Santa Came Early! Why I Chose a Babylock

After several years of serger lust Santa came early - delivering my wish for a Babylock Imagine serger. A good friend gently seemed to suggest that I explain why I chose this brand and model. Babylock air threaded sergers dorank as the more expensive models and many brands offer excellent sergers at a much lower price point. So why Babylock and why an air threaded Imagine?

My first-and only- previous serger was a circa 1992 Pfaff Hobbylock 788. My sewing life went into an almost "quilts only" phase not long after making this purchase and making a few fleece garments (that I still use!). At this point having a serger that I liked using became a rather moot point.

However, after reading some influential books about "fast fashion" I became interested in making clothes again a couple of years ago though. Usiing a serger returned to the "front burner". The Pfaff is a solid machine; well built and sturdy. From the 'get-go' however, I had fits with the looper threading and tensioning issues were omnipresent. We never really connected.

I did finally drag out the Pfaff, determined that, in the absense of a new machine, I would make use of what I had. I wrote a post about my triumph here. I still had tension issues but had finally overcome my "looper-phobia". Oddly enough I found a you-tube video that FINALLY explained the part that had me flummoxed for all these years. The manual for the Pfaff was less than stellar and the video really clarified what the manual missed. Tensioning was still a mystery...it seems to change with each stitch and I suppose I just did not have any left over patience to figure it all out. It was serviceable but not something that I enjoyed and I found myself shying away from trying patterns that called for knit fabrics.

No you don't HAVE to use a serger to sew knits but using one does make make the sewing easier and cleaner.

So, my Babylock lust simmered. I was tempted to buy a used model last year from Quality Sewing, but the yellowed plastic made me think twice and turn away. I looked at used Babylocks and various models on places like EBAY...but never really made that jump. It is a hassle to get from where I live to a repair shop and I feared buying someone's "not quite perfect" machine and having to get it to the mainland for tweaking. I decided that waiting to be able to buy a new one was a better bet. It is unlikely that I will buy another one in my lifetime...so I wanted the choice to be 'the right one' for me.

I think that sergers in general have become far more user friendly in the years since I bought the Pfaff, but until very recently, Babylock was the only one that offered:

  • air threading loopers and
  • auto tensioning
and yes, you do pay a premium for those features! Juki recently came out with the MO1000 model which runs about $400- 500 less that the Babylock Imagine and DOES now have air threading loopers, but does not offer the auto thread tensioning feature. I was VERY tempted by the JUKI, but was unable to try one out and I could not find many reviews of it.

I decided that the Babylock was still my top choice. By now (this model has a long success history) any necessary tweaks have been worked out with the Imagine, which is priced at the lower end of their air-threaded serger/coverlock line, but suits my needs perfectly.

It seemed rather selfish to want a serger that costs what a great, feature loaded, 'regular' sewing machine might cost, but I have to remember that I tend not to use machines that I don't work well with...and for the features I wanted the Babylock won hands down.

Why yes, of course, I did go and snatch up a long wanted piece of deep plum ponte from Emma One Sock and a luscious heatherd red knit from Sawyer Brook. I am really looking forward to stretching my sewing skills, learning new techniques, using fabrics that I have shied away from in the past and to becoming fast friends with my new machine. It was worth the wait!

 

A Sappy Fall Tale & Lessons From Tilly


It's been a bit of a trying time for me. A week ago last Thursday I had a fall...tumbling backwards into a few immovable, hard objects. The pain was the worst I have experienced to date. Breath-taking...quite literally. The following day I decided that a trip to the doctors might be in order since the weekend was fast approaching and I worried about how I was going to mange if it got worse. DH carefully loaded me into the card and off we went. After a couple of hours and 15 x-rays I went home to wait for a call. The initial thought was that I had a broken hip and/or collarbone. When the call came there was good news and bad news. Good news that my hip and collarbone were fine, and, best of all, that the metal-works in my back were still in place. The bad news was that I had two spinal fractures (L4, L5...near where one of the fusions is).

I have been encamped in/on my "easy-chair" for a week. Sleeping in bed was much too painful and although sleeping in a chair is less than perfect- it has been easier and more comfortable. I sleep, watch the tube, gnash my teeth over the political insanity and have had time to think...oddly enough I had no wisp of a desire to stitch...until yesterday! Things must surely be looking up! I am quite distressed over this latest "back business" and wonder how quickly the bones will heal and I when I will be able to get back to normal. I worry about the future since I have have been living with daily pain for years now...will it be the same? Worse? Better maybe!? I am not a particularly patient patient, but I also accept that I have to play this one "by the rules". The blessing, and I think it is just that, is that this could have been much worse...much worse.

I have had lots of time to think...and Tilly and my relationship to 4 legged has been one of odd topics that has crossed my mind. I love creatures. They awe me and inspire me. I like dogs and they seem to like me well enough too, but it is cats that have been a life long love for me. I relate to them so much better than dogs. I have been privileged to be owned by many felines over the years, but Tilly, cat of my heart, has touched me in a way that few others have. She adopted me/us when she was three years old and DH and I have been spellbound by her ever since. She's a one in a million kind of girl- beautiful, funny and very smart.
As I pondered this deep, inter-species connection I began to think of the lessons that Tilly has already taught me:
  • Age is not an indicator of desirability. Just as non-kitten cats have a lot to offer, older humans have stories to tell and wisdom to share. Don't judge everyone only by what you think you know about them....we all have had fascinating lives before the moment we meet.
  • Don't judge a cat or human by it's "cover story". Some cats and people need safety and security to really blossom and the we may appear at first glance most likely isn't the real story.....sort of goes along with the lesson above.
  • Yes, of course I am worthy! Of great, unconditional love, good food, spoiling, tenderness and praise.
  • Love, acceptance, and kindness can coax out the deepest love of even the most tentaive, life-weary and fearful of us....both 4 and 2 legged.
  • Be joyful! Enjoy the simple blessings of pettings, kisses, food, warmth, routines and love. Roll around, act goofy and revel in life!
  • Go with the flow. Nap when you need to, eat what you like, toss your toys in the air if you want to. Enjoy kind attentions but don't be afraid to make it clear that you need time alone. Tomorrow is another day and when something not-so-good happens...it will pass. Things are always better after a nap.
  • Life can be a gamble. Sometimes the path you are on just does not work out, but finding a new way forward can bring unimagined blessings and love.

Tilly has brought so much into our lives. I first saw her as I was approaching my second back surgery in 2010. I wasn't looking to adopt or be adopted, but I do have "a thing" for white four-paws.There she was, ready and willing to take on the challenge of two humans who wanted nothing more than to smother her with love. In truth, she is the best gift that surgery brought and now she is a gift for healing.

The lessons come every day! So love your 4 pawed companions as deeply as you can and learn to see the lessons that you can learn from them!

Fall has arrived in our neck of the woods...it's the season when I miss my New England home the most...but even here in the most. Orthern place of the Pacific Northwest the colors are are saturated and beautiful!

 

Aurifil's New 80wt Appliqué Thread

The changes that getting older bring can be amusing at times. When I was younger I eagerly awaited hearing about a new job or pay raises, what the weekend might bring, what art I hoped to make soon...those kind of life experience kind of things. Lately though, my 'awaiting moments' are far more simple.

 

Thread! Yes, I have been eagerly waiting to try Aurifil's new appliqué thread...an smooth, strong, 80wt cotton. It seems that my 'making' life has been dominated by hand sewing and hand appliqué lately. Therefore, anything that tends to make my stitches look smaller and blend better is on my radar. Over the years I have used a lot of varieties of appliqué thread. Who doesn't love stitching with silk thread?! It's soft, lustrous and blends so well! My issue with sewing with most silk threads was that it tended to break a lot. I tried to love Superior Threads Bottom Line poly and Wonderfil's Invisifil poly. The problem? I really tend to be old school and I prefer sewing with cotton thread. Superior Threads pre-filled bobbin rings of their many colored Masterpiece 50 wt cotton have been my go-to appliqué thread for quite some time now. The bobbin rings are so handy and the color range is large...what's not to love?! Masterpiece replaced my myriad small spools of Mettler 50wt that had been my appliqué staple for many years before the wonders of Masterpiece pulled me in. I have two Mettler thread carriers one with the warm side of the color wheel and the other filled with the cooler side. An investment for certain....and I still return to these stashes quite often for particular shades of blues, reds and purples especially. Money well spent back then.

 

Amid all of these options though I kept dreaming of something even more perfect. I wanted a thin, smooth, strong cotton! Recently I discovered that one my favorite thread purveyors, Aurifil, would be introducing a new, cotton, 80wt appliqué thread at Market this fall in Houston...and,ostensibly, it would be available at Festival too. Alas, my personal exchequer would not allow for me to go to Houston and so I started searching the 'net' .... and found The Fat Quarter Shop, the bountiful, wonderful, online purveyor of all things quilty had some sets of this wonderous new product but they were out-of-stock. Once again, patience off. Since I had requested re-stock notification I found out as soon as this set was available again and pressed the magic "buy-me" button. Voila! Today I received my set of "Essential Appliqué" colors and I may be in thread love heaven!

I find that most appliqué works very well using these "essential" colors and so I had to begin my Aurifil 80w collection with this set...oh my! another sewing addiction to add to my "I want more" list. This 80 stars cotton is veerrry smooth and amazingly strong. Later today I will play with it some more and hope to have some examples to show before long. If you are a hand appliqué/hand sewing fan I think that you need to give this amazing new thread a try. I think that Aurifil has a new winner in their "thread stable"!

I wish I had ALL weights of Aurifil for examples in black, but I don't...so I have used similar weight and the image above shows

from RIGHT TO LEFT:

  • SUPERIOR Threads POLYESTER Bottom Line in Raven (black)
  • AURIFIL new 80 weight COTTON appliqué thread in black
  • AURIFIL Mako 50wt cotton in color 1130 ( dark brown)
  • SUPERIOR Masterpiece 50 wt cotton in Raven (black)
  • WONDERFIL Konfetti 50wt cotton (an all time favorite of mine)
  • SULKY 12wt cotton in black (I am a big fan of Sulky 12 wt, but SUPERIOR thread has come out with a delectable line of 12wt thread called "Sew Sassy" I love to use 12 wt for top-stitching and "big stitch" quilting...more than perle cottons which tend to spread much more.

Threads have come such a long way since "the old days" when one brand dominated the market. I am so happy to have such an amazing and varied selection these days. The thread companies have really responded to consumer requests I think.

Do you have favorite threads and/or thread brands ?

So you use a favorite hand appliqué thread?

Do you use 'essential thread colors" for most hand appliqué or do tend to carefully match colors?

Have you tried a variety of thread brands? Which ones and why?

Now...back to my regularly scheduled hand sewing projects!

 

A New Dress No.2

Lately, most of my time has been dedicated to the several large quilt projects that I have in progress. One these projects is quite fiddley and requires focus, attention to detail and commitment! Sometimes I just need some more or less instant gratification and lately that has meant making a new garment.

I love this simple dress/tunic from 100 Acts of Sewing. Called simply Dress No.2. One of my pet peeves seems to be untidy, unfinished seams and so this entire dress if French seamed. It looks so much nicer....better for this kind of of sew than even serger seams I think. Makes me pleased. I lengthened the sleeves and added a partial sleeve lining so that if I turn the cuff up it still looks nice.nect time I want to raise the front neckline just a bit and add a few other other details like in seam pockets.

The fabric is more hefty than I general use. It is from Lonni Rossi and her "Geishas and Ginkos line (not recent). It is a deep Chinese red and black - not the pinker color that some of the photos show. It has a nice feel for Fall and Winter and I know that it will soften up lusciously with more trips through the washer and dryer.

Can you see my disguised pocket below? I tried to match the pattern exactly.

My first "Worry Bird" tagged make.

Now back to regularly scheduled quilting projects. This dress was rejuvenating!

 

What Is A"Worry Bird" and Why Is One On My Dress?

What, you ask, is a 'worry bird' (shown above)
and why would I add it to a new top?
Well, let me explain.......

I was looking for a pattern for a simple but stylish pull over dress/tunic. As I searched for "the right one" I started to wonder if the image that I head in my head was just too simple to have a pattern. I did not want to 'reinvent the proverbial' if I didn't have to and, considering that I have not yet drafted a pattern, it would much easier if I could find the simple shift of my dreams! After a lot of time spent web searching among the "big 4" pattern companies and assorted Indie pattern companies I happened upon "the" pattern on Etsy. It is simply called, "Dress No.2" from 100 Acts Of Sewing (there is also a Dress No.1...more of a v neck and it too is on my list). I admire the look of a simple 'dress' (or call it a tunic) like this worn over slim pants...or leggings and I wanted simple design like this that would look good in a wide variety of fabrics and was "customizable". The sleeves looked good to me; simple but not too loose and easy to make short, long...or sleeveless.

This is a pattern that is so simple that nothing could possibly go wrong. Hummmmm.

My goals for this simple sew were:
  1. To sew it using my 20+ year old serger that I had recently spent the time to figure out. Until I can afford the Babylock serger of my dreams I want to at least take advantage of learning more about "sewing" with a serger....I had not used it in close to 20 years!
  2. The pattern features patch pockets but since it was so 'simple' I planned to add in-seam pockets instead.
  3. Rather than making a plain 'ole muslin test for such a simple pattern I decided to make a wearable 'muslin' from some very thin, but very cool, Indian voile that I had purchased this summer for another shirt project that I haven't sewn yet. The fabric was rather inexpensive so I figured it would be a nice summery wearable and I could buy some more fabric for the shirt later.
Of course....the 'best laid plans' etc...
The front of "Dress No.2"

Mistakes began to happen at the get go.

  1. The voile was quite loosely woven and, while not that difficult to sew, I had to fiddle with the tension on the serger a bit to get right.
  2. I thought I had cut TWO sleeves, but I discovered that I had missed a beat and had cut only one. The problem was that I did not have enough fabric to cut another sleeve without piecing it and while that was doable, in order for both sleeves to look the same I had to remove the first sleeve and sew a faux seam in it so that the two sleeves would look the same. Off to a frustrating start!
  3. I added the in-seam pockets and sew-serged away. Of course I soon discovered that the size I had cut from the pattern was much too large. Before you ask the obvious, yes, I had read the pattern's finished measurements, but I have become so used to needing more room "up top" these days that I figured a looser fit would be fine. Not so! Additionally, the in-seam pockets did not look all that good either because the fabric was so loosely woven and lightweight.
  4. I took the dress apart; removed the pockets and redrew the pattern to size down. The neckline - which was already bound and finished, was also much too large and way too low so I had to pick that all apart as well. Again, because of the very lightweight fabric, the binding looked limp and not very good. So I made a new, improved, neck binding and added a 1/2" strip of lightweight sew-in stabilizer as I sewed it again. The result was a soft but much better looking finish. Phew!
  5. I sewed up the roll over hem, but then, when it was all done, I decided that it needed to be shorter. One more time - cut it all off, used a double facing this time for stability and re-sewed and aligned.
  6. I decided that I did want a pocket...maybe not two on this one...but I like having a pocket. The fabric really did not lend itself (to my eye) to using a contrasting fabric for the patch pockets. I was quite low on useable fabric by this time but I really wanted the pocket to be as 'invisible' as possible and I tried to match the pattern as best I could to camouflage it. It worked out well. I used a twin needle with solid thread in one needle and a softly variegated -slightly thicker thread in the other.

After all of the time I had spent to sew, rip, re-cut and re-sew this simple pattern I needed to add a bit of humor as a reminder to myself to measure twice and cut once, that almost any project will have a positive outcome with patience and care and that nothing that I do is all that important in the general scheme of life. It's ALL small stuff really!

Enter the "worry bird". I had fallen in love with the critters on this happy Halloween fabric. The color was vibrant and the bird so whimsical that the fabric makes me smile when I use it. I added a piece of it to the back of the top. An unexpected bit of brightness and light-heartedness.

The back of "Dress No.2"
The whimsical "Worry Bird"
The not quite invisible pocket (above)

It's difficult to tell from the photo age above, but I chose to use the "wrong" side of the fabric as the right side of the dress. The fabric's right side was too bright for my taste and the pattern looking kind of chunky and clunkie. The "wrong" side was subtle and softer.

When all was said and done (or should I say said and sewn) I am thoroughly happy with this simple "test" make. It's cool and comfortable and and not too.loose or too tight. The sleeves are a perfect - tapered and just right- and easily made shorter or longer. Personally I like the 3/4 length as patterned.

My next version is going to made from an amazing French twill from Emma One Sock. Four colorways are offered and I seriously want three of them...but I can only afford one....or perhaps I will throw caution to the wind and get two of the color ways....I like it that much! I received free samples of them and it is a luscious fabric that I think will sew up beautifully with the extra weight of the fabric. Substantial but not stiff.

My two favorite online apparel fabric resources have become Emma One Sock and Stylemaker Fabrics. They both offer unique apparel fabrics and superb customer service and free swatches! Also, for cool summery Indian cottons, voile and trims at really good prices check out The Delhi Store on Etsy.

Now back to regularly scheduled quilting. I feel that I need get the quilting projects in the "finished column" before I get too involved in making clothes.

  • Have you ever made anything that at first seemed like more trouble than it was worth, but that, in the end, you learned a lot from making it?
  • Have your projects ever taught you to appreciate things more...like patience, perseverance or skills?
Happy making to all .....and Happy September too (just how did that happen anyway?!)


 

"Within Limits" & The Value of County Fairs


When I first moved to my little slice of paradise I had never been to a County Fair and barely knew that they existed. I grew up in NYC and the greater metro area and Fairs (other than art faires) were few and far between. I jumped on the proverbial band wagon 25 years ago though when my first fair entries were photographs.

Although I comsidered myself a quilter at the time I did not enter anything in that division for some years. As it turned out, that was a very good thing because my quilting hubris was much larger than my quilting talents were at that time! What I did not about quilting is, in hindsight, embarrassing! Over the years I learned a lot from the amazingly talented local quilters. My skills increased and I even managed to take a few classes over the years. In the last few years, for some reason, I have not entered many items in the quilting section and almost did not again this year. But........

Of course, County Fairs acquire funding based on number of entries and so I decided to enter "Within Limits" - a large bed sized quilt. It is based on a pattern called "Wagon Wheels" from American Jane by Sandy Klop and was beautifully custom quilted by local friend Keri Leighton-Stome from Orcas Island. As a huge fan of colorful scrappy quilts I challenged myself to use a more controlled palette of red, my new neutral, black, grey, white and splashes of mellow golden yellows.

When the quilt made it home....with thanks to my friend Janet for picking my entries up for me and even hand delivering them.....I was thrilled to see the bevy of colorful ribbons attached to my quilt. We all love and lust for the coveted blues and honorable mentions are a real bonus, but it was that fluffy Viewers Choice ribbon that meant the most to me. I had never received one before and I was tickled pink by this teal colored beauty. It encourages me and I am so grateful to anyone who took the time to vote on Saturday!

We had a special exhibit called the "Itty Bitty Teeney Tiny" challenge. We have a severely limited amount of available space for display in the "wool shed" (which houses quilts, sewn textile items, knitting, weaving, spinning, basketry etc etc) and so this year's theme was created to be not only a creative challenge but also to save on valuable real estate within the exhibit area. I entered two teeny tiny fabric baskets that I had made for a similarly theme challenge a few years ago. There was no restriction that entries had to have been made within the previous year.

I was surprised to find an envelope attached to the baskets. It featured this year's Fair theme and poster and inside was a very special little surprise. have a feeling that I know who was responsible for this most touching remembrance (MzT you know who you are!). MzT is a gracious, very multi-talented, thoughtful friend who always seems to find ways to make an event even more memorable.

I now understand County Fairs much better than I used to. They serve so many wonderful functions. I cannot imagine m world without them any more. County Fairs foster a love for all things wonderfully rural, critters, horsepersonship, the growing of good and beautiful things and the myriad displays of creative works by many talented hands.

County Fairs are empowering, they help to build a healthy self-respect, they engender a needful love of things that mean "we live in the country". Fairs bring communities together for a special annual week of friendship, sharing of all things fair ...."fair food", trashion fashion shows, getting to know our neighbors...and perhaps best of all they reconfirmed the joys that I feel every day for being able to live in "my special'place", and enjoy the benefits of deep roots and long friendships.

 

Have you always had County Fairs in your life?

Do you always enter things or not so much?

What is you favorite thing about your County Fair? Memory?

 

When Perseverance Pays...or Adventures With A Dinosaur Serger

My ancient Pfaff Hobbylock 788 serger...or a photo of one just mine. I bought it in about 1991. Yes, it's old. What's more it was always an incredible hassle to thread the loopers, and thus, it never saw much use.

My newly rediscovered love of making clothes made me realize how much easier some projects would be if I could use my serger. In all honesty, I hanker (lust) for a Babylock Imagine with easy, breezy air threading and auto-tensioning...but alas the state of my personal exchequer does not allow for such a purchase.

Today I was determined to figure out how to be able use the old Pfaff for a current project. After all...how hard could it be to get a simple machine in working order? Right?!

I started at 10:00. I wanted to be able to thread this darn machine and, as importantly, I also wanted to understand how this machine works. All went well until I decided that I had to get the hang of changing the threads...I generally just tie threads off and gently pull through the machine so that I can avoid the dastardly chore of threading this machine. Feeling as if I "had this", I blithely cut the threads and began at the beginning. Threading the needles -right or left- is the easy part. Next, I very carefully, and very slowly began rethreading the loopers. Again ....and.....again....and....again. I finally figured out that it was an issue with left left looper that was giving me fits. There was something in the diagram that just did not feel right, but I could not figure out what it was. I just kept making the same darn mistake; each time hoping for a better outcome.....I know....that in itself is not an indication of a sound mind!!

About 2:30pm I thought to look online. I was not very hopeful that I would find anything because it is such an old serger, but, lo and behold a very good, very nice person had a "YouTube" video showing exactly what I needed to see and within 5 minutes I saw where my mistake was (yep...with the left looper) and by 3:00 I had the machine humming and the blasted tension adjusted right! Eureka.

By the time I had the machine humming along I really needed a break. Tomorrow though I think I can finally just serge away. I did learn a lot today, I now understand the mechanics of this old machine better and I left behind a bit of my fear about threading it.

Hopefully, in the future I will be able to get the serger I want, but in the meantime I am happy to know that I will, at least, be able to have the use of a serger when I need it. A serger is definitely a great tool and investment when you make clothes...now I can give sewing knits more of a try too!

Perseverance paid off today. I just kept thinking "this is just a simple machine, I can do this!". Although it took much longer than I thought it would...mission accomplished! Phew!

 

An Umbrella Workshop & A Guild Friendship Block Exchange

This year I have these "have-to" projects that I have mentioned ad nauseum lately. It always makes me happy to consider projects for all of the time I like to think that I will have "after". Better yet is taking the time for a break from have-o's now and then. Nothing better to get ou loosens up and ready for more.

Our Textile Guild invited Joan Buse, otherwise know as "Umbrella Joan" or "the umbrella lady" to our island to teach a class. I am not a huge umbrella kind of gal, but that is partially because they tend to be so boring. Shelter from both sun and rain can be appealing at times though and I was eager to take the class. Our team leaders, Tori and Robin, helped to make to sure that we were all well prepared by encouraging us to cut out the pattern in advance of the class. Robin had made them before and so the pattern was available and she graciously opens her wonderful home to those of us who waned to her up on the pre-cutting offer. Talk about a win-win situation!

Our teacher, Joan Buse (in the image below), and her helpful spouse, Bob, arrived on the ferry at about 10:15 am and we for going. As things turned out, having the pattern pre-cut saved about 1:15 minutes. The total wonder of the class is that we ALL had our umbrellas sewn together and pinned to the frame by about 3:30!! That is about the time I generally need an afternoon respite. We all needed to do some fishing hand work at home ....nothing very taxing or difficult though. The umbrellas are treated with a water proofed before the finishing work is done. Our hardware stores were out of the best ones anyway!

Suggested options are :

Scotchguard Outdoor Water Shield

Thompsons Waterseal for fabric

Candy Hoeschen (above) was the first to complete her umbrella
and shop owner, Bonnie Turman (below), adds cheerful Pom-poems to her colorful Mickey Mouse umbrella
Blow: Brooke, crafter extraordinaire, and new sewist, finished hers in record time!
Above: Guild member...I believe her name is Barbara ...finished her colorful version
Below: Cool Strum used some of my all time favorite Diamond Textiles embossed fabric in roaring red
Lovely Diane made hers for her historical recreation work...circa 1860-ish
Below: our wunderkind sewist, Barbara Snider, made this fantasy umbrella of her grand-daughter
Below: Sheila and her version
Below: Krispi Staude made us all smile
Joan's husband, Bob, brought sound the samples....

My ' fabric find' was a brilliant cobalt blue with white lightening bolts.
A great EBay buy and made by Anthology Batiks.
In another break from the "have-to's" is quilt guild project. Friendship blocks! We have not done this sort of exchange for a long time....years really. Each month one person chooses a block design and color and those of us who have signed up make a block. Next week, July, is "my" month. In the past I was fond of asking for circles of one kind or another. Wanting o not hear sighs I chose one of my all I've favorite blocks - the versatile, traditional log cabin. I am asking for a red and white color scheme using cut 2" strips to finish to finish at 12" (12.5" unfinished). If anyone has a hankering to make one I would be thrilled to have a bit of your work in my friendship quilt! I can send you the simple directions....

Breaks over ...back to more hand sewing!

I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer (here in the northern hemisphere) and that, for us USA types, I sincerely hope that your 4th of July will be happy, safe and filled with good memories .

 

An Unlikely Shirt Among Quilts

What?! Me wear this???!!!

This is most definitely NOT the kind of shirt that I would usually make or wear. I am not much of a floral kind of gal and I am just beginning to embrace my inner appreciation of blues (with the exception of deep indigos and navy's which have always appealed to me). That being said, yesterday I just felt a compulsion to make something wearable. Something easy, loose and summery.

I wanted something quick and something that I could make without fear of 'wasting' my 'good' apparel fabric. What I had on hand that fit that order was plain muslin...meh...and this piece of 2013 Robyn Pandolph "Notinghill" fabric that was a slight mess of several leftover pieces from a wide quilt backing. Since I had a very limited amount of the fabric left I had to address a few considerations.

  • I did want the the large bunch of roses enhancing an area of me that needs no enhancing what-so-ever
  • I wanted to consider a trying a few slight pattern alterations without making a muslin. Good to go! This is a very easy...yes, you can do it in two hours....pattern. Kwik-Sew K3895 which I have had for some time and meets my needs for a good "knock-around-the-house" tee.
  • Since I used various sizes pieces I needed to try my best to make the front, back and sleeves look as cohesive as possible. I was able to mirror the front and back and found small pieces that would allow me to have "roses on both of my shoulders".

I sewed from the medium size this time around and :

  • I raised the neckline 1/4" which worked out very well for me.
  • Graded the pattern to add 1/2" to the sides as they went from the underarm seam down to the hem. Another good result.
  • Added 2" to the bottom. Excellent!
  • Added 2" to sleeve length. NOT good. I went back, ripped-out, and re-sewed them adding only 1/2" to the original sleeve length which was a good compromise.

I have also used the Scout Woven Tee pattern and they are similar. I like them both. For my preferences, I need to raise the neckline just a bit in both and I prefer a slightly longer length for both.

I have my eyes on the Onyx Tee. I like the small details on it and expect to buy it soon.

My quilting commitments have overtaken my life this year and it was so much fun to just "whip-up" a shirt as a diversion. Each time I sew a garment now I seem to get just a bit better at refining techniques. So no,apparel sew is a waste of time! I have a plethora of new patterns and fabrics ready to make some "new-to-me" patterns. I am so looking forward to having the time to learn some more about about sewing by making them.

As for my quilting projects:

  • I have managed to keep up to date with "quilt-that-cannot-yet-be-named" projects (2 versions; traditional and modern). When you finally see it you may realize why it has been so time consuming....
  • I am, more or less, up to date with my version of the "Glorious Hexagons" project.
  • Just slightly behind with the "Sweet Surrender" appliqué project.
  • Left behind, on the back burner, for a bit is my Farmer's Wife 1930's. I am continuing to print the patterns and read the posts but am close to 10 blocks behind.

Just a few of the latest blocks....



Above...this block looked like a frame to me and so I added my maternal grandmother, Thea Elizabeth Kavanaugh Ellery (1898-1976). It is a picture of her taken in 1916 when she was 18 and it has always been an inspiration to me just as she was.

Onwards and outwards...or maybe inwards a times....now I at least have assuaged my garment sewing need just a bit....but I need to be able to find time to try those other patterns that are tugging at me!

  • Vogue 8585 loose pants that will be in blue linen
  • The Sewing Workshop "Mixit Shirt"
  • Butterick B6183 top with princess seams
  • Butterick B6324 shirt
  • By Hand London "Sarah Blouse"
  • Paprika "Onyx Tee"

What has your early summer and late Spring been like?

 

  • Have you accomplished what you wanted to?
  • Have any great sewing patterns to suggest to me?

Enjoy the moments ...each and every one!

 

KOGIN SASHIKO

Above: One of my first attempts used as a birthday card for a friend made using 16 count Aida In August,  Susan Briscoe , published her book...