Saturday, 15 December 2018

Jily ready to sew

It feels odd to be posting about a summer top in the winter. Well to be honest it feels weird to be posting about sewing clothes at all as it's not something I've done much of at all this year. It's been quilts all the way! I did manage to sew this top in time for the summer though and I'm very glad I did.  It's the Jily top from Ready to Sew and I saw a few gorgeous versions of this on instagram during Me Made May which inspired me to try it out. I've just pasted in my review from Pattern Review below but added in a tutorial I just found on Megan Nielsen's website which I think would help with making the tie as neat and clean a finish as possible. 

Pattern Description: Jily is fitted at the shoulders and falls into a relaxed fit below the bust. Wear it casual during the day paired with a high waisted jean or make it in a beautiful crêpe for an elegant evening out.

Pattern Sizing: 32 - 46

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. Though I think to get a really good finish you would either need to have some experience of sewing curves or look at an extra tutorial. I took the top to work on at a sewing session at Ray Stitch and the tutor there reminded me about the importance of notching curves and really helped me to get a clean finish on the ties. There is a tutorial on the Ready to Sew website for doing the all in one facing but I think it would be helpful to have one for notching the ties as well. All it says on the instructions is to 'clip and trim where needed' which when it is labelled as a beginner pattern doesn't seem like enough direction to me somehow.

close-up which kind of shows the facing (I meant to take some in progress shots but forgot!)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It fits me nicely under the arm and I love the tie front and the shape of it - perfect for summer!

Fabric Used: This was a fabric I bought in Copenhagen about 5 years ago. It is a very lightweight cotton. I only had 1.47 metres in length and 65 cm in width so it was a tight squeeze!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't make any changes to the pattern at all except having to employ some patchworking skills in order to fit all the pattern pieces out of a very narrow piece of fabric! My sizing put me in 36 for bust, 38 for waist and 40 for full hip but it looked like quite a loose fit so I risked it with a straight 36 and it worked out fine.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Oh yes I will definitely sew this again. I'd like to try the version without the tie as well. I would recommend it to others but would say if you're not experienced sewing curves and points maybe check out an extra tutorial to help with getting the ties nice and neat looking such as this tutorial on Megan Nielsen.

Conclusion: I'm really pleased with how this top turned out. I've looked back and I think this was the only garment I sewed this year so I'm glad it's a good one! I wore it loads in the summer and will again next summer.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Sawtooth star quilt

I just checked back on my blog and the first quilt I made was in 2016 so I can't quite believe that this is me posting about the first quilt I've made for our own home, in 2018!  This quilt was made for my son's first 'big bed' and it's only actually a month late so that's not too bad going.

Sawtooth star quilt
 The idea started with the gorgeous Ray Hoekstra 'Small world' fabric for Cloud 9 fabric.  I've had this fabric since 2016 according to my blog as I used some of it to make a bag for my nephew but I can't remember where I bought it.  Sometime in 2017 I made two blocks with the 'small world' fabric just to try out the Sawtooth star block.  I never did anything with them though so this year, when I decided to make a quilt for my son, I went back to these blocks and decided to use them as the starting point.
Sawtooth star quilt block
Sawtooth star quilt block
 In addition to the 'small world' fabric I found this lovely warm yellow baby cord on the Minerva Crafts website.  They have a great sample service so I ordered a sample first to check the colour matched. The white fabric is mostly a 100% cotton sheet from a local charity shop, although the eagle-eyed among you may spot that two of the blocks have a slightly different shade of white, these were the first two blocks I made in 2017. I just used scraps of white fabric for them and unfortunately they were slightly different to the white in the rest of the quilt. The backing is a 100% organic cotton duvet cover, John Lewis via the local charity shop (so far it's been used to back 3 quilts and I still have some scraps left, not bad for £2 or £3!). I used Aurifil 50wt thread for the quilting.

Quilt backing
Close-up of quilting on the back of the quilt
The Suzy Quilts tutorial for the Sawtooth Star block is really good if you haven't made one before, or even if you had and you just want a wee reminder.  It gives you the different sizes to cut for each fabric for 4 different sized blocks. I started this way back in February and although the stars were fairly quick to put together it took a while to decide on the design, make it the size I wanted (roughly 44"x 64"), and decide how to quilt it.  The stars are 12" stars.  This quilt was sitting basted and ready to quilt for ages before I finally made a decision on the quilting.  I initially just had one diamond shape on top of each star but i decided it really needed the smaller one too to make it secure, and get the look I wanted.  When I started binding it I realised I hadn't made enough binding so had to stop again to make extra, luckily there were just enough scraps left!  I think this quilt has turned out really well, I love the colours and the design and luckily my son loves it too, and that's the most important thing.
Sawtooth star quilt
I was reading something recently (sorry I can't remember where) about handmade gifts. The post writer talked about thinking about the recipient while making the gift, about  pouring your love and admiration for that person into the gift.  That's what I think is so special about handmade gifts, and that is what I try and do when I make a quilt or any other gift for someone. All my love for my son is in this quilt and hopefully he will treasure it for years to come.

I'm trying to finish off lots of WIP (works in progress) before the end of the year, and post about them on my blog, so hopefully I'll be around here a bit more often.  Is anyone else trying to finish off projects before the end of the year?!


Saturday, 8 December 2018

'Over the rainbow' baby quilt

This quilt has been finished for a while but it's taken me ages to get photos of it.  It's a very special quilt for a very special person, my son's key worker from nursery.  She has just had a baby (well 3 months ago now so I'm a bit behind!) and my son had just moved on from nursery to school so I wanted to give her a special gift.  She is such a lovely person and we felt so lucky that she was our son's key worker, and friend, for the past 2 & 1/2 years.  The inspiration for this quilt was one I saw on london_and_granger's instagram.  If I had been making it for me I'd probably have gone for similarly bright colours but I knew that the mum this is a gift for likes to wear a lot of blue and denim so I decided to stick to a more muted colour scheme.
Leah Duncan fabric
Leah Duncan fabric
The starting point for the quilt was the beautiful Leah Duncan bird and rainbow prints from the No Place Like Home collection.  I knew I wanted to stick to mostly blues but felt the pale peach went so well that I had to add that in.  Asides from the dark blue chambray and the pale peach, which I had already, all the other fabrics were bought from M is for Make specifically for this project.  The backing is the last of a beautiful blue/white striped double or king (I can't remember which) John Lewis cotton duvet cover I got in a local charity shop.  I also used this to back this a quilt for my son which hopefully I'll get photos of soon! The binding was a roll of chambray binding one of my lovely friends gave me and it matches so perfectly. It's the first time I've used shop bought binding on a quilt and I must say it did speed the process up a fair bit not having to make the binding! As usual I used the attaching double fold bias binding tutorial from Purl Soho.

I used the hst tutorial from Suzy Quilts as a reminder on how to do half square triangles and cut them as 9" squares as I had just bought a 9" square quilting ruler so it made for nice and easy, and quick, cutting out! I did draw out the layout beforehand, though I altered it slightly when I put them all together.  Does anyone ever stick to exactly their initial plan with a quilt? I know mine always end up changing throughout the process of making!

quilt design plan, with multiple changes added/scored out etc!

 With shop bought bias binding, a 9" square ruler, and chain piecing, this quilt top was pretty quick to put together.  The quilting took a bit longer though as I couldn't decide what, or more precisely, how much, quilting to do.  I took the question to instagram and The Littlest Thistle had some very good advice - check the batting instructions for advice on how far apart the quilting lines should be, and try and anchor all the squares evenly.  I should have taken some indoor photos of the back of the quilt so you could see the quilting better but I found some earlier photos I took of the front of it so hopefully you can see it there.  I'm very pleased with how it's turned out. I love this quilt so much and my son did too, I hope it is well loved in its new home.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Beach bag and minimalist holiday packing

Minimalist holiday packing - does anyone else try to pack as little as they can to go on holiday?! I find now that with the addition of clothes, toys and books for a 4 year old, plus a few books for myself and my husband I don't really have much room for clothes. Well I mean taking a bigger case and checking in luggage is always an option but we really prefer not to do this as it always adds waiting time at the airports at either end so we have stuck to hand luggage on as many trips as we can.

holiday wardrobe

This was my holiday wardrobe for 10 days in Italy. I took:
Grainline tiny pocket tank (this has been worn so much, I love it!)
American Apparel chambray short-sleeved shirt (worn travelling there & back)
Lilac Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt
Pink Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt
& Other stories striped shorts
Named Patterns Inari tee dress
Japanese dress book Dress D in dark chambray from Merchant & Mills
Brick/rust trousers from Asos

Japanese dress book Dress D
I wore a pair of Steve Madden brown leather sandals and didn't take any other shoes with me, oh and I wore my denim jacket travelling. The only addition to this was two bikinis, underwear and a pyjama short set. There were points when I wished for a better pair of shoes for walking but asides from that there wasn't anything I wished I'd brought, and I wore everything that was with me.  It really brought home to me that I don't need a huge amount of clothes, especially in summer when things can be washed & dried so quickly. I'm gradually getting rid of things now that don't get worn, even things I've made, and it's satisfying to see my wardrobe getting smaller but full of things that are worn a lot and well loved. 
beach bag in situ by the pool at our holiday apartment in Ossuccio, Lake Como

Talking of things that are well loved I also made myself a new beach bag for going away (even though we weren't going to the beach!).  This bag was made from a linen skirt I bought in Hobbs in 2010.  It was bought for a special occasion - a memorial exhibition which I organised of my mum's art work to raise money for Eve - the charity for gynaecological cancers.  The exhibition was a success, it was a lovely event where I got to chat with lots of my mum's friends, and look at all her artwork together in one room. So the skirt holds some sentimental value for me.  It has lasted me really well and was worn up until last summer when it just started to look a bit tatty, it had some holes and some stains around the hem which I couldn't shift. When I mentioned to a friend that I'd like to make it into a beach bag she kindly did me a little mock up of how to do a bag with square corners to make it roomier.  I went to an evening sewing session at Ray Stitch - where you bring your own projects to work on with the benefit of an experienced sewing instructor, as well as lots of other lovely people to chat too! I bought the bright pink webbing there to add a bit of contrast with the straps and, thanks to some extra tips from Rosie the instructor that evening, I came away with a very neat and roomy beach bag! It came in so useful on holiday and was used every day to carry about water bottle, books, pac-a-macs, sun cream (we had very changeable weather the first few days!), beach towels etc.

I don't get so much sewing time nowadays, and when I do it's usually quilts I'm drawn to sewing.  I wear pretty much all the things in my wardrobe and am gradually culling it of the things that don't get worn.  Recently I made a Maya top that was not a success - a combination of cheap polyester fabric and rusty sewing skills - but I'm not dwelling on it as the next sew was a big success - the 'Jily' top by Ready to Sew.  I'll share a review of the pattern soon! I'm trying to cull my fabric stash now too and get rid of fabrics I wouldn't wear if I saw them as garments in a shop, sometimes these fabrics move to my quilting supplies but there are definitely a few that can go to the charity shop. I've never been tempted to read the Mari Kondo book or try that method but am coming round to it a bit now, especially seeing how much stuff we still haven't unpacked since we moved 4 months ago!  The blog Be More with Less has also had some inspiring posts I've read recently so maybe there's a wider decluttering phase starting for me!

the skirt in its original form

an example of one of the holes in the fabric