Friday, September 19, 2014

Bubblegum Glam Clam Quilt


They say that in order to be successful at something, you must want it more than you fear it. That certainly was the case with me and the Bubblegum Glam Clam Quilt. This past April, I felt compelled to make my daughter a new quilt for her bed in her favorite color. (My husband had let my daughter pick out new sheets, and they didn’t match the existing quilts.) The problem was, I didn’t know which pattern to use. One night, I stumbled across the Glam Clam pattern by Latifah Saafir, aka The Quilt Engineer. I was awestruck, and was determined to make one for my daughter. Since I had never sewn a quilt pattern with curves before, I chose to go with the 12” clamshell version. After downloading the PDF pattern from Craftsy (it’s free!), I was pleased to find that the Large Baby size would be a perfect fit for my daughter’s toddler bed.

Fabric Selection

My daughter’s favorite color is pink, but as that is one of my least favorite colors, I didn’t have very many pink fabrics in my stash. To fix that, I ordered a pink fat quarter color stack from Pink Chalk Fabrics, then added a couple fabrics from my stash, along with a handful of solids and two of Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelet fabrics. When I saw the Ripples in Rose fabric by Bari J. Ackerman, I knew it had to be the backing. The binding was the last fabric I chose, and I decided on the Cotton + Steel basic Dottie in Cotton Candy Gold.


Since I don’t have access to one of those fancy die-cutting contraptions, I cut out the clamshells by hand, using the templates. It was time consuming, but I was so excited about this quilt that I powered through it somehow. The cutting would have gone faster had I been using yardage and not mostly fat quarters, but I like how scrappy it ended up.


I kid you not, this is one of the quickest quilt tops I have ever sewn together. Normally, I would have been nervous about sewing so many curves, but I was hopeful after viewing Latifah’s YouTube video a few times. I actually love the no pin technique for curves. In an afternoon, I sewed eight rows together! I didn’t really understand the instructions for the last row, but I wasn't about to let that stop me. By the end of the week, the quilt top was done. Then it sat for a month before I had a chance to baste it.


Once the quilt was basted, I immediately got to work on machine quilting it. I had an overly ambitious plan that I changed on the fly. I stitched in the ditch along one row, and then used that line to guide my ½” echo quilting. Being unused to quilting curves, this plan led me down a path I did not expect. I do all my machine quilting with a walking foot, and the tightest curves proved to be quite a challenge. (Note to self: overcome fear of free motion quilting next.) I did a lot of unpicking. I set it aside for a bit. I picked it up again and stitched one line at a time. After two months of struggling with it, I finally finished the quilting. The binding was on in a flash, and then came the moment of truth.

My daughter loves this quilt! I was pretty sure she would, since throughout the spring and summer she kept asking if I was working on it, but it is still immensely gratifying to see her use it every night, and drag it from room to room during the day. It won’t replace her security blanket, but I dare say that at the moment, it’s her favorite quilt. It’s one of my favorites, too.

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Week, One Pattern 2014: The Belcarra Blouse Edition

Does time move faster at the end of summer? The One Week, One Pattern event sure seemed to fly by. For the general edification of the interwebs, here are my main takeaways from the challenge:

  • It was harder to take daily outfit pictures in September than it was to take pictures in May for Me-Made-May. I think this is a combination of lifestyle changes and fewer hours of daylight. A couple days, I had to resort to taking selfies in the mirror. (Oh, the horror!)
  • I’d like to acquire a wider variety of pants and skirts. Since I’m still an amateur seamstress, I keep sewing shirts and dresses, and have not yet sewn any skirts or pants. One of these days, I’ll have to change that.
  • The Belcarra Blouse is still my favorite pattern to date. Throughout the week, I found it was very versatile, working well with whatever it was paired with. I like some of my Belcarras more than others, but I am by no means tired of the pattern itself. I don’t have another planned yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time before inspiration strikes again.

For those who are interested, here is a summary of what I wore each day:

Saturday, September 6: Button-Up Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear jeans
Sunday, September 7: Simple Style Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear blue skirt and belt
Monday, September 8: Triangle Tokens Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear blazer and jeans
Tuesday, September 9: Celebration Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear cardigan and black pants
Wednesday, September 10: Button-Up Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear pencil skirt and belt
Thursday, September 11: Simple Style Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear cardigan, scarf and jeans
Friday, September 12: Marbles Belcarra Blouse with ready-to-wear jeans

Thanks to Handmade Jane for hosting this event!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Have You Heard About the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge?

I don’t know about you, but I was super excited to hear about Miss Crayola Creepy’s Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. Since I’ve already made two garments this year out of fabrics with cats, this is right up my alley. The deadline is the end of October, which should be plenty of time to source new cat themed fabric. At the very least, I’ll be following the #catladysewingchallenge on Instagram.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Button-Up Belcarra Blouse

In case you haven’t noticed, lately I have been bitten pretty hard by the garment sewing bug. (Clothes are just so much quicker to sew, although I am still working on my quilts.) I am especially smitten with the Belcarra Blouse from Sewaholic, so it was a no-brainer to choose that pattern for the One Week One Pattern challenge. I wanted to make one more version before the event started, so that I would have a different shirt for each day of the work week. However, I felt like I had been spending quite a bit of money on fabric lately and didn't really want to buy more yardage for another Belcarra Blouse. Luckily, my husband had recently donated a few of his old dress shirts to the sewing cause, so I decided to make a Belcarra Blouse out of a men’s dress shirt.

The process I used was fairly simple. I cut apart the original shirt along the seams and moved around the pattern pieces until they were as I liked. For the front, I made sure to cut it out so that the pocket was still usable. The buttons are no longer operational, however, as I sewed the front shut for simplicity’s sake.

Also for simplicity’s sake, this time I omitted the sleeve cuffs, and I rather like the end result. Sewing the cuffs is my least favorite part of making up this pattern, anyways.

There’s not much more to say about this shirt. I had fun creating it, and although the fabric is a little on the stiff side, I enjoy wearing it. It's a fun reminder of my husband while we're away from each other at our respective jobs. As the weather cools, I’ll probably take a break from the Belcarra Blouse and start sewing long-sleeved shirts, but don’t hold me to it. I really do love this pattern.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dotted Boulevard Myrtle Dress

Gentle readers, I present to you my first ever knit garment! While I am quite pleased with the end result, I was very glad that I had made the woven version of the Myrtle Dress first. Even after reading The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, working with a knit fabric was still quite challenging. However, I persevered and ended up with a garment that I enjoy wearing.

The fabric I used is Dotted Boulevard by Sara Lawson, a 95% Cotton and 5% Spandex knit made by Art Gallery Fabrics. I bought it sight unseen from Hawthorne Fabrics. It was thicker than I expected, but pleasant enough to work with. Since the edges of the fabric rolled, I had a hard time figuring out if the selvage edges were lined up when I was cutting out the pattern pieces. As a result, the pattern pieces might be a little bit crooked, but you can’t really tell when I’m wearing the dress.

The main change I made from the pattern as written was that I lined the back of the bodice as well as the front. I gleaned the idea from Crafting a Rainbow and Love-Teach-Sew and was thrilled that it meant I avoided hemming the armholes and neckhole. After that, I followed the sewalong as it happened. Even though I used a ballpoint needle, there were a couple instances when I messed up the stitching. I found seam ripping on knit fabric nigh impossible and so just sewed around those mistakes. Not ideal, but it worked. Speaking of seams, I started out using a lightning stitch, but found those seams to be a little bumpy and uneven. I switched to the zigzag stitch indicated in the pattern and liked that much better.

The elastic waist was easy enough and is quite comfortable. I prefer how the dress looks with a belt, though, which is why you see me wearing one in all of these pictures. The pockets were also easy, and I can’t imagine sewing this dress without them.

The biggest challenge I faced with this dress was sewing the hem. Even though my sewing machine came with a universal twin needle, I had never used it before. My local Joann’s didn’t have a ballpoint twin needle, and I was really worried about messing up the hem. I anxiously awaited the last set of instructions from the sewalong, hoping for some inspired insights about hemming, and was disappointed when the instructions were “sew the hem.” Luckily, there was a previous Coletterie blog post on the subject, so I learned to use Wonder Tape, which I happened to have on hand. The actual sewing of the hem went smoothly, but after the fact, I realized that I had sewn it in the wrong place. I sewed it 5/8” from the folded edge, but I should have sewed it 1” from the folded edge, in order to catch and secure the raw edge. In my haste to finish before vacation, I glossed over that part of the blog post. Oh, well. Making mistakes is the best way to learn, right?

Even with my mistakes, I really like this dress. It is super comfortable to wear, and I received quite a few compliments at the office. At some point, I want to make it again, possibly with a high-low hem or as a maxi dress.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day: August 2014

Well, August was an excellent month for garment sewing! I completed a woven Myrtle Dress, a voile Belcarra Blouse, kid-sized City Gym Shorts and a knit Myrtle Dress, which I still need to blog about. It’s very gratifying to have so many finished objects in one month, even though sewing garments leaves less time for working on my quilts.

On the quilting front, I managed to make the last two blocks for my patriotic x and + quilt and piece together the top. I’m not going to machine quilt it until after I’ve completed the quilting on my glam clam quilt, which has been challenging to say the least. I’ve made progress by unpicking all the parts that I was unhappy with. Looking forward to even more sewing in September!

Fresh Sewing Day