Sunday, 20 June 2021

The Joy of Small Hand Sewing Projects


Kismet Kiss Quilt

Fresh Cut

Groove is in the Heart

Most winter evenings after I've finished dinner, the housework and various other domestic duties, I like to sit down in a comfy chair with either a book or a handsewing project. I have a few in progress at present: ( Fresh Cut - a wool felt and embroidery project, Kismet Kiss - my new epp project, Groove is in the Heart Quilt )  but have been thinking about why I prefer to work on some and others not so much.

I've decided that I'm not enamored with my Fresh Cut applique/embroidery project.  While I love the look of the finished ones I've seen, and using wool felt, the beautiful threads and making fancy stitches,  I am not enjoying making mine.  Perhaps it's because I'm doing it on fabric rather than a  felt background, and I don't like the fluff from the parlan fusible batting attached to it coming through the fabric.  It could also be because the blocks are large, my last couple of felt applique projects have had small blocks, which make it much easier to have a portable easy to work on handsewn project. Also sewing on black is hard, even more so if your eyesight is not great.  

I think this is why I really enjoy English Paper piecing.  Yes it takes me forever to select the fabric combinations for the blocks, but the pieces are small and easy to sew, and they don't take up as much room if I'm taking them somewhere as a portable project.  It's an easy project to stop and start, I can baste a lot of pieces ready to stitch, and I know that it will be a long term project anyway.

My Groove is in the Hearts quilt is also an easy to sew small hand sewing project, each heart half fits into a magazine, or manila folder which keeps it flat.  I've taken tis project away on holiday, a few times and  They are quite quick and simple to make and I see results quickly.

Unfortunately I think my Fresh Cut Quilt may be packed away for a while (read forseeable future) while I continue to enjoy smaller and more manageable projects.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Ms Magenta in the Garden


Yes, I could quite legitimately be a character in a Cluedo game in this jacket.

Last year during lockdown, I made a little cropped jacket with a pattern from Burda Style magazine. this has ended up being one of my most worn winter pieces, so I thought I'd make a plain black or charcoal version, that would go with everything.   Well plans have a habit of changing, and I ended up falling in love with a beautiful magenta cashmere/viscose blend, that I decided I could wear with all my black winter clothes instead.

Apart from a few stressful moments (due to minimal instructions)  attaching the lining hem and making the pivoted corners where the sleeves join the jacket body, it is  a lovely pattern to make up.

I have decided to forgo the button and buttonhole on this jacket and use  some of the funky/chunky brooches I own to fasten it instead.

And yes, I do still need to make a plain black trans seasonal jacket.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Things Here Lately


My colour palette is currently based on these shades

Well, we are definitely headed into late autumn now.  The leaves are changing colour and falling everywhere, my mandarin and feijoa trees have been fruiting prolifically, the violets are starting to flower.  I can smell wood smoke from the odd fire that has been lit in my neighbourhood, (in fact we lit ours last weekend) and I'm starting to need to wear layers at work.  

I have temporarily increased my hours at work, which may yet end up being a permanent change, so I am finding I need to be more organised to ensure I get time to do all the things I like doing. Lets just say that lists are my forte at present.  So anyhoo, here's what have I been up too lately. 

  • Obviously working on my new epp project, I have nine blocks completed now and have found a picture of the most beautiful floral arrangement, which has the colour palette I'd envisioned in my mind. I still struggle with choosing fabrics for the centre cross part of the block, I am sure that this part of the process takes longer than the actual stitching of the block itself.  I'm not sure if I'll make all the 48 blocks required, but I guess I have a lot of time to decide.
  • I have also decided I need to conquer my fear of sewing with knit fabrics and make myself some layering pieces to wear for work and exercise, ie: walking and yoga.  So far I've made a black merino top from a Burda style pattern, which caused me to do an awful lot of swearing at my machine, the top is still wearable, and I will try this pattern again, with a different fabric .  I have also made a sweatshirt using the Undercover Hoody pattern from Papercut Patterns, from a charcoal merino/tencel knit, I'm certainly glad I upsized to size S.  I would like to try the hoody version of this next time too.  Also in the plans is a new jacket for work in a beautiful magenta cashmere/viscose blend.  I'm really looking forward to making and  wearing this.
  • Of course, books will always feature in my daily life.  Some good novels I've enjoyed are:

            - The Invisible Woman By Erika Robuck (based on a real life story)

            - The Lost manuscript by Cath Bonidan (a charming epistolary novel)

  • This corner of my garden is bringing me a lot of joy at present.  I love the bright green and deep crimson irisene, and I don't think I have ever seen as many flowers on the vireya before.  My dahlias have been cut back, and I'm pondering whether to risk leaving the tubers in the ground over winter this year.  
Hoping you are all enjoy whatever season you are living in at present,

Friday, 30 April 2021

Kismet Kiss - A New EPP Project


Kismet Kiss quilt - image from here

A couple of weeks ago, Jodi from Tales of Cloth posted a new epp kit on her instagram page.  Out of curiosity flicked through to the pattern designer and came across this quilt. I don't know what appealed to me about it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it, so over Easter I ordered the template and epp papers kit.

The original pattern called for the blocks to be hand pieced, which I would never have done.  I like how epp means the pieces line up nicely, and stay rigid until you are ready to remove the paper pieces.

I kept thinking that my Densyse Schmidt fabrics would work perfectly for this giving it a slightly vintage yet modern feel, but I haven't has much luck working out a colour palette solely with her fabrics.  So while there will be a lot of her fabrics being used, there will still be a lot of other fabrics from Anna Maria Horner and Liberty, which will give it the scrappy yet hopefully cohesive look I love.   

They are not the quickest blocks to make, so I am anticipating at least another 3-4 years till this project is finished.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Things Here Lately

I'm currently enjoying the last night of a peaceful Easter Weekend home alone.  I've done some housework, pottered in the garden,  caught up with a couple of friends and generally made the most of having no schedule to keep or anyone else to look after.  
  • Autumn is definitely making her presence felt, my dahlias are pretty much finished, though my zinnias and cosmos are still flowering well.  I decided to make a big beautiful bouquet to brighten up my house this weekend, featuring the last of my dahlias, lime green iresine leaves, cosmos and zinnia.  After a few years of trial and error in my garden, it's nice to have plants that can survive a hot summer, little watering thus enabling me to finally have a picking garden.
  • Another Autumn blessing is that my feijoa trees finally start dropping their fruit.  I love eating them raw or mixed with apple in a fruit crumble.  However I recently saved a recipe for Topsy Turvy Feijoa Cake, and made it today. Perfectly delicious.
  • I had a sewing day last weekend with friends. I started making a new shirt which I finished off slowly over the following week.  It is the Seychelles Top from Itch to Stitch.  I made the long sleeve version, size 4B in a lovely rayon from Spotlight.  I'm really pleased with how it has turned out, especially as it was my first time doing a V neckline.  So pleased in fact, I started another one today.  Miss B,my usual photographer was away, so I had fun using the self timer function on my phone for these photos.
  • I came across a new word the other day.  Tsundoku - a Japanese word for the acquisition of books and keeping them  in a pile while never reading them, it can also refer to a pile of books.  Now I know I am guilty of having piles of books in my house,  (that's an occupational hazard when one works in a library), but generally they are all read. These four books have kept me entertained and educated over the past month.  All are historical fiction, except for Banks which is a biography on Joseph Banks the renowned botanist.  I have enjoyed them all and recommend any of them if you are looking for an interesting read.
Wishing you all wonderful week ahead.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Fantail Shirt

The Fantail Shirt from New Zealand pattern company, The Sewing Revival has been on my want to make list for a while.  I had planned on making it on a sewing day away, however a cancelled weekend away hiking left me with spare time so I decided to start making it.

I decided to use an animal print rayon from my stash, and made the size 10.  Overall it is an easy pattern, the curved hem is finished with bias binding, and the front band as an elastic insert which gives a nice gathered finish to the centre front. I like the longer shirt tail at the back, am a little disappointed that the elasticated cuffs don't show as much gathering, but, I guess you don't want them to be too tight, and am thinking I should possibly size down for my next version. 

I'm not too sure if I feel a little frumpy in this or if it just the fabric I've used or how I've styled it.  I definitely think it looks better with the cropped jeans and could be a versatile trans-seasonal piece and something I can wear layered over a merino top  with skinny jeans and boots winter too.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Finished - Ice Cream Soda Quilt


All pieced - waiting for borders to be attached

Meeka - my not very helpful assistant

My hand pieced Ice Cream Soda quilt started in May 2017, is actually finished. The pattern and templates were from Tales of Cloth.  Fabric for all the blossoms was from my stash.  It has been a long slow process for me, culminating in getting all the blossoms and joining pieces finished last May in our long lockdown.

After attaching the border pieces, I painstakingly removed all the papers (with help from Meeka, and a teen then telling me all the ones I had missed) and pressed hundreds of seams.  Then it sat, folded carefully away till I decided what I wanted to back it with and how to quilt.

After my holiday in February , I decided that I needed to get it finished and in a useable state. I sent it to  Leeanne of Quiltmekiwi for quilting, I also purchased the wideback backing fabric and batting from her.  I deliberated long and hard about not hand quilting it myself, and still feel as though I have cheated for not doing so, but I know that it would have sat there for unfinished for years.  This way I can use it and love it,  and I feel that the machine quilting probably reinforces my hand stitching a little more too.

A lot of emails and messages were toing and froing between Leeanne and myself, and eventually I decided on an e2e quilting specifying that I still wanted it to be wrapable and not too stiffly textured or heavily quilted, but something that would give interesting texture.  Gingersnap was the design I decided on in the end.  Quilting was not without drama either,  unfortunately even though we couldn't see it, my border was to big for the pieced top, which resulted in a terrible wavy look.  Leeanne unpicked, trimmed and reattached them before she could start quilting again.

Because I had quite a multipatterned and coloured backing, a patterned binding did not look right. When picking the blue background fabric, I always had in mind the idea of flowers floating in water, and after some consulation with Leeanne, I decided to match the binding to the border fabric to create this effect. 

I'm really proud of this quilt, it was a big commitment deciding to handpiece one, and too actually finish it.  Many times I thought about passing it on, I'm glad I persevered and I couldn't be more happy with it.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Mapua Shorts

My second lockdown sewing project is the new Mapua shorts pattern from The Sewing Revival.

I made up version B , size 10 in a remnant of linen from the Burda culottes I made last year,  They feature a flat front waistband, minimal elastic gathering on the back and angled pockets.  The pattern was very easy, with very clear detailed instructions.  They are a little shorter than I realised (I never check the finished length on patterns) and I could possible size down a little in the back.  I feel that I have a slight excess of gathering from the elastic waistband, which will probably bag out more when I sit for long periods being a linen. 

I wouldn't mind trying the pattern again in a sports style fabric, because I think they'd make quite a comfortable short for hiking, especially with the elastic waist and good sized pockets.  Maybe when we're out of lockdown I can investigate the fabric options available.

I'm wearing the shorts here with one of my bellbird tops, which is another pattern from The Sewing Revival.

Overall a comfortable make, and I'm hoping we get a few more warm days to wear them.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Things Here Lately


Auckland is currently in a one week lockdown, so that means we're back to online classes for Miss B and Mr J, and work zoom meetings for me. 

I figured that meant it's a good time to have a little round up of what has been keeping me busy in my spare time over the past month.
  • Hearts and more hearts, I've made 28 blocks in total now,  so I'm over half way.  I'm trying to add some new colours to the background and have some more similarly toned heart halves rather than being totally contrasting. 
  • I sewed another Cuff Top - this time in a bright cobalt Frida Kahlo inspired printed viscose.  I used the round neckline hack from The Assembly Line tutorials and hacks page.  While lowering the neckline,  it seems to have made it a little wider on my shoulders, so not sure how it's going to feel when being worn all day.  I adore the colour of this fabric though.
  • Books - I have been reading a few books lately - Maralinga by Judy Nunn was one I enjoyed a lot. Set in Australia in the 1950's it is about the atomic tests conducted by the British in the outback.  She researches and writes very well, often about controversial aspects of Australian history.
  • Miss B has been semi vegetarian now for over a year, and I suspect when she eventually moves out of home, she will turn totally vegetarian.  I try to serve meat free meals a couple of times a week and one night made a beautiful chickpea curry for the main and a chocolate mousse using the liquid from the can of chickpeas.  Called aquafaba this stuff whipped up like egg whites - quite amazing.  General verdict was that the mousse tasted ok, it had a slightly grainy texture, but that could have been from overheating the chocolate and it was very rich.  Mousse recipe can be found here.
Fingers crossed that the community cases are contained and we are back to normal life soon.
Stay safe, stay home, scan the codes when out, wear a mask.  Kia Kaha