Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Florida Quilt

When we were in Florida a couple weeks ago, I finally had the chance to give my mother-in-law this Christmas present. While she doesn't do a whole lot of cuddling up to stay warm down there, she has alway made it clear how much she admires the things I make. So I was happy to finally make a special quilt just for her.

She loves bright sunny Florida more than anyone I know, so I tried to pick colors that felt Floridian. They even feel kind of specifically like the beach town I grew up in there. I actually had a hard time with these colors when I was working on the quilt top because they are SO unrelentingly bright. I normally need some toned down shades along with black or gray in my schemes, or at least some soothing natural linen. And I don't usually use so much bright white, but I do love the subtle stars scattered in there on this Lizzy House print from Constellations. (I have to say thanks to Ara Jane for sending me the extra fat quarter I needed of that fabric!) And to top it off, I really hated a few of those larger floral prints in there. So many little things irking me, how neurotic of me.

But really, once I got it all finished, the front and back and quilting and binding as a package really made me love it. It definitely has that Florida feel I was going for. And most importantly, she really liked it and it looks at home in her home. Good good.

The back is a length of ombre fabric from Sewn Studio with a strip of scraps up the center. I'm really liking those ombres for quilt backs lately.

The quilting was really fun to do.  Cloudy Florida skies. (Yes, it's mostly sunny, but every summer afternoon needs a freakishly short thunderstorm, just for fun.) It's not the most amazing quilting job ever, but it's so nice to finally feel like it's not a huge deal to try new things with my FMQ skills. And I love the puffy, cloudy texture!

So it's the most electrically eye-searing quilt I've ever made. But it took me back to my roots (both literally and by way of fabric), and it turned out to be a really happy thing. Giving a quilt to a loved one who really appreciates it is always a happy thing.

I used the "Small Plates" pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's first book, but kept it a bit smaller at 56" square. Next up, I'll show you the very scrappy string quilt I made for my brother and his family. It's much more me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scrappy Circles Pillow

At work this year, we decided to have a little "Secret Santa" gift exchange. It turned into a more of New Year thing rather than Christmas, which was fine with me! The nice things about exchanging gifts with a bunch of sewers is that everyone understands how busy sewing for Christmas can get.

I drew my friend Pat's name to make a gift for. She is so fun to work with and always so encouraging of anything I make, so I felt like I wanted to wow her a little. Plus, I had been wanting to try Jen's signature quarter circles ever since I saw one of her gorgeous quilts in a show last year.

I used her pattern from the Winter 2013 Modern Patchwork magazine. The pattern is for making an apron, but it would be easy to use for anything. I've done improv curved piecing before, but nothing like these precise circles. It was surprisingly easy! You have to take a little more time, pin extra, and be careful. They aren't perfect perfect circles, but I never screwed up too badly or had a problem with puckers.

I used all small scraps I had and Robert Kaufman chambray from Sewn for the background. It ended up being a large 20" pillow, and she loved it!

What's even more fun, is that Pat was my secret maker! She actually knitted me this amazing purple cowl. I was over the moon about it. I've never had a gift knitted just for me, and she really chose the perfect color and everything. It's super cozy and I wear it every day. Yay for friends who make!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Zebra Ice Cream Dress

Last week we were fortunate enough to escape the frozen tundra of the Midwest to spend some time with family in Florida. And we even got to visit Disney World for a couple of days! Elsie wore her favorite dress there, (complete with new pirate sword) so I was reminded that I had never shared it here. I only shared it on my Instagram- @alittlegressica

I had actually cut out this Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress during the fall KCW, but then it sat for a few weeks unfinished. I had been wanting to make this dress for her for so long, since I had already made a blouse version and a couple dresses for Sewn samples. It's definitely high on my list of all-time favorite patterns. I finally got motivated to finish it so she could wear a new dress to our family Thanksgiving gathering in Tennessee. Zebras are totally all American Thanksgiving-y, right?

Elsie's so fun to sew for at this age, so I have to remind myself not to put these kind of projects off. She tends to be tom-boyish, but she doesn't object to wearing dresses yet, so it makes for some fun combos on clothes. Her favorite color is green, so I used a sea foam Kaffe Fassett shot cotton for the contrast. The Zebra fabric is Alexander Henry and I got it at Mill End in Portland last summer. (It think?) She calls them "Zebees, " and I think she likes the black because that's her brother's favorite color. Whatever he does is pretty cool. 

I made a size 2, even though she is wearing mostly 3 these days. This dress is a little loose fitting by design and will easily transition into a tunic this spring. 

 Besides it being a hit with Elsie, I was most chuffed about the pockets! Totally camo on that big print. I love when details like that work out, even if no one appreciates it but me. And you guys :)

By the way, this week I was featured over at Rae's on her Kniterviews series. Check it out here!