Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PTS3 ~ The Evolution of a pillow

pillow swap talk - ROUND 3 Sign ups!
Partners were handed out for the 3rd Pillow Talk swap. A totally fun event whereupon you are given a partner (they don't know who you are) for whom you are to make a pillow according to their specifications (if any) and then you in turn receive a pillow from someone else (who you don't know) etc etc. This swap is run by the fabulous Heather (a la mode fabric) and the amazing Kerri (Sew dearly loved) and hosts a whole cast of amazingly talented quilters and sewists.

This whole process was a complete blast! I highly recommend it.

So after partners were handed out, it was time to do a little cyber-sleuthing/stalking? I had received my partner and checked them out from afar. Feels a little weird to be trying to figure out someone I don't even know. But stalking commenced, I checked their blog, checked their photostream on flickr, and tried to get an impression of their tastes. Then, I had some ideas ready to try out.

The Palette ~

My partner had specific requests, but also left it pretty open. Taking some inspiration from their mosaic I came up with this design. Influenced, by circles, colors, and modern art ~ cubism. This is my spin on all of those elements in pillow form.

The basic design ~ although the final version was a little different

I decided to do a specific grid of changing colors for the pieced fabric going from one color to another because I'm all about color fade-in and fade-out lately - I don't know why, I just am. It's a kick I'm on. I decided to try this out on paper first...

So I embarked upon an entirely nutty adventure in quilting. This is in part because I'm not really a quilter, I figure out a design first and then try to make it happen in fabric and I always try to do this just a little bit differently probably because I think of fabric more as a pliable construction material than anything else and I really like to make things challenging.

This time my endeavor involved using lots and lots and lots.....
lots and lots of tiny squares
of tiny squares of fabric. Over 1600 of them actually. Eventually when all was said and done, the squares ended up creating a 1/2 inch grid - yup, that would be where nutty came in, insane, deranged - pick your adjective.
Luckily, I remembered Elisabeth (Oh Fransson!'s) tutorial for Sew mama Sew on small squares piecing and that saved me. Phew!

The colors come together ~So, after this lovely mosaic was done, I then proceeded to cut it up again - yes you heard me correctly.

Tools of the trade ~

I followed this with a little circle piecing for the final design to emerge. The circle piecing was a little challenging because the pieced fabric was very thick and I paired it with Linen which has it's own challenges. I decided to beef up the linen with some lightweight interfacing and in the end, it came together pretty well. Add some straight line quilting and....

...it's done!

I hope you like it partner because it is coming your way. I'm a bit nervous about this actually because this design is really kind of out there, the colors are wild, it's beyond my comfort zone ~ but there you have it, the evolution of a pillow.

The pillow talk swap was totally a rad thing to do. Stretched my design ideas, got me thinking in a totally different direction than normal and made me realize just how pathetically boring most of our throw pillows are around here. Really, I need to do something about that next...

Happy sewing!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival 2010


Welcome to the Friday edition! This week: The Blogger's Quilt Festival. What is this you say? Click on the button above to find out more.

This is a new event for me and particularly a milestone because, as some of you already know, I'm new to quilting this year, 2010. So I don't have a whole lot of quilts to choose from. Nevertheless, it's still super hard to choose because as you quilter's all know, they are all like children. How can you pick just one favorite? Right? Tough!

But here is my entry ~ I'm going to have to pick this Mod Blooms quilt because it is the first one I have done that is completely my own design and in fabrics which I really love. Very Mod - that's me! ~ and I love the colors.
mod blooms quilt

I would love to be able to pick one I have made for my children, but they are still WIPs. The quilts that is, not the children ~ although the children are eagerly anticipating when theirs will be done. I guess they like my quilts to!;)

What fun this Blogger's Quilt Fest is! Actually the whole world of online quilters and sewers that I have met through Flickr and other venues has been great! What an awesome bunch of peeps! And what better way to peruse the great creations of other quilters that at an online festival! And it's Friday! Which is movie night for our family - so I will be sharing the sofa with my children and our new quilts, a movie and cruising the BQ festival with my laptop. What fun! Thanks Amy for sponsoring this event! Be sure to check out the other fun quilts on her site.

Happy Sewing!
mod blooms quilt

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yet another skort variation

Ok, it's time for the final installment of Skort Stack 2010. Really, it is endless the number of possibilities you could come up with to vary a skort. Here's another skort following along the lines of Tuesday's tutorial.
This time the construction is the same as the original tutorial but I've added some details. This skort is a solid fabric which highlights the pintucks made along the bottom of the hem. To make this skort you should follow the details listed here. There isn't much to this, I just added an extra 3/4" to the width of the bottom tier to account for the 3 ~ 1/4" tucks I made. I also added a bit more to make the hem a bit wider on this version. You can do the same, just double the width of your tucks and multiply by the number of tucks to figure out how much to add.

I marked lines on the skort before gathering, folded along the lines and sewed my pleats 1/4" wide.

After pressing, I ended up with this ~

Adding in some pretty Farbenmix ribbon to the hem adds the final touch. In this case, I also appliqued an embroidered bird which matches the ribbon because I happened to have that handy. The bird is from the Helen's friends embroidery set from Huups by Helen Dardik. The white fabric I used was Kona snow white which isn't quite a true white, but slightly off white.

Pretty simple but effective ~ the possibilities are endless.

I've started a Flickr pool for this and other tutorials. If you decide to make your own skort, please do share and add it to the pool - I would love to see it!

Happy Sewing and Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A little facelift

You might have noticed that things look a little different around here. I did a little revamp of the blog - it was much in need of some good old-fashioned housekeeping.

We now have tabs! Yes, ok, I realize that is probably not such a big deal for most people ~ but the blog was getting a bit unruly, and the tabs will help keep things organized and make it easier to find things. If you are looking for the popular Feliz sew-along, don't panic! It's still here along with all the other sew-alongs - just check out the sew-along tab at the top. There is also a tab for the tutorials I have written up. They should be much easier to find now. Some of the tabs are still under construction, but mostly it's functional.

I have got to thank Miss Heather (a la mode fabric) for so kindly offering to guide me through this as she gave me a bit of her precious free-time one morning. Thanks Heather! You Rock!

Ok, as promised, part 3 of the skort tutorial will be up tomorrow. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

hexagon madness

See these hexies? Paper backed, hand-basted and then (supposedly) hand-sewn together (haven't done that part yet). Hand sewn anything is usually something I avoid like the plague. Why am I doing it? I have no idea. It's a disease. Really, it is! Lady Harvatine even named it ~ and I have it ~ apparently. I have no clue what I'm going to do with these things.

I blame this all on Heather (a la mode fabric) because she introduced me to them via her flickr group {Handsome} Hexies. And I, having no willpower whatsoever, was immediately sucked in.
These are made of Tanya Whelan's Darla fabric which I really love and never seem to have a purpose for. So pretty.

I know I promised another skort variation, that'll but up in a day or two, promise. I got a little side-tracked with spring cleaning last night instead.

Carry on and Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And another thing...

I've been going a little crazy with this skort thing - once I get the creative juices flowing it's a bit hard to stop sometimes.

Here's a knit version of the skort. This one is just a little bit different. I decided to cut a circle skirt instead of doing a gather of the bottom tier. (See yesterdays skort stack post for all the nitty gritty). The circle skort sews up about the same as the gathered skorts we did yesterday and uses the same measurements, so please refer back to that post for details.

If you want to copy this version you will need to do a little geometry. Remember the formula for the circumference of a circle? It's 2(3.14)r. (Sorry, I can't figure out how to do the pi symbol
on blogger. Silly blogger.) So to figure out how large to make the circle you calculate backwards solving for 'r'. You already know that the circumference is going to be the measurement of the top tier which was 37" on my skorts. So I need to figure out 'r' in order to draw out the circle. In my case it comes out to approximately 6" if I round up. That's the inner circle. Then I decided to make the skort length 12" and just added an outer circle at 12" to make my pattern.
The resulting half donut pattern ~

Place the pattern along the fold of the fabric and when it's all cut out, we end up with this (folded in half)

All the other parts of the skort are cut out just the same as yesterday. Now you can sew the top tier of the skort onto this circle just as in the skort tute.
Sew it all together following the rest of yesterday's tutorial.

Ta da!
Since this is a knit, I decided to play around with my cover pro for a change. I topstitched this using the cover stitch and that produced a nice effect on the bottom tier and on the waistband. Kind of ready-to-wear-esque.

I decided to leave the hem edge raw and used the cover stitch again. I like the result.The possibilities are endless. You can do this same sort of circle skort in a woven fabric, it doesn't have to be a knit. Since this skort is entirely knit, if you do decide to topstitch with a standard sewing machine, be sure and use a stretch stitch - such as a 3-stitch zigzag for the topstitch to prevent your stitches from breaking when the fabric is stretched.

Whenever I sew with knits, I always get a lot of questions about knits in general. I have gone over a few pointers on sewing with knits at the bottom of a previous blogpost. Coincidentally, Patty Young as also commented on sewing with knits today over on The Creative Connection Blog - click here to read her tips on sewing with knits.

Tune in tomorrow for yet another, less knitty skort variation.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Skort Stack 2010 ~ the skegging morph

Welcome back to garment sewing! Yes, it has been really quilty around here lately, but it's time for a little wardrobe sewing. Remember last years skort stack? Well maybe you don't, but it's that time of year again, the weather has been improving and giving us faint hints that spring and possibly summer might be around the corner which means that I need to get my backside in gear and get going on some summer sewing. My daughter once again needs camp clothes, so here we go - skort stack 2010. I promise, I'll get to the skeggings in a bit.

I received so many questions and inquiries on last years skorts, that I decided to do a full-blown tutorial for this years version. Hopefully, you will be able to take these instructions and turn them into skorts of your very own.

First off, we'll need to make some basic decisions about the sizing of the garment. You'll need to get a waist, hip and length measurement. The length is really up to you, whatever length you prefer to see on your child. Some people like their skirts long and some like them shorter, so it's really just up to personal preference.

Here is the basic layout of the skirt
I will be doing a basic 2 tiered skort, but you can mix it up and add tiers if you like. Completely up to you. This post shows several examples of different styles.
My measurements are for a size 12 this time around ~ for this size you'll need about 3/4 of a yard of woven fabric for the skirt part and a remnant of rib knit or cotton lycra fabric for the waistband. You could probably use cotton jersey, but I don't recommend it - you want some knit fabric with stretch. Here's a good primer on different knit fabrics if you are unsure. And most of all, do not be afraid of the knit! Totally do-able fabric. Really! Let's check it out ~

ETD: If you are sewing with knits - use a serger, if you have one, following the directions in this post. If you don't have a serger, use a 3-stitch zigzag or regular zigzag on a sewing machine for any seams that don't have a woven fabric in them. If you are sewing a knit onto a woven, you can just use a straight stitch.


When I add in seam allowances, this translates to cut pieces that measure:

Waistband ~ 4.5" wide by 26" long
Top tier ~ 3" wide by 37" long
Bottom tier ~ 12.5" wide by 75" long (cut 2x width of fabric if it is 45" wide and then trim to 75" after sewing)
I have allowed about 10" of ease all the way around for the hip measurement - this is a pretty full skirt. If you don't want it as full you can do less ease.

Notice that the bottom tier is approximately twice as long as the top tier. There is a reason for this I'll get to later. Also, the top tier is approximately 1/4 of the width of the bottom one. You want approximately the same proportions in yours. Sometimes it's easier to figure out what length skirt you would like - then divide up your sections by making the top tier 1/4 of that measurement and the bottom tier is therefore 3/4 of the measurement in determining the width of your tiers. This approach should work for just about any child size garment.

Seam allowances are 1/2" and included on my measurements.
Shorts are inserted into the skort at the waistband application point. I don't have a short pattern I can share with you because I usually just use pre-made patterns for ease. If you have one already that fits, go for it. If you want to draft your own, there are many excellent tutes on how to do that here, here, and here so I won't go over that part. You will need a simple elastic waist short pattern for this project. This year, I've decided to go with a knit bicycle-type short instead of a woven short but either type will work fine for this project.

Ok on to sewing ~
First off, sew the top tier into a loop, right sides together like so:

Sew the 2 pieces of the bottom tier together and then trim the total length to 75".

Then sew the bottom tier piece into a loop like you did for the top tier. It's a loop I promise (even if you can't see it really well).
At this point I do something completely unorthodox and I hem the skirt. I find it a lot easier to press and hem before the ruffles go in and I already know that my length will work but if you aren't sure about your sizing - you should probably wait and do this part last. To add the hem, I press up the bottom edge of the fabric 1/4" and iron.

Then I fold the edge over again another 5/8" and press.

Topstitch the hem in place.

Now it's time for some ruffling. I like to use my handy dandy beloved ruffler.

If you don't have a ruffler, don't worry. It isn't something you need to have for this project, but if you plan to sew a lot of ruffles in your future, then you might want to add this to your wish list. Ok, moving on. We are going to ruffle the upper (non-hemmed) edge of the bottom tier. Remember that the bottom tier is supposed to be twice the length of the top tier? That's because we will set the ruffler at 50% - so it ends up ruffling the piece to exactly half it's original length. That way, it fits nicely onto your top tier in assembly. If you are without a ruffler, you can just run a couple of lines of basting stitches along the edge of the fabric and pull on those basting threads carefully to gather up the fabric until it is the same length as the top tier. Another option is the zig zag or dental floss method which Sandi Henderson (Portabellopixie) did a great job of explaining.

Ok, now that we are newly ruffled, the top tier should fit nicely onto the bottom tier. Take the top tier and place it over the bottom tier with the right sides facing and lining up the edges.

You can pin it in place if you want to. Now sew those 2 pieces together using a 1/2" seam allowance. At this point, I serge my seams, but if you don't have a serger, just sew the seam with a regular straight stitch and then go over the edge of that seam w/ a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying in the wash.

Then topstitch over the seam on the outside as shown.
Set this whole piece aside for now.

At this point we need a pair of shorts to insert, so I'm going to sew mine together, finishing everything except the waistline.

Now grab the shorts and insert them into skirt with the right sides of the shorts facing the wrong side of the skirt. Line up the top edges and make sure that the back of the skirt (usually where the seam of the top tier is) is lined up with the back of the shorts (usually the back of the shorts are a bit longer than the front). Pin or baste into place. Set aside.

Take the knit waistband piece and sew it into a loop along the sort edge just as the you did for the top tier piece.

Ok technically here you should use a ballpoint needle on a knit fabric. But I'm lazy and don't want to switch back and forth between ballpoint and sharps since I'm also sewing on a woven fabric, so I just don't bother. I have never had a skort fall apart or otherwise be damaged as a result of this massive faux pas - take a deep breath and all will be ok. Really! Set the waistband aside for now.

Take the 1" elastic and measure the correct size for your recipient. Mine is going to be 26" long. Usually, I just cut the elastic the same length as the waist measurement and then overlap the ends about an 1/2-1". This makes it a bit narrower than the waist, but keeps things tight enough to prevent falling off. Sew the elastic into a loop taking care not to twist before sewing.

Ok we are almost done. Take the skort and place the knit waistband over the skort with the right sides facing, pin in place.

Remember to line up the back of the waistband (seam) with the back of the skort.

Take the elastic loop and place that over the knit waistband and then fold up the knit fabric in half so that it encases the elastic like so.

Now we are going to sew the waistband on. The waistband stretches, since it's a knit, so you should be able to ease it onto the woven skort with no problems. Just pin all around and then stitch it into place, gently stretching the knit fabric to fit the skort.

Fold up the waistband so that it sits like it would when worn. Fold the seam allowance down towards the woven fabric and topstitch along the top edge of the skort fabric like so

And that is it people! We are done! (Sometimes I channel Junie B Jones)

Then make a bunch more!

Doesn't it look fab!! Yes, I think it does!

Ok I know I mentioned skeggings. Can you see where this is going? The only real difference between skeggings and skorts is the length of the shorts - or in the case of skeggings it's more of a legging instead. As for the word skeggings, I have no idea where the term came from. I'll leave you to sort that out.

This pair kind of happened by accident.

Ya' see, I had left my shorts a bit long since it was an untested pattern and I had planned to trim them later after fitting. When my daughter tried them on she loved them that way and begged for more. Hmm ok, so the skeggings were born.

Just goes to show you that there are no rules to this. I hope you enjoy your new garments, whether they be in the form of skeggings or skorts or both!

Tune in tomorrow for yet another skort variation.
Happy Sewing!