At the Movies

Ahh, summertime. I love the lazy days of summer and have spent the past 10 days enjoying Miss L and our more relaxed schedule.

Today was a movie day, thanks to a 60 percent chance of rain. “Mirror, Mirror” finally made it to the $2 theater near us, so it was the perfect remedy to a rainy day.

It’s just an OK movie but the costumes! Oh, the costumes! The late Eiko Ishioka (who won an Academy Award for Bram Stoker’s Dracula) just blew me away with her over-the-top designs. The textures, the details, the colors — total eye candy. I also spied some familiar fabrics.

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Being a total fabric addict, I had to hop on Google to find pictures to back up my discovery: That’s quilting fabric! One dress was definitely from the Kaffe Collective and there was another featuring motifs from Pillow & Maxfield’s Gypsy Bandana Line. On closer look, I saw that Patty Young’s Andalucia was used for the skirt on the same costume.

My fabric geekiness knows no bounds.


Funky Baguette

As I flip through my ever-growing pattern collection, I often wonder if I’m in need of an intervention. So many patterns, so many intentions and yet so little follow through. For instance, I’ve had an Echino purse pattern since 2008 and even bought the fabric but never got around to making it. Why?

In part, because the pattern is in Japanese. This may surprise you, but I can’t read or speak Japanese. Shocking, right? But the Japanese craft books and patterns usually are so detailed with diagrams that it’s really not necessary to be able to read the accompanying text.

Except this pattern. There’s one little diagram that I just wasn’t sure I understood. I finally took another look at it and realized my confusion: The little wiggly line means to gather the section between the arrows. And the diagram on the pattern sheet shows to gather the fabric to an opening of  29cm. Woooo!

And thus my newest purse came into being:

Kokka Baguette

The body of the bag is a fun, new linen/cotton blend from Kokka, part of the new Trefle line. My favorite bright colors+sewing images? LOVE! I lined it with an aqua and white gingham from the Michael Miller line Mini Mikes. The tabs and strap are made with the MM Cotton Couture line of solids (which I am so loving).

All told, I think the bag took maybe 90 minutes to cut and sew. My strap is a little longer than the pattern piece and I also made mine a little different (I cut it four times the finished size and folded it like bias tape, with a touch of Decor Bond to interface). I did mess up the tabs on the first go and these aren’t quite right, either. I also left two pins underneath one of them and had to work them out through the seam. Oops!

I usually don’t like bags without interior pockets but this silhouette doesn’t really lend itself to pockets. Fortunately the size it perfect for my must-have items so I don’t really need any pockets inside. I can seriously see myself making several more of these. Next time I want to use some of the Kokka ready-made strapping.


Tunic Time

Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic

I always enjoy creating treasures from my stash, especially when I’ve had something — fabric or pattern — for a while and have no good excuse for the sewing delay. Last summer, I taught a private class at Intown Quilters and my students wanted to sew an article of clothing for themselves. I suggested the Schoolhouse Tunic, which had been hanging out in my pattern box, and they loved the idea.

Of course, I had to make one for myself before I taught them how to make it. So August found me cutting and sewing some of my favorite cotton lawn from Timeless Treasures. These colors are so me and I love the hand of this fabric like you can’t imagine.

The tunic is designed to be worn over a cami or tank, so if you’re not into the layering thing, it’s probably not the best choice for you. I tweaked the sewing just a bit since I have a serger and am not afraid to use it. I also vaguely remember adding just a bit of length to the bodice to compensate for my slightly fuller bust. I think the empire waistline might have hit a bit too far north otherwise.

This would be a really cute dress in a slightly heavier fabric if I added another 12-18 inches to the hem. I’m not 100 percent sure the current length is totally flattering on me but I don’t care; I throw on a pair of jean leggings and wear it anyway.


New Year, New Bag

I think I probably sew more bags than just about anything else in my repertoire. There’s just something gratifying about making something I can immediately use — and I literally wear out the bags I sew, which means there’s always room for another in my closet.

Daisy Girl Backpack

This bag combined two things I fell in love with on sight: Melody Miller’s Ruby Star Rising fabric and the Daisy Girl Backpack by Fig Tree & Co. Honestly, the most difficult part of this exercise was cutting into the fabric. It’s OOP! It’s the only half-yard of it I bought! Once I make something with it, that’s it! Oh em gee!

Yeah, I may get a little worked up on occasion.

I actually bought the fabric with another project in mind but couldn’t find quite the right lining fabric. I’m glad I waited because I love how this bag turned out. LOVE. IT!

The contrast fabric is Kona (if someone’s really interested, I can match to  my color card) and I used a minty cotton twill for the lining (I inexplicably bought about four yards of it and it’s a pretty nice match). A note on linings: I tend to stick with light-colored fabric for lining bags. If you’ve ever owned a purse with a dark lining, you know that a black hole it can literally be. So much easier to rummage around and find what you’re looking for (I’m looking at you, debit card) if you can actually see the bottom of the bag.

I added a swivel hook to the bag lining to keep my keys, because it’s much easier to find them if they’re always snapped to it. I also substituted a flat magnetic clasp instead of the magnetic snap to save on wear and tear of the opening (I’m rough on bags and inevitably rip the snap through, even with plenty of reinforcement). And I goofed up a bit with the interior pocket and drawstring casing (read the directions! I’d save myself a ton of heartache if I’d follow my own advice!) but it’s still functional if not quite what Joanna Figueroa intended.

There’s a drawstring closure of the bag top which uses grommets and I deviated from the instructions here to do them more like corset grommets. The biggest difference is that I use an awl to work holes for the grommets rather than cutting the fabric. It works on smaller grommets — I can’t see how the technique would work on the big drapery grommets — but is incredibly tedious. It probably took me about 90 minutes but I think it helps keep the fabric stronger around the grommets since there’s no cutting involved. Obviously YMMV.

The bag size is pretty good for my needs. It holds my checkbooks, wallet, iPad and/or Kindle with room to spare. But not so roomy that it will end up a bottomless pit of old receipts, coupons and forgotten mail. Oh, who am I kidding? I am, after all, the woman who can junk up a wristlet!

Miss L was crushed to learn the bag was not for her, so I am fairly certain I’ll be sewing another of these in the near future.


Pink Christmas

I am not a test-the-waters kind of gal. I’m more of a jump-in-with-both-feet person, which probably explains all the half-finished projects in my life. And craft supplies. And this year’s completely overboard Christmas redecorating.

But I digress.

I had heard of Don’t Look Now! patterns but it wasn’t until I saw them at Market in person that I really “got” it. They were so cool and so different from what I’d seen before. Over time, I started thinking, “Hey, I could totally do this!”

Now, most people might think this and decide to try a pillow before diving into a quilt. I am not most people. My life would surely be easier if I were most people but probably a whole lot less interesting. Behold my take on the Don’t Look Now! White Christmas pattern:

White Christmas in PINK!

The tree is Kona Bright Pink; the background is a white-on-white snowflake fabric from Timeless Treasures. The binding and backing are from Kaufman (Tinsel Tree, maybe?).

I traced, cut, fused and stitched around every. single. one of those snowflakes. Some of ‘em are a little wonky looking and I really need an extension table and a class on machine quilting. But I did it! I did the whole thing! (With some fantastic advice from my friends Taffy and Patty, I should mention.)

quilting detail

Because of my complete lack of quilting experience, I enlarged some of the snowflakes (another suggestion from the dynamic duo) and quilted around them on the white. I probably should have done more quilting in between but it ain’t happening.

I definitely learned a lot from making this (those grippy gloves are a must! you can’t have enough thread!) and actually am looking forward to making another Don’t Look Now quilt at some point. Just not anytime soon.


Coming Soon…

I find it nearly impossible to accomplish much of anything crafty from Thanksgiving until the new year. There’s just so much on my plate and then the kids are home more, so I just don’t seem to get much done. This year’s time crunch coincided with another crafty slump, which was a little discouraging, because I actually had the time and desire to make something — I just couldn’t get motivated.

After spending most of a day cleaning up my studio (the clutter tends to adversely affect my crafting), I decided to run over to the shop and pick up some new fabric I’d been admiring and a new quilt pattern to go with it. The new V&A line from David Textiles had me all ga-ga at Market, so I picked out a few fat quarters of it along with some of Tula Pink’s Parisville and a couple of shot cottons. I thought all of it was perfect for the Coming Soon… pattern by Thimble Blossoms, which is actually meant to be a baby blanket but I’m thinking it’s a nice size for a throw.

This is really my kind of pattern: quick, cute and easy. I did make an error in cutting and had to add a couple more of the green-and-cream strips in the middle of piecing but that wasn’t a big deal. I’m toying with the idea of pulling off the border and making a wider one, which is something Sarah suggested. And I still need to pick out a backing fabric (leaning towards flannel or Minky/Minkee) but I’m pretty sure I’m going to bind it with the green.

One thing I will do is orient the quilt differently. I used directional fabric so all my books and wine bottles are sideways! LOL!


Little Girls, Big Style: The Giveaway

I have been working on this giveaway forever. Like, since I started working on Little Girls, Big Style. I have always loved hosting giveaways and this one is even more special to me for rather obvious reasons. And I’m especially excited to be taking part in Sew, Mama, Sew’s annual Giveaway Day (be sure to check out the link and see all the amazing blogs/shops taking part).

Here’s what you’ll be winning from me:

• An autographed copy of Little Girls, Big Style.

• Two yards of Pellon Easy Pattern for tracing the patterns in the book.

• Some fun trims from my stash for using with some of the projects.

• A Clover Chaco Liner chalk marking pen.

• Three one-yard cuts of fabric (fun multicolored owls on white 21-wale cord by Robert Kaufman, Euro-style mermaids from JoAnn and the prize from my stash: Little Elfi from Germany).

• ModKid Little Chef pattern, which I tested for the lovely Patty Young.

• Indygo Junction Petal Blossom Bag designed by Violet Craft, which is the most recent thing I’ve sewn.

• A Starbucks Frappuccino cup and gift card. Starbucks was my office-away-from-home while I was working on the book and I spent many an hour there, writing without the distractions of home (or the Internet).

• An autographed copy of Jenn Cristy‘s Hotel Confessions. Not only was this the soundtrack of my book-writing days but I actually did the photography, CD packaging design and merch design while I was writing the book. You say “crazy;” I say “multitasking.”

This giveaway is open until U.S. residents until Dec. 17 at which time I’ll select a winner using Random.org. (Sorry, international friends! I will do a book-only giveaway just for you after the first of the year.) To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post. Yep, it’s just that easy.

And don’t forget you can still enter the giveaways on the Little Girls, Big Style blog tour (continuing through Dec. 15) to win a copy of the book. Check out these blogs for your chance to win there:

What are you waiting for? Get commenting!


Ruffled Kyoko

Today is picture day at Miss L’s school, which meant I felt compelled to sew something for her to wear. As luck would have it, Sarah mentioned last week that she needed an updated Kyoko sample for the shop, so I decided to knock out both tasks with one dress.

I’ve sewn several of the Kyokos and the pattern continues to be one of my favorites. I love the style and fit, as does Liesl, which certainly helps things. Of course, having sewn it so many times, I wanted to see if I could mix things up a bit. I vaguely remembered seeing a version with ruffles and decided to try one myself.

The fabrics are a new line by Alexander Henry and actually weren’t the first choice. Initially, I’d pulled the same fabrics in a colorway that’s more “me” (aquas and pinks) but decided to go with more Fall colors instead. I can’ really explain why I did it but looking at the dress tells me I was right to make the switch (although I’ll probably grab some of the other fabrics to use for another outfit).

The bodice is lined and I skipped the neckline binding, instead adding a 1/4″ seam allowance and sewing the lining and exterior together. I understitched the lining to the seam allowance so no topstitching shows on the neckline.

I again skipped the binding on the hem and sleeve edges, replacing it with ruffles. Oh, how I love those ruffles! They were worth all the math and measuring to figure them out. The ruffles are finished with a rolled hem, which I’m only meh about: I didn’t have any brown Wooly Nylon on hand so just used regular serger thread and it doesn’t have the fullness I wanted. Not really a big deal and I doubt the majority of people will even notice so I’ll just keep quiet and live with it.

The obi is probably my favorite. I was on the fence about which fabric to use and Sarah suggested I make it reversible. Brilliant! Liesl asked to wear the apples today but the reverse is the same yellow fabric used on the ruffles. Overall, I think it’s one of the tamer Kyokos I’ve made but, oh, how pretty it is!

By the way, I’m teaching a Kyoko class (which will include tips for modifying the pattern like I did) on Oct. 9.