Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Mom, World's Most Versatile Quilter

This past weekend I took the kids down to Tennessee to visit my parents and go to their county fair with them. The Wilson County Fair is in Lebanon, where they live, and it's even bigger than the state fair. Ginormous. We had a ton of fun eating fair food, admiring farm animals, seeing prize winning quilts, and other general fair-iness.

The next day we were generally wiped out and hung out at the house. This somehow led to my mom pulling out a bunch of old quilts and projects from when we were kids. I remember her doing a lot of quilting growing up, but I wasn't too interested and I didn't pick it up myself until just last year. But now, knowing how much goes into a quilt, I was blown away by her stuff. I was also so tickled by how much she was just like me and most other modern quilters when she started out.

  1. She had a bunch of UFO's, even some she had long forgot about. Some were stacks of blocks and some were basted quilts, half quilted. Always more than one thing going on at once, which looked very familiar. 
  2. She basically taught herself the skills. No one else in her family was into quilting so she just figured it out. Of course, she didn't have the internet's help, just plain old books.
  3. She figured out how to be good at everything- appliqué, hand-quilting, curves, templates, all of it. Really, not much has changed about the way we do things. 

This was very exciting to find in the old cedar chest. She made this full-sized quilt for my bed when I was about 3. She said I was very into pink, but she rebelled a little by making the blocks mainly blue. The entire thing is hand quilted! She used this method they called lap quilting, which is basically just quilt-as-you-go but with hand stitching. She would use templates she made herself out of sandpaper to sketch the designs on before stitching. Amazing! And she let me take it home with me :)

This was the one I remember being on my parents' bed all growing up. I love the way she made each house block it's own color scheme and then used all the colors on the flying geese border. All hand-quilted again. I think people just didn't quilt on their home machines back then. 

This is the quilt top she just finished recently from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection. Despite being such an experienced quilter, she is not stuck in her ways at all. She loves all the new designer fabrics and she is gung-ho about learning how to become an awesome free-motion quilter on her machine. She even bought Angela Walters book, which was so fun to read through while I was there. She is now working on a quilt made from a jelly roll (first time using pre-cuts) and planning a very modern wall hanging (with no borders!) I love that she is always up for learning new things, even when she is already so talented and accomplished. Way to go mom. 

I also got to come home with these old hand pieced blocks that we think were made by my great-great-aunt's mother. I love the mismatched bright fabrics! I definitely need to find time to put these together someday.

So is your craft all in the family too? Or did you figure it out on your own? Makes me think about how fun it will be to teach Hendrix and Elsie someday... if they care to learn that is.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Film Petit #2: Amélie

"Times are hard for dreamers."

Welcome to our second installment in the Film Petit series. What does that mean? It means that Kristin and I, plus the lovely Gail this month, have chosen to make our kids some clothing inspired by our very favorite movies. Not our kids' favorites, mind you. You won't find any Disney princess costumes around here. (See the Life Aquatic Film Petit here.)

This time around our looks (and our photo shoots) are inspired by the French film Amélie. I've watched this movie so many times, and each time I do I find more to love about it. Amélie is a lonely girl who creates a fantasy world to live in where she can dictate where the adventures lead. She decides to create fantastic and anonymous ways to help make others happy and find love.

Meanwhile, Nino is a lonely boy who is on an adventure of his own. He and Amélie grew up just "five miles apart, they both dreamed of having a brother and sister to be with all the time."

 Nino's adventure revolves around the photo booths of Paris. He is obsessed with collecting discarded photo strips that people leave behind or lose under the booths.

 When their paths cross, Amelie falls in love with Nino, but of course has to lead him on in a game to find out who she really is.

"Follow the blue arrows..." 

 "The fool looks at a finger that points to the sky."

"Is this you?" -Nino
(Yes, that really is Kristin's little Amélie!)

When I took inspiration from Nino for this look, it was definitely not literal. Nino dresses in dull black slacks and a boring jacket for most of the movie. (Also, he works in a porn shop, not included in this photoshoot for obvious reasons.) I really dig the plaid cardigan he wears in the end, when he and Amélie are finally together and life is much brighter. But since it is still August, I went with a vest instead. I think it still has a French grandpa kind of feel. The vest pattern is this free download made with Essex yarn-dyed linen in black. I never ever get tired of that stuff. 

I brought some print in with the pants, which are an extremely soft woven cotton blend made by Moda that I bought at Sewn. These pants are so soft and the stripe is just perfect. They will get a lot of wear. 

Both the pants and the green v-neck tee I made from the new Blank Slate Patterns by MellySews. Friends, I cannot gush enough about these patterns! If you have a boy to sew for, you really can't be without them. On these pants, I learned how to put in an actual working zip fly for the first time, (how much do you love my French girl button?) and adorable welt pockets on the back. They turned out so preppy and functional I still can't believe I made them. Those details took extra time of course, but they were not difficult with Melissa's instructions. There is a clear and well-explained picture for every step, which really made the pattern a joy to follow. And the fit is honestly the best of any pants pattern I've used for Hendrix so far. This is my new go-to. It's also nice to know that if I need to make some quick pairs, the fly and welts and front pockets are all optional features, and there is a shorts option as well. 

The v-neck pattern was great to follow too and has an adorable fit. The making of the v-neck collar was actually a little harder than installing the zipper on the pants for me. But that was not for any lack of clarity in the pattern. Just one of those things that takes some practice. After a little seam-ripping, it's still not perfect but I got it to lay flat, which I'm very happy about. With all these new skills, I feel like I've taken an advanced class just by using these patterns! Melissa really knows how to sew and I so appreciate how she has shared that wisdom in these patterns. I can't wait to try the Prepster Pullover and the Basic Blazer this fall. 

Right now you can buy the 5-pattern ebook for just $19.95, which is a crazy good deal. DO IT. 

(I realize this whole thing just turned in to a commercial for these patterns, but I promise that was all just my opinion, no funny business.) 

Now make sure to visit Gail to see the genius way she was inspired by Amélie's shenanigans with her father's garden gnome. So incredibly cute.

And visit Kristin to meet the girl of Nino's dreams. Her Amélie-inspired polka dot dress is just perfect. 

Remember, we love to see your movie inspired kids clothes in the Flickr group. And we'll be back next month with Cherie of You and Mie. We've got big plans!

P.S. I have the best husband ever for taking these awesome pictures for me. Thanks Nick!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The One I Love to Hate Making

It's curtains. They are probably the most mundane and boring thing to make ever. But once I finish making them, I immediately feel a great satisfaction and want to make more. Is it just me?

So I have two of these new ones in the living room. The fabric is Dear Stella, which I got here with some of my Project Run & Play winnings. (Though they seem to be out of this particular print.) I wanted something light and summery. We live in a little apartment that we can't paint, and at first I thought I had picked something too dull against our boring off-white walls. But after a day or two I started to love the way they looked. It's a great neutral feel that allows for all kinds of colorful quilts and pillows. 

This is what the old panels looked like. They were my very first sewing project almost 5 years ago! It's a pretty fabric, but I just got so sick of all the brown. Time for a change. 

Like I said, after those were finished I felt I was on a window-face-lifting roll, so I made a new one for my dining room as well. It's pink. PINK! I never buy pink fabric. Or pink anything. This was on way clearance, so the 2.5 yards for one panel only ran me $7. It was meant for something else, but at that price, why not try a pink curtain for a while? Nick was pretty stoic about my unannounced girly pinksplosion. It was much more satisfying than actually cleaning my window, obviously.

Then yesterday at work, I had the great pleasure of unwrapping Anna Maria Horner's new Field Study line straight off the UPS truck. I could not stop obsessing over these prints and all the things I wanted to make with them. If you aren't convinced, just know that they are stunning in person. I managed to leave work without buying a single bit of it, but as you can see I made some tentative plans. Of course, not all of these will come to fruition, but it sure is fun to fantasize.

And I really want to make a quilt with these softer and oranger colors. Sooooooo gorgeous.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This Week in Sewing and Spam Update.

(Disclaimer: This is one of this posts that uses almost exclusively instagram pictures with instagram filters. I used to hate it when people used those on their blogs. In fact, I used to hate the dumb faux-vintage filters all together. But then I got on IG and now I get it. Sometimes it just makes your crappy phone pics more fun to look at. I get it. I was wrong. Now I'm that blogger. Apologies all around. Proceed.)

I made this piece of improv on a complete whim the other night from some of my scraps. I think it will become a pillow. 

At work, we are starting a contest where we all pick out signature fat quarter bundles of six and see whose sells the fastest. These are my picks. They aren't up for sale yet, though I love my stack. Judging by the above pictures, I seem to be into this variation of primary colors plus black lately. I also get to make something from one of these bundles, so I have to decide on my project!

My purple HST quilt is finished and at home with our bestest friends. Real pictures to come soon.

I probably didn't make this. But I love this picture. 

Another bucket hat by request for a friend. More purple!

Last night I successfully installed my first zip fly!!! It actually works. I'm still a little blown away by this. You'll see the whole project next week.

Elsie played on a dirty manhole...

And Hendrix continued to reside in my personal space most of the time. Which I'm not exactly complaining about. 

There is another matter of business to take care of today, the whole spammer debacle. (Follow the link if you need caught up.)

A couple of you pointed out that the second comment was just another opportunity for "Melvin" to spam me, and that she/he was not actually getting all my comments in her email four times. This seems like too much high-level thought was put into a move like that. Usually they operate more along the lines of "wtf are they talking about?" But I don't doubt that this was the case here. Although, some people disagreed on this point. I do know that my following post got more spam comments than any post ever. Is it Melvin fighting back? Is it just a bunch of random spammers landing here because they saw me talk about spam? The world may never know.

Either way, it was really fun to read all your comments. They were highly entertaining. So thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!

My favorite? This one with the random Tenacious D reference. Of course, I haven't listened to "This is Just a Tribute" since maybe freshman year of college, which made this parody all the sweeter. I saw them performing on TV recently because I guess they came out with a new album... and it was sad. Shoulda just left it at the one. Anyway, as a tribute to the days when Jack Black was considered funny, The winner is S&S!!

"Dear Melvin the Magnificent,

Have you heard about the best and greatest foam that Tenacious D has for sale?? It's reported to remove shiny demons AND spammers once every hundred thousand years!! Of course, this comment is just a tribute 'cause all my anxiety caused me to forget what the best and greatest foam is. 


Scout's honor, please let me know who you really are S&S! 

Your prize? I'm going to make you a throw pillow cover! I've seen other blogger friends do this for people and it sounds really fun to me. I'm going to make this custom for you! Let me know the size form you want it for, the color fabrics, the style, everything! I can do improv for you, or stars or granny squares or something with all solids, or a funky appliqué, embroider a Tenacious D quote- whatever. So get excited S&S!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Boy's Muscle Tee with Reverse Applique Tutorial

Today I'm posting a tutorial I did earlier this summer for Delia's Color Your Summer event. Enjoy!

So happy to be celebrating a colorful summer with you today! I'm a big fan of the men-wearing-purple trend right now. But it's still not something you will likely find in the boy's section at Target.

So when Delia invited me to play at CYS, I knew I wanted purple, and I knew it would be something for my boy!

This little muscle tee has become my go-to summer wardrobe staple to make for my 3 year old, Hendrix. They are so cute and hip, super wearable, fast to whip up, and the possibilities for embellishment are endless. 

So today I'm going to show you how to make the basic tee, and how to add a little hand-stitched reverse appliqué flair. I used to avoid hand stitching anything at all costs. But these days I'm addicted to embroidering on my kids clothes. It's really not as time consuming as I used to think, and it adds such a special look to knits. As you can see, my stitches are far from perfect, but that's the look we want here!

And yes, I did make my kid a "purple rain" shirt. It wasn't the original plan, but I really can't resist a weird pop culture reference on a three year old :)

Ok, here's what you need:
  • 1/2 yard of interlock knit (More for a kid bigger than 4t,  or you can always upcycle an old adult tee.)
  • 1/4 of contrasting rib knit
  • Thread that matches the interlock
  • Embroidery floss or perle cotton that contrasts the interlock
  • Chenille needle, or other embroidery needle with a large eye
  • 1/4 of Pellon Wash-n-Gone, or other stabilizer
  • Chalk or marking tool
  • Stretch machine needle

First make the pattern. I traced this shirt that I made for the PR&P finale because I know I like the way it fits. If you don't already have a muscle tee, you can just trace a regular tee and leave the sleeves off. Make sure to add about .5" all the way around for seam allowance, and a little less than that on the arm holes. I don't hem these shirts, but if you prefer to hem, add that to the pattern as well. I leave my hem raw and cut it to curve down a little in the middle for a cuter fit over little tummies. 

*KNIT TIP: I like to trace my patterns onto freezer paper when I am sewing with knits. Draw on the matte side, then iron the shiny side down onto your fabric and it sticks. This helps me cut the knit more accurately without pulling and stretching. 

Cut out your pattern piece and cut two of them from your main fabric. 

**KNIT COMMANDMENT: You must cut out the fabric so that the most stretch is going across  the body. Just think of the way your t-shirts stretch.

The front of the neckline needs to go lower than the back, so take just one of your cut pieces and draw a lower curve at the neck, taking off about 2 inches at the lowest point. Cut.

Now pin your two pieces together at the shoulders and the sides. (Right sides together, if your fabric has right sides.) Sew these seams with a 3/8" seam allowance and make sure to backstitch at the bottom of the side seams, since we are not hemming the shirt.

*KNIT TIP: I like to change my machine to a narrow zig-zag stitch with a width of 1.0 and length of 3.0. This way the seams have a little bit of give in the stretch fabric. (Learned this one from Figgy's!) On my machine, this also gives me a 3/8" seam allowance, which is perfect. 

*KNIT TIP: If you are having trouble with your machine "eating" the fabric at the edges, just start your seams in the middle of the fabric, then go back and finish the rest from that point. 

**KNIT COMMANDMENT: Use a stretch needle. If you don't, you'll likely see your needle holes start to tear after a couple washings. 

Press all seams toward the back of the shirt and topstitch the shoulder seams to reinforce.

At this point, I always try it on Hendrix to see if I need to cut a little more off the neck or armholes. I almost always need to cut the neck bigger than I think for his giant head.

Now it's time to cut the ribbing for finishing the arm and neck holes. Measure around the neck by using a string or thread to find the exact distance around. Subtract 1" from that number and that's how long your ribbing needs to be, times a width of 2". For example, my neck was 12.5" around so I cut it to 11.5" inches (with the stretch) by 2" wide. So the most stretch is going from left to right in this picture.

Sew the short ended together on all three pieces. (Don't get your neck and arm pieces confused!)

Now fold the circle you have so that the long raw edges are together and the seam allowance is sandwiched inside, so wrong sides together.

Start with the neck. You are going to match up those two raw edges of the ribbing with the raw edge of the neck on the right side of the shirt.

Begin by pinning the seam on the ribbing to one of the shoulder seams. Then find the exact opposite point on the ribbing and pin that to the opposite point on the neck hole (which is not necessarily the other shoulder seam, since the front of the neckline cuts lower.) Keep pinning in quadrants, stretching the ribbing slightly to match the shirt. The idea is to distribute the stretch evenly around the hole.

*KNIT TIP: Use lots of pins for this. LOTS! And just sew over them, much easier than trying to finagle them out while sewing in a tight circle.

Sew all the way around the hole, with the ribbing down against your needle plate, and the shirt fabric facing your presser foot. This way, you can make sure you don't get any puckers in the main fabric and also make sure you aren't stretching that fabric at all as you sew. Remember, it's the ribbing that is stretching slightly to match the neck hole, but if you pin well that will take care of itself.

Flip the neckband up and press. Now repeat the same process for each armhole. Hem it if you want, but otherwise, your shirt is sewn!

Time to make it your own with reverse appliqué. Decide on a simple shape or two that you want to use and draw the design lightly in place with chalk or a water-soluble marking tool.

Now cut a piece of Wash-n-Gone stabilizer and a piece of your contrast knit (the ribbing is fine for this) both large enough to cover the space of your design. Turn the shirt inside out and simply pin those down behind the design. The knit will be against the shirt, and the stabilizer on top of that.

Turn the shirt right side out again and use your perle cotton or floss (You only need three of the six strands in the floss) to stitch your design on. There is no magic skill to it, just use a running stitch or a sloppy-ish backstitch like I do. You can find a great tutorial on these stitches right here.

Very carefully pull apart the two layers of fabric in the middle of your shapes and cut out the middle of the top layer.

Finally, turn your shirt inside out again and cut the excess from around your stitches. Here you can see what the Wash-N-Gone looks like on the back, but after you wash it... it will be gone. Hence the name.

Oh so cute, and oh so PURPLE.

Thanks so much for having me today on Color Your Summer Delia!