chemise was made using Simplicity 5582. Because there is an incredible amount of ease built into the pattern I didn’t bother with any sort of bust adjustment or other fitting since the ease would leave plenty of room. I did add an additional 7.5″ to the length, though, to change it from a blouse into a knee-length chemise. It’s very much costume construction with pinked seam allowances and elastic at the arms and necklines, but done is better than unfinished couture.
One costume-specific detail is the attached necklace (made from a 30″ chain from the jewelry section at the big-box craft store). Although source photos show it is definitely attached, none are clear as to how. I decided to use hooks (of hook and eye fame) sewn to the neckline elastic casing to catch the links of the chain. Then, it’s easily removable if I want to repurpose the chemise, but will stay in place while I’m wearing the costume. The tension from the short length of the chain keeps it from falling below the neckline.
Stay tuned for later this week when I can reveal the final pieces.
Every couple of years I clean out my closet and refresh my wardrobe a bit (I hate clothes shopping). It’s that time of year again, and it’s time to say good by to my American Duchess Astorias. I haven’t worn them for over two years, so I hope someone else can give them a good home.
I really wish I could splurge on some Kensingtons for my Halloween costume.
The links to American Duchess in this post are affiliate links, meaning I may get a bit of money if you buy their shoes after clicking one, however the above shoes were purchased with my own hard-earned cash, and the excitement is my own. The affiliate links will just help subsidize my next American Duchess purchase, I hope. If you don’t like affiliate links, here’s one that isn’t: www.american-duchess.com
I’m not much the rah-rah “my alma mater was so amazing!” type, and high school is something I’m glad is over, not something I want to revisit. That said, I will be forever grateful for the three years I spent at this school, and particularly the education and opportunities it gave that have allowed me to go on to be the successful adult I now am. Perhaps that explains why I still had all these t-shirt scraps around. After carting around scraps of t-shirts, a baseball jersey, and a hoodie for over 10 years, it seemed time to either make a t-shirt quilt or clean out the clutter. Making a quilt won, of course.
When I cut up the shirts in January, I knew the eight tees wouldn’t yield enough fabric for a decent-size quilt, even considering the printed backs. My baseball jersey added a bit more, but forced me to consider using block sizes other than 12″ square. After sacrificing the hoodie (my ultimate slum around the house attire, even 10+ years out), and chopping up the rest of the jersey for filler, I had enough pieces to play around with a fun layout based on a 4″ grid.
I rounded out the clothing pieces with black Kauffman flannel (pre-washed!)—the woven fabric gives stability to the knits, but still has a slightly different texture from plain cotton. It’s a surprisingly thick fabric and wonderful to work with. Because of the thickness of the flannel, I used my walking foot for all of the piecing.
Working with the hoodie, different tees, and baseball jersey was less difficult than I expected. With a layer of lightweight interfacing fused to each piece, it all came together simply. The only tricky part was dealing with the jersey—I had to secure the buttoned opening, and fill in the neckline. When I fused the interfacing onto the back, I slipped in a bit of black scrap knit from another tee to provide coverage under the v-neck opening. Then, I used Steam-a-seam fusible tape to keep everything stuck together before storing the blocks away for a few months. I used a blanket stitch around the open edges during quilting to secure it once-and-for-all, although I wish I’d done that during piecing instead of as part of quilting. Regardless, it’s very secure.
Unlike my college t-shirt quilt, I quilted this one, echoing the seams with Gutermann variegated green-white cotton thread from stash (and black cotton in the bobbin). It’s backed with black Minky Ziggy Cuddle, and has no batting (it’s heavy enough as-is). It’s self-bound with the backing (somewhat sloppily), and I slipped in a flange made from scraps of white knit to break up the black. I’m really happy with the effect of the flange, and to have put the knit scraps to use. I’m also happy that the Minky pile hides many, many sins with the binding finish.
This isn’t my most innovative or creative quilt, but it will be nice to curl up with this fall and winter. I’m so excited to have a Minky-backed quilt of my own—so much soft, so much petting!
I’m doing a group costume for Halloween with two of my coworkers. The who I’m portraying is a secret until then, but the how involves three different skirts for maximum authenticity. This is layer one.
The character is historical, but we’re not going for historical accuracy (nor did the original costume designer). This petticoat is almost-historical, albeit for about 100 years later than the character’s base time period.
It’s made from 3 yards of 44″-wide cotton, plus stash scraps and twill tape for the waistband. The hem is approximately 106″, so nicely full and swishy.
I used my rolled-hem foot to finish off the side slits, then sewed the rest of the side seam with a french seam. Those techniques are not historically accurate at all (well, maybe the narrow hem, a little).
At 5’3″ with a short inseam, the 44″ width was the perfect height for me, so I used the selvage as a hem, which made the work very quick. A more historically accurate skirt would have put the selvages along the side seam, but the fabric width was too narrow for the fullness I wanted, and I didn’t want to sew any additional seams.
I also finished the sewing part of layer two, although it needs to be thoroughly distressed before it’s technically complete. This layer is far more costume construction than historical, using a half yard of the fashion fabric, with tulle for the rest, which will be hidden by the overskirt. The same two-part waistband structure is there, but I sewed a channel for the ties and gathered the center by way of stringing the bias tape through, then tacking the ends so it doesn’t spread out again. It’d be a bit unwieldy for cotton, but works well for the light-weight net. The hem (or lack thereof) will be even more uneven by the time it’s fully distressed.
I’ll try to post more progress posts before Halloween, if I can do so without plot spoilers. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait until November!
I had a very hard time figuring out how to quilt my F-word quilt. The final quilt looks a lot like my original sketches, but I made and then scrapped many other plans in between. A persistent idea with the quilt was obfuscation—hiding or obscuring the fact that someone is a feminist, whether because they have their own hangups with the word or because they don’t want to deal with societal baggage of calling themselves a feminist.
In that vein, iterations of the quilt plan involved quilting in “feminist” in binary, riffing on the equal sign pieced section (there, yellow is 0, black is 1), but couldn’t work the quilting in a way that seemed right. I also liked the aesthetic and suggestive meaning of quilting “feminist” spelled out in braille, but struggled with feeling like that was cultural appropriation. Both methods would clearly spell out the word, yet be illegible to most viewers.
A later plan involved quilting in quotes and definitions. This involved a lot of font-based machine embroidery that was ultimately too technically intricate for my tastes. I was able to create embroidery fonts of text outlines using free software that came with my machine, but the font kerning was horrendous, so I would have had to lay out each individual letter on my machine. I also never fell in love with a layout.
I liked the interplay between anti-feminist quotes from celebritized dogmatists and pro-feminist quotes from celebrities, and sometimes wish I’d been able to work it in.
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
“People feel removed from sexism. ‘I’m not a sexist, but I’m not a feminist.’ They think there’s this fuzzy middle ground. There’s no fuzzy middle ground. You either believe that women are people or you don’t. It’s that simple.”
I scaled back, thinking perhaps I’d use just the definition of feminist and feminism, but it was still too technically finicky in a way that wasn’t speaking to me. Perhaps the story would be different if I had a $3k embroidery software suite.
The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
A person who supports feminism.
In the end, I used machine embroidery to quilt the letters that are starred-out, and freehanded “F––t” in the partial equality sign in the top right. The remaining quilting is straight lines and single echoes of the pieced shapes, using a lack of quilting to outline a second equality motif for a bit of visual balance. A well-placed black-stitched toroid turns the ‘t’ in “Feminist” into the cross found on the astrological symbol for Venus, widely considered the “female” symbol.
Finally, a hand-quilted “Feminist” overlaps the machined “F––t”, bringing the word to the front of the quilt in a visible, rebellious way—no infanticide or witchcraft needed.
The end result is a quilt whose front is inspired by “Votes for Women” sashes for color, with a nod to technology in the binary piecing, and a visible representation of the censorship that is so rampant when one discusses equal rights for women. The back brings to mind my grandmothers’ decor (complete with my childhood baggage of anti-feminist sentiment), yet has the word feminist clearly displayed.