December 11, 2017

A new quilt project : Patches and Pinwheels

I have been following Bonnie Hunter for a few years and I finally decided to try one of her quilt patterns. I selected Patches and Pinwheels, one of her free patterns at her website. I wanted to try one of her quilt patterns because I wanted a feel for how she designs her quilts. I admire Bonnie's ability to sit down at a machine and sew scraps together to create a quilt - though I suspect she uses eQuilter design software more than we know. On the surface, this method of using fabric scraps in ready to go sizes seemed very relaxing. I also want to migrate into designing my own quilts. I know I can, but I get stuck at the planning stages. I needed to loosen up in my expectations of color and fabric and just play.

The fabric for this quilt comes mostly from upcycled men's shirts, but I threw a few of mine in there as well. With my first attempt, I did not pay attention to the fiber content of the shirts and some of them were more polyester then cotton. I ended up not liking the fabric from those shirts, so they ended up in the garbage - minus their buttons. After that I primarily used only cotton shirts. I supplemented with some shirts from the thrift store which yielded a surprising amount of fabric and a few fat quarters from the fabric store.

My first few attempts at cutting apart a man's shirt to harvest the fabric took me much longer than I expected. There is this little bit of fear about potentially ruining an otherwise good shirt. An irrational fear because several of these shirts had worn collars and cuffs and were not suitable for donation. After cutting down several, I developed a system and they went pretty fast.

The cutting and sewing went pretty well until I was ready to square up my blocks. The pinwheel blocks are fine for the most part. The 16 patch blocks were not. Bonnie Hunter recommends checking the piecing periodically to ensure everything measures as it should. I did not check very often. I figure my machine was set properly after the first few blocks and away I went. Come to find out that most of my 16-patch blocks all measured 1/4-3/8" too small. If the sewing or cutting is off just a little bit on a few of those 2 inch squares, the problem is quickly multiplied across the entire block.

So yes, I am going back through the 16-patch block and redoing them. This is a good lesson on precise cutting and sewing and checking measurements.

December 08, 2016

Big chunky scarf

DH asked for a scarf last Christmas. Of course he asked for it about two weeks before Christmas. He picked the yarn and color. This is the only picture I have and it's not that great.

Pattern: The Nørrebro Scarf
Yarn: Lion Brand Thick and Quick
Color: Claret
Needle: Size 13, double pointed bamboo
Mods: Eliminated ribbing

You would think this would be a quick and easy project with super bulky yarn, but I didn't finish this until April 2015. Three things got in the way - super busy work schedule and my ongoing fatigue. The third was the yarn itself. Because I had to use such a large needle, it really hurt my hands. I only managed about 4 or so rows at a time and then I had to stop. It seems counterintuitive that large needles would cause this problem, but it certainly seems to be the case. There is probably a happy ergonomic needle and yarn size, but smaller is better for me. I have no problem knitting with size 1 sock needles, but not the super large size 13's.

DH likes this scarf because it is soft, squishy and super warm.

November 30, 2016

Hawaiian quilt pt. 2 and where I am now

On January 1, 2016, I finished piecing the Hawaiian quilt, complete with borders. It was an all day sewing marathon while I watched a Justice Network marathon (one of the few antenna based channels that comes in clear). Next up is to figure out the backing and then quilting. I plan on having a local quilter do the quilting, which is why this is still sitting here. Overall I am very happy with how this came together and when I finish it, I will post more pictures.

The thing I learned from this project was precision sewing. That crucial 1/4" seam allowance. I've read about it in many quilting books and tutorials and thought that I understood it. And then I discovered that my blocks did not measure up or match corresponding blocks. It wasn't terrible, but it was enough to bother me. I took the time to carefully square up each block, which included trimming the blocks down about an 1/8" so they were all the same size. The blocks are rotated 90 degrees, so there was really no need for the seams to match on corresponding blocks. Next time, I will pay more attention and check measurements as I go.

So why the long blog absence? It was really quite simple. I started working as a pattern maker again. It was a bit of a surprise opportunity to go back. At the same time I was dealing with a severe bout of chronic fatigue. So between the two jobs and the chronic fatigue, I had nothing left. I've been feeling better recently, though every now and then I'm reminded this is something I will have to deal with for a long time. I have a lot to say about how doctors treated me and what it took for me to recover, somewhat. But that is for another day and another blog.

In the meantime, I do want to get back to blogging. I will probably focus on whatever projects I am currently working on rather than pattern making and design. I have finished a few projects over the last year and a half, so there is more to come.

June 08, 2015

Hawaiian quilt pt. 1

I started a quilt. The idea for this quilt has been floating around my head for a few years. I had some Hawaiian printed cottons left over from other projects and I wanted to use them in a modern style quilt. I have only three colors to work with, purple, green, and white. I had a hard time visualizing the overall look of the quilt, so I drew up a version using Inkscape*. I could have taken this a step further and scanned the fabric into the drawing, but this was close enough. I still have not decided on the final borders. It partially depends on how much of each color I have left after piecing the blocks. I'm fairly certain I will not be using green on the outside border. I may go for white instead with green bias binding.

Here are the actual fabrics, cut and ready to go.


The pattern came from Fat Quarter Fun by Karen Snyder and is called Summer Fun. I really liked this quilting book. Most of the patterns are simple, using primarily fat quarters for the tops. This particular quilt is a bit small, IMO, so I've added some additional blocks to bump it up to a full size. I'm also using yardage instead of fat quarters. Because of that, I think I should have cut and sewn things a little bit differently. More on that later. I'm excited to finally have started this project.

*Inkscape has some nifty drawing tools, including cloning. I did not use that feature here, but it would have been a perfect opportunity to use it.

May 28, 2015

Blog Hop - Four Questions and Answers

I was nominated by Olgalyn of the O! Jolly! Crafting Fashion blog to participate in a Four Questions and Answers blog hop. It was nice to get to know Olgalyn. She has a very stylish blog and does lots of interesting projects, so be sure to check out her blog.

1. Why do I write?

I started this blog in 2006. At that time, blogging was the new internet thing. People were getting published and making a name for themselves with blogging. I guess people still do. I am a pattern maker and technical designer and I wanted to share what I had learned over the years working in the fashion industry. I hope that my writing has helped others -- it has certainly helped me. Writing has helped me work through some difficult topics and ideas in pattern making. Doing so helps me understand those topics more deeply. One of my college teachers gave the class an assignment to write sewing instructions for someone else. It was extraordinarily difficult and blogging has enabled me to improve in that area. I try really hard to lighten otherwise dull subjects and bring them down to earth. I also like to share fun projects that I am currently working on so that the blog is not always weighed down with such heavy writing.

I also write a reading blog. This is just a place for me to keep track of what I'm reading.

2. What am I working on?

So.many.projects. Seriously, I try to be monogamous in my non-work, hobby related projects because I just haven't had the mental or physical energy of late to do too much. It doesn't always work. I set a goal to make a quilt this year. I was finally able to start it this month. The fabrics came from Blackpearl Designs (unfortunately these prints are no longer available) and have been sitting in my stash for quite a while. The quilt idea has been percolating for at least a year.
I'm also spindle spinning some local fiber (pictures to come later).

I have two big long-term projects. I've been writing a book on the sizing and grading of children's apparel. It is over half done, but I had to put it on the back burner earlier this year because I started working as a pattern maker again. Things have slowed down a bit again and I hope to pick it up again this year. I'm also working on a software project, but I've also not made progress due to work-related priorities. I am determined to finish both projects eventually.

3. How does my blog differ from others in its genre?

I tend to write about technical topics in the fashion industry, primarily on grading and pattern making. My most popular blog entries are neck circumferences for infants, tutorial on how to remove/reduce sleeve cap ease, and how to sew set-in sleeves. So my blog is not very fashionable or fashion oriented even though I still talk about it.

4. How does my writing process work?

In the past, I would be inspired by a topic or a current project and just immediately sit down and write. There was little planning or photo taking. It took until this year for me to sit down and create a publishing schedule and calendar with self-imposed deadlines. I did pretty well with it until February when I took on some new pattern making work and I couldn't keep up with it. I take more time with my writing, so I try to write when I have time and schedule the posts to appear more regularly. The goal is to publish twice a week, though it still varies due to my work schedule. I keep track of my blog ideas in my bullet journal.

It's at this point that I'm supposed to nominate other bloggers. I must confess I'm drawing a blank, so blame me if the blog hop chain runs dry. I would appreciate some suggestions in the comments below.