Monday, April 27, 2015

Log Cabins Askew: A Paint Chip Challenge Mini Quilt

Being a member of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild has many benefits. One of my favorites is that there is always something new going on. In addition to the monthly meetings and sew-ins, new opportunities to participate constantly present themselves: swaps, challenges, retreats, epic meet-ups, and so on and so on. This quilt is the result of the Paint Chip Challenge. Participants were given a paint chip to match, and told to make an 18” square quilt. These mini quilts will be shown together as a larger metaquilt at Drygoods Design in Pioneer Square this June.

This challenge was a lot harder than I anticipated. Even though I have a healthy stash, not a single piece of fabric I owned matched the paint chip I was given. I had planned on shopping for fabric while at QuiltCon, but forgot my paint chip at home. Trying to match it by memory proved disastrous. In the end, I used my Kona color card and ordered half a yard each of Bluebell, Cloud and Dresden Blue from Fat Quarter Shop. You can’t go wrong with solids.

By the time my fabric arrived, there was approximately a month left to complete the challenge. I scrapped my original inspiration in the interest of time, and decided to go with wonky log cabins. I have an affinity for log cabin blocks, since I used the pattern for my first ever quilt, but I wanted to do something decidedly modern with these, hence the wonkiness. After I trimmed the blocks, I discovered a surprising amount of movement in them and decided to echo that movement in the quilting. Most of the quilting was done in one sitting, during an uncharacteristic bout of insomnia. It was just what I needed to sooth my restless mind and get back to sleep.

The color palette and time constraint of this challenge definitely pushed me, but I’m glad I did it. I’ve enjoyed following along with others in the guild on Instagram (#seamqgpaintchipchallenge) and can’t wait to see everyone’s quilts displayed together.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Me-Made-May ‘15

Last year, I had a blast participating in Me-Made-May, so of course I’m going to join in again this year. I reread my posts from 2014, and it was a lot of fun seeing how much my garment sewing game has improved over the course of a year. Last year, my handmade wardrobe consisted of ten items: seven shirts and three dresses sewn from only four different patterns. This year, even after my decluttering exercise and putting away fall/winter pieces, I have fifteen items for my spring/summer me-made wardrobe: nine shirts, two dresses, three cardigans and one pair of leggings, made from seven unique patterns. I hope to have a few more garments under my belt by the time the sun sets on May 31, but we’ll see. Me-Made-May is about wearing your handmade garments, not about panic sewing more. Here’s my pledge for this year:

‘I, Rachel of Snippets of Sweetness, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2015 and to make one garment out of rayon.’

Like last year, I will post weekly updates on my blog, but will be posting more frequently on Instagram (@snippetsofsweetness).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Basic Black Staples: Julia Cardigan, Aberdeen Tunic and Manila Leggings

One thing I learned from the Wardrobe Architect exercises is that in the past, I’ve sewn a lot of interesting things that I didn’t end up wearing in my everyday life. As a quilter, I was drawn to sewing clothes with quilting cottons in fun patterns, but I needed plain, solid pieces to wear with them. With that in mind, I bought five and a half yards of Robert Kaufman Laguna Jersey in Onyx and made three different projects.

Julia Cardigan

This is the fourth Julia Cardigan that I’ve made, but the first one with three-quarter length sleeves. The long ones were great for winter, but I’m a spring girl at heart, and I love my three-quarter length sleeves. While I still enjoy wearing this pattern, I’m getting a little tired of sewing it. I want to make a short-sleeved version, and then I’ll probably put it away for a while, and try something new. This cardigan definitely filled a hole in my wardrobe and I love it.

Aberdeen Tunic

I am infatuated with the Aberdeen Tunic right now. It is so quick and easy, and I feel like a rock star when I sew the v-neck. For this, my second Aberdeen, I graded out a size in the hips and it is just right. Part of me just wants to sew five more of these and wear a different one each day of the week.

Manila Leggings

The other day, my ready-to-wear leggings bit the dust, and thanks to my subscription to Seamwork, I happened to have just the right pattern on hand to sew up a replacement: the Manila leggings. I chose the size based on my measurements, and was pleasantly surprised that they fit pretty well with no adjustments. I left off the “petals” because I usually wear tall boots over my leggings. The next time I make this pattern, I might make the waistband a little snugger and the leg openings a little less snug. It was super satisfying to sew my own leggings. Even though I don’t consider wearing leggings to be equivalent to wearing pants, I’m going to count these as sewing pants for the first time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wardrobe Architect Progress So Far: January through April

One of my sewing goals this year was to participate in the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge, in order to build a me-made wardrobe that meets my needs each season. Each month so far has brought a different exercise. Here’s how I approached each one:

January: Find your core style and explore shapes

This assignment was the hardest for me, as the styles and shapes I’m drawn to are not always the kind I have the skills to sew, or the confidence to wear. In the end, for my spring/summer wardrobe, I went with a bunch of patterns I’ve already sewn in the past and like to wear, as well as a few new ones to build my skills. You can see my inspiration on my Pinterest board.

February: Clean out your closet and take inventory

I had extra inspiration for this assignment, due to my discovery of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In a nutshell, she encourages readers to get rid of their clutter all at once, and to only keep those things that bring joy. One Sunday afternoon, I piled all my clothes on our bed and decided one at a time which I was going to keep. I discarded four garbage bags of clothes. A lot of my issues with clothes stem from the fact that I don’t look the same after having a kid. I got rid of all the clothes that didn’t fit me anymore and it was really cathartic. I realized that I was holding onto clothes from different points in my life because I didn’t want to let go of the person I was when I wore them. Getting rid of those clothes served as a way to accept the person I am now. During this process, I also discarded me-made clothes that I didn’t like or didn’t wear, but felt guilty about getting rid of. One thing I learned from this book was that it’s okay to get rid of something that has already served its purpose, even if that purpose was just to teach you what doesn’t work for you. When I finished this process, it was amazing how much more space I had in my closet and drawers and how obvious the holes in my wardrobe were. Now I have the space and direction I need for my spring and summer garment sewing projects.

March: Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing

For a while, I was stalled on this one. I’m a big planner and list maker, and at first, the plan that I made was overly ambitious. It started to stress me out just thinking about it. Then I sat back and thought about how I like to sew. Sure, I like to make plans and lists, but I also enjoy dropping everything to sew something that inspires me and is creatively fulfilling. I reworked the list and decided that each month’s sewing plan would be structured by color. I have a list of things I want to make in each month’s color, but if I change my mind or don’t get to everything, that’s okay.

April: Plan colors and shop for spring fabric

Planning colors was easy. Black and gray have long been my preferred neutrals, and blue has been my favorite color as long as I can remember. In addition to my old favorites, mint is my preferred “trendy” color right now, and I have the candy hued Converse to prove it. Based on my sewing plan, April will be for sewing black projects, May will be blue, June will be gray and July will be mint. I’m trying to decrease my stash of garment sewing fabrics, so I haven’t done much shopping yet. There’s still plenty of time for that after I sew up the black and blue fabric that I already have on hand.

After working through these four assignments, I came to the realization that I’m not yet ready to have a 100% me-made wardrobe. I started sewing clothes to feel better about myself and the way I looked, but somewhere along the line, I started making myself feel guilty for not making everything I wear. At this point in my life, I just can’t sew things fast enough to completely meet my needs each season. Last year, I only bought ready-to-wear clothes three times: two pairs of jeans in January, hot weather clothes for a vacation in June, and a sweater when the weather turned cold in the fall. I felt bad each time I did, because I was holding myself to an unrealistic standard. This month, I bought jeans to replace the ones I bought last year that wore out, trousers for work, and a couple light sweaters and I feel much better about it, because they are clothes that fill holes in my wardrobe and not impulse purchases. I’ll continue to make my own clothes, but I won’t guilt-trip myself about buying ready-to-wear when I need to. The Wardrobe Architect exercises have really helped me understand what I want out of sewing my own clothes: I want to sew things that I enjoy wearing and enjoy sewing. Guilt gets in the way of enjoying the process.

Now comes the fun part. For May and June, the Wardrobe Architect assignments are to sew what I’ve planned. I have already started sewing my plan this month, and will show you what I’ve finished soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Work in Progress Update: Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month Medallion Quilt

Last month, I introduced you to my version of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month Medallion Quilt. Since then, I have successfully added the March border and the April border. As previously mentioned, the March border gave me some trouble, between my uncertainty about the wonkiness of the triangles, and my inexperience with inset seams. I worked on it little by little until it was done, but don’t look at the back! The corner seams are lumpy and the seams are less than 1/4 inch in a few spots, so that the points of the triangles were not chopped off. Still, I like the overall effect and am glad that I persisted. I was relieved when the April border was revealed, because I really wanted something simple this month. For some reason, my quilt was smaller than it was supposed to be, so I used 2.25 inch strips instead of 2 inch strips. I can’t wait to try my hand at next month’s border!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fresh Sewing Day: March 2015

If you measure productivity by the number of finishes blogged in a month, it might seem that March was not a very productive month for me. On the contrary, in addition to finishing my Geese Over Fields mini quilt, a Sashiko Placemat and a Polka Dot Aberdeen Tunic, I finished a new baby quilt that I won’t blog about until it’s gifted. Also, I made progress on my Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month Medallion quilt, and worked on three new garments that will be easy to finish in April. Speaking of garment sewing, expect to see a plethora of handmade clothing on this blog in April and May. I’m planning on participating in Me-Made-May again, so my interest in participating in the Wardrobe Architect 2015 challenge has picked up considerably. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts.