Sunday, 30 September 2012

Skirts on Sunday

*This is a pre-written post as I assume I'm still knackered because of the big move yesterday. trying to be back with a few deets soon.

Two years ago, when the weather turned colder, my eyes got stuck on the cutest Alice in Wonderland print by Kokka whilst window shopping online at one of my favourite brick and mortar shops. I didn't run off to buy it immediately as I wondered whether at 26 I wasn't too old for it. I pondered it a while but once I paid the shop a visit to get some essentials and saw the print in all its beauty I simply couldn't resist any longer and had to buy enough for a skirt.

I love the details. Cheshire cat, Grinsekatze in german, is my husband's pet name for me because of my broad smile and my cat-like trait to need a lot of cuddling but at my own conditions.

I knew that I wanted to try out new things: a) lining so I could easily wear it with tights and b) pockets so I could carry around keys and tissues or whatever can need carrying. I wanted to create a contrast by making the pockets and yoke out of a solid brown but intended to use a fine cotton for a polished look and had already bought brown satin bias tape, too. Alas, for the longest time I couldn't find a brown fabric to go with the brown in the print. In the end I found a linen fabric which went well but made me abandon the bias tape because they'd have clashed.

I went back to my trusty old Burda 8176 but had to adapt the pattern because quilting cottons are narrower than fashion fabrics by quite a margin (44'' rather than 54''). Therefore this skirt has a little less volume. Also I had to make the pocket pattern. Spot the hidden zipper!

I used French seams for a neat look and feel. Lining can be somewhat slippery but once you grow accustomed to it it all works nicely.

After a couple of projects my stitching in the ditch had improved a lot and I could also turn under more fabric of the inside part of the yoke.

With so many other things to focus on I kept the hem simple once more.

And yep, this is what I wore for my sister's Childhood Icons themed birthday party which I mentioned here. I paired it with a teal jumper and a teal satin band in my long red hair and kept an old white bunny plush toy close to me which I'd outfitted with an old pocket watch. Here he is.

The all packed up now and more than 400km away but I'm still wearing it. At 28. Not feeling one bit too old for it. The majority of people don't notice the actual print and I absolutely adore it.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

W.i.P. - Vikings 3.5

My last post about the Viking baby quilt generated a few questions about the fabric and I thought you might like a few more deets about my quilt, measurements and the like. With the move being in full force and me being out of sewing time and machine it's also a good 'filler' while I'm away doing more 'important' if less fun things. (This move is doing me in, friends.)

The fabric collection is an organic cotton one by Timeless Treasures, simply called Vikings. It contains three Viking prints, the cute world map, the fish and four differently coloured crosshatch prints. I only used two of the latter.

Yardage I ordered for this quilt

0.5 yard Blue Fish (8 squares, 4 long strips, 2 short strips)
0.5 yard Tossed Vikings Navy (6 fussy cut squares)
0.5 yard Vikings on Boat (6 fussy cut squares)
1 yard Map (basically on large square)
1 yard Vikings Stripe (4 strips)
1 yard Crosshatch Sea (6 uni  squares, 2 squares for regular HSTs, 1 square for HSTs to match Viking borders, binding)
1 yard Crosshatch Sea (4 uni squares, 8 long strips)

I cut more squares of everything than indicated in the brackets to have something to play with yet I still have quite a few leftovers of the Viking prints. (I see bibs in the future?) Same goes for the Vikings Stripe print but for a different reason. The print runs vertically on the fabric and I wanted to have continuous borders rather than pieced ones.

Measurements of design elements

My piecing isn't 100% accurate but I'm giving you the aimed for measurements in centimetres, centimetres because that's what I worked with and do work with most of the time. Being European and all and still needing to buy a ruler measuring inches. (I really should!) Yep, means I have to calculate tons all the time on top of the regular calculating.

Simple Squares and HSTs - 10 cm finished
Fish border - width is 4 cm finished, length depends on your piecing
Fish strips to fill in gap in cross element - 20 cm x 5 cm finished
Viking Border - 10 cm x 67 cm finished
Orange Border - 5 cm finished
Map - 67 cm x 67 cm
Blue Binding - 12 cm (6cm folded)

Best don't rely on my measurements, especially if you're re-calculating to work in inches, but start with your squares to make up the big square and go from there attaching borders and strips as needed. You can work with longer strips and cut them to size after attaching them. Helps to keep things square, I feel.

Stats for the Week

The Move - 85 per cent or thereabouts
35 packed moving boxes, two disassembled closets, several disassembled shelves, a defrosted fridge/freezer, all washing
only a few things left to pack until Saturday, then to paint a few walls

Ongoing Projects - 4
Viking Baby quilt -  machine quilting finished
EPP hexies - 29 finished flowers
Polaroid blocks Tote
EPP parallelograms/stars

Planning Stage - 3
Chair cushions for my sister - ordered yardage
Yoshi quilt- some yardage has already made it into the moving boxes
Wedding Anniversary quilt

Happy sewing!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Skirts on Sunday

Welcome back to Skirts on Sunday which showcases my skirt exploits of the past 2.5 years, warts and all. Having finished two skirts I wanted to try new things. I'd stumbled upon the obi apron by prudencerabbit on and made myself a lovely green apron from rather cheap fabric and my sister asked me to make her one as well.

So we bought some fabric at Ikea and I added trimmed pockets to the pattern. I took extra care to match the pattern. Here's me modelling the apron.

We're calling it the Dorothy apron because she wore it as part of her outfit for her Childhood Icons themed birthday party. Yes, it doesn't actually scream Dorothy but my sister looked lovely with a headband and a plush toy Toto in a basket. Teaser: To find out what I wore at this party you'll have to return for future instalments of Skirts on Sunday.

Even though it's high-waisted, which I tend to avoid because it draws too much attention to my bust and optically shortens my torso, I consider the apron very flattering. That's why I thought I should tweak it into a skirt. Being less than expert I just fiddled my way through it. I made the back panel narrower than the front, for instance.

The hidden zipper ends underneath the yoke because I couldn't quite figure out how to have it go up all the way and have a nice finish with the ties. Full disclosure, I didn't feel like spending too much thought and time on it. The ties go round in the back and tie in the front. These days I'd probably make them short and either tie them in the front or back only to avoid the twisting that naturally occurs in the back.

To keep everything in place I sewed on a hook and eye. Not very expert looking but it's doing the job!

I kept the hem simple on this one.

This was the first time that I used a quilting cotton (Dandelion in Mustard by Patty Young for Michael Miller) to make clothes. Obviously I didn't have the foggiest idea about differences in hand and had never worked with something similar before, being the newbie that I was (and often enough still am). I know that many wouldn't mix fashion sewing with quilting fabric but this skirt definitely encouraged me to do so and up to now I've only ever had one occasion when it didn't pan out the way I'd hoped.

I like this colour and print of this skirt and wore it quite a bit that late summer and autumn two years ago. It looks darn cute dressed up with  knee highs and low heels. The only downside is that it does sit a little too high for my liking after all but due to the ties cannot be worn underneath a jumper. So it's wandered into the back of my closet. I should have known, you say? Well, maybe. The again I just didn't expect how much turning an apron pattern into a skirt can change the way it hangs you. The lessons we learn!

Still, I haven't had the heart to throw it away and probably never will. I think I'll give it another go after the move. Now and then we need to leave our comfort zone. I've acquired a couple of new jumpers with pretty high necklines rather than my typical v that might just transform the look. And there's always the option of re-purposing the fabric into something new!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

W.i.P. - Hexie H(e)aven

My husband has been away for a week, today. He's already working down south and I'm missing him dearly. On top, I've decided to have my sewing machine serviced so The Dark Sewing Machine-Less Days have started earlier than expected. With the considerable amount of time dedicated to packing and other things it's best not to feel guilty about not using a machine that's present, though. Further, after two years of sewing it really deserved being taken care of professionally.

I boxed up my stash on Monday but spent time cutting into it before that as I'm afraid hand quilting the Viking baby quilt won't be enough to keep me busy during the less stressful moments. Do you love hexies? Then you'll like my tin. Or do you hate them? then this tin is not for you.

Cutting the shapes took about 1.5 hours. With 54 already basted hexies I now have enough in this tin to make another 41 flowers. Still need to cut six sheets of paper shapes, though - probably my least favourite part but right now I prefer printing on waste paper and cutting to spending money.

Add my 29 finished flowers and I'll have 70 flowers to work with - not quite enough for a quilt. I might have to make even more flowers or decide to work with a neutral between all my flowers? I'm in no rush, though.

Stats for the Week

Finished Projects - none, or do packed moving boxes count?

Ongoing Projects - 4
Viking Baby quilt -  top finished
EPP hexies - 29 finished flowers + enough cut shapes for another 41
Polaroid blocks Tote
EPP parallelograms/stars

Planning Stage - 3
Chair cushions for my sister - yardage ordered

Yoshi quilt - yardage ordered
Wedding Anniversary quilt

Happy sewing!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Skirts on Sunday

Husbandless since Wednesday afternoon. *sniff*

To take my mind off being alone and without cuddles and as promised, here's my second skirt. I'd started this on the side during my class because it was sooo exciting to make something. I used to think that I was more into muted colours and definitely not into bold prints. However, I was drawn to this print when I saw it on the bolt and haven't regretted buying it for a second. I've been wearing this skirt plenty for the past three summers, mostly with plain black tanks, shirts or spaghetti tops.

It was made from the same Burda pattern (8176) as my first skirt, although I made it a smidgen shorter. Together with the print it's much flirtier than the other one. It taught me how your fabric choice influences the vibe of a pattern.

The hidden zipper looks much better. I think I took the seam ripper to it about three times to make sure the yoke seams lined up and the zip would be hidden enough. My stitching in the ditch also got better.

For my seam finishes I stuck to zig-zag stitching.

Rather than having another go at bias tape, I chose one of the two fancy stitches my machine comes with. I simply folded the hem under and the stitching holds it all together perfectly.

Both skirts sit comfortably on my hip and the flare works like a charm to make it look a little wider making my V-silhouette a bit more like an hourglass.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

W.i.P. - Vikings 3.0

*Picture-heavy post

As my sewing mojo had returned a little and because what shall be remembered as The Dark Sewing Machine-Less Days is looming, I made sure to get the machine sewing bits of the Viking quilt out of the way.

First, I finished piecing my backing.

Then I spray basted my quilt and got quilting.

I just love the details of the fabric.

Prepped binding.

I've decided to spruce up this cutie by adding hand quilting. Still so very excited about this quilt.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Stats for the Week

Ongoing Projects - 4
Viking Baby quilt -  machine quilting finished
EPP hexies - 29 finished flowers
Polaroid blocks Tote
EPP parallelograms/stars

Planning Stage - 3
Chair cushions for my sister - ordered yardage
Wedding Anniversary quilt
Yoshi quilt
ET Phone Home EPP project
Moe Moe's Star

I've decided to take two projects off my list. They're not scrapped forever, I might return to them sometime later, but I feel like I've got so much on my plate right now and for the time to come (Christmas sewing will have to be considered soon, too!) that I needed a little purge and readjustment. Reduce the pressure.

Happy sewing!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Moving Out the Old Stuff

After sorting through my closet the other day, we've finally culled my husband's closet this morning. It's incredible how much useless stuff men keep. Shirts not worn in six years? Check. Torn jeans not worn for three? Check. (Perlendiva, we've got another five for you if you're interested.) We even found one or two bags he'd stuffed in unpacked when we moved in together four years ago. Seriously?!

I'm glad this is done and this is what I got out of it.

Happy day for my button stash! Some will come in handy to mend shirts/bed linens when the odd button goes missing, others will make very cute plush toy eyes, others will sit waiting for the right project to come along. I'd been prying on the green ones for two years minimum but he'd rigorously refused to throw away the jacket until today.

We've already sorted through our books, too, and will have a look at our crockery and kitchen appliances this afternoon. Tomorrow we can pack a few boxes and hubby's bags to send him off on Wednesday.

Stay tuned for Wednesday's post - sewing has happened over the weekend.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Skirts on Sunday

First off, thanks for reading and commenting on my last post. It was great to vent and your kind words helped me back on track. I've even made a little time to make progress on the Viking baby quilt that I'll show you on Wednesday.

Onto the actual post, I already posted under this headline once showing you a scalloped skirt and a gathered A-Line skirt. With limited time to sew but quite a few skirts in my closet, I think it's time to make it a regular category for the time being - and likely a recurring one thereafter because I love making and wearing skirts. I'll try to recall what I enjoyed/hated/learned making each and won't shy away from showing imperfections. Imperfections are bound to happen, most of the times nobody but ourselves will notice and sometimes they even are/lead to what endears a project.

The skirt part of my closet:

Today's skirt does not only classify as my first me-made skirt, it also classifies as the first thing ever sewn by yours truly. The tribulations ready-to-wear clothes have in store for me had me swearing for years. Skirts, for instance, would always be shorter than intended. They might look okay whilst standing but most would ride up to what I'd consider too high for work environments and my liking. Dresses would either fit my waist and tummy leaving my cleavage all squished, or fit my breasts but be too baggy in the stomach era. Whilst I might have got away and even liked the first look now and then, neither really appealed to me. Yet, despite saying I should take up sewing to make my own things I never did. Nobody in my family sews and I clearly lacked confidence and conviction, too.

In January or February 2010 a good friend of mine took up sewing and her posts on facebook and kind words motivated me to go ahead. I picked a small, we were never more than two despite the max being four, and affordable class in a sewing supply store close to me and got working on my first skirt during May/June 2010. The instructor helped me choose a simple Burda pattern to my liking, Burda 8176, and I bought some fabric from another lovely fabric store which I pretreated at home before my first class. I'm not a lover of bold prints and much colour, or so I thought, and so I picked a charcoal linen/cotton blend which I wanted to combine with a tiny flower print to make the yoke stand out.

During class I learned all the basics - machine handling, working with patterns without a seam allowance, right and left sides, finishing seams with a zig-zag stitch or scissors, etcetera. I also learned about making bias binding because I got it in my head that a simple hem would not do.

I learned how to insert a hidden zipper and this one certainly looks like a first. It's pretty neat, though, if you overlook the point where the side seam and zipper meet. I learned how to use a seam ripper, too, but wanted to finish the skirt too badly.

The inside shot shows you that the seams are finished with a zig-zag stitch and that the yoke was finished by stitching in the ditch (more or less) of the front seam. The turned under seam allowance extends a bit more than necessary over the stitching but my instructor encouraged me that it's one of those things that get smaller the more expert you become at making them. As everything was stitched safely into place I was happy with the results. It's too easy to miss fabric when working with too little space as I've learned afterwards!

Onto the binding and more stitching in the ditch. Despite being thrilled for the look, just making the binding took time and effort. Attaching it.. well, hems of wide skirts such as this one never seem to end. I was pretty glad my instructor had talked me out of making a circle skirt as my first!

Finished the binding in no professional manner, I know - it was the only thing my instructor hadn't told me how to do exactly and the class was over when I finally finished the skirt at home. I'd already started on a second skirt (more next time) on the side at home and during class before I finally bought a machine. I'd wanted to be sure to be hooked enough to make the investment. Even a less expensive beginner's model is too expensive not to be used! 

So, rather than researching and losing time - don't judge, I wanted to finish and wear it badly after weeks of making -, I just winged it. Like the not perfect zipper and the not perfect stitching in the ditch on the yoke and binding it's something that nobody ever notices when I wear it and I really really love this skirt. I've worn it for three summers now and can't see myself retiring it anytime soon!

I hope you've enjoyed this post because next week I'll be back with my second skirt.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

WIP - What Progress?

My most important projects at the moment are flat hunting, the logistics of the move, tons of letters announcing my name change, insurance matters, and, not to be neglected, taking care of my health which isn't taking the stress too well. Meaning I'm on the verge of ill all the time and still trying to get things done. Less than ideal but the way it is. Meaning I've not sewn since the 20th. Since before the wedding. Meaning I've got absolutely nothing to show you. No progress on the Viking quilt. Not even a few more hexies. I didn't feel like it in the evenings. Not one bit. I've not even had it in me to iron my skirts and take a few pics but I promise to tick that off my to-do list soon. Well, I must if I want to post about them along the way. And I do!

It's incredibly weird not to sew... and sad. Alas. I really hope we'll have a flat soon. Apart from sucking to the extreme and requiring more complicated logistics the current situation would force us to place all our stuff in storage for at least a month - no sewing machine for weeks! Despite my current lack of enthusiasm I can't imagine that. Not to mention that my husband will stay at his sister's whilst I remain here and stay with mine.

Hopefully I'll find at least a bit of time and energy to prepare the quilt for binding and cut more hexie shapes to keep me busy during the hiatus. I probably should keep my yarn and needles on me, rather than in a box in storage, too.

I'm physically exhausted so I'm off for a hot bath and a long nap which will hopefully improve my mood. And to end on a happier note, my sister and I have ordered yardage for her chair cushions plus some more for my stash - to get the most out of the shipping, obviously, not to satisfy my habit. There's hope!

Ongoing Projects - 4
Viking Baby quilt -  top finished
EPP hexies - 29 finished flowers
Polaroid blocks Tote
EPP parallelograms/stars

Planning Stage - 5
Chair cushions for my sister - ordered yardage
Wedding Anniversary quilt
Yoshi quilt
ET Phone Home EPP project
Moe Moe's Star quilt

Happy sewing!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Fresh Sewing Day + Small Blog Meet

Lily's quilts 

Another busy month has gone by and here is my first project mosaic ever featuring this month's finishes and two projects that I'll continue to work upon, my hexies and the Viking baby quilt.

We've just started flat hunting (gah) and yesterday I had my sister over to rummage through my closet and rigorously get rid of anything too worn out/not worn in years. It certainly went well - one bag to donate, one bag to give to a stitchy friend, two bags for the trash = lots of space gained! 

Further, I've realised that there are plenty of me-made skirts that none of you have seen before which I can post about when the going gets rough and my spare time has been annihilated and I've got nothing new to show. Yay!

Btw, my sister loves her Kirby. Tons. All her friends and her boyfriend have been admiring him and the latter has displayed some jealousy. So I'm already plotting to make him his own pixellated present - only much bigger! Yep, I'm set to make him a Yoshi quilt for his January birthday. Once more really planning ahead here, but I like that the time frame will give me plenty of time to move and settle into my new surroundings. What are you up to?

Happy sewing!

Also linking up to the Small Blog Meet.

Lily's Quilts