Monday, 14 May 2012

Summer Sewing

Yesterday was spent working on my little girl's summer wardrobe. We're going somewhere hot and humid for a week, and she'll need - well, summer clothes! Since little dresses are always my favourite thing to make, I tried a few different ones out (there's one more to come).

First off, this wrap dress. It was ridiculously fast and easy, once I got the pattern pieces sorted. The pattern template on this tutorial worked really well for the front two pieces, but not for the back. What I ended up doing was cutting out the two front pieces, positioning them as I wanted them to look, and then laying them on top of the fabric and tracing out the back piece to match. I also gave my pattern a bit more of an a-line to the skirt, because I think little girls need a bit of room to kick! I used two versions of the same cotton patterned fabric, and this dress took 1/2 a metre. Wrap dresses are dead easy and super forgiving - loads of fun combinations to be made with these!

And on!

Next up, this peasant dress. This was a breeze, and took no time at all. I had the fabric already, reclaimed from something else, so it already had the pink stitching on. Super cute dress, and I'll make more for sure!

And finally, the piece de resistance. I love this fox fabric (by Moda) and wanted to make a gorgeous short sleeved shirt with it. I made a combination of the peasant dress above and this gorgeous tutorial. I pleated the sleeves and front, and in the end added a few to the back to size it properly. I love it.


Back, with red buttons
Sadly, my daughter's response hasn't been the same. She was most excited about the wrap dress, and wore it happily - for fifteen minutes. Then she demanded I take it off. When she woke this morning and saw her fox shirt, she was again very excited - but screamed until I took it off of her. And she wouldn't wear the peasant dress. I still have one more dress to make, from a beautiful creme broderie anglaise... But I may well be giving these away! Still, some fun patterns and good tutorials. Happy summer sewing!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Babushka Quilt

This project was definitely not made in an hour. It's been months in the making. So while I'm not suggesting you try it while your children nap, I wanted to document it anyway.

My grandmother died last September, on my 31st birthday. There was no funeral; instead, we are getting together next month for an interment of her ashes. This quilt, in a way, was my grieving. I started planning it in October, when my mother gave me two of Nana's scarves. They had been well chewed by the moths, and the cream one in particular was almost paper thin. But I decided it could be salvaged for a quilt, if I could bring myself to cut it up.

So I started mulling this over. At first, I thought the quilt would have a colour theme, just reds and greys. But then I decided I wanted it to reflect different aspects of my grandmother. She was a musician - a violinist. She loved birds, and I remember watching cardinals from her Long Island home. She was crafty, and she was Russian*. She loved cats, and bright and bold things.

I set out to find fabrics that reflected this, and eBay was a godsend for quickly finding various themed fat quarters. Russian FQ. Violin FQ. Cardinal FQ. Cat FQ. Moscow FQ, and so on! Over a few months, I collected about 18 different fabrics that I thought would work - and then I had to decide what to do with them.

The original idea had been a Log Cabin quilt, as Nana had always said she wanted to live in a little log cabin surrounded by cats. But I soon realised that most of my patterns were too large to work in narrow strips, and so I wavered between two or three other patterns before finally deciding on a Moda one which now seems to have disappeared from the website - sorry no link! (The site is fantastic, though, for free quilting patterns.)

So I cut out the fabrics, carefully deciding which parts of the patterns to use. I got up the nerve to cut one shawl; the other stayed intact. I also had to learn how to darn, and fix the tiny holes in the shawl (which I then backed with cotton to give it a bit of strength). I ran into endless nightmares with running out of fabric, cutting pieces the wrong size, and so on. Only once I had cut everything out and laid it out on the floor to start sewing did I realise I should have cut all my pieces as diamonds rather than squares to avoid the squint look that the quilt now has... But after two weeks of dithering I decided to forget about it and sew on.

I backed it in dark red flannel, and did my usual terrible quilting job. But I am happy with it. It is as I wanted it to be.

Last week I finished it and posted it, recorded delivery, mistakes and all, to my mum for her Mother's Day present (Canadian Mother's Day is in May - I'm not just really late here!). She got it today, and so I can now show the photos:

Here it is, pieced, before I started quilting it (aka messing it up)

Close up

Backed with red flannel. And unfortunately, I decided to take this photo just where my worse quilting mistake was! Oops.

My grandmother's shawl as the corner piece

*or so she thought. Turns out her family came from an area of what is now Belarus, but has been Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian as well.