I’ve done very little to document life during the last ten weeks besides just regular posts/stories on Instagram. But the one thing that I can look at and remember these weeks will be this quilt. My local Modern Quilt Guild challenged us with a Quilt Along at the onset of the lockdown and I was all in…but with parameters.
My initial goal was to make the quilt top out of fabrics in my stash. The pattern we used had pretty extensive sashing/background fabric so I only had one fabric with enough yardage to make that happen. This dictated the rest of the colorways. Because the background was going to be this crazy orange fabric, I knew that I wanted to pull in fabrics that had at least some oranges in them. I also wanted some solids – of which I have very little in my current stash so it was definitely a challenge!
The quilt top came together pretty quickly and was probably one of the most enjoyable tops I’ve put together. Then it just sat in my drawer waiting for me to figure out the back…and to buy some batting. I spent at least two weeks trying to decide on a back and all the while online fabric shops became busier and busier and their stock was just diminishing; along with shipping times becoming crazy long. I went back to my stash to see what I could piece together for the back and found this little bit of yardage left from probably 15+ years ago and decided to make it work.
I pulled some solids for some half square triangles along the sides and had enough of this purple for the top. I don’t love the back, but honestly I knew from the beginning this was going to be a “scrappy quilt” so I just let it go.
But I was left with the issue of batting. I couldn’t get my hands on any without a super long wait. Then I saw an instagram post from Matthew Boudreaux (aka @MisterDomestic) on #frankenbatting and I was all in. I knew I had enough batting scraps to piece enough together and at this point I decided that if I was going to do a quarantine quilt – this was the way to do it.
And then it was finished! I’m super happy with it and honestly if I wanted a reminder of these last 10 weeks (and just the general state of things in general) this would be the reminder I want to have.
I’m trying to be organized in my garment sewing life now. I’m working hard on using up fabric that I’ve got in house and also sewing things that are repeats or things that I actually think I’ll wear. I’ve had so many sewing fails in the past that I’m quickly realizing the things that will 1) be flattering on myself and 2) I can actually make and 3) I will actually make without screaming. I recently cut out three shirts all at the same time and spent the last couple of days stitching them up. Each of these three tops are repeats and each of them fit fabulously and feel amazing on. Bring on the warmer weather!
This is the only thing I’ve made from this book, but I loved the first shirt so much that when I bought this cotton I knew quickly that it was the top I wanted to make again. My original shirt was with 3/4 length sleeves, but this time around I didn’t have enough fabric so I opted for View A which has cap sleeves. It is a pretty straightforward pattern to sew and has a very beautiful finish on the inside, but I struggled a lot with the cap sleeves hem.
The directions say to fold in 1/8 and then 1/8 again and then when you stitch up the sides you go all the way around. I don’t know if I was reading it wrong or what, but after trying a couple times I realized that this wasn’t going to work. I had enough fabric left to cut some one inch strips and I made some bias facing. Honestly, this is the way to go. It’s much simpler and gives a much more finished look on the inside. I sewed up the sides after putting the facings on. This top is fabulous and I’m so ready for the weather to get warmer so I can wear it!
The fabric is Charley Harper for Birch Organics called Summer, Moth Flight. I was buying some other fabric via Fabricworm for a quilt back and snatched up a yard or so of this because Luna Moths are my total jive. I’ve heard it’s sold out from the manufacturer…so good for me for splurging!
This is my second Strata top and just like with the first one, I’m shocked by how simple and quick it is. I fudged up on this one and while trying to serge a seam I never should have, my serger nicked a little in the underarm sleeves. You can’t tell when wearing and I fixed it as much as I could, but it was such a tiny mistake I just kept going. This is a super fun shirt, but both times I’ve made it I wished I had enough fabric to make it a little longer. It rises a little too much in the front for me to make me totally comfortable wearing it without anything under it. Next time I’m 100% going to try to lengthen it just a couple inches. Sew Liberated just released an updated version of this with better instructions and more sizes. I highly recommend it.
The fabric is a print by Alison Glass that I bought locally. Again a yard or so that I just “had to have” when I was at the local quilt shop buying some quilt stuff. Gets me every time.
This is my third Plantain and probably the best one I’ve sewn yet. Some of it has to do with the knit I’ve used in the past – good knit makes a HUGE difference for sure. The first one is a little too short, but it’s fine. The second one the knit was awful and shrunk bunches so I passed it one, this one feels divine. This is a fabulous tee shirt pattern and every time I sew it I really wonder why in the world I buy cheap tee shirts when I can totally stitch them up in an hour.
The fabric is Jenny Ronen for Birch Organic Fabrics, Forest Daisies and you will laugh but it was a couple yards I threw in the basket when I made an order from Fabricworm. I have issues.
I didn’t do as much garment sewing in 2019 as I would have liked, but the few things I did make I actually wear and love. This is progress for me. Most of the time I end up hating what I’ve sewn or it ends up in the U.F.O box to languish forever. I’m trying to be more thoughtful about what I try to sew – when choosing fabric and a pattern and realizing the extent of my sewing skills. I’ve pretty much determined I’m going to stay away from anything with a zip fly or a finished waistband…these are not in my wheelhouse nor something I care to get better at.
My favorite make from 2019 was my kelly green Gypsum skirt. This is definitely on my list to remake in 2020 and I’ve got just the fabric to make it with. I also made a Strata top, but I can’t seem to find any photos of it. I will definitely be making more of these too! In my quest to be more thoughtful about purchasing patterns to sew, I’m realizing that Sew Liberated patterns probably fit me the best of any. I’m a fan forever of Meg’s patterns and how she constructs garments.
So here’s my list of what I want to try and sew this year. This is a pretty extensive and long list of garments, so I’m not too positive that I’ll actually get it accomplished.
I already have fabric for:
Hinterland Dress by Sew Liberated (a lovely grey dot cotton gauze)
Love Yourself Hipster Underwear by Wardrobe by Me (I’m wanting to make try a few pairs for myself, but I’m mostly using this pattern to make some period panties using the kit from Sophie Hines. I already have some knit scraps that I’m partially using, but I did break down and order some thicker knit to use for these.
Another Gypsum Skirt in a lovely green and white cotton gauze. I’m thinking I make the version without the big a** pockets (as we call them in our house)
I’d like to make a dress or two in addition to the Hinterland and I’m trying to figure out which one of these I love the most. I’d love to do a denim/chambray like dress, but I also would really love to do a raw linen dress too.
Merchant and Mills Whittaker – I’ve long wanted to try a M&M’s pattern (and I’d love to try some of their linen too) and this is high on my wish list.
or Raglan Dress Both of these dresses are really similar, but there are some differences and I’m trying to decide which one I’d rather have in my stash on repeat.
I’d love to try a couple pairs of pants, but I’m sticking to elastic waists. Here are my top options right now…
Named Clothing Ninni Culottes – I keep seeing these on Instagram and I pretty much always love every version I see. I think these would be amazing out of some raw linen.
Blank Slate Patterns Skye Joggers – Blank Slate is another pattern company I’ve wanted to try and I’m all for comfy pants.
Sew House Seven Free Range Slacks – I’m sort of on the fence with these. I’ve seen tons of makes of them and I always love them, but when I look at the waist construction I just keep thinking it’s going to make me look super frumpy.
If there is one thing I do need in my closet, it is shirts. These are all pretty similar in many ways so I’m still working through which ones I think I’d love to have and remake.
Blank Slate Shoreline Boatneck – I really need a good, basic t-shirt pattern that has long and short sleeve options in my collection
Tessuti Mandy boat tee – this one is free so it will probably be my first knit make when I get to it. I like this one a lot, but it’s kind of boxy too.
And then one make for the men in my house if I could get my hands on some good knit.
I seriously doubt I will come anywhere close to making this list, but it’s good to have them put down (sort of like my master book list) to refer back to. First up, I need to work through the fabric and patterns that I have and then figure out what’s next!
Over the past year I have had the pleasure of being introduced to some new tools for sewing that have quickly become some of “my cannot do withouts”
Sulky Stick n’Stitch – I saw this stuff all over instagram for a long time and couldn’t bring myself to use it. There was something that just made me think it was the lazy way out to transfer patterns – and honestly I didn’t love the feeling of stitching through a second layer. There are some things that I just can’t use this for (like custom portraits), but for pretty much everything else I’ve become a total convert. The ability to just design a pattern, print it out and then slap it onto a piece of fabric and get stitching has completely won me over. I highly recommend it.
Thread Heaven – the original Thread Heaven went out of business a couple years ago and I bought up a bunch of those little blue boxes before and man I am so glad I did. Originally I used this with my wool threads to smooth them out while sewing, but as I’ve started using more of the Stick n’Stitch it’s been the one thing that has made using it a must have. It changes the feel completely and I almost forget I’m sewing through two layers.
Sulky Cotton Petites – these were also new to me and I don’t know what I would do without them now. They come in a wide array of colors and their variegated colors are really awesome. They are a single strand thread which makes them super quick to go through when pulling threads for a project. They are about the thickness of 2-3 strands of divisible floss. I haven’t had any trouble yet with them bleeding onto projects, which has happened more than once with DMC threads.
Sulky Quilting Cotton Threads – I’ve long been a Gutermann girl when it comes to sewing threads and my understanding of different thread weights was pretty much nonexistent. I’ve learned this year that thread weight is a huge deal. Sulky’s 50 weight cotton thread has become my favorite thread especially when it comes to english paper piecing. I’ve used it for some simple hand quilting, for various paper piecing projects and machine quilting.
Aurifil Threads – For my latest quilting project, I decided I wanted to try Aurifil thread. I see it all the time on social media and I had never tried it out. Like the Sulky threads, I’m totally in love. I see many more spools of this in my future.
Add a Quarter Ruler – This is one of the first tools I bought when I was getting ready to take on my Fancy Forest Quilt and it has been a Godsend. I absolutely love it and I need to get my hands on the Add an Eighth one so I can work on some smaller projects I’ve seen out there. It has been completely necessary for the paper piecing projects I’ve done.
Quarter-inch foot for my sewing machine – I pieced probably half of that Fancy Forest Quilt without this and finally broke down and found one online. This is totally another tool I couldn’t quilt without. I have a Juke sewing machine, but found an after market generic one on Amazon that has worked perfectly.
Other things –
In 2019 I decided to be brave and join my local Modern Quilt Guild. I am so happy that I have. I’ve seen so many different things and met so many different people and it’s been such fun. I’m excited for all the charity projects that they do and look forward to becoming more involved with this group in 2020. If you are even remotely interested in quilting I would strongly encourage you to see if you have a Modern Quilt Guild where you live and have some courage and try it out.
Seasons – I’ve long felt my embroidery life dwindling down the past couple of years. As I’ve gotten older my eyes have finally started getting worse and honestly so have my hands. After almost 5-6 years of constantly hand embroidering, I think it’s really caught up with me and I cannot do the detail work that I used to. I’m excited that I’ve taken up quilting, as the paper piecing work gives me something to do with my hands without the precision and detail that hand embroidery demands. I’m not sure where this will leave my Etsy shop. I do love designing patterns, but I’m not sure that I am going to continue to custom work.
This for sure is going to be the year of quilting. There are a few garments that I’ve got on the docket for this year, but my list of quilting projects is way longer.
I’m always hopeful that this is going to be the year I take up weaving, but I keep telling myself as much as I want that loom, I don’t want it until I know that I can actually make space to learn and use it.