Linen for Spring – Allegro Capris and ZW Shirt

I often sew with thrifted fabric so was excited to sew with two intentionally bought fabrics. Both are lovely linen blends – the blue is Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen/rayon in Chambray color and the stripe is linen/cotton. I love the yellow stripe amidst the blues.

The pants are the elastic waist Allegro pattern by Love Notions.

I had previously sewn a pair of shorts with this pattern, so I had already altered it quite a bit – the crotch extension, the rise, the pockets, and the length and width of the legs.

I made the Allegro pants with a narrower elastic waist, and without the drawstring. I also made them a cropped length, with a deep cuff and a slit so the pants wouldn’t get “caught” on my calf when I sit. I used to wear pants as long as possible with platform sandals to look taller. I always thought I was too short to wear cropped pants, but I quite like them. The fit is excellent. I could use a few more pairs of pants like these.

The fabric has a texture. The pants feel dressier due to the linen fabric, but they’re also a little scratchy. I used a smooth cotton chambray for the inner waistband for comfort. The raw edges of the fabric unravel very easily. I was glad to be able to serge them and keep them neat.

I bought the striped fabric to sew the Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson. It is a pattern without pattern pieces and is designed to be sewn with a yard of fabric with a 57 inch width leaving no leftover fabric.

I made changes to the formula, adding length to the shirt by making the sleeves shorter. The sleeves are cut on the cross grain. I also cut off the selvedges of the fabric. The layout as written has a shirt length of 21 1/2 inches and a chest circumference of 47 inches. I sized down 2 inches.

After cutting out the shirt, you are left with a little semi-circle, two triangular pieces, and a large rectangle. The instructions have you use the pieces as facings. The large rectangle (not pictured) can be used as a large facing at the back of the shirt or as pockets. I elected to not use it as a facing as the shirt already has a deep hem.

I did use the other bits: the triangles covering part of the side seams, and the half-oval as a piece for the tag in the back neck.

My neck placket wasn’t long enough so I added a piece.

I made four buttonholes for my longer shirt. The buttonholes are easier to make with my new machine, so that’s a plus.

Because the shoulders are square cut, they stick out, and bunch up in the back. The neckband is awkward, as it’s higher than I like, and gapes around the neck. There is a strain on the top buttonhole, but I might have caused that problem by putting the buttonhole a little too high.

So what are my thoughts on “zero waste” patterns in general?

The pros: I was intrigued by the concept, and saw other makes of this shirt that I liked, so I bought the pattern. I like the clever design, the idea of getting the most use from your fabric, and not wasting paper. In the case of this shirt, I also like having a go-to pattern that uses only one yard of fabric. Although the pattern doesn’t come in different sizes (at the time I bought it, there are now two sizes), it does have instructions on making changes to the layout.

The cons: I use fabric wisely, but I think it’s gimmicky that every bit has to be used in one garment. I like to take a swatch to match for thread, and to practice buttonholes and thread tension. I also think a well fitted garment will be worn more than one with an awkward fit, and the whole point of being a home sewist is to make a garment more tailor-made than something I could buy off the rack. Rectangular pieces have their limitations.

Still, the shirt turned out pretty well. I just don’t know how much I’ll wear it.

I was especially eager to try my new pants with other tops. Here it is with the floral Phoenix blouse and as a summer look with my sleeveless Laundry Day Tee:

Spring Decor Crafting and Sewing

I love decorating for holidays! I made two little projects for spring and the Easter season.

I used to do more crafting before I started sewing and missed this type of project. The wreath was made with a wire frame with ribbon wrapped around it, ribbon mesh, and plastic eggs from the dollar store. I kept playing around with it and changing it.

Previous versions:

I looked at some tutorials but ended up improvising something very simple and fast, because I didn’t think I had enough supplies for a wreath with ribbon pieces tied on and didn’t have the knack of weaving the ribbon, both of which I initially attempted. I inserted wire into the egg openings to attach them. I thought the wreath needed something else so I added a flower I already had.

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I saved an old ripped quilt with the idea of upcycling part of it in a project. I love textiles, and always have ideas about repurposing. I thought I had better hop to it and actually follow through with an idea so I don’t become a crazy hoarder.

I found a silhouette of a rabbit I liked from Positively Splendid. The pattern prints on one page and I estimated it would be about 9 and 1/2 inch finished. I wanted a bigger bunny, and I found out that this is very easy to do directly in the printer interface. I increased custom scale and selected poster for page sizing. I tried a layout with 4 pages but decided on a 2 page layout with a scale of 125% for a finished size of 12 inches high.

I fussy cut the quilt to place the star on the rabbit body. Then I zigzagged around the perimeter to keep the 3 layers together, and sewed the two sides together leaving an opening for turning. Clip into those curves first!

I stuffed the bunny with pieces of the quilt, hand sewed the opening closed, added a bow, and done!

Cute! Happy Spring!

My First Quilt is A Rag

The title sounds dismissive, but I’m actually so proud of it! A rag quilt is not made from rags, but gets its name from the exposed raw edges that become frayed or ragged from washing. In the book Quilt As You Go by the British author, Carolyn Forster, it is referred to as fringed quilting. The frayed edges take on a ruffled look. I had been vaguely aware of rag quilts, but not at all interested. Then I became obsessed and just had to make one. I wanted to get going right away so didn’t start with a pillow cover as I had planned, although I’d still like to make one in the future.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The fabrics that fray the most are 100% cotton, flannel, and denim. Some rag quilters also use fleece or minky as a backing even though they don’t fray. I used 300 eight inch squares for 3 layers: I cut 250 squares myself and used a pack of 50 precuts I bought from Amazon as well. That’s a lot of cutting! The seam allowance is a generous 1/2 inch so the finished size of the squares will be 7 inches. My layout was 9 squares wide and 11 squares long for a finished quilt of 63 x 77. I used the 100th square as my test square, which I washed to get a preview of what the quilt would look like. My top layer is composed of 99 different pretty woven cotton prints, mostly floral and also some novelty prints included like the ones below, half cut from my own stash. I wanted prints that are fun and happy. The quilt would have had a more unified look if I had just used the pastel florals but I have been collecting fat quarters and bits of fabric for years so wanted to use what I had on hand as much as possible.

I bought 5 yards of flannel for the backing, and the flannel in the center was cut from an old sheet. I prewashed the new flannel and rewashed the old flannel, but I did not prewash my top cotton fabrics.

Next, I sandwiched the layers and quilted an X through them. I attached my walking foot and eyeballed the lines to sew without marking them.

Then I decided on the layout. I was unsure how best to sew the squares together. I first thought to sew in long strips, while the book suggests to sew the squares as 4-patches. I don’t think it matters too much. I started with 4-patches to help keep the seams of the squares matching up together. This is only seen on the back, so again, it doesn’t matter too much. The fabric on the back is important for contributing to the color of the ragged borders on the front.

The squares are sewn wrong sides together, and look like this. Weird!

I then attached them in bigger sections, and began to cut the seams allowances without cutting into the stitches. The snips are close together, between 1/4 and 1/2 inch apart.

I have a spring-loaded scissors of the type recommended to make the large number of snips needed, but it had dulled and wasn’t sharp enough. I used the the newer and very sharp Fiskars scissors in the photo, and my hand held out.

The exciting part is the first wash. I was a little scared of this, as I no longer have a laundromat in my area, and had read about the possibility of clogging the washer. I don’t have a dryer so no worries there. I have a top loader machine and meant to check on the quilt during the wash cycle, but I was doing something else and forgot. I didn’t have a problem, whew!

I washed it twice, and then hung it on the line and ran my hand up and down the quilt knocking as much of the fluff off as I could and watching it blow away.

I didn’t need to use a lint roller over the surface. The individual squares looked lint free, maybe because I didn’t use a dryer. But…little threads got all over the carpet while I was working on it, and carrying it around, and they were very hard to vacuum up. Rag quilts are very messy!! I read that they continue to shed until they are washed 3 to 6 times, and I also read they shed for a year or more. So we’ll see.

I have read rag quilts are quick to make, but that wasn’t my experience. It was much more physically exhausting than garment sewing. First I had to cut up all the fabric. The quilt was also heavier than I thought it would be, and once most of it was put together it was hard lifting it up and running it through the machine. Then I cut all those snips. My machine also got quite a workout sewing through all the layers. I bought a pack of 16 and 18 size needles, but I still broke a needle.

On the plus side, they’re fun to make! I love the texture, and the piecing doesn’t have to be precise. This project ticks my boxes of sewing goals for this year : try something new, enjoy the process, and use textiles I already have. And yes, it is my first completed quilt.

I absolutely love my ragggedy rag quilt! It’s pretty, but still an everyday quilt that will be able to withstand digging from little paws.

Quilt As You Go Placemats

My current obsession is the quilt-as-you-go technique. I bought the book Quilt As You Go by Carolyn Forster and love the variety of techniques. There are 14 techniques including chapters on stitch-and-flip, piecemakers quilting, manx log cabin, potholder quilting, japanese reversible patchwork, envelope quilting, cathedral windows, siddi quilting, applique quilting, lined circles, fringed quilting, and pojabi patchwork. I have also taken 2 Craftsy classes on QAYG, and watched YouTube videos.

I want to try almost every technique in the book except Suffolk puffs – Americans call them yo-yos. A quilt made from yo-yos would not stand up to digging paws and the openings look like they would make good spider homes.

I decided to try some of the techniques by sewing small projects such as placemats or pillow covers before attempting a larger quilt. The first method I tried is called piecemakers quilting in the book. It is also called a 1 hour serger quilt or a quilt as you go serger quilt. If it’s not done on a serger the ends can be finished with a zigzag or overcast stitch to reduce bulk.

I pieced 2 1/2 inch strips for the top of the placemats of different lengths for interest. I also cut 2 1/2 inch strips from the batting and backing. My finished placemats are about 12 by 16 inch, but I started with longer strips so they could be trimmed.

Every row is sewn with 6 layers: 2 top strips, 2 backing strips, and 2 layers of batting. You start with a conventional quilt sandwich: the backing wrong side up, batting, and the top strip right side up. Then you add your next row before sewing by putting a backing strip right side together to the first backing, a top strip right side together with the first row top strip, and then a batting strip on top.

So your layers are: batting, top RS down, top RS up, batting, back RS down, back RS up.

You sew the layers with a 1/4 inch seam. I found this hard to do on the serger because I have less control than on the sewing machine. I used clips to hold the layers together but I also had trouble catching all the layers a few times. You don’t have much room for error with a quarter inch seam so I took a slightly bigger seam allowance to compensate. I had trouble sewing with the less stable batting on top and found it worked better when I turned the layers over so that the batting was on the bottom against the feed dogs.

After you sew your seam you open the layers up. You have two rows sewn together to which you can add quilting. Then you add your next row to the second strip by putting another backing strip right sides together to the back, a top strip right sides together to the top and a batting strip on top. So you’re always sewing with the bulk to the left as you add rows.

I experimented by adding decorative stitching and attaching the binding by machine without any hand sewing. You can’t beat a beautiful traditional binding but you might come close. My ends aren’t straight so I need more practice with the binding.

I sewed the first placemat with wavy quilting, but I didn’t iron out the layers before sewing so there is a ridge. It doesn’t ever seem to work out to forego pressing yet I keep on trying.

This is an easy technique if you can catch all the layers and don’t need a precise join. For a quilt, its drawback might be a bulky seam. Another common QAYG technique uses sashing strips which are sometimes finished by hand sewing. This technique is much faster for a quilt that can be sewn together in rows. Some might find it less aesthetically pleasing to have a backing with many seams. I’m not sure yet which method I would use for a full sized quilt.

Next up: My first bed size quilt!!

Winter Laundry Day Tee

I liked the fabric I used to sew my cardigan last year so I reordered some in a fuchsia color for a top. It is a Hatchi sweater knit by Telio I ordered from Amazon. The fabric is a lightweight polyester/rayon/spandex blend with beautiful color variations that reminds me of hand dyed yarn.

Because this was my first time making a sleeved version of the Laundry Day Tee by Love Notions, I had to print out the pattern again. I used a glue stick to put it together instead of tape, and like this new-to-me method.

I set up a long folding table in the living room to cut fabric. My napping dog in the background was too cute to leave out of the shot.

I printed out the medium and large sizes, and then cut out size large. I cut the smaller bottom width of the dress version. It can be confusing if you only print out the top length to see multiple cutting lines for each size, but you can use these lines to choose the desired “swing” amount.

I wanted my top to have 3/4 sleeves. The 3/4 length sleeve pattern would be full length on me, so I had to shorten them several inches. I was shocked that the sleeves are cut on the fold! I have never seen a sleeve pattern like that. I’m used to cutting mirror images with two notches signifying the back. The human front and back armhole is different so in the future I would find another pattern and draw new sleeves because I think that is needed to make them hang straighter and fit better.

I sewed it on my regular machine with a zigzag stitch, serged the seams, and hemmed with a zigzag stitch. I don’t like the ridge known as tunneling when hemming with a twin needle so I don’t bother anymore.

I wanted a modified cowl neckline. I cut a much narrower piece to fold in half, and then fold over at the neckline. I took a photo from the TV of a neckline I liked as my inspiration, and tried to copy it.

I love the completed top! It’s just what I envisioned, and I love the fabric, fit, and color.

I was sewing the top on a very hot Superbowl weekend in February, then it got very cold with a wind chill, so I’m hoping for more “just right” weather to wear it.

Embroidery 2021

Last year I embroidered two cross stitch pieces, and two embroidered designs from kits.

I already showed you the California and New York state pieces in this post: Little State Samplers Cross Stitch. I didn’t want to just store them in a drawer for years, so I set about to frame them myself.

I bought two 5 x 7 mounting boards, marked the pieces, and used a pretty tape.

The finished samplers in their dollar frames:

Not bad.

I received this Hawthorne botanical themed embroidery kit as a gift.

It contained an insert with illustrations of many stitches. I enjoyed the variety of stitches used to complete this design. My favorite was the fly stitch for the feathery leaf. I added some additional colors for interest. I have two shoebox size plastic bins of floss to choose from.

Why use a kit? The hardest part of creating free form embroidery is getting started and transferring a design; with a kit it is more likely that a design will be actually stitched.

For taking part in an Instagram sewing challenge, I won a voucher to Rocco-Sienna’s embroidery shop.

I chose a cute little alpaca (or llama) design, and a little scissor set, which is not part of the embroidery kit.

I hesitated on choosing this one because I thought I would get tired of embroidering so many French knots, but I enjoyed making them.

Both of these kits came with hoops. I always consider making something out of embroidered pieces like a little pillow or ornament as an alternative but these remain hooped.

2022 Sewing Goals and Make Nine

My Make Nine Challenge for 2022:

1) New Look A6284 – I love the square neckline, gathers, and all of the views, but I plan on making the short sleeve top with vintage fabric from an estate sale.

2) McCalls 6962 – I call this the butterfly top. It’s a shape that intrigues me yet might look big and awkward when worn. I hope a 2 yard cut is enough fabric or it might not get made. This is the line drawing:

3) Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson – This will be my first attempt at a zero waste pattern, although I’ve made a few other things without pattern pieces. I have a striped cotton/linen for this pattern.

4) Allegro by Love Notions – I’ve used this pattern before. This time I plan on making spring capris.

5) Quilt – This will be my year of the quilt; I actually have 3 in mind. I am excited about several different quilt-as-you-go techniques because I believe I will be able to finish a quilt (larger than a wall quilt) for the first time. I plan on a rag quilt with a flannel back, a stitch and flip with joining strips, and a strip quilt with 10 inch squares. I am going to make placemats or pillows to practice the techniques first. I also love the idea of a fusion quilt with quilted squares joined with crochet.

6) Nino Open Jacket – This is a free pattern from Fabrics Store that was called the Hana Kimono Jacket when I saved the pattern to my computer. They also have two other free jacket patterns I like: the Mariana Notched Collar and the Paola Workwear Jacket, so it depends on which pattern best suits my fabric. You must register with the website to download the free patterns.

7) Butterick 6683 – This is a caftan pattern. I like the top too, but am thinking of making the short caftan using another one of my rayon sarong rectangles.

8) Simplicity 2642 – I was thinking of making the short sleeved dress, but I might want to omit the elastic under the bust. The main motivation to make this is matching fabric I want to sew with this pattern.

9) McCalls 8029 – This is a cape. This looks like an easy pattern and the shape is interesting. It reminds me of when I used to wear a poncho in the early 70s.

Sewing goals and direction for 2022:

The main things on my mind are trying new things, and process over product.

Last year, I was very focused on making everything on my list, but this year’s list is just an example of patterns and ideas I find interesting, and may want to make. After the last 2 or 3 years of sewing, I don’t need hardly anything more to wear. My motivation is much more about having fabric and patterns I want to enjoy using, to experiment with various techniques, and using sewing and other needle arts and crafts as a creative outlet to pursue whatever strikes my fancy.