Saturday, August 28, 2010

postcards from my sewing room

[Looking out on our backyard, toward the neighbors' house.  Note my fondness for succulents and creepy dog statuettes.]

[for reference!]

titles of note, first shelf:
titles of note, second shelf:
Do you have any suggested craft reading?
    Note: I am not blog buddies with and am not making money every time you click a title... I considered linking each title to Powell's Books, an independent bookstore in Portland OR, because I prefer to support independently-owned businesses.  Ultimately, has more content and customer reviews of these titles than, which is why I chose to link to Amazon.  Read up on the books you love and track them down at your local independent bookstore!

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    on Not Sewing...

    Do you have any tricks for getting out of a creative slump, dear readers?  I sure could use some help, because I can't focus on anything.  Jessica and I are tabling the Indie Craft Parade in Greenville, SC in a couple of weeks, so I have no shortage of sewing to do.

    • This article, entitled "Ankle Porn and Knee-gasms: Making Sewing Sexy", features photos from the early 1900s of women mending, revealing their ankles (in stockings) for all the world to see!  I'm forever entertained that that was once risque.
    • I just set up a mailing list for Owlette.  If you are so inclined, click here to sign up for Owlette Collective email updates!  No spam, we promise.  Just occasional notice of sales, upcoming craft events, the like.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    my favorite dress

    I've started sewing a lot of garments, but have finished few.  Jessica observed that I'll happily spend dozens of hours making a quilt, but get impatient with clothing construction halfway through ironing my pattern pieces!  She's right; I suppose it is because I know a quilt will fit.  A dress?  Way too many variables there...

    Over the winter I began working on this dress, Simplicity 2443, designed by Cynthia Rowley:

    You can see the designer version here.  It sells for $295.  The bodice, in my version, is an olive green cotton interlock knit; the skirt is a grey pinstripe linen.  The pattern is designed for a knit bodice and either a knit or woven skirt.  T-shirt alterations aside, this was my first real venture into sewing with knits.  (How intrepid!)

    And guess what?  Knits aren't scary anymore!  Same goes for invisible zippers, though I was actually sweating while installing one in the side seam.  Ack.  I chose an interlock knit because it had a decent amount of stretch, but felt stable relative to the other knits at the store; the linen is lightweight with a lovely drape, though I admit I was drawn in initially by the pinstripe!

    The pattern was easy to follow but is probably for those with intermediate skills.  Attaching the top band to the bodice had me swearing passionately, particularly when it came to negotiating the band onto the racerback.

    Thanks to the harsh sunlight, the bump where I gathered my bra straps between a huge safety pin is pretty evident!  I am short-waisted, and shortened the bodice a tiny bit out of habit.  The waistband would probably fit more comfortably had I not done that, so if you are long-waisted, be sure to lengthen the bodice!  Below, dawn breaks through the hole I've made in the waistband seam:

    I am happy with my dress.  It is perhaps the first article of clothing I have made that fits my body well, which is a credit to the design of the dress and also the glory of knits! 

    Knit advice: I used a universal needle, size 75/11 if I recall, to construct this dress.  My Bernina has a stretch stitch for joining knits (below), which does the trick.  Check your manual and adjust your machine accordingly.  I also decreased my presser foot pressure significantly, from 47ish to 12ish, so my seam wouldn't ripple. 

    Notes on Construction, Simplicity 2443:
    •  Skill level: intermediate
    • Skills/techniques: invisible zipper installation, working with knits, attaching a knit to a woven (optional), joining curved seams
    • Hem: blind hemmed by machine
    • Interfacing: Armo-weft fusible for the waistband and to stabilize side zipper seam, knit fusible interfacing for the bodice band
    • Alterations: shortened bodice... unnecessarily; took several inches off the skirt as well

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    This is how I get my kicks:

    While visiting my family in Nashville, I began free motion quilting a top I had finished in February, I believe.  Because of its simplicity, both in color and in pattern, I was really stuck when it came to the quilting.

    See what I mean?  I certainly couldn't quilt in the ditch, and had no real patchwork shapes to follow.  An all-over motif might have worked (kinda like this, which was done with a walking foot and the feed dogs up), but ultimately I felt it called for free motion.

    I wanted to address each area differently, so I referenced 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting (index of designs can be found here) and chose her Modern Art motif for the blue 'border' of sorts.  I did zig-zag lines radiating from the squares on-point, and am pebble quilting the center squares, which is oddly addictive!

    I had to stop, though, because I ran out of thread.  As for the stripes which comprise the bulk of the top, I am still undecided!  I'm having trouble finding a long, skinny motif for each individual stripe and so am leaning toward an allover design.

    So far this is the strongest candidate, which I'd quilt allover in patches of different thread colors which would match the stripes--but I'm not sold.  Any advice out there?  I could sure use it!!

    Pattern: Phoebe by Valori Wells
    Focus print: from Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party line
    Hand-dyes: Gee's Bend solids
    Chambray wovens: Kaffe Fassett shot cottons
    Also: I blogged about this quilt a little before!

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Knox County USA

    It's official, I live in Knoxville now!  Moving from state to state is such a lot of work.  Steven and I first drove our little convoy (he in the 16' truck with my little car hitched to the back, and me following in his car) from Bloomington, IN to Dayton, OH to pick up furniture from his grandmother.  We got some great stuff, including a china cabinet that currently houses all of my quilts!  

    The next day, we made the 6-hour drive down to Knoxville.  The last 30 minutes or so were absolutely white-knuckle driving as we crested the hills of East Tennessee.  But we made it to our destination, the bottom floor of this house:

    We have a lot more space in the new house.  I have a little room dedicated to sewing, and our kitchen is large enough for two people to cook together!  Our yard is enormous (compared to our non-yard at the old place), and we are as close to downtown as one can be while still living in a neighborhood.

    On Friday, we packed up the car for a week in Nashville.  As you can see above, I took only the essentials for a week of sewing with my mom.  We've accomplished a lot so far--more on that later!

    My car, which was in tow, was completely full of plants.  They all survived the move, but will they survive my being gone for a week?  I guess we'll find out soon!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    birdie friends

    I kind of love making stuffed things: pincushions, toys, umm... I guess that's it.  Pincushions and toys.  I started toy-making a year ago, when I needed to make a gift for my cousin's 4-year-old daughter, Kailee:

    Upon receiving her little bird, Kailee began twisting the button eyes and trying to pull them off.  I should have anticipated that!  She seemed to understand when I reminded her the bird couldn't see without its button eyes.

    This bird, I made for my friends' baby, Oliver Blue.  Naturally, it is a blue bird.  If you click here, you can see a photo of Oliver sucking his thumb with the bird on his head.  Which is where a bird like this belongs, of course!

    And this is Elvie's bird, which matches a pair of bloomers I also made.  Both were sewn about seven months before Elvie was born.

    The pattern is from an older issue of BHG Quilts and More.  (I wish I could tell you which issue!!)  They recommend using fleece but I didn't, obviously.  Prints are much more fun!