Clearing out and catching up

Delinquent again! Almost two months this time, so at least I’m being consistent in my absence. I have spent the week-end cataloguing my fabric stash. I have always kept a running spreadsheet of fabric as it comes in, but I added photos to help me remember what it all looks like. In doing so, I managed to relieve myself of 13 cuts of suiting and two unfinished projects that were never going to get back onto my roster. This is good, as I will be moving in the summer and I hope more of my fabric will be moving as finished garments, in my suitcase, rather than as yardage.

Since I had the camera and the necessary light (it was sunny in the mornings), I opted to take photos of all the garments I have made but not shown in the last two years. Quite a job! It would all be too much for one post, so I propose breaking it up by garment type. Today will be dresses. There are three and I’ve only had one nap today (it is Sunday, after all), so I feel that I can manage.

SA Layla, M6187, D&D Bleuet

Style Arc Layla, Deer & Doe Bleuet, McCall’s 6187

I completed these dresses over the past two years: I believe Layla was finished in summer 2014, Bleuet in summer 2015 and McCall’s was my Halloween costume in October 2015. Shall we go in chronological order?

Style Arc Layla

Style Arc Layla I love how Style Arc includes a swatch with the patterns!

I wrote a post last fall about my rules for dresses: no waist seams! Layla seems to scoff at this rule, but I scoff at making patterns as they are. The test garment revealed that, indeed, a waist seam would not work for me. The skirt and bodice darts, moreover, were virtually impossible (for me) to align satisfactorily. The beautiful thing about Style Arc is that there is almost always a separate lining pattern. That was the case with Layla. I used the lining pattern, with fisheye (contour) darts as the dress exterior (and as its lining!). It worked well.

Bear in mind that my dress form only shares my bust measurement, so the shaping of the darts is not remarkable on her. Layla is a great office dress, not so great for working with little kids in a classroom. I had a bit of a panic attack after completing the back vent and was almost resigned to hand sewing the rest of the lining. (I always do back vents first, even when it says otherwise. It is easier before the entire dress is assembled.)

Style Arc Layla vent

Style Arc Layla vent

I sought advice on a sewing forum and got my head around machine installation. Linings are tricky; I have developing spatial sense (yes, I did use report card lingo!) and there is a lot of mirroring in the process. I got there in the end and am quite pleased with the result, although I have not yet worn the dress.

Style Arc Layla back lining

Style Arc Layla I did it all by machine!

The sweetheart neckline is not quite as pronounced as in the line drawing, but I think it may be some of the unpicking/restitching that had to happen in order to get the lining in. Style Arc Layla sweetheartCap sleeves are also not my favourite. The fabric is a poly/rayon suiting from Sawyer Brook. The rayon content makes it wearable for me and the poly helps prevent wrinkling. The lining, as ever, is navy rayon bemberg from Downtown Fabrics.

Deer & Doe Bleuet

Deer & Doe Bleuet Will you recognize it in my version?

Where to begin? I love shirt dresses. I needed one in my life last summer. I had a fabulous navy stretch cotton woven that needed to be a basic dress that I would actually don. I love this dress! It ticks so many boxes for me: no waist seam, princess lines that elongate my non-tall form, gentle A-line in the skirt and a whimsical bow. I did not love making it. I made four versions: two test garments and two dresses before I almost got it right. Mine does not look like the line drawing, as you will see.

Deer & Doe Bleuet front

Deer & Doe Bleuet Wrinkly because I had just worn it!

The first major difference is the sleeve. I have broad shoulders. Puffed sleeves are not an option. That aspect of the pattern was a non-starter from the outset. I redrafted the sleeve, not entirely successfully, as there is still just a bit too much ease for a truly smooth installation. But it works well enough. Done is better than perfect is becoming my mantra.

The major issue at the beginning was sizing. My initial test garment, made in a size 40, according to my measurements, would not even close at the front. I sized up to 42 and tried again. Still a bit too close fitting, but I went ahead and made it in some black stretch cotton. The collar and neckline were ridiculous! In this navy version, I used a 40 for the upper torso, grading to a 44 through the waist and hip. I prefer a silhouette that skims my body, unlike the version pictured on the Deer & Doe website, which is a little small for the model. I also opted for a contrast bow.

I love the bow! I used a gingham stretch cotton from Queen Textiles (the navy was from there, too) and it worked beautifully. I used it on the inner collar stand and hem facing as well.

In the collar photo you can also see where I used stay tape to stabilize the shoulders. I love hem facings! They make a hem so crisp. This may be a new practise for me going forward.

Although I love this dress, there remain a few issues: the sleeve head needs less ease, the collar is a little skimpy and the bow is perhaps too whimsical to employ in subsequent versions. The shaping in the dress is wonderful for my columnar body and I foresee making more Bleuets, after working out these changes.

McCall's 6187

McCall’s 6187 Usually I just disguise myself as a teacher for Halloween, but this year I made a costume!

Halloween at school is kind of a nightmare. This year, however, I decided to join in the madness (after lunch). I am fortunate to teach Grade 2, as the major thrust of the Social Studies curriculum is multiculturalism and celebrations. So, in the morning, we can talk,  read, and write about Halloween and how it is celebrated before embarking on our parade and structured celebration in the afternoon.

Early in October, I picked up the McCall’s pattern and the requisite fabric and notions to become Little Red Riding Hood. I read some great books with my class that contained variances on the theme.

 

Lili rouge

The lion has a plan for dinner. It’s great for teaching procedural writing!

Arrete d'interrompre

Spoiler alert for several fairy tales! Interrupting chicken is hilarious; his advice to Red: Ne parle pas aux étrangers (Don’t talk to strangers!)!

The pattern is pretty straightforward and sized S-M-L for adults. I made the medium without any alterations, because I was in a time crunch. It went together without issue and I used poly/cotton broadcloth from Fabricland for most of the costume. The apron and sleeves are a cotton I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics while passing through Maine last summer.

I opted to not do the ribbon across the centre front bodice. The dress is actually a black gingham (are you sensing a theme? You’ll see more when I get to the tops I’ve made!). Then there was the cape.

McCall's 6187 cape

Cape over a different dress!

I decided to go fancy on the seam and hem finishes. I had no red serger thread, and you may have noticed I’m a little matchy matchy on these sorts of things, so I had to choose a different seam and hem finish. Did I mention that there are 4 metres of fabric in this cape? That makes for a lot of long edges to bind, which is what I did.

This process took ages! I had the dress done, and, thinking the cape would be really quick to assemble, left it late. I was scrambling to get all the seams bound before I had to wear it. I also used the gingham for the hood lining.

McCall's 6187 cape back

The cape is a bit wrinkly after wear.

So ends the dresses I have made and mostly worn since the summer of 2014. There remain the tops and skirts made in that period, and Coco is finally done, too, with trims and chain but no pockets.

Winter endeavours

Winter 2016 has been most interesting. As ever, it started off quickly, with a return to school on January 4th, and all that that entails. On the 5th, I had to report for jury panel selection. That case was cancelled, but, in Toronto, jury panels must be available for one week, so I had to go back two days later for selection in another case. And I was selected as juror #2! For four weeks, I was a member of a jury. It was fascinating to have this glimpse into our justice system, not to mention playing a role within it. Sequestration for three days of deliberations was not so fun, but the process was illuminating. Throughout, I amused myself by engaging in a new hobby: knitting!

My neck warmer, made of Malabrigo Rasta.

My neck warmer, made of Malabrigo Rasta.

I took a class at Eweknit in December, just before Christmas, and completed my first knitted project: a neck warmer. It has been very cozy and much less bulky than a scarf. I made one for Mum, too. I subsequently decided that I wanted to make hats. I love hats! They use small amounts of yarn and time, and are very useful for one whose head is always cold!

Completed hats

Completed hats (and my neck warmer!).

So far, I have made seven hats. (I have actually made eight, but my hat class hat is hidden so well that I have failed to locate it.) It was tremendous fun to make all of these, and I have learned so much in making each one. I have made repeats (and a three-peat) in my ensemble of hats. The first hat I made was a Barley hat, from Tincan Knits.

My first hat! Using Cascade Eco Duo in Chicory.

My first hat! Using Cascade Eco Duo in Chicory.

It turned out well, if a bit large for me. Still, I’ve worn it many times and it is very warm. The yarn is an alpaca and merino blend, which is very soft. I love how the yarn striped in the body of the hat, but that the colours remain neutral enough to wear with either of my winter coats (one is black, the other camel). I learned how to use my gauge swatch to get more accurate sizing for my particular measurements, although I really did not need to do so with this yarn. I did the math correctly, but the yarn is more elastic, so the hat is a bit large. Oops!

I liked the Barley so much that I made two more! In Riverside Studio Merino (blue/brown) and Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.

Barley three-peat! In Riverside Studio Merino (blue/brown) and Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. 

As with so many of my garment fabrics, my yarn choices tend to be in shades of blue and brown. I am not, however, exclusive to those colours.

A pair of Sweetpea hats in Loops & Threads Charisma.

A pair of Sweetpea hats in Loops & Threads Charisma.

I made the Sweetpea hats as part of a Craftsy class. They are very cute and I may make myself one in a non-acrylic yarn. I really disliked the feel of these yarns as I was working with them, but they served their purpose of helping me in my knitting journey. These will likely go on our hat/mitten tree next winter at school. For these, I learned how to do an eye cord (I cord?) tail. I think the tail is my favourite part (if a bit eccentric for a woman of my age to don!).

Colourwork! Insulate hat in Berroco Ultra Alpaca (grey/fuchsia) and Baable in Debbie Bliss Blue faced Leicester aran.

Colourwork! Insulate hat in Berroco Ultra Alpaca (grey/fuchsia) and Baable in Debbie Bliss Blue faced Leicester aran.

I decided to try stranding. The Baa-ble hat is tremendously popular and for good reason: it’s so adorable!

 

Baa-ble unfolded. 24 rows of ribbing!!

Baa-ble unfolded. 24 rows of ribbing!!

I love the little sheep grazing in the meadow. This hat was fun, once I got past the enormous section of ribbing. It is very warm, and the Blue faced Leicester yarn was lovely to work.

Insulate! My Dalek hat.

Insulate! My Dalek hat.

I may not have made another Baa-ble, but I tried another hat with stranding. You may remember that I am a Doctor Who fan, so when I saw this pattern, a Dalek hat was inevitable. I learned a new decrease and really enjoyed making the hat. The Ultra Alpaca was a pleasure to work with, and the hat is so soft and cozy!

Thus ends the hats of winter 2016. I did knit some washcloths as well, as a way to practice stitch patterns.

Washcloths for practice.

Washcloths for practice. The blue one is a TARDIS!

Starfleet washcloth.

Starfleet washcloth.

These were early projects, so my finishing is not great. Corners are a little wonky, but they are usable! Again, we see the blue/brown trend in my colour choices.

So, knitting! It has not supplanted sewing, but I do have to balance my hobby time among the different types of projects that I wish to pursue. I like the fact that, in knitting, not only am I making a project, but I am also making the fabric for it! However, I see myself staying small in my knitting projects, due to the time involved. (Having said that, I DO have a sweater quantity of Malabrigo Rios in my yarn basket…)

Kittens!

Happy New Year (22 days after the fact)! I have been remiss in keeping up to date on my projects, but here I am, with one of them. This post is about a Christmas present for my favourite sister-in-law! I have made quilts for several family members, but she was the only one who had not yet received one, and I felt really, really bad about that fact. For the record, my mum has three, my nephews (SIL’s sons) have three, my aunts each have one, my cousin’s sons (except the latest, but I’m on it!) each have one, even my brother and my dad (via my mum!) have one each. This was not entirely neglect on my part; I was waiting for the right pattern and fabrics to speak to me on my sister-in-law’s behalf. And it finally came together this autumn.

The-Kittens-Cover

The Kittens by Elizabeth Hartman

I love Elizabeth Hartman’s animal patterns, and have already made Fancy Foxes and Hazel Hedgehog. When I saw this one, I immediately thought of my sister-in-law and downloaded it. I knew that I did not want to make it as a 30 block quilt and plotted it as a baby sized, 12-block quilt. Until I found two things:

1. all of the kittens have names, one of which is shared by my sister-in-law

2. the ideal fabric

reel-time-swatches

Zen Chic Reel Time

There is a pair of adorable, friendly cats in her household. There is also a great love of movies. There is a block with her name in the quilt. Could this combination be any more perfect? Her block, then, had to be the centre block, which meant an odd number of blocks. There were four other kitten blocks in the pattern, which meant I could not get the balance of blocks I like to have in a baby sized, 15-block quilt. So, I went up to 25 and decided on five of each block.  But, that wouldn’t work with only one of her block! Luckily, the pattern had a solution.

Plain cats

Plain cats

There is a plain cat block in the quilt pattern! These four blocks became the four corners of the quilt! I used these larger scale prints because I felt that they wouldn’t work as well in the more detailed, named blocks, which have many little pieces.

Before I got to the point of construction, however, I spent a long time (3,5 hours!) plotting the layout. If you have read one of my quilt posts, you already know how obsessive I am about balancing colour and blocks in a quilt. This one involved six different blocks (5 named kittens and the plain cats above), so I could not simply run up the blocks and hope for the best.

Kittens fabric plan

This was the fabric layout I came up with.

I attempted to get all of the main background colours into each row: white, orange, grey, green and black. I also tried to get a balance of print: the little x-print either side of the centre, the dots diagonally around the centre, the TV print and film reels on the corners, the film strips print at the centre of the top and bottom rows and so on. Once the fabric was chosen, I plotted the different blocks to get a balance of kittens.

Kittens project box

Difficult to read, but I drew the quilt, naming the blocks and fabrics, as well as the position of each in the quilt. This was my bible during this project!

Kittens block organization

These are all the same block (Mr Snuggles). The number on the bag indicates its position in the quilt. Yes, I drew each block during planning! I pinned those little drawings to the finished blocks until they were in their rows!

I constructed blocks five at a time, as there were five of each. Here is one (Mr Snuggles), laid out before construction.Kittens blockAnd here are the finished Mr Snuggles blocks:

Mr Snuggles

Mr Snuggles

I worked in this way for all of the blocks, constructing them five at a time until all were finished. I constructed the four plain cats with the centre block.

Simon

Simon

Daisy

Daisy

Bacon Bits

Bacon Bits

Chrissy

Chrissy

I should have used a colour other than black for the eyes and nose on this block. When it was complete, I noticed that the darkness of the background makes it difficult to discern the little facial features. Oops!

And, that is where the photos end! I was absolutely convinced that I had taken a picture of the quilt top, pre-quilting, but I am, apparently, not that clever. I took all these process photos to help with playing “Spot the kitten” on the finished quilt. Again, oops! Maybe my favourite sister-in-law will be a dear and snap one for me…

Kittens for Chrissy courtesy of herself

Kittens for Chrissy

Back of quilt Thank you for taking and sending the photos, Chrissy!

Back of quilt
Thank you for taking and sending the photos, Chrissy!

cherashares

I think I can safely share a project mostly completed awhile ago. I completely completed it on Sunday and gave the gift today, so it is out of my hands now!

Since 2009, when my first nephew was born, my family has expanded. So has my fabric stash, both for quilts and garments. Then there was another nephew, and now three more male cousins. No girls, and quilting fabric tends to be oriented towards the female of the species. It has always been difficult to make quilts for all my boys (and the latest male cousin, born in May, will have to wait a little longer, I’m afraid. I have a cunning plan, in theory if not in any form of reality or practicality…). All of these delightful lads require lead time, fabric sourced from anywhere but here, and they usually get their due on their first birthdays.

Happily, my workplace seems replete with co-workers having girls and my girly fabric stash is diminishing with each announcement (when I plot and plan) and birth, when all is complete. So it was over the summer, when I sourced a delightful line of fabrics by Lewis and Irene called April Showers. (Click on the link to see the entire collection.) I used just five prints from the collection.

Lewis and Irene: April Showers

Lewis and Irene: April Showers 

I love these prints! Whimsical and sweet, and I kept things simple with a churn dash block.

Churn dash block

Churn dash block.

It is a simple block to construct and has such an interesting effect as it gets assembled with the others.

I like the corners between churn dash blocks!

I like the corners between churn dash blocks!

I am unsure if it is apparent, but every fabric in this quilt is directional, and provided an extra challenge in deciding how to use the directionality. The umbrella print is obvious: one does not wish for upside down dogs or people! The yellow is more difficult to discern because of the quilting, but it presented its own challenges. The balloons, however, caused much consternation! I ended up rotating them around the block. This involved the rectangles in the block. In the first photo above, of the single block, you can see that the balloons are upside down in the lower rectangle and that the ties of the balloons always face centre. In the triangles, the balloons are always floating downwards. This was planned from the cutting stage, and followed through in the sewing. There were some redos, because I am me and I mess up and get sweary.

How I currently feel about my Halloween costume.

How I currently feel about my Halloween costume. I got very sweary earlier.

However, Sans la pluie (the quilt) was mostly delightful: the fabric caused me to exclaim in glee throughout. It’s so cute and I am so pleased with the end result.

Sans la pluie

Sans la pluie

The back presented some problems, as I only had 1,5 metres of the backing. I came up with a solution.

I added a line of blocks to fill out the backing.

I added a line of blocks to fill out the backing.

This fabric was also directional, so the line of blocks had to be vertical in order to maintain the design. I prefer to offset a line of blocks as it looks more interesting. I think it looks great here!

The only fabric not from the collection is the binding. I had originally planned to use one of the fabrics, but miscalculated what I would require. I found the red in my stash, from a trip to Fabric Shack near Columbus, Ohio two years ago. It worked out well, I think! It gives a strong line to the edges and pulls together the main fabric, which is so city chic in black, white, grey and red!

Back to my Halloween costume tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll have more patience and a less blue vocabulary.

Whatever happened to…

Me? September 29th and I am sick. I cannot keep myself in tissues with this runny nose of mine! Sometimes I think I must be playing that lava floor game because the box of tissues is in the other room and I will not go and bring it to where I am. Apparently tissues are for when I am prone.

No, the title of this post refers to things I have made. I often feel as if I have spent a lot of time in these endeavours, but I have little to wear. I will admit that my sewing is more about process than product. I delight in trying new things: patterns, techniques and fabrics. I don’t always love the product at the end, though, and I started to think about which products have hung around and why.

I am fortunate enough to live next door to one of those clothing donation boxes, so some of my garments have gone on to other wearers. I fear that more have moved on than have stayed on my hangers and in my drawers! As for the quilts, I really only make them to give away. I have held onto my first quilt, although I sometimes wonder why.

Libellules: sitting in a big plastic box near my printer.

Libellules: sitting in a big plastic box near my printer.

The garments were things that I meant to keep and wear. This has not happened with many of them. It has been a process of learning what works with my body, being displeased with the outcome due to technique, fabric choices and simply being more satisfied with how I worked through a project than with the product at its end. Despite the expense of effort, time and money, I am not unhappy about these discarded projects. I see it rather as a part of the process. And, for once, the learning I have undertaken is quite selfish, in that I am making garments for myself. If it doesn’t always work out as I would wish, it’s not the end of the world.

On to the rejects!

Sewaholic Pendrell View A : As someone with broad shoulders, those pleats were never going to look good. Also, I used a horrible polyester that I hated to wear. Worn once, donated.

Sewaholic Pendrell View A 

As someone with broad shoulders, those pleats were never going to look anything other than ridiculous. Also, I used a horrible polyester that I hated to wear. Worn once, donated.

Simplicity 2177: The dress that never got hemmed.

Simplicity 2177: The dress that never got hemmed.

This dress hung on my dress form for more than a year because I loved the linen so much. I would look at it, wishing that I had made something else. The dress has a waist seam, with pleats, which looked terrible on me. I finally disassembled the dress and saved the fabric from the skirt, although I have yet to do anything with it.

April Rhodes: The Staple dress

April Rhodes: The Staple dress

Although there is no waist seam, the shirred waist did not work for me. I am not a fan of cut-on sleeves either. This was a weird make for me that I wore once on a windy summer day, having to hold the sides against me while I walked around the corner to the bank. Donated.

Sewaholic Cambie

Sewaholic Cambie

Waist seam + gathered skirt = bad idea on me! Donated.

Vogue 8667 View A

Vogue 8667 View A

I really loved this linen. I really loved the silk/cotton lining. I liked the shaping of the princess seams through the bodice. I put the zipper in backwards (twice!), but I could fix it, and did. I put the skirt pleats in backwards, but I could live with that.  Two things that I couldn’t live with: the waist seam and, in spite of the fact that I do cultivate my pallor by wearing big hats and a lot SPF 60 sunscreen in the summer, the fabric here read as beige (it is actually very tiny brown and beige houndstooth check) and washed me out completely. Donated.

Sewaholic Renfrew

Sewaholic Renfrew

The Renfrew is well-loved and for good reason. I like the dramatic cowl option. The cuffs and hem band work with certain fabrics, including this one. The fabric, however, did not work for me. It was a poly ITY and so horrible to wear, I donated the top.

Angela Wolf 1123: The Ruched T

Angela Wolf 1123: The Ruched T

Another one that I loved in theory but not in fabric. Horrible, horrible poly ITY that made me feel as if I was wearing plastic wrap. Pattern is great, though.

Burda 7185

Burda 7185

I like this skirt. I made the shorter length for a class project at Seneca and found it too short. So, I tried the mid-length version and found that it was too long. I feel like Goldilocks! I ended up donating it.

Another ruched T

Another ruched T

This fabric was seriously awful to work with. The stripes were a nightmare to match, and the fabric had to be lined and was still scratchy against my skin. Donated.

Jalie 2794

Jalie 2794

I love this fabric! The top turned out well. I wore it to work once and nearly melted. It still sits in my drawer because I love the fabric, but it is another horrible poly ITY that I cannot wear.

Burda 8155 aka the 42,5 hour skirt

Burda 8155 aka the 42,5 hour skirt

I was really proud of my work on this one. The vent was done beautifully and I loved the lining. I lost a mark (it was a Seneca class project) because my front darts were different lengths (oops!). It did not fit with my life, however, so it went in the donation box.

Jalie 3022 Back.

Jalie 3022 Back.

Jalie 2795

Jalie 2795

The Jalie pant and jacket were a also Seneca class project. I did not check for fit, as I was short on time. These types of garments are not really my thing anyway. The lengths on both garments were ridiculous on me, non-tall as I am. I would like to try both again and even have fabric to do so, but these ones were donated.

Style Arc Kate

Style Arc Kate

Love this dress. Love the look of the fabric. There was not enough fabric, however, and it ended up way too short. And it is a poly ITY. This dress presently hangs on my dress form as I love the look of it.

Kate take two.

Kate take two.

So, I tried again and got the length right. The fabric was very soft and it felt like I was wearing pyjamas. Problem? It looked like I was wearing pyjamas, too. Donated.

Sew Over It: The Ultimate Wrap Dress

Sew Over It: The Ultimate Wrap Dress

Last wrap dress, I promise! The fabric was wild and a horrible ITY. This was my test garment to check fit. It was short and the neck was too low. I made some alterations on the pattern, but have yet to work up another version. Donated.

Tilly and the Buttons: Mathilde back

Tilly and the Buttons: Mathilde back

I love back closures. I hate this itchy, cotton Ikat fabric. Donated.

Vogue 8772 C: What was I thinking? This fabric is evil!

Vogue 8772 C: What was I thinking? This fabric is evil!

Vogue 8772B

Vogue 8772B

Vogue 8772 is a favourite of mine for blouses. It has basic versions and then it has the fantastic pussy bow iteration. The first photo shows one of the basics in a cotton gauze that was an absolute horror to work with. I believe it was trashed as I would not wish on anyone the immense displeasure of wearing such a fabric. The pussy bow version turned out well. I made a few mistakes in attaching the bow, but was pleased with the result. Until I put it on. The fabric, a silk/cotton, felt lovely but was way too wild for me. I donated that one, but I hope to make it in a more suitable (for me) fabric.

So, what have I kept? Dresses without waist seams. Knit garments made of rayon (viscose)/lycra or cotton/lycra. (Poly ITY fabrics have been relegated to fitting garments.) Garments that are more neutral in colour and pattern. I have also kept most of the patterns used here, although I cull my patterns regularly to let go of the ones that I know will not work for me. I have learned to be more selective in my choices as I discover what I want and need from my clothing. I could probably go on, but I need to cross my lava floor to get to where the tissues are!

T.A.R.D.I.S.

I made a T.A.R.D.I.S! My brother had a birthday last week, so I made him a quilt. I started plotting and planning this project in January. It was late December when I first saw the Relatively Dimensional quilt pattern by Hunter’s Design Studios. (There is also a Dalek pattern which tempts me!)

TARDIS pattern

When I encountered this pattern, I knew that I had to make it! The sample on the pattern, however, I found very flat. It was sewn with Kona solids, and if I am honest, I hate quilts made entirely of solids. The argument that it allows for denser, more interesting quilting falls flat with me. Dimension and texture are essential in quilting, but can also come from the fabric. I considered prints that read as solids, as the T.A.R.D.I.S. is old and has been through a great many journeys. The paint on the police box would be weathered and chipped, the grain of the wood apparent and its appearance generally pocky. The wood grain I would achieve through quilting, but the paint texture had to be in the fabric.

Stonehenge fabrics for the quilt top.

Stonehenge fabrics for the quilt top.

After much deliberating over textured solids, I went with Stonehenge fabrics. They have the weathered look I wanted for the police box. I had been wary of Stonehenge, despite its popularity, because, to my mind, they resembled batik fabric, which I dislike. Batik is unpleasant to work with, stiff and smelly, and too kitschy for me with its tie-dyed effect. Yes, I am rather picky about these things and more than a little matchy-matchy! Stonehenge fabrics are of a typical quilting weight and quality, and they read as solids, but have a lot of texture. I even found a lovely starry night print for the borders of the quilt.

The T.A.R.D.I.S. after quilting and binding, ready to ship!

The T.A.R.D.I.S. after quilting and binding, ready to ship!

The quilt was reasonably easy to put together. It is not comprised of blocks, but of horizontal and vertical sections that are then assembled. The cutting is a bit strange and I did not like the process presented in the pattern. There was no cutting plan; instead, the designer cut, then assembled each section. This is not how I work. I like to start by cutting everything, which is what I did for this one. It was irritating, as there were several pages of instructions which I had to go through for the required cuts of each fabric. I wish there had been a cutting diagram for each fabric, instead of these jumbled cutting and assembly steps. I believe that cutting in advance, as I did, provided for a much more efficient use of fabric as well. I organized it all by section, then proceeded to assemble each part of the quilt.

Lantern section.

Lantern section. This was taken BQ (before quilting).

This panel, as well as the long Police box title, was part of a fat quarter prepared by the designer and sold through Spoonflower fabrics.

Left door panel section. This panel, as well as the long “Police Box” title, was part of a fat quarter prepared by the designer and sold through Spoonflower fabrics.

This is the only photo that shows the bottom section!

This is the only photo that shows the bottom section!

The pattern gives no indication of fabric requirements for the quilt backing. I used the quilt backing calculator  to help me determine how much fabric was necessary for this 50 x 80″ quilt top (almost 5 yards!!). This was also an irritant, as it should have been in the pattern. I have been getting creative with quilt backs for the last several months, and came up with a plan for this one. I found a Stonehenge planet panel, which I thought was appropriate.

 

Stonehenge planet panel

Stonehenge planet panel

I created a plan, which required bordering the panel, then a larger border to complete the back.

My first plan for the quilt backing.

My first plan for the quilt backing.

I had the panel and thought I could get the stripe I wanted for the first border, but had no idea what to do about the second border. Fate intervened.

The planet panel and stripe (same as binding) I originally planned to use for the backing. Naturally, disaster struck in two forms. First, the stripe was no longer available. Then,...

The planet panel and stripe (same as binding) I originally planned to use for the backing. Naturally, disaster struck in two forms. First, the stripe was no longer available. Then,…

… a hole in Pluto's orbit!

… a hole in Pluto’s orbit!

 

Yes, I know I could have carried on, patched the hole with some interfacing and settled with some random fabric for an outer border. However, I could not co-ordinate the backing to my satisfaction and the puncture in Pluto’s orbit was the death knell for that backing plan. I had always wanted to do something related to time and had been looking for fabrics with clocks. There are few out there at the moment. I finally stopped matching the quilt top and back, and returned to my favourite fabric: the melting clocks from Katarina Roccella.

New backing plan, with no reference to Stonehenge fabrics used on the quilt top.

New backing plan, with no reference to Stonehenge fabrics used on the quilt top.

Completed backing.

Completed backing.

The quilt back does not reference the quilt top, except in theme. I don’t care! I love it. It is gorgeous and exactly what I wanted: clocks for the time lord!

I chose stripes for the binding. Stripes in quilts can be a pain, but are great for binding. I always cut continuous bias binding, which makes the direction of the stripe irrelevant.

The binding. I love striped binding! I cut the stripes on the bias to wrap around the quilt edges. Lovely!

The binding. I love striped binding! I cut the stripes on the bias to wrap around the quilt edges. Lovely!

As to the quilting: I kept it simple in the borders, but learned wood grain for the door panels.

My practice piece for the quilting.

My practice piece for the quilting.

Door panel

Door panel.

I am very pleased with this quilt, and my brother tells me he will curl up under it for Doctor Who marathons.

Label hand stitched in place.

En route to Nova Scotia in July, I stopped at Joann Fabrics in Bangor, ME to get this pattern.

Coming soon to a Hallowe'en near me?

Coming soon to a Hallowe’en near me?

Oh, cripes! Stripes!

So, I decided to make a mariner top. Black with white stripes. I had been looking for a Saint James stripe knit, but was wary of ordering online, due to ridiculous exchange rates. Happily, I found such a knit at Downtown Fabrics, here in Toronto. It’s a rayon knit, which is lovely to wear, albeit a bit temperamental to work with. I decided to use a recent pattern download, the Maritime knit top from Liesl & Co. It is a straight forward pattern, but oh, the stripes abused me! I was fine with very carefully aligning the stripes whilst cutting, but had little guidance on how to match the stripes when sewing the garment. Until this:

Threads sewing guide.

Threads sewing guide.

The Threads Sewing Guide is not my go to reference, I must admit. Much of it seems to be a rehash of the articles in the magazine. However, it was the only guide (I checked Readers Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing and Vogue-Butterick Step by Step Guide to Sewing Techniques, both of which I own) that had any advice about sewing stripes. I found the tidbit on the very last page in the index about stripes (page 325, if you are looking!).

Finally! Information on sewing stripes! From the Threads sewing guide. And the last page mentioned in the index on stripes, I might add.

Finally! Information on sewing stripes! From the Threads sewing guide. And the last page mentioned in the index on stripes, I might add.

It tells the seamstress to fold back the seam allowance of one piece and slipstitch to match the stripe (or plaid), before seaming the pieces together. Slipstitch a rayon jersey? Are the editors of Threads quite mad?!? However, I did it.

The orange threads are my slipstitching.

The orange threads are my slipstitching.

I always use silk thread for any basting. I like to be able to see what I need to remove, and I like to be able to remove basting easily. After eight attempts at matching stripes with pin basting, the slip stitching was a success!

Matching stripes!

Matching stripes!

Excusing the shadow from the seam, I did pretty well, I think! The sleeves were a little tricky, as the stripes align as a chevron.

More slip stitching to match the sleeve stripes.

More slip stitching to match the sleeve stripes.

These are the sleeve stripes, which match in a chevron.

These are the sleeve stripes, which match in a chevron.

I obviously had not yet removed the basting threads. However, I am more equipped to deal with stripes, something which I had avoided until now. I recognized the thought involved in cutting the pieces, but no one had mentioned the nightmare of actually sewing them. Especially on a jersey! Shifty, shifty! However, all is well and I have a mariner top.

Front.

Front.

Back.

Back.

This particular top is quite long on me. I should probably have removed a bit of length. I am also not thrilled with the side splits, as I find them a bit short.

The side splits are awfully short when worn.

The side splits are awfully short when worn.

However, I decided to make the top again, in a shorter length. I shortened the pattern by 5cm (2″). I also decided to use a fabric without so much matching.

Front on my second version.

Front on my second version.

Back in a print that I did not need to obsessively match!

Back in a print that I did not need to obsessively match!

I made the pattern too short, and had to reduce the hem by half. The resulting effect was to make the side splits longer, which I prefer.

I actually prefer these side splits as they are a bit longer.

I actually prefer these side splits as they are a bit longer.

Both of these jerseys, the rayon and the cotton of the slightly wilder print, would not consent to being hemmed by machine. As a result, the tops took longer than I thought they would, or should. Even so, I happily hemmed them, by hand. Honestly, not so happily. I hate hemming as much as I hate cleaning floors. I would much more happily take all of my hemming to my delightful dry cleaner who does a beautiful job on my ready-to-wear pants and jeans. I have long considered taking my me-mades to her for hemming, as it is my least liked part of the process. Pattern work? Fine! Construction? Yes please! Hems? No thank you!

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