Friday, June 29, 2012

Fabric & Good People Who Happen to Design It.

So we got to visit the beautiful Whipstitch during our weekend in Atlanta. The place is very adorable, you should really check out Rachel's great pictures of it if you haven't yet. I realized that I hadn't ever visited another modern fabric shop besides the one I work in. While everyone else was hyperventilating over the fabrics they only get to order online most of the time, I was contemplating the layout of the store and trying to spy on the beginning class they had going on. (Not that I would need to spy, you know what I mean.) I was also learning up-selling techniques from the lovely girl who cut our fabric. Maybe it was just the Southern charm, but I feel like she could've convinced me to buy just about anything!

Of course I did find some things we don't carry at Sewn to covet and bring home. I got some Birch, Cloud 9 Monsterz, Quilt Blocks in a color way we don't have, and Lizzy House. I feel like there are at least  a couple other fat quarters that didn't make it into this photo because they are strewn about my sewing room. I've already started a new quilt with some of these goodies!

This Trefle print was a must for me. I think I remember Sophie using some in one of her awesome boy blazers? (Maybe Soph? Can't find it.)  Anyway, mine will become a Nituna for Elsie in the fall. SO EXCITED.

And I'm thinking this Melody Miller panel will become a new bag in the fall. I love everything on it, but especially that purple lady bit. (Gotta be a better way to say that...)

(Jacey's Picture)

Sunday night was such a special treat. Four sewing celebs who live in the Atlanta area were gracious enough to join us for dinner. Deborah Moebes, author and the owner of Whipstitch, along with designers/ authors Rashida Coleman-Hale, Melody Miller, and Ellen Luckett Baker. And they didn't jet home to their families after dinner, which they totally would've been justified in doing, they hung around and chatted with us until after 10. 

Now I'm not one to get extremely worked up about meeting cool people. I got that they were all kind of big deal, and I mostly worried that I'd say something that sounded stupid. I just wasn't squealing and wetting my pants or anything. But I didn't realize that this night would be one of my favorite experiences of the trip. They were all just so lovely and I truly admire the beautiful and refreshing ideas they are each bringing to our industry. As I listened to them humbly talk about these things, I realized how awesomely creative and ambitious they really were. Then I peed my pants. It was awkward... :)

We were even more floored that they each brought us gifts! Deborah had already given us the wonderful gift of 10% at Whipstitch. Rashida had signed copies of Zakka Style for all 8 of us, Ellen brought us fat quarters, and then Melody passed out a bag of Doritos to each of us. It was hilarious. Then she came back around with the typewriter fabric goodies, but the fact that she passed out Doritos first, sealed her place in my mind as the most adorable person ever. As you can see, I've been enjoying mine immensely.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sewing Weekend in Atlanta

I arrived in Atlanta last Friday morning for the start of a great weekend. Super great. The greatest. I joined 7 other blogger friends for three days of nothing but sewing, good food, and fabric. Well, I guess there were some shenanigans too. And some really fantastic conversations that I won't soon forget.

See how happy I was? (photo by Ara Jane)

(Disclosure: I took pretty much zero good pictures. These are all by my friends, but don't worry, I'll tell you who.)

(More disclosure: This is really hard to blog about. I don't know what to show you because there is too much good stuff and you are going to get real sick of hearing about it from all of us. Oh well, suck it up.)

(Fullest of disclosure: These people are really REALLY great and wonderful people. If you don't know them, go follow their blogs. I'm pretty much just going to write about how cool they are for right now.)

Nicke shops
This is Nicke. (Picture by Jacey) You might think she has a look of fabric-buying guilt, but I think it's more a look of "Don't even think about touching my bolts fools." I got to look at her cute mug mug a lot as we sewed across the table from each other, and shared a room. She's hilarious. She's a potty-mouth. She had enough self-discipline to get up and run in the morning. She's a really strong and wise person. And her stash is enviable.

at Whipstitch
This is Holly on the left, thoughtfully looking for the best fat quarters. (Rachel's picture) This girl has serious style. I never feel anything less than love for her fabric combinations. She has such a sweet spirit. She's an instagram fiend. Her eye knows exactly what blocks in your quilt configuration need rearranged and then it sings. Oh, and she's a fantastic cook. She's just the perfect combo of super classy and super down-to-earth.

sewn in atlanta.
This is Jacey.  (Picture by Holly) You know those people that are just so positive and happy that everyone is drawn to them? That's her to the nth degree. And, bonus: we like exactly the same type of music and movies. She's so good at everything she tries when it comes to sewing and knitting. She was actually one of the last to arrive at the house on Friday, and she was like the glue that suddenly made us all feel like old friends. That's just her. 

miss Ara Jane
This is Ara Jane. (Picture by Rach) I am SO glad this girl came to Atlanta. I didn't even know her that well as an online friend before the trip. She is fantastic. So funny and relaxed and just plain cool. The kind of person you want to have coffee with any day of the week... well, I think she's more of a tea drinker. But I'd drink coffee and she would not judge me for it. She's a new-ish mother and she just beams when she talks about her adorable daughter. I also wish I could commute to Seattle a couple times a month to be in a book club with her. Smart as a whip, but not the kind of person to lord it over anyone. 

Rachel, Maureen and Ara Jane
Although she might kill me for picking this picture of her, this is Maureen. (Jacey's pic) This girl is bottled fun. Chatty as can be, but not in a way that anyone minds. You want to hear Maureen's stories or you feel like you are missing something good. She's your favorite small-town friend. She deals with a couple dietary issues that I would gripe about profusely, but she doesn't. Instead she just tells more funny stories about it. She makes a mean grapefruit mojito, and if I could, I'd be hanging at her house on the weekends bugging her to make it for me. You probably already read her blog, therefore you know that she is crazy artistically talented. Like... CRAZY.

sewn in atlanta.
This is Amanda. (photo by Holly) How great is her sewing machine? You can't tell in this picture, but she is fairly pregnant. Even so, girl produced on that machine. I'll probably always picture her bellied up to it, creating beauties, saying things that alternate between really profound and dryly hilarious. She's the kind of girl who makes things happen. Generous with her thoughts and her smiles, and even giving enough to let us all feel her baby belly because we missed being pregnant (Don't worry, that feeling only lasted momentarily.) 

sewn in atlanta.
Of course you know Rachel too. (Holly again) Rachel in real life is just like you would think she would be. Which is good, because you know blog Rachel and real Rachel are genuine, sincere and lovely. I admire so much about the way she works and takes care of her family. And she never seems to have a creative slump, the beautiful creations just gush from her. She's a real thinker, an organizer, and a major encourager. Basically she was the Leslie Knope of the group, (no Rach, none of the dopiness!) and we definitely needed one, or the whole weekend wouldn't have happened. Everyone loves Leslie Knope and totally roots for her. 

Enough barfy friend stuff. Tomorrow I'll show you what I got from Whipstitch (where many of these pictures are set) and tell you about even more fun people we got to meet. Now seriously, go follow their blogs!

Monday, June 18, 2012

do. Good Stitches Triangle Quilt- Finally Done

The charity-bee quilt guilt has lifted! I'm embarrassed to say that this quilt began in my circle of do Good Stitches back in November. November! There are lots of perfectly good and reasonable (psh) excuses for this, but I won't go into that. I will just rejoice that I finished this before all my blocks arrived for the next one. Then things would have really gotten out of hand.

For one thing, I did make things a little hard on myself because I was determined to turn this into a bed-sized quilt for an older boy. The original 12.5" blocks would not pull that off, so I sashed them all in a random log-cabiny way with various icy blue Bella solids. I really like the effect of this. Still not quite twin-sized though, so I had to add a border. 

It's about 90" x 75," making it cumbersome to quilt of course, but I kept it simple with my default diagonal lines. I usually like much denser lines, but these are 3 inches apart. The binding is a pixelated houndstooth by Michael Miller (I think.) And the back is a completely crazy-town bright lemon yellow.  Half the time I think it's really awesome, and the other half I think my eyes are melting off my face.

This is the block I asked the Harmony girls to make way back in 2011 (the shame!) It was not the simplest assignment, but they did great. I love the black and white prints on all that blue. It makes me think of the Backstreet Boys' fourth album... Shut up, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I know this full shot is really sad, but it's the best I got after a bazillion attempts over 2 photo shoots. I'm convinced that it's impossible to accurately photograph the colors of this quilt. Also, I suck at it. 

Ready for Project Linus!

Thank you so much Harmony girls for your blocks and your patience! It's all labeled and ready to go to Project Linus this week. I'm so happy to be able to do something like this with quilting because I really feel like I'm honoring the memory of my Nanny. She wouldn't have waited 7 months to do it, but I can improve my turnaround time on the next one :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fabric Serendipity

I love my Modern Quilt Guild.

I do. Those ladies are the bestest.

We had our monthly meeting this week, and the swap this month was totes... Look what I got from the amazing Gillian

Melody Miller transistor tote

I hadn't joined in the swaps in the last couple months, but was excited to make an extra Verona bag for this one. Honest to goodness, every tote bag that was brought to swap was pretty fabulous, but I saw Gillian's and started drooling at an alarming volume. 

I was just telling a friend the other day that if I wasn't so cheap, I'd hoard all of Melody Miller's fabric. I just love her stuff! (And I'm not saying I think that fabric should be cheaper. I know why it's premo priced. Totally worth it.)

So I just happened to get to take this transistor tote home. Here's the kicker- I'm going to ATL for a little sewing retreat next weekend, and I'll be meeting Melody! The swapping fairies knew I needed this bag to take with me. 

Gillian, thanks for cutting into the good stuff, it was not lost on me :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Perfect Striped Pockets With Flaps Tutorial

(This is another re-post of one of my Project Run & Play tutorials. See the entire "Howl at the Moon" look right here.) 

Hi, it's Jessica from A Little Gray, and WOW- I'm so happy to be back here to share a tutorial this week! I feel especially proud that a boy look won this challenge. I am more comfortable sewing for my boy Hendrix any day- this girly stuff is still pretty new to me!

Details are really important in boy clothing. Things like pocket flaps and contrasting topstitching go a long way on a pair of pants, and simple additions like bright stripes kick up the wow factor. So that's what I'm going to show you today.

You'll need a main fabric, two or three different colors for the stripes, and a lining fabric. I'll show you how to make one pocket, but of course the amount of fabric required depends on how many pockets you add. My "Howl at the Moon" pants had 4 pockets in this size, 2 on the back and 2 on the sides by the knees. 

First we'll make the striped patch pocket:

Cut each stripe to 1"x 5." Cut two pieces from your main fabric to 2.5"x 5." Cut one piece from the lining fabric to 6"x 5." Piece the striped front of the pocket together using a quarter inch seam allowance and press seams open. 

Pin the front of the pocket to the lining with right sides together. Stitch around the outside with a half inch seam allowance, leaving a couple of inches open on a shorter side for turning. At the beginning and end of this seam, stitch into the seam allowance right up to the raw edge, like a little tunnel for turning. This makes it much easier to get the seam allowance evenly tucked inside whatever you are turning. Clip the corners off, trim seam allowance to 1/8" except at the opening, turn right side out. Use a chop stick or turning tool to poke the corners and edges out while pressing.

Topstitch around the whole pocket 1/4" from the edge. Then pin in place onto the garment exactly where you want it. (I'm just using this scrap of yellow canvas for our example.) 

Topstitch around the sides and bottom 1/8" from the edge, leaving the top open and reinforcing at the beginning and end. 

Now we are ready to make the flap:

First make your flap pattern piece. I like to use freezer paper for my patterns, but use whatever paper you have on hand. Cut a rectangle to 6"x 3" and fold it in half so the short sides meet. Cut off the bottom corners so they curve gently.

Use your pattern to cut out one from the main fabric and one from the lining fabric. 

Pin right sides together and sew only around the curved edge with a half inch seam allowance. Leave the entire straight edge open. Trim seam allowance to 1/8," turn right side out through the top of the flap, and double topstitch the curve at 1/4" and 1/8." 

Now pin the flap onto the garment right sides facing, so that the straight open edge is just slightly above the top of the patch pocket. 

Sew it down 1/4" from the raw edge and then carefully trim the seam allowance down to 1/8."

Fold the flap down, press, and double topstitch at the top, and that raw edge will be enclosed underneath. If you'd like, you can add bar tacks at the top corners to keep the flaps from sticking up like I did on the original pants. 

Your professional looking pocket is done and ready for action!

Friday, June 8, 2012

M-M-M-My Verona

M-M-M-My Verona M-M-M-My Verona #2

I made a couple of these Pat Bravo Verona bags, and I reviewed the pattern right here at the Purse Palooza. 

I also used rhyming words, showing off how I am easily as intelligent as a second grader. Easily. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Bucket Hat Story

Mommy decides to make another extended-brim bucket hat, this time for Elsie, 13 months. 

She loves the way baby girl looks with the simple white outside and the fun Amy Butler Lark print framing her face around the brim. Mommy could spread that cuteness on a cracker and eat it up.

Elsie gives Mommy one last knowing smile, waving that lonely top tooth at her as if to say, "I know you really want me to wear this when I'm outside...

 ... but who are you kidding?" 

 Elsie goes back to her preferred squinty-in-the-sun face. 

Ah well, at least it's big enough that it will probably fit for a couple years. Maybe it can get 10-15 minutes of wear over that time period. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chevron Circle Skirt Tutorial

This is a tutorial I did for the Project Run & Play blog in the first week of the competition. I have a couple more of these tutorials that I will probably be "bringing home" here in the near future. You can see the whole pieced chevron outfit right here

Good morning PR&P fans! Thanks so much to the hundreds of you who voted for all of us- it's so exciting for us as designers to see you getting excited about the competition. I'm very happy to be the winner this week and share with you how I made my pieced circle skirt. It was a lot of work and some of you were right to say that I must be a little crazy to have done it. But I decided it might still be interesting for you to see how it worked and maybe it will inspire someone else to do something a little insane.

For those of you who are looking for something a little more practical, I'm also going to share how I made an encased elastic waistband with a facing. It's a great way to do waistbands on any skirt or pants, and you can make it exaggerated like I did, or simply make it the width of your elastic.

Ok, let's get started! First I have to say that I was originally inspired by this quilt block. You'll also have to refer to Dana's fantastic original circle skirt to make your pattern.

It's important to keep consistent 1/4" seams on the piecing in the body, and I always like to press seams open. A cutting mat, rotary cutter, and 6" by 24" ruler are nearly essential.

This skirt is made of basically 16 panels of stripes, which I made in groups of two. For one inch finished stripes, cut your fabrics to 1.5" by 10." My skirt required 5 of these pieces in black and five in white on one panel, but yours may require more or less, depending on skirt size. In total, my skirt (about a size 3) required 1.75 yards of each color.

(Sorry for the funky colors here, but I didn't take a picture of this step originally.)
Use your cutting mat to lay out your stripes so that they extend 1" to the right past the one beneath them. Sew all ten together, keeping them staggered this way when you pin. Repeat this step with ten more stripes, but these will extend 1" to the left side as they go up, so you are left with two mirror images. Make sure you always start with the same color on the bottom.

Turn one of your panels so that the stripes point up and cut off the staggered edge. In this step, you are deciding on the angle of the chevrons throughout the skirt. Cut 6" to the left on that panel so that the other side where the stripes point down is also evened up. (Again, if you are making a larger skirt, you might need to cut wider here, so use your pattern piece to get a feel for how big you need to cut things.)

Now you are going to use that panel to cut the opposite one at the same angle. Flip the cut one onto the one that is still staggered so they are right sides together. Place them so the stripes and seams match up exactly on top of each other and cut to the same 6" width with your ruler. Take the panels apart again and they should look just like the picture above. 

Now match the centers right sides together again and sew. It helps to pin in every pressed open stripe seam so that all your points match. Take your time pinning. 

Now you have two stripe panels sewn together to make one chevron that points up. Take your circle skirt pattern piece and cut it exactly in half. The original is one fourth of the circle, but we need one eighth of the circle. Place it on your panel with the point of the chevron in the middle. You can see in the next picture that I tried to keep things even by placing the two lower corners right on corresponding seams. Now cut 1/4" on either side of the pattern piece for seam allowance.

Now it looks like this. It's important to cut the quarter inch on either side very accurately so that seam allowance is consistent. Do not cut along the top and bottom of the pattern piece, in fact you can put that aside now. 

Hold on to this original chevron panel because now you will use this to cut 7 more. As you are making those 7, keep the angle consistent by folding this one right sides together again and cutting at the same angle as the stripes in the middle seam allowance. 

The secret is to keep very consistent seam allowance as you piece stripes, and very consistent angles as you cut panels. 

Now there are 8 panels ready to be sewn into the circle skirt. You can see that there appears to be a gap, but don't worry. That will disappear in the seam allowance as you sew each panel together. Pin carefully again to match points and seams. 

(Warning: This method produces lots of scraps!)

Next make a lining to hide all those seams out of your original pattern. (Tape it back together so that it's one fourth of a circle again.) Center it over your chevron piece and use it as a pattern to cut off the excess in the middle and on the outside. 

Ta-Da! The hard part is over. 

Now let's put on the waistband. (Hopefully these pictures aren't confusing since solid white fabric doesn't have a wrong side and right side. I'll try to explain clearly.) 

First, figure out how big to cut your waistband piece. Measure the distance around the opening of your circle skirt (NOT the waist of your child) and add 1" to that. Cut your piece to that length and 6" width.  My skirt opening was 22," so I cut my piece 23"x 6." 

Fold one long edge to the WRONG side by 1/2" and press to give it a good crease. Open that fold back up. Now sew the short ends RIGHT sides together with a 1/2" seam allowance and press the seam open.

At this point I have basted the outside of the skirt to the lining at the waist opening with about a 1/4" seam. Take your waistband piece and pin the RIGHT side to the WRONG side of the skirt, on the raw edge that you did not press the fold into. In my picture, you can see the short seam in the back there so you know that's the wrong side of the waistband facing. Pin evenly all the way around and sew with a 1/2" seam. 

Turn the skirt inside out and press the waistband facing up. Even though this is the wrong side of the skirt body, you should be looking at the right side of the facing here, and that fold you originally made is on top. 

 Flip the skirt right side out again, and re-fold that first crease. Then bring that folded edge down on the outside of the skirt, just covering over your other line of stitching. Pin and edge stitch in place, leaving about 2" open at the back where the short seam is.

Here is what the right side of the skirt looks like, with the opening. 

Measure about 1.25" up from the line you just stitched and sew another line all the way around. This forms the actual casing for 1" wide elastic. But before you thread your elastic through the opening, topstitch one more time around the very top edge for a nice finish on that ruffle or "paper bag" waist. Insert the elastic that is the size of your child's waist, plus 1." Overlap the ends an inch and sew together, then close the opening. 

Hem the bottom however you wish, and you are done!

Phew. Who's excited for some sportswear?!