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Colette Myrtle dress {pattern review}

It was about a year ago that my best friend started sailing lessons, looking for a new hobby and already fascinated with the sailing days of yore. Since I wasn’t in town, what did I do instead? I bought fabric, of course!

I purchased a few yards from Robert Kaufman’s Nautique Chambray collection and they’ve been waiting patiently for me to find some project or another for them. I have plans for a quilt at some point, but scraps will work for that. What to do with three yards of sailing vessels, though? Then it hit me… I need to make the Myrtle dress so I can teach it this fall.  I can try it out by making a sailing dress!

So that’s what I did.

myrtle making

Colette Patterns is one of my favorite designers and the fact that they are a local-to-me company gives them bonus points. How could I resist?!

Myrtle is designed for knit fabrics, but with plenty of ease and simple design, it totally works for woven fabrics as well. If you decide to go the woven route, make sure you choose something soft. The chambray works, but I will admit that it’s just at the edge of having a little too much body. Fabrics like rayon, faille, silk charmeuse would all work beautiful and have just as much drape as the knit. The chambray has enough body that I have to work the cowl just a little to make it not stand out on my chest (not exactly the best look!), so if you choose to go that route, pick one with some fluidity.

Like all the Colette patterns, the instructions are clear and straightforward. The primer is well-written and includes all the needed details for easy construction. Well, except for the waistband. This is where it got a little weird.

I tried to follow her instructions for using a woven, but I ended up doing it differently and wouldn’t even try it her way again. Sewing down the casing after inserting the elastic is more difficult than it should be. For beginning sewists, the frustration caused by that technique could be enough to set them off sewing clothes for a long time. Instead, sew the casing first, then insert the elastic.

myrtle waist

She uses a self facing for the front bodice piece, which works well, but I’m curious how it would look with a different fabric for the facing. I may try that at some point just to see how it changes the look.  The back is finished with bias tape and I just made my own with the same fabric.

myrtle shoulder

IMG_9116The skirt is originally placed off the fold, I’m assuming to save fabric, but I really despise back seams. They are too often unnecessary, as well as the zippers that you’ll find there. So I changed it.

I removed the seam allowance and marked where the seam line should be on the pattern piece then placed that on the fold. It worked perfectly and there is no seam to distract from the lovely sailing boats.
The seam allowance on the dress is 3/8″, smaller than usual because it was designed for knits. I increased the seam allowance to 5/8″ to work with french seams. Personally, I prefer the clean and neat look of french seams and use them all the time on apparel. I marked the additional seam allowance on each pattern piece before cutting them out. If you choose not to do french seams, you can serge the edges and leave the seam allowance as is.

My overall thought on the pattern? I love Myrtle! It was easy to make, fits easily and is flattering on this Mom body. The length is a little shorter than I’d like, so I’ll probably add an inch or two the next time. (I made the longer version, but it hits just above my knees and I’d rather it hit the middle of my knee.)

Last weekend I took it sailing with some friends down the Columbia River. It was perfect–the day, the dress, the friends.

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Pattern Name: Myrtle by Colette Patterns
Time Required: 4 hours
Rating:  Beginner
Would I Make It Again?: Yes! I have plans for a couple more
What I Changed: The layout so I could get the back skirt piece on a fold instead of having a seam and altered the construction of the waistband.  I altered the seam allowances to allow for french seams rather than serged.

 

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Distracted

alturas-front-cover_low-resThe first time I saw Carolyn’s Alturas pattern I think I actually squealed out loud. You know that embarrassing, “Oh! I looooove it!” exclamation that never fails to leave me looking around, hoping against hope that I’m totally alone. But it was worth it. Alturas is beautiful and simple in this vintage way that I absolutely do love. [Check out her blog post to see the varied iterations of Alturas for more inspiration.]

I made one a while back; quilted it up as a mug rug and gave it away in some swap or another. I don’t even remember what fabric I used, but I knew I really, really liked the pattern.

So a couple nights ago, when I should have been packing for the upcoming move but would rather do anything else, I decided to break open the London Calling charm pack and make one up.

London Calling is a lovely cotton lawn collection, a tight weave but kinda floppy. I starched the bejeezus out of the charm square before cutting it (and yes! the pattern is perfect for charm squares!) and started out by basting it onto the Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen, all the way around, then clipping the curves and doing some relaxing needle turn appliqué.

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I watched a couple of episodes of Dexter and it was done. Just like that.

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My original plan had been to make a pincushion out of it, but once I got the box made and stuffed I realized it was just too big for a pincushion. So instead I have a tiny pillow.

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And the impetus to make an entire Alturas quilt, one block at a time.

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Modern Quilt Perspectives {book review}

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It’s finally here, the book that Thomas told me he would someday write way back when we first met at Quilt Market. Houston in 2011, right, Thomas?

I’d already fallen for his first collection, Pear Tree, and its lovely muted colors (the same just-off hues that would sucker me into every TK collection).  We’d talked online thanks to my work for FabShop News magazine and I was both awed and honored when he went out of his way to talk to me in the wide aisles of Market. He told me his ideas for a book and I knew this guy was different.

Spend five minutes talking to Thomas and you’ll be awed by his vast knowledge and ability to pull info, facts and connections seemingly out of thin air. I like to think the guy is a genius. He chalks it up to a lot of schooling. I’ll agree to something in the middle.

Thomas’ skill at drawing connections and thinking beyond the “Isn’t that pretty?” that infiltrates the fabric world continues to amaze and inspire me. And it is in that unique way that Modern Quilt Perspectives unfolds.

Essays. Quilt patterns. Sidebars of wisdom. It’s a remarkable book and I can’t recommend it enough.

In particular I want to share about the Excess quilt. No, I didn’t have anything to do with it (though I did make an ‘I’ for the Identity quilt!).  It’s just one that symbolizes all that this book does.

Here, take a look:
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Lovely, right? It is an incredibly long quilt (13 feet, in fact!) and when I was flipping through the book for the first time, it caught my eye with its size and the preponderance of reds and dashes of green and blue. It’s scrappy the way scrappy ought to be, I thought.

It wasn’t until I stopped to actually read the accompanying essay, that I understood its importance as a piece of art, an unspoken message.

And that’s something that Thomas never  forgets or looks past. Quilts are art. They can be powerful, awe-inspiring, meditative and breathtaking. This quilt took my breath away.

In Excess, there are 1,600 of those little 2-1/2″ blocks. It’s not a random number, something picked out of the air or decided on when the quilt got to the right size. No, that number was chosen for a reason.

Every year, approximately 1,600 women and men are killed in acts of domestic violence in the United States, victimized by their partners and spouses. … Excess is a memorial to this overwhelming reality, a visualization of the forest of loss. Each of the 1,600 squares in the quilt represents a death, with each red or orange stripe a woman killed, and each blue or green one a man.

Now go look at that quilt again and meditate on those numbers, that issue.

Then go read how Lisa quilted it with the text from the United States’ Violence Against Women Act.

This is what makes Modern Quilt Perspectives more than just a quilting book. There is substance and depth and meaning, so much meaning, to all of it. Thank you, Thomas, for reminding me (us?) of the import of it all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

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I decided I  would make the pattern myself (this is a quilting book after all), though not in the numbers that Excess originally calls for. Just a few dozen in my favorite greys. I haven’t decided how big I’ll make it, or quite what I’ll do with it when I have pieced it together. But I can tell you that the quilts in Modern Quilt Perspectives are not only powerful art, but that they are well-written patterns as well.

 

So get to it–go get the book, read it, learn from it and venture onward. I can promise you this: it will change the way you look at quilts and the messages they can send.

Thank you, Thomas, for an amazing book, jaw-dropping quilts and for being you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

A giveaway! I almost forgot. Tell me what issue/message you’d quilt about if you could. Personally, I’m pondering ways to put the struggles and joys of solo parenting into fabric form. Let me know if you have any ideas. Comments will close on Monday 4/7 at midnight. Winner announced 4/9.

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Quilting Isn’t Funny, but I sure am laughing

Bias: The irrational inclination to believe that holding down a job or cooking some food for once is a more productive use of time than quilting.

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Are you familiar with The Bitchy Stitcher? Megan Dougherty is the mastermind behind the blog that takes the idea of a stitch-n-bitch to a whole new level and she cracks me up.

I’ve been enjoying her sarcastic little rants for some time now, but now that I’ve read her new book, Quilting Isn’t Funny, I realized I’d missed out on some real gems.

Like everyone else on this book’s blog tour, I’ve snickered and snorted my way through it, publicly embarrassing myself and left unable to explain why it’s funny. You have to be a quilter to understand why I choked on my mocha when I read:

…But like all things of this world, fabric and tools and machines are impermanent and imperfect, and let’s face it, the only person who is going to bitch about my seams not aligning is that snotty lady from the quilt guild, and she can suck it.

This is what I love about Quilting Isn’t Funny. You’re just reading along, nodding “impermanent and imperfect” yeah, totally;  “that snotty lady from the quilt guild” haha, I know exactly who she could be talking about  and then bam, Megan hits you with her snark. “She can suck it” and I bust out an exhale of laughter.

And can I explain to my daughter why that’s funny… the imperfection, the snotty lady, the quilt police and the pointed dismissal of all criticism? No. I’m left laughing to myself in the kitchen while my daughter does homework and throws awkward glances at me.

Thanks for that, Megan.

Quilting Isn’t Funny is available now in softback on ebook versions. Whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I loved the electronic version, tucked neatly into the Kindle app on my phone,  but you (or the loved ones you buy it for) may very well love the paper version.

Megan also offers up some fabulous pins with her witty little phrases that you should probably check out, too. My favorite is “Don’t make me cut you.” And that’s because of Miss Bon Qui Qui:


I could watch that another fifty times and still LMAO every single time.

And I’m pretty sure the same can be said for Quilting Isn’t Funny. It’s just good stuff. Buy yourself a copy and pick up an extra for your quilting pals.

Want to win a signed copy? Leave a comment and tell me something funny. Anything goes, but if it’s quilting/sewing/fabric related, I’ll throw in an extra entry for you.

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Birthday quilt–finished!

20131203-155349.jpgShe didn’t want me to show off a picture of her, so this is as close at it gets: my daughter holding up her birthday quilt. She did let me take a photo of her with it, though, which is a minor miracle in itself. I just can’t show it off publicly and that’s okay.

I made this using Aria Lane’s Concerto pattern and I have to say it was so quick and easy that it almost seemed like cheating. The pattern itself calls for four solids, but I decided to mix this up with a little fabric for the Sierra collection by Bren Talavera and some Kona Snow, Pomegranate, Chartreuse and Caribbean.

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I was able to put it together by using strips for the Snow rather than peicing blocks. It worked out fine, required less sewing and when it was all quilted, it didn’t make any difference (imho) in how it looked.

I sent this to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting PDX, one of my favorite peopl and an amazing longarm quilter. She’s been an integral part of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and I was thrilled when she said she’d quilt it up for me. The only thing I asked for was a bit of girly, but not overboard and to hide some hearts in there somewhere to remind me daughter how much I love her. And that she did. 20131203-155712.jpg

It took me a week to stitch the binding on, but at last I tied off those last stitches, washed it and it got all crinkled and lovely. Isn’t it beautiful?! I really love how washing gives it a really texture, showing off all of Nancy‘s awesome quilting.

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Pattern Name: Concerto from Aria Lane
Time Required: 10 hours to piece the front + quilting
Rating: Beginner (start with the smaller size if you’re a newbie)
Would I Make It Again?: Yes!
What I Changed: I cut strips instead of squares for the Kona and used a mix of solids and prints, rather than only solids.

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Simplicity 1652 {pattern review}

I’m a sucker for dresses and on most days you’ll find me in one. They hide a multitude of sins (I’m blaming you, M&Ms) and are just way comfier than a pair of jeans. So I’m always on the look-out for new patterns to try out. I stumbled onto this recently and held onto it until… well, until I needed a dress for a friend’s birthday party the next day. Yes, I’m still a glutton for punishment.

fleamarketfancyI had bought a few yards of Denyse Schmidt‘s Flea Market Fancy fabric earlier in the spring, thinking I’d use it for the Sew Serendipity Betty June dress, but plans changed.

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Frankly, I didn’t want to deal with the buttonholes and I wanted to try something new. So I did.

The Simplicity 1652 is part of a new series of patterns they are calling Amazing Fit Patterns. Basically, they give some wiggle room in fitting that isn’t normally there:

  • Bodice pattern pieces in different cup sizes
  • One-inch side seam allowances for easy altering

To be completely honest, they made no difference to me. I’m pretty standard in the sizing and very rarely have to make bust alterations, plus I know what my measurements are and always cut it out at those sizes. But for folks who are building their apparel skills, it’s sure to be helpful; I know that bust adjustment can be a real PITA.

Overall the pattern is good, easy to put together. I’ve made it twice now: with and without the tabs, plus the sleeve variations. Here’s how mine worked and what I changed:

I moved the zipper from the back to the side. I prefer my zippers on the right side, so that is what I did. I simply folded the pattern at the seam line on the back bodice and skirt pieces, then cut them on the fold. I used a 9-inch zipper (invisible in the pumpkin dress, a metal zipper in the grey floral dress).

20130529-061749.jpgI did my little interfacing trick with it (RST, flip it), but I was out of interfacing at the house so I had to get creative. There are plenty of times when I get frustrated that my sewing stuff is in storage and this was one of them. Who wants to drive 10 minutes to go hunt for interfacing in a storage unit. Not me.

Instead I pieced two used dryer sheets together with a zig zag stitch and used it as interfacing. I can report back that after three washings, it’s still perfectly fine. Win!20130529-173055.jpg

I like the tabs, but they do want to wad up slightly in the wash. I left them off the second dress so I could easily do the invisible zip and like it just as much.

I love the pockets, hidden in the front skirt seams. The primer explains how to make them well and I only had a little tweaking to do to get them right.

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Pattern Name: Simplicity 1652
Time Required: 6 hours
Rating: Advanced Beginner
Would I Make It Again?: Yes, I’ve already made it twice, will make another
What I Changed: Moved the zipper to side, widened the neckline by one inch, used bias for the neck and sleeve openings, lengthened the skirt two inches, removed tabs on second try.

 

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I love getting mail

Who doesn’t get a little thrill when there’s a package with your name on it at the front door? It’s one of my favorite ways to come home.

On Tuesday, I got two packages–an order and a surprise.20130428-200331.jpg

Abby Glassenberg‘s newest book, Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction, came across my desk at work late last week and I instantly knew I had to have my own copy. It is awesome. She has a bunch of adorable projects in the book (lion, crab, camel, kangaroo, etc.) plus gives a boatload of advice on customizing and making your own stuffed animals. Love-love it. I promise to share more once I pick an animal to make. I’m debating between the ram and the elephant right now.

Then I got a surprise box from Quiltmaker Magazine and tucked inside, among layers of batting (of course!) was my very own Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks mug as thanks for helping out with the pattern testing. I made a dozen or so of the blocks over several months. My favorite? Professor Mousestache from Sonja at Artisania. You can win your own mug (and plenty of other goodies) in their blog tour starting next week.

 

 

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Finish! Aeroplane Bag

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When Sara at Sew Sweetness released new patterns a couple weeks back, I knew I wanted to try it. I’m slowly working up to doing the Amy Butler Weekender bag by trying other bags along the way. Y’know, break down my fear a little and figure out what works and what doesn’t before I get to the Mt. Everest of bag-sewing.

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