Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pears, farts, and Christmas trees

Today, you can find me over at the blog Naeh Connection. Annika has been organising a great series called 'Sew Fantastic', in which she is interviewing sewing bloggers. Today is my turn, so if you would like to find out more about the relationship between sewing and Christmas trees, between pears and farts, and between sewing and abdominal injuries, click here.

Make sure to also explore Annika's blog further! She's a super nice lady who makes really pretty things, so she's definitely worth a visit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Matryoshka bins: Free patterns

A few weeks ago, I made this bread basket for my MMM post. It was ridiculously oversized, but precisely that sparked some new ideas. 'It would also make a nice project bag for knitters and crocheters', reader Marjolijn commented. And I thought: yes, or for storing diapers! Or toys! Or to be used as a gift bag! And a smaller version could be used as a pen holder! Or a flower pot!

Well, long story short: here are the pdf-patterns for the baskets in 3 sizes. They are really quick and easy to make, and a nice reason to hold onto fabric left-overs in all sizes.

I called them Matryoshka Bins, based on a great suggestion from Serena from SewGiving and Alisa from A Stitch in Between via Instagram. Thank you! The name refers to the fact that you can nest the baskets like matryoshka dolls. And of course, that it is a Russian name refers to the fact that if you live in the US or EU, you could use these baskets to store all the food we can no longer export to Russia in the next 12 months. 

I bought some lovely Cotton + Steel fabrics at Miss Matatabi, from Melody Miller's Mustang line. Norah is crazy about these fabrics:
"You need to make me a dress in this fabric!"
"Which of the three fabrics is that?"
"First one in the arrows, then one in the horses, and then one in the flies fabric. Tonight."

The pdf file can be downloaded here. It contains the patterns for the bottom, and the dimensions of the panels for the sides. Seam allowances of 3/8" (1 cm) are included. It needs to be printed at 100% on letter size or A4 paper. It contains 2 pages, which need to be assembled as follows:

These are the measurements of the three finished bins:
- small: width 3.5" (9 cm)  //  height 4.5" (11 cm)
- medium: width  5.5" (14 cm)  //  height 6.25" (16 cm)
- large:  7.5" (19 cm)  //  height 8.5" (22 cm)
Heights are approximate; all depends on how much you fold over the edge in step 5.

- The pdf pattern
- Fabric for the main (of pretty much any kind)
- Fabric for the lining (ditto)
- Heavy interfacing for the bottom piece
- Thin to heavy interfacing for the side (use heavy interfacing on both main and lining if you want the basket to firmly stand up straight, or thin interfacing on main and/or lining for a more slouchy look.)

0. Iron interfacing on the bottom and side pieces.

1. Put the main and lining pieces of the side with right sides together. Stitch along the top with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Press seam open.
2. Fold the piece as illustrated below, and stitch the side seam with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Press seam open.

3. This will give you a kind of 'tube'. Pin the main bottom piece onto the main side of the tube, with right sides together, and stitch with a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance. Repeat for the lining, but leave a turning hole here. Reduce the seam allowance to about half its current width.

4. Pull the piece right side out through the turning hole. Close the hole with a machine stitch near the edge.

5. Tuck the corners of the lining into those of the main, and press the top edge of the sides.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Something old, something new, something blue

A friend of mine is due to have a baby any day now, so it was time to stitch up a little present. My first idea was to make a Lua sleep sack, but I'm not sure she uses sleep sacks. Then I thought, maybe a dress? But she sews herself, and if she's anything like me, she's pretty picky when it comes to kids' clothes.

Finally I decided to go for bibs. Everyone uses them, and even if you think they are plain ugly, at least they are still useful. And you simply cannot have too many of them.

I dived into my stash (you can take that almost literally) and resurfaced with three Cloud 9 fabrics. Knowing my friend a bit, I can imagine she would appreciate some high quality organic cottons. I used an old one (Straws in Minty) a bit of a newer one (1000 Cranes), and a very recent one (Folky Daisy)

For the back, I bought some supersoft nice and thick, mega absorbing terrycloth. 

They are made with my free Piece of Cake pattern, in size small. 

Because she sews herself, I'm a bit nervous to send them to her. Hope she will not notice the little imperfections...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saudade Sundress: FREE pattern release and GIVE-AWAY

Do you remember this little dress? In the past few weeks, I've been working hard on drawing a free pattern in sizes 1-10 years for this dress. Today, it is finally online, more specifically over at Sew Mama Sew.

This version is made in some brand new fabrics from Birch: Acorn Trail by Teagan White. You can also make the dress without the pleating in the front, by simply using the front bodice lining pattern for the main front.

I called the pattern the Saudade Sundress. "Saudade" is a Portuguese word for feelings of nostalgia and melancholia, of longing for a person, place or time that has passed. Like the Summer days in which dresses like these can be worn...
The name was suggested to me by Rita from Conversas de Hermanas when I was actually looking for a name for my upcoming baby dress pattern. Thank you, Rita! Saudade is also the title of a beautiful pop song, Saudade by the Belgian band Arsenal (check it out here, you'll love it!). 

The give-away
You can win a $60 voucher from FabricWorm by using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Enter the giveaway

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stitched together for Rachel: A moon

With some bloggers you talk about more than just sewing. Rachel from Stitched Together is one such blogger. Motherhood, education, politics, religion, just life in general; there is not topic on which you can not have an interesting conversation with Rachel.
When she told me she was pregnant, I was really excited for her. She has such a beautiful family already, and it is great that she'll be welcoming another little member.

So when Victoria invited me together with a bunch of Rachel's other blogging friends to create something for her newborn, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Victoria's idea was that she would create a mobile for the baby, and each one of us would stitch up something to hang in it. You can see Victoria's beautiful mobile here.

As I know Rachel likes the combination of mint and chartreuse (proof here), we decided that we would use the Arizona color palette (mint, chartreuse, peach, navy) in all our creations. That way, the mobile would look coherent and would probably fit Rachel's taste.

I made a little moon for the mobile. I used an actual Arizona fabric (Crystal Arrowheads) and stitched a layer of Quilter's Dream Wool batting in between. The fabric is a left-over from this dress.

Dear Rachel, I hope you like the little surprise Victoria thought up, and most of all, I wish you a great delivery, and all the best to your amazing family. And many, many beautiful little handmade baby dresses ;-)

Would you like to see the other ornaments? Here are the links:
Suz at Sewpony
Heidi at Elegance and Elephants
Gail at Probably Actually
Kristen at Skirt as Top
Sanae at Sanae Ishida
Nat at La Gang a Nat
Victoria at As It Seams

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fabric bread basket

I hope you're all having a great Kid's Clothes Week? I'm enjoying a vacation in sunny Malta at the moment, so no sewing for me this week. And to say that I am a sponsor of this edition of Kid's Clothes Week!

What's worse: the only committed post I have this week is about a non-garment. Timing is not my biggest strength, it turns out. Nevertheless, I hope you will enjoy reading about the bread basket I made for this month's Miss Matatabi Makers, here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bohemian Babydoll Tour (+ fabric GIVE-AWAY)

Today, I'm part of the Bohemian Babydoll Tour. When Heidi from Elegance and Elephants asked me to participate, I didn't hesitate. I know that Heidi makes great patterns - the E&E Ruffle Top I made for Norah over a year ago is still one of my all-time favorite creations. In addition, the Bohemian Babydoll dress has a great vintage touch to it.

I've noticed that I've been using the word 'addiction' a lot here lately. Addicted to Arizona, addicted to the mint/pink combination, addicted to Cotton Couture Solids... For Norah's Bohemian Babydoll dress, I decided to indulge once more into the last two addictions. The fabric I used for the bodice is an old one from Michael Miller, called Mini Harlequin in Mint. I bought it in this Etsy store. It was a tip from Esther, who used the same fabric in her gorgeous Lua sleep sack a few months ago. Thanks again, Esther! 

For the skirt I used Cotton Couture Solid Creamsicle, and for the flutter sleeves I used CCS Gold and CCS Peach (all bought here). 

Now let's discuss the pattern. I had such fun sewing this up! The dress has no zipper or buttons in the back - Heidi made the armholes and neck opening extra deep and the bodice extra wide so the dress can be put on comfortably without any closures. What I also love about it is the high-low hem. The front bodice is slightly higher than the back bodice, which gives the dress a bit of a vintage look.

Norah is 4.5 now, so age-wise I should make her a size 5. However, she has the chest measurements of an 18 month old, so I generally I make her a size 3, and lengthen the bodice and skirt a bit. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to make this dress, that I forgot to lengthen it, so it is a bit short. Oops. I think I will either replace the skirt, or just keep it for next Summer, when she can wear it as a top. 

Making the dress was a piece of cake. The instructions are clear and easy to follow as usual. I'm sure that beginning sewists will love this pattern. And while I don't qualify as a beginner anymore, I'll be making a few more of these in the coming years!

The Give-Away
Now back to the fabric. As the bodice of the dress didn't use up much fabric, I have a lot left of the Michael Miller Harlequin fabric. Judging by my ever expanding stash, there is very little chance that I will be using it again, so I'd like to give away a yard of it to one of you! I'll also be including a few other surprises. All you need to do to win, is use the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Click here to enter the give-away

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A simple quilt (and a question)

Time to blog another project which I finished weeks ago, but didn't have the time to blog about yet.

When I saw Cherie's super soft Lua sleep sack a few weeks ago, I fell in love with the triple gauze fabric she used. I bought a meter of it to make a soft blanket for Ava, and then the question came: what fabric to use for the back? I looked in my stash, and stumbled upon a gorgeous piece of pink nani IRO fabric which I bought a while back at Monday's Milk - as far as I knew the only place where it was (and still is) available. Mint and pink - what better combination is there?

I originally ordered a small piece nani IRO Waltz Minuet with the intention to make a dress for Norah. Luckily, Rozalinde of Monday's Milk cut me an extra generous piece - as if she knew that I might change my mind about what to use it for, and that I would need more (thank you, Rozalinde!)

I feel a bit sorry for the mint triple gauze fabric: by using the beautiful nani IRO print on the other side, it feels like the main act became the support act. Still, this side of the blanket is really pretty, as you might have seen in this picture (in which Ava modeled her new leggings):

Because of the large print on the nani IRO fabric, I kept things really simple: just seven parallel lines of stitches. I batted the quilt with Quilters' Dream Wool bought here. Five layers of gauze and one layer of wool - this is by far the cuddliest blanket I ever made. And my absolute favorite one.

Meanwhile, I have been cutting Arizona fabrics for a next quilt - a bit bigger, but nothing too complicated. I feel that I'm getting increasingly intrigued by (modern) quilting, a practice which is not very popular with (young) sewists here in Belgium (Europe?). I assume that most of my readers are into making garments rather than into quilting, and I'm wondering how you feel about quilting... Do you consider quilting? Why, or why not?

Monday, July 7, 2014

And the winners are...

Thank you so much to all of you who votes in our Secret Squirrel contests! Suz and I are happy to finally be able to show the winners.

The host contest was won by Victoria of As It Seams, with her dress with beautiful colorblock details. Congratulations, Victoria!

Victoria also participated in the Sew Along, and here again, a dress of hers received the most votes. However, as Victoria already won the host contest, she generously gives her prize to the runner-up, Tasha of Glitter + Wit. Check out the great color combination in this gorgeous dress:

At the botton of this post, you can see the top-5 for both contests (the other submissions are sorted randomly). 

A big thank you again to our generous sponsors:
SewFineFabricsLimaSews, SewFreshFabrics, Scientific Seamstress, and Elegance & Elephants!

Top-5 of the host voting:

Top-5 of the sew along voting:

Thank you so much to everyone who took part! In a few months, Suz and I will be co-hosting another fun series :-)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cotton + Steel + Hanami + Pleating

When Kim Kight announced nine months ago that she would shut down her fabulous fabric blog TrueUp, I was really shocked and sad. It was such a great source of information on fabric, sneak peeks of upcoming collections, and tips about sales and promotions...

I was really excited, though, when two months later she announced that she stopped the blog because she was starting a new fabric brand together with, among others, two of my favorite designers: Rashida Coleman-Hale and Melody Miller.

Many many people, including myself, were eagerly awaiting the upcoming launch of Cotton + Steel, not in the least because of the promising video teaser they posted online. Finally, in May, they showed off their designs at Quilt Market (where they were the sensation, judging by all the excitement on Instagram).

One fabric which immediately caught me eye was Rashida Coleman-Hale's fabric Gnome Pants (how awesome a name for a fabric is that!?) It reminded me a lot of one of my all time favorite fabrics: her It's a Plus fabric for Cloud 9. And it was lawn. Lawn!

You can imagine my excitement when I found an envelope with this fabric in my mailbox a few days ago, from the formidable Frances. It's such great quality: fine, soft, and the colors are incredibly bright and sharp.

I made another Hanami with some pleating in the front. My sincere apologies for being predictable and uncreative, but low waist dresses simply look so good on Norah.

I did use a different pleating technique this time, though. I followed all the steps of the Origami Path tutorial, except for steps 3 and 4. Instead of improvisational pleats, I made little pintucks at every 1 cm (3/8"), yet skipping some according to a 3-2-1-2-3-2-1 etcetera pattern. Super simple!

No need to say that Norah loves this dress. The colors are just perfect for her. 

If you like Gnome Pants, make sure to check out the entire Cotton + Steel collection. Miss Matatabi is not only the only shop on the planet to offer the brand at this moment (as far as I know of) - she also carries every single fabric from the brand. These are some of my other favorites:

By the way, there is also a fantastic Cotton + Steel video on how these fabrics are made, from the cotton fibers right up to the printed fabrics. I was really surprised about how many steps it takes to produce fabrics!

Made in Japan: The C+S Manufacturing Process from Gregory Miller Pictures on Vimeo.