Sunday, 16 August 2015

Garden Party Dress

I finally finished my Garden Party Dress.  I initially intended this for a Mother's Day brunch, but it soon became a UFO ("un-finished object" for those non-sewers).  So it feels good to have it completed now.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  It fits extremely well, and I feel very comfortable in it. 

Fitting and Alterations:  I made a size 12 C bodice grading to a size 14 at the waist on side seams and bodice front pieces.  I kept the back bodice piece a straight size 12 because the fit of the back was nice.  I thought I had compensated for these changes in the skirt, so the seam lines match but the side front skirt panels did not match the bodice. I still don't know exactly why.   Rather than take the skirt apart and re-cut those pieces after working so hard to underline them,  I just made small pleats in those pieces.  I kind of liked the extra fullness so there we go, a happy mistake!

I raised the neckline by 1/2" just because I thought it looked better on me that way.  I had to take in 1/4" for neckline gaping as well.  I hemmed the skirt at 3/4" instead of 1".

I used a few hand sewing and couture techniques that I think really contributed to the quality of this dress.  I love how the underlining creates beautiful structure in the bodice and body in the skirt.  The bodice is underlined with muslin, and the skirt is underlined with silk organza.

I also did a hand-picked zipper. Let me tell you, this is my new favourite way to put in a zipper! You just have so much more control putting it in by hand.  I used regular polyester thread doubled.  The only thing I would do differently next time is to use a slightly thicker thread.  You can barely see the tiny pick stitches and I think it would be a nice texture if they were a little more visible.  I don't know, maybe that's strange, but next time I think I'll try it.

Fully lined with soft cotton batiste, my favourite lining for summer dresses.  It's cool, soft, and absorbent on hot summer days. Plus,  I love knowing that it looks good on the inside!

Inner Workings:  Here's the stitching of the back lining to the waistline seam allowance which will not show once the bodice lining goes in.

I really enjoyed sitting down and slip stitching the bodice lining to the zipper and the waist seam.  I just love closing it up and making it all neat and tidy!

I trimmed the seam allowances in the hem area down to 1/4" to reduce bulk.  I pulled out all that silk thread I used for underlining, after I sewed the hem.

I hemmed the skirt by hand (another excuse for hand sewing!).  The good thing about underlining is that I could make the stitches completely invisible from the right side by slip stitching to the silk organza underlining.  Once again, yay silk organza my sewing hero! :)

Well, that's it for my tour of the Garden Party dress.   Thanks for joining me and until next time!
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sanctuary Quilt Completed!

Ladies and gentlemen, after at least two years, I am proud to announce that I have finally completed my Sanctuary Quilt, binding and all!  Now, I have just been working on it here and there.  Otherwise, I'm sure I would have finished it much sooner.  Yeah,  I get easily distracted when it comes to sewing!

This pattern was from a quilt kit I had purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  The finished size is 85.5"X85.5" which works well for a double or a queen sized bed.  Although, I would have preferred a bit more length to hang down the foot of the bed.

I decided to hand quilt it using Perle Cotton #12, and I switched to Perle Cotton #8 for the border.  I think I prefer the bolder Perle Cotton #8. A good needle to use with this thread, I found was a Bohin chenille needle size 24.  I went with a basic Baptist fan design.  I cut out my own stencils using manila tag folders and traced the design with water soluble marker.  I quite like this design for an all over quilting pattern.  I think the curviness contrasts with the angular block pattern.
And so, I spent many a cold winter evening and many a summer afternoon under the shade of the elm quilting away.  Time-consuming as it was, I found it quite relaxing.

Hand sewn binding!  Yah!  I've always loved this part and I think my stitches have actually improved.  I was aiming for 1/8" between stitches and an almost invisible stitch.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  I love sewing those corners.

Well, after spending so much time with this quilt in my quilt hoop,  I finally get to enjoy cuddling up and actually using it.   It was definitely a fun project, and I would recommend every quilter hand quilt a quilt at least one time!

Thanks for reading my blog and

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Quiltmaking by Hand

It often happens that as summer arrives,  I find myself sewing less and gardening more.  It doesn't mean I'm not as enthusiastic about my hobby.  Summer is just so short, and I want to spend as much time possible outdoors.  Summer time can also be perfect for hand sewing or knitting outside on the deck; once the garden is planted, taken care of, and the yard work is done of course. 

I thought I would share an ongoing project I've been working on for a while.  Right now I'll call it my Snowbirds Quilt.  This is from a pattern by Jinny Beyer called Crayon Box.  The fabrics need to be arranged in light, medium and dark value colours. The way the different values are arranged creates an optical illusion, a three-dimensional effect that I find intriguing.

I used a jelly roll of a batik fabric line I liked called Snowbirds.  After cutting out my 60-degree diamonds, I drew in the seam lines with a pencil on the light colours and a white quilt pencil on the dark colours.  I really enjoy sewing theses diamonds together!  Hand piecing gives much more flexibility with all those seam allowances.  I'm not sure how I would sew this block on the machine.  It seems simpler to sew it by hand.  I learned a lot from Jinny Beyer's book Quiltmaking By Hand.  This is an awesome book if you're interested in hand piecing or hand quilting.

 This is the thread that I'm using for piecing.  It's smooth, strong 100% cotton.  It's not too thin or too thick and it grips the fabric securely.

Here's what the block looks like.

Here is the back showing the seam allowances.  There's definitely a system of the direction I pressed each seam allowance.  This block needs to be re-pressed but you get the idea.


I have quite a few more blocks to make.  Once I make it a size I like I will start to make the edge blocks.  I think I would like to hand quilt it using wool batting.  I couldn't imagine machine quilting something I spent months hand piecing.

Thanks for reading my blog and  Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Me Made May Week # 4

Well, this is the final Me Made May post.  I wore three handmade garments this week (which is actually a week plus three days).  I blame it on a combination of cool weather and my love of sewing summer dresses and my love of staying comfortable and warm.   Oh well.  Next year I may have to do Me Made June.

This is an unblogged skirt that I made from a Burda magazine a long time ago.  I don't remember the pattern name or number.   I'll try to hunt it down and add it in when I find it.  This skirt is actually really awesome.  I love the way it fits.  It's relatively high-waisted with nicely shaped gores that go all the way to the waistline (no waistband).  It buttons up in the front, and it has two front pockets.  This one is made with a linen blend fabric.  It wrinkles easily, but it feels super comfortable!  I think I definitely want to make another one of these skirts!

 A cool rainy day calls for jeans and a cardigan!  This is my Fawn Lace cardigan. Warm and comfy over a tank top.

 And, of course, my cozy Autumn Archer Shirt.

That's it for Me Made May 2015!  It turned out to be a challenge for me, but I've learned to love a couple of handmade pieces and will be more likely to pull them out of the closet.  It's such a pleasure planning and sewing new garments, this was a chance to learn to appreciate wearing the garments I have made.

Thanks for reading my blog :)

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cozy Wine Baggies for Wine Club!

My husband is a member of a wine club and last week was our turn to host the wine night.  The theme was blind tasting.  This was particularly fortuitous for me because I got to use my creativity to come up with a way to hide the wine bottles as they arrived.  Yay!

I was at the fabric store and found this novelty quilting cotton which I thought was totally à propos!  Pretty cool, eh?  At first I was thinking of making a cover that was more tailored.  A cylindrical rectangle and a circle for the bottom which would have to be hand sewn.  But as time went by, and I procrastinated and got busy with other things, I decided I don't want to be hand sewing these things at the last minute.

I decided to do a pillowcase style bag, so I made a prototype after measuring an empty wine bottle.  (Never thought I'd do a fitting on a wine bottle!).  I decided that it looked pretty good and went ahead with the rest of them.  I made 12 in total.  Once I figured out the ideal measurements, the sewing part went very quickly.  I finished the top quickly with pinking shears.  I found the best measurement for a standard wine bottle is 13" by 15".  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew along the two sides using 1/4-inch seam allowance.  

I had some hemp twine in my ribbon drawer that I used as a tie at the neck.  Yes, this bottle is well dressed!  I also happened to have these cute little tags that I used to number the bottles.

The wine night was fun even though I'm not a wine connoisseur at all. I'm a total newbie, and I wasn't able to guess any of the wines.  Nevertheless,  I had fun.  I could see myself making these again, perhaps in a burlap fabric and a bright ribbon. 

Thanks for reading my blog!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Me Made May Week # 3

I can't believe I only managed two handmade garments this week.  My excuse is that I've been working; only two or three 12 hour shifts a week mind you,  but I have to wear a uniform at work.  And I have no desire to sew boring uniforms, ugh!  I prefer to spend my creative time sewing beautiful dresses.  Nevertheless, here's what I managed this week.

I actually wore my Gingham Cambie dress out one day.  Now, this is a success of Me Made May because I didn't think I would feel comfortable going out wearing this dress.  Were it not for the challenge, my handmade dress may have hung in the closet unworn and unloved.

I also wore my Granville Shirt.  I found it lightweight and cool but if I'm doing any kind of housework, it's a bit tight across the upper back and shoulders.

Well, that's it for Week # 3.  See you soon for the final week!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Me Made May Week # 2

Me Made May Week # 2 Update

It has been a chilly jeans and sweater kind of week!  As a matter of fact as I write this, there is snow on the ground.  Yes, snow!  This is not normal weather, and I'm a little concerned about my garden that has started to sprout lettuce, spinach, kale, and garlic.  Yesterday we had a strange storm system that started off as a rainstorm and turned to snow because the temperatures were so low overnight and into the whole day actually.  It's been generally cool this past week, and I had no desire to wear anything but comfy jeans and sweaters.   

So here I am in my handknit Nettle cardigan, my favourite everyday cardigan.  I've realized that I really need another one; perhaps in a neutral colour like beige or grey.  I haven't been knitting much at all lately, but I'll have to place this next on my queue seeing as my everyday cardigan may not last forever.

 One cool morning I even wore my Riddari Icelandic sweater!

 And, of course, my cozy Archer shirt made another appearance this week!

That's it for Week # 2!  I'm looking forward to some warmer weather and maybe some spring dresses!