Quilting Progress on the Drunken Caribbean Birds Quilt

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis will have noticed that there has been no posting for 6 days! Fear not – I have been sewing just that the project on which I am working is very much a WIP (work in progress). I have finally bitten the bullet and started the quilting of my Drunken Caribbean Birds quilt.

I last discussed this project on 26th May and since then I have made a couple of garments but now I have taken over the dining room, extended the dining table to its full size and got down to some ruler and free-motion quilting.

This is my first venture into ruler work and I have to say that I am loving it! I spread the quilt all over the table, roll up one side to slide under the arm of the sewing machine and get stitching. OK it is not perfect but I am getting there and really enjoying the process. This is a real lesson in slow sewing.

So far I have quilted about a dozen of the bird blocks and filled in the ’empty’ spaces with ovals. I am using a Westalee ruler plus a ‘french curve’ template which has different-sized oval cut outs that are ideal for the filler motifs.

I am trying to work on the quilt for about an hour at a time before taking a break. That way I hope to avoid too much strain on my shoulders, try as I might, I cannot stop myself from tensing up as I wrestle the quilt and rulers whilst stitching.

Taking a break also gives me the opportunity to refresh – and cut out other projects! So the next post will probably be a garment.

Stitching, cutting, stitching, cutting ……..

 

Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc – 2nd Version

I liked the Teddy Designer Tunic top by Style Arc so much that I decided to make another!

For those of you that have not seen the previous iteration, the pattern is by Style Arc and the description is as follows:-

This uniquely crafted design comes in two lengths – top or tunic. The gorgeous collar sits high on the neck. The stitched facings and swing back with a high-low hemline give this style a luxe look. Make the top to give your look an instant update or make the tunic for a more effortless silhouette.” The fabric suggestions are linen, silk, crepe.”

I made the first ‘wearable toile’ in a quilting cotton that had been in my stash for at least 1 year. The quilting cotton worked so well that I re-visited the stash and came up with a bare 2 yards of a charming floral print ‘Reflections’ by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush that I had purchased from New Threads in their 2016 sale.

This photograph has come out much more pink in colour than real life!

I particularly like this print that has a distinct ‘vintage’ feel to it. Again the fabric had been laundered and was ready to ‘sew&go’. However, the pattern envelope states that fabric requirement is 2.4 yards of 58 in wide whereas I had a bare 2 yards of 42 in wide. No matter how I laid out the pattern pieces there was no way of cutting the entire tunic from this fabric alone. I quick rummage through fabrics and I found a ½ yard of a complimentary print cotton that I won in the Tombola at the Rookwood Retreat Day. Result! I used the contrast fabric to cut the sleeve cuffs (on the bias) plus the collar and neckline facings.

I cut and stitched the standard size 20. The understitching of the collar will show as I always wear the collar folded down. To make a feature of that I made a second row of stitching ¼ inch away.

As this fabric has good structure and has some ‘weight’ to it, I ignored the pattern instructions in respect of where to interface. I have only used fusible interfacing on the collar and neckline facings. The sleeve cuffs and hem facings are uninterfaced.

Unfortunately, on this make I did not manage the junction of front point of the collar, centre seam and facings quite so well.

In order to prevent ‘gaposis’ and restrict the depth of the front opening I have carefully overlapped the collar at the base point and top stitched for approximately 3 ins. I also re-visited the previous Teddy Tunic and repeated this feature.

Conclusion: This is indeed a very stylish make. When made in cotton fabric it is very comfortable to wear providing plenty of ease and comfort during the warm weather.

Since completing Teddy no. 2 I have re-drafted the side seams of the pattern (and hem facings) to reduce the fullness so that for make no 3 it will have a much slimmer silhouette. I may also re-draft the shoulder/armscye so that I can make set-in sleeves as demonstrated by another seamstress featured on the pattern review website.

Ruby Wedding Anniversary Dress – 2nd part

After some careful consideration I decided that the short self-lined sleeves would be the best way forward to completing the dress.

With the vagaries of the British Summer weather and because I don’t always want to have to wear a cardigan, short sleeves are ideal for wearing in the UK.

Construction notes:

TNT bodice, used the full 5/8 ths inch seam allowance on the side seams. Raised the waistline by ½ inch at centre front. Self-lined sleeves. Light fusible interfacing used on the neckline facings. Understitching completed using a 3-step zig-zag stitch. Lapped zip in centre back seam, set 3 inches down from neckline. Hand picked final seam of the zip insertion. Extended back neck facing with printed ‘Carousel’ label. Full circle skirt using ‘Betty’ pattern by Sew Over It. Side seam pockets stitched into waist seam to prevent ‘flapping’ about. All seams neatened by overlocking. Machined narrow hem on skirt.

I am particularly pleased with the way that the pattern has matched on the centre back seam although this is purely accidental.

The dress has turned out very well, I am delighted with it and definitely plan to make another in this style. Depending on the occasion, I may even get to wear the dress with my Red can-can petticoat!

Ruby Wedding Anniversary Dress

Over the weekend my husband and I will be celebrating our 40th (RUBY) wedding anniversary. On browsing through some of the photographs from our honeymoon I see that I sometimes wore a Red cotton floral print dress. Inspiration then to make another to wear on the anniversary….

I will use my TNT bodice pattern with the cap self-lined sleeves and centre back zip fastening. I will add the circle skirt from ‘Betty’dress by Sew Over It to make my favourite dress style.

Later the same day…

Construction was very straightforward. After about 3 hours I had an almost-completed dress.

   

Now – a decision to be made. Do I make the dress sleeveless or should I insert the sleeves that are made up and ready for insertion? Hmmm, I will leave the dress on the mannequin overnight and decide in the morning.

Colour Blocked Fraser Tee by Sewaholic Patterns

Hot on the trail of making the Green Butterfly print Fraser top and whilst the sewing machine was threaded up with the Pale Aqua thread, I scouted around for some more jersey that would co-ordinate. I found a length of Apple Green cotton jersey that I had purchased from Girl Charlee in their sale (according to my spreadsheet – November 2017 for £9.52). There are 2 metres of fabric – more than enough for two new tops especially when combined with the Butterfly and other print fabrics. To add to the delight, the fabric had already been laundered and is therefore ready to go&sew!

Back to the Fraser pattern, this time I would use version A which utilises different prints and/or colours of fabric. A great stash buster.

It was plain sailing for the construction. I lowered the neckline by 5/8 ths of an inch – and made a point of centring up the neckband. As a result there is an ‘interesting’ part of the print exposed at the neck.

The contrast yoke and shoulders have been pressed down and top-stitched with a straight stitch (length 3.5). 

The only downside of this plain cotton jersey is that it is very fine/light. I encountered some difficulty when twin-needle stitching the hemline. It is a little ‘fluted’ but I can live with it.

Butterfly Print Fraser Tee by Sewaholic

        Back in December last year I purchased 1.5 metres @ £6.00/metre, of this charming Butterfly print from Fabrics Galore. Having been washed it has been waiting patiently in the ‘roudtuit’ pile.

I recently made a version of the Fraser Sweatshirt by Sewaholic using a Ponte Roma which turned out very well. I decided to re-visit this pattern but this time would make version B and use a cotton/spandex jersey.

  

As I had previously adjusted the fit, I was able to sew up the top at record speed. Most of the construction was stitched on my sewing machine (Brother 4000D) with zig-zag stitch no. 1-09 width 1.00, length 2.5. The only time that I used the overlocker was on the neckband – and that is going to be removed. I am not keen on the neckline as it is ‘out of the packet’. There are two reasons, firstly it is a little too high for my taste and secondly the centring of the butterfly design is just off and that really annoys me! I will re-cut the neckline and when I apply the neckband, this time I will ensure that the design is centred.

The length of the body was extended by 3 inches then for the hem I simply turned up 1 inch and zig-zag stitched in place. I have added the bands on the sleeves which I do like and will repeat on the next version that I make. 

Whilst the sewing machine is threaded up with the correct coloured thread and I am ‘on a roll’ I will have a scout around my stash and see what else I can make with the ½ metre remaining of this fabric……

 

 

TEDDY DESIGNER TOP by STYLE ARC

Inspired by garments made by my pen friend in Germany, I decided to try out a tunic top with faced hemline. Back in March 2018 I purchased the pdf pattern of TEDDY DESIGNER TOP and tunic by Style Arc.

The product description states “This uniquely crafted design comes in two lengths – top or tunic. The gorgeous collar sits high on the neck. The stitched facings and swing back with a high-low hemline give this style a luxe look. Make the top to give your look an instant update or make the tunic for a more effortless silhouette.” The fabric suggestions are linen, silk, crepe. For this wearable muslin from my extensive stash of cotton prints I chose some pre-washed fabric in a Blue stripe print that I thought would be ideal.

By comparing the body and ease measurements I decided to use the size 20 and add a little extra at the bust and hips. I then steamed ahead and cut out the pattern.

                                                                   No pattern matching!

In my haste I forgot to take note of pattern matching and centring of the stripes – I just wanted to get on with construction of this new-to-me styled tunic top.

According to the fabric requirements I would need 2.2metres of 148 cm wide fabric. I had just 2 metres of 105 cm wide fabric but by cutting the collar in half and placing the collar on the bias with the collar facing on-grain I succeeded in cutting all the pieces required.

To begin with whenever I started sewing, I was interrupted, so the early part of construction was completed in blocks of 20-30 minutes at a time. In fact this worked out well as I was able to prepare the collar, facings, sleeve cuffs and hem facings in advance of the construction of the main body of the tunic.

I did find the different seam allowances a little confusing. Mostly it was 3/8ths of an inch but on the collar and neckline this was reduced to ¼ inch. I was pleased that I had read somewhere NOT to sew up the centre front seam of the neckline facing before completing the rest of the collar/neckline facing stitching. Leaving that step until later certainly made life easier. Also I completed the collar and facing construction BEFORE stitching the side seams which meant I could more easily get to this important section for pressing. Slow and steady working my way through the sparse instructions I was then able to whip through to the final construction.

At fitting stage I realised that the additional width was not required and it was removed thus the tunic has been made to a standard size 20.

A lapse of attention meant that I stitched the hemline facings upside down so that the shaping at the side seams did not match. I was able to ease the additional fullness in so that was not too much of a disaster.

I am pleased with the final result and will definitely be making the tunic again. This style is very comfortable to wear and looks great with leggings or skinny jeans.

From the photograph on the website there does not appear to be as much fullness in the back.

Next time I will be reducing the fullness by approximately 5-6 inches of excess. I am sure that can be removed without spoiling the design feature of the ‘swing’ back.

Drunken Caribbean Birds Quilt – the next step

I was somewhat overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead…. I have now completed the patchwork of the quilt top.

To the original 25 blocks I added a narrow border of Green background bird print cotton purchased from Fabricland (this print is also used for the backing of the quilt).Then, and I  don’t know what possessed me, I made a further 28 (yes 28!) drunken bird blocks for the outer border. This has brought the size of the quilt top up to approximately 64 inches which is a little over the size that I normally make for later display on my husband’s grand piano.

I purchased some polyester wadding from New Threads Quilt shop and on a rainy Sunday afternoon I laid out the backing, wadding and quilt top on our twin beds and ‘layered up’ the quilt. I used 505 temporary spray adhesive and quilting safety pins to keep all the layers together and set the quilt aside whilst I thought about how to quilt…..

Three weeks later I had a couple of additional blocks that I had hand-stitched at Sprat & Winkle Quilters club evenings. I used these for trialling a quilting design.

  

I am happy with the quilting within the bird shapes  but at present am not sure  how I will deal with the empty spaces of the backgrounds. Possible cloud shapes?

For now I am taking yet another break from this project so that I can make a Red dress to wear on 3rd June when my husband and I will celebrate our RUBY wedding anniversary.

Sprat & Winkle Rookwood Retreat Day

I have previously mentioned the Rookwood Retreat Day that is arranged by the Committee of Sprat & Winkle Quilters. Now three weeks after the event, I have finally got around to posting on the blog!

This year the event was held on Saturday 12th May at Rookwood School in Andover and was very well attended by both members of the quilting group and several guests.

Having registered we took our places at the tables set out in the assembly hall. Christine and Lizzie regaled us with a brief review of their recent weekend away at a hotel in Oxfordshire that had been arranged by Purple Stitches followed by a quick re-telling of Lizzie’s adventures in the world of Singer featherweight sewing machines.

After instruction and demonstration we then set about making up the kits of ‘granny squares’.

One set was for personal retention, the second set was entered into a draw. Each of the seven winners was handed 4 blocks to make up as per their heart’s desire! I did not win from the raffle but my good friend donated her spare block to me so now I have two with which to make into ‘something’!

We enjoyed an ‘American Lunch’ and whilst that settled went on to make the divided baskets. I was ‘almost’ able to  finish my basket on the day. The finished basket measures approximately 11 inches  x 6 inches x 8 inches deep. All that was required was some hand sewing of the binding around the top of the baskets before I could put it to good use in storing and transporting fat quarters and sewing accessories for yet more Caribbean bird blocks (see yet another post about those later!)

  

The Wedding Guest Outfit

It has been over a week now since I attended the wedding of my husband’s eldest grandson, Michael to his fiancée Lisa.

Since then I have attended a Sewing Retreat day and a Patchwork & Quilting class. It was only today I realised I had not posted a picture of the final outfit that I wore for the wedding.

As you will see from the above photo, the wedding ceremony was held out of doors in a Bluebell Wood. Very romantic!

To get to the location involved a walk up a hill via a couple of fields and a wood. I therefore changed from my Silver stiletto shoes into ‘much more appropriate’ Cerise pink loafers.

The day was lovely and Mike and Lisa make a charming couple.

I shall be wearing my dress and jacket ensemble again in the future but do not foresee many outings for the fascinator!