Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tutorial Thursday: Fabric Weaving

I promised this a week ago, but here it is: so, so easy, and such a cool manipulation! I came up with the idea myself, but putting it all together was strongly influenced by a technique Ajaire Parello shared on her blog, Call Ajaire, for a Project Run and Play entry. Amazing technique, Ajaire! I'm trying yours next! 

This weaving is probably easier if you have a type of loom set up, but I don't - so I went high tech and used invisible tape to hold the ends in place! ;) I always have plenty of that on hand for all the patterns I tape together!

All you need is a fat quarter (or more or less, depending on how big your project is), some tape, your sewing machine and matching (or contrasting!) thread, and some type of stabilizer. Ajaire, in her technique, used a water soluble stabilizer. I didn't have any on hand, but I did have embroidery backing! It worked great, and no soaking is needed. It's very thin, so it doesn't affect the overall thickness of your finished piece much, but if you're concerned about that or you don't want anything left on the back, go get yourself some water soluble stuff! :) 

First I cut the whole piece of fabric into half inch strips. I cut them all in half, so I'd have smaller, easier pieces to work with - but again, your strips really depend on what you're using your weaving for.

I used a very scientific method to determine how many strips for "warp" and "weft" - called "splitting the pile of strips in half, roughly". Using the strips from one pile, I laid them all down on my ironing board (I really recommend using a table or desk - more space to work on!) one after another, just touching but not overlapping. Then I took a looong piece of tape, and taped down the ends of the strips.

Then all you do is channel your inner elementary school student - remember weaving paper placemats?? Fold back half the strips, starting with the second one down and skipping every other strip. Make sure they're neatly pulled back.

Then I took a strip from the other pile and laid it down vertically, and folded the strips back over it. Don't let your fabric shift around or you'll end up with wonky weaving (unless that's what you want. I won't judge.)

All you do now is pull back the opposite strips - start at the top and skip every other again, meaning the ones you just put back in place. Put down another vertical strip, and fold them back over. 

Lather, rinse, repeat. This technique is very repetitive, and can get old after a while if you're doing a large piece - but it's a great way to pass some time if you want a quiet activity to do! (Or enlist your kids to do it for you ;) )

Once you have the piece the size you want (or run out of strips - mine just happened to come out just right) you need to apply something to the back to hold them in place for stitching. I should mention, you could do this all upside down - you might get a slightly different look, but it won't matter. Or you can use a piece of thin cardboard and flip the whole thing over, like I did. Then iron on your stabilizer or embroidery backing.

I don't know why I don't have pictures of these steps - I'm a terrible tutorial maker.

You can stitch all over your weaving with any design, or follow the rows to make a grid. I like how the grid makes the edges of the weaving pop in between the rows, just a little. It's a neat texture effect!

I cut the basket for the baby carriage on my mini quilt out of my weaving. Use it for applique, quilts, or do a huge one and make a skirt out of it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Windham Fabrics: Mini Quilt Challenge

Nearly three weeks ago I had the opportunity (thanks for posting, Stephanie!) to enter a mini quilt challenge from Windham Fabrics. The first 18 to comment were sent a bundle of fabric from one of Windham's collections, and instructed to make a mini (18x18) quilt using as many of those fabrics as possible.

I was the seventh commenter, as it turned out. I hadn't expected it - I looked at the post, said "No, I don't have time..." and closed it. And then I thought again - the quilts are being displayed at Quilt Market in Pittsburgh! That's probably the closest I'll ever get to a quilt market...and this could be a lot of fun. A big challenge for me, for sure. I'm not a quilter, much as I'd love to be - quilters need far more patience than I have, and baby quilts for friends and family is about as quilty as I get. (Besides ever-so-slowly working on my 2014 Personal Challenge Project.)

So I went back, frantically opening the webpage again - only a few comments! Yay! I went for it. And then I found out that the comments page was being a little glitchy, so no one was exactly sure just how many comments there actually were. Oh well. Wait and see...

I missed the FedEx guy twice, but third time's the charm! I opened up the envelope excitedly, and...


Oh dear. I hadn't planned for flannel at all.

I was sent select prints from the Precious collection by Another Point of View. The prints are adorable, with little baby carriages, safety pins, and birds floating around on backgrounds of white, pink, and blue. Though they sound like typical themes for baby fabrics, these fabrics are unique in my opinion. The shapes, placements, and colors are not what I was expecting to see.

But I'd been thinking of - well, I don't know what. I'd been poring over my collections of quilt patterns and blocks on Pinterest, trying to get some to stick in my head, so that when I received my funky printed fabrics I'd be able to pull out something incredible...(I can dream, right? ;) )

Baby flannel. It threw me for a loop. I don't know why, since it should be right up my alley - but all the baby quilts I've done to this point have been either embroidered, or plain squares/strips. That wasn't going to be good enough for this challenge!

 My mother actually came up with my idea for me! She's ridiculously creative, so it didn't surprise me at all that it took her about 30 seconds to come up with something amazing for me to work with. (If you want to see some of the stuff she does - go here. She works at a family run bakery, decorating cakes - some of hers are posted on the Facebook page!)

I took her idea, ran with it, and came up with a sketch...

and then the finished product!

I'm very happy with how it turned out, and there are quite a few "firsts" for me here. First mini quilt, and first challenge like this (I hope it won't be the last - this might have intimidated me, but I think I conquered it!) First "art quilt", first appliques. First time quilting curved lines (!!). First time binding with flannel.

That last "first" may be a "last", too. The only part I'm NOT thrilled with is the binding. I had planned for wider binding, but with the limited amount of fabrics, I had to get creative. I used two of the pieces for the binding and still had to cut my width in half - and had JUST enough to go around. I think there are about 6 inches left of the binding! Needless to say, with the flannel top, batting, backing fabric, and then essentially four layers of flannel in that narrow strip of binding, the corners are less than perfect. You win some, you lose some. A good pressing helped!

Also, it was my first time using piping, and first time manipulating fabrics to make new ones.
(I remember I never did post that mini tutorial last week for that fabric weaving on the basket, either. TOMORROW. I promise. I'm writing that post right after this one! ;) )

The creator of the "favorite" mini at Quilt Market will win a 1/2 yard bundle from Windham Fabrics - I would love to win, but I won't hold my breath. It's enough to know that something I did is going to be somewhere that big - and with my name on it! That's the biggest "first" of all for me.

And thank you, Mom - I don't know (really, I don't) what I would have done without you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Work in Progress Wednesday: Sneak Peeks!

Since it's "wordless" I can get away with not telling you what these are for. ;)

It's a dress. I'll give you that much. ;) You have to wait 2 more weeks!!

And this...I'm not even saying yet. But if you want a mini tutorial on that cool fabric weaving, come back tomorrow!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Circle Time!

Finally - it's Mystery Challenge time in the Sewing/Craft/Creative Blogger Facebook group! (If you fit in any of those blogging categories, go join! Great group, full of opportunities and great people, and run by the tireless, super organized, super sweet Stephanie at SwoodsonSays!)

We've been brainstorming, trading themes, and working for a month, and now it's time to share!

The challenge: make something, anything - a piece of clothing, a craft, whatever you like - based on the theme you're given.

My theme (given to me by Amy at Friends Stitched Together): Circles! They're everywhere, they're infinite, and they appear a lot in my hobbies - think of all the "circles" you see while sewing/crafting! Spools of thread or ribbon, buttons and snaps, dials on your sewing machine/serger, paint bottles, bobbins...

I decided to make a piece of clothing, since that's my crafting focus. Plus, I just love to sew for my girls, even if they're not fully appreciative. ;) In this case, I left the finished top on the floor for Natalie to find, so it was "her idea". Sure enough, she brought it to me - "Oh, pwetty CUTE Mom! Put it on!"

So I did. She's right. It's pwetty CUTE.

I came up with this beach coverup/swingy top mostly by accident. I'd considered a simple circle skirt; a dress with circle pockets; even dreamed of making a circle skirt constructed entirely of smaller circles! 
Mostly I procrastinated.

Finally I Googled "circles" (yeah, I know, broad enough search term?) and found these pictures (below) in the images. Color wheel! Of course! A circle made of circles.

I cut out a simple a-line tunic from some cozy white sweatshirt fleece I had sitting on a shelf. Natalie loves anything knit, since all she likes to wear are pajamas. Then I cut up a rainbow of colors to applique on the front, to make the color wheel. Going through my collection of fat quarters to get a large enough selection was fun!

After trying and failing to finish the edges of the straps a couple of different ways (bias tape was too stiff to go around the small curves properly, fold over elastic wouldn't behave itself), I said "Forget it" - and cut them off. Suddenly my tunic was a top! I added bias tape straps, knotting them over the shoulders for a playful summery look. Now what to do about the hem?...

I don't remember what gave me the idea, but I ended up cutting strips of the sweatshirt fleece from the scraps left, and braiding them together. I had to hand stitch the braid on, since I'm pretty sure my sewing machine would have no idea what to make of it! Finally, some 1/8" elastic stitched around the neckline, and a bit across the back to pull the whole thing in - it was a bit too wide for skinny Natalie, but pulling in the back made it the perfect size. It also has the added benefit of giving the skirt a faux-circle-skirt appearance!

It's far from what I imagined at first, but Natalie looks adorable in it, and since it's so hard to get her to wear anything I make, the best part is that she loves it!

Go check out the other Mystery Challenge bloggers as well!

Amy @ Friends Stitched Together

Stephanie @ Swoodson Says & Fenna @ FABulous Home Sewn

Tasha @ Friends Stitched Together & Irene @ Sugaridoo

Shawnta @ Shawnta Sews & Jessica @ Make Me Crafty

Carmen @ Mar Abierto

Kelly @ Kelly J Designs

Becca @ Becca Duval Photography & Lisa @ Stubbornly Crafty

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pattern Review: The Love Me Knot Shorts by GYCT

How cute are these shorts?!

Chelsea from GYCT Designs/Get Your Crap Together has just released probably the cutest shorts pattern ever - the Love Me Knots! They can be purchased on etsy or craftsy.

Even for a slowpoke like me, these shorts are still a quick sew. From printing and taping the pattern together, to the final stitches on the keyhole bias tape, I think they took me an hour. Hour and a half, tops. And like I said, I'm a slow sewer. Sewist. (Why doesn't someone come up with a better word? Quick!)


Natalie's giving me the "scary eyes" here - "I'll show you for making me model again, Mom." Don't let that fool you. She loves these shorts almost as much as I do! Which is good, because she's the one wearing them. That's not to say I wouldn't, if they'd fit me. (ha!)

This is the first shorts pattern Chelsea has released, and what a success! Being part of the testing process was great fun, as always. I can count on - um - one finger, actually, the number of times I've made shorts or pants, even though I have an embarrassing number of patterns for them. Bad news for all those patterns now, because I'm pretty sure Natalie just needs about 20 pairs of these.

(okay, maybe not 20)

Miss Sassy Pants Shorts here was surprisingly agreeable to putting on her purely coincidental carefully thought out outfit (that tee just happened to match the bias tape. Good thing it still fits, barely ;) ) She didn't say anything when I showed her the shorts, but she did raise her eyebrows and shuck off the pants she was wearing pretty quickly! I took that as a good sign.

These have a flat front and an elasticized back, easily customizable for the perfect fit! Natalie's elastic could be taken in just a wee bit more, but this was the first sew. Even so, they fit wonderfully! The waist is just snug enough that I don't feel like they'll fall down when she's running (which is basically all the time), and the hips are just loose enough to allow for freedom of movement. Plus, the leg openings can be gathered as much or as little as you like, to customize the "bubbliness" of your little girl's shorts!

I love, LOVE that keyhole detail.

Bias tape on the hems and around the keyhole openings makes for a quick and easy finish - plus it's so easy to make your own, to match or coordinate with your shorts fabric perfectly. 

And how about those pockets? A little piece of 1/8" elastic stitched inside gathers the top, adding another sweet, girly detail. And what little kid doesn't love pockets?

I have nothing against a full elastic waistband, especially on kids' clothing, but the flat front of these shorts has such a classy look! Taking things a step up over at GYCT Designs - go grab your pattern now! (psst...if you go purchase on etsy, use code LOVEME for 30% off! Good until Saturday!)

**This post has been linked up to Make It and Love It's Saturday linky party, as well as We Did It! Wednesday @ SewMuchAdo

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Two birthdays, two dresses

My girls were born two years and one week apart, which is fun. For now. I imagine at some point they'll get sick of sharing birthday parties and demand their own lives, because sheesh, come on Mom, we're not the same person. Separate celebrations, please.

But for now, we make it easy with one party. They do, however, get their own presents - although I think Natalie imagines that they're all for her, and Sam can just share when Natalie's feeling magnanimous.

This year I was determined that they should have "birthday dresses", though neither one of them got to wear them on their actual birthdays - in both cases, I was a day too late in finishing. (Again, not sure they care. Sam, because - well, she's a baby - and Natalie, because she never wants to wear anything I make her. Come to think of it, she doesn't really want to wear much, period. She might be three.)

So happy birthday to my girls! I just can't believe I have two toddlers.  Sort of. I still think of Sam as being a "baby", though she really isn't. She's standing on her own more and more, and taking a few tentative steps when she thinks of it. Gotta keep up with Natalie, who's faster than a speeding mom or dad. I like to think their dresses say something about them.

Sam's dress is from a free pattern, the Bella dress (available in size 4T, but for a limited time it was available in extended sizes, and I managed to snap it up!) from Handicraftiness blog. I got my hands on just a half yard of Wee Wander - Wander Woods - in Petal (Sarah Jane Studios for Michael Miller), and found some Timeless Treasures Sketch in Pink to coordinate. Both fabrics are light, sweet, and just have Sam's name all over them. She's such a sweet, calm little girl (I'm really not sure where she got that.) This dress makes her look even more like the sweet princess she is, with the dainty flutter sleeves, gathered skirt, and ruffle accent on the bodice.

I had an oops! moment with the sleeves, forgetting that they were supposed to be lined (that's a sewing late at night/not reading carefully mistake!) so I did a narrow hem instead. They don't look quite as nice, but it works! Plus, I think it gives the edge a little waviness to add to the girly feel (at least that's what I'm telling myself! ;) )

(I have no pictures of either girl actually wearing their dress, so you can't see that I took in the bit under the zipper on the back a little too much, and that the shoulders on this pattern are a bit too wide for little Sam. Just pretend it fits her perfectly, because it looks oh so cute. ;) )

I found Natalie's Clifford fabric on ebay, and a blue and white dot to coordinate. She loves Clifford (this picture is from her first Christmas - my sister and brother-in-law gave her a stuffed Clifford and some books. She "attacked" the stuffed dog, shrieking and giggling and hugging, and she's rarely been without him since.)

This dress is the Gem dress from Brynberlee Designs on etsy. Must give a shout out for her customer service, as well - when I bought the dress, Sarah was running a BOGO sale for a group I was in on Facebook. I bought the Gem dress, and another (the Katelin) - but the Gem listing was wrong, and I got the Katelin and Faith instead! After messaging Sarah, she not only assured me she'd fix the problem, but sent the Gem dress to me free of charge! I've since bought the Lindsey dress, as well as the Erin skirt. Brynberlee patterns are adorable, and I can't wait to have some time to sew them all!

I love the one shoulder look, with the thinner ruffly strap on the other side. It's the only pattern I own with this unique silhouette, and I love the "sass" that it brings to the look - it's Natalie, all over. The double ruffle on the bodice makes the party look complete, and the elastic bands around the neckline and waist ensure a perfect custom fit. I didn't follow the instructions on the pattern for the strap and ruffles exactly, but I came out with the same effect. Plus, the dress can be worn with the strap on either side! I did a little decorative stitching on the hem, too, to echo the feel of the dots and ruffles.

I tried, and I think I succeeded, in capturing my girls' personalities in their "birthday" dresses - I'm excited to make this a tradition to continue, to attempt to capture them in a special outfit for their special day each year!