Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Best. Dress. Ever.

baby doll dress
This is quite possibly the best dress I've ever made. I was inspired to make it after I got and adored this dress, and then when I had Chic and Simple Sewing from the library I saw the pattern in there for a baby doll dress and decided to give it a go. I was rummaging through my stash and discovered I had 3 yards of this lovely Anna Maria Horner print, and it just came together from there! 

baby doll dress back
Per usual, I did make a number of modifications to the dress. I changed the back up quite a bit. Instead of doing a back dress piece and then a bodice (in two pieces), I made a muslin of the dress following the instructions, then cut it in half and used those pieces to make just two back pieces, with a zip in the middle. Make sense? I didn't like the idea of the back being gathered like the front. I also omitted the facings for the bodice and bound the top edge with some pink single-fold bias tape (and I used three lines of contrast stitching to hold it in place). I did lower the neckline a little all around to make up for the seam allowance that would've been eaten up by the facing. 

baby doll ruffled cap sleeve
I also changed the sleeve. I thought the one in the pattern was a little too long. I ended up just swapping it out with the short-sleeve pattern piece for my version of the Weekend Sewing top. I gathered the sleeve pretty tightly at the shoulder to give it some puff, and then ran elastic through the hem casing (as the original pattern instructions call for). This is quite possibly the cutest sleeve ever. 

baby doll pocket
Also cute? These pockets! Once I had the dress finished, I thought it was still missing something. I don't know if it's because of the centered design in the front or what, but adding these pockets, which were made following this tutorial by Made by Rae, did the trick! Also I think pockets on dresses might be the best thing ever! I carried things in them all day yesterday and really liked having that option. 

Iris chin sniff
So, for about five hours of work on Sunday morning / Monday night, I have an adorable, comfortable dress that I totally love! I'm quite pleased. I think Iris is, too. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Jane

After a very long hiatus, I finally have a new Dear Jane block to post! This is block B5. I think most of the blocks I've already prepared but have set aside contain appliqué. It's still a little scary to me. My points aren't very pointy, and looking at this pic now I see that the bottom right diamond is not angled correctly. Oh well! I'm okay with imperfection. I certainly did miss doing the handwork on these. I need to work harder to keep up with this. Right now I've got 12 blocks done in a little over a year. At this rate, it'll take me over 14 years to finish the middle, and that doesn't even include triangles! I guess I need to step up my game. 

Anyone have any tips for perfecting hand-appliqué? I've been using the freezer-paper-template + starch method to prepare my pieces, but I just can't seem to get my points to be super pointy and not unravel. I know the Kona solid white isn't the tightest weave, but maybe there are some technique pointers I should take, too? Anyone? 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Drawstring bag

drawstring bag
Still more crafty catch-up! A couple of weeks ago, Molly posted that she was having trouble making a drawstring bag. It was just after her birthday, and I knew she could definitely make one, so I whipped one up for her following the instructions in Sew What! Bags. Easy peasy. 

drawstring bag + zippy pouch
I used most of the 1/2 yard of fabric on the bag and used a twill tape for the drawstring. I decided to make a little zippy pouch to go with it. This did not turn out as well, as the zipper was supposed to go the long way on the top. I sent it anyway and Molly claims that it's useful, though I have my doubts... 

More posts this week, including a Dear Jane update (finally!) and some new dresses!

Friday, July 24, 2009

July STUD swap sent

STUD July sent
I just heard from my partner that the July swap quilt I sent has been received! Here's what I made. The theme was "summer lovin'," and one of the things I love most about summer is having the windows open and hearing Iris sing to the birds. 

STUD July detail 2
I hand-appliquéd all of the birds and leaves and then embroidered the legs, eyes, and beaks. It took me quite a while to get to the quilting stage. The last time I made quilts like these I used a scribbly stipple to quilt the backgrounds, but this time I used my walking foot to outline the birds and leaves and then to echo-quilt the background. I think it gives the quilt a little bit of motion. It still took me a good hour to quilt each one. 

STUD July mini + twin
As usual, I made a "twin" quilt for myself! I really liked working with the pretty watercolor-like fabrics, which are from In the Beginning via my LQS. 

I'm still thinking about the August swap and what to make. For the last few months, I've done some pretty intense piecing and handwork, so I'd really like to do something a little less time-consuming, but still awesome and something my partner would enjoy. So, still thinking about what to sign up for... 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More clothes sewing

Sew U Urban Garden skirt 2
Still catching up on things I made a while ago. These items were all made over the 4th of July weekend, I think. It's already been so long that I can't remember! This skirt is from the skirt pattern in Sew U (which I love) and is made from Erin McMorris Urban Garden fabric from Free Spirit. The fabric is lightweight and soft and really perfect for this summery skirt. If I'd had it on hand, I considered adding a 1" yellow ribbon around the bottom, about 2" above the hem, but I didn't have any, so I didn't add it. I think that's probably best, especially with this directional print. A ribbon might cut it up too much...? 

Sew U skirt + WS blouse 1
This other outfit was completely made by me! (Sorry for the ridiculous picture--I cannot seem to take decent ones of myself anymore! Anyone have any tips?) The skirt is the same pattern from Sew U, and the top is my revised pattern from Weekend Sewing. On this skirt (the main fabric of which is a Mary Engelbreit print), I added a pleated ruffle made with a '30s repro fabric. I like the way this pleated ruffle turned out--it's so much more orderly than the gathered ruffles I usually do. The top is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in a very pale blue. It's pretty, and it should go with a lot of my patterned skirts, so will be very versatile for the summer. I'm happy with how all of this turned out, and I'm sure I'll be creating from both of those patterns again. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Christmas in July?

STUD July received
It felt like Christmas yesterday when I got home from work to find not one but two squishy packages AND my new Quilter's Home magazine! I tore into them immediately. The first, shown above, is my July S.T.U.D. mini-quilt from JAmundsen. The theme was "summer lovin'," and Jean lives in California and loves going to the beach. 

STUD July mini rec'd
These pictures just don't do this quiltie justice! I can't even imagine how many tiny pieces are in this quilt. It really is spectacular. 

STUD May angel quilt rec'd
I also received this wonderful angel quilt package from Quiltinkimmie, the swap's organizer. As I posted last week, I never received my May swap (for which I sent this quilt). Kimmie was so kind and generous as to send me a replacement quilt and all of these goodies! The quilt is really cute and very well made, but I think it was the sentiment that got to me even more. 

STUD May angel quilt
This group is so wonderful and kind and generous and I've been so happy to be a part of it since last September! I'm still debating whether to sign up for the August theme ("buildings") or anything goes, but once that one is done I'll have completed 12 months! I plan on finishing out the year, but then taking a hiatus. I really want to look back on 2009 as my year of minis and have a full 16 of them by then, but I'm running out of space on the walls and my to-do list just keeps getting longer. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Craft FAIL: Summertime Blues apron

Summertime Blues apron 1
Ever since I got the book A Is for Apron I've been wanting to make the Summertime Blues apron. It is so cute! I love the idea of an apron that looks like a dress, and one you can wear out over your clothes. Well. This apron did NOT turn out as I'd hoped. 

Summertime Blues apron 3
I checked the reviews on Amazon and then the book's errata and had to reprint all of the templates for the apron because the enlargement percentages in the book are incorrect. But even with the "right" pieces, I still had to fudge some of the seams. In the end, I just think it looks really awful on me. There's a front shot showing how gap-y it is on my Flickr page, but I can't even bring myself to post that photo here. It's THAT bad (and you can see it at the link above, but beware). This is the third apron I've made from the book and the second that I've had major problems with. Something to consider before trying another one. 

I have a new apron in the works (and the pattern is from a different source) that I'm really hoping will turn out better. Stay tuned... 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sewing catch-up

bug pincushions 2
As promised, here's the first of a few posts detailing some of the projects I've completed recently. First up are some bitty bug pincushions made from this tutorial. They turned out pretty cute. I used linen for the circles, which made them a little wonky, especially where I hand-stitched them closed. I used beads instead of French knots for the eyes and I think they look okay. I added a little flax to the stuffing to give them some weight. I've been including these in my swap packages recently. 

bird wrap skirt
Next is a wrap skirt I finished a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE this bird fabric and wanted to make a skirt that would really show it off (more than just an A-line skirt would) so opted for a wrap skirt. This is loosely based on the pattern in Chic & Simple Sewing, but I only had 2 yards of the birds, so I made the skirt shorter and then pieced it in three pieces instead of the one. I used French seams to piece the sections so it would have a really clean look. I wish I had more of an overlap with the skirt, though. I may have to do some safety-pinning to keep from indecency in case of a breeze! 

Also, I had checked out that book from the library and I really like it, though I think it's a little too simple--the patterns use hook-and-eyes and buttons but no zippers. Still, there are a lot of variations here on some simple silhouettes and it's probably a good jumping-off point for someone just starting to sew clothes (*cough cough MOLLY cough*). 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

June S.T.U.D. texture swap received

June texture swap rec'd 1
Hello, blogland! Sorry for taking such a long hiatus. Seems "real life" has gotten in the way of my blogging! But, fortunately for all of us, it's not halted my crafting. I have a lot to post in the coming days, so stay tuned. First up is the quilt I received from Terrie Sandelin for S.T.U.D.'s June texture-themed mini-quilt swap. I adore it! She made it in 1930's replica fabrics, which I just love, and added some yo-yos and buttons, too! It's really heavily quilted in the center and the border has this very cool curvy pattern with diamonds in the corners. 

June texture swap rec'd 2
And to send it over the top, she also included three fat quarters of repro fabrics! These went directly into my Dear Jane stash. Wow! I haven't posted about this yet, I don't think, but I never received my May swap from my partner, so this was the first package I'd gotten in over two months and I was really really happy to have it! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June S.T.U.D. sent

June texture swap sent
Here it is, July already, and I'm finally posting about the mini-quilt I sent to my partner for S.T.U.D.'s June texture-themed swap. It was received last week, but it seems life has gotten in the way of my posting! Work has been pretty insane these days, and not much has been happening on the crafty front. I do have a few things to show, but need to wait until we actually get some sunshine and it stops raining. Seriously. It's been crappy, cold, and rainy for weeks here in New England. Happy July! 

June texture swap detail 2
Anyway, the theme for this swap was texture, which I thought was an interesting challenge. My first thought was to do something using wave pleats, which I've been wanting to try. I thought others might also be doing pleats, but these are a little different, so I thought that would be good. Then I decided I didn't want to quilt through them, so I'd better add some sashing. I settled on some roughly woven linen I had in the stash (and was able to use up!). 

June texture swap detail 4
Between the wave pleats and the linen, I was thinking "beach" with this, so I hand-quilted it in the linen only using a large, primitive "x" stitch. I really like the way it turned out. I have my "twin" hanging in our hallway and like the way it changes in the light--kind of like it dimples. 

June texture swap + twin
I had some trouble getting the linen to behave on these--it's so shifty! I'm glad I did the twin and quilted that one first, because everything in the one I sent (on the top) looks a lot better than the one I kept!