My mom came over today to visit and help out. It was exactly what I needed. She brought home-baked cheesecake. Turns out, I needed that too. One of my all-time favorite flower plants is the crocosmia…she brought that too…in a pot with a few succulents.
Whenever I’m stuck, my mom’s perspective always helps. And this time, her design perspective came in handy. Mom has been sewing since she was a little girl, making her own doll clothes, and now is one of the finest quilters I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been stuck on my A is for Alex. Alex will be 8 in October, and 8 is too old for me to be making him a full quilt in such a preschool theme.
I tinker on it and tinker and add, and tinker…
and get distracted hoping for inspiration…
…when, at the end of the day, I need to throw in the towel. Mom and I looked at it. It’s all cute and that’s fine, but it can’t be a quilt. I am relieved and feel good about it. That’s what I needed. Perspective from another (and far better) quilter is what I needed to get me over that hump. Let it go. Make pillows out of it, fine, but let it go.
Sometimes design-as-you-go works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Cheesecake helps too.
I finished it! “It” being the Anna Maria Horner feather blocks I started what seems like forever ago. I started them as practice piecing without any real direction with what to do with them. I do that FAR too often…I’ll just tinker with this here and eventually I’ll figure out what to do with it….It makes for a great process with lots of learning, but a very LOOOOONG process.
But they’re done now and they turned out so purty, I couldn’t justify the upcycled canvas backing I started with and leave them relegated to a corner somewhere. I started quilting them, again for practice, individually, so they had to be pieced back together in a QAYG (quilt as you go) method. This is my first time assembling QAYG blocks and I’m pretty happy with it. I re-covered the back with Robert Kaufman Essex linen yarn dyed in Flax, and used the same for binding and top-quilting the pieces together.
I used each block as an excuse to try out different quilting methods in sort of a quilting sampler. I love how each block gets its own personality simply from different quilting.
My first block was a free motion pebble pattern. I’m comfortable with this pattern; it comes pretty easily to me as I’ve probably practiced it the most.
Then I got a little crazy and tried to free motion some wood grain around top-stitched feathers. I need some more practice on that one! That did not come as easily and will need much more practice than the few minutes I gave it prior to the block!
Using a walking foot, I did the next three. First, an intense 1/4″ V, in line with the feathers’ angles. Quilting so close completely changes the drape of the quilt – it’s much more stiff. On a bed or back of a sofa, it would never look disheveled!
Continuing with the walking foot, I wanted to stick with the straight-line, but lose the rigidity and went for fractured quilting. Although the distance between the lines isn’t any more than 1.5″ at its greatest, the final block is very pliable and flexible compared to the 1/4″ quilting. This drape would be a cuddler’s dream…especially if that cuddler was feline.
Then, in the center, to tie it all together, I went with top-to-bottom wavy lines, this time in contrasting thread, or the thread in the lightest color element in the block as some may refer to it. Interestingly, as it looks, the drape is something between the 1/4″ straight-line and the fractured quilting. While they’re fairly close, they’re not cross-grain like the 1/4″ and the wave gives it a lot of flex, but not as much as the fractured quilting – at least not across the width.
I like the idea of having a quilting sampler to review when deciding how to quilt in the future. A tangible reference to see and feel how the quilting I choose will effect the final quilt is exciting. It’s also a great way to see how a straight line can look just as good as a curved or FMQ option, as good, but different. It’s also a good excuse, if you’re like me, to break out of a rut! I honestly don’t have a favorite now that it’s all said and done – they’re all good, just different.
The back, if you’re interested, is simple and does not reflect the mix of quilting that happened on the front since the QAYG method was used. You only see the quilting on each binding piece. Not that anyone will see it, but if they were to look, it’s nice and clean.
Thank you for viewing! Don’t look too closely at my hand-stitching on the binding…I can certainly use a LOT of improvement there! Seriously, I appreciate the audience and this medium to share my work.
Oh, quick credit where credit is due! The Anna Maria Horner feather pattern is all hers, but lucky for you (and me), is free here.
I love Bolt fabrics. They have the best selection of knit fabrics and such nice ladies working there; it’s a joy. It’s also a bit of a budget buster – nice knits cost a bit more than the Mill End discount tables!
I bought a couple yards of a peacock blue bamboo knit and a purple/lavender reversible double knit. Two very different knits in weight, texture and drape. I didn’t have a plan for them when I bought them – I was thinking a dress maybe for the purple and a top for the bamboo, but then I bought the Renfrew pattern and threw both knits at it. I was thinking the cowl neck but it’s hot and summer, so opted for the scoop neck. I did mid-length sleeves to cover tattoos so that I could wear them to work.
Enter, the bamboo. OMG, yummy.
The fabric is light weight, but quality, and oh so buttery soft. It washes great, no pilling so far, and is very easy to work with. The flash accidentally went off in this next photo, but I’m glad – you can see that even thought it’s super light weight, there’s no peek-a-boo factor:
The seams are only top-stitched down around the collar and you can see it’s fine on the arm and waist bands: no bulk.
I used the size 10 without any adjustments. The knit keeps its shape with the tiniest bit of cling.
I’m really happy with the blue bamboo knit. I’ll wear this until it wears out. I’m not gonna lie…I’m planning on some bedtime boy shorts out of the leftovers. I’ll spare you the photos, but yes, it’s that yummy.
Now, the purple double knit makes an entirely different shirt. It’s, well, twice as thick to be reversible, has a wrinkly texture to it after a wash in cold water and a toss on medium and takes a bit more patience to sew.
I’m still undecided on it. Right now, it’s a fairly expensive, albeit comfy, sweatshirt. I reversed the color for the neck/arm/waist bands.
There’s a lot, LOT more bulk on the band seams…
I dunno. I thought about top-stitching down the seams…but I’m not sure that will have the desired effect…it will still have droopy bulk. I could chop out the arms and had a more kimono style sleeve without a hem and chop off the waist band…
OR just leave it as a ridiculously comfy shirt? It doesn’t hold its shape as well as the bamboo…It would make a great, tiered and raw edged autumn skirt for someone with a more Bohemian style than I…but much else, I’m afraid it’s…frumpy.
It’s a no-can-do for work, though. Too casual and the neckline sags…
I have an American Apparel sweatshirt I’ve worn into the ground just out of spite (you will find no AA love here), so I think I may just have a good replacement. A reminder to keep a better plan in mind and to respect the material a bit more.
The link above is a PDF file for an instructional pattern, drawn to scale, for a half square triangle. This is the pattern I used for making the Chevron Baby Quilt and the Disney Chevron Quilt. Sometimes, having a paper visual helps and I’d like to make it easier for people. This needs to be printed on 11×17 paper and when the print dialog box is up, make sure the “Actual Size” is selected. There is a 1-inch scale box to make sure it prints correctly and the grid is drawn to a 1-inch scale as well.
It will look like this (but don’t print this, this is a jpg and won’t print correctly):
If this helps, works, or if more is needed, please let me know. I can still draw, much to my own surprise, and can make something like this in any size, to scale and to print. I could also add more instruction if there is interest. There are other great tutorials out there on YouTube and such, but sometimes people like to see the paper or have something more tangible.
You will need free Adobe Reader to view the file and I suggest printing from Adobe Reader and NOT from your web browser. Your web browser may or may not add content that will change the size.
Is there a better ratio size or finished size that you’d like to see? More instructions? Email me from my contact page or leave a comment. Thanks!
I took a couple Elizabeth Hartman classes at the local Modern Domestic this spring. The trickier of the two for me was the letter piecing class and I went into the classes without a big-picture in mind; I went more to tinker. So as we were tinkering, I had to make up a project to use them in on the fly.
If you have a chance to take a class from Ms. Hartman or see her speak, please do. She’s eloquent, amiable and has this way of explaining that totally jives with my brain. She’s a hand-talker, if you know what I mean, as am I, so I can get behind the hand-signal visuals!
Anywho, I’ve been procrastinating finishing the piecing I started, and with Le Viking on her sabbatical, there’s no time like the present. During the class, I made a big “A” the first day, and came back the next week with an “is for Alex” sort of plan. I didn’t quite have a grasp on a visual in my head going into it, so my first set of colors with the big A…well, it’s boring and drab. So I came back with a better mix…but it’s still…meh.
Alex is going to be 8 this fall, and I’m kinda borderline on making something here too young for him, while also trying to add in other colors. I think I can safely add in some orange, lime and/or blue…I’m waffling….
I’ve got the “…is for…” cut out in oranges and some squares to make a triangle border around Alex to…I dunno, POW it up a bit.
At first I made a big arrow (A is for…) with the Anna Marie Horner feather pattern but…
Decided the leftovers actually look better for this purpose:
I think I’m going to scrap those feathers too, however, and make a new multicolor set in that same shape to bring in more…just more. Mr. Owl isn’t saying anything. He just sits there with his fancy feather pins in different colors, mocking me.
I’m futzin’ around with an apple idea…
I’m really feeling stuck with this one….which is why I keep staring at it and cutting squares for different quilt…..and staring at it…and cutting….
If I were to continue, how the F am I going to make an alligator or an atom….yeah. I’m going to go cut some more squares now.
I’m loving getting the Ottobre subscription. The last pattern I did for the babies was a knit and a bit more on the intermediate side. These Bermuda style shorts are on the super-duper easy side.
They’re from the 3/2011 issue (you get a free back issue if you order a subscription) and they’re soooo customizable.
The kids and I sat down with the photo from the magazine and decided how they wanted them to function. Long, short, pockets, etc.
They only wanted front pockets, and this round we’re doing walking short length for Alex and almost clam-digger length for Hazel.
Hazel’s are a gifted fabric that feels like it’s probably linen or a linen blend.
They’re very light weight and breezy. She had her pick of the fabrics and made a good choice!
I took some pink grosgrain ribbon to trim the bottoms and the pockets.
The pockets are lined and sewn on top of the shorts making that much easier!
They have a cute mock-fly on the front.
It would be super easy to fold that part of the pattern under if you wanted to skip the fly.
Here’s a side shot after she wore them all day…
And there’s plenty of room for the buns…
The obligatory little sister matching outfit is just a onesie with a zig-zag stitched Z for Zoe and an elastic waistband skirt with pink Kona binding.
Alex’s shorts were made with some leftover Robert Kaufman linen-cotton denim from my Miette skirt.
I used the same variegated blue thread for stitching as well…
I lined the pockets with a cute black and cream gingham.
However, after just a few hours of wear, the seams started splitting.
Really, really splitting…
Lesson learned…while the RK linen/cotton is a great fabric, I should have made another Colette Sorbetto with the leftovers or maybe something with more give like:
Regardless, I’m really glad I found this out before I used it in a quilted bag or something. The linen-cotton does not hold up to any stress on it whatsoever. Even if I were to restitch the seams, or re-enforce the seams, the stress on the fabric is the problem. I suppose I could line them, but at this point, when they’re made just to fit…I’m going to have to call them a loss. It may not be the blend so much as how it’s done. The Aztec vest was made in a RK linen and is holding up great, and I have some yarn dyed Essex that many quilters use and is thicker feeling than the cotton-linen.
Point is, if you’re looking to use one of the linens, I suggest sticking to the Essex or the straight up linen if you need to sew something with stress points aka structure. My Miette skirt went through the wash this week and held up great, therefore, in a garment with more drape, the linen-cotton is a wonderful option.
AAArrrrgh. This has been a weekend. I drove over a bolt on Friday and spent a good chunk of the day at Les Schwab. I didn’t lock my car Friday night and someone ransacked it by Saturday morning. Seriously. You know what they got? Old Starbucks cups and stale Cheerios to go with their bad, bad Karma. Of course, with that logic, I did something to deserve it, so there’s that.
THEN the 7 and 8 year old take off to go spend almost a week in Disneyland with their grandparents! I’m going to have SO MUCH TIME TO SEW!!!!
Ms. Viking decided she wanted her yearly tune-up RIGHT MEOW. I changed my bobbin, I changed my needle, I keep her clean, I put in expensive thread….she doesn’t care. The bobbin is doing some funky loopy-loopy snag thing that won’t stop no matter what I do. I cried. Begged. Nothing.
In she went. For 7-10 days!!! I’m going to die. You know this right? DIE. I don’t wanna knit/crochet/embroider…I wanna sew! They do this on purpose, you know. The dealers. They get you hooked, so that when they take it away you have to buy a ‘back-up machine.’ Dealers is right. Well, hello Juki…Yes it is the Christmas In July sale…dammit!
To keep myself from buying the Juki, I’m cutting. Cutting, cutting, cutting. Oh, and I do have an Ottobre post and I have my 2 Renfrews finally ready to post soon. Meanwhile…cutting….
Let’s see how long I resist the Juki….anyone taking odds on that?
I dunno….admin work puts a sneer on my face….even if it’s for myself. The idea of “filing” patterns makes me just want to burn my bra.
That, and I need to SEE what I have….just the other day I was cruising the inter webs, going to finally buy a Renfrew and a Miette pattern, when I was positive I needed a knit-wrap-dress pattern too. I opened up my binder of patterns, and there was a Vogue knit-wrap-dress pattern staring indignantly at me. I already have one! (I have to come up with another reason to get a Cake pattern now….)
Which brings me to…well, I use binders.
Specifically, BIG white view binders in low-VOC and D-rings if I can get them.
I use sheet covers and tabs.
Tabs not because I’m going to actually number and collate and make a table of contents…oh hell no. hahahaha. NO. Just to have a place to mark between patterns.
It came time again to take the piles of patterns I had been accumulating and stashing around, and add them to the binders…so I took a few shots.
If this idea helps you, great. If not, eh. It’s just an idea. Filing works for some people, just not me.
Here’s an example of a store bought Burda pattern. I use the crap out of this pattern–specifically the pants.
I put the envelope and unused portion in one sleeve.
And the cut part and instructions in another…with any notes I may have. This pile happens to also be in a plastic bag.
My beloved Colette patterns get traced. I keep the booklet and original patterns in one sleeve and the traced patterns in another.
PDF patterns are similar. Instructions in one, cut patterns in another.
The inside pockets can hold wonky, oversized patterns.
I use the view portions to hold receipts, mostly so I can remember the fabric types, a ballpark of costs and what ever miscellaneous items I’m too lazy to find a place for…
After this cleaning, I can see I need new binders for quilt patterns and bag patterns as they’re growing to that point.
So…the pros are that I can leaf through them like a magazine. I can get an instant view of what I already have vs. what I might need. I also have no problem storing multiple traced sizes or versions to one set of instructions.
Cons are storage for the binders…they could, after this, still go down in a large drawer if you wanted, but mine sit on a shelf. Also, I’ve yet to decide how to handle traced patterns out of Ottobre or books. My traced patterns are very well labeled, but the visual of the finish photo would help. I’m not into printing more than I have to…so we’ll see. For example, I’ve printed the Miette pattern recently without printing the instructions, and I have some Craftsy patterns I haven’t printed yet…more decisions. My Burda book patterns, which I have the book on iBook, are ok because of the instruction covers.
I need to make a decision there soon because I totally forgot about the Craftsy patterns! Whoopsie! I may not have needed that Renfrew after all….oh, who are we kidding, sure I did!
First off, I’m not affiliated, I’m not getting paid, it’s just a really great pattern. Know that I don’t love printing and assembling PDF patterns, but I love this one. It’s <$5, it’s easy, malleable, and a great way to get through some fabric.
Good to know:
#1. Assuming you’re making a boat load like I did…or maybe just a couple, be organized. I did all my cutting and labeling and piling first. Then I went through and ironed all the stabilizers to the brims. This way, when I got to sewing my piles, I could just concentrate on sewing. There was going to be enough thread changes and other things, I didn’t need more interruptions.
#2. It comes in sizes of head circumference from 15 inches to 22 inches. In translation, that’s tiny newborn baby to hefty toddler. The 22 inch size says it’s for older than toddler, so I guess my peoples have big melons. I dunno. But I made a few in the 22 inch size and all kids were under 3 years old.
#3. The larger the size you’re making, the easier it is to make. See, once you construct the brim, then the inside and outside caps, and the ties, you’re going to mush all the inside itself. Smaller is just harder. Not a big deal, just something to know.
17 inch hat mushed:
17 inch pinned:
#4. Pin. Pin a lot. See, you’re dealing with a lot of bias edges AND you’re sewing in the round AND part of the construction has stabilizer and others do not. You’re going to be easing your edges together, trying not to get puckers. And you know what, puckers will happen. The kid is going to do so much worse to the hat than the pucker, so just deal.
#5. See that pink pin? That’s so I know where to stop. I skipped the reversible option of the hats, cuz….I just didn’t think they warranted it, but you still need to turn the thing inside out. I color coded with my pins.
#6. Pin…that strap separately. Seriously. Pin the straps first, then line up your seams and then pin on either side through all layers. There’s a lot of bulk there with layers, straps, stabilizers…just do it this way. I forgot once and had a strap slip down inside while sewing. argh. I tried pinning through all the layers. argh. Just use 3 pins. I know my camera focus is off, but you know what I mean. 3 pins.
#7. Nest your seams. I’m a fan of open seams in quilting, but for this in particular, nest your seams. You’re going to be yanking this thing back through itself, kids throw things out of moving vehicles, dogs chew on baby hats… but mostly while you’re sewing this, you’re going to be really hard on those seams, so….nest them the best you can.
#8 This is related to #7 in that you need to back-tack every seam’s start and stop. Again, bias cuts you’re easing to a stabilized brim, pulling it back through itself, all kinds of wrangling in a 15-22 inch space….back-tack. I had a few seams come apart. That sucks.
#9. Bias tape maker. Can we all please quit making tiny little fabric tubes that we pull back over on themselves to make straps and then top-stitch again anyway??? Please? FTS. No thank you. Cut a width of fabric for the straps, make 1/2 double folded bias tape (not technically on the bias, but whatevs), cut in half, top-stitch, done. In a fraction of the time and with no swear words.
#10. A word about fabric. I was gifted some white with green polkadot fabric…I thought it was perfect for some Timbers Army kids. Little did I know it was a poly blend. Ugh. It got all kinds of shiny and funky when ironed esp with the stabilizer. They were meant for novelty anyway, but damn. It sucks. AND they puckered like a …something that rhymes with pucker. BUT I loved quilting cottons for this project and eyelet lace. NOW, eyelet lace is wonky to work with anyway because its structure is already compromised with all of those holes. I have some…questionable seams. I should have pinned more. See #4. Oh, and linen. The Robert Kaufman linen is perfect for this project too.
#11. Also, have fun with patterns. You will need to adjust a bit which way the pattern goes, but as you only flip on the 90 degree and don’t change where the bias ends up, you’re fine.
#12. A word about stabilizers. I used both a fusible web as instructed (Trans-web) and a single-sided stabilizer from Pellon. They both work fine. I have no preference, except maybe the Pellon because I only had to iron it once. It made no difference in the end. Trans-web is a little harder to find, so I’d prefer to save that for when I really need it and just use the Pellon.
#13. Needles. Yeah. Your mileage may vary on this one depending on your machine. I rarely use a universal needle anymore, but ended up finding a Universal 80 to work best. I busted a Microtex and nearly busted a denim needle….the denim needle did this thing where it bent to the point of breaking and I just thought for sure my eyeball was going to be a goner as it all happened in slow motion and I could just imagine it exploding into tiny shards… which also brings me to when you get to the top-stitching and the thick parts, you might want to hand-crank through those. I ended up doing that and found hand-cranking over the layers, stabilizer, straps, etc. thick parts was best. And induced less fear over losing my eyeballs. Oh, and foot pressure, etc. Might want to decrease the foot pressure….but really, hand cranking for a few stitches. yeah. eeek.
#14. I suck at blind stitching. I should have basted the closures shut before top-stitching but I kept thinking I could do it. 14 times. I suck. So, the part along the brim that you leave open to push the hat right-side-out? Well, you close that by top-stitching and then just top-stitching all around. I had to do it over on almost every single one. On some I just made like there’s supposed to be 2 top-stitch lines …yeah, that’s it. I don’t think the kids are going to care, but, yeah. If this was supposed to be for something really nice, I’d baste it. Or just be ok with being lazy. I choose lazy right now.
So, yeah. Great pattern. Super fast and easy. Learn from my dumb dummy dumbness and my lazy efficient changes if you like.