Monday, September 30, 2013

William Morris Skirt?

The most recent sewing debacle  got me thinking that I really needed to start with some baseline of success.  This 6-panel skirt that I made this summer was my first attempt to make a muslin, adjust, and save the muslin as a new master pattern.

For some bizarre reason (unknown to me), I have started getting a fashion magazine called InStyle.  Ironic since I buy about 4 items of clothing per year.

I was flipping through it and ripping out inspirations when I saw this!  A QUILTED mini.

Even though I have great gams for my age, as a public service, I choose not to wear anything this short.

But the concept got me thinking.
I was imagining something quilted in  Baroque style leaves...

but then, it occurred to me that Michele Hill has some great William Morris style floral and leaves already in a handy format. In a book I happen to own.

And they are on my "to do" list.

This would be my FMQ template drafts of the front panels of my new skirt.

Only remaining debate: What color?

Sunday, September 29, 2013


V1302 is officially a disaster.  Using the sewist's vocabulary, it's a wadder (as in wad it up and chuck it out.)

I knew it would be questionable since the pattern calls for charmeus, silk jersey or shantung, and I was using a t-shirt knit.

This view is the best part of the whole thing.  The waistline ruching doesn't look too bad.  The upper part of the zipper, if I would be inclined to finish it, would need some hand stitching because the bulk makes it too much for the machine.

I lengthened the underarm seam by nearly 2", making the arm hole smaller.  This is a problem area for me that creates gaping in multiple spots at the neck and arms. That was a good call as the armhole depth would be perfect once the arm holes were finished.

 My other clever moment was when I realized that since I wasn't adding a lining to the dress, I could use the foundation piece as a lining and I finished the back and front neckline as I was basting on the the gathered panels.  That would leave just the arm holes to finish with a bias binding.
Here's where things start to fall apart.

The pattern review that I read warned about it being too tight and made for high, small, perky boobs.   It is snug.  Which causes the wearer to decide if gathers should go above or below the breasts.

The connecting point of the cross-over wrap made it pull in nicely at the narrow part of my waist.  But that made the front ruching go all catty-wompus.

The length of the raw hem is where the finished length is on the photo.

Even when it was still hanging  and not attached to the back, I had concerns about the shape and location of the ruched panels on the front.

What to do now?
I had considered removing the ruched sections and just making the base dress.  Unfortunately, the empire waist is also not right for my body and the seam is right across the nipple line.

Maybe I'll try to save the skirt and add a waist band.  Or maybe not.


Just a mid-project update.

I have the front panel of the dress put together.

The knit is clearly too thick for this project.

I'm going to finish it anyway.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Project Spiral

I hate to shop.
I avoid the mall at all cost.
Today I decided to suck it up and go in search of a pair of boots in a style that  I've been looking for for 9 months.

They exist in theory, but when I went to order them it turns out that my size is not available anywhere via my local retailer.

I consoled myself by checking out the clearance rack at several high end stores.  Very dangerous for someone with a love of shoes.

Dillard's is having an amazing clearance.  Quite honestly, these are not the most comfortable shoes that I ever tried on....but for $10.50...I can wear them on a day I'll be spending most of my time sitting behind a desk.

Oh, and I have this Vogue 1302 pattern in my stash.

And certainly I MUST have some fabric in the stash to match.

(OOOOh, wow, the color went weird here, but you can see that the color value and tone are still the same. )

Problem is that the pattern I was thinking about using  is a stretch knit pattern, so I went to the knit bin and pulled out the perfect match knit fabric.  Unfortunately, the knit has very little stretch and wouldn't work for the original pattern.  Poo.

The V1302 pattern is for a lovely, drapey, charmeuse.  I am hoping that a knit will have enough drape to pulls this off and have the bonus of not having to be fully lined.    

I could be totally wrong.

I have all the parts cut out now.

I read a review on Aliza's Blog that outlined the fitting horrors that she had.  I am still new enough to the "fitting" game to not know for sure which adjustments to make and her comments made me nervous.

The one thing that I figured out this spring when I was doing the T-shirt fitting experiment (including some pattern drafting tutorials that I never posted...seen here), is that many of my upper bodice issues are caused by the fact that I need to cut a higher arm pit.

My conclusion about my body shape is that my broad shoulders and large rib cage make me a pattern size 18.  But I lack the fleshiness that other size 18's might have since I don't store padding above the belly button.  

When I weigh 30 pounds less than I do now, I have the same  measurements at the shoulders and rib cage.   The extra pounds give me boob volume and  lower torso / hip fluff.  

So, in conclusion.  I went to buy a pair of boots to wear with my fall wardrobe, and now I have a stupid sewing project to finish.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Hour 7.  Quilting Dragonflies.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I decided to set a timer and document progress in 1 hour increments.  Photos taken from the back as the matching thread on the front makes progress impossible to determine.

1 hour.

2 hours.

The hoop is 18" x 27"

3 hours.

Position 2 of the hoop.

4 hours.

Position 3.

5 hours.

The bird applique is about 33" square.
I'm guessing it will take me about 2 more hours to finish outlining the bird.

And non-quilters don't understand why it is that whenever they ask how much it would cost them for me to make them a quilt I just laugh hysterically and say "You could NEVER afford it."

I'm linking up with the Slow Bloggers...since quilting is a Slow process.
Knotted Cotton
Add caption

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Little Bits Of Progress

Since April, I have had great intentions to make a pillow from my friend Draggin.  There's a running joke about pillows as a safety device based on the fact that he tripped over a stack of pillows in the dark at the cabin we shared on the motorcycle version of the Shop Hop.  The block is "Oregon" which I thought was perfect since the incident was in Halfway, OR.  I spent 2 evenings last week making this so I could give it to him on a trip we took together to Enterprise, OR last weekend.

I couldn't stand the state blocks being out of order so I did some un-stitching and re-sewing of the SD and WI blocks.  The VT block I left in place and the only "tell" is that if you look closely at the block, I write in red ink the name of the state.  VT is upside down.

Here's a better pic than I posted before.  Amazing what a difference daylight makes.  Need to sew some corners on and decide about adding outer borders.

My plan for the afternoon is to get this Mayan Heron ready for quilting.  I added the outer border this morning.  I wasn't keen on the fabric, but determined to use up stash, put it on anyway.  Turns out that I really, really like it now that it's on.

I did the reverse applique years ago.  It's a Dover Clip Art pattern blown up.  A friend I was working with at the time put forth some really good arguments on why I should give it to her. She saw all kinds of symbolism, including the number "13" which appears on the bird's head.   I have been meaning to finish it for her.   Her husband passed away having lost a long health battle...on the 13th..."their day".  

I'm going to hand quilt this one.  With the wool batting I've been hoarding.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Flower added.

What error?  Where?

Unfortunately, when I have the lining pocket loaded up, it pulls down on that left arm hole.

I went back and added some stay-stitching.

I started on the flower with scrap leather, a shank style button, black thread, a sturdy quilting needle and some new sharp scissors.

I started by cutting some 1.5" strips.

After a couple bad options, those 2 strips were cut in thirds and petals cut from them.

 I started with 5 petals, but in the end, my 6th one made it balanced.

Rounded fringe for the inner section.

Pretty darn cute.

UFO Finishes

 Last night after the quilt debacle, I decided to clean my sewing room in hopes that would motivate me to get some of the countless clothing projects done.

I finished 2 things.

Neither on the "to do" list (of course).

There were still bags of stuff yet unpacked from the quilt retreat in early July.  I discovered the Runaround Bag pattern from Lazy Girl Designs which was a gift from one of my quilt buddies, along with the 2 fat quarters to make it.

I remember now why I never buy patterns.  It's because I never follow them anyway.   I cut the fabric differently from the directions which yielded more leftovers. (To be fair, the cutting directions were for a directional fabric.)  I added an inside pocket and a key loop. This is the inside lining before assembly.

As promised, it is quick and easy.  The zipper directions I found particularly clever.

I added topstitching wherever the instructed said they were optional.  I also topstitched the strap close to each outside edge instead of down the center as the directions state.

I like the outside pocket on the back.  I made the strap about 42" long so I could wear it across my body.  I imagine putting my phone in that outside pocket so I can easily reach it and attach headphones for walking to work and listening to music.

My only criticism of the design is that with my big key fob, change purse and phone, the whole thing is a little...slumpy.

There is a loose layer of batting between the lining and the back.

This is totally worth making again...maybe next time with some free motion quilting panels or some stiff stabilizer to de-slump it from my heavy load.

About 5 months ago, I was all excited about sewing some leather into clothing in anticipation of the fact I knew I would be spending a lot of time on the motorcycle.

While on rides, I've designed dozens of great things in my head.  I also bought patterns of the basic shapes I imagined.  I have drawers of linings and zippers and knit fabrics for tanks to wear with them.  Unfortunately, leather is easy to sew with, but not forgiving.  Only one shot.  Thus the critical need for muslins.

After pricing leather hides (hundreds a hide for nice stuff), I started scouring thrift stores.  I am particularly fond of 80's style coats as they have oodles of yards. (They are also cheap since no one wants them.)  These 4 ugly coats cost me only about $50.  They are of similar weights and I imagine many outfits from this.

One spring day, I pulled out the seam ripper and removed the arms from the least ugly jacket (bottom right in the photo above).  I thought it had potential to become a vest without having to be completely resewn.
Today, I was fairly successful.

I took nearly an inch of  volume out where there was seam where you want to add a dart in the bust/arm hole.  I also put a 1.5" curved waist curve on each side.

The pocket project started well but ended ugly.  Since there were no outside pockets, I used what used to be the sleeves as pockets with the cuff edge being the top of the pocket.  I had to remove some snaps that were in the way.  The shape of the sleeves mimics my hip curves.  They are top stitched into place.

Unfortunately, as careful as I was with placement, things shifted.  There are also some gathers on the bottom of one pocket.  Leather stretches.  At times, it's more like sewing with pizza dough than fabric.

I'm thinking it's time to fashion a leather flower out of the scraps to sew on the center front where the left pocket (right side of photo) and you and I will be the only ones to know that pocket isn't even.  Shhhhh!!!

Be sure to check out the Addendum post for the flower addition.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


If your quilt has an error and the casual observer can not detect it, does the error it exist?  
I am going to pretend that it doesn't. 
There are actual 2 errors.  Today, I am not inclined to fix either.

OK.  I'll tell you, if you promise not to blab.  One strip of blocks got flipped when I was sewing them together (second diagonal from the bottom right).  From a practical standpoint that means that the South Dakota and Wisconsin blocks are swapped.  (The blocks are in alphabetical order starting in the top left with Alabama, ending with WY in the bottom right).  I have the state or block name written in red ink on the block, so that writing is also upside down.  Error 2 has to do with a block size variation that I failed to notice and compensate for.  That makes the sashing in the lower left 3 rows take a significant zig-zag.  

Maybe I'll fix the state order.  Zig fix is too complicated for the minimal difference to make it worth while.