Friday, December 30, 2016

summer dresses

I've been meaning to make dresses for summer for ages, but have never gotten my butt into gear until this year.

I bought a new pattern during the Sydney Quilt Show 2015, from a shop that sold old patterns (and fabric). The sizing was a little bit of a worry, but I thought that I might get away with it. Size 8, back in the day, was actually about my size, and the measurements made it seem possible. plus, I liked the look of the fit around the breasts, and the line of the skirt. I have good shoulders, but a non-existent waist and a flat butt, so I need something that kind of skims over the fact that my waist-to-hip ratio is pretty much 1:1.

Dresses December

This dress gave me reasonable hope that I could find something that would allow for space for my breasts and also for my belly, instead of requiring a perfectly flat stomach!

Just to check the style - because that tuck under the breasts was a bit of a worry - I made a muslin first. It was out of a slightly thicker and heavier material than I planned for the final product, but it worked okay and let me discover the pattern needed an inch of length down the shoulders (my body is very long), and a half-inch on the seams.

Christmas 2016

The seams are a bit of a concern: I've put on a lot of weight in the last six months - about 5kg. Not sure if I'm going to lose it come New Year, because I try not to do diets, but my food habits have been very bad of late. Everything with extra added sugar!

At any rate, my body needed a squidge more space than I was otherwise giving it.

Cut the pattern out in an afternoon, sewed it in a morning, and lo and behold, it worked really well!

Dresses December

Having gained momentum (and with Christmas Day on the horizon) I cut out a second one, using the fragments of another dress I made and didn't like. I didn't want to throw the dress away because it was Liberty of London lawn - and a wonderful print to boot!

Christmas 2016

The print is 'queue for the zoo' and is full of jungle animals with 'human accessories' such as briefcases and joggers and cameras...

I cut this dress to have a longer hem, and the style works better as a result. Also, I tried to let out the seams a little to make it more casual.

Christmas 2016

I'm going to be making several more of this pattern, probably adjusting the fit further to be looser, more casual. And at least one top, I think, because the fit really works for me!

Dresses December

Always nice to find a pattern that suits me!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

WIP Wednesday: the mermaids WIPed me out

What a month. I mean, seriously. WHAT. A. MONTH.

The world went to crap. My productivity dropped through the floor. I missed not one but two quilt show entries (one of them was Quiltcon 2017). And I may not have a job past Christmas.

So, 2016 has not been a good year, and November has been a particularly bad month for me.


I did finish one thing: my Mermaids Shiloh Satchel.

I used up the last of my golden mermaids from Heather Ross' original Mendocino line to make this. And you know when you have this panic about cutting into a rare fabric? And you're trying to take deep breaths, checking the pattern, hoping that you don't screw it up? Well, that was just about 90% of getting all this put together.

Another #shilohsatchel on the cutting table using old #mendocinofabric. Let's use this for #bpsewvember Day 4: fun! (Can be meant ironically in the EEK RARE FABRIC CUTTING PANIC way...) The Shiloh Satchel pattern is sold by @pileofabric and comes in Trave

Also. It didn't help that I was using leather. Or that I changed my mind on exactly which pieces I'd be using in leather along the way...

Bag in progress! Another #shilohsatchel on the way!

All the pieces pinned up...

#bpsewvember with @bimbleandpimble Day 14: Yellows/Oranges - a sewing room and #shilohsatchel parts.

And then the finished product doesn't look quite professional enough - the gusset was too long for the front and back, which required making tucks, which made the top of the bag puffy and...

Style Stalk: Day 20 of #bpsewvember - I don't know that I have a particular style, but right now I'm a bit grumpy that I have a puffy zipper top for the #shilohsatchel, because it looks too homestyle, not elegant enough... Might have to pull it apart and

Ugh. I just didn't like the look - I wanted something clean and sleek, so I had to pull the gusset apart and cut it down again.

And no, the finished result still isn't quite as perfect as I'd like, but by the time I'd got this far, I was done with fixing bits and pieces.

Definitely a one off! Day 27 of #bpsewvember with @bimbleandpimble

It's good enough! I'll take it!

Finished Mermaids #shilohsatchel this afternoon before family dinner! #Saturdaynightcraftalong with @barefootcrafter

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WIP Wednesday: the one with winging it

You know when you start with a good thing?

It's Gotses Pocketses! Otherwise known as the #shilohsatchel, by @pileofabric.  This was a pattern test, and boy, was it a learning experience! I broke three leatherwork needles sewing the exterior together, and my DX #juki refused to sew it, although my

And then you think, hey I can do this only simpler!

After a false start and a distraction, ready to get the #MARVELouscraftswap done!

And then you start to realise...uh, maybe I'm in over my head.

Hulk panel

And then you start to think: yeah, I'm really in over my head.

What I Did At My #Saturdaynightcraftalong with @barefootcrafter! #MARVELouscraftswap #hulksmash

Really REALLY in over my head!

Technical difficulties...  #MARVELouscraftswap

And finally you end up with, well, a kind of Frankenstein of a piece?

#bpsewvember Day 2 - Wackiest Pattern: when you try to make a pattern out of a prism graphic and end up winging it, then use that pattern in a modified bag design...and end up winging that, too! 😄😄😄 Thanks for running this @bimbleandpimb

I mean, it looks okay if you don't inspect it too closely. After that, it starts to all fall apart.

The moral of this story is...don't talk to bears while in the woods! (Sorry, childhood camp songs...)

Basically, patterns r awesum. It is generally advisable to follow them. (To follow them wherever they may gooo....)

Anyway, there's a few things yet to sew together - handsew, because I can't put my machine through all that again. (Heck the machine, I can't put my shoulders through all that again!)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Shiloh Satchel: Oh, Deer! It's Gotses Pocketses! [pattern test]

You know when you make an offer and discover you're in over your head?

I offered to test the Shiloh Satchel when Alyssa Lichner of Pile O'Fabric requested for pattern testers for her Shiloh Satchel. It was so pretty! And purse-y! And it had piping!

Four weeks later, a missing delivery, the *facepalm* that I didn't order enough leather, the realisation that the linen is loose-weave and probably not a good idea for delicate work, three broken leather needles, a flat-out 'are you effing kidding me?' from my Juki DX, a reluctant 'okay I can do this but it's going to take everything I've got' from my Juki TL98-P, and an almost-pulled shoulder and I have the first one done.


Echino linen, Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen in Indigo, Arizona Leather in Black (available from Pile O'Fabric), and Kate Spain for the linings and piping:

I fussy-cut the panels because Echino Linen designs are so gorgeous how can you possibly not try to incorporate them?

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

Essex Linen for the 'Exterior Accent' which includes Strap Connectors, the upper sides of the bag, and the pockets.

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

And then I realised that the linen was entirely too loose a weave to do the fiddly little bits of the smaller Exterior Accents, so I went and used a piece of leather for certain parts of the Exterior Accent - namely the Main Strap Connectors, and the Side Strap Connectors. Which I think gives it just a touch of professionalism!

So, the thing about this bag is that it has a LOT of pockets. A LOT. Pockets on the front, pockets on the back, pockets on the sides, pockets on the inside. The only place it doesn't have a pocket is on the strap and on the base, and I'm sure you could work something out if you really needed it, but frankly there are so many other pockets, I don't know why you would...

And then I added at least one pocket on the inside (and took one away). But more on that later.

This is the lining, with pockets:
#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

This is the bag exterior, covering the lining and pockets, held by my sister:
#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

And yes, that's a zipper pocket on the front.

It looks pretty stunning when you've fussy-cut your fabrics! And I thought it would look ever more stunning if (assuming you use a woven Exterior Accent fabric) you FMQ'd motifs into the fabric instead of just sewing straight lines. But my skill was not up to my ambition, so perhaps in future, but not this time...

There are a lot of pieces to this. Half the battle of this was in cutting everything out, working out what went where. The other major battle was sewing the exterior of the bag together; my 'dressmaking machine' (Juki DX) wasn't up to the task, so I went for the workhorse machine: Mako Mori, my Juki TL90-P, who struggled with some of the fabric thicknesses but slowly managed to get it all done....breaking three leatherwork needles in the process.

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

I'm going to have to get Mako serviced before the end of the year.

One of the issues is that at one point the needle is trying to go through about 8-9 layers of fabric and interfacing, including some serious craft stiffener because that was what I had, and I'd procrastinated enough in making this that I didn't want to keep going. I think next time I'll try the recommend Peltex 71F (when I manage to haul my ass out to Spotlight) I saw the needle actually bend in the shaft, trying to get it through, and often it required manual repunching (turning the handwheel) to get it through. So, it was a Herculanean effort to get this done.

Exterior on Saturday afternoon:
Pattern testing the #shilohsatchel for @pileofabric - it's a gorgeous bag, but what a struggle to sew together the exterior! (Don't look too close at the seams! 😳😳😳) Now I'm going to have some ice cream and jelly, and a lie down. I

Finished at the #saturdaynightcraftalong (hosted by @barefootcrafter in the Eastern hemisphere and by...someone else in the Western hemisphere).

Whew! After several false starts, interruptions for work, and three broken leatherwork needles, I've finished the #shilohsatchel at the #saturdaynightcraftalong with @barefootcrafter! Better pictures tomorrow in the daylight. Also: #honestworkroom.

Pay no attention to the mess of my workspace. The cleaning lady was by just this morning and has vacuumed it so it's now beautifully clean. (She loves cleaning up my workroom; apparently it gives her a feeling of great satisfaction, and who am I to deny her that? ;D)

The front:
#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

The back:
#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

Now, as I said, this bag has SERIOUS POCKETS. But Alyssa designed it to have lots of space for baby things on the inside, and probably her notebooks/tablet/phone on the outside.

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

Me? I live in a city, I'm a single woman, and the biggest thing I'm carting around in my bag is my laptop. I don't want to give anyone with light fingers the opportunity to nick my stuff, so I tend to prefer my pockets on the inside - including a padded pocket for carrying a 15" laptop! I took out one of the two internal zippered pockets instead, because I don't need that many zippered spaces.

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

#shilohsatchel It's Gotses Pocketses!

The next version I make will have more pockets on the inside, fewer on the outside. That should also cut down on the layers when trying to sew the bag exterior, and will give Mako (my Juki TL98-P) an easier time of it!

It doesn't look as professional as some of the other testers' bags (they look like they could be sold in a fancy shop for a couple hundred bucks), but I rather like it, and I'm thinking I'll gift it to a friend who's been having tooth issues all year and is struggling. Fill it with goodies, box it up, mail it off! All good.

And now to type up my notes on the pattern.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bloggers' Quilt Festival: Swarm by Sel

Welcome, most of you presumably from the Bloggers' Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.

This is the story of a bunch of buzzy bees bumbling around in my brain, and how sometimes ideas come together in unexpected id-tugging ways...

Swarm (by Sel) took me two full years to actually complete from piecing to binding, but I think it was kind of worth it.

"Swarm" - photographed square! Such a labour of love and inspiration. And yes, @2bees, I'm filling out the competition forms now! #swarmbysel

Name: Swarm
Size: 75" x 88"
Design: original by Sel

The fault lies entirely in hexagons. I rather love hexagons, but they're kind of a pain in quilting - all those y-seams! However, I have designed multiple quilts based off hexagons (including a rather fun and complicated 'colourwash' kind of quilt) and am always on the lookout for cool hexy patterns. But I really liked Elizabeth Hartman's "Honey" quilt, featured on the cover of her book 'Modern Patchwork'. A friend of mine, Penny Poppleton made a spectacular version of it back in 2012, and while I liked the design, I didn't want just the honeycomb, but also the bees...

There were designs. Triangular grid paper, pencils, and design after design after...hey, I like that idea...

And then RJR fabrics announced the Cotton + Steel collection, with the 'blenders' and the 'low-vols' and I went "OOOOOH!" Bought most of the basics range and started cutting and sewing.

Most of the long story is at this post I made in December last year, however the addendum is...that it got accepted into QuiltCon!! I blame my friend, Bec, from SydModSQuad for encouraging me to submit it.

And it got photographed by the C+S official Instaccount! *boggles* *wibbles* *squees*

Then I sent it to Houston.

Uh. But not the Quilt Show. If I'd thought about it, I'd have submitted it to the 2016 Houston Quilt Show first, but instead, I opted to gift it to some friends in Houston who've let me stay in their spare 'oom nearly every time I've visited the US. Ah well. I did get to see it in use when I went to visit them in July, though!

Hey that quilt looks familiar... Glad to see #swarmbysel in its new home! #Houston #SelAndTheWorld2016

It's one of my favourite quilts, to be honest, and I do regret giving it away just a little. Guess I'll just have to make another one... Streamline the process... Write that pattern...

Swarm #swarmbysel

Submitted in the Original Design section of the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bloggers Quilt Festival: The Promises Of Spring

For the BLoggers Quilt Festival - 2016 Fall Edition, I'm submitting The Promises Of Spring - a quilt with a relatively long tale in my quilting history.

The original block was developed by Madame Parfait (whose site has since lapsed) in 2011, and was brought to my attention by a friend who wanted a pattern for it. So I developed one using strip-piecing, and called it 'The Snowflake Block'.

I did them in the rainbow colouring as per the original, and then didn't know what to do with them. So I made cushion covers, as you do.


The pattern was pretty popular, but I also found it bloody inconvenient and didn't think it was a particularly fantastic way to do it, as I discovered while trying to piece together another six of them!


And now it's time for layouts! And working out how to sew the thing together. Y-seams, eek! #snowflakeblock

Don't look too closely at those seams...


So what do you do with a handful of blocks that you don't want to make more of, but which you don't otherwise have any purpose for? Why, make a quilt with a lot of whitespace in it!

WIP Wednesday: sprint for the show

Um, yeah, that's a lot of whitespace. A LOT OF WHITESPACE. But I did quilt it all! ALL OF IT.

It just turned out to be a year late for the quilt show I'd intended it to be entered in, largely because I did my calf muscle in a week before I planned to book the longarm at the local quilt shop. So it got delayed a year - Sydney Quilt Show 2016! I called it 'The Promises Of Spring' and entered it with the blurb: "Every winter's flake carries the promise of summer within it."

Promises of Spring

The 'regions' of the quilting are ocean deeps, rippling beaches, forest and fern, winter winds, and the sun/flower, and it took me two days to complete.

Quilt Show 2016

In the aftermath of the show, though, a friend expressed an interest in purchasing the quilt for what it was worth, but when I named the price, she wasn't able to pay that much. Note: I valued the quilt at somewhat less what it had cost me in time and materials to make, plus 10% profit. Frankly, the hours I put in were probably two or three times that, given that I was piecing the snowflakes diamond by diamond. But that was the cost I named, although I admitted I was willing to accept a lower price.

While the friend was thinking it over, another friend was browsing through my feed and decided she liked it and would pay the price in question - and actually asked if it wasn't a bit low. She does costumes herself, so she knows both the cost of crafting something like this, and tendency of makers to undervalue themselves. I was more than happy to sell at the named price, and she received it a couple of weeks ago and is delighted.

Promises of Spring
Quilt Measurements: 180cm x 200cm
Special Techniques used: Y-seams, negative space quilting.
Quilted By: Sel @ Mad Quilter's Disease (a.k.a. me!)

Have you gone to check out the link-up at Amy's Creative Side?

Monday, September 12, 2016

2016 Q3 Finish-Along: #5 - Curtains!

This post is for the 2016 Finish-along Q3.

My original post is here and the Curtains are Item #5 on the list.

So, it's been a while since I actually posted anything here. Sorry about that - I went on holiday and then work came back with a vengeance and... So many things going on! It's been a busy winter for me...and we're heading into spring.

However, let's talk domestic for a moment.

We moved into the house in late 2014, and one of the things I wished to do was make curtains for my room and the lounge/dining rooms. It is now 2016, and I've done most of the curtains in most of the rooms. Emphasis on 'most of':

My bedroom curtains:
One set of curtains down... Four to go!

The workroom curtains (technically it's *my* workroom since all my sister has is a filing cabinet in the corner, and she uses the dining room as her workspace):
Workroom curtains 1

Sewing room curtains all done!

The dining room curtains, which I finished just before I left to go on my 2016 Round-the-World trip:

And a shot by night from the inside:
Curtain call! Alas only one half of it - have the other half yet to do!

And just this week I completed the living room side curtains with the Concerto quilt pattern by Alyssa of Pile O'Fabric:


And laying out on the floor before finishing with the cat.

When I get the rings for hanging in the windows, I'll take another photo and put it up here: stay tuned!

Now there's just the front window curtains to do - and those are the BIGGIES...