Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Unvalentine Quilt

Way back in February 2015, I had the good fortune to take Lee Heinrich’s Off the Grid class at QuiltCon. It was all about how to design quilts using alternate gridwork. I really enjoyed the class, and even finished a quilt top that day, but it was not my favorite quilt by a long shot. You see, we were told to bring a few already made blocks to class, and I made the mistake of bringing blocks that I didn’t even like.

A couple weeks before QuiltCon, I dug through my orphan blocks bin and pulled out all the extra blocks from my Perseverance Prevails quilt. Since I had already made a whole quilt out of them, I decided to cut them up and sew them back together again so that they looked a little different. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn’t like the end result, but I didn’t have time to make more blocks from scratch, so I just rolled with it. I chose to pair the blocks with a gray solid, because someone at the Seattle MQG meeting had asked if they could make their postcard swap an “unvalentine” and I wanted to play with that idea.

After I returned home from QuiltCon, I kept working on this quilt. I made a scrappy back for it and basted it in March 2015. Initially, I quilted it with straight lines in gray thread, but I really wasn’t feeling it and set the quilt aside. It languished in my WIP pile until I decided in May 2016 to suck it up and finish it. I decided to leave the quilting I had already done as is and continued with pink thread. That was a good decision. Even though I still don’t like this quilt overall, I like the look of the pink thread against the gray solid. I finished the quilting at the end of May at a Seattle MQG sew-in, and bound it in June. My goodness, am I glad to have finished this quilt! It’s my first completed quilt in 2016 and I hope it will inspire me to tackle more of my WIP pile and finish something else soon.

Monday, June 20, 2016

May 2016 in Review

My creative focus last month was dominated by Me-Made-May. In addition to sewing three garments, I also managed to finish a knit cowl and made progress on several WIPs. June is always a busy month at work, but I hope to have more time for my creative pursuits in July.


Gleeful Akita Blouse: After redrafting the pattern a bit, I made my first successful Akita Blouse early on in May. It is now one of my go-to tops and I am so glad I gave the pattern another shot.

Midnight Gust Akita Blouse: Sadly, my next Akita Blouse was a failure, not because of the pattern, but because of the fabric. Lesson learned: rayon will bleed if washed in the washing machine, even on the cold setting.

Lil' Snood Dog Cowl: For Mother's Day, I received a Wool and the Gang Lil' Snood Dog Cowl kit. I immediately fell in love with the oversized needles and super soft yarn. I whipped this up in a week and look forward to wearing it in the fall.

Mini Pearl Bracelet Bettine Dress: Part of my Me-Made-May pledge was to make something new for the Lizzy House Dress Contest. I chose to make the Bettine Dress by Tilly and the Buttons out of Mini Pearl Bracelet Double Gauze fabric. The end result is a super comfy dress. I hope to make more Bettine Dresses and double gauze garments in the future.


Baltic Boneyard Shawl: This April, my family vacationed in Chelan, WA and we visited a yarn store called Twisted, where I bought some Madeline Tosh yarn in Baltic for the free Boneyard Shawl pattern by West Knits. So far, I've found it extremely enjoyable. The yarn is divine and the pattern is easy enough for a beginner, but I feel challenged by the new-to-me "make one" stitches. 

Two pairs of City Gym Shorts: Lately I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by both my WIPs and my scrap pile. My daughter wants to wear shorts daily now, so I thought I'd knock out a couple pairs of City Gym Shorts for her and use up some apparel scraps at the same time. 

Existing WIPs

River Song Honey Cowl: I'm still plugging along at the Honey Cowl that I started in April. It's my travel knitting project, so I only work on it while riding the bus, when my husband is driving, etc. I added the second skein of yarn this month, so that means I’m halfway done. I estimate that I'll finish this in July.

Temperature Blanket: I made good progress on my temperature blanket this month. Even though I started a few months late, I'm already done with January and February's rows and was halfway through March’s rows by the end of May. This is by far my easiest project and I work on it when I'm too tired to work on anything more challenging.

Unvalentine Quilt: It bothers me that although I've finished several sewing, knitting and crocheting projects this year, I haven't yet finished a quilt. I decided to work on my WIP that is closest to completion, my Unvalentine Quilt that I started at QuiltCon in February 2015. I finished the quilting at a Seattle Modern Quilt Guild sew-in. My goal for June is to bind it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Me-Made-May ’16: Summary

Well, I have another Me-Made-May under my belt. Even though this is my third time participating, I was a little apprehensive going into it, due to feelings of insufficiency and guilt. Luckily, Me-Made-May helped me work through those issues, and I ended the month with more clarity and inspiration than I had when I started.

First, let’s talk about the feelings of insufficiency. From June 2015-April 2016, I sewed ten garments for myself, and of those ten, five were failures. In that same timeframe, a couple of my older garments fell victim to laundry mishaps, and I misplaced another. As a result, I only had net two good new garments for this year’s Me-Made-May. It didn’t feel like enough and I was worried about boring the community with repeats from the previous year. However, while participating in Me-Made-May this year, I came to a realization. It’s okay that most of my clothes were repeats from the previous year. Yes, I’ve been wearing the same Wiksten tanks that I made in 2013 and 2014. I like them, and I’m going to keep wearing them until they wear out. The idea of wearing things until they wear out brings us to the next topic: my feelings of guilt around fast fashion.

People sew garments for a variety of reasons. I started doing it because I hated shopping for clothes for my postpartum body. I keep doing it because I enjoy the challenge of improving my sewing skills, feel more confident wearing clothes I made myself, and find deep satisfaction in finishing a project. However, other people sew garments for different reasons, such as combating fast fashion. Since I’ve joined the handmade wardrobe movement, I have read countless blog posts and articles about the evils of fast fashion. As a result, I’ve felt increasingly guilty about not having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I’ve also felt guilty about wanting to sew more and more clothes, because it felt like that desire to sew more was too close to the desire to buy more that fuels fast fashion and the runaway consumerism that the slow fashion movement is trying to fight against. When I had the realization that I like wearing my old garments year over year, I also realized that it was okay to want to sew more, since everything I sewed meant I consume less overall. Sewing my own clothes has made me a more mindful and cautious consumer. When I buy read-to-wear, I only buy what is really needed to look presentable at work and be comfortable during different seasons. Since I spend so much time and effort sewing my clothes, each piece is treasured. When it comes time to discard a handmade garment, I feel a sadness that I never felt with ready-to-wear items. Yes, I want to sew more, but what I sew will eventually wear out, and overall, I consume less.

This year, Me-Made-May inspired me to get past my garment sewing failures and keep sewing things that I enjoy without guilt. Of the three garments I made in May, yes, one was a failure, but it was a failure that I learned from that will help make me a better seamstress going forward. I’m not going to feel guilty that I “wasted” fabric, because the value was in the lesson learned, not the physical object. I am excited to sew clothes again, even though I know that there will still be failures from time to time. I will learn from those failures and be better for it.

Now that the philosophical musings are out of the way, let’s look at the stats. This May, I wore twenty-nine different me-made garments. Of those twenty-nine, the three most worn pieces were my Basic Black Julia Cardigan, Navy Julia Cardigan, and Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic. The three most frequently worn patterns were the Julia Cardigan, the Aberdeen Tunic and the Akita Blouse.

Based on what I learned during Me-Made-May this year, I plan to make more basic pieces in solid colors, especially black. I will also make the occasional unnecessary pattern just for the joy of it, or to learn new skills. For summer, I could use more skirts, and another dress or two. In a perfect world I would make some shorts or capris, but we’ll see about that. For winter, more cardigans are a must, and would get a lot of wear. I’d also like to make more long-sleeved shirts, as last year I relied a lot on store bought button down shirts and sweaters to keep me warm. Overall, I am determined to enjoy the next phase of my garment sewing journey and I won’t let setbacks discourage me. We all need clothes to wear and making my own is a worthwhile endeavor.

Related posts:
Me-Made-May '15
Me-Made-May '14