Links for the week of March 13

Becca_xstitch(This is an 8×10 birth announcement cross stitch that took 2 years to finish because I was afraid to mess it up with lettering. Pattern found here.)

So tired at the end of daylight savings week! It takes us until the first full weekend to re-set our body clocks.

History of Indigo Dying at Creativebug. My favorite part was about a 16 year old pre-revolutionary war girl in South Carolina.

I love this dress – using solid fabric creates such a different look than the loud prints I’ve previously seen this sewn up in. I get distracted by prints when I’m buying fabric but good black dresses are staples in my wardrobe and this double gauze would carry it into summertime wear.

My kids couldn’t complain about wearing coats if they had a cute one like this, could they? (And yes, yes they could, but thankfully it’s turning warmer and the only problem in the morning is debating between a sweatshirt, light jacket, or just long sleeves).

This set of art picked out by Erin McKean could gladly come live at my house.

Some good reminders about DIY anxiety (don’t compare your sewing to the results of professionals!).


Links and some quilt show thoughts


I’m loving the bright colors in this shop. Gets me excited for summer. (via Brickyard Buffalo)

So glad that these Merchant & Mills sewing themed clothes from Uniqlo are available state-side now!

The sweetest baby nursery mobile.

If the-toast wrote vintage pattern commentary tumblr. I can’t even pick a favorite.

I went to my local Mancuso quilt show last weekend. Yet again, the community of quilters online has not translated to these shows. This quilt won an award, and won the modern category for an AQS show in 2013. Unfortunately, I don’t see much that’s original to this quilt as a design; it uses Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric and is derivative of her designs. The piecing was not technically advanced, and includes a border, which is not a hallmark of “modern” design as defined by the modern quilt guild. The quilting added nicely to the design, and I can see why the judges like this quilt, but I also wish that something more original was being rewarded. There’s a lot of room for the growth of modern quilting on the local level at various local modern quilt guilds and in terms of what’s being entered in shows. I don’t understand, either, quilts entered in competitions made from other people’s patterns (especially when the pattern designer isn’t credited) but it’s not against the rules and the quilters are able to show their skills and proficiency in making the designs.

I’m in a Cotton & Steel swap on instagram with 600 quilters, but I walked by about 75% of the vendors and saw NO Cotton & Steel, and only one booth that specialized in modern fabric. Their specialty was F8’s, and patterns for those. They also referred to Dear Stella as a “she” as in, “that Stella has the cutest prints”, so it’s not someone who’s totally plugged in (although it turns out maybe they want Stella to be a brand rep, if not a designer). So another reminder that just because something feels like it’s everywhere online, there are still plenty of people who haven’t been reached. I overheard someone telling a friend about a quilt teacher she had just heard of from craftsy. I had a really good experience in the class I took, though, that wasn’t affected at all by a lack of other modern quilters. Good design doesn’t depend on the style of your stash.


Sewing Links from This Week

Weekend Links

Japanese Fabric Manufacturing Process from Cotton and Steel:  You remember Mr. Rogers’ Picture Picture factory tours? This one’s even better, because you get to see awesome quilting cotton prints being made. There were sneak peaks of this on the cotton and steel instagram in January, but this movie is awesome.

Look What I Made: This is a great description of the joy of sewing a dress for your little girl. The baby peasant dress is one of my favorites to make, too.

3-D Printers have a lot to learn from the sewing machine: This is what I feel about 3-D printers. I’d love to play with one, but I’m not sure what I need it for if it doesn’t make functional things.



Baby Girl Sewing

I love sewing little girl clothes – they’re quick, and don’t take much fabric. Getting them photographed and blogged is another story, though! The trick is getting things sewn together after I cut them out before Becca’s moved on to the next size. Some things grow with her from dresses into tops, but there have been a few that haven’t fit for long. Some of them have bloomers that aren’t shown here.

Here’s a collection from last spring and summer:



These are the sweet little baby dress. I’m sure I’ll make many more – they take less than 30 minutes to sew and are nice as dresses and then tops (especially when there’s no elastic in the bottom of the sleeves). I’m still looking for my basic peasant dress pattern for toddlers – I haven’t bought the next size up of this pattern.


This is from the Shwin Baby Basics pack. Becca wore it to a wedding. The curved bodice seam made it take a little longer to sew, and unfortunately that huge wood button made the top flop forward quite a bit.


This dress is one that unfortunately was too small before Becca got to wear it, which is too bad because I love that lace. I think it was because of the fact that I used french seams, and the fabric was too stiff to go over Becca’s head.


This dress and the next are from a vintage simplicity a-line patterns for reversible dresses (Simplicity 7552 – Toddler’s Reversible Dress or Top and Bloomers). I didn’t make this one to be reversible, just fully lined. It requires a bit of hand sewing, but my attempt to be more clever with construction resulted in a mobius strip. She wore it a few times when it was warm, and with tights and a long-sleeved shirt in the fall.

reversible scalloped handmade dress

This version has been worn both ways – both fabrics are Lisette novelty prints from JoAnn’s. I love the ties and scallop hem. It’s the same pattern as above.


These are two of the few Ottobre patterns I’ve made from the stack of magazines I’ve collected. These are from Spring 2008, the Nirunaru tunic, and Candy pants in size 74. I chose the patterns because I wanted capris for Becca while she was a crawler, but of course I didn’t finish it until she was walking.


Simplicity 2392 – 1950’s re-issue It’s just a coincidence that I made the same colors as on the pattern envelope – I was looking for something neutral enough to wear with different outfits. It didn’t get a whole lot of wear, though because a neck tie isn’t very childproof when the baby starts yanking the bonnet off her head. If I shortened the straps and added velcro it would have been a lot better. The skirt is just a half yard of fabric gathered to her waist measurement at the length that worked at the time.


Becca’s Thanksgiving Dress

thanksgiving dress

I haven’t been sewing lately, so I might as well get caught up on blogging everything I made last year. This is Becca’s Thanksgiving dress – using as much of a seasonal novelty print as you can for such a thing! It’s the Debbie’s birthday dress from Sewpony. I loved how it was constructed and it’s great to have solid basic patterns you can make different each time you make them. Of course for winter it needed a top underneath, and I probably should have made it a little longer (the pattern has been re-released with new length) since Becca’s on the tall side.
becca and her friend max
Here she is with her friend Max showing off the back.


Pajama Pants!

sleepover pajama pants

Will is a normal toddler, and went through a phase last fall where he started refusing to wear any of his fleece sleepers. I ordered some flannel and set to making him a few pairs of pants. Of course, what he really wants to wear are licensed character pajamas and those are all too small now, although the garage sales usually deliver on that front. I made the pants from the Oliver and S Sleepover PJ’s (and appliqued a few shirts when he demanded to be matching). The only thing I found confusing was which way to attach the hem bands to make sure directional prints would show up the right way when they’re down or folded up. Other than that they’re simple to sew and I could make the whole stack in one weekend. He measured a 3T but I made a 4T to get the most growing room…and was relieved since that was the highest size in the range of this pattern that I own!


Books I Read in 2013

This is just about the only kind of year-end wrap-up I can handle, but I enjoyed the conversations that this list started with people last year and realized that even in my book club (which I kind of read along with but attend infrequently) that it was nice to talk about the other reading we had done. Most of these books were read while rocking Becca in the night or listened to while driving. 27 is a good number though – over 2 a month! Even though I was reading Ender’s Game forever. This list doesn’t include books read for small group, or cookbooks or craft books.

  1. The Union Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiaverini – only read this if you like quilting, and history, but then it’s good
  2. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak – read for book club and then didn’t go
  3. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans
  4. Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
  5. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell – meh.
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky – I read it because there was a movie, and I didn’t enjoy it enough to watch the movie after. Just didn’t resonate with my HS experience, I guess.
  7. In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1), Tana French – Read (or listen to) this (and the other 3). So good. I enjoyed listening for the accents, but I would have enjoyed reading so I could have gotten to the end faster.
  8. Help Thanks Way: Three Essential Prayers, by Anne Lamott
  9. This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
  10. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised our Nation, by Cokie Roberts
  11. The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2), Tana French
  12. The Balloonist, by MacDonald Harris
  13. Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, by Shauna Niequist (not as good as Bittersweet, only moderately enjoyed)
  14. Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle – this is when I realized I should stop reading books by bloggers, especially based on recommendations from other bloggers who were their friends.
  15. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald – finally!
  16. The Sirens Sang of Murder, by Sarah Caudwell
  17. Friday Nights, by Joanna Trollope
  18. Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3), Tana French
  19. Prayers for Sale, by Sandra Dallas – another quilting novel
  20. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card – I got bored.
  21. Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder #4), Tana French
  22. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green – Read it. Hopefully you already have.
  23. Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil: My Year of Dangerous Cooking with Four-Year-Olds, by Kim Foster (kindle only)
  24. With Friends Like These, by Sally Koslow
  25. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein – really sweet, and of course I pretended I was learning all about Trigger’s thought processes
  26. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple – There’s a reason it’s on everyone’s lists. It’s really charming and a good read.
  27. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman – not like anything else on the list, but a change in genre is fun!

Ruffle Dresses

sister dresses

I love buying pdf patterns, especially when they go on sale. Quality is all over the place, though, and sometimes it’s hard to predict what you’re going to get before you open up the file and start reading it through. The Kikoi Ruffle Dress is an adorable pattern in the photos, but when I read through the “tutorial” to make these sister dresses, there were a few changes that I wanted to make. (I know most people are different, but I personally don’t love patterns with photos for every step. I’m not particularly visual, and photos of white thread on printed fabric don’t help much. Well written technical text with diagrams where needed would be my preference. As would a strong line diagram so I can judge what I’m getting without trying to decode a set of photographs of finished samples. Although sometimes I buy things just to figure out how the designer worked out the puzzle of putting something together).

The biggest change I made was to line the bodice instead of using bias tape for edging. I also moved the seam where the ruffles join to the back (even though that put a seam in the ruffles down the center front) because I thought it looked weird for one side to be flouncy and the other more “flat”. I used my rolled hem foot for the bottom edge of the ruffles, and that was awesome. I wish I had extended the back piece a little further so there was a better overlap since I used buttons instead of snaps. I also think 1/4″ seam allowances are on the slight side for clothing, but it would have been annoying to cut 1/4″ off the pattern and then add 1/2″ on, so I left it or did a slightly larger SA sometimes.

These were a gift, and I started wondering about the fit on actual children toward the end. I made a 4T and 12 mo. The bodice is basically the same width for both, just a different length (which might be accurate because kids grow up, not out much). But the under-skirt didn’t seem to have a lot of room for movement. I learned some things about the different ways of assembling ruffles for skirts, which means I analyze new patterns with that feature differently now.

Rainbow Braid Baby Quilt

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I really like this quilt, but I feel like in some ways it’s just ticking the boxes of a so-called “modern” quilt or pinterest trends. Solids (ombres)? Check. Chevrons/braids? Check. Text/number fabric? Check. Low volume background? Check. Whatever, I like it, and it was really fun to make.

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I really like sharing process photos on instagram, so look over there if you’d like to see how it played out. It started with a “simply color” jelly roll and a braid block, which is nothing new. I made one rainbow block and one monochromatic block, and then decided I wanted to play with different color combinations instead of sticking to one idea or the other.

Rainbow Braid Quilt

I put the blocks on point and used “architextures” prints in black, white, and gray for the background and border. I buy fabric for stash, not by project, so I had to use a couple prints to make it all work, but I think they blend.

Rainbow Braid Quilt Back

The back was from a fat eighth stack I had of Simply Color, and was a simple design I had in mind from those fabrics, so it was fun to do here. I originally wanted to use a white or cream background, but thought a print would be more forgiving for a baby quilt that will be used on the floor. If I had more fabric I would have tried to match up those stems! I quilted this in straight lines offset through the center that you can see here.

Close up of Quilting

This headed off to a soon-anticipated baby girl last week!

Rainbow Braid Baby Quilt

(Someone else likes to pose for pictures)


Patchwork Please Handy Market Tote

My mom carries a lot of totes between her different workplaces. So when I was looking at Patchwork Please to see what my first project would be, I knew this tote would be received well. I have a stack of music-themed fabrics with my mom’s name all over them just ready to make things for her. I didn’t quite get this done in time for her birthday, but with time to spare to get it linked up for the Zakka 2.0 sew-along!
I read through the directions a couple times, but they didn’t all make sense so I just put it together how it made sense to me for the most part. I really should have added the buttons for the pockets to keep them in place. I used some home dec fabric as interfacing, which is what I usually do on bags instead of keeping a supply on hand of a wide variety of interfacings.
As far as the pattern directions go, there was room for improvement. I would have loved a helpful hint on how the sample in the book had such square corners. Mine didn’t turn out so boxy. They could have used some technical help, too: the pieces were referred to as “the square” or “the linen piece” instead of labeled “A, B, C, etc” so if you’re using a different kind of fabric it was tough to keep track of what’s what. There aren’t any diagrams to show you what’s happening, so the clarity in the written instructions is very important. Thankfully, this is a pretty straightforward tote that isn’t too tough to figure out if you’ve sewn totes before.