2022 Sewing

My goals for 2022 were to slow down, to enjoy the process and explore my creativity. I more or less succeeded, and sewed 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 2 dresses, 2 refashions, and 5 home projects.

I also did a few small cross stitch pieces, and a few craft projects. Sadly, I didn’t do any knitting or crocheting. My priority is to keep my hands functional. I can still crochet, but a few of my “knitting joints” are mildly arthritic, which will keep me sidelined for the most part.

Tops:

I sewed the Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson in a linen blend, 2 color blocked cotton tee shirts, a rayon jersey boxy tee, and a 3/4 sleeve Laundry Day Tee in a magenta light sweater knit. The winter LDT is my favorite item of clothing I sewed this year.

Bottoms:

I sewed a cropped Allegro elastic waist pants in a linen blend and 3 pairs of knit shorts.

Dresses:

I sewed my second Bardon dress in a quilting cotton I had bought many years ago, and a LDT dress in a rayon knit. Both are free patterns.

Refashions:

Both refashions were from my own closet.

Home:

My favorite projects of the year are the rag quilt and the fall wall hanging of my own design. The rag quilt was a big undertaking. I cut 250 8-inch squares and used 50 precuts. I used 99 different cotton prints for the top, and flannel for the backing and filling. I had collected most of the prints throughout many years and was glad to put them to use. The snipping of the raw edges meant yet more cutting. I also made a rag quilt pillow sham in November with 12 more prints. I put my sewing machine away for December to take a break.

I want to make 2-3 more quilts. I will be using precuts I already have, so it should go faster. I plan on sewing more home projects next year since I have enough clothes.

Fall Wall Quilt How-To

I loved designing and working on this quilt, and I love the finished quilt just as much. I also learned a few things along the way, from a few bloggers and my own experience. I included the links I used for anyone who might want to make something similar, or who wants to use some of these ideas as a jumping off point.

It all started with the fabrics, and an idea. I would make applique blocks and then add some simple piecing.

I decided on crows, pumpkins, and leaves. I drew two different sized pumpkins, and cut them into 3 sections. I found and downloaded a free crow template, and reduced it to 60% of its size. I added a wing piece. I downloaded 3 leaves from The Crafty Quilter.

When I first tried applique many years ago, I did it all by hand. Not the way I want to do it anymore! I used a excellent and very detailed post by the Crafty Quilter about machine applique.

I used 2 different techniques for transferring my shapes to fabric. For the pumpkins and moons I cut out the fabric and then sewed it to fusible interfacing, sewing the shiny side against the right side of fabric, and then making a hole in the interfacing and turning. Next I iron pressed my pumpkins onto the backing fabric.

This gives an added loftiness to the finished applique, but would be too hard to do for more complex shapes.

For the crows and leaves, I used Heat n Bond (I discovered I already had 2 packs).

I drew my shapes on the paper side of the Heat n Bond, cut them out, ironed them on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the shapes on the drawn line, and then peeled off the paper, and ironed them on the backing fabric. I didn’t like the leaf fabric pictured, and didn’t use these leaves in the finished quilt.

The next step is sewing the shapes to the backing. There are many different stitches, threads, and stitch density to consider. So many decisions to make! I used a zigzag that wasn’t completely dense. The photo shows the stitching from the wrong side.

After getting the basic blocks done, and some additional patches and strips cut out, I played around with the layout. I taped it to the closet door and looked at it for a while. I saw that the center was weak, and felt it much improved when I rearranged to put the top third at the bottom. I also added a stem to the maple leaf, and changed the pumpkin stems from a dark green that didn’t stand out enough to a tiny print that looks tan from a distance.

I tried a spray adhesive for the first time for assembling the quilt top with the batting and backing. I used to hand baste, but this is easier.

The next step is make or break time: quilting the pieced top. Quilting even a small project can be daunting. I read Lori Kennedy’s 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting and ventured forth.

I quilted to outline the shapes, and heavily quilted the pumpkins. For the crow blocks I didn’t quilt the crows at all, and heavily quilted the background.

After reading the very comprehensive blog on how to hang a quilt on the wall, I decided to add hanging tabs before attaching the binding by hand. I cut the binding with a width of 2 1/2 inches. I then tacked down the tabs and added a stick I cut in the yard and some twine.

Done!

I got started on this quilt without much thought on the technical aspects. What I learned in piecing, appliqueing, and quilting this project:

  1. Change feet for the job – I used 3 feet; the clear satin stitch foot for the applique, the1/4 inch seam foot for piecing, and the even feed or walking foot for quilting.
  2. Change threads – I needed different colors for the top thread and the bobbin thread which needed to match the dark fabric of the quilt back.
  3. Change tension – I didn’t practice with a quilt sandwich, and I had the dark bobbin thread showing on the front. I changed from a 4 down to a 1 after seeing this:

4. Think of ways to quilt to reduce thread ends to deal with. The multitude of hanging threads I needed to get rid of was the one bad part of this project. I mostly tried to bring all threads to the back and knot and bury them, but it was tedious and took so much time. Ugh!

The finished quilt is 18 x 25.

Links:

Crow Download: https://patternuniverse.com/download/crow-pattern/

Leaves Download: https://thecraftyquilter.com/2019/10/quilt-as-you-go-mug-rug-tutorial-with-applique/

The Crafty Quilter: Lesson 3: Applique: https://thecraftyquilter.com/2015/04/spring-petals-qal-week-3/

Lori Kennedy Quilts : 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting: https://lorikennedyquilts.com/six-ways-to-ruin-a-quilt-with-machine-quilting/

The Ruffled Purse – How to Hang a Quilt on the Wall: https://theruffledpurse.com/how-to-hang-a-quilt-on-the-wall/

Ten Years Blogging!

Ten years ago I designed a WordPress site and published my first post. I was at the beginning phase of learning to sew my own clothes. I started by mostly refashioning thrift clothes. My progress was slow and gradual. Now, ten years later, almost everything I wear is me-made, and I have achieved my goal.

It would take too long to go through ten years and find the highlights; I’d rather be sewing! But I will share a few examples. Beware: image heavy!

This was the first project I shared (it was close to Halloween):

These are some of the outfits I’ve sewed:

Some of my refashions:

The main focus of my blog has been sewing clothes, but I’ve also done plenty of other needle arts and crafting.

My quilted projects:

My embroidery:

I stopped knitting because of carpal tunnel and arthritis issues. Sewing by machine is much easier on the hands.

Some knitting and crochet projects:

Some of my favorite posts:

The Dress Doctor Part 1

The Dress Doctor Part 2

Thoughts on First Year of Blogging

What My Mother Wore

End of Summer Leftovers

Sewing During the Pandemic

My most popular post is Easy Fix For Too Small Skirt. That’s a great title! Subsequently, I’ve realized my tutorial is not so easy; I removed and reinserted a zipper. I also removed the waistband and sewed foldover elastic.

I ‘ve never been a frequent poster, but my goal has been to have at least one post every month. I’ve only missed three months in 10 years.

What has changed in 10 years? I’m older, ha! The traffic on blogs has decreased as the rise of the smart phone has changed the focus to apps like Instagram, which are more easily read on a small device. In the sewing world, independent pattern companies have gained a larger customer base, and larger sizes are now routinely included as a result from some heated debates on Instagram. A few of those pattern companies were started as a progression from blogging.

I have a free WordPress account. I am happy with WordPress, and would recommend the platform, although I find it harder to use the new editor. Ads are perfectly fine at the end of a post, but a few times I have seen ads in the middle of a post which I don’t like. I appreciate the free platform, and that my blog will remain up indefinitely without any action from me. After uploading 1,679 photos and publishing 174 posts, I have only used 37% of my allotted storage space.

So should I continue? Most of what I sew is pretty boring – everyday tees, pants and shorts. But the things I make are my story, and I like telling it, so I doubt I will suddenly stop at this point in time.

I’m always excited about the latest thing I’m sewing! Currently I’m working on a fall/Halloween wall quilt. I finished sewing the quilt top, and I will be back with the completed project, and the story about it.

To my readers, I hope you have found something of use or interest in these pages. You probably also know the pleasures of creating with your own hands, and together we inspire each other to make, to learn, to grow.

Seasonal Refashions and Sewing

Two fairly quick refashions from my own closet:

I never wore a jersey knit romper I sewed a few years ago, so I refashioned it into a top for summer. It took a little work because I had to remove the underlining from the shorts portion.

It was worth a try to see if I will wear it now.

The vee back is noteworthy.

I still had the last of three rayon dresses I bought at the same time about 20 years ago that I had stashed away when they became too tight in the bust to wear. I made sleeveless summer tops from two of them.

The print of this fabric has beautiful warm fall colors, so I decided I wanted a sleeve on my new top. I used the cap sleeve from a pattern I had recently printed out, and managed to make it fit with gathering of the sleeve cap.

The blue Hawaiian top pictured, one of my previous dress to top refashions, is one of my all-time favorites and I used it as a guide to cut my new top.

This refashion is not as easy as just chopping off the bottom and rehemming. I have to use the bottom of the dress and cut out new armholes and neckline. I used bias tape to finish the neckline.

I need to make pants to go with this top, or it won’t get worn.

Now for some fall and Halloween sewing! I bought some fun Halloween fabric on sale, and was excited to sew something with it. I made a few dog bandanas for Sparky and one of his friends. I’ve made many revisions to my bandana pattern over the years. This is my current favorite, 2- sided with a curved shape. I used sew-in velcro for a few of them.

After sewing a few bandanas , I was inspired to put aside my garment sewing to start work on a wall quilt with simple piecing of different size squares and applique. I’m making it up as I go and enjoying the creative process.

I hope to finish the quilt top before the end of the month, but may not get the quilting and binding done. In any case, I plan on writing a second blog post this October, which will be a special post.

Quick and Thrifty Summer Dress

The calendar says fall, but the weather still says summer.

I bought a single yard of a rayon/spandex knit fabric with a fun bandana-look stripe for $6.79 online from Cali Fabrics when I bought the fabric for my knit shorts. It is 66 inches wide, and listed as a bohemian stripe with 125% horizontal stretch and 25% vertical stretch. I planned on making a sleeveless and swingy Laundry Day Tee top just like my favorite blue floral one. I decided to make a casual dress instead after realizing I had enough fabric, reasoning that I can always cut it down to a top later.

I love pockets but not with this light, stretchy fabric. That made this dress a quick make with only the bindings taking a little time to get right. I made them shorter than recommended to avoid floppiness and drooping.

I used the free Laundry Day Tee by Love Notions again, but I believe I slimmed it down a bit. The fit is good. I especially like the way it hangs in the back. My bust makes the stripe pull up in the front, but I’m probably being nit-picky or maybe I can change that to knit-picky, ha! Note to self – avoid horizontal stripes.

It goes really well with a short denim wrap top I bought at a garage sale a few months back for 1 or 2 dollars. My denim purse was also thrifted several years back. Added comfy velcro sandals, sunglasses, dangling silver earrings, and I’m ready to go!

Knit Shorts Times Three

August is a HOT month. I love the navy ponte shorts I sewed late last summer so much, I decided to sew more knit shorts. With fluctuations in weight, I no longer wanted to wear my previously sewn shorts with a fly and button. I sewed three pairs of shorts with three different types of stretchy knit fabric.

French Terry is a stretch terry cloth fabric with a smooth side and a looped side. The terry I used is a polyester/rayon/spandex blend. This was my first time sewing this fabric. It’s usually used for cozy garments, so it might not be a great choice for summer, but I can also wear the shorts in the spring and fall. I sewed the elastic waist Allegro pattern by Love Notions, even though the pattern is for woven fabrics. I sewed the shorts with the smooth side on the outside. After inserting the elastic, I had trouble distributing the gathers evenly. I added a button embellishment just for fun on the mock fly front.

Next I sewed the Mama Bear Jogger shorts by Patterns for Pirates with green scuba. Scuba is a polyester/spandex mix with a good drape and a sheen. The website says it resembles an apparel weight version of neoprene. I had never sewn with scuba before, and my needles had problems sewing this fabric: I experienced skipped stitches, and even though I had selected the zigzag pattern the machine was sewing straight stitches instead. I changed from a stretch needle to a ballpoint needle, and that helped. I’m wearing the shorts with a woven rayon top that was a refashion from a dress. I like the top but needed shorts that go with it.

Next I sewed a pair of shorts in the same style with double knit ponte fabric in a powder blue. This ponte fabric is a heavy weight polyester/rayon/spandex blend. I have sewn with ponte before, as I like both sewing with it and wearing this fabric for knit pants. The ponte I previously used was a rayon/nylon/spandex blend, which is a nicer and pricier ponte. I’m not usually a fan of polyester as it can get sticky.

I sewed these shorts with the Itch to Stitch waistband from another pattern. It’s a beautiful curved waistband that fits me well. I added another inch to the waistband length and the elastic for added comfort when sitting down. I hate a too tight elastic waist! It’s a double waistband with the elastic stretched and sewn to the seam allowance. I sewed a wider seam allowance to use 3/4 inch elastic. I also tweeked the fit a little adding more to the crotch point in the back. When I made changes to the pattern earlier I had removed too much.

I sewed the seams with a zigzag on the sewing machine, finished the seams on the serger, and top stitched the pockets and hemmed the shorts with a zigzag stitch.

All three shorts have generous front pockets which I use. Part of the pocket piece is visible on the outside, and a lining is sewn on the main shorts front and turned to the inside before being joined to the main fabric pocket piece. I used a different slinky fabric for the pocket lining.

I love this swingy Laundry Day Tee Tank so much for summer! I think it looks much more flattering than the traditional Hanes tank that is tight in the hips that I’m wearing with the terry shorts. I bought some more rayon knit to make another, but might make a dress instead. I can always cut it down into a top later.

All three pairs of shorts were sewn with 1 yard of fabric each bought online making them inexpensive; two were under $10 and the scuba was under $7. I like ponte fabric the most as I found the terry snagged on my nails, and the scuba was hard to sew with.

Color Block Tees

I was working on a upcyling project that I had lost interest in when the July sewing challenge for the Sew Over 50 Instagram group launched. The challenge was to mix at least 2 solid colors in a garment. OK, I’ll play!

I had done color blocking with raglan tees (also known as baseball tees) before, but that’s about all. I had a few old tees and other tees that I bought for a dollar each at a garage sale that I thought would be fun to experiment with.

BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern is a book I have had in my library for years. It was published December of 2012 and has examples of styles from the 1920s to the 80s. I almost never make anything from sewing books but I used to enjoy browsing through them at the bookstore, and this is a book I actually bought in person. How old fashioned, ha! I liked the Veronica Geometric Top, and used the illustration for my inspiration. In the book, this top is an example of an 1980s inspired look.

My mother had a similar woven color blocked top circa 1960. Fashion does tend to be cyclical. I remember bright color blocked dresses from the 1960s mod era. The most famous color blocked garment is the Mondrian inspired dress introduced by Yves St. Laurent in 1946.

See more examples in the article: The History of Color Blocking.

For my project, I drew out a basic boxy tee and then made 2 cuts.

I used 4 colors, blues and gray, making a v-front and putting the little lavender triangle of fabric in the back.

The joining of the fabrics to a point was tricky. It’s more of a skill that quilters have than a garment seamstress.

Then I made a second tee with a variation on the same shirt but with only one diagonal cut to the pattern. I used a coral tee for 2/3 of the shirt and periwinkle blue for the rest. I sewed v-neckbands for both tees. They are a little tricky – I had to read a few tutorials.

I even did a little piecing within my block, choosing to make the join using the original shirt hem overlapping to make it part of the design. The back of the shirt is shown with the close-up on the left:

I feel prints are more fun to sew than solids, but combining solids creates an interesting look. I love these!

I also sketched out other color block combinations I might want to try.

I would put the cut in this shirt over the bustline.

Either of these would be striking with black on the sides, or combining a print and a solid.

Just some ideas for possible future projects. Of course, there are many other ways of combining solids, whether for woven fabrics or for knits. Sew creative!