Tuesday, September 17, 2019


As I promised myself last month, I took a couple of days this week and sat down to make up a passel of undies from Jalie 2568. I used the double brushed poly knits I ordered from Cali Fabrics. So soft, and such great recovery...

I am now 8 pairs of undies richer than I was last week.

Once again, I finished the waist with a self-fabric band and just turned and zig-zagged the leg openings. Last time I cut the waistband strips at 2 inches; this batch I used 1.5 inch strips and they were plenty wide enough.

I love that I don't have to use any fancy elastics for these. They're super comfortable and not a shadow of VPL.

I made two Pineapple undies,

Two blue rose undies

Two autumn flower undies

And two leopard print undies (rohwer!)

I have to say, the sweatshop style of sewing is not my favorite. It makes so much sense with undies, of course, because if you're making them at all you might as well make a bunch.

But by the time I was cutting out my last pair I was darn tired of cutting. Same with the construction piece. In fact, I was tired enough that I sewed one pair together with the gusset on the outside, even though I was sure I'd cracked the code for correct construction.

Now that they're done, though, I love them all. I can hardly wait to do some spring cleaning in my lingerie drawer. My old Victoria's Secrets are headed for the rag bag, and high time too.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Edited to add: I got a question on whether the brushed poly is hot to wear. It does have a warm hand feel, I think because of the brushed surface, but I don't find it hot or sweaty to wear. I have a couple tee shirts made from this same fabric and they're also comfortable. Give it a try and see what you think!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Butterfly Birthday Dress

My granddaughter will be having her first birthday next week. Where has the time flown? She's grown from a tiny munchkin with a thick thatch of black hair that stood straight up to a dimpled charmer who is thiiis close to walking.

And what does a girl need once she starts walking? A dress with pockets, that's what. This is Girl's Dress from the June, 2019 issue of BurdaStyle Magazine, and it delivers some pretty perfect pockets.

Burdastyle 06/2019 #129

See that seam across the front, just below the waistline? Hidden in there are two pockets and I just love the way they're constructed.

Here are the pockets in the actual dress. They're carrying some wooden implements so you can see where they are.

And here are the pattern pieces I traced out. What you do is you fold up that extra length  on the front pattern piece and then stitch up the side of the left pocket, go across the top and then stitch down the side of the right pocket. The edges of the pockets get sewn together with the side seams.

Here's an inside view. It's a little hard to see the stitching lines because it's white thread on white fabric, but I hope you can get the idea.

I used a cotton jersey with a bright butterfly print that my old sewing teacher gifted me when she moved. The pattern is designed for a woven. The only adjustment I made was to omit the neck facings and button closure and sew on a self-fabric neck band instead, just like a tee shirt.

Back view
This was a quick and easy project that I think turned out pretty darn cute. I like it so much that I'm currently cruising adult knit dress patterns so I can try to add this pocket feature to a dress for me-me-me. I'll let you know how that works out.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Anvil Quilt Completed!

I've been thinking about making this quilt for The Man for a few months. What could provide better impetus than his birthday, which is in September. Strictly speaking, his birthday was last week, but better late than never, am I right?

You may not know this about him, but The Man is an anvil fan with a small but select collection of early American anvils. Luckily he likes cute, little anvils. Like this one by our fireplace, which weighs 22 pounds.

His friend, Bill, is also an anvil collector, but he likes the two ton numbers. They're a bit more challenging to work into the decor.

This quilt started off as kind of a joke, but when you think about it, anvils aren't a bad subject for appliqué. They have strong, simple silhouettes and there's more variety in shape than you might imagine. The Man, of course, has what is THE book on American Anvils. More than 500 pages, all about anvils. I used the illustrations to trace my anvil patterns, so I can assure you that they are all anatomically correct.

This quilt is my second project based on the class, Cute Quilt-As-You-Go Applique Monsters, which you can find on Blueprint. My first rodeo with these techniques was with the Under the Sea quilt I made for my Granddaughter. The process is a bit down-and-dirty but it's also really fun and you can go from artistic vision to finished quilt lickety-split.

How about a few anvil close-ups? You know you want to...

Above is the classic one-horned anvil we all know and love. If you ask a kindergartner to draw an anvil, they'll probably come up with something like this.

This anvil is a bit different; it's a farrier's anvil. One horn, one drop and no table. Apparently farriers needed specialized tools to take care of those horse shoes.

Since we're talking about horns, here is a double-horned anvil.

This anvil doesn't have any horns at all. It's called a colonial or sawmakers anvil, and its job is to give a nice, flat surface for tensioning those saw blades.

Here we have an older style of anvil. It's called a bick iron. You could carry this one with you while traveling, then hammer the spiky part into a log and, voila! You could get to making horse shoes with a moment's notice

This is an arial view of the working surface of a single-horned anvil. That square hole on the blunt end is called a hardie hole and the round one is a pritchell. They're used for bending pieces of metal.

Here's an arial of The Man's Trenton anvil, so you can see the hardie and pritchell in real life.

If you've read this far, you now know more about anvils than 96% of your friends and family.

I used the left over fabric from this project to slap together the quilt back. I do like the idea of using my scraps but I keep forgetting that piecing the back is kind of like piecing a whole 'nother quilt.

I didn't have quite enough fabric to make the 6 inch wide outer border that I'd envisioned, so I did a double border with a mottled black. I had a heck of a time figuring out how to do a double border with quilt-as-you-go; my Blueprint class didn't cover that trick. While googling somewhat desperately I came across this tutorial, and it saved my bacon. Worked perfectly and was very easy to do.

Late fall tends to be heat wave season here on the Central Coast, so we probably won't be using this quilt for movie snuggling for another few months, but I'm sure it will come in handy once the days grow shorter and grayer.

Next up, a birthday dress for my granddaughter and then some more undies for me.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Best Undies Ever

This week I fulfilled a promise I made myself back in January. I had a root around the fabric closet to dig up knit scraps to make myself some undies. I've been enjoying the three pairs I made myself at the beginning of the year, and my aging Victoria's Secret supply is getting sadder looking with every wash.

I used Jalie 2568 again, because it's just such a fabulous pattern. Super straightforward, suitable for scraps of whatever stretchy knit you have laying about, and the leg edges are finished by turning under and doing a simple zig-zag stitch.

This time I tried a tip given to me by one of the brilliant and generous sewing ladies on PatternReview.com. I tried finishing the waist with a self-fabric band. Oh. My. God. It worked great and it was so easy to do.

I cut a 2-inch wide strip of fabric and applied it just the way you'd finish the neck of a tee shirt. I just did a one-to-one ratio because the negative ease on these undies means I don't need any extra oomph in the waist band to hold things in place. So I didn't even have to do any stretching while sewing to make things fit. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

This waist band revelation means that I didn't have to use any lingerie elastics whatsoever in the making of these undies. They are totally scraptastic and therefore totally free.

For two pairs I used double brushed poly jersey scraps. This fabric is, in my opinion, ideal. Light weight, soft and comfortable, and easy to work with.

I love these undies so much that I just ordered 5 yards of double brushed poly jersey from Cali Fabrics so I can make more. Doh! So much for the free undies idea. But since the fabric I ordered is 60 inches wide and it was, like, 6 bucks a yard, I will have undies to spare for the rest of my life. Not bad for $43.82, including shipping.

I also love the double brushed poly for bras. In fact, I have three Hyacinth bras cut out upstairs, just waiting to be sewn.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to make bras without expensive lingerie elastics....

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Kid Sewing With An Actual Kid

I am lucky enough to have a niece who is interested in sewing and who was scheduled to visit us here on the Central Coast for the 4th of July. She was only planning on being in town for 3 days and we had a lot of activities to fit in; the Boardwalk, Carmel, dog walks.... Time would be tight. Fortunately, she shopped in advance and brought 2 yards of a very cute blue floral jersey for us to work with. And double fortunately, I have 7 years of BurdaStyle magazines upstairs so I was pretty sure we'd be able to find a reasonable pattern to hand.

And here's the proof!

Burdastyle 05-2012-143
My niece didn't just come with the fabric, she came with a creative vision.

She drew a couple of quick sketches to get us going. She was after something with a V or wrap neckline and a sash with a bow. Sleeves were optional. Ideally we would have included a scalloped ruffle on the skirt, but time and fabric constraints worked against us on that front.

After reviewing a ton of Burdastyles, she decided that "Girl's Dress" from BurdaStyle's May, 2012 issue ticked her boxes. The pattern is designed for a woven and the largest available size was a 6, but as a jumping-off point it worked well.

Did I mention that Isabella is 8 and that she had never used a sewing machine before? Not a problem for her though. Within 10 minutes she'd threaded the machine and was practicing sewing accurate seams. She also batted out a few decorative stitches.

We really only had a few hours to sew, so Isabella wasn't able to do the hemming and final finishing, but she did have time to stitch up the bodice and skirt seams and complete the bow (which was our primary design element). She even included some decorative stitching and a button, setting that bow off to perfection.

Front view on the hanger

Back view

Bow closeup, with button and decorative stitching
I did the final hemming and mailed the dress off to her in Chicago with my fingers crossed, hoping it would fit her the way she wanted it to.

And it does! She totally rocks it.

I wasn't sure that an 8-year-old would be ready to tackle a project like this, but Isabella did great. Besides the creative vision thing, she took a lot of care with the process. She was willing to go slow to do well, so her seams were accurate, and she was super careful to trim all her threads neatly. She was also curious about the technical side of things. We watched some videos about how the sewing machine works and, thanks to a thread tangle, we had a chance to take the machine apart to clean out the bobbin area. We had a blast. If you ever have a chance to sew with a kid, grab it.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Carousel Lap Quilt, Jumbo Sized

 Behold my last quilting project for a while. Well, until I need to get working on The Man's anvil quilt. "Anvil quilt" as in "it has actual anvil shapes appliquueed on it.'" His birthday is in September.

This project was kind of a beast as it's the largest quilt I've ever completed. It's queen-sized, or about 90 by 96 inches. There were a few moments during the making when I thought we were going to have to get a bigger bed, but once the quilting and trimming and binding was done it's just about the right size.

We have family coming to visit from Chicago at the beginning of July and I really wanted to offer them something nicer than our faded navy blue duvet cover. I had an idea of what I wanted and my friend, Jessica, came with me on a fabric-hunting expedition to ramp up my supplies. Then, as is my wont, I began another project instead, leaving myself with precious little time before D-Day.

Luckily I had earmarked the Carousel Lap Quilt pattern from Cozy Modern Quilts, by Kim Schaefer. This is a great pattern to use for a rush quilting job. The squares are large (the batik bits are 6 by 8 inches), and all the pieces are rectangular. Even better, the layout has the squares offset, so you really don't  have to worry about matching corners or staying super tidy.

I finished this puppy in 10 days and I took time out to have gum surgery.

I quilted it on my Babylock, using a very useful tip I got at our recent quilting retreat in Eugene: beginning quilters should use wavy lines because that makes it look like you did it on purpose. I did a line of stitch-in-the-ditch down the sashing and then waved my way down the center of each square. Badda-bing, bad-boom.

When I finished my last quilt I decided that I preferred the look of hand stitched binding, so I planned to stick to that in future. This quilt, however, had about 7 miles of binding to apply and ain't nobody got time to hand stitch that before July 1.

So I stitched it to the front, wrapped to the back, pinned pretty carefully and used my stitch-in-the-ditch foot. And it came out pretty darn good. Gosh, I love that foot. I have a bunch of feet for my Babylock that I still don't really know what they do, but this foot is one of my all-time favorites.

Quilting is fun, but I'm ready to sew me some garments. One of our visiting family members is an 8-year-old who might want to join me. I have a pile of kid-print jersey sitting in a drawer upstairs that just might be the ticket.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bali Buddy Quilt

One evening at our quilting retreat our hostess, Lynndi, gave us all party favors. Mine included a pack of pre-cut 2.5 inch strips of fabric known as a Bali Pop. It just so happened that the quilt on our bedroom wall, which I loved, used a pattern that Lynndi designed specifically to work with Bali Pops. So I bought that pattern and made it up when I got home.

Here is the finished quilt being modeled by The Man.

This was my first rodeo with pre-cut quilting fabrics. It sure did save a lot of cutting, but the pre-cuts don't give you any fudge factor. Lynndi's pattern tells you to sew together your strip sets with a scant quarter inch seam. On account of those strips are 2.5 inches wide and no more, so if you sew at a quarter of an inch (or possibly a hair more) your finished blocks will not be quite the 8.5 inches called for by the pattern. Ask me how I know.

But, luckily, I could fiddle with my problems within the seam allowances, so all was well.

Here's a shot of the back of the quilt. I generally piece my quilt backs because I'm too cheap to buy yardage just for that purpose. Plus, I like to use those pretty remnants when I can.

I even tried two of the techniques I learned at our retreat. For one, I applied the binding by machine.

To do this, you attach the binding to the back and wrap to the front to finish, so that you can carefully machine stitch where it will show the most. I used one of the decorative stitches on my machine to finish off the binding, so it took almost as long as it would have to finish by hand the regular way.

I think in future I'll do the hand stitching for the binding. It looks neater.  But I was in a hurry to finish this quilt up because I want to pop it into the mail to send as a gift to a cousin. Plus it was about 90 degrees yesterday evening so the idea of sitting on the couch with a quilt on my lap while I plyed my needle was not enticing.

I also did a free motion vine around the border. Here's a picture of the free motion vine from the back, where you can see the stitching better. Which isn't necessarily a good thing because it came out a bit hinky. But from the front, with matching thread, it doesn't look too bad and it was kind of fun to do.

And here's a shot of the pattern. It was fun to put together and I finished the whole shebang in about a week of sporadic effort.

You can find your very own copy of the pattern from Lynndi@thumbuddy-special.com.

I hope to cough up one more quilt this month. We have family visiting from Chicago and I really want to ditch the worn out duvet in our guest room and replace it with a quilt by the time they arrive, which will be early July.

Then it will be back to garment sewing for me!