Monday, September 30, 2019

September Makes

September is gone tomorrow and I do not know where it went.

I see that I have not blogged for a month. One of the main purposes of this blog, for me, is to help me remember how I have spent my creative time. So here is what was made this month:

While I finished the sewing on this 24x30 inch piece last month, I finally mounted it on a canvas in September. And then I submitted it to a local juried show. Fingers crossed. 

The piece is inspired by doing many things I thought I was too old to do during a pilgrimage to Belize in June. The title is *Finally* based on this from the late, great Mary Oliver:

Finally I saw
that worrying had come to nothing,
and gave it up, and took my old body
and went out into the morning
and Sang.

Also this month, I completed two pieces commissioned by my priest at St. Patrick's. Each heart has a signature on it. The goal was to ask parishioners to commit to making efforts on behalf of justice during an 8 week period. Hearts were signed.

The smaller frontal is in the chapel where the 8 AM service takes place. All hearts were fused to the surface, after signatures were collected.

The fabric is cotton sateen from local wonderful fabric store, Gail K. 

I was ever so glad to complete this. Working large is not my forte. The larger one for the nave is about 90 inches by 90 inches, way out of my comfort zone. 

One of the grandson's stuffed animals needed a little repair, so that was also done with love.

He was sooooo brave.
As I pulled garments from my closet for #seweverydayseptember on Instagram, I realized that I needed to fill a few holes. So the following are the only garments I completed.

This is the MixIt top from the Sewing Workshop. I have lost count of how many times I've made it. I finally made a forward-shoulder adjustment to the pattern tissue and now love it even more. 

I used a facing to finish it, rather than the tiny facing included in the pattern. This facing can be turned to the right side or the wrong side. I think of it as a design feature.

The fabric is a dreamy Brooks Brother's cotton shirting, also purchased at Gail K. It was wonderful to sew and is comfortable to wear. I will wear a lot, until I stain it somehow.

I made this MixIt tank from a ponte remnant to go with this jacket. I made the jacket years ago and keep intending to wear it. I think I'll wear it this season, for sure!

I feel like I was pretty unproductive this month. So it's good to make some simple items that meet an actual need I have. This jacket also looks OK with the second MixIt tank I made in September.

I made the gray one from Alabama Chanin organic cotton. It too was pretty easy to sew, although it likes to curl just a little. I made it to go with this jacket:

The jacket is one I love but, like the brown Coco jacket above, I never know what to wear under it. Pulling it out, I realized that I could actually wear it as a top.

The fabric is so gorgeous, I think - a beefy piece of Japanese cotton from Louise Cutting. The jacket is based on the Now and Zen pattern from the Sewing Workshop. It was expensive, so of course, I had too little fabric to make a complete jacket. The accent fabric is a cotton-linen blend from a quilting store. I think the result is better with the accent fabric than it would have been on its own. Now, if only the high temps would please, please drop out of the 90's, I might wear a jacket!

During September I also developed a minor interest in paper making. I've had fun with my wooden deckle. It's easy and fun when you need a little creative pick-me-up.

The imprint from a Japanese maple leaf is my favorite part, I think, and I do love all the textures that are possible.

My granddaughter thinks it's quite fun too, so that makes it a winner!

September leaves me wanting to make something more challenging.

I'm preparing the pattern pieces for my first Brando jacket, a relatively new pattern from the Sewing Workshop. I plan to make it from this medium weight cotton print from deep stash. And I have another deep-stash piece, solid blue-green ponte that needs to become a swing tee dress to go with it.

I hope you're sewing something that brings you joy!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Blue and White

Blue and white - forever and ever a favorite combination for me. Toss in a little rusty red, and my heart sings. Indigo dyeing is maybe even more seductive to me. It fits nicely with my craving for blue and white. I do love most colors and have trouble sticking with a curated palette, but I always return to blue and white.

So as I approach the birthday of DD1, my bio daughter, I created with my favorite combination. This is dangerous territory, making wearable gifts for people who don't want to hurt my feelings, but I cannot stop myself.

The first item is a haori in cottons and precious scraps from previous projects. I cut out the solid dark navy cotton with some petite mods for her tiny frame, and then proceeded to piece on top of that.

I've been down this road before, with less than spectacular results. So I was not surprised when I discovered that it just wasn't working.

All that piecing creates a very busy and somewhat stiff silhouette, like wearing a quilt. Not good.

So I took every single piece off the solid dark navy cotton and began again with the solid navy cotton pieces.

Finished Haori
I purchased this cotton print with the intent to use it with the solid navy, but I veered off course. Once back on course, I completed the haori, fully lined with the print.

Making sure that the outer coat and lining were as exactly the same size as possible, I sewed them together by first sewing the hems right sides together and adding several rows of top-stitching.

That's when I decided to add patch pockets.

I basted the two layers together to keep things from shifting during the finishing. The sleeve hems are a double fold silk bias, from a favorite blouse.

And I used some of the precious scraps for the front band. That was very satisfying.

At the end of this, my entire sewing room was covered with piles like this.

Rather than put it all away, I made DD1 a komebukuro or rice bag. Maybe she will like this, even if she doesn't like the haori. If not, I'll take it back and use it myself! I actually like it quite a lot. 

My first komebukuro bag, 6x6 inches
The komebukuro pattern is from kzstevens. I previously blogged about the red one. It is so worth the $6 for a PDF download. The download is just instructions and measurements, no pattern pieces.

This time I made the larger size described in the pattern. Of course, it's pretty easy to scale up or down, but I used her measurements. The finished large bag is 8x8 inches.

quilted bottom

I got to use some of those precious scraps (hooray!) and I quilted them to cotton flannel that was a little larger than the finished cutting sizes. 

Then I cut it down to the exact sizes listed in the instructions. This is key to making the pieces fit together.

I made a few changes to the instructions based on my previous experience making the small version. I made dots in the bottom square and quartered off the main bag piece, which is like a soft bottomless box.

That made it so much easier to attach the bottom to the body of the bag. I sewed it in 4 steps - one for each side of the square bottom, clipping at each corner in the main bag piece.

Outer bag before attaching lining
The lining was cut to the exact dimensions and sewn in 4 steps too. I got to use some scraps from Christina Daily's kind donation to me. It is shibori-dyed cotton and linen, and has a fairly beefy hand. There was no need to interface anything, given the quilting on the outside and weight of the lining.

I added a little rusty red square and lamp shades to the cording ends. These two additions finally did make my heart sing.

Note: I'm sure these little fabric scraps on the ends should not be called lamp shades. I just cannot remember the proper term, as taught to me by BSF.

I am so grateful for this satisfying hobby that allows me to surround myself with colors and shapes I treasure.

Monday, August 26, 2019


In May I finally had the pleasure of taking two classes from Cindy Grisdela, a fabulous quilt artist. I took a class on improv piecing and then another on free-motion quilting. I have been following her since seeing her work at the American Craft Council show in Atlanta. Follow the link to see her gorgeous work.

Her pieces are strictly art with no need to be something useful. Like all successful artists, she has developed a signature look too. She does commissioned work and sells at some of the ACC shows, though she hasn't been to Atlanta lately.

20x30 mostly linen

Since the classes in May, I've completed two pieces. This most recent one is composed entirely of remnants from clothing projects, so mostly non-quilting cotton, linen, and cotton-linen blends. It also includes one thrifted linen shirt that I dyed and over-dyed until it was unwearable.

In each case, I decided to hand-quilt them. I do love having a hand-stitching project at the ready. It is so calming to me. So in each case, I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

But I must say that, by the time I finish, I find the results to be ho-hum. Maybe I need to put them away and look with fresh eyes later. My continuing top passion is clothing construction where understated color schemes are my favorite. This influence may be limiting my color choices in quilting arts - maybe I don't make the bold color choices I would love in the end.

I particularly like the edge finishing techniques that Cindy describes in her book, Artful Inprov. For this piece I used her framing method. I like how these techniques create a frameless border that makes it less quilt-y and more artful

I haven't pursued free-motion quilting but I still intend to do so. I've taken several classes in free-motion quilting, enough to know that the key to it is practice, practice, practice.

So I'll make another Grisdela-inspired piece, for sure. Maybe the next one will be machine quilted. And bold.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Red Pants!

How many pairs of red pants do you have?

Yes, I know. I too had zero red pants once upon a time. But then I asked Linda Lee if she thought red pants would be a good idea for someone with hips like me.  She said Yes! I have no idea why I thought I needed permission but sometimes you just need a little shove to take a little leap.

Now for some folks, the wearing of red pants does not constitute much of a leap, but for me it is so bold and brave, really. I feel like singing Let It Go when I wear them.

So this is not my first pair of red pants and it won't be my last. My mother used to say that red was her favorite neutral and now it is mine.

And these are not my first Pencil Pants from the Sewing Workshop. These are currently my favorite pull-on knit pants ever. I made them with a light weight ponte that I can even wear during hot weather if I stand in the shade. They may even be year-round pants, though the slightly cropped length will be less appealing during the cold months.

I like the shape. And I like the waistband finish that is smoothed with darts before the elastic is inserted.

The only down side is that it is a PDF download only. I've become quite used to that though and it doesn't slow me down. In fact, it is a kind of instant gratification. And the second pair goes together super fast.

So do you need red pants? I think you know the answer.