Sunday, September 27, 2009

Design Wall is up...

...and it's got something on it.

This will be a lap quilt for my husband so the primary design consideration was "nothing too girly." Hence the dark blue and green theme.

Blocks are small (6"), so this center will be 36"x60" when assembled, with a 6" burgundy border. This is not the final arrangement, just all the blocks stuck up there to see what I've got. I have 4 extra "A" blocks (the ones with the blue border) and can already see two I'm going to replace. (Hint, they're both in the second row from the top.)

The blue and green block borders are fabrics that I know for sure have been in the stash for over 10 years because they pre-date my move to Hawaii. Nice to finally put them to use. Other prints incude a bunch of Kaffe Fassett and Moda "Nest" charm squares plus more this and that from the stash. As usual, I took a crappy photo, not quite in focus, so close-up shots will have to wait for some future stage of project documentation. I'm delighted with the individual blocks, layout needs further tweaking.

Wish I'd had more medium greens for the "B" blocks outer border, as I can see now that the darkest green is too close to the blue. But that's what happens with a "100% from stash" project. I came up with this pattern because I didn't have enough greens for the several others I'd contemplated.

I'm already in love with having a "design wall" -- although that seems a rather grand name for what is just a large piece of white flannel stapled to the wall. Next "wall" project will be the border for the pink lattice lap quilt I'm making for myself. But really, I should tackle office curtains next. And I haven't done the bias finishing on Vogue 8232 yet, either. I'd better stop blogging and go sew...

Friday, September 25, 2009

What I'm (thinking about) working on

I don't have a photo to show today, so am sharing my current sewing projects list, mostly to scare myself into making serious progress on something this weekend. Here's what's piled up:

1) Vogue 8232 #1: “wearable muslin” (dark blue cotton from stash); this has been almost done for a week but I don’t have enough fabric to make the facing (and don’t have the patience to play around with necessary pattern adjustments after several muslins) so need to find a close-enough fabric in the stash from which to make bias strips with which to finish the neck and arm raw edges. When this is done, I will wear it around the house for a day, to see if it’s comfortable enough to be worth making another one. If so...

2) Vogue 8232 #2: maxi version, pink and blue butterfly fabric. Fabric is pre-washed and ready to go, and I found both zipper and thread in appropriate colors in my stash (always nice when that happens). Sewing time during the week is a few stolen minutes here and there, and weekends go by fast, so getting around to this may take a while.

3) Curtains for my office. Seriously. I’ve had the fabric for months, and the farther we get into fall, the more glare-on-the-computer-screen is going to be a problem. I really should do something about this. Soon.

3) Modifed “buttercup” bag for my mom for Christmas. I know, that's months away still, but I've got a bunch of things going and only so many sewable minutes in a day/week/eon. I’m making a few adjustment to this pattern, too, including adding a side/bottom strip, fusible fleece interfacing, and a zipper. Figuring out how to do it as I go along, one teeny tiny step at a time. I’m somewhere in the middle of this, nowhere near done.

4) “Pink Lattice” lap quilt: center top has been done for a month. Need to: decide what I’m going to do about a narrow inner border (pink? orange? both?), finish sewing up “piano keys” outer border pieces (inspired by this one) to approximate size, and finish/affix both borders. That will get the top done. Still clueless what I’m going to do for the back, unless Vogue 8232 turns out not to be the “TNT” dress I’m hoping for, in which case I will use the pink/blue butterfly fabric here.

5) Lap quilt for DH (no photos yet). All “A” and “B” blocks for the center top are done. Next up is to play with final block layout, which requires the installation of a flannel design wall in the sewing room. I have purchased and seamed a large piece of white flannel, which I plan to staple to the wall, but first I have to do a little clean-up in there and rearrange all the furniture. And find the staple gun. And the box of staples. Hope to get to that this weekend.

6) Some kind of tunic. I have several patterns and plenty of fabric in the stash, but have yet to make a decision about which fabric/pattern combo to first. Would very much like to get at least one tunic done before the end of the year. That might not happen.

7) Bird Christmas ornaments. I’m fooling around with the Spool bluejay pattern, which is nice, but not really what I have in mind. The plan is to make up a bunch of these for those “impossible to shop for” friends and relations. Reality is I may end up buying a whole lot of gift assortment boxes of goodies at Big Island Candies instead, as I did last year...

8) Our two papasan chairs need new cushion covers. I’ve had the fabric for this project for a couple of years, but it has not been a priority. Then yesterday the chairs got set up in our bedroom reading nook, with beach towels thrown over the grotty old cushions, which is not the decor look I’m going for (as much as I am “going for” anything decor-ish, which is hardly at all). Time to inch this one closer to the top of the list. Probably not this weekend, though I might get as far as re-measuring everything, finding the fabric, and trying to remember what it was I'd planned to do.

9) We have one set of placemats. They're lovely, but new ones would be nice. Just a couple, and some napkins to go with. It's not like I'd have to go out and buy more fabric for 'em, given the stash situation around here. Don't know when I'll get to this, but I think about it often.

10) A Birdie Sling bag for me. Oh, the possibilities! Too many possibilities. I can't seem to make up my mind which fabrics to make this from, which I guess means I haven't hit upon the perfect combination yet. A day will come when I'm seized with inspiration and drop all other projects to make this, but it's not likely to be today.

I could go on, but I think I'll stop here.

I should go sew something now, but I feel a nap coming on. Just thinking about this list (and it's just sewing projects! not even the tip of the iceberg of everything else I'd like to get done!) has worn me out.

And this blog needs a new banner, too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cathedral Windows Pillow

Mum loved her birthday present, and now that she's opened the package I can finally post photos of the Cathedral Windows pillow I made for her. Here's the front:

And the back:

The prints are all Amy Butler fabrics. I tried, but failed, to tweak the colors in these photos for greater accuracy. The pale blue is not quite so neon-bright as it appears, and the dark taupe is softer.

Finished size is 18" square, and there's a zip under the right side of the dark taupe strip on the back. I'd show you a close-up, but then you'd see how messy some of my hand-stitching is.

Here's my advice to anyone tempted to try this pattern/method: If you Google "Cathedral Windows tutorial" you will come across some variations in construction. One major difference is whether to simply press in the raw edge on the large foundation block or to sew them up. I fell for the "fold instead of seam" approach (it seemed so much easier) and I can saw with some expertise now that it does not produce as good a result.

It may seem like so much more work to do the tedious seaming and turning and pressing first step on the large square (setting up to fold the corners in a second time to make the "window" frames), but it is worth it.

I had fun making this, as I've wanted to try my hand at Cathedral Windows for a long time, and was curious how it would work with a limited color palette and repeated fabrics, rather than the more traditional "charm" approach using as many different fabrics as possible. It was a good "lap project" to have on hand for TV nights.

I can't remember exactly what size foundation squares I started with (9"?) before all that seaming and folding. If I ever make something like this again, I think I'll start a little smaller (8?), so the windows/charms are smaller as well.

But that's not likely to ever happen. Getting this done really stretched the outer limits of my patience and attention span for doing something so tedious and repetitive. Before pillow, my attitude toward Cathedral Windows was "that's so interesting and different; I'd like to tray making something with that method some day." After pillow, it's: "been there, done that." I still like this pattern/method, but will be happy from now on to admire the efforts of others. How anyone makes it through enough of these fussy little squares to get an entire bed-quilt out of it is a mystery to me.

Speaking of quilts, I started on the lap quilt I'm making for my husband. Will post more about that some day when I've reached a photo-op point.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

12 yards later...

The muslin for Vogue 8232 is almost perfect. Ripped out the center front bodice piece, recut a new one to adjust shoulders and neckline, and sewed that back in, tried on again, took in a bit either side of the center back seam at the top, and voila, fitting #3 looks probably as good as anything I sew myself is going to get.

The dress, if knee-length, requires a bit more than two yards, and for the maxi closer to three. I don't have anything that size in my stash except for:
A) some lightweight linen and cotton lawn, both of which are too thin (I have in mind tunic-type tops for those, but haven't gotten to them yet).
B) a piece of quilting cotton that is perhaps the worst color for me to wear. Not gonna make clothes from it, ever.

I have some lovely extra fabric from my office curtains project (still in progress), and could cut the skirt from that if I make the bodice from something else. I do have coordinates available, but until the office curtains are done I don't want to cut into the excess. Just in case I make some horrible error while sewing (or spill coffee on one, or whatever) and need to redo one.

How convenient that sent me an email this morning about another 50% off sale. Here’s what I got:

Kaffe Fassett in brown/pale green. I have a charm square of this, and although it's not the colors I usually gravitate toward, I think the colors and scale will be a good match for the Vogue dress.

Goofy blue and pink butterflies. I may pull this from the package and go, "OMG, what was I thinking?!" I was thinking it's 50% off, and could make a fun ATH (around-the-house) dress. I have a fairly high goof-tolerance, but if this is more than I can bring myself to wear -- even on sillier-mood days -- it might end up on the back of the pink lattice quilt.

Two autumnal orange scrolly prints. They might combine into a dress, but I suspect the smaller print will turn out to be metallic. In which case these two might become the new placemats/napkins I've been thinking of making. And maybe a "Birdie Sling" if I ever get around to using my pattern for that. Or a mandarin style jacket?

Another KF. I have a lot of charm/strip bits of blue and white, to which scraps of whatever I make from this will be added. I'm thinking a short dress will appeal on those days I feel like dressing a little more "ladylike" than usual. Or it might become something for my mum, who loves anything ladylike and blue.

So, 12 yards later, and I have fabric for at least one dress, maybe several. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vogue 8232 - muslin

I whipped up a muslin of Vogue 8232 this morning. I've been wanting to make this dress since seeing Cindy's version, so when Vogue patterns went on sale a few weeks ago I snatched this up. I'm not doing a maxi yet, but if this turns out to be the "TNT" dress pattern I've been looking for I will add a long version to the projects list for sure.

This is my first time adjusting a princess-seamed bodice pattern. I started by making the front a size larger than the back to accomodate my barrel chest, and added 1/2" length to the center front piece, tapering to nothing along the front-side pieces. This worked out better than I'd hoped. The waistline hangs perfectly all the way around, and the fit through the bust is good. And the skirt back sits well, so the "swayback" (i.e., big butt) adjustment was a good idea, too.

It does need tweaking, though. The front shoulders are too wide (which means they are really wide, because I don't have narrow shoulders), and I need to "pinch" about an inch out of the center front neckline. I'm going to have to play around with the center front pattern piece to figure out how to fix both those fit problems without messing around with the bust fit, which is pretty darn good for a first try.

The entire back is just a tad big, although the length is fine for once (thank you, Vogue!), I need to study my rear reflection in the mirror a bit more and ponder potential fixes. I think a minor adjustment to side back seams, and taking out a bit at the center top on either side of the zipper will do it.

Don't know that I'll get back to this today. It's midday, now, and a bit sticky for any more trying things on until it cools off a bit. I think I'll cut a new center front piece to get the adjustments right. Back torso fixes I think can be done by taking a slightly bigger seam here and there.

So far, though, this dress is showing tremendous potential, so I'm thrilled ... even though I'm horrified at the size I had to cut, and am feeling a bit like a whale lately.

I also don't know what fabric I'm going to make this from when I get the muslin tweaked to an acceptable point. I have a dark pink provencal print that's been in my stash for over a decade (!), but it's much crisper than the muslin and I suspect the skirt might not drape well. Which is why it's still in the stash.

I have a ton of fabric in my quilting stash, but no large pieces. I might have to go fabric shopping...