Lap of Luxe Quilt

I recently finished a quilt for my cousin Stephanie (a great customer of mine!), who needed a somewhat belated wedding gift for her sister and brother-in-law. When we first talked about colors, I was really obsessed with using a certain black solid that I sell in the shop, from Michael Miller’s solids line, Cotton Couture. It is such a soft, deep, rich black. So I toyed with a lot of different quilt design ideas, and eventually decided that this just wasnt the time for that black (it’ll happen though!).

We picked out teal, aqua, blue, grey, and white as the color scheme, and I added a few other fabrics that had a touch of black too, just so I didnt totally abandon my idea (although I think abandoning ideas is fine!).

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20140628-131643-47803483.jpg Basting

I had just finished a quilt that was all improv pieced, no pattern, where I make squares and then fill in the background. I love doing quilts like that, but I really wanted a pattern for this one, so I could cut out a stack of pieces, sew them all together, and mindlessly follow directions. Nothing wrong with that! I found a pattern that uses half square triangles in an interesting way, and creates fairly large blocks, and I thought it would be perfect! (It’s called the Lap of Luxe quilt, found on the Art Gallery blog, here).

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Finished Quilt!

I made 30 blocks, which each measured 13 1/2″ square I believe. I used a combo of fabrics from the store and older favorites I had at home. There is a good amount of Art Gallery fabrics, some Robert Kauffman, a little Anna Maria Horner. The background is made of 5 different light grey or white fabrics which I think keeps things interesting. I used to love all white backgrounds, but I’ve been more into the scrappier look lately for whatever reason.

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The back!

The back is something I was actually really excited about because it is still relatively straight! Usually my quilt backs go a bit diagonal, but I think having my big work table at the store helps, it is great to baste on! I used a big piece of Lotta Jansdotter print in the middle, with two panels of a graphic grey and white fabric along the sides.

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Straight-line quilting

I quilted it by doing a straight line along either side of every seam. I like the tiny boxes it created, and I think it is just the right amount of quilting, about every 7″. It gives it some quilted structure, but doesnt distract from the pattern.

Also, you cant really tell in the pictures but the binding is pieced too, I used 3 different greys, a stripe, a polka dots, and a cross-hatched one. They are subtly different, but I like how they look  a lot.

So now I just have to add the names and wedding date to the front and this baby will be all finished! I really liked using this pattern, and definitely recommend it, especially if you want a good looking quilt that doest take endless amounts of time.

I hope the recipients like it too!

Nettie Bodysuit

Nettie Bodysuit

Nettie Bodysuit

To continue my sewing with knits adventure, I decided to try my hand at the Nettie Bodysuit! I remember in sixth grade I had a black ribbed bodysuit that I paired with a pleated plaid skirt and patten leather loafers, and it was one of my favorite outfits, so why not bring it back, 20 years later?! This pattern was actually released on the same day that I was lamenting that I had nothing to wear with these high-waisted, loose-fitting black pants, so when I saw the Nettie, I thought it would be the perfect solution!

The Nettie is a really versatile, PDF pattern, that can be made with long or short sleeves, a variety of necklines and backlines (backlines?) and can also me made as a dress. It was released by the awesome lady behind Closet Case Files (I have admired her sewing for a long while), and I really think it’s a great pattern!

Close up

Close up

For this version I cut the size 4 for the shoulders and arms and then graded out to the size 8 to accommodate my J. Lo booty (is J. Lo still relevant? Is there a more current big-bootie celeb I should be referencing?) (Beyonce, perhaps?). Anyway, that was a smart move because the bottom part actually covers my…. bottom part? 🙂 So it’s really comfy and no wedgie! Yay! I think the 4 would probably be too tight if I was making this a dress, but its good as a shirt, and the tightness helps keep the arms from falling down, so it works here.

The Nettie before the legs were finished

The Nettie before the legs were finished

I made the medium dipped neckline, and the medium-low back, and I like both. I think the amount of scoop is really flattering. The back does kind of show my bra straps, but I dont mind my strapless bra, or there is the option to sew in foam cups, so that would take care of that (and be comfy!), so maybe next time I’ll attempt that (I dont like to have to learn too many new things per pattern!).

From the back

From the back

As a side note, check out my hair! Longest its ever been 🙂 The fabric I used is a cream-colored knit that I sell in the store. It is really soft and a nice quality, its a nice weight but not at all bulky, and it didnt curl too much when sewing, which was nice. I dont usually sew solids, so this was sorta boring, but I needed something basic, and it will look cute with lots of different skirts (including the neon green one I’m about to start) so I guess sewing basics is needed too.

Also I used my new sewing machine to sew this (a Husqvarna Viking Opal), after I took the machine class, so I was able to use some good knit stitches and it made things much easier! I also followed the Nettie Sewalong on the Closet Case Files blog, so that made things pretty easy because there were lots of pictures! I am not positive that I sewed the neckline and leg bindings on right, but they are on and look fine, so I guess it’s ok!

Hand sewing!

Hand sewing!

The only bummer was hand sewing all these snaps. It took me forever but thats because im really slow. I didnt think about it at the time, but I should have used voile or something other than knit to attach the snaps, because it made that part really bulky, with all the folded layers of fabric. But thats fine, Im just proud I actually did it!

Anyway, I really like the Nettie, it is quite quick to sew, even for a newbie like me, and the pattern doesnt take long at all to tape together because it isnt very many pages. Highly recommend! I think my next one will be stripes, or possibly flowers…decisions decisions!

 

Washi Dress Class at The Fabric Studio

Starting Wednesday, June 18th, is the Washi Dress class at The Fabric Studio! It is a three week class that will not only teach you many useful skills, you’ll also end up with a Washi Dress of your very own! The Washi Dress truly is one of the greatest modern sewing patterns, and there is a reason that so many people have made one (or two, or three, or ten).

Firstly, it doesnt just tolerate quilting cottons, it looks great in those fabrics, which is awesome because there are so many amazing quilting cottons out there today. But it also looks good in chambray, linen, double gauze (like the Nani Iro version above), or even silk! (ooh lala).

It’s also great because its a great showcase for fun patterned fabric, but done in solids it becomes a great staple piece.

 

Secondly, it is versatile, and over the years since the pattern has been released so many modifications have been posted online. It can be a short dress, a maxi dress, a tunic. It can have a collar, or a bow at the neck, or buttons, or a zipper.

It is also a great project for beginners because there  is no zipper closure or buttons or anything too tricky. But, its not boring for those of you who have been sewing for a while, because it can have a lining, a cutout neckline, and whatever other fancy additions you want to make.

So, taking the class, from the awesome Devon (pictured above), you will learn how to read a pattern, find your size, pick out a fabric, how to cut out the pieces, construct the dress, sew shirring with elastic thread, insert sleeves, add pockets, and hem. You will be going at a nice slow pace over 3 very informative weeks and since the class is full at 4 people you’ll get plenty of individual help when needed. And when you’re finished you’ll have a great summer dress that you can wear all the time, as well as the skills to make plenty more!

This class will be meeting 3 Wednesdays in a row, June 18th, June 25th, and July 2nd. Can’t wait to see you there!

Click here to sign up for the class!

Zinnia Skirt Finally Complete!

Zinnia Skirt!

Zinnia Skirt!

Hey look! I successfully completed a clothes sewing project! Yes, I did sew 2 Briars last month as well, but this pattern (the wonderful Colette patterns Zinnia) had a zipper, and pleats, and I used slippery rayon, so it feels like more of an accomplishment. I went on my normal schedule of sewing just one items from the directions each day (except the last day I went nuts and sewed the waistband AND the hem.) So this project took me about 12 days. Obviously not of continuous sewing! I also made some napkins and ran the shop in between.

Zinnia with striped Betsy Johnson rayon

Zinnia with striped Betsy Johnson rayon

I am really happy with how this skirt turned out! I mostly followed the pattern as it was written. Last time I sewed this skirt with quilting cotton and I did a gathered waist instead of pleats because the pattern download didnt print out exactly right. And it was a little too poofy and costume-y  for me in that particular fabric.

However, with the rayon and the pleats, I love it! It drapes so nicely, it is really soft and swishy, and I think flattering! (also be sure to check out my awesome Free People shoes! I splurged a bit  but I LOVE them and they are really comfy.)

Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper

One change I did make on the pattern was to get rid of the button tab closure and make the invisible zipper go all the way to the top of the skirt. I dont know how to do buttons (I know, I know, it’s “easy”), and I knew that instead of forcing me to learn how to do buttons, leaving it in the pattern would just mean that I never finished the skirt. Oh and the zipper gave me plenty of trouble on its own! I had to redo it like 5 times. 5 times! once because it was twisted, the other times because the dang stripes would not match up. But when I got it right it sure was exciting!

Matching side stripes!

Matching side stripes in the wind!

One thing about the matching side stripes! I was very proud of myself for even remembering to think about this when I cut out the pattern pieces. Yay! Go me. So, they were at one point aligned. Somehow, somewhere along the line, one side went weird!

Non-matching side stripes!

Non-matching side stripes!

Somehow by the time I did the pleats and went to sew the other side together they were no longer matching. Very odd! Oh well, it really doesnt bother me, so hopefully it wont bother anyone else!

Anyway, I really like this skirt, the Zinnia by Colette patterns. The pleats were a little tricky with the rayon, but not bad, and they kinda flatten out your lower belly, which is always nice. And there are pockets! Already want to make another one of these, but my list of clothing projects is growing much too long, and I have plenty of other things that I actually need to do and am getting paid for, so I should probably do those first 🙂

Thanks for looking!

Pixelated Heart Quilt

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Heart Quilt

The great thing about patchwork is that it can be turned into so many different things. You can make it random, make stripes, make diagonal lines, and also make shapes, like this heart! I have always loved this quilt, by Blue Elephant Stitches, and always wanted a reason to make one.

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Neon Dots binding and Dear Stella fabric on the back

I’d had a pile of fabric set aside for awhile that was pinks, corals, oranges, that little bit of aqua from one of Jay McCarroll’s quilting lines, plus the neutrals and the few little bits of neon and strawberries. I thought about making some type of star quilt but never did. Then one my my best friends had a baby girl and I thought this would be the perfect color palate for her quilt. I used 3 1/2″ squares and the quilt finished a little smaller than I normally make my baby quilts, and I also fell in love with it and didnt want to give it away. Is that bad?! I realized it would look perfect in the empty space above some of my shelving in the store. Not to worry, I made Mary another baby quilt (the orange and pink one from this post), and I kept this one for myself.

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Keeping watch over the store

I really love the way it looks hanging up there, so I’m glad I kept it even though it did feel a little bit wrong… I am normally really good about giving quilts away, but there was just something about this one I didnt want to part with 🙂 Plus I’m teaching a patchwork quilt class, so I definitely need an example in the classroom, right?!

Cloth Napkins with Mitered Corners Tutorial

Matching set using Art Gallery Fabrics in Summer Grove

Matching set using Art Gallery Fabrics in Summer Grove

I love cloth napkins! They are reusable, and washable, and they can be made in any cotton fabric that you want to use! They make great gifts too, which is what I did for Mother’s Day this year (if my own mother reads this blog frequently: stop reading or ruin the surprise!). In this case, I chose some nice brightly colored fabric for my parents to use in their gazebo this summer. I picked 4 half-yard cuts and was able to make 2 napkins from each. I started by cutting all my fabrics into 18″ squares. You could do 20″ as well, but then you’ll need slightly over 1/2 yard, so it makes it a little trickier. For this tutorial we will be finishing the edges using mitered corners. Start by marking a right angle shape 1 3/4″ in from each corner.

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Clear ruler marks 1 3/4″ from each side.

Once you’ve done that you will want to snip a corner off. If you have a ruler with a 45 degree angle line on it, use that to mark the corner, measuring up 1″. You can also mark a point 1″ up from the corner on each side– the diagonal line that connects those points will be the mark you’ll follow to cut the corner off.

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Marking the corner piece to snip it off

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After snipping, your corner now looks like this

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Fold the corner up until it meets the right angle you drew in a previous step. Finger press so it stays folded while you do the other corners.

Repeat this process with all the corners of each napkin. Once that’s done you are going to fold over each edge 1/2″ , with the wrong side of the fabric facing you, and press it down.

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Please excuse my horrendous ironing board cover…. it got like that after 1 week!!

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Once you’ve folded the corners once by 1/2″ your napkin will look like this.

The next step is to fold the edges over one more time, again by 1/2″. When you do this the corners should been up, forming a 45 degree angle.

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Mitered corner

Sew along the edge of the folded part, keeping the needle down to pivot at the corners.

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Pi-vot!

I sewed two times around each napkin, one toward the outside edge and one towards the inside edge of the folded part of the napkin, just for some extra security.

Finished set

Finished set

Half Square Triangle Baby Quilts!

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Fabric Pull!

 

Recently I got an email from a friend requesting a baby quilt that will be for a little boy. The only restrictions were that it be modern, crisp, and use the color scheme of navy, turquoise, and grey. I added a little black and white in, and was set! I love this color palate so much, in fact it’s one of my faves in recent memory. I have been wanting for ages to try a quilt made with randomly placed half square triangles (like here, here, and here), and so I thought this would be the perfect time to try!

 

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Pieces cut and ready

 

I started by cutting my fabric into 7″ squares and then dividing them into 2 piles of light and dark fabrics (28 square of each). I matched a light square up with a dark, right sides facing, for my favorite half-square triangle method, and drew a diagonal line across the square.

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Chain piecing

I happen to have a 1/4″ foot for my machine, which is very handy for this method. Just line up the diagonal line you’ve drawn on the fabric with the blade edge of the foot, and you’ll get a seam that’s 1/4″ away from the line. I chain pieced my squares and then sent them through the other way, getting a second seam 1/4″ away from the other side of the seam. Before I had this foot I simply used a ruler to draw lines 1/4″ away from the center line, then sewed over those. But this method was faster!

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Trim blocks!

I must admit that for the first quilt I didnt trim my blocks, so the seams did not exactly match up. I can get a bit lazy at times. But I made the quilt again, for a baby girl, and I trimmed down the finished half-square triangles to 6″ squares. Much better.

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Baby boy half square triangle quilt

I just laid out the squares in a manner that I thought looked random, but wasnt actually random because I tried not to have the same fabric right next to itself. It mostly worked out, though I didnt realize until later that one row had three triangles of mustache fabric in it. How do those things sneak past?

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Straight line quilted

For the blue quilt I did diagonal quilting about every 2 inches. I didnt want to do anything that relied on the seams, since they were no where near perfect, so this was a good option. I used Michael Miller’s Domino in navy for the binding, and I cant for the life of me remember what the backing is called, but it is from Spool, in Chatanooga, TN.

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Girls half square triangle quilt

I made the second version in a  really fun palette of pinks, orange, yellow, gold, and a big of white and neon and I really like this one too. It seems cheerful and warm and a good summer picnic/play blanket. (they both measure around 42″ x 48″)

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More straight line quilting

I did the quilting lines 1″ apart and 3″ apart on this one, which I think I like a little bit better, for whatever reason. The binding is a cute pinwheel pattern by Anna Maria Horner, and the back is an extremely soft Micahel Miller print called Pollen. Sending them off to the recipients this week, so I hope they like them!

My First Briar!

Hello! What an exciting day– I finished my very first article of clothing sewn from a pattern that 1. fits and 2. I like, and 3. is comfy!! When my family was in town for the opening my cousin Holly and I decided that we would both tackle a t-shirt pattern that we were told was beginner friendly…even though it was sewing with knits! We both picked out fabric (the fabric I used has since been purchased by both a 70-year old and a 6-year old, so clearly it has universal appeal… either that or my tastes are skewing older AND younger than I would have guessed).

The Briar  is a pattern that can be made with a wide variety of knit fabrics, and the pattern also has options for cropped and full length, as well as short and long sleeves. I went with the full length, short sleeve version. It also has a high-low hem, which is fun and cute!

Me and my Briar, downtown Nashville

Me and my Briar, downtown Nashville

For my first attempt I decided to do exactly what the pattern said, and not make any changes. I cut out the XS and I think it fit really well! This is an online PDF pattern, so you print the pages and then tape them together. For this pattern it finally occured to me to trim the pages with a rotary blade and ruler, rather than scissors, so that made the time go faster. Then I used tracing paper (bought a roll of 24″ paper at the art store) so that if this size didnt fit me aI could go back and trace another size, rather than reprinting, taping, and cutting. Also, the fabric I used is a very thin, very drapey knit, which was quite hard to work with, cut, and get to lay flat, but not impossible, plus now the next time I make it, with a more stable knit, it’ll be way easier!

High-low hem

High-low hem

For my own personal preference I thought the back hem was just a little too long. Maybe it also has to do with the thin knit, but it just doesnt lay well over jeans pockets, so next time I will probably make the back a few inches shorter, and the front just an inch or so shorter. Maybe not quite cropped, but…. maybe!

Back with middle seam

Back with middle seam

One fun thing was that I messed up the cutting right away! Even though I was going very carefully and slowly, I just assumed the back was two pieces, since in a lot of patterns it is! The Briar, however, is not. I just sewed a small seam up the back and it was fine, in fact I kind of like that it breaks up the pattern and gives a little bit of visual interest. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself! Anyway, the neckline still went on fine, so this accident didnt cause many problems, thankfully!

Rounded pocket

Rounded pocket

I used neckline piece #4 (there are 2 options, #4 and #5, but for was a bias-trim type of deal, so it seemed easier to me). I also added the little cute rounded pocket to the front which doesnt show up that much, and maybe I should have put it higher up, but I like it still.

Waiting for the fountains

Waiting for the fountains

And there ya have it, my first successful foray into the world of apparel sewing and sewing with knits! It really wasnt so bad, and I suggest just going really slowly and not rushing it. I basically did one step of the directions per day. The shirt is super comfy too, which is great. And I am already planning my next Briar, which will involve strawberries. Stay tuned!

Megan Nielsen’s pattern can be purchased and downloaded here.

 

Welcome SewDown Nashville!

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be able host the entire group of women who came to Nashville to attend SewDown Nashville in my shop. We had discussed setting up a small “pop-up” version of the store at the hotel where the convention was taking place, but since I had no one to watch the store while I would have been at the hotel, and I also didnt really know what I would bring, I asked if they would come to me instead! Luckily they already had a tour bus (in fact it was 2 tour buses!) driving them to Franklin to go on a studio tour at Anna Maria Horner’s (which looked amazing), so they added my store to their itinerary.

I luckily had two good friends who agreed to help run the register while I cut fabric, and thank goodness they were there or it would have been absolutely impossible. At around 7:00 we saw this bad boy pull up outside the shop:

Bus 1 of 2

Bus 1 of 2

It was huge! And then the woman in charge informed me the second bus was about 10 minutes away. Ok! My store very quickly filled up and within about 2 minutes people were picking things out and handing them to me to cut. I even cut batting for Angela Waters…. it was pretty exciting!

This a picture the Modern Quilt Guild posted on Instagram of my shop looking like a Jeni's ice cream store :)

This a picture the Modern Quilt Guild posted on Instagram of my shop looking like a Jeni’s ice cream store 🙂

They were in the store for just about 1 hour exactly, and in that time I had 38 transactions. It was crazy, and it was so, so fun! It was great to see what people bought (happy to report that the pink zebra fabric was a hit) and talk to people who are super excited about sewing and fabric, just like me. I met a woman who owns a fabric store in New Jersey and she organizes a “shop owners” dinner at Quilt Market (which I’m going to in Pittsburgh next month), so that was also really fun. It was a great whirlwind, and I was so happy it worked out!

Fabric frenzy

Fabric frenzy

Now Open!

The big day has finally arrived, and the shop is officially open for business!

Last night was the opening party and I was so pleased with how things went. Lots of people came by to say hi, have a mini cupcake and a mini glass of champagne. It was great to feel lots of creative, excited energy surrounding something I have brought into being. It was nice to have family around and also new friends from Nashville! (And future friends in Nashville!).

the fabric studio

Cupcakes and beautiful flowers

It got sunny right before the party, so my sequin skirt was extra sparkly 🙂 It was nice to see familiar faces and also meet new people who are excited about the shop. Great feeling!

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Old friends!

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New friends

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Sadly I did not get pictures of most people who came, but it was a really great time and lots of fun. Plus there was pink champagne which never ruins a night!

So today was the first day o’ business and I was going to consider it a success if even one person came (havent gotten around to too much advertising yet, but that is April’s goal) and I have definitely met the one person goal. Even met some awesome new people!

This month I’ll be getting some more Japanese fabrics in, packing up some scrap bundles, planning for May’s class schedule, and maybe creating some fun cross stitch kits…. Stay tuned!