Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finished: Crescent Skirt!

I showed you a sneak peek of my Crescent Skirt the other day, but now I have photos of the finished garment to share. I wore the skirt on Sunday but sadly there wasn't a potential photographer around during daylight hours. I wore it again today however, and my friend Jacinta kindly snapped some photos for me during my lunch break. Apologies for the slightly windswept look, it was ridiculously windy here in Melbourne today.

The skirt is a huge success. It is super comfy, both for sitting, walking and standing, not twisting or shifting at all. I definitely plan to make some more versions. The pockets are great too - they're really big so great for sticking things in, and best of all, having stuff in your pockets doesn't mess up the line of the skirt - most of my other garments with pockets you can at least tell when I have my phone in my pocket, but with this skirt you can't really tell.

As I mentioned before, I sewed this up with my friend Laura. We followed the instructions that came with the pattern and also referred to Tasia's fantastic sew-along posts for extra guidance and reassurance. They were very handy as they showed us photos confirming what we had to do. The only difference we did from the pattern was add a lining, which Tasia details how to do anyway.

Fun red lining!

We followed the instructions for inserting the zip into the skirt, and although it took a little while to get our heads around the method (although the photos helped immensely), once we did it we loved it! I will definitely be remembering it for other patterns, as it really leaves the skirt nice and neat on the inside and the outside. I definitely prefer it to an invisible zip, and it's much quicker than hand picking one.

Lovely neat zipper insertion, inside and out

One last exciting thing about my crescent skirt is that it elicited what Elizabeth refers to as an "unsolicitation" while I was at work today - a random women in the lift told me that she loved my skirt and that it added some much needed brightness to a dull day. That's the first "unsolicitation" I've ever recieved, so that made me very happy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The only time it's ever mattered...

I'm left handed, and it's never really affected my sewing (or my life). I have right handed shears and I find them fine to use, I have a rotary cutter that's really easy to switch between left and right handed. However, earlier this year I discovered the first thing that I've found where it actually matters that I'm left handed.

Following Gertie's recommendation for ease of trimming seam allowances, I got a pair of duck bill applique scissors for my birthday from my Mum. However when I got home and picked them up to use them I discovered there was no possible way for me to use them in my left hand in the way they're intended to be used.

So I had a look online and could only find one website in the whole of the internets that sell left handed duck bill applique scissors, and it was in the US. So in typical procrastinatory way, I hadn't done anything about it by the time the Australasian Quilt Convention rolled around, so I asked at every booth that was selling scissors if they had left handed duck bill applique scissors, but none of them had any. They had left handed scissors of all other types, where the left/right handed-ness doesn't make a huge difference, but not for the one kind of scissor where it made a difference!

So I eventually got around to ordering some from here. I had to email them to get them to send me a paypal thingy to allow for international shipping, but the service was great. They were shipped within a day of me placing the order, but unfortunately due to crappy postal systems took a month to get to me, but that's no fault of the seller.

The two pairs of scissors next to each other - left handed on the left, right handed on the right.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Two new skirts

Things have been quiet on this blog as I've been ridiculously busy in other aspects of my life - working during the day and trying to finish my thesis in the evenings doesn't leave much time for sewing, and even less time for blogging. However, I have managed to fit in a little bit of sewing by combining it with seeing my friends in the form of "sewing dates"/"crafternoons".

Today I took some time off from writing for one such "crafternoon" and managed to finish two skirts that I've been working on for a while. The blue and white gingham skirt I have been making with Mindy, and the red-flowered skirt is my crescent skirt that I have made together with my friend Laura as part of Tasia's sew-along. (By the way, by making together I don't mean we will be sharing the skirts! We have made a skirt each but made them together.)

Proper photos of the finished skirts will be posted in due course once I've worn and photographed them.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mill Rose Cottage

On the way up to Hepburn Springs for the retreat we stopped in at Mill Rose Cottage, a lovely quilt shop on the main street in Ballan.

The selection of fabrics is very extensive, ranging from the traditional "country style" to modern fabrics such as Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler.


They also stock all the available colours of "Emma Louise" solids - which are beautifully soft solids.

And they have quite an extensive range of Liberty fabrics (apparently diminished at the time of our visit as they sold heaps of it at AQC)

They also had a lot of books and patterns in the first room of the shop.

If you're in the area I highly recommend stopping by. Also, it's worth visiting hungry and stopping in at the cafe next door, the food was divine! I had the most delicious and decadent morning tea while we were there!

Monday, June 6, 2011


So, it turns out that hand quilting is an activity that can be done very well while hanging out with people... which is what I did this weekend.

I've made great progress quilting my wonky stars - I've quilted around nearly all the stars. Once I've finished that I need to fill in the space in between them. I've been quilting with red perle 8, which means nice big stitches! I'm a big fan of this method, it makes the quilting go pretty quickly, making it enjoyable rather than a chore!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How-To: Improv Wonky Stars Layout

In my retreat recap post the other day I included a picture showing my finished wonky star quilt tops, the blocks for which were made by the "Oh Beehave" participants. Today I thought I would post some more information about how I pieced the tops. I would describe the way I pieced the tops as an "improv" method - especially since I made it up as I went along. I took a few pictures though, so I can explain some of my process.

First off I chose the layout of my stars. The design wall at craft retreat was incredibly handy for this, although a floor would have worked too. I marked the size I wanted the quilt to be with thread on the wall and then I chose the layout of both tops at the same time, so here you can see both sets of stars on the design wall at the same time:

I will now outline how I went about making the quilt top with red stars and a beige background.

First I looked at my layout and mentally split up the top into sections (photos of the finished top as they're a bit clearer). First two (the horizontal line in the below pictures), then three (the vertical line):

Next I split those three sections into smaller sections - to avoid y-seams my lines had to both start and finish either at the edge of the quilt top or a previously decided line:

I then carried on mentally splitting up my quilt top until I could see square or rectangular shapes filling in all the gaps between the stars:

Then I started sewing pieces of beige background fabric to the stars to fill in the negative space. Here you can see where I have pieced together the top into 7 large pieces:

Does that all make sense? Taking away all the lines can you see how I broke up the quilt top?

How about the top with the red background?

Here's how I broke it up:

Does that description make sense? It was actually very fun and freeing to do, especially since I was trying to use up the left over pieces of fabric sent back to me by the ladies in the Bee.

Tonight at the MMQG SASE I'm going to get some batting so I can start quilting this sucker!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Pattern, Seven Bloggers - Finished!

Today is the last day of the "one pattern seven bloggers" project. It's been heaps of fun to do, and I would like to once again issue a HUGE thank you to Sam for instigating and organising it and choosing to include me in the group. Did you look at all the how-do posts last week? If you missed them, you can find links to them all at the bottom of this post.

Despite getting the bulk of my dress done at last month's MMQG SASD I still ended up finishing it just in time, squeezing in little bits of sewing between everything else I have going on. The zip went in on Sunday evening, Monday night the hem was pinned, and yesterday the skirt and lining were hemmed and the side seams taken in a smidge as the waist was a little big. Photos were very kindly taken by my lovely housemate this afternoon before the sun went down (Thanks Abby!).

Despite cutting it so close to the deadline, I am very happy with the dress. I'm happy with the fit (although think I might still need to fix the bust darts a little) and am very happy with the length and fullness of the skirt (about 275cm/108"; very full!!!). I gave it a nice wide hem to, in theory, support the fullness of the skirt slightly. Most importantly, as per my initial requirements, it has POCKETS!

I ended up fully lining it in Navy, using this tutorial again for sewing up the bodice. The skirt is also a gathered rectangle but isn't as full as the actual skirt, and then it's hemmed about 2 inches shorter than the skirt so it doesn't show. I also added some grosgrain ribbon to the lining waistband as a sort of waist stay (which I also did with my New Years dress), although it's not yet functioning as one as I haven't yet stitched the lining to the bodice at the waist so I can alter the darts if I want to

One last construction comment I wanted to include was the very helpful advice Tasia gave me regarding sewing in the zip. I had asked if the method she suggests for the Crescent would work for a dress and she suggested an alternative method that she used on her 60s shift dress. Bascially what I did was sew the lining to the fabric right sides together to where the zip would finish, then turned it right side out and the edge was beautifully finished and I just had to sew in my regular dress zip and sew together the rest of the centre back seam - it worked beautifully and is defnintely a method I will be remembering to use again in the future.

I can't really give much of a review of the pattern, as I completely butchered it, so I have no idea how the fit would actually have been. However, I was a bit unimpressed at the instructions that came with the pattern, particularly as it's a pattern you pay for, as they were HOPELESS. The lines for the pattern pieces don't have the sizes marked on them at all, and the instructions are completely full of errors that I guess must have happened when the file was created or something, as there's missing characters, and all sorts. They're as good as useless, I didn't bother using them at all. A big thumbs down from me, I think if I'm paying for a pattern I at least deserve someone to have proof read the instructions for font errors and typos!

Anyway, I don't want to end my post on a negative point so I will reiterate how much I love my finished dress, that I'm very happy with the quality of my work, and I can't wait to see the other gals dresses. You should remember to check out their dresses too, as before here's a list of links, I'll update them to be links to specific posts as they're posted:

Sam: http://hand-quilter.blogspot.com/
Marie: http://asewingodyssey.blogspot.com/
Reana Louise: http://curvespatternsandpins.blogspot.com/
Kat: http://petticoatsandpeplums.blogspot.com/2011/06/1-pattern-seven-bloggers-big-reveal.html
Jen: http://the-paperdoll.blogspot.com/
Amy: http://sewingthroughthemotions.blogspot.com/

Thanks again to Sam, Marie, Reana Louise, Kat, Jen and Amy for being part of this very fun project!
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