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Larry the Lion — sewing plush stuffed animals

You’ve probably seen Funky Friends Factory patterns in a quilt shop somewhere along the way. They are popular among sewists, but usually whenever I’ve asked someone about their experience with the pattern, they admit that they’ve been too scared to try! Like so many fabrics and quilt patterns, these stuffed animal patterns often live in our stash but never get put to use. That’s just silly–give it a try!

As a pattern, Larry the Lion is cute, but thankfully I’d seen Gayle Camargo’s version in Luxe Cuddle and I knew it could be so much more. I used Luxe Cuddle Hide for the body, Llama Cuddle for the mane and Cuddle for the face. First thing I did was print out the pattern at 120% (in retrospect 150% would have been so much easier) and tape the pieces together as needed. I traced each piece on the back of the appropriate fabric using a Sharpie and then cut them out with my favorite Famore Scalpel Style Seam Ripper. Then it was just a matter of following the pattern. Honestly, Pauline is one of my favorite pattern writers; the directions are clear and she has photos and videos on her site to make it all even easier.

Once I got the muzzle put together, I was sold on it. So freaking cute already and it’s just six pieces so far!

One thing to remember when you are working with Cuddle is to use a walking foot. This would have sat forever under a standard foot, but the walking foot and a longer stitch length makes it sail right through (this is on the Bernina 350QE).

Another tool that really helped with this project was ByAnnie’s stiletto. It has a thin metal shank at the one end to help push fabric down under the foot as it sews. It also works beautifully to pull up the fibers that get stuck in the seams.

Completely pieced together but totally flat, Larry looks more like roadkill.

So I stuffed him really well with almost an entire 16oz. bag of Royal Silk fiber fill from Fairfield. First his feet and legs, then his head, but and finally his body. Just keep stuffing until he’s full, then knot off some threads for the whiskers and toes, and … ta-dah!

I’m so thrilled with him!! It’s a shame I had to pack him off for Quilt Festival, but I think he’ll be my new travel companion for classes in 2019. He’s too cute to leave at home.

P.S. If you’ll be at Quilt Market, come by booth #1400 and say hi! During Quilt Festival I’ll be teaching a bunch of classes and also in booth #100 doing demos. Hope to see you there!

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Waterproofing cotton with Glue Gel {product review}

Back at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, the folks from ODIF came by the Shannon Fabrics booth to show off a couple new products they have.  I happily promote their 505 Basting Spray in my classes (it really is the best/least stinky), so I was excited to see what else they had. My co-worker Ellen handed me a piece of cotton that was slick and lovely like oilcloth, but not as thick.  “It’s waterproofed cotton,” she told me and I nearly lost it.  Seriously? They’ve been trying to do this for a while and it’s rarely worked.

A couple decades ago someone came out with a product that you could iron on, a vinyl coating that was supposed to make cotton waterproof.  It worked for one use and then it started to crack and peel and just generally look like crap.  There have been a couple of sprays, but they still tend to wash out and not give a nice sheen to the fabric.

This on the other hand had me intrigued.

Fast forward a few months and a bottle of OdiCoat O’Fabric Waterproof Glue Gel showed up in the mail for me at work.  It’s a weird name, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

I found some fabric I’d want to use for the inside of a new make-up zipper pouch (an old print from Thomas Knauer with Andover) and a flat brush that I had from some Christmas craft I never to around to making.

The gel is thick but easy to spread over the fabric.  I did it back and forth, then up and down to make sure the fabric was well-coated.  The instructions are to brush the gel over the fabric completely, then wait an hour. Re-coat it, wait an hour and then do it once more.

It is easy to see where you’ve covered thanks to the high-gloss.  Just get it all covered then leave it there. I put the fabric on a couple sheets of paper to keep it off my board.

After the third coat, just let it sit and dry for a full 24 hours (per the instructions). At this point it has a sort of gritty feeling to it.

Use a pressing sheet or parchment paper and iron it.  I used a warm iron (at the high end of the wool setting, just at the bottom end of the cotton setting) and ironed back and forth for a good 10 minutes.  It gave it a nice sheen and smoothed down the roughness. My sample isn’t quite as slick as the one I felt at Market, but I’m super satisfied.

 

I sprayed it with my water bottle and let it sit for a  minute or two to see if it would soak through, but instead it just pooled up.

And then I flipped it over to see if there were any spots the water had soaked through and NADA! Not a bit of the back was even damp.

According to the package, it’s now washable and the waterproofing won’t come off.  I have laundry to do this weekend, so I’m just gonna throw it in and see what happens. At this point, though, I’m really happy with the Waterproof Glue Gel and will totally use it.

Good to know:

  • A little goes a long way. I used only about 1/10 of the bottle to cover a full fat-quarter of fabric.
  • It doesn’t smell strongly and didn’t leave a lingering smell while it dried.
  • The water stayed where I wanted it to, on top of the fabric and not in it.
  • Don’t rush it; give it all the time requested to let it dry.
  • I’d recommend it and will totally use it again.

It’s available on Amazon and while ODIF did send me the stuff, they didn’t ask me to review it anywhere.  I’m just telling you about it because I like you.

 

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Books to Buy: The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook

Many moons ago I wrote book reviews as a part of my job. No matter what, we had to find something nice to say about the book and encourage folks to buy it, but the truth is I never liked that. I love getting advance copies of books and getting the time to peruse them, but I don’t like having to recommend a book when I wouldn’t actually do so in real life.

These days I don’t work for any publications or marketing avenues, so I get to tell you the truth about my opinion on sewing/quilting books. I’ve decided I will only share with you the books to buy, so I’m kicking it off with one of my favorite authors: Thomas Knauer’s The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook: 91 Modern Art-Inspired Designs and Exercises.

Years ago, I spied Thomas Knauer at Quilt Market sporting a shoulder tote made with his new-at-the-time Pear Tree collection with Andover Fabrics. It’s still one of my favorites and so is Thomas. He is talented, opinionated, understanding and generous. What you see is what you get with Thomas and, for that, I adore him. And did I mention how smart he is? Well, he is and incredibly so. Best of all, he’s more than happy to share that with you and he does so brilliantly in his latest book.

The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook came out from Storey Publishing last year and my admiration has only grown over the months of reading it, exploring the concepts and putting the workbook to use. I’ve read over it on planes, taken it to bed to draw out shapes, sat at cafes with it and colored. It’s become a favorite, indeed, because it’s for quilters like me.

I came into the quilting world from the craft side. I’ve long been a maker and I love being able to create useful and pretty things, but I do not have an art background and most of the fancy art-world lexicon goes right over my head. I feel reticent to share my designs with the world, unable to blather on about them with any sort of intelligence. That’s where  The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook comes into play.

Thomas divided the book up into seven different sections focusing on different aspects of modern art: Space, Balance, Chance & Intuition, Simplicity, The Grid, The Geometric Environment, and Repetition & Iteration.  Then he walks your through each, gently explaining with clear examples what he’s talking about with each. {Read his take on it here.}

It is awesome.

Each section dives into the topic, then shares examples of art and quilts that show off that aspect. But that’s not it, he then gives you the opportunity to put it to use and for me this is really the kicker. I can read about art. I understand about balance and negative space and how things are laid out on a grid, etc., etc. Except when it comes down to it, I don’t know how to take that and make it into a purposeful quilt design. The whole point of the book, it seems to me, is to help the reader do just that.

In short, I think it’s a magical book and you should totally buy it.

For a bit more info, let me share with you what I did. First, I read the entire book cover to cover on a flight home. Then I went and made copies of the different design and coloring pages. I’m one of those, yes. Then I started with the first section: Space.

Thomas talks about the idea of filling space and using space, then tells us how Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse all worked with this idea of space in their varied styles of art. He includes pictures and explanations and at the end of reading it, you just feel like you had a mini art history lesson. I kinda love it.

Then I decided to jump in and just do it. I started with the easier part: coloring. (There are seven coloring exercises and five design exercises in this section.) The Stutter Step exercise says to “[d]evelop a color system that repeated, but with an offset (that is, the shapes that are repeated are int eh same color one row up and two columns over). Play with creating a color system that is not strictly horizontal or vertical to produce a secondary visual rhythm.”


Then I picked six fabrics that would work well together, I thought and just randomly used them in place of the colors I’d used on the page. They are 2 1/2″ tall with 5″ wide bases, just in case you wondered.

Then I set to arranging them in strips, then sewing strips together until I got this lovely thing:

I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but that wasn’t the point of this exercise. It was to explore the use of color and rhythm and an offset repetition. And I’m happy with it. I like the way it jogs over. I like how it made me try to make my points match. I like how it shifts and moves.

Now onto one of the design exercises and see what that teaches me. When you get the book, let me know and we can work on one together!

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Pattern Review: Sew House Seven Albert Street Pencil Skirt

Alberta Street Pencil Skirt

I first saw this pattern at work; one of our sample sewists had made it up in a cute print and it sat out on the floor taunting me for weeks. Then I saw it on Instagram. Then I ran into Michelle at Quilt! Knit! Stitch! and she was wearing it. I asked a few questions about her experience with the pattern–any problems? Instructions good? How’s the fit? Her biggest feedback: Get a fabric with some stretch. The slim fit led to more than one popped seam for her.

I happened to have some Stretch Corduroy (21 Wale) that I’d bought from Robert Kaufman Fabrics and have been holding on to, just waiting for the right project. I figured this just might be it. The bottom weight, stretchiness and my long-standing love of corduroy made it a great option and one I’d totally recommend. Continue reading Pattern Review: Sew House Seven Albert Street Pencil Skirt

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Pattern Review: Sydney Top

Are you familiar with Seamwork? It’s an online magazine of sorts from the folks behind Colette Patterns that features articles about various aspects of sewing and includes a couple of patterns with each issue. When I got the May issue, I knew I needed to make the Sydney top that was featured.

I loved the cropped look since it would cover my shoulders in sleeveless dresses, but not cover my waist/hip curve (one of the few body parts I’m okay with).  I really, really liked the look of it. So when I had a recent Sunday morning all to myself, I set to it.  I found this grey, lightweight linen in my stash and thought it would the perfect addition to my summer wardrobe. Continue reading Pattern Review: Sydney Top

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Pattern Review: Butterick 6168

[This is part of the Dress Up Party, hosted by Sara at Sew Sweetness. Check it out for lots of pattern reviews and giveaways!]

I’ve long been a fan of Liesl Gibson’s designs (Oliver+S, Straight Stitch Society and Lisette), so when I heard she was partnering up with Butterick to release more Lisette patterns, I was all over that one. Yes, please, where do I sign up?

20150319-145751-53871876.jpgLuckily for me I stumbled onto them back at Sew Expo this spring and bought the Butterick 6168 right away. I made it up using Sara’s new Fantasia voile, which was gorgeous, but I messed up the front somehow and was left with quite the plunging neckline (photos and dress are NSFW!).

Continue reading Pattern Review: Butterick 6168

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Making a coat for my son

I made my son Stuart a peacoat years ago, maybe five or six years at this point. Long enough ago that the coat is showing its wear and the fit leaves something to be desired after a couple growth spurts. It was time for a new one.

Enter the Vogue 8940, a Men’s Jacket and Pants pattern, deadstock wool I’d bought for dirt cheap over the summer and leftover Radiance from a bridesmaid dress I made in the fall…suddenly I was really close to having everything I needed. Add in a bunch of buttons, some shoulder pads, new black thread (my machine really loves Superior Threads’ OmniThread), fusible interfacing and muslin.

You end up with this lovely jacket, ready just in the knick of time for my son’s first trip overseas as an adult…20150108-125026-46226883.jpg20150108-125025-46225620.jpg

I’m ridiculously proud of him for taking flight and seeing the world. (It was a secret little hope of mine when I dragged them to Asia all those years ago!) And knowing that he’ll be a bit warmer and wrapped up in some maternal love makes it all the better.

Pattern Name:Vogue 8940
Time Required: 15+ hours
Rating:  Advanced
Would I Make It Again?: Yes
What I Changed: I added an interlining of muslin to give it a little extra warmth and made bound buttonholes because they are so much classier.
Overall thoughts: It’s a great pattern and went together beautifully. I used a walking foot for most of the construction and specifically for the topstitching. This helped immensely to get it to lay nicely without any puckering. I also had to fiddle with the ease in the shoulders a bit, but on the second try got the sleeve in beautifully. I wouldn’t try this pattern as your first foray into coat-making, but if you’re comfortable with the construction techniques, it’s totally do-able.

 

 

 

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Buy the Book: Quilt Talk

Quilt Talk by Sam Hunter One of the things I’m really grateful for (it is November after all) is knowing people like Sam Hunter.

I first heard of her and her amazing quilt late last year when I was working for Robert Kaufman Fabrics down in Los Angeles. Sam and I had, unknowingly switched places. She’d moved to Portland from LA just before I’d moved from Portland to LA. But she and I worked together to get her fabrics for myriad quilt and project patterns she was designing. She loves Radiance (a cotton/silk fabric from RK) as much as I do, I think, and that made her even more awesome.

Over the email conversations we became friends and I have been grateful to have her here in Portland when I returned. She is kind, supportive, generous and smart. Plus she doesn’t take sh*t from anyone. I love her for that.

Last month Quilt Talk, her first book with C&T Publishing, came out and I was lucky enough to get to try the paper piecing patterns out early and I love them! I had to wait for the book’s publication, though, to see all that she’d managed to do with this alphabet. And what she did is kick some butt.

Quilt Talk interior

The book is filled with projects that she shared with us at Market in Houston and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its arrival. Today it’s here and I’ve got my very own copy sitting on my desk. It’s taunting me, prodding me to get going on those Christmas projects that are swirling around in my head.

I can hardly wait to start, but until then I’ll let you have a little glimpse at what you can make, too. And tell you to go buy the book!

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Plus she’ll be teaching and signing books at Fabric Depot on Sunday. More info here.