Hello, Dahlia!

Have you ever seen something and just instantly fell in love, knew “this is the one”? That’s kind of what I felt the first time I saw a dahlia quilt. Curvy, colorful, big and beautiful.

Of course, it’s also the kind of project that makes me think, “Can I do this?”

When I came across the Dahlia quilt pattern from Prairie Grass Patterns, I knew I’d found my entre to the quilt of my dreams. It took me a little while to get to it, but when I did, I couldn’t stop until it was done.

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I used largely Tula Pink fabrics with a bit of Timeless Treasure’s Studio Basics blender and a wee touch of Cotton + Steel. It’s all machine pieced, then hand appliqued to the background fabric. I machine quilted each blade of the dahlia, echoing the lines of the piecing. Then I echo stitched around the dahlia on the background fabric.

The finished mini quilt is about 25″ square and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It was a good learning process without the level of intimidation that is the Giant Dahlia pattern. And now that I’ve done it, I know I want to follow through and make the dahlia of my dreams.

Owl Always Love Sewing

Owl Always Love Sewing

Now that I’ve gotten past some big deadlines, I’ve suddenly found myself able to sew things just for fun. Just because I want to. It’s liberating and intimidating, all at the same time. Some days, I can’t figure out where to start so I end up doing fun things like laundry. Others, I head to the sewing machine and don’t move until it’s time to get my daughter from the bus.

My session with Allie the Owl fell under the second scenario.

I’ve been in love with owls since forever and I knew I’d take a crack at Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern at some point. We had some beautiful bolts of Shimmer 2 at the shop, so I started there and pulled in a gorgeous blue linen/cotton blend (Mochi by Moda) for the background.

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I was in such a hurry to make this thing, that apparently I could not be bothered to either cut or sew a straight line. As a result, some of my matching is … off. Some days, you just accept the imperfections and this is one of those days.

I’d originally planned to do a loose, all over quilting pattern, using a light gray thread over the owl and a matching thread to the background. But then I got in the groove and went a little crazy with the background. OK, a lot crazy.

I found a quilt on Pinterest that used a similar free-motion quilting design and just ran with it. I didn’t do much marking: I used the width of my palm to help with spacing the first line of quilting (the long, wavy line) and I did use chalk to mark about halfway between those lines to give myself a stopping point for the scallops. Other than that, I just winged it.

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It’s a pretty dense amount of quilting and I probably should have taken more breaks than I did because my shoulders and upper back were killing me the next day. But I’m happy with how it turned out and maybe the quilting helps keep people from noticing all those mismatched seams!

Your Guide to “Modern Style for Girls”

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Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing

Modern Style for Girls is finally here! It’s such a crazy thing to see it “out there,” where anyone can buy it and sew from it.

The book includes three basic garments — bodice, skirt, pants — that you can modify to create a variety of wardrobe pieces in sizes 7-12. Add collars, shift necklines, change armholes — all kinds of tips and tricks for making each piece have a fresh look.

I’ve broken things down again by garment: Basic Bodice, Pants and Skirts. Each garment has four projects for a total of 12 pieces. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to 12 looks! Mix and match parts of patterns to create something completely different, whether it’s adding the collar from the A-line Dress to the Sleeveless Empire-Waist Top or adding the cuff from the Cuffed Dig ‘Ems to the Shorts (instead of lace). I really love playing with patterns to make them into something new and encourage you to do the same thing.

The techniques in Modern Style for Girls are the next step after my first book, Little Girls, Big Style. I’ll show you how to add invisible zippers, sew a set-on waistband, insert a trouser zipper and even on-seam pockets.

All the looks in Modern Style for Girls are reflective of today’s kids, my daughter included. She had a lot to say about the projects, from the ruffles to the fabrics. I hope you love it just as much as we do!


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Here’s your chance to win an autographed copy of Modern Style for Girls! I’m using Rafflecopter, so just click and comment.Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s Fall, y’all

There’s a gentle breeze coming in from the windows at my house. I can see the leaves dancing in the afternoon light as I sit at my dining room table with Miss L, helping her with today’s homework.

Fall might be my favorite time of year. I love the crisply cool mornings, the leaves changing colors, football games. For me, summer is about going with the flow but fall is projects and new beginnings.

I’m in the midst of preparations for Quilt Market and spending more time at the sewing machine (or computer) than planning or playing. At my doctor’s appointment yesterday, Dr. A gently suggested that I scale back on my commitments. I have a tendency to view downtime as a bad thing (my husband jokes about my inability to relax, even on vacation) but I’m seeing this fall as an opportunity to learn how to better balance things.


 

Another new feature here on ye olde Craft Addict website: a brand-new newsletter, delivered right to your email inbox! Monthly, for now. You can sign up via the sidebar (if you’re on a computer) or scroll down below (on mobile). It’ll be fun!

Giveaway Time!

I’ve joined the weird, wonderful world of Periscope! It’s a live-streaming app that allows you to interact. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing but I’ve been using it and I really like it. I’ve added a link in the sidebar of my website that not only links to my Periscope but tells you when I’m live broadcasting so you can watch on the web.

This afternoon, I shared some peeks at Modern Style for Girls on Periscope and announced a giveaway on Goodreads. I’ve been a Goodreads author since Little Girls, Big Style and I love using the site to discover new things to read! If you’re on Goodreads, you can enter the giveaway here:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Modern Style for Girls by Mary Abreu

Modern Style for Girls

by Mary Abreu

Giveaway ends October 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

You’re also welcome to buy an autographed copy from me!

Lizzy House+Knits=<3

My love for Lizzy House knows no bounds. In addition to being an amazingly talented artist, she’s also just an incredible human being. Smart, kind, warm. The kind of person to whom you’re just instinctively drawn.

Seeing her at Quilt Market in Minneapolis this past May was a complete surprise and filled me with such joy. It was wonderful to hug on her and catch up — including chats about her newest fabric.

Lizzy and I have chatted about knit fabrics in the past and her desire to find just the right fabric substrate for her designs. I have been stalking following along on her Instagram as she has worked with sample yardage, sewing it up into some of the cutest, most comfortable dresses imaginable.

So when Andover Fabrics asked me which print I’d be interested in working with, I replied so fast, auto correct couldn’t keep up! There may have been dancing, too. But look at these fabrics and tell me they don’t make you happy:


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The line is called “The Hit Parade,” and features 12 prints on 95 percent cotton/5 percent spandex jersey. The fabric is 58″/60″ wide and has just the right amount of stretch for all kinds of knit garments: dresses, tops, skirts, leggings.

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I was only able to get 7/8 of a yard of these stinkin’ cute kitties and it took me a little while to figure out the perfect project — with Miss L’s input, of course.

She really wanted a skater-style tank dress but I didn’t have enough fabric to comply, so I instead drafted a simple tank dress. I went a little big — not enough fabric for sleeves, so I wanted something she could still wear in the spring — and skipped hemming it to allow for a little more freedom once the weather changes. The arm and neck are finished with narrow bands of the same fabric, although fold-over elastic would have been a nice touch.

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I used my serger to make this dress but just as easily could have sewn it on a sewing machine. It’s only two pieces plus the three bands for finishing the arms and neckline, so it probably only took me about 30 minutes to cut and sew it.

She layered it over her tee shirt and added her favorite boots and I can totally see adding leggings or tights as the temps drop. It’ll be perfect in the spring with sandals. As will the other dresses she’s already asking me to make with the other prints she loves.

Indie vs the Chain

The fine folks over at Sew Mama Sew posted a link on Facebook today to a blog post by author Christine Haynes about the closing of Sew L.A. If you’ve not yet read it, I highly recommend it before you go any further. Go ahead; I’ll wait right here for you.

Welcome back!

I commented on the link but decided to elaborate on my thoughts here because it’s my blog and I have thoughts. Many, many thoughts. As someone who works and teaches at an independent quilt shop, I found Christine’s insights eye opening and, frankly, quite sad.

I keep seeing people blaming the big corporations for the demise of shops like Sew L.A. and others but, ultimately, the blame lies with the consumer who stops supporting the small, indie business. I absolutely understand the need to be cost conscious; however, I know that money spent at local businesses like the one where I work/teach directly benefits other small businesses. For example, today I used some of my most recent paycheck at a funky local boutique on a cute pair of socks and letterpress card (made by an indie artist), then had a scoop of ice cream from a cool mom-and-pop shop on the walk back to the car. Tonight, my daughter had gymnastics practice at a family-owned gym she’s attended since age 3, which my paycheck also covers. And I’m not going to go into detail about how much of my paycheck is reinvested at work. (Oh, like you could resist after being around all that gorgeous fabric, day in and day out.)

No chain store comes close to the experience and knowledge of our employees and teachers, who have been known to spend hours helping a customer pick fabrics for a single quilt. (And those customers return with their finished projects, so happy to show them off — and we love it!) The folks who work at chain craft stores don’t have the ability to devote that much time to helping customers but that doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced or knowledgeable. Two of my friends — who also are two of the most talented seamstresses I know — I met while they worked the cutting counter at a chain store.

It’s no secret that my older son spent nearly three years working for a chain store. It was a great experience for him and he always got a kick out of surprising customers with his crafty know-how. The same store carried my first book — as did other chains — and I’m so grateful they did. I’m equally grateful that so many independent stores not only carried the book but taught classes from it (which made my heart grow five sizes!). I loved doing book signings and trunk shows at quilt shops, meeting the store owners and their employees (and often their families), chatting with folks about the projects they like to make and the loved ones for whom they sew.

I don’t think big chains are evil and out to destroy small businesses. I think there is room for everyone because they fill different needs. As consumers, we need to be cognizant of those roles and place as high a value on service, experience and community as we do bargains or we lose not only the choice of shopping with independent businesses but also the distinct character they add to our neighborhoods.