Thursday, February 24, 2022

Mini Me

Now that February weather has turned frigid, I am going through more weather appropriate photos in the backlog of projects to be posted to the blog.  In the last couple of years I have found myself drawn to easy to wear long sleeved sweaters that fall at mid-hip.  The only issue is, whatever shall I wear with these sweaters?  Actually, this is a common problem for me . . . I spend many hours making a sweater that I love, only to discover that I don't have a matching skirt to wear with it.  Whoops!

So when I started working on this sweater, I decided that I would also make myself a new skirt, thus eliminating the problem of finding a matching one.  

My pattern of choice was Vogue 1247, made with fabric that I had initially purchased to make drapes.  I love the fabric, but since completing my quilt, I felt like there were too many patterns in the room to add yet another busy print, so the drapes were put on hold, and the fabric put to the side.

My challenge for this project was to use what I had on hand - no purchasing new items for this skirt allowed!  For an underlining, I rummaged in the bin that holds solid colored cottons and found this maroon sateen. 

I also had a suitable invisible zipper on hand, and plenty of seam binding to finish all of the raw edges.

I have since found a few other separates that work quite nicely with the tweedy top, but I am also excited to have an excuse to pull out some of my colorful tights to wear with these new short skirts that have been added to my closet in the last couple of years!

Friday, February 18, 2022


Today, we have the case of the never-ending scrappy quilt.  I suppose most larger quilt projects take a fair amount of time, but this one has been going on for YEARS!  I started hand piecing the quilt top somewhere around 2013, which may account for why it has taken so very long - there are no sewing machines involved in the making of this quilt.  That, and I often get distracted by all of the other creative projects that run amuck in my home.

While I love this quilt because it has so many leftover scraps of old projects, it is not my absolute favorite quilt top.  I think that my hexi quilt probably holds that title at the moment.  But I didn't think that it was a good idea to learn how to hand quilt using my favorite quilt top.  Because while I feel pretty darn confident with my hand sewing, this is a horse of a different color!

It has actually been rather frustrating, in many ways.  The process feels like re-learning how to hand sew, because it has very little to do with what I consider to be hand sewing.

But I am sticking with it!  

I am not sure exactly what I was expecting.  It wasn't a logical mind that thought that I would have perfectly even tiny stitches from the get-go with a technique that is entirely new to me.  But somehow my stitches look enormous and nothing like the vintage quilts I have seen.

But I came up with a basic idea for the quilt design and jumped in.

Some of the blocks have an outline stitch around each square, while other have a diagonal line running through them.

Of course, I never thought about the fact that crossing through the seam allowance at those corner joins might not be such a great idea.  So those stitches are even more uneven than the others due to the added thickness.  I have also been struggling with thimbles, and what to do with the finger that feels for the needle underneath the quilt.  I tried using just my finger, but that didn't last long.  Next up, I tried using a variety of thimbles (even though they are not suited to the task).  I found a plastic one that did an okay job, but as you can see from the photo below, it didn't survive the journey.  But it's a process, and I am slowly learning what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn't.

My practice scrap came in handy when I reached the binding stage.

It often feels tedious to take the extra time, but I figured I might as well make sure that I liked the width and double layer method of binding before attempting a queen/almost king sized quilt.  I got lucky the first time around with this one.

Methodically stitching down a binding by hand is my idea of heaven, so this portion of the quilt felt like coming home after struggling through the quilting.

This will never get old for me.  I know it bores some people, but basic hand stitching is so very relaxing to me.

Quiltmaking by Hand by Jinny Beyer was a great resource.  This book is so beautiful!

Because of the size of this quilt, I also had a few more hand sewing opportunities while piecing the back layer together.  And my goodness, it is challenging to find 9 yards of a quilting cotton that I like.  I spent hours at a quilt store and most of my bolt choices did not have enough yardage.  I didn't feel like risking an online purchase only to find that the cotton was stiff, seeing as I would be hand quilting through it.  This particular print was not my first choice, but I have come to the conclusion that it was meant to be.

I had previously purchased a different backing without taking photos of my quilt along for comparison, and was disappointed to discover that the nine yards of fabric just didn't play well with the quilt top.  But since those nine yards turned into a beautiful dress, the folly was rewarded.

The ironing stage was a bit of an adventure, mostly because of the size.  Why exactly did I choose such a massive quilt for my first project?!

But eventually, I got there!

Many of these fabrics are from previous projects, so it really is a trip down memory lane to look at the quilt top.

Next, it was time for the quilt sandwich.  I struggled with my choice of batting for some time, and finally settled on wool, specifically, Hobbs Heirloom Wool Batting.

I knew that I wanted something that would needle easily.  And while there is a multitude of information on quilting out there, the majority relates to machine quilting.  Finding information specific to hand quilting is challenging, and most of what is out there is basic overviews, not in depth knowledge.

I decided to splurge on the wool because I heard that it was lovely to hand quilt.  And it was, for the most part, although the batting is perhaps slightly more lofty than I anticipated.

A few thousand stitches later, and there are still miles to go!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Turquoise and Blue Blossoms

Every once in a while, a project that was meant as a practice run turns out a whole lot better than expected.

This is one of those!

I have been on a bit of a vintage pattern kick.  I do love all of my vintage reproductions, but it's good to go through my stash of vintage patterns and show them some love, too.  

And this particular one has been on my mind for some time.

I have been hoarding some very precious fabric for quite a few years now.  I don't have very much yardage,  and when I pulled this pattern out and saw the requirements, I very much hoped that this might be the perfect pairing.  Just to make sure I would like the actual dress, I made this version out of a length of quilting cotton.

Because the fabric is red, late last year I decided that I would attempt to make a special dress with it in February.  I am not a big fan of Valentine's Day, but the red seemed rather appropriate for the month.  

Well, it's already February (how the heck did that happen?!) and I don't want to rush through and make a mess of irreplaceable fabric, so the project has been postponed.  I already have two separate items on the sewing table that I don't wish to abandon right in the middle of things.

And then there are the two coat projects that I was hoping to get through this Winter . . .  I don't see that happening, either.  And that's okay.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

It has been a very, very busy start to the year.  I do find that I am more productive when I have a lot on my plate, but the beginning of 2022 has left me with very little breathing room.

I am taking every chance I get to spend time in the sewing room, and have pulled out my quilt for when I have the urge to do some hand sewing, but my creative time is limited.  In the meantime, I have a cotton version of this 1960s design, and I am very glad to have it in my closet.  And someday, that incredible red fabric will be made into something utterly fabulous!

Dress:  Made by me, McCalls 7132
Shoes:  Via Spiga "Unit"
Earrings:  Vintage