Over the winter months, I tend to do less dressmaking. In the summer I love wearing flirty skirts and pretty sundresses, both of which are fun to make, but during the winter I usually feel less inspired. I’ve been working on the same dress for a couple of months now. It’s a simple shift dress, made from an off-cut of beautiful grey wool which I picked up for a song in New York back around Thanksgiving, and I’m lining it with a gorgeous turquoise coloured satin. The dress is coming along well – all that’s really left to do is line and hem it – and if I like the end result, I’m planning to use the same pattern to make a dress to wear to Miss S and Mr E’s wedding in May, using some glorious pale blue French linen I bought in Paris a few weeks back.
Shift dress Lining
But as February is coming to an end, my thoughts have once again been turning to the warmer months ahead, and, in particular, to our upcoming holiday. In two weeks’ time, RR and I are flying away for some summer sun in the Caribbean. We’ll be spending 3 days relaxing on Barbados, followed by a week-long cruise aboard a Clipper ship. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to it immensely! We’ve never been to the Caribbean, and we’ve never been away in the winter to some place sunny, and we love Clipper cruising, so we’re both very excited! But what to take to wear??? Back in January, I had a massive re-organisation of my sewing room, and since then all my dressmaking fabric has been moved from the top shelf of the spare room wardrobe. It’s now temptingly on display in my glass-doored fabric cupboard, bang in the middle of my sewing room. I see it every time I’m in there or walk past it (which is most of the time, to be honest!) And sitting on the top of the stack of dressmaking fabric are some beautiful prints, ideal for making pretty, summery skirts and dresses. So the combination of our upcoming holiday and having all my fabric on view has got me inspired with my dressmaking again. So far, I’ve made two summery skirts, and I’ve earmarked some fabric to make a sundress to take with me on holiday (which is also turquoise – my new favourite colour, it seems!)
A-line skirt with wide yoke and box pleats Panelled straight skirt with flared hem
I’m back in the UK at the moment (hopefully the skirts will still fit by the time I get back home!), but now I’m absolutely raring to go with the sundress and my wedding outfit for May. And I’m pretty sure that when I do get started next week, I will have plenty of ‘help’ from my chief sewing assistant, Mr. Boy. Whilst Mimi Bubba likes to help me quilt, usually by plonking her not insubstantial bulk on top of whatever I happen to be piecing or quilting, Mr. Boy prefers to help out with dressmaking. And his favourite activities to help with are stealing tape measures and lying on top of crinkly-sounding pattern paper. What a helpful boy! It’s a good thing I love him, isn’t it?!
Well, who’d have thought it?!
It’s been 2 months since I took the plunge and signed up to the Fabriholics Anonymous Fabric Fast, and I’m doing well. Really well, in fact. Oh yes!
I started out back in January by taking a good hard look at my sewing room, and deciding that it Was Not Conducive to finishing projects or making the most of my stash. Sure, I had fabric stored neatly in my cupboard and drawers (and the spare room wardrobe too, if you really want to know…), and my projects were all nicely organised into boxes, but they were piled up all over the place higgledy-piggledy and not desperately accessible.
Following the tactical purchase of an Ikea bookcase, and the relocation of my sewing machine to the corner by the window to enable said bookcase to actually fit in the room, my sewing space is now much more organised, and I can see all my stash and my projects at a glance.
New Ikea bookcase full of project boxes
My newly-organised stash cupboard
Pre-cuts and fabric bundles
Dress making fabric
Now I can actually see all my yummy fabric, I’m feeling inspired to cut into it and use it up. And I have been! I earmarked my stash of Taxi fabrics for the 2014 Sugar Block Club block of the month, and have already made January and February’s blocks. I’ve also re-discovered some Fig Tree pre-cuts, which had been stored out of sight in a drawer, and which I’m planning to use to make a wedding quilt for RR’s cousin, Miss S, and her soon to be husband, Mr E.
I still have a whole box of scraps which need to be sorted, but I’ve been waiting for a snow day to get going on this and we haven’t had any snow yet this year…
But what’s more important for me is that I haven’t felt the need to buy any more quilting fabric. I’ve unsubscribed from all the fabric-porn newsletters I used get, and haven’t been actively looking on-line at new, must-have fabric lines. A big test came 2 weeks ago, when I popped into my local quilt shop with Ms C, who needed border fabric for her beautiful one block wonder quilt. Yes I looked, and yes I touched, and yes I may have been a teeny bit tempted – but I didn’t buy ANYTHING!!! I don’t know who was more shocked – me, Ms C, or the owner!
What’s more, I’m not getting bored with the projects I have on the go, or with my stash, and I’ve so many quilt and dressmaking ideas whirring around in my head that I’m excited about.
So, all in all, so far so good on the Fabric Fast front – long may it continue!
I’m happy to report another 2014 finish – my Whole Lotta Bag, a beautiful messenger-style bag, designed by Katy Cameron of The Littlest Thistle (pattern available here). Katy’s been running a sew-along to make this beauty, and having a ‘timetable’ of sorts to follow has kept me motivated and going strong over the last few weeks – and got me finished, too 🙂
Seeing as I’m currently participating in the Fabriholics Anonymous Fabric Fast, I had to use fabric from my stash. The fabric I picked out had been tentatively earmarked for a baby quilt of some description, but I loved it so much I found I couldn’t bear to use it for a gift (what a mean old bag I am, right??!)
I love owls, and these were so cute, not to mention the beautiful purple and pink co-ordinating fabrics, that I decided that this would be the ideal project to use it in – and I’d get to keep the bag at the end of it – totally owltastic!
Although the pattern itself isn’t difficult to make, it is quite time consuming – but I’ve certainly found it to be worth the effort involved, as I absolutely love it!
It sports a back zipper pocket, which is way big enough for my 13″ MacBook…
… two elasticated side pockets (perfect for my phone)…
… a front bellows pocket (ideal for my phone and Macbook chargers)…
… an interior zipped pocket, as well as bags of room inside for anything else I could possibly think of!
I finished the bag earlier this week, courtesy of my lovely friend Ms C, who popped in to install the bag fasteners for me – way too fiddly for my crappy fingers (note to self – next time, use magnetic snap fasteners, which look a whole lot easier to fit!) I was initially planning to use it on my trip back to the UK this week, as it’s absolutely ideal for hand baggage, but then I looked at the weather forecast and decided that perhaps I’d better wait until there was less likelihood of torrential rain to ruin its newly-finished perfection!
My niece, the lovely Miss B, is already casting covetous eyes over this bag, so I may be making another one sooner rather than later, but until then, I shall be enjoying this one all for myself.
Well, I have been a busy bunny while RR’s been away! And what a lot of sewing I’ve got done 🙂 I’ve done some hand sewing (my hexie project), some dressmaking (a couple of skirts for our upcoming holiday, amongst other things), some bag-making (the Whole Lotta Bag pattern), and even – shock horror! – some quilt block making.
After the Quilt from Hell debacle (of which more will be revealed once said quilt has reached its intended recipient…), I had no real desire to start a new project (even though I have several I need to get to grips with), or even to work on something I already had in progress. What I really wanted was to play with some fabric – and my new sewing machine, too, of course – and what better to play with than my strippy-scrappy quilt in progress?
Personally, I love scrap quilts. I love how every piece of fabric holds a memory, of what quilt it was bought for, maybe, or who gave it to me, or where and when I got it. It’s a visual reminder, too, of how my tastes have changed since I started quilting. And even if a piece of fabric is just plain ugly (yes, I admit it, I do possess some ‘ugly’ fabrics!), it never seems to looks out of place in the quilt as a whole.
Anyway, being in a reflective kind of mood yesterday afternoon, this was just the ticket. I spent a very happy couple of hours cocooned in my sewing room, Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba keeping me company, sewing up random wonky strippy blocks.
I just picked pieces randomly out of my strips scrap bin, and sewed them together one after another, before pressing gently and trimming to 6 1/2″ square. No points to match. No precision needed in cutting. Just wonderfully mindless, repetitive, even meditative piecing, for a change. Extremely unlike me, but exceedingly relaxing none the less. Oh, and may I just say, I absolutely LOVE my new sewing machine 🙂
Then I decided to get up to date with my blocks for the two Block of The Month quilts I’m working on, and which had, sadly, fallen by the wayside over the past few months. First up, Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club over at Stitchery Dickory Dock.
I fell in love at first sight with this fabric line – Taxi by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures – and towards the end of last year, I ended up investing in a half yard of each of the prints, plus a couple of yards of the yellow solid. I’ve been itching to use it for something, and when I saw that Amy had used 2 different background fabrics in her blocks, I just knew it would be ideal for this project. And so far, I’m loving how it’s turning out!
Secondly, I got up to date with my Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery Block of the Month.
I’m not so keen on the house blocks as I am on the twirly star ones, but I think the fabric is just beautiful, so I’m pretty sure they’ll grow on me…
So all in all, a very productive few days, even if I have scarcely left the apartment! It’s been wonderful, but I’m starting to miss RR now, so I’m very pleased that I’m off to join him in England tomorrow, even if this does entail a week or so’s break from sewing 🙂
Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced. Why not pop over and see what other people have been up to this week?