Sunday, 19 November 2017

Celebrating: Quilt Now 'A Year of Quilts' Diary

I've been doing some regular project work for magazines in the last few months and the results are starting to appear, including a wonderful diary with 12 blocks designs to take you through 2018 for Quilt Now, issue 43 which went on sale Thurs 16th Nov.

I love a commission like this, lots of variety and the freedom to make different blocks with a range of techniques. All the instructions are included with photos and diagrams plus any templates needed- I tried to keep the latter to a minimum.  I didn't know that my blocks were destined for this cute little book format, that was a very happy surprise and big thank yous go to Katy (Editor) and Sher, (Art Editor) for their concept and execution.

Here's a peek inside...

I have another project inside this magazine too, a Hexie Diamond floor-size cushion cover which uses 
foundation paper piecing, linen and feedsacks.

Katy's given me a copy of the magazine and diary, to giveaway. I'm hosting the giveaway on Instagram. If you are not on Instagram you can go through this link on a computer or email me and I'll add your name.  
The giveaway ends 7am GMT Tuesday 21st November. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Vintage Home BOM Quilt Along Info!

 A quick heads up for those of you who love a Quilt Along and a block of the month!  Jo Avery of My Bear Paw is running a Vintage Home themed QAL with Today's Quilter magazine and it starts now.  Each month, there'll be patterns which will feature various crockery and sewing themed items and Jo will be adding extra info on her blog along with some other UK quilt bloggers (including me!).

It's starting now with issue 29 of Today's Quilter (see below) which also comes with a Devon County/Quilters' Guild fabric collection magazine supplement and a very handy binding tool- see this post for how to use it!

In this issue as well as Jo's various teapot blocks and some background to the QAL, you'll also find the cover quilt by Lynne Goldsworthy and a foundation paper pieced cushion that I designed called Winter Light.

Jo's designed some lovely teapots for the first month and there's a good range of skills covered and techniques like curved piecing are well explained with lots of process pictures.  Jo's using Tilda fabrics (TQ have a giveaway to win a selection here, closing 7th Dec) but you can use anything that works for you.  I've already made my blocks for January using vintage prints and a blue Kona solid background.

You can read all about the BOM at My Bear Paw, leave a comment below if you're joining in and your Instagram name as I'd love to see your blocks. Today's Quilter issue 29 (print or digital editions) is available to buy now. The official hashtag is #TQVintageHomeQAL

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Making Gifts: Fold Up Folio, Lola Pouch, Pixie Basket

I really enjoy making a little storage project, a bag, a purse, a basket, I love them all!  I had a few gift events coming up recently with birthdays and secret Santas for various sewing meet-ups, so these are my latest makes. I often sew little makes like these in between bigger clothing and quilt projects as a palette cleanser and some almost instant results.   First, there's the Fold-Up Sewing Folio from Aneela Hoey's latest book, Stitched Sewing Organizers (read my review of the book here). This project appears on the cover and is the item I wanted most to make when I first read the book, along with the Triple zip pouch.

It's a rewarding project; it's not particularly hard to make, you just need to be systematic and work your way through each step carefully. The part where I am most likely to muddle myself is the cutting so I find it helps to clip and label all the different parts, especially when many so pieces are rotary cut rectangles!

 It has a pleasing, plump finish and who doesn't like a little sewing organizer to store their portable supplies!  The sewing print is by Heidi Kenney and was a mini collection called Gran's Sewing Basket for Robert Kaufman fabrics of sewing themed prints that rather annoyingly never made it to UK stockist so I managed to source some abroad. Also used is Essex yarn dyed in black for the main lining and some unknown yellow 30s floral.

I also made a Lola Pouch and a Pixie Basket.  The Lola pouch is by Svetlana of SOTAK patterns.  This is the second pattern I've made by her and they are written with such clarity. This one is so easy with a crisp finish and includes details for two sizes, this is the smaller version.

If you like zip pouches, but dislike dealing with the zip ends, it's a dream! There's lots of space at one end for the zip to close, the zip is quite long so not as fiddly as little zips to sew and the end of the zip folds into the side of the pouch. The binding covers where the zip is attached and the combined effect gives the pouch extra structure at the top.  It's a quick and satisfying sew. 

The Pixie Basket is a free pattern by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt.  It's simple and effective and a useful little basket for sewing scissors, keys, sweets - any bits and pieces.  I used some fabrics from my stash and the lining is Purse Paraphenlia by Berene Campbell of Happy Sew Lucky for Spoonflower. 

Resource List
Lola Pouch: by Svetlana Sotak.  All Svetlana's patterns are 30% off until midnight 10th Nov, Central time. 
Pixie Basket: Pattern by Heidi Staples available for free. she also has lots of other free patterns available which are very cute and make great gifts. 
Stitched Sewing Organizers:  Available at Amazon, Book Depository Wordery and the usual bookshops. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Dream PJs : Log Cabin in the Woods

 Every year, I buy my daughter cosy, jersey pyjamas for Christmas, often in grey, usually with pockets and a cute print and each time  I see her in one of her many pairs, it reminds me that I want a pair too.  When I saw the Homestead Life Cabin in the Woods fabric at Girl Charlee's stall at The Knitting and Stitching show, I knew its destiny was a set of PJs...
I used two patterns I already had. The top is Grainline Linden Sweatshirt (blogged here ). I've made four of these in sweatshirt fabrics and although this is a lighter t-shirt weight cotton/spandex knit, it's an easy and familiar pattern.  The other pattern was Hallå Lounge Pants.y  I've made these once before as yoga joggers but didn't blog them as black garments don't photograph well for sharing.  I had two metres of the Homestead jersey which was a guess quantity wise but by using a contrast navy jersey from my stash for most of the cuff bands, I managed to squeeze in both patterns with virtually no scraps remaining. For comfort, 2.5 metres would've been easier, but it was possible with less.

The contrast fabric was Art Gallery knits solids jersey which has the same 95% cotton 5% spandex mix as the Girl Charlee Homestead fabric from the BOLT range but there are some differences.  The Art Gallery has a stronger recovery, or bounce back- maybe the knit is a little tighter?  The Art Gallery jersey curls up like crazy when cutting, pinning or sewing, whereas as the Homestead fabric lies a little flatter for cutting out and sewing seams, plus it's also more drapey so it hangs nicely.


Construction Details:

I cut out a size 2 in the Linden and all the bands were cut at a size 2 as well so no changes to the original pattern.  I'm a 33" chest and a 36" hip to give you an idea of fit.

The lounge pants are a size 2/4 or size 36-38" on the hips. There are multiple options with this pattern, these are the higher rise option (this is pretty low on the belly, but good booty coverage), full length with a tapered cuff and I also tapered the legs from mid-thigh downwards by reducing the side seams. There are lots of additional instructions in the pattern for changing leg width, adjusting hips and much more.  The waistband relies on the stretch in the jersey, no elastic or drawstring added but you could add that. It can be folded over a little at the top or worn unfolded.  I created pocket bags from the existing pattern pieces but there are patch pockets and scoop pockets included.  It's a comprehensive pattern which works well for this relaxed jogger/ PJ pant style and like the Linden, it will get much use over the years!

I do find my overlocker tends to struggle keeping the layers even on cotton spandex so the end of the seams can get uneven by up to 3/8", even if I play with the dials so I ended up basting all my seams by hand and it did give a great finish, even if it took a while!
This pic was taken just after I'd finished them!  I am thrilled to bits as they look just how I imagined: cosy, comfortable pyjamas, ready for winter evenings! 

Disclaimer: the jersey was very generously given to me by Girl Charlee as a surprise gift for times we've worked together over the years since the launch of Girl Charlee UK.  I chose to write about my experience using it and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

What's it like? Going to the The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally

I've been trying a few new sewing related experiences this year.  I joined a quilt guild (South West Modern Quilt Guild) which I've loved.  I've also aimed to attend more sewing shows so since September, I've been to West Country Quilt show, the 'Stitching, Sewing and Hobby Craft and last Sunday I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, London.  This is the biggest show that I've been to and it coincided with a weekend when I was already in London so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Alexandra Palace is an amazing venue. Sited at the top of an enormous hill, the building is magnificent with spectacular views across London all around.  I opted for Sunday as it's the quietest of the show days - it ran Wed-Sun with Saturday being the busiest. I arrived at 10am and there was a steady stream of people going in.  Although it sells a range of tickets- VIP, with workshops/talks, as well as standard and concessions really it's  about the shopping, all those specialist retailers for quilting, dressmaking, general sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch and more under one roof.  There's one massive hall with the largest stalls and two smaller stalls which tended to house the smaller independent businesses and textile galleries.   There were various discounts for buying online, I got mine from being on the Fashion and Textile Museum mailing list, there is a booking fee though, the total cost is around £12-14 for a basic one day ticket.

It is a money-making machine. If you want to find a specific stand, you'd have to pay £4 for a 'guide', or return to the entry point and study the wall diagram. I made sure I covered every path of carpet and aimed to find a list of people who I knew were there who I've worked with in some way over the years. I saw lots of familiar names from previous shows, like Fabrics Galore with their two stalls covering quilting craft and dressmaking, and The Quilted Bear with a plethora of fabric and quilting/sewing tools. I also saw newer names- Higgs & Higgs had a wonderful selection of jersey, sweatshirt, linen, cotton and more.  Stof & Sill had a well-arranged stall, quite limited variety but interesting, well displayed and staff were helpful.

Girl Charlee had a busy stall with a mix of their familiar and new jersey fabrics. I've worked with Girl Charlee several times since they started their UK journey and it's always been a very positive experience.  Mark and Ben are both focused on a great customer experience and it really showed when I saw them helping newer sewers match their patterns to the right fabric.

I've worked with The Eternal Maker for many years now and Anna is an experienced stall arranger; there's always so much packed into her displays with a buzz of people around the fabrics, pattern and sample garments.

The Cool Crafting stand looked very inviting and they had obviously sold a lot of fabric, kits and patterns - the wrap dress and its fabric had sold out. I've seen their stall at previous events but toy kits, craft fabrics and trims have been their focus. This time, dressmaking was centre stage and they had beautiful cotton, linen and wool selection.

In one of the side halls, there were some interesting indie style stalls including Frances Tobin from The Maker's Atelier.  I wrote about her business early last year for Sewing World mag and she has expanded so much since then with so many more patterns and a successful book. Her stall was beautiful, a palette of caramels and gorgeous patterns. She likes to use an interesting range of tactile substrates like stretch metallics, silk crepes, leather etc.

Grace from Beyond Measure had a lovely stall, packed full of handcrafted sewing gadgets, rolls of wool tweed and an excess of sewing related gifts. It looked very inviting. She had her sister helping her on Sunday, it is a big time commitment running a stall for 5 days plus the set-up and take down, whilst also being away from your family.

Andree of Til the Sun Goes Down  sells a dazzling range of original design silks and wool crepes as well as her own pattern range, 'Now and Then' and tempting kits which combine the two. She had vintage patterns and fabrics too and all her patterns were made up in a multitude of samples. 

For a huge array of the best known names in sewing, it was excellent. I'm no longer a knitter and I can't crochet but both are well served. I didn't buy much, it was more about meeting some people after a long time emailing and enjoying the experience plus my budget is limited and I was carrying my luggage on the train the next day.  I did get some irresistible Homestead Life Cabin Bolt fabric from Girl Charlee which is destined to become jogger style pyjamas. Love the print and it's a slightly drapey cotton/spandex jersey, perfect for lounging and evening quilt snuggling.  I also picked up a short Japanese zip and a mini magnetic seam guide from a couple of sewing stalls.

There were a few odd stalls selling sweets or hair clips- the sort of thing that I see a frustrating amount of at smaller shows and are in no way related to sewing or knitting. It's a long week for the stall holders too and I did feel for them although there is a comradery amongst the stalls and it is great for catching up on news about the business. Some traders reported fewer sales or a lower spend by customers than previous years because of the recent Great British Sewing Bee Live event in September, whilst others said they weren't affected.  The exhibitions were wide-ranging and interesting as well as a break from the busier areas. I felt like I missed some though with the lack of having a map to hand but from the ones I did visit, standouts included Rachael Howard's Red Work, Diana Harrison's Traces in Cloth which I found rather dramatic to look at, and Amy Twigger Holroyd's reknitting gallery.  It was fun, I spent a very happy four hours there and I did get to see all the shops in person that I only ever usually visit online.  

Are there any shows that you would recommend?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Spelling Bee Quilt-Along...Are you taking part?

I reviewed Lori's Holt's new Spelling Bee book a couple of month's back and as with all her books, there's a sew-along run with the Fat Quarter Shop.  It's for the cover quilt but there are other quilts in the book that you could focus on instead- e.g. the Picture Day Quilt focuses on the images in the book and can either be a multitude of different pictures, or the same repeated in a different colourway, maybe adding initials too.  I'm one of forty bloggers taking part; I've chosen three blocks but the first isn't until January. I'm getting prepared now as I want to make some of the other blocks too!

There are crib or twin options depending on whether you make 6" or 12" blocks and I'm also going to combine some Sew-Ichigo blocks that I think would work.  Making a smaller quilt makes the schedule a little more forgiving if you struggle for time and there are different sashing suggestions or even mini quilt layouts that could be used for a small selection of blocks (Lori shows some in a picture at the end of this post).


Monday, 25 September 2017

Merchant & Mills Camber Dress in Nani Iro Double Gauze

September sun, when it actually emerges, gives the best light!  These photos were taken by my daughter this morning, no adjustments needed as the colours are singing and dancing.  I made this Camber dress (by Merchant & Mills) at the start of the month with some Nani Iro double gauze in a gorgeous blue from Eternal Maker that has been waiting for its destiny for over a year! I didn't have sufficient for a standard layout with the pattern piece grainlines following the selvedges so I had to go rogue; the back below the bodice was placed perpendicular to the selvedge with no ill effects and I used all of the 1.5m length, only tiny scraps remained.

Making Notes:
I made a size 8 and a toile first so this dress was made with the following alterations based on 33" bust, 27" waist, 36" hip:
  • Lengthened the bust dart to be the equivalent of size 6 and altered the sides accordingly so the point meets the size 8 dart markings at the side seam.
  • Reduced the front and back bodice pieces and back yoke at the centre fold mark by 1/2" on each piece- the width was too wide for me and my apex to apex measurement is narrow at 7". I adjusted the neckline so it remained the same, so the shoulder seam width is reduced a little at the neckline front and back. This is a significant reduction of 2" around the garment so creates a more fitted look than the original style.
  • I reduced the side seams from below the armhole to a maximum of 3/4" at the waist and blended into the hip line (hipline reduced by 1/4")
  • I reduced the A-line side seams from hip to hem so they were a straight diagonal rather than curving outward.
The neckline and back yoke construction is particularly neat. Bias binding finishes the front neckline and a clever bit of seam work over the shoulders means everything is covered and stabilised by the back bodice.  The neckline is quite high but that's fine by me and it would be easy to lower, just allow a longer piece of bias binding, I used a scrap of Liberty lawn.

It's a great pattern to showcase a beautiful print with minimal interruptions.  The dress is fitted enough to feel flattering and loose enough for comfort. The photos below show the moment where Lottie, our dog, joined in on the photo shoot, hence the facial expressions!

I found the same Nani Iro double gauze Fuccra: Rakuen print here  with more options here and in the UK, here.
Soft Sole clogs are from Lotta from Stockholm, these sometimes come up as seconds too.
Camber Set - top and dress pattern is available at The Draper's Daughter and Village Haberdashery.
I'm really happy with the finished dress and it's a great basis for tops too - it's going to be a much used pattern!