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A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path {book}

I first heard about this book a year ago when I was chatting with John Kubiniec at Quilt Market and he mentioned he was working on a book devoted to the Drunkard’s Path block. Drunkard’s Path?! That’s one of my top five! I love love love this block and its million different combos. I pretty quickly begged him to let me get a sneak peek at the book and he agreed. Months and months down the road, the book was finished and I got a copy to review.

11182_frontcover-1John’s “A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path” was just released from C&T Publishing and is available directly from John (and he’ll sign it!), as well through many fine shops (and I’d encourage to seek it out at an independent quilt shop or book seller near you).

It wasn’t until I’d started reading it that I realized I’d met John’s work long before I met him. Like many quilters, I’m always tearing patterns and inspiration from magazines. Back in 2013 I found a beautiful red and white Drunkard’s Path in McCall’s Quilting magazine. I tore out the picture and put it into my files, ready to inspire me again when I had the chance. Come to find out, that was John’s quilt design and it was his first foray into the Drunkard’s Path block! That block layout is the one he used on the cover and so, of course, it was the one I had to use, as well.

I started with a half-yard bundle of Indie from Art Gallery Fabrics. I’ve been holding onto it for three years, as well, so I figured it was a great fit. I kicked out a couple of the fabrics in the bundle, choosing eight to work with, then combined it with Kona White.

His advice for manageable bits is wonderful and exactly the reassurance you need to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. You can do this, really, but take your time and John’s advice to make it a fun, productive process. As he suggests, I simply did the cutting on the first day. And then let it sit there in a pretty little pile for longer than I should have, but hey, at least it was a lovely addition to my view.

You’ll notice that I cut out my triangles. I did much of the construction slightly differently than John, but only because I’m very comfortable sewing curves the way I sew them and prefer trimming before I sew.

His tips on sewing the curves are great and I totally recommend them. You’ll learn ways that make it easier for you along the way.  John suggests you pin at the ends and in the middle. I don’t pin at all, but you can see that I don’t always get it right in the pic to the left.  I have one block that is perfect and another that ended being 3/16″ off. John’s method  But in the end, I had a whole big pile of Drunkard’s Path blocks to play with.

Drunkards Path blocks in Indie
I really like how they play together and create these little bow ties in there.

I love how the fabrics play together and am so glad I held on to the Indie bundle for all this time.The view from above. Right now it measures 48″ x 42″ (approx) and is great crib size quilt. I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep growing it though. :) big-rig-quilting-bow-tiesIt’s fun to compare this quilt to what John originally designed in the red and white combo and what he shows in “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” with the black background. And honestly, this is one of my favorite aspects of quilting–the never-ending ways you can put together the same thing. Same block, same construction, totally different look. It keeps quilting fresh and fun and intriguing to me.

In his book, John shows several variation of each quilt to give you some ideas, spark a little creativity in the reader, which is a much-loved feature for me. But I think the winning aspect of the book is his attention to detail and accuracy. It’s clear that John is a teacher who wants his students to succeed.  He walks the reader through each step with clear photos, tackling the curves and adding interesting details to the block.

If you’re nervous about sewing curves and need someone to hold your hand through it, John is there for you, explaining and reassuring you at each step. He shows you just how easy it really can be and then opens a whole new world of quilts for you with 12 beautiful variations of the Drunkard’s Path.

I’ll be giving away a copy of the book to inspire you to get started on your own curvy quilt. Just leave a comment here and tell me what has stopped you from taking on the Drunkard’s Path or if you have, what you love about it. We’ll pick a winner on October 9.

Congratulations to Lori Morton for winning her very own copy of John’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s  Path” book!

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Thoughts on: Making the Bartow

Bartow-2As part of the 30th anniversary of Kona Cotton, 30 different designers were asked by Robert Kaufman Fabrics to design something to show off the beauty of Kona colors. I was particularly enamored with Carolyn Friedlander’s quilt: Bartow, so when my young friend Maya asked for that one, I was pretty excited to get the chance.

I still have a nice stash of Kona Cotton (one of the perks of working for RK in 2014), so Maya and I dug through the them. She chose the Elizabeth Hartman Patchwork City: Autumn bundle, which includes a whole lot of purples, blues and green. Then I chose an additional 20 from a 10-Square of the Dusty Palette Konas.

Then I start cutting hundred and hundreds of strips.

Then I sewed hundreds of strips together. A bunch after work, then the rest at home.

I pressed them to the color side and organized them with the infinitely handy Wonder Clips.

I organized strips and then sewed them together into rows. Then started putting those rows together.

Which went just fine until the fifth row, when it didn’t quite fit… 

What the what?!

So, come to find out, the 1/4-inch stitch on the machine at the Fabric Depot sewing studio doesn’t give me the same 1/4-inch stitch as my machine as home. I didn’t realize it, but sewing all of those strips together and losing just a smidge on each seam caused my strips to be almost THREE INCHES too short.

Three inches. That’s what happens when one machine is stitching a quarter-inch seam just 1/16th of an inch larger than the other.

So for now, I’m picking out some of the seams to re-sew them and hope I can make this work without re-doing it all.

Lesson learned: Check your quarter-inch seam when switching between machines. I should have listened to you, Mandi.

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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.

IMG_9105

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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Now that I’ve got it, what to do with it?

I’ve been ogling Carolyn Friedlander‘s work since I saw her at Fall Quilt Market in 2011. It’s been a while. First the amazing paper-pieced patterns, then her architecture-inspired fabric with Robert Kaufman Fabrics called, appropriately, Architextures.  I fell in love with it months ago. 20130305-212130.jpg

Carolyn was nice enough to send me a little candy pack of the fabrics from Fall Quilt Market 2012 and I’ve lovingly petted them since.  (I’m not the only one who fondles fabric, right?!)

I was at Modern Domestic tonight picking up a pattern and some fabric from Lizzy House’s new Constellation line (from Andover Fabrics) and just couldn’t resist the fat quarter stack of Architexture. I swear it was actually calling my name.

So now I have it and I love it and I have absolutely no idea what I’ll do with it besides pet it occasionally. -shrug-

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How to: Make Popover’s bias straps and hem

So we got the Oliver + S Popover Sundress side seams finished and added the yoke, now we get to finish it off.

Now time to do the bias straps. You can do them with self-fabric or be justifiably lazy and use 1/2″ double-old bias tape. I bought a bias tape maker not too long ago and will be trying that out on the next dress. For this one, I just followed the directions.

Fold the bias strap in half lengthwise, then in half again, on one side only.

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I followed their directions, but also added a step. The stretch of the bias and the stretch of the underarm curve made for some frustration for me. I had to re-do it on one side and decided to just stay-stitch to avoid the double stretch.

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