Feather Bed Quilt in Liberty of London’s Stile Collection

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It has been a year since I last posted here, I didn’t forget about blogging but as I was doing the groundwork for this article I think a couple things hit home for me: 1) sewing is a really solitary activity and coupled with being in a new place, it can get lonely and 2) I had to start using sewing as a way to connect with people in my area.

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I live in the Mid-west, and it is no surprise to anyone that Quilting thrives here. There’s a small group of clothing sewers but they’re small (and wonderful). I soon realized that if I wanted to meet more people I’d have to go with the flow a little bit and dabble in quilting. So I started quilting and I was unprepared for the level of joy it brought to me!

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I dove right in and and started working on Anna Maria Horner’s Feather Bed quilt pattern. When I showed the folks at my LQS (Local Quilt Shop), they were amazed at my progress, and my willingness to jump headfirst into a more complicated pattern. They were so encouraging, so helpful, and happy to share tips and tricks on how to make it as beautiful as I possibly could.

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Bit by bit, I plugged away at this quilt using a beautiful half-yard bundle of Liberty of London’s quilting/craft cottons “Stile” in the “spice” colorway (inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh). By May, I was finally able put it on a Long Arm and (with great help!) quilted it (using a computerized design, so not really much involved on my part). I finished (hand) binding it in September (watched a whole lotta Outlander!). Of everything I have made, this is the thing I am most proud of. I gifted it to my husband on our third wedding anniversary and it is happily used and loved.

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The pattern is available here on Anna Maria Horner’s Make Page. I am so grateful to Meredith of Olivia Jane Handcrafted for her efficient cutting tutorial. If you are planning on making this quilt, I highly suggest you start here. After a while I got tired of making so many feathers and enlarged my quilt to a queen size with a scrappy border. I used Robert Kaufman’s Kona Snow  Solid for the background because it is readily available everywhere (in case I ran out, which I did). For the binding I used a DS Quilts (Denyse Schmidt) print from one of her collections available at Jo-Ann’s. For the batting I used Quilter’s Dream “Dream Orient” and I’m very pleased with the drape and the warmth of it. I went with a plain white 108′ muslin for backing, there’s so much white in the background, I didn’t want any backing color or print showing through.

I pre-washed all my liberty, background and backing fabric, but not my batting. Many people warned me that reds bleed and the fabrics had quite a bit of red so I wanted to be on the safe side. I’m not sure where I stand on the pre-washing debate, I’ve serged fat eighths and pre-washed them and they shrank a little but it was a time commitment and I don’t know if I’ll do it again. I think I draw my limit at prewashing Jelly Rolls or Charm Packs.

Anyways, I think I can happily say that I’ve found some balance in terms of connecting with local area quilters through quilting and with the online sewing community through my love of apparel sewing. I’ve been sewing steadily through the year and I hope to share many more pictures of what I’ve been up to. On another note, I have a much nicer phone now and I joined Instagram, if you want to find me there I’m @BeautifullySewn.

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Janome Magnolia 7330 – Sewing Machine Review

Greetings friends and lurkers,

Sew Mama Sew is asking bloggers to review their sewing machines to create a master list. I think it’s a great idea so here’s mine (it’s a long one). I have two sewing machines, A Janome Magnolia 7330 computerized machine and a mechanical Singer Merritt 1812 from the 1980’s that I will review a little later on.

What brand and model do you have?

I have a Janome Magnolia 7330 computerized sewing machine. Blurry picture, I know.

How long have you had it?

I’ve had it for a little over one year now.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

Looking online most places are selling it for 399.00. I bought mine from a local dealer with an extended warranty plan and upgrade option. Personally I would buy from a dealer because I like to sew on something before I buy it, but it looks like online sales are becoming more and more popular.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I sew mostly clothes and quilting projects on this machine. I sew with natural materials most of the time but I have sewn with polyester and other fibers with no problem at all. I haven’t tried leather yet though.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I would say I average about five days a week in sewing time. Sometimes I sew for a few hours, sometimes the entire day. It really depends on the project at hand. I sew a lot. I put this machine through a lot and so far it hasn’t let me down, it can sew through multiple layers with ease.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I love my machine and I’m very protective of it. At the moment it’s in my bedroom and when I wake up in the mornings and pass by it I get so excited to start my day with it. Perhaps a little creepy too.

I probably have a bias towards Janome machines, in high school I used to work in a fabric/quilting store for a few years and every couple of months Janome would come by and display and sell their machines, I always thought they were so cool and wanted to buy one but couldn’t at the time.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

My favorite topic!

I absolutely adore the one step buttonholes this machine produces. I hear people with fancier machines than mine complaining about their one step buttonhole feature but I cannot complain about that at all.

I also love that I can sew on this machine without the pedal if I want to. This is such a great feature that makes sewing on any height possible.

I love having a top down bobbin and a clear bobbin cover so I’m able to see when I’m about to run out of thread. It’s really helpful for really crucial areas where running out of thread is not an option! I also love that the seam measurements are all marked on the needle plate. I used to use my sewing gauge so much back when these lines weren’t marked. It’s the little things that take up valuable sewing time I tell you.

I love the needle down function, I can’t imagine how I managed without this before! I love the simple backstitch button (no heavy levers or knobs to disrupt sewing flow) and the optional lockstitch feature makes a little knot with your thread for you at the beginning or end of a seam!

It also has a really nice selection of over-locking and stretch stitches and I eliminated the need for a serger (if you sew tons of knit fabrics it is not a replacement for a serger but for my purposes these stitches are perfect) . The blanket stitch is excellent for applique work.

I love the free arm to sew small tubular areas like sleeves.

I also really like the speed control feature. It’s also relatively quiet machine and easy to transport to and from classes/meetings etc.

Here’s a Youtube Review done by another owner:

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

When there’s a thread jam or something it will stop and beep and sometimes that kind of startles me out because I’m like “OH NO IT’S RUINED”. It took me a while to understand the machine was trying to tell me something. It’s helpful but also something you have to get used to.

I really wish there was a triple needle position option, the needle has two choices for positions at the moment. My mom’s machine had three and it was such a great feature for stay stitching, basting, gathering, edge stitching and top stitching and even quilting. I make do but it’s just a convenience factor.

I do wish the machine would come with more presser feet, I’ve bought a few of my own such as a 1/4 inch quilting foot and an invisible zipper foot because the little tools make such a big difference and for the price I think Janome could have thrown a few more in there.

While I love the speed control even at the top speed, it’s not as fast as my mom’s machine from the 1980’s. This probably is true for most newer machines that are made out of plastic instead of more shock absorbing materials.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

I would definitely recommend this machine to intermediate level sewers who want more options in terms of stitches and other computerized features that can save time (they really do save time if you sew regularly!). I am hesitant to say absolute beginners because most I know aren’t willing to spend that much on a machine so I’d say in that case go with a Janome 2212, I bought one for my sister in law and she has no problem using it at all. As for the whole German/Swiss vs. Scandinavian vs. Japanese vs. American sewing machines debate, I imagine it’s a bit like the debate over cars. I know people who sew on all brands of machines and they all produce beautiful things. There’s no substitute for trying things out for yourself, none! Not even this review!

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

1. Price, make a budget and stick to it, sew within your means, it is totally possible if you do your research. Find a reliable brand and look at what they have to offer. Computerized machines do cost more money and have more to offer, but I sewed on a mechanical for years and was happy with that too. Accordingly, do you want some sort of protection plan with it?

2. What kind of sewing do you do or potentially want to do (Garment sewing? Quilting? Applique? Knits?) and what stitches would make that easier?

3. What are some problem areas that you want to conquer with greater ease on your new machine? (ie – one step buttonholes, sewing with knits)

4. If buying a used machine off of the internet with no return policy, please factor the possibility of servicing it/parts replacement or it being a dud into your budget.

5. If you’re serious about sewing well, be sure to test out the machine you want before committing to it. Everyone and every machine is different, you have to find a perfect fit in terms of comfort and ease for yourself.

6.  Think about where you will put your new machine in your living space and if you need it to be big/small/heavy/light/portable. Don’t forget that a sewing space is so much more than a machine, you need to have some cutting and pressing spaces that work for you too. Also, do you plan to take it to classes and retreats?

7. Some machines do not do well with any old thread, make sure you ask if there’s a specific thread that enhances performance.

8. Is there a local workshop/studio/guild where you can drop in to ask people about their machines? It’s a great way of making friends too.

Do you have a dream machine?

There’s a new computerized Janome Magnolia 7360 that has way more stitches and cool features, I’d LOVE to try that out and see what the differences are.

Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

I just found out last week that I have been threading my machine incorrectly, there were a few more steps involved than my old sewing machine and I just assumed that they were the same. I have to say I haven’t noticed any difference in stitch quality before and after this discovery so I have to hand it to providence or to Janome (or both?) for making it through this long without messing up!

Thanks for sticking with this long review, I wish you luck on your sewing machine hunt!

*All opinions in this review are mine and I was not compensated by the manufacturer or anybody else for it.

🙂

The Honeymoon Dress

Last time I posted my anniversary dress, but this week I’ll backtrack a little bit and show you my honeymoon dress. This was one of those last minute projects that I picked up while I was in the middle of so many other projects. I didn’t make a mock up, I just cut into my pattern and into my fabric as soon as I could. Sometimes the sewing daimon just gets you like that and you can’t resist.

McCalls M6070 Body

I used the same OOP McCalls M6070 that I blogged about in my very first post (blogged here) and a very slinky and easy to sew poly-knit fabric. The pattern was a breeze,  although I modified the way the waistband was sewn together. I wore this on my honeymoon and the dress was very much admired by my husband and other city folk. It is the easiest thing to wear and it’s very flattering. The ruching on the sleeves make it look very feminine, while the tie in the back ensures the shoulders don’t slip off inadvertently. As you can tell, I’m still learning how to play around with this nicer camera.

McCalls M6070 Front

McCalls M6070 Back

In other news, have you seen Liberty’s new collection? It’s inspired by one of my all time favorite poems by William Morris, “This Earthly Paradise” (you can read it here), the opening lines of which always leaves me in tears. The fabric collection however, fortunately (from a  mental health point of view) or unfortunately, (from a money point of view) does not.

Have a wonderful day!

Liberty Sureau Anniversary Dress

I haven’t forgotten sewing or my blog or your blogs, I’ve just been out and about but now I’m back.

I made my first Deer and Doe Sureau dress with some of the Liberty Tana Lawn I bought in London. I think Deer and Doe is fast becoming my favorite sewing pattern company because I just love everything about this dress (and their blog!). I used Anna from Paunnet’s Sureau Sew-Along (which was very helpful). I didn’t have to make any adjustments to size, but the neckline was a little too deep and slightly gaping. So I used Anna’s trick, and also took a tuck out of the neckline as well. I made two bodice muslins before I cut into my Tana Lawn. I didn’t line this dress because I don’t like so many layers in summer. I finished this dress at midnight just 6 hours before we had to head to the airport. Here’s are some (headless) pictures of the dress in action (it is a little wrinkly in the pictures) on the Hollywood walk of fame! I got compliments on the dress and the print! I left out the buttons but I may add them later on.

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If you want to adjust the neckline, you can do what I did. In addition to straightening out the shoulder line (be mindful of seam allowances please!) as Anna posted, I took a small tuck from the neckline that eventually tapered into a point, a tiny dart from the front bodice.

Sureau Bodice Front

From the back I did the corresponding shoulder adjustment, and also shaded in the area that I would need to cut out for the neckline (see red circle) as it had to match up with the front bodice shoulder line. As usual, I had to redraft my facings with the new adjustments but that’s easy.

Sureau Bodice Back

For the next few days I’ll be catching up on all my favorite sewing blogs and seeing what you guys were doing!

 

The Seam Method of Pattern Alteration

I had originally planned for a final post on items I’d made in 2012 but my husband was playing around with the camera and accidentally deleted the pictures so I will have to save that for a later date (I know, it’s nearly 5 months into 2013 and I’m still talking about 2012 clothes).

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I’ve been in a sewing rut lately, It’s not so unproductive as I’ve been quilting and needlepointing while I figure out my next few garment makes. I had originally planned to start the Colette Violet blouse (I traced my pattern out and prepped my muslin fabric) but I’m wary of all the alterations I need to do on it as I don’t like the boxy fit and it runs a little large and short I hear. In the meantime I’ve been researching and writing down all the possible alterations I may need to do for it.

Fablous Fit
A few months ago I picked up this book at the local library sale for 50 cents. Fabulous Fit by Judith Rasband is all about the Seam Method of Pattern Alteration. The premise of the book is that the slash and spread and pivot methods cause distortions in the pattern that create many more problems, so Judith shows us (with many interesting illustrations) how to make precise changes to the seamline of the pattern. If you want more information, check out this article from the Threads magazine website.  The book is a little dated in it’s advice on body shapes and types and I don’t  necessarily agree with the generalizations about body type, but it does have great advice for common fitting problems and I like the illustrations.

I can’t say if this fitting method is better or worse than other methods because I don’t often have to do pattern alterations other than a sway back adjustment or transitioning between different sizes, but I do have broad shoulders and as this garment has sleeves and is not a knit pattern I may have to make some adjustments.

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Here is the adjustment advised by the book. My only concern is that is appears to have shortened the armscye in the front (I don’t know if you can see it but the zigzag lines indicate pattern overlap, whereas white spaces indicate spreading), which may create another set of problems as I set in my sleeves. I could try the method Sunni demonstrates and see where that takes me.

To fix the boxy fit of the top I will likely add  double pointed darts, this is my mother’s favorite way of fitting a garment.

What do you guys advise?  Do you have a preferred alteration method and why?

Bloglovin’ and Buttons

Greetings to you, to April and to spring!

First things first I’ve been using Bloglovin for while now but I didn’t actually claim my blog though so if you’d like to follow me on Bloglovin, click here:

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3766806/?claim=zanzgcuz9hp”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

In other news, I’ve been working towards a light and airy summer wardrobe. Summer for me means lots of lightweight cotton clothing. I’m not finished  with this particular project yet but I did get to try out the one step buttonhole feature on my Janome Magnolia 7330 (I love this machine more and more). I trained myself to make  4- step buttonholes using my mother’s old Singer Merrit 1812 so this was quite an experience for me. It took a few tries for me to realize that I do not need to actually do anything  except gently keep my fabric straight so now I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the 4-step one!

I didn’t use any interfacing on my placket (I want to minimize facings and linings on my summer outfits) so I just used fusible webbing tape (stitch witchery). They’re not as straightly lined up as I’d like but not bad eh?

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They’re not exactly straight and even, so I had to improvise on marking my button placement. I placed my buttonhole plackett on top of the button one, lining everything up as even as I could.

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Then I took my marking tool and used the opening of my buttonhole as a guide to mark where I would place my buttons.

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And here is the corresponding button placement!

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I try to make buttonholes as evenly spaced as possible but sometimes it doesn’t happen, so the next best thing  (assuming you don’t want to start all over again with buttonholes) is place your buttons in the corresponding place to minimize fabric distortion. I think it turned out fine, I’ll share pictures of the completed dress as soon as it’s done and you can tell me what you think.

Back to it!

Liberty and Minoru

It’s been a little quiet here lately because we went to London and Paris for a little break, and it was absolutely lovely. It was my first time in London and it truly is such a wonderful place to visit. Each big city has it’s own culture and vibrancy and I love feeling like I’m part of it, even if only for a little while. Only 2 days back and I miss hearing “mind the gap” or “doors will open on the right/left hand side” – Londoners, you guys have an amazing public transportation system! I can’t wait to visit again!

I also made the expected pilgrimage for any sewist visiting London – to Liberty of London on Regent Street and came back with some lovely treats! Tana Lawn (well actually I bought this from the infamous Shaukats – they’re licensed to sell Liberty prints at slightly cheaper price) and an adorable little cross stitch kit by Jane Greenoff with a pattern for the Liberty of London building (a befitting souvenir for a stitcher – this was from Liberty though!). I really love that place (esp the 3rd floor!), I saw the most amazing sewing and crafting things (case in point have you seen Felicity Hall’s DIY handbag kits? On my wishlist!), it was like a little slice of crafting paradise! Back to the fabric, I admire my tana lawn daily, a little creepy I know but it’s so buttery soft and I love the prints! William Morris’ “Strawberry Thief” is one of my favorite classic textile prints.

Liberty treats!

The city of Paris is just so beautiful, and filled with such effortlessly fashionable people. It was chilly there so I was able to admire all the different styles of coats that I saw. I kept thinking “Oh I have to make that for myself!”, so while I didn’t do any fabric shopping in Paris I did get inspired! That’s not to say Londoners aren’t fashionable, they’re very fashionable and I loved reading the fashion magazines there,  but the weather was just too cold and unpredictable (snowstorms, wind, hail, and sunshine all in one day) to actually do as much detailed people watching as I did in Paris.

Before I left for Europe, I went into a last minute sewing frenzy to finish up what I started a year ago – my Minoru jacket! Well it’s complete and I can finally share it with you. I took the pics with a nicer camera (well, my husband took them) and I think they turned out so much nicer. I still have much to learn about proper photo styling though.

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The fabric was a durable poly cotton stretch twill, I really love it and I lined it in a red rayon lining. I followed Tasia’s Sew-Along and the instructions were very straightforward. I just love the little details, like the hidden collar hood zipper, the ruffled cuffs, the gathered collar and the elastic waist. I followed Amy from Sew Well’s instruction’s on adding side seam pockets (see the little sliver of red on the hip?), and lined the hood in my own way (I wasn’t happy with the look of sewing it right sides together and turning it inside out). FYI, I found that an 18 inch zipper was too small for the collar zipper, so I got a bigger one and shortened it myself.

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I also added the inside pockets but skipped adding velcro closures because I wasn’t sure if the lining could handle it. It probably could but I didn’t want to risk it. I love rayon lining, I’m not sure if its bemberg because it was super cheap and it seems a little lower quality but it still feels so great on my skin!

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I also used a little decorative stitching on the little hanging loop, It’s one of my favorite details! Ignore the horrible “stitch in the ditch” – for some reason my  fabric and lining collars and placket’s weren’t lining up so I had to cut some off the top of the lining and that is probably why I couldn’t actually find “the ditch”.

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I feel so productive!