"not quilting"

Patchwork Sleep Sac with Voile and Anna Maria Horner

Patchwork Sleep Sac

What do you give your best friend when her fourth kid is born, another friend is making and giving her the first quilt she ever made, and she is the type of person who hates extra stuff in her house? That was the challenge I had recently. I did not want to usurp our other friend's efforts nor did I want to contribute to the accumulation of baby stuff, but I still wanted to make something. In the end, I settled on the Sleep Sac from Anna Maria Horner's lovely book, Handmade Beginnings.

Anna Maria Horner Handmade Beginnings

With no flannel in the stash for the inside I went shopping. Then I went through my voile stash to make the patchwork front. It was a family effort. My kidlets worked on the layout of the patchwork and helped press as we go. This is the softest thing ever!

Conveniently, I had some bias binding in the pink already made. When Anna Maria's instructions suggested finishing it by hand like a quilt binding I decided to up my game. Some big stitches in beautiful Valdani floss instead. (Note to self, do that more often.)

Hand Stitched Binding with Valdani Thread

Next time I give this gift - there will totally be a next time - I would add about 3'' in length to the pattern. The new baby is 6 weeks old and nearly too long for this. It's also possible I will be making a second version for her. If not, her stuffies or dolls will be very cuddly in the future. 

Everyday Skirt in Juxtaposey by Betz White

Every day skirt by Liesl and Co.

Don't mind me, I'm just over here pretending it is spring.  Despite the recent snow on the ground I am feeling decidedly spring-like in my new skirt. Betz White's new fabric for Riley Blake, Juxtaposey, is the perfect fit for this time of year. The Everyday skirt by Liesl and Co is also a perfect fit for me. As soon as I saw the fabric and Betz asked if I wanted to play with it I knew these two beauties would be perfect for each other.

It is wonderful to see Betz White designing fabric again. She has a really strong, interesting sense of colour. Between her ornament patterns, eco-throws, and bags she also has a great eye for what looks good. 

Juxtaposey calls on textile design from around the world. Betz brings together motifs from different traditions, highlights her love of wool in the collection itself and with the llama featured throughout. It is one of those fabric lines with something for everyone. This floral immediately called out to me. 

Juxtaposey by Betz White for  Riley Blake

I will admit, I was hesitant about using quilting cotton with this Everyday Skirt pattern. I've only ever made it with rayon. As my butt is already big, would the gathers of the waist make it worse? Turns out, nope. That's because my butt is already big. The not a full skirt, not an a-line of this pattern just seems to work for me.

If it would ever stop snowing I will happily put this skirt into heavy rotation in my spring and summer wardrobe. My daughter asked for one as well. I'm all for cute, but that's a bit much! No, Juxtaposey is all mine. Well, at least in this house. You can get it yourself in stores now.

Every Day in Juxtaposey Fabric

Disclosure: Riley Blake provided me with the fabric to make this skirt. I purchased the Every Day Skirt pattern myself from The Workroom.


Tag Collection Makers Panel Plus Free Craft and Play Apron Pattern

Tag Collection Makers Panel from Connecting Threads

It feels like all I am doing here lately is hustling. Buy my fabric! Look what I made that you can make too! I promise, I am more than that. There is creating for the sake of creating happening. Just not much to report on yet. In the meantime... look what I made that you can buy!

As a partner to my Tag fabric collection I created a couple of fun panels. These are actually the colours I'd intended for the entire collection, but we made the switch to black and white during the process. Despite that, this panel was still destined for printing. I am so happy about that.

The message on the big panel is open to interpretation.

Make, Every Single Day

Make Every Single Day... Count... Beautiful... Funny

Make. Every. Single. Day

Whatever you like, however you want to use it. The coloured section is almost 20'' square. I've made it a pillow here, I've sewn it into a quilt that I still need to share with you. It would make an excellent tote bag (on my list). But wait, there is more!

Makers Panel Tag Collection from Connecting Threads

This is the rest of the panel. Four smaller versions with some fundamental quilting terms and two of my favourites - alliteration and Play! These panels come in close to 8'' square, bigger if you include some white space. I see these are small wrapped canvasses, the centers of improv log cabins, pockets... endless possibilities.

Speaking of pockets, I used a few of these on a new apron pattern. 

Craft and Play Apron

The pattern for the Craft and Play Apron is free! Something fun, super easy to make, and it takes advantage of those cool panels. But really, you could use any fabric you like. My beautiful friend G is modelling for me here, but I've been wearing my own apron while sewing. It keeps things rather close by. And for those of you that do craft shows, it would be perfect!

Download the pattern for free from Connecting Threads or Craftsy. Not everything is for sale. This is my treat for you!

A Year of Garment Sewing - 13 Things I've Learned.

This represents a year of garment sewing. (Minus one sweatshirt and two skirts hanging in other people's closets.) I am suitably impressed with myself.

A year ago I tried making a Linden sweatshirt, then another, and another. I made one more a few months ago. Two years ago I still would have said that I will never sew clothes. Now I have a collection of patterns in the To Make pile and I stash garment fabric. I hardly know myself!

Yet, I am so drawn to garment sewing. I know why, too. This has become my hobby. In order to avoid complete burnout with quilting being my career I needed another outlet. I'm not so keen on other crafts with a small house and limited time. Plus, I really, really like my sewing room. Sure, I could, and do, read in there. But sewing is what I really want to do. If quilting is just too much that day I pull out my tracing paper and already prewashed garment fabric. They are relatively quick finishes compared to quilts, another bonus. Finally, making a garment is a palette cleanser for me. A reward when I finish a quilt, a quick project between big quilts, something to take advantage of a clean cutting table before I mess it up again.

In this past year I've learned a few things about garment sewing.

  • When you are told to use a rayon or poly thread, use it. I had the quilting mindset and was all cotton all the way. But cotton thread has little give and ripped seams in my knits are the results. I've remade one sweatshirt and rehemmed a few others.
  • Make a muslin or test piece. It helps with fit and to work out any confusion that might come with construction. I've been making mine out of solid cottons when the pattern calls for a woven - they are generally cheaper and I can resuse them back for quilt scraps. I make wearables with the knits, knowing I can donate it if it doesn't work out for me.
  • Yet, there are times when you make something and it looks great, but it just isn't you. 
  • Adjusting a pattern isn't that big of a deal.
  • Spend the money on tracing paper. I always trace my patterns instead of cutting the original. It is easier to make changes and then make multiple sizes, if necessary. Like if your best friend asks really nicely for a sweatshirt.
  • Storing the patterns after tracing is a pain. So too when you print a PDF pattern. I've taken to saving paper towel and gift wrap tubes and storing patterns in those.
  • A serger would make my life so much easier, but I really don't know where I would put it. I might have to figure out that detail though.
  • Just because the pattern is popular doesn't mean it will be right for you, for your body. And that's totally okay. If you aren't sure, hit the mall and try on something in a similar style. Then determine if the style works and/or if you could adjust the pattern for yourself.
  • Voile, once washed and sewn in a garment does not drape as I expected.
  • It will almost always take longer than you thought it would.
  • Unless you have the most basic of sewing machines, there are a lot of stitches on your machine that are your friend. Discovering the blind hem stitch and how to use it was a game changer for me, for example.
  • Nearly every independent pattern I've used has extensive resources online. Maybe not from the designer themselves, but a google search will pull up blogs, reviews, and tutorials that can help you with your sewing.
  • Garment sewing is not nearly as scary as I remembered from my Home Ec days.

Here is what I have made this past year. When I hung them all together like this I was shocked. I didn't realize I had made this much!

There is a stack of fabric and patterns waiting for more of my time. I wish I could tackle the pants I want to make for the kids, the linen pants for me, a skirt out of Liberty, find the right pattern for the silk/cotton I recently picked up... The list goes on. And I'm pretty excited about that.