Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 9: Pina Colada

Monday, December 28, 2015

For week 9 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Pina Colada block. You'll need to cut:

Background Fabric
  • A - (3) - 6" square
  • B - (2) - 4.5" square
Colored Fabric #1
  • C - (3) - 6" square
Colored Fabric #2
  • D - (1) - 4.5" square
Pair up an A and C square to make (8) 2.5" unfinished HSTs using the 8 at a time method. Repeat with the remaining A and C squares for a total of (24) HSTs.

What we're supposed to do is lay the HSTs and remaining squares out as illustrated, sew them into rows, and sew those rows together.

Instead, bust out the champagne because we're celebrating New Year's early. Your drunk self will take care of the rest. As usual, finished block measures 12.5" square.

Cambie Dress Review

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Cambie Dress has been on my garment sewing wishlist since I first saw it. I love the sweetly vintage look of the fit-and-flare shape with the cap sleeves and sweetheart neckline. I had been anxious about making lined dress (I always skip the lining on my Emery Dresses) but the look of Cambie was just too enticing. With this Texas winter being warmer than usual, Cambie seemed like a good option for a Cotton + Steel Christmas Dress.

The wind wasn't being very cooperative.

I did some research on what fabric to use for the lining, and decided on using imperial batiste after reading this post. I wanted something light for the Texas weather as well as inexpensive. I found some 60" wide white imperial batiste on sale from an etsy seller for $5 per yard. 

I started off by tracing my pattern. My bust size calls for a size 6 but my waist calls for a size 8, so I blended the sizes and traced the waist darts for the size 8. I made a muslin for the bodice and sleeves, and determined the adjustments I needed to make: shorten the bodice by 7/8", and 1/2" to the side seams on both the front and back, and lengthen the waistband accordingly. The second muslin worked perfectly, so I went forward with those revisions. 

The pattern instructions initially surprised me in that they are so susinct, even with the illustrations. I like this because I habitually start skimming when there are walls of text, and that occasionally leads to mistakes. On the other hand, I've had experience making dresses so I don't need much hand-holding. A beginner would probably find the Sewholic instructions sparse and have lingering questions. For that reason, I'll say they are better suited for sewers with garment sewing experience, particularly with darts, invisible zippers, and finishing techniques. 

The lining ended up being no big deal. It came together without a hitch. The most time consuming part for me is always gathering, so that was standard. 

My finished dress fits wonderfully and is comfortable to boot. I love how the sleeves offer a natural range of movement without being sleeveless. And of course it has pockets! I'm definitely going to be making more Cambie Dresses in the future. 

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 8: Amaretto Sour

Monday, December 21, 2015

For week 8 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Amaretto Sour block. You'll need to cut:

Background Fabric
  • A - (2) - 8" square
Colored Fabric #1
  • B - (2) - 8" square

Pair up an A and B square to make (8) 3.5" unfinished HSTs using the 8 at a time method. Repeat with the remaining A and B squares for a total of (16) HSTs.

What we're supposed to do is lay the HSTs out as illustrated, sew them into rows, and sew those rows together.

Instead, do the thing. DO IT. DO ITTTTTT. Your finished block should measure 12.5" square.

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 7: Sangria

Monday, December 14, 2015

For week 7 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Sangria block. You'll need to cut:

Background Fabric
  • A - (1) - 6" square
  • B - (4) - 2.5" square
  • C - (1) 4.5" square
 Colored Fabric #1
  • D - (1) - 6" square
  • E - (4) - 2.5" squares
 Colored Fabric #2
  • F - (4) - 4.5" square

Start by using your A and D square to make (8) 2.5" unfinished HSTs using the 8 at a time method. Use these HSTs, the B pieces, and E pieces to make (4) arrow/dart/whatever you call these things.

What we're supposed to do is lay the darts, C, and F pieces out as illustrated, sew them into rows, and sew those rows together.

Instead, f*ck sh*t up. You're driving the sewing machine, so you're the captain now. When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

World's Okayest Quilter T-shirts

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

After reading through Teresa Duryea Wong's book on Japanese quilts and quilters, I felt a bit...deflated. There are so many amazingly skilled quilters out there! I'm always amazing by how humble quilters are in spite of their abilities. That was the inspiration for a recent hand lettered illustration I created, World's Okayest Quilter.

I cleaned up the illustration a bit, digitized it, and have it ready to go off to my screen printer for some fun shirts!

Unlike with previous shirts in my shop, I'm going to be selling this shirt solely through pre-orders. Having extras on hand just hasn't worked out for me as well as I've hoped. So if you want a shirt, be sure to pre-order! You can get the full info on the shirts and pre-order over at my at my t-shirt shop.

Everyday Style Book Review + Blog Tour + Giveaway

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

About a month ago, the folks at Abram's Books and and Windham Fabrics reached out to me about participating in the blog hop for Lotta Jansdotter's new book, Everyday Style. I had flipped through the book at Quilt Market and even added it to my Amazon wishlist, so I jumped at the chance to participate.

Everyday Style is not your typical project-based book. The book consists of five "core" garment patterns (a skirt, jacket, pants, sleeveless top/dress, and a sleeved top/dress) that between two to five variations each as well as four simple bag patterns. Upon my initial flip-through, the structure was a little confusing, but everything clicks when you sit down and read it properly (something I'm not always good at). It reads more like a hybrid of Japanese sewing books like the Stylish Dress Book collection, a fashion magazine, and a series of journal entries. It's quite unique in that regard.

The first portion of the book is divided into four chapters by season. Each seasonal chapter features gobs of gorgeous photos of the garment patterns in fabrics and outfits befitting the season along with brief tutorials for accessories and embellishments (fabric jewelry, pom poms, wool cuffs, scarves, etc). If you're the type of person who likes to see different versions of patterns to get your creative gears turning, you'll adore this book. If you're more of a straight-to-the-point, no-frills type, Everyday Style might be a lot to wade through.

The second section of the book contains the actual instructions for sewing the garments and bags. Each pattern includes illustrated cutting diagrams, and all measurements are listed in both imperial and metric, so readers outside of the US will be happy campers. There are illustrations for the instructions, albeit small and somewhat sparse. For this reason, I'd say the patterns may not be for suitable for absolute beginners. I had no trouble understanding the instructions, but I've also had experience making garments. Instruction wise, the patterns are comparable to most of the Japanese sewing books I've read.

I made the Esme top using the spotted print from Lotta's Lucky collection. It was a super quick and simple project with the exception of attaching the set in sleeves. Like many patterns with set in sleeves, the instructions call for two lines of basting stitches to ease in the sleeve cap. This approach is a drastic over simplification of easing in a sleeve. It never works for me. The gathering approach always results in a puffy sleeve (which I hate) while the photographs clearly show a smooth sleeve. Instead of basting, I opted to pin the everloving crap out of of the sleeve cap, which results in less puff-age.

If you're looking for some basic sewing patterns and tons of photographic inspiration, Everyday Style will make a lovely addition to your library.

Blog Tour Schedule

Dec 1 – Lotta
Dec 2 – STC Craft
Dec 3 – Windham 
Dec 4 –  Noodlehead
Dec 7 – Modern Handcraft
Dec 8 – Sew Scatterbrained
Dec 9 – Crimson Tate
Dec 11 – Groovy Baby & Mama
Dec 15 – Craft Sanity
Dec 16 – Aesthetic Nest
Dec 17 – Sew Mama Sew
Dec 18 – Lish Dorset
Dec 19 – Fancy Tiger Crafts
Dec 21 – Generation Q
Dec 22 – Carolyn Friedlander
Dec 23 – Crafty Planner

Prize Giveaway!

The sponsors of the blog tour have a prize pack for one of my lucky readers. The winner will receive a copy of Everyday Style, a fat quarter of Lotta’s fabric from Windham, Lotta temporary tattoos, and Lotta washi tape.

To win, leave a comment with your email address by Saturday, December 12th at 9am CST. I'll pick one winner at random.

Extra Linkage

To learn more about Lotta and the contributors to Everyday Style, check out these links.

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 6: Mai Tai

Monday, December 7, 2015

For week 6 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Mai Tai block. You'll need to cut:

Background Fabric
  • A - (1) - 4.75" square
  • B - (1) - 5.75" square
  • C - (1) 7.25" square
 Colored Fabric #1
  • D - (1) - 5.75" square
  • E - (2) - 4" squares
  • F - (4) - 3.875" squares

Once again, I forgot to photograph my pieces before sewing them up. Deal with the doodle.

Start by cutting your (2) E pieces in half on the diagonal. Use this tutorial to make a square-in-a-square block with the E triangles and your A piece. Trim your block to 6.5" square, making sure you have a .25" seam allowance between around the center A square.

Next, make (4) HSTs with your B and D pieces using the four at a time method. Trim each HST to 3.5" square.

Lastly, make (4) flying geese with your C and F pieces using the no waste method we've previously used. Each geese should measure 3.5" x 6.5" unfinished.

What we're supposed to do is lay these pieces out as illustrated, sew them into rows, and sew those rows together.

Instead...you know the drill. Be lucky it's not a real drill. If it was, you might hurt yourself with it in your drunken state. When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

Previously: Introduction | Week 1: Happy Hour Star | Week 2: Whiskey Tumbler | Week 3: Dirty Martini | Week 4: Mint Julep | Week 5: Mimosa

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 5: Mimosa

Monday, November 30, 2015

For week 5 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Dutchman's Puzzle Mimosa block. You'll need to cut:

Colored Fabric #1
  • A - (2) - 7.25" x 7.25"
Background Fabric
  • B - (8) 3.875" x 3.875"

As you can see, I forgot to photograph my pieces before sewing them up. Please accept this doodle.

Using (1) A square and (4) B squares, follow this tutorial to make (4) flying geese at one time. They should measure 3.5" x 6.5" when finished. Repeat with the remaining A and B pieces for a total of (8) geese.

What we're supposed to do is lay these (8) geese out as illustrated, sew them into (4) pairs, and sew those quadrants together.

Instead, make some mistakes. Throw that goose for a loop. Shoot it with bird shot. I dunno.

When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 3: Mint Julep

Monday, November 23, 2015

For Week 4 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we'll be making the Ohio Star Mint Julep block.

Center Square
  • A - (1) 4.5" x 4.5"
Background Fabric
  • B - (4) - 4.5" x 4.5"
  • C - (2) - 5.5" x 5.5"
Colored Fabric #1
  • D - (2) - 5.5" x 5.5"

Follow this tutorial to make (4) quarter square triangles with your C and D pieces. Each C + D pair will yield (2) quarter square triangles. Trim them to 4.5" square. 

What we're supposed to do is lay these (9) 4.5" squares out as illustrated and sew them all together.

Instead, make some mistakes. Rotate a quarter square triangle 90 degrees. Chew on it a little bit. Whatever you do, make sure it cause restaurant employees to offer you the children's menu because you're obviously...special.

When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

Treasure Jar Quilt Pattern

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Treasure Jar Quilt was an idea I had been sitting on for a while before I put it to the test. It was one of many quilt ideas I had stashed in an Illustrator document on my computer, unsure if it would ever be executed. Thankfully, I recently took the initiate to try it out. I totally fell in love.

The Treasure Jar Quilt was meant to be a way to showcase your favorite fussy cut fabrics without having to constrain those prints with a color palette. The consistency of the jars and lids helps keep everything in check.

This quilt pattern uses a combination of traditional piecing and machine applique to highlight your favorite fabric prints. The jar blocks measure 6" x 8.5" and the quilt finishes at 52" x 52.5".

My pattern testers dug into their stashes to make some fun-filled jars!

@smoobug added an extra contrasting border for a larger quilt.

@clairejc filled her jars with plenty of critters.

@modernsewciety made her quilt for a the newborn of a friend. 

@taracceleste made a bunch of blocks for a jumbo Treasure Jar quilt! 

@fatchickquilts packed her jars with itty bitty treasure.

@meredithrussian made tiny hexie honeycombs for her treasures.

@pmpaulone contrasted bright hues on a dark background for jars that pop.

The Treasure Jar quilt is now available for sale in my Craftsy pattern shop!

Size: 52" x 52.5"
Pattern: Treasure Jar
Quilting: Straight line quilting to echo sashing
Completed: September 2015
Fabric: Hoarded scraps, Kona Curry, Kona White, and Cotton Couture Aqua

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 3: Dirty Martini

Monday, November 16, 2015

For Week 3 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we'll be making the Dirty Martini block. I have no earthly clue what the traditional name of this block is.  You'll need to cut:

Center Square
  • A - (1) 4.5" x 4.5"
Colored Fabric #1
  • B - (4) - 2.5" x 4.5"
Background Fabric
  • C - (4) - 2.5" x 4.5"
  • E - (8) - 2.5" x 2.5"
Colored Fabric #2
  • D - (4) 4.5" x 4.5"

Sew (1) B and (1) C piece together along the 4.5" edge and press seam towards the darker fabric. Repeat with the remaining B and C pieces.

On the wrong side of your E pieces, mark a diagonal line. Follow the steps under "creating the X branches" according to this tutorial with your D and E pieces. 

What we're supposed to do is lay these (9) 4.5" squares out as illustrated and sew them all together.

Instead, make some mistakes. Flip a block around, spill your drink on it, whatever.
Whatever you do, make sure it would make the Quilt Police beat you with those scary ouchy sticks. Don't you know that you're a disgrace to the quilting tradition?!

When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

Why I don't identify as an "artist"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Recently I've taken to listening to the Crafty Planner podcast by Sandy Hazlewood during my sewing sessions. As I've been devouring both new and past episodes, I've noticed a theme during Sandy's interviews with various sew-lebrites: the idea of being an "artist."

In episode 35 with Mandy Lein, Mandy tenuously calls herself an artist, as if she is unsure if she's earned the title. While I have nothing but respect for Mandy and I would never challenge the way someone chooses to identify themselves, I was struck by my aversion to identify myself as an artist.

This isn't a new revelation for me. I've never felt quite right calling myself an artist. Even as an art major in college, I felt that the title was still missing the mark. Hearing people talk about being artists within the quilting industry stirred up my bottled up university art department experiences. I think that some people call themselves "artists" in order to elevate their work. A person who makes quilts might introduce themselves as an artist rather than a quilter because they feel that the former title has more distinction. The problem I have with this rationale is that it implies that being a quilter is not good enough. 

It's no secret that pursuits like quilting, knitting, scrap booking, etc. are deemed "crafts" or "hobbies," while the mediums that have historically been dominated by men (painting, photography, sculpture, etc.) are the ones we call "art." On the Crafty Planner podcast, Lizzy House (episode 35) even comments that when a woman makes a quilt, it's a quilt. When a man makes a quilt, it's art.

This is where my college art major angst kicks in. Most of my professors and peers were firmly in the fine art scene, with many being conceptual artists. As a representational artist, I frequently found myself at odds with others. I was unintentionally trained to bullshit a conceptual thesis to bolster my illustrations, for without one my work was deemed to be shallow, empty, or vapid. In their minds, a piece is good when it sparks a 30 minute discussion or debate. To me, art should leave you speechless. I feel that when ideas are more important than aesthetics, it should be called "visual philosophy" or something like that because the medium is nothing but an incidental vehicle to express the thought. One of my professors began referring to my work as "illustration," (a term I have zero issue with) like it was a dirty word. In college, some dismissed my work as illustration, and now some dismiss my quilts as "craft."

During my senior year of college, I vowed not to let illustration be a dirty word. I began introducing myself as an illustrator. These days, I wear a lot of hats. Quilter, pattern designer, fabric designer, blogger, etc. At the core of it all, I am a maker. There is no definitive answer for what makes something craft or art, but either way, they both involve the act of making. Making things is what brings me joy, and the word "artist" always makes me think of judgement and elitism. I am not an artist.

One Hour Top with Hit Parade Knits

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I've been a long time sufferer of knit-phobia. I had a brief encounter with knit fabric in college, trying to make a tshirt for one of my BJDs. It kept getting sucked into my machine and stretching. I honestly had no clue what I was doing, but it instilled a sense of fear in me.

At Quilt Market, Julia wore a dress she made out of Lizzy House's Hit Parade Knits from Andover. It looked so comfy and cute, I was pretty jealous. After scoping at the knits at every major booth, Julia declared the Andover knits are her preference. They stretch two ways, and don't distort the colors' appearance when stretched. They're also very soft and an ideal weight for garments. 

I decided it was time to face my knit-phobia. Giuseppe sent me the cream kitty print and I selected an easy beginner project: the One Hour Top from Fancy Tiger Crafts. I don't have a serger so I spent some time researching how to tackle the task of sewing with knits. The main points I gathered were:
  • Prewash your fabric (always a good tip)
  • Take care not to stretch the fabric when transferring the pattern
  • Use a ballpoint needle
  • Use a stretch stitch, AKA, the lightning bolt
  • Use polyester thread (cotton doesn't stretch and will break)
  • Use a walking foot
  • Lower the pressed foot pressure to the lowest setting 
  • Don't stretch the fabric when sewing
After adding 2" to the hemline (I need something I traced my pattern onto the fabric with a water soluble marker and cut it out with my rotary cutter. This process took way longer than usual because I had to be careful not to stretch the fabric. Luckily the One Hour Top only has two pattern pieces.

I used a stretch stitch for all my seams and it worked wonderfully. I was pretty shocked that it worked so well right out of the gate.

The only issue I had was with the twin needle. I've never used a twin needle before. The pattern says to use a twin needle to hem the neckline, sleeves, and bottom hemline. I followed my machine's instructions to set up the twin needle tested on a scrap piece of knit. Based on the illustration in the pattern, it looked like they were doing a straight stitch, so that's what I selected. Well, it offered ZERO stretch. It didn't seem practical to have the neckline and sleeves not allow for any stretch, so I switched back to the stretch stitch to hem everything. I mentioned this to Lizzy House during our Meadow Quilt workshop and she informed me that there's actually a twin needle specifically for knits. Who knew?

The finished top is precious! I love loose 3/4 length tops, so this is right up my alley. I can't wait to sew more with knits.

Teacup Crossbody Pattern

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My process for designing bag patterns is usually straight forward. I sketch my ideas, determine measurements, generate some pattern pieces, and sew my bag. Having a clear vision from the outset means any revisions to the design are relatively minor. The Teacup Crossbody through a wrench in my formula.

The Teacup Crossbody began as the Teacup Tote back in July. I was looking for a way to introduce some new materials to my customers, which in this case, were rivets and Kraft-Tex. I made my petite tote with a small snap closure and single handle for carrying over the shoulder. I loved the look of the result, but after using the bag for a couple days, I became disillusioned. It didn't feel practical to me. I set the design aside to let the core design simmer in my head.

When I returned to it two months later, I decided the design needed an overhaul. I retained the same design for the body of the bag, but changed the style from a tote to a crossbody bag. I added a contrasting flap with a magnetic snap tab and a gusseted pocket, a technique I introduced in my Collegiate Tote.

The Teacup Crossbody passed my usability test and exceeded my expectations. It's now my current everyday bag for running errands. I love the front gusseted pocket for quick, easy access to my cell phone or car keys. The bag has a mid-size body which easily holds the essentials plus a small drink, my iPad mini, and a light sweater.

I had a wonderful pool of pattern testers this time around who made beautiful samples of the Teacup Crossbody.

@marci_girl made this breathtaking bag with pleather accents and fabric from April Rhodes. My pattern only calls for interfacing the exterior pocket pieces, but Marci suggests interfacing the lining pocket pieces as well since Art Gallery Fabrics are rather lightweight compared to most quilting cottons.

@amythystgecko's happy green bag uses some of my favorite prints (Lizzy House's Natural History and Pearl Bracelets along with Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics). 
@jennycoplin's plaid bag is perfect for winter. Her fabric choices are so spot on, and that red flap warms my heart.

@leahrene made combined a busy Alison Glass print with a cool solid for just the right amount of energy.  

@monpetitebiscuit's bold floral combination of Anna Maria Horner and Tula Pink is a striking one. I love the magenta accents!

@mycraftycrap blew my mind with her skillful fussy cutting. Look how the snap tab lines up perfectly with the moose on the flap!

@skynme2 also used pleather accents for her Teacup Crossbody. It really elevates any fabric choice!

The Teacup Crossbody is now available for sale in my Craftsy pattern shop!

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 2: Whiskey Tumbler

Monday, November 9, 2015

For week 2, we're making the churn dash Whiskey Tumbler block. For this block you'll need to cut the following :

Background Fabric
  • A - (1) 4.5" x 4.5" 
  • B - (4) 2.5" x 4.5" 
  • C - (2) 5" x 5" 
Fabric #1
  • D - (2) 5" x 5"
Fabric #2
  • E - (4) 2.5" x 4.5"

Make (4) half square triangles with your C and D pieces using the two at a time method. Press seam towards the darker fabric. Trim each HST to 4.5" square.

Place a B piece and an E piece right sides together and sew along the 4.5" edge. Press seam towards the darker fabric. Repeat with the remaining (3) B/E pairs.

What we're supposed to do is lay these (9) 4.5" squares out as illustrated and sew them all together.

Instead, make some mistakes. Rotate an HST the wrong way. Mix up the layout.
Whatever you do, make sure it make your teacher say, "See me after class." You obviously shouldn't have graduated kindergarten.

When you're done, your block should measure 12.5" square.

Now your Whiskey Tumbler block is finished!Share your block on IG with the hashtag #DrunkardsWifeQAL.

How to get your projects into Quilt Market

Thursday, November 5, 2015

In the weeks before and after the past two Quilt Markets, I've received questions about how I've gotten my projects into exhibitors' booths. Since it's a multi-faceted question, a blog post seemed like the best way to respond.

I made my first project for Quilt Market when I was a total newbie. I had less than 5 months of quilting experience, but I wanted to help my friend and fellow designer Patty Sloniger fill up her booth at Spring 2014 Quilt Market with lovely goodies. My Wing It baby quilt and a cathedral window pillow were featured in her booth and marked my first foray into market sewing.

When quilt market looms near and the #quiltmarketprep hashtag comes to life on Instagram, I see lots of enthusiastic sewists asking how they can get in on the action. I want to answer some of the questions I see pop up with market sewing.

Q: How do I get my projects into Quilt Market booths?
A: Contact the manufacturer or designer you want to sew for and offer your help! Market happens twice a year in May and October, so email the manufacturer 2-3 months prior to the show to introduce yourself, offer your help, and outline a few projects (which we call samples) you'd like to make. Include a link to your blog, Flickr, or Instagram account so they can see examples of your work.

Q: Do manufacturers / designers tell you what to sew or can you pick your own projects and fabric choices?
A: It depends. I've done both. I've had exhibitors who say, "I need X made with these fabrics" and I've also had samples where I was given free reign. If you have a specific pattern and fabric selection in mind, let them know.

Q: Do you get paid for your projects? Who keeps them when the show is over?
A: Once again, it depends on the exhibitor. In my experience, when I get to choose the fabrics and the project, I end up keeping the sample after the show and I do not get paid for it. I'm okay with this because I get the fabric for free (and they always send more fabric than I need for a project) and I get some exposure for my patterns and designs. When I'm being told what to make, I've gotten paid for my time and the exhibitor keeps the samples. There is no "normal" arrangement, so ask the exhibitor up front if you will be compensated and who will retain ownership of the samples.

Q: Do I have to design original patterns to make samples for market?
A: Not necessarily. Exhibitors definitely like having original, unique samples to show, but using an existing pattern is perfectly fine too.

Q: Can I attend Quilt Market if I sew samples?
A: Maybe. I attended my first Quilt Market on behalf of Michael Miller Fabrics after making samples for Patty. If you make a lot of samples for a manufacturer, you can try asking them if they will obtain a badge for you to attend. The worst thing they can say is no. Alternatively, you can get submit your credentials to obtain an Industry Professional badge.