Monday, August 3, 2015

July 2015 in Review

This June, I did not complete a single project, although I made progress on several. That progress was rewarded with a spate of finishes in July. I already blogged about my Trials and Triangulations quilt, Bittersweet Shards quilt and Gemstone Geranium dress. (Also, I finally wrote a blog post about my Swoon Baby Quilt the Second, which was done months ago, but gifted in July.) At the end of the month, I finished up my Arcs Mini quilt, and three super speedy knit garments, which I will blog about in the weeks to come. All in all, I’m elated about everything I’ve finished so far this summer and excited about what I’m currently working on. Stay tuned for more sewing goodness!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gemstone Geranium Dress

Earlier this year, I posted about my Gemstone Staple dress, which I made out of some rayon from Cotton + Steel. At the same time I bought the fabric for that dress, I also bought some yardage in the pink colorway so I could make a "matching" dress for my daughter. After seeing countless cute versions online over the years, I was itching to try the Geranium dress from made by rae.

The pattern itself is very well written and designed, with several options for customization. I chose to use the gathered skirt from View A and the faux cap sleeves from View B, and was very pleased with the end result. The only change I would make next time would be to add in-seam pockets.

While the pattern is awesome, it is labeled as intermediate, and rightly so. For my first try, I probably should have used something other than rayon, but I had a vision and wanted to jump right in. Since I knew I was in over my head, I took it slow on this dress. (That, and for several weeks it was too hot to turn on the iron.) It took me a long time to get up the nerve to cut out the dress. Rayon sure is slippery, but I went slowly and it turned out all right. I used fabric shears, but if I had a big enough cutting mat, I would use a rotary cutter. You could totally tell that the edges of the skirt pieces weren't 100% straight, but it doesn't show in the finished dress. In the end, choosing a challenging fabric worked out, because the end project feels so nice and the skirt flows so well.

I really like how the bodice is lined, since that means you don't have to finish the seams. I also think it makes for a more comfortable dress, which is important when sewing clothes for kids. I didn't really understand the instructions for sewing the bodice sides, but I figured it out by looking at the bodice itself and applying what I already knew about garment sewing. Speaking of what I already knew, I would have liked the seam allowances to be larger on the skirt, so that I could use French seams. Instead, I just used a mock overlock stitch to finish the seams.

The last delay in making this dress stemmed from the buttons. I had sewed buttonholes before, and I had sewed with rayon before, but I was super nervous about sewing buttonholes on rayon. I waited until I was well-rested and had the house to myself before I attempted it, and I had no problems at all. My daughter picked out the buttons themselves, and I think they are really cute.

I am really, really happy with how this dress turned out. My daughter likes it, and I can see myself making more of these for her. I guess I can call myself an Intermediate garment sewer now that I've successfully completed an intermediate project. Whew!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bittersweet Shards Wall Quilt

This May, I had the opportunity to take Krista Hennebury’s Improv Under the Influence class at Drygoods Design. I would have taken the class alone, but was thrilled when I learned that my mom and three other members of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild would be taking the class with me. It was a fantastic day, full of learning and laughter, sun and sewing. I loved the technique Krista taught, which uses chain piecing to make improv accessible to quilters who are more familiar with traditional quilting methods. I do love me some chain piecing! Since Krista had us come with our fabric precut, the project started coming along quickly and I left with a quilt top that was approximately a third complete, which was very satisfying.

If I had so much fun at the class, why is this quilt named “Bittersweet Shards”? Well, the fat quarters used in this top were from when I belonged to the Pink Chalk Fabric solids club. I’m still sad that they are no longer in business. However, I really like Circa 15, a new brick-and-mortar quilt shop in Kirkland, where I bought the backing and binding. Losing a favorite quilting store is bitter, but finding a new one close by is sweet! The “Shards” part is because while I was working on this quilt, I discovered The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson, and it was all Shardplate this and Shardblade that, and I thought the improv pieces looked rather shard-like.

For the quilting, I used blue and purple Aurifil thread to go back and forth in each section, outlining and bisecting each shard. My favorite parts of the quilt are the “chessboard” in the middle and the contrasting strip pieced sections. I really should do some strip pieced improv soon.

If you’re a Modern Quilt Guild member, you can find Krista’s original “Chess on the Steps” quilt as the September 2014 pattern of the month. I highly recommend taking the class if you get the chance. Krista has a very friendly and helpful teaching style, and the technique is pretty great too!