Well, it’s finally September and I made it through another summer. Summer in Switzerland is usually very hot and humid, but this year everything seems to have been somewhat topsy-turvy. Instead of sticky, icky and muggy, it’s been grey, cold and rainy, much more England-like than Switzerland-like. As I don’t cope at all well with the heat, this has been wonderful, but it has to be admitted that my poor sun-worshipping friends have all been rather down in the dumps these past few months.
So what have I been up to over this unexpectedly English summer? Well, loads actually, including a visit from my beautiful niece Miss B, a long weekend in Berlin, a trip home to see Mum and to take in all four days of the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, and a wonderful stay-cation with our friends Mr and Mrs S and their kids, who flew in from New York to spend their summer holidays en Suisse. Phew! Suffice to say, it’s been busy!
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. Oh no, indeedy! But what’s a girl to do when only snatched moments of sewing opportunity present themselves?
That’s right – grab each and every one of them! Especially when it’s cold and rainy outside :-)
This summer I seem to have mainly been making a ton of blocks to try and get up to date with my Blocks of the Month. And I’ve found that when I’m time-limited, individual blocks to make up sampler-style quilts are a great thing to sew. It seems like it’s achievable to make just one block if you haven’t much time, and it’s also intensely gratifying to create something pretty so quickly. Even more so when it’s all done from your stash (get me!)
And here are my Blocks of the Month:
Sugar Block Club 2014 – Using the Taxi range by Alice Kennedy
Blocks of the Month from Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine – Using a FQ bundle of Bungalow by Joel Dewberry
Ok, so I didn’t make ALL of these blocks over the summer, but I did make most of them, and I have to say I’m loving the way they’re coming together.
So now September’s here, and there’s a distinct autumnal nip in the air of a morning. Things are finally quietening down, and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into my usual routine after this past few months of craziness. Which will definitely mean more sewing. Lots of it. And hopefully more time for blogging too…
So watch this space!
Linking up for the first time in ages with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.
This time next week Ms C and I will be on our way to Birmingham for the Festival of Quilts. Woohoo!!! It seems to have come round really quickly, and I’m so looking forward to it! But with only a week to go, I really need to get my backside in gear and start on the pre-work for my Colourful Quilt class.
After my last post, and the comments about my fabric selection, I made a few changes and I’m pretty much there now – well, I think this is about as good as I’m going to get it, in any case. I took out the darkest green and the darkest blue fabric and replaced them with lighter options, not only to balance out the distribution of colour value so that the darks wouldn’t dominate, but also so that there would be enough contrast between the 24 colours I had chosen and the background fabrics.
And here is the new round-up…
… with the background fabrics at the bottom of the pile
On the whole, I like it better; I think it’s more balanced, and much better reflects my initial thoughts of creating undulating curves in beautiful greeny-blue sea tones. Mmmmmmm!
Sadly (!) I had to break my fabric fast to get the fabric line-up how I wanted. I ordered a couple of half yards of solid fabric to replace the darks I wanted to remove, but while I was at it, I took the opportunity to fill up the Flat Rate envelope with some other fabric lovelies to make the shipping cost worthwhile. Well, it would have been rude not to!
In my defence, they were all in the sale section, this was my first ‘splurge’ all year, and, what’s more, the whole lot came in under the 62CHF limit allowed by Swiss customs before they tax the heck out of anything you want to import!
3 half yards of Simply Style
Half yard bundle of Theodore and Izzy
3 yards of Hello Tokyo
Judicious fabric purchasing – that’s the name of the game :-)
In the meantime, an 11 page document detailing our preliminary cutting instructions has arrived by email. Yes, that’s right – 11 pages! And that’s only the cutting we need to do before the class! It’s mind-bendingly complicated, and all colour-coded too, if you please!
Crikey! It made my head hurt just thinking about it, so I took the sensible and adult approach to the problem. I printed off the instructions, and stuck them in the box with the fabric and shoved it away at the back of my sewing room. And there they will remain until the lovely Ms C, my partner in crime in all things quilty, gets back from sunny Spain later this week. At which point we can hopefully get together for a good old chinwag, before trying and work out what the heck it is we’re meant to be doing before we get on the plane next week.
Well, we did book the class because we wanted a challenge – bring it on!
In August I’m off to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. I’ve only been once before – in 2011 – and I had such a great time that I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. It didn’t work out the past couple of summers, but this time around it’s all planned. And I have to admit I’m very excited!
Even better, I’m going with a friend, the lovely Ms C. We’re going for the full 4 days, have signed up for a 2 day workshop and various mini-sessions. We’ll be learning new techniques, admiring all the beautiful quilts on display and shopping till we drop with all the money we’ve saved by staying with Mum rather than booking a hotel. Result!
The thing I’m most excited about,though, has to be our 2 day workshop, where we’ll be learning to make Jacqueline de Jonge’s Colourful Quilt.
It was Ms C’s idea to sign up for this class – we’ve both had been feeling like we wanted to try something a bit more complicated and involved than your standard squares-and-triangles block, and, as she pointed out, this certainly looks like it fits the bill! It was advertised for intermediate to advanced quilters, so we decided to take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say…
I’d already decided prior to receiving the supply list that I didn’t want to make an exact replica of Jacqueline’s quilt. I’ve recently made a quilt in similar colours (my Broken Herringbone quilt), and, in any case, I’m not really a massive batik fan. I toyed around with a couple of options, pulled out lots of fabric from my stash, and in the end I decided to go with my current obsession of solids, using my current favourite colours of blues and greens. Of which, it has to be admitted, I had plenty. This is just as well, as there are 24 separate colours in the quilt, not including background and border fabric.
And here’s what I chose…
The 24 colours needed for the quilt top…
… with the background, border and backing fabric
I’d originally bought most of these fabrics for a scrappy-effect Storm at Sea quilt I was planning, but I’ve kind of gone off that idea recently. So this was the ideal project to re-purpose them! Better still, I only had to buy the background fabrics, as I already had the coloured ones and the backing fabric in my stash. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but in my eyes, this almost keeps the integrity of my Fabric Fast intact :-)
I spent a lovely morning today trying to decide on the order the fabrics will appear in my quilt top – as you can (hopefully!) see above, I’m aiming for a kind of ombré effect. There are one or two colours I’m still not entirely convinced by, and a couple of the transitions between colours are a bit abrupt for my liking, but I’m going to see if they grow on me before I go out buying replacements. Get me – frugal or what?!
And so for now all the fabrics are tidily packed away in a plastic container in my sewing room, waiting for me to decide for certain whether these are Definitely The Right Fabrics For This Quilt.
So – what do you think? Any glaring issues with my colour choices? Do you think it’ll look unutterably cool or just a bit meh? Honest opinions needed before I start cutting!!!
Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.
So, it appears that today is the last day to link up for the Q3 Finish Along, over at The Littlest Thistle.
I never quite got round to setting myself any goals for Q2, which is probably just as well as I’ve been so busy lately that I’m not entirely sure I actually managed to finish anything this past few months. I started a few projects, sure, but, well, they seem to have just been added to my ever-growing stack of Works In Progress rather than Beautifully Completed Creations. Oh well…
To be honest, I’m probably not going to achieve all that much this time around either. After all, it is the summer, and we have plans! Oh yeah, baby! Visits from my lovely niece, Miss B, and our Stateside friends Mr and Mrs S and their kids. A long weekend in Berlin. A trip back to the UK to see Mum and take in all 4 days of the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham with my friend Ms C. Days out locally, boat trips on the lake, picnics and barbecues. Not to mention a photography course I enrolled on to try and learn something about how to use my new-to-me camera. Phew!
But with about a bazillion projects on the go as usual, and an ever-growing stack of quilt tops waiting patiently to be quilted, I thought I’d link on up for Q3. Hopefully this will encourage me to get off my backside and actually finish something up over the summer.
Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?!
Finish my Marfy Jacket…
… which has been sitting in my sewing room ever since I got back from my couture sewing class in June. I’ve been finding the lining really tricky to put together, in particular attaching the sleeves to the lining body, as the silk is very slippery and there’s no ease in it at all. But it’s so beautiful, and I so want to see it finished and to wear it, that this is absolutely my number 1 goal for Q3!
Ha ha ha!!! Yes! This was on my list for Q1, and I never got round to it. But I still want to make a pretty sundress. I have the pattern, I’ve chosen the fabric and I’m all ready to go. But I’d better be quick about it or the summer will be over and I won’t get a chance to wear it…
A while back, my friend Ms C decided that she wasn’t going to start on any new project until all her existing quilt tops were quilted. Now I have quite a stack of un-quilted tops awaiting my attention, and, what’s more, I really want to get better at free motion quilting, so I thought I would
steal borrow her idea and focus on finishing things up for a change.
Well, this is a Finish Along, after all :-)
Bear Paw Quilt
I made this quilt top about 5 years ago, when I was still living in the US. It was a mystery quilt project at my local quilt store, and was intriguingly billed as a Trip to Alaska. All became clear when the top came together – a variation on the Bear Paw block in icy blues. The poor thing has been sitting forlornly in my cupboard ever since, waiting for quilting inspiration to strike.
Time to put it out of its misery, methinks.
Another mystery quilt, this one, but much more recent.
This was the quilt I made at the latest Patchwork in the Peaks Quilt Retreat back in April. In the end I chose a butterfly print as my focus fabric, and I love how it turned out. I even know how I want to quilt it – with stipples and butterflies. I just haven’t got round to doing anything about it yet…
Solids Chevron Quilt
I’ve become a little obsessed with solids recently. I obviously still love prints, but I’m intrigued about how using solids really focuses attention to the design and pattern of a quilt. I’ve also been wanting to make a chevron quilt for quite some time. So I combined my solids-obsession and chevron-desire and made this Solid Chevrons Quilt. And it’s big. Big enough for our super-king size bed.
All I need to do now is remove Mr. Boy from his new favourite spot before I can baste and quilt it :-)
Craftsy BOTM Quilt 2012
I signed up in 2012 for the free Craftsy Block of the Month programme, and made all 20 blocks – woohoo!
Then I signed up for Leah Day’s companion class on Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. I’ve watched all the lessons (several times!), and love the quilting designs she’s come up with for each of the blocks, but that’s as far as I’ve got. I really need to stop watching and get started quilting!
Start Mum’s (long overdue) bed quilt
Pattern chosen and fabric picked. Mum’s birthday in October. Or (perhaps more realistically) Christmas a few months after! Let’s get cutting!
So there you have it, a snapshot of what I’m hoping might get done over the summer. Is it realistic? Or am I living in La-La Land? Only time will tell, but I’m certainly going to enjoy getting to work on some of these babies!
Linking on up to the Finish Along – why not pop over and see other people’s plans for the summer?
Some days I find that everything just kind of comes together as if it were meant to be, and yesterday was most definitely one of those days. Unexpectedly so, I might add!
It started off like a regular day, except I went to have my nails done. At the moment I seem to have temporarily escaped from my pink-and-purple rut, and am now in a most definitely blue-aqua-green frame of mind (I’m blaming the bad influence of Ms E and Ms JJ for this!). The weather here has been somewhat miserable these past few weeks – rainy, overcast, not much sun – and so I chose a glorious bluey-green colour polish, as it made me think of the colour of the sea in the Caribbean. I think it’s gorgeous, and I came home happy, admiring my nails all the way.
Imagine my surprise when, arriving home, I found not one, but 2 parcels waiting for me in my mailbox! Since I started my quilting-fabric fast back in January, parcels in mailboxes have become a rare occurrence chez LPC… Needless to say, I was suitably excited, and scurried up to the apartment to discover what was in them. And I was not disappointed!
The first parcel contained some Linton fabric I’d ordered a few weeks back to make a new cardigan jacket. Since my couture sewing class, I now understand what went wrong last time around, so I decided to put my new-found knowledge into practice by making a new, improved version of the sadly-flawed original. In a turquoise-green fabric with golden-yellow and blue flecked ribbons woven through it. All summery and fresh and beautiful. Mmmmmmm :-) I’d actually forgotten I’d ordered it, so it was a wonderful surprise.
The fabric actually came with a cute Linton label!
Close up of the Linton fabric
The second parcel was altogether more special, as it contained an adorable bag made for me by the wonderful Katy of The Littlest Thistle. Earlier this year, I participated in her sew-along to make a lovely messenger style bag. And for participating, I won a prize. And this was it…
My new little clutch bag!
Metallic gold flap and cute heart magnetic clasp
Botanics lining – I love that fabric!
What’s more, tucked inside as an extra surprise were 3 beautiful mini charm packs, which I have to admit I drooled over and petted (well, this was my first new quilting fabric in months!)
Katy had thoughtfully made this bag in green and gold chevrons fabric, which not only matches the green and gold in my jacket fabric to perfection…
… but also co-ordinates pretty darn well with my newly-painted nails! (Mr. Boy also seems to approve!)
All in all, a day of serendipitous surprises :-)
Last week was one of the most exciting and fun weeks I have ever had. It was the week of my Couture Sewing class with Susan Khalje in Baltimore, and it was truly wonderful. I learnt so much, met some absolutely lovely ladies, and came away with an almost-finished jacket and even more enthusiasm for sewing (if indeed that was humanly possible!)
Front and back views of almost-completed jacket
All the ladies on the course had come with different goals. I wanted to make a fitted jacket with pointed lapels, Ms BH was making a Marfy coat-dress, Ms JL was making a beaded skirt, while Ms Bd’E was using exqisite fine lace to make an elegant evening top. The other ladies were making dresses – evening dresses, sundresses, smart dresses – all very different styles, but all utterly glorious.
The first day was spent getting acquainted, refining the fit on our toiles and – for those of us who needed to – going fabric shopping at A Fabric Place in Baltimore.
Ms T’s bias dress
Ms V’s elegant slim fit dress
Ms K’s feminine sundress
And if I thought the patterns were gorgeous – oh my – the fabrics my fellow sewing students were using were just divine!
Miss C’s gorgeous fabric (on roll)
Ms JE’s (left) and Ms JT’s (right) fabric choices
Ms V’s silk and cotton
Ms K’s beautiful blue floral fabric
Ms JL’s glorious beaded fabric
Ms BdE’s delicate lace
Ms M’s beautiful floral and lace combination
Ms E’s divine blue
By the end of day 1, I’d learnt more about fitting than I thought possible, and, in the process of having my own toile fitted, I discovered why it was that dresses, tops and jackets never fit me properly. Now I’m tall (5’10”, 177cm), so I always have to add length to a pattern when I’m making my own clothes. In the past, I’d always used the lengthen/shorten here lines on the pattern pieces (which are always below the bustline). What I learned from Susan was that, given my figure (small frame, narrow shoulders, full bust), I actually need to add the length above the bust to accommodate its fullness. She cut my toile horizontally above the bust, we patched in a 1 1/2″ strip of muslin – et voila! My toile suddenly fitted! Needless to say, this was an absolute revelation, and I’m so excited to think that such a simple alteration as that will have such a huge impact on my future sewing projects. Wow!
First toile fitting – needs more length in the front
Taking jacket in at the back
Adding length above the bustline
Wow, it fits!!!
As the week progressed, everyone’s projects really began to take shape. New techniques were learnt (bound buttonholes, hand-picked zippers, bodice-boning, attaching sleeves…) and refinements were made to patterns where necessary.
Ms BH’s bound buttonhole
Inserting a hand-picked zipper
Apart from the fitting adjustments to my toile, there was only one area of the jacket pattern I consciously changed. Neither Ms BH nor I much liked the sleeves on our pattern (too loose, no structure) so Susan helped us morph a sleeve pattern of hers onto our respective coat-dress and jacket. It was a three part sleeve (a concept I had never come across before), and it suited our patterns beautifully!
Spot the difference!
On left of picture (right hand side of jacket) – unaltered toile, with icky, shapeless sleeve.
On right of picture (left hand side of jacket) adjusted toile with new, elegant fitted sleeve
We all supported and encouraged each other, opinions were sought (and given!), Ms BH and Miss C lent out their dressforms and work progressed beautifully.
And slowly but surely my jacket started to take shape…
Using deconstructed and altered toile to cut out silk organza underlining
Cutting out from my fashion fabric – eek! Pattern matching was not easy…
Basting underlining to pattern pieces
It’s getting there…
By the last day of the course, Miss C had finished her beautiful dress, and all the rest of us were well on our way.
Mother and daughter Ms BH and Miss C
I left for the airport to begin the long trip home feeling absolutely shattered but elated by what I had managed to achieve, and certain in the knowledge that I would be back to learn more as soon as I can manage.
(With many thanks to Ms M, who took a lot of these photos and has kindly allowed me to use them here…)
For Christmas last year, the wonderful RR bought me a week-long couture sewing class in Baltimore with Susan Khalje.
Wow! A whole week of learning high-end couture sewing techniques with a group of like-minded ladies! Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, after months of anticipation, trying to decide on what to make during the class, and (most recently) butterflies in my stomach thinking that everyone else is going to be a bazillion times better than me and will surely laugh at my pitiful attempts at sewing, it’s finally here. I’m in Baltimore (the vagaries of the US transportation system notwithstanding…) and the course starts this morning.
I am more than excited!
So – what did I finally decide to make?
I had initially thought I would make a beautiful cocktail dress. Then I realised that I never actually go anywhere that requires me to wear one. And seeing as there’s no real point in making something I won’t really get to wear, however beautiful it is, I eventually decided to make a jacket. I hadn’t made a jacket before (well, until I made my Chanel-style cardigan jacket, that is, with its attendant sleeve issues…), and given my lifestyle, I’m much more likely to wear a jacket than a cocktail dress :-)
So, I was all set to make a jacket from Simplicity 4014. I love the figure-flattering shape of both the short jacket and the longer, knee-length coat (I love the dress too, as it happens!)
I couldn’t decide which length I preferred, so I made my toile of the longer length – and here it is, looking like a glorified lab coat with writing on…
But then, a couple of weeks ago, I came across this free Marfy pattern – 1756 - for a similar, but altogether more elegant jacket. That put me into a bit of a dilemma, as I loved this jacket too. So I decided to make a toile for the Marfy jacket as well, and then let the fabric decide once I had picked it.
I arrived in the US just over a week ago, and have been staying with friends just north of New York. This, of course, presented me with the ideal opportunity to pop into the city for the day to do a touch of fabric shopping. At Susan’s recommendation, I schlepped down to the Lower East Side to the fantastic Mendel Goldberg on Hester Street. The wonderful Alice devoted a good couple of hours to helping me pick out a bouclé for my jacket and a matching silk charmeuse for the lining. It was divine! I was like a kid in a candy shop, and I seriously could have spent thousands of dollars in there, but in the end I was very restrained and confined myself to this.
Isn’t it beautiful???!
After much deliberation, I think the fabric would suit the Marfy jacket better, so that’s what I’m going to make.
So my pattern is chosen, my toile is ready, and I am abuzz with Tiggerish excitement. I’ve been awake since the crack of dawn! So all I can say is roll on 9.30, when the course officially starts and I can finally get stitching!
I’m writing this sitting in the sunshine on the deck at my friends’ house in New York. And I’m happy to say that my jacket was finished in time for the trip. Just.
Overall I enjoyed making it, but I have to admit that I’m not altogether pleased with the finished product.
The real problem came when I tried to put the sleeves in. It had all been going so well up to that point! The stripes across the body were matched up beautifully across the seams, and the shoulder seams were chevronned to perfection. I was feeling pretty darned smug about the whole thing!
But then came the sleeves, and it all started to go wrong. No matter what I did, however much I eased them, they just wouldn’t fit in without puckering and tucking and wrinkling. And as for matching the pattern up – forget about it! In the end I put them in, unpicked and redid them about 6 times. And each time I unpicked and redid them, it got worse and the fabric got increasingly stroppy. The left shoulder drooped and no amount of steam would encourage it to behave.
Eventually I decided to call it a day and just live with it. After all, it was my first jacket. And maybe, just maybe, I am too much of a perfectionist.
It was at that point that I realised I didn’t have enough sleeve lining to cover the seam inside the jacket.
Many Bad Words were uttered, and a Not-Insubstantial Amount of Gin and Tonic was consumed.
I decided to sleep on it and come back to it the next day. A good decision, I have to say.
The next day, feeling slightly calmer, and less inclined to burn the damn thing in frustration, I sat down and looked at it again. The only fix I could think of was to dig out the minuscule scraps of lining I had left from the rubbish bin, and attach them to the sleeve head by hand to try and extend the sleeve lining enough.
So that’s what I did.
It was a bugger of a job. But the sleeve lining finally was big enough to cover the seam, and I could finish the lining.
All that was left was to add the patch pockets and the trim, and sew the chain into the bottom hem of the jacket. All of which went like a dream.
I was ecstatic! It was finally done!
But when I put the jacket on I realised that the problems inserting the sleeves had affected the fit across the chest. It didn’t lie nice and smooth any more. I’m going to live with it, wear it with pride, and take it to my Couture Sewing Class next week to get some expert advice on how to avoid this next time. Because there will definitely be a next time.
After all, it was only the first jacket I ever made, not the last.
I know, I know, it’s been *ahem* quite a while since I last posted on my blog, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been busy. Oh no indeedy! It’s just that what with one thing and another – Easter, lovely friends visiting, Patchwork in the Peaks quilt retreat, RR’s cousin’s wedding, and visit to Mum amongst them – blogging seems to have fallen off the radar recently. But having been so busy lately also means I have lots to write about – and I thought I’d start off with the dress I made to wear to Ms S and Mr E’s wedding.
I saw the pattern for this dress in the catalogue in my local fabric store in Lausanne and loved it so much that I bought it straight away – I just couldn’t wait to get started, and the thought of waiting over a week to get the pattern shipped from England was just too much to bear! Sadly this meant that I got instructions in French, German and Dutch, rather than in English, but, hey, it was good for my French and I picked up the odd sewing-related term in German too :-)
I already had the ideal fabric for this dress sitting in my cupboard, a lightweight grey wool I had picked up at Beckenstein Fabrics when I was in New York over Thanksgiving. It was an offcut, just 1 1/2 yards, but I knew immediately I saw it that it needed to be made into an elegant shift dress – and so, several months later, (French) pattern in hand, I got cutting and stitching.
The pattern came together really quickly, and over the course of a couple of weeks my wonderful sewing teacher Sabina helped me fit it and showed me how to create a proper facing and attach a lining. Shoes and bag had already been purchased, so everything was ready to go, and I was able to concentrate on the quilt I was making as a wedding gift for the lovely couple.
Then, one week out, disaster struck – I tried the dress on and it no longer fitted! With the benefit of hindsight, this was Not Entirely Unsurprising as I had been scoffing chocolate over Easter like a crazy woman, but it came as a bit of a shock when the dress barely zipped up (well, I got it zipped up, but breathing then became a problem – oops!) Cue an entire week of eating nothing but salad, combined with some judicious seam alterations and – Ta Da! Still a little tighter than I’d like, but all things considered, not bad at all…
I absolutely love this dress (despite the not-doing-up trauma!). I’ve already made a second version in a gorgeous light blue linen I bought in Paris – and I have plans to make several more. It’s a simple make, nice and flattering and very elegant. Perfect, in fact, for a wonderful spring wedding.
Dress pattern – Burda Style 3477