Monday, August 29, 2016

July 2016 in Review

This summer has been full of sunny days and outside activities, which doesn’t leave much time for crafting. Even so, I managed to finish a few things and make progress on several more.

Finished

Seneca Skirt: At the beginning of the month, I whipped up a Seamwork Seneca Skirt. It was a super quick, fun sew. Seneca has served me well this summer, as I tend to wear skirts and dresses when the heat rises.

Hayden Shirt: I also made a Seamwork Hayden Shirt out of Essex Linen. It wasn’t nearly as quick as the Seneca Skirt, but it was worth the extra time, as I wear it constantly.

River Song Honey Cowl: My River Song Honey Cowl is my third knit finished object. I liked it when I started it in April, but quickly lost interest. I used bamboo needles because I read they were good for newbies. However, the bamboo needles combined with this lovely single-ply yarn made the knitting super slow. The finished product is full of mistakes. Since I didn't swatch, it's an odd length and not very wearable. However, I do like the look of the pattern. I may try the one skein version at some point, but will make sure to do a swatch.

Cuzco Crosscut Mini Quilt: I wanted to participate in my mom’s Crosscut Quilt Along, but didn't have time to make new blocks from scratch, so I used blocks I had on hand. I started sewing with this Cuzco fabric back in 2013, so it was high time I finished something with them. (Keep reading to hear what I did with the rest of the blocks.) I really enjoyed participating in the quilt along and will use the sew-it-together-and-cut-it-up-differently technique again.

Started

Motion in the Ocean Skye Cowl: After working on the Honey Cowl for three months, I wanted to knit something I could finish quickly. Using Motion in the Ocean bulky yarn from Spun Right Round, I cast on the Skye cowl. The yarn is super soft and reminds me of a Monet painting. In July, I knit my way through the first skein and joined the second skein. I had barely started and was already halfway done!

Existing WIPs

Baltic Boneyard Shawl: My Boneyard Shawl is my current favorite WIP. In July, I finished the first skein and added the second skein. The pattern is simple enough for a beginner to tackle, but has enough complexity to hold my interest.

Chaos Quilt: Earlier this year, I took a workshop from Libs Elliott. It was a lovely day, and I finally finished the top of my Chaos Quilt in July. I look forward to quilting it and hanging it on my wall.

Cuzco Days Baby Quilt: After finishing my Cuzco Crosscut Mini Quilt, I had enough blocks left over to make a baby quilt. Since this WIP has been languishing for several years, I knew I was never going to make it into a lap quilt. I capitalized on the momentum I had built up with the mini quilt and threw the remaining blocks together into a finished top. With this top, the Chaos Quilt, the SEAMQG BOM Quilt and the Glam Clam Quilt, I now have four tops that need quilting! I’m going to try to finish one or two before I start any new quilts.

Scrap Vortex: I love all the Scrap Vortex quilts that I've seen on Instagram and the blogosphere, but I have to force myself to work on mine. The process takes up a lot of space, and it's hard to tell how much I have left to do, which is disheartening. Thankfully, I had a sewing day at my mom's house and using her design wall helped so much! I managed to sew together three columns/rows and plan to make two more. It's so nice knowing that I'm over halfway done with the piecing.

Temperature Blanket: My Temperature Blanket didn't get much love in July. It's the perfect project for a rainy day, and we had precious few of those lately. I managed to finish a few rows, but ended the month about seven weeks behind.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Mini Pearl Bracelet Bettine Dress


I am a big fan of Lizzy House’s fabric designs, so when she announced a dress contest using her fabrics, of course I had to participate. (My Chasing Butterflies Myrtle Dress was ineligible because I made it before the contest was announced.) Even though you could use any Lizzy House fabric, I wanted to try one of her new woven substrates. After much deliberation, I decided on Mini Pearl Bracelet Double Gauze in Periwinkle, as I knew it was a motif, substrate and color that I would enjoy wearing. The dress pattern was harder to decide on. It had to be simple enough to make in time without stress, cute enough to be a contender for the contest, and comfortable enough that I would actually wear it after the contest. I settled on the Bettine dress by Tilly and the Buttons, and was not disappointed.


This double gauze was a dream to work with. I took my time and slowed down to enjoy the process. I used French seams whenever I could. I did stall at the facings for a little bit, as I really don’t like interfacing. I did, however, like that the facings are stitched down nice and secure and out of the way. The pocket bag technique was new to me, but quite easy to follow along. Hooray for pockets!


My dress turned out a little more “blousy” up top because my bust measurement is between sizes, and I went with the larger size. I also graded up another size at the waist to make it match up with the skirt. Speaking of the skirt, based on the examples I saw online, I added 3” to the length. I am glad I did, as it would have been too short for my taste otherwise. Even with grading out to a larger size in the skirt, the hem feels a little constrictive occasionally. Okay, it’s only constrictive when I’m running after my five year old. It’s good for all my grown-up activities.


Next time I make the Bettine dress, I’d like to go down a size on top, and make it out of knit fabric, which should be fun. All in all, I am super happy with how this dress turned out and look forward to wearing it all summer long.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adjusted Akita Blouses


I was pretty disappointed when my first two Akita Blouses ripped in the same spot in a matter of weeks. Even though I like to keep things positive, I also value honesty, so I mentioned my frustrations with the finishing technique in my blog post and on Instagram. The folks at Seamwork reached out to me and said they would give my feedback to the pattern designer, which I appreciated. A few weeks later, they direct messaged me on Instagram and suggested finishing the sleeve with bias tape. In fact, they recently updated their pattern to completely avoid the “snip the seam” step that so bothered me. While I haven't tried their new solution yet myself, their openness to feedback and willingness to improve inspired me to take another shot at the pattern. 


Using my Staple dress pattern as a guide, I redrafted the side seam. Whenever possible, I like to use French seams on wovens, so that's what I did. Then, I used bias tape to finish the sleeves. It's not perfect, but I am super happy with it. In fact, I was so pleased with my newly tweaked pattern that I made it twice!


For the first adjusted Akita, I used some Gleeful voile, underlined with white lawn. I bought the fabric ages ago from Intrepid Thread when I was vacationing in California. The blue really speaks to me. I have washed this shirt several times without incident and have worn it weekly. I’ve received several compliments on it a work, which is always nice.


As soon as I finished my Gleeful Akita Blouse, I started another. This time, I chose Cotton + Steel's Mightnight Gust rayon, which I purchased from Island Quilter's pop-up shop at the last Pacific Northwest Modern Quilt Guild Meet-Up. Now, I learned an important lesson about this fabric that I want to share with you: follow the care instructions! When Cotton + Steel released their first rayon fabrics, I read blog post after blog post stating that the care instructions were dry clean only, but various bloggers washed the fabric in the washer and dryer and it was fine. As a result, I washed my Gemstone Staple Dress normally. Over time, I noticed that the white diamonds weren't so white any more. I decided that for my Midnight Gust Akita, I would wash the fabric normally once, and then hang it to dry going forward. (I'm not the only one who does laundry in our house, so I wanted to pre-shrink the fabric in case it ever ended up in the dryer by mistake.) After I washed and dried my yardage, I noticed a few light spots on one end. I was puzzled, since Cotton + Steel's fabric is generally high quality, but I figured these things happen. Since I had about half a yard extra, I just cut out the pattern piece from the unblemished section. I stitched it up without any issues, and finished it just in time to wear it on my birthday. It was my new favorite shirt. Then I washed it and hung it up to dry. Can you guess what I discovered when I went to iron it? The spots were back! My previously pristine shirt now sported several splotches. They weren't imperfections in the fabric, they were the result of washing it in the washing machine. Needless to say, I was crushed. I had ruined my new favorite shirt by disregarding the fabric care instructions. Never again!


It's a shame that I more or less ruined this shirt, as it has an additional detail that I really like. I didn't want to fiddle with rayon bias strips for finishing the sleeves and neck, so I used a coordinating Cotton + Steel quilting cotton. Nobody sees it except me, but it makes me smile. I'll probably still wear this shirt under cardigans that covers the spots, or around the house. I like it too much to throw it away.

So far I have made four Akita blouses, and only one turned out well. Despite bad luck with this pattern, I still really like it and plan to make it again. I'll just pay closer attention to the fabric care instructions next time.