Houston Round-Up: Patterns

I intended to blog from Houston but technical difficulties prevented that. So I guess I’ll just try to muddle through and remember all the details from three jam-packed days of fabric, patterns and friends.

I’ve tried to do a chronological Market round-up the past two visits but I think I’m going to try a thematic approach this time. First up: Patterns!

Because I sew clothing, I’m always on the lookout for cool, new patterns to try and there were plenty to choose from at this fall’s International Quilt Market. If you follow Patty Young’s blog, you already know she’s got some new patterns on the way. I loved seeing them in person and have really enjoyed sewing her patterns, so the new ones definitely will be added to my collection.

Fellow Michael Miller fabric designers Paula Prass and Sandi Henderson also have new patterns on the way. I loved Paula’s new bag pattern but the jacket and dress patterns really caught my eye. Just a really great aesthetic, kind of an updated retro vibe. I’m pretty excited that Sandi’s adding some adult patterns to her repertoire. The wrap skirt looks so pretty and romantic and I think the ruffled pants for women will be well received, too (although I’m not sure I have what it takes to pull them off LOL). She’s also got a new pattern for boys with her own little guy modeling.

Chelsea of Pink Fig showed off her new patterns and I can already guess the Nie Nie Skirt is going to be huge. The story behind it is so touching and Chelsea’s donating a percentage of the pattern’s proceeds to the Nie Nie fund.

Her aunt Lucy debuted her new pattern line, Hot Scott, which should make those moms of boys happy. Yes — a line of patterns for boys! Lucy is such a sweetie and I’m so excited to see her Market debut. The patterns are cute and I saw a lot of traffic at her booth.

Speaking of new pattern line debuts … My beautiful friend Sheree had her first booth at Market for her new pattern line, Sheree’s Alchemy, which will be out in November. I have always loved her aesthetic and can’t wait until these patterns come out. The girls’ clothing ones are kind of “classic contemporary,” very refined and age appropriate. And her home sewing patterns are just as cool as she is. I totally understand why she had a steady stream of visitors to her booth!

Kay Whitt at Serendipity Studio never ceases to amaze me with her designs. This Market was no exception with six new patterns, including a sweet, modern tunic/dress pattern that I had to snatch up on the spot. Seriously. I’m planning to hit the shop this week to buy some fabric for it; I love it that much. The new bag and skirt patterns are also really cool and I’m sure they’ll end up in my collection before too long.

Is there anyone on the planet who is not aware of my love of all things Melly & Me? Melly and Rosie are just so incredibly sweet and talented, and it’s impossible for me not to love everything they do. Which probably explains why I walked away from their booth with a new Rosalie Quinlan Design’s quilt pattern, two new bag patterns and Melly’s first book, Kaleidoscope. I probably would have bought more except I already own most of it! LOL!

The talented Amy Butler has a couple of gorgeous new patterns coming out, including a shirt dress and a coat. I want them both but after seeing the dress on Amy, I’m not sure if it’s going to fit my curvier self. Of course, I’ll probably give it a try anyway! LOL!

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Indygo Junction patterns. The fit of the women’s clothing patterns is sometimes a little boxy but I keep buying and sewing them because I do like them. I think the new Bell Sleeve Blouse is going to change my opinion for the better. I checked out the samples and the darts and cut seem to be much more figure flattering. They didn’t have any available at Market or else I’d have grabbed one to try. However, I know Sarah ordered it so I’ll be buying it as soon as it’s in.

Computing in Style

My older son sort of volunteered me to make a laptop bag for one of his friends. She was having trouble finding one to fit her new computer and he knew how much I liked her, so he asked if I could help her out. She’s one of my favorite young adults, so I really couldn’t say no.

I knew when I saw this Amy Butler fabric in the shop that it was “the one,” but the boy insisted she’d prefer something else. While he juggled bolts of fabric, I snapped a pic with my phone, uploaded it to Facebook and tagged it with her name so she could see some options. As I expected, she loved the fabric I chose. (Score: Mom – 1,000,000; J – 3)

I drafted the bag to her computer’s dimensions with a little more room to accommodate the AC adapter and maybe a notebook. The bag closes with a parachute clip and strap to make it tough for someone to open it without her being aware.

She’s been at college a couple of weeks now and says she loves her one-of-a-kind bag, which mostly has been used as a messenger bag to carry her books to class. I’m just happy to have sent a little handmade love with her to college.

Playing with Patchwork

I had a bunch of squares left from some Christmas presents I made, so I decide to put them to use and make a little bag I’d been mulling over. No pattern. No idea if it would turn out. Just arranging and sewing and crossing my fingers.

Overall, I like it. It’s not a huge bag but just big enough to wear on a park outing or to an art festival. The strap is sewn in such a way that it lays flat against me while keeping the bag flat against my hip, too.

I lined the exterior of the bag with fusible fleece and like the somewhat cushy feel it adds.

The only thing I really wish I’d done differently is the zipper. It’s too short and keeps me from opening the bag as widely as I’d like. Of course, I was trying to use what I had on hand and the zipper seemed to work nicely with the fabric.

Just a fun, practical little bag that I think will make a nice addition to my gift-making repertoire.

Two Halters, No Waiting

It’s nice to take a break from sewing wee tiny clothes every now and again, although I have to admid that I need a better model. Excuse the child’s dressform and instead enjoy the lovely Sun Surf Halters (an Amy Butler pattern) made recently.

Now, I would have modeled the Heather Bailey one I made for myself except … it looks awful on me. Seriously. It’s so unflattering, in fact, that I could not put it on for even a photo. Part of it’s the size — I think I need a Medium-and-a-half — and part of it’s the cut, which does nothing for my hourglass shape.

It’s not the pattern’s fault, by any means. Just a poor choice of style for my own self. Which is why I went on to make a second for my sister-in-law. I chose a pretty batik fabric, in her favorite color. I think it’s going to look amazing on Jenn and will likely end up making her more, if that’s the case.

Overall, I like the pattern. It’s got a nice range of sizes (children’s and women’s) and it’s easy to put together. I even had my 11-year-old sewing campers make them and they knocked ’em right out. But it’s definitely a look you need to know is flattering for you before you sew it.

Buy Handmade

One day while driving down Main Street in the city where my kids attend school, I noticed a new shop’s sign on a long-empty storefront. An artists’ market. I was so excited, it took everything I had to not pull over and peer through the window. Of course, it was 6:30 a.m. and nothing was open, and I really needed to get home so my husband could get to work. I made a mental note to check back later.

It was about two weeks before I could stick my head in the door and scope things out at Leasa: Life’s Work. And what I saw made me a bit giddy. Cool handmade goods. Some other neat gift-y things. A cool workspace for classes. Best of all was Leasa, the owner, who’s been making and selling handmade cards forever. I loved hearing about her work and her vision for her new shop. I think it’s a great thing for our area and I can’t wait to support it and the craftsmen who are selling their wares there.

I’m also excited to be offering some of my things there. I’ve already taken three Miss Madeline dresses adn a couple of wristlet bags.

Miss L watched me take the dresses into the shop and was so sad to see them go. Of course, they’re all too small for her and it’s not like I can’t sew her others. (In fact, I’ve already made her a different dress with the Heather Bailey and Dena Designs fabrics, so I’m not sure what the deal is.) And I always love sewing with Paula’s Flights of Fancy. It always makes me smile!

The wristlets are my own design and feature embroidery from Urban Threads of two lovebirds. I thought it added some interest to the little bags and I especially love the repetition of the Park Slope fabric with all those cute little birds.

Camp Goodies

Can I brag on my campers one more time? They were such awesome girls and I had so much fun with them last week. They also were amazingly prolific during the course of camp. Clothes, bags, quilt blocks. You name it, I threw it at them and they knocked it out. Out of the park, even! LOL!

Friday was our last day and they came in that morning and whipped up their fourth A-line skirt before tackling the big final project: crazy log cabin blocks. Because I only had two girls in the camp, I could let them work on different projects so one girl chose to make a little bag and the other a pillow.

They used 7″x7″ pieces of muslin for the blocks and I had them foundation piece their log cabins. Why? Well, I think it’s easier to keep the shape — especially when using different sizes of strips — if there’s a little something to help guide the block formation.

The girls kept me busy cutting strips. One decided to use only the fabrics she’d sewn with all week for her blocks while the other was willing to dip into my stash for hers. Of course, she also wanted to use her favorite fabric — Paula‘s Par Avion from Flights of Fancy — for the centers of all her blocks, so I spent some extra time fussy cutting them.

I could not be more proud of their finished projects and they were so happy with them, too. And they promised me they were going to wear and use everything they made (in fact that’s why one pair of PJ pants is missing – they were worn the night before at a sleepover!). Also missing from the photos are the gifts they made their moms as a thank-you for enrolling them in summer camp: another wristlet and a tote-style purse with pre-made handles (which I hear were much appreciated).

Pssst! Live in Atlanta? I’ve got a second week of sewing summer camp in August.

Dress Me Up

One of the coolest things to me about experiencing Quilt Market was seeing sewn and modeled samples of so many patterns. Which is probably why I came home with so many patterns in hand or on my wishlist! LOL!

This Indygo Junction pattern was one of them. It’s the Day Shift Dress and I thought it would be a great one to make for wearing instead of my usual tee-and-jeans or tee-and-skirt.

I picked out some brighter fabrics than the examples I saw (some of Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern) and got to work. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the pattern is sized pretty generously. I traced and sewed the Medium but I might have been able to go down to a Small — and I wear a size 12.

It’s a pull-over dress so there are no zippers or button plackets to deal with. The downside? It’s not a close-fitting style and I’m not sure how flattering it is on me. No, seriously; I’m not fishing for compliments here. Even Josh (who took my picture) said, “It makes you look wide but you’re not wide.” I’m afraid he may have a point.

The dress also runs short. Like, above-my-knees short. Can’t-lean-over short. I’ll probably add a faux layered hem panel to give myself a few more inches to work with because I think wearing it over jeans adds to the wide-and-bulky look I’d like to avoid.

Overall, the pattern was pretty easy to sew and I still like the look of it, even if it’s not super flattering on me.

Ho-ho-holiday Time

It’s June 25th and you know what that means: only six months left until Christmas!

Hey, I heard that! Don’t move on to the next blog before giving me a chance to explain.

Like so many others, I have grand plans when it comes to the holidays. I always intend to make X number of gifts. Of course, this impulse typically hits around Thanksgiving and the fact of the matter is that there’s just not enough time to make something for everyone in those last few weeks leading up to Dec. 25.

This year, however, I’m starting earlier — and I’m dragging you, dear reader, along with me. Welcome to the Crafty Christmas Countdown! It’s the six-month (more or less) plan to make the 2008 holidays filled with a few more handmade things and a few less manufactured gifts. I’ll be posting regularly not only my progress but also tons of gift ideas for everyone on your list with links to patterns, free tutorials and even ready-made gifts by other crafters.

Feel free to grab the graphic to post on your own blog or site. I’m also looking for gift ideas to feature, so zip an email to me at mac (at) flourishes dot com with your great idea. Now, on with the crafty gifting!

Everyone has someone on her list who could use a little pampering. (Heck, most of us probably could!) Start with a spa towel wrap, courtesy of this tutorial at CraftStylish. Think how great this would be with a towel that matches the recipient’s decor, or even her favorite color. You can even make a matching hair-wrap towel with the tute here. Add a great bath bomb or salts (like the all-natural Bergamot-Rose Bath Bomb from Dustpan Alley). One of my favorite stress relievers is a scented eye pillow and Amy Butler makes it easy to make one for gifting with a free pattern. (Click on the link, then the Free Pattern link on the site.) While you’re at it, make a few extras to stick in stockings or to have on hand when you need a little something to give that’s more personal than a gift card to the coffee shop.