Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Baby Quilt

I'm usually a selfish seamstress, but I think I might be a generous quilter.
This cheerful quilt was just mailed off to it's new home and should arrive the day before this post goes up.

As soon as I heard that my cousin and his wife are expecting their first child (a girl!) I knew I had to make them a baby quilt. I had 2 charm packs of Heather Ross' Briar Rose in my stash just waiting for a baby to pop up on the horizon. I couldn't be more thrilled at this chance to use this sweet fabric.

Even though I don't have space for a design wall there was a placement plan for the pinwheel blocks, at first.
After much obsessing, the colors were evenly dispersed and there were no same fabrics in too close proximity. That all went to heck the first row stitched together. I futzed with every row thereafter in reaction to the chaos, and eventually accepted that I really had no control over the outcome. 

Luckily, it turned out darling, and even thought there is an area that swings more concentrated a white contrast, I am pleased with the overall movement and color placement. This is a happy quilt.

I hand stitched all the quilting lines with 2 strands of variegated DMC embroidery floss. It was what I had lying around and I was happy to use stash materials. The colors are not consistent across the entire quilt, but they are all complementary to the color scheme.

Congratulations Nate & Amanda!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Anniversary Quilt

Once upon a time my Hetero-Life-Mate (awesome roommate) told me about a handmade quilt that had sadly been lost to her through circumstance. Understanding the importance of a cherished quilt, I was sympathetic and filed away in my brain the knowledge that she was definitely "quilt-worthy". 

Fast forward to last year; my HLM and her fiance got married in Asheville (I was a bridesmaid!)  At the time, I didn't have a wedding gift ready for them because, well, I suck at gift giving and hadn't found anything that felt meaningful, or special, or fun enough and I was way pressed for time. 

After the weddings, I had a lot of fun working on the pinwheel quilt and quickly realized that I wanted to make them a quilt too. I could easily picture either of them snuggled up on the sofa with a kitty or two under a colorful quilt, or spread out under a shady tree reading. 

Committed to the idea, then came the question of design/fabric. I knew the quilt should be colorful and bright and beautiful... something that reflected my friend's personality and our friendship.  Eventually, I settled on a mystery quilt kit from called Blooming Garden for Amy Butler's new egypt inspired fabric line.  The pattern design went together very easily and in spite of a few hiccups, the quilt top was done very quickly.

Now, I'm a bit of a quilting newb, but this quilt had to be special, so I decided that having it professionally long-armed was going to be the best choice for finishing. After googling "long arm quilting service" I found Linda Lovett's fantastic website.  She uses state of the art technology with her quilting machine, blogs the progress of each quilt, and is also located in the same state my friends were married.  I sent her some photos of the finished top and we traded emails, chatted on the phone, and within a few days I sent the top and the pieced backing to her. 

via Linda Lovett
Apparently I did a good job prepping the top and Linda's generously sent my quilt to the top of her queue. (Thank you Linda for helping to make this gift extra special!)

The pantograph I chose is a feather pattern that I felt complimented the grey sparrow backing fabric and has nice movement. In less than a week the quilt sandwich was on its way back to me for the binding.

via Linda Lovett
Back in my hands, I quickly trimmed the quilt sandwich and stitched on the binding. Then I hand stitched the binding closed on the back side and made a label to sew on. 

I love my labels. I also love not doing my homework in favor of hand binding quilts.
And here she is.
It's the biggest quilt I've made thus far!
***Shortly after starting this project I got the terrible news that my friend's beloved dad passed away very unexpectedly. It's a strange and terrible feeling to know someone you love is suffering a profound loss and there is nothing you can say or do to lessen their sadness.  All I could do was try to get the quilt done as soon as possible and send it to her. ***

Even though I raced to finish the quilt as fast as possible, I enjoyed the process and am extremely proud of the results. While working on it I took the opportunity to meditate on friendship and family. I think this quilt is beautiful and a worthy gift for my dear friend and her true life-mate. I'm happy to finally send it to them and I hope they enjoy it for many years,

PS. All the finished pics were taken by my buddy Sara!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pinspiration; a Pinwheel Quilt

I should totally being doing my homework right now, but I'd rather share my latest FO.
So, sometime last summer I decided I needed a sewing project that would be the opposite of the wedding dress project. Something using 100% cotton, straight lines only, no fitting issues. A nice, pleasant project... I decided to make a quilt.

I took to pinterest with vigor and was taken by this simple charmer:

There was no link with the picture so I just used it as inspiration.
I finished the top last fall and then put it away while school and work took over. 
Recently, I've become more interested in quilt making and with more quilts planned I decided to get this one finished in whatever stolen moments I could find. Here is the result:

The inspiration quilt placed the blocks "on-point" but mine are square 
and I left off the outer borders. A nice little lap quilt meant for snuggling up on the sofa under, or draping over your shoulders for a photo shoot. I'm hoping this quilt sees lots of picnics and beaches.

The backing fabric is from a different line that I picked out at The City Quilter on the day that I tested out Bernina Sewing Computers. I ended up buying a Bernina 350 PE and I'm totally in love with the free hand system and the patchwork foot. I see a lot more top sewing in my future, but I digress. 

The batting is 100% cotton and I machine quilted it with my Bernina walking foot which has a handy ditch stitch foot that I used in the ditches of the squares, block seams and diagonals. Quilting was kind of a pain so I think I'll send my next quilt out to be long-armed (but where?) instead. If I had more time I would totally hand quilt my next one, but I'm anxious to have that one finished for a variety of reasons so I think it's a job for the professionals. 

The binding is one of the other fabrics in the line; it's grey with white vintage cameras. I hand stitched the back of the binding to the quilt. The handmade label is a stamp I got at Michaels. 

It's definitely a charming quilt and I am quite pleased with myself. 
I'm certain there will be another quilt finished in my near future, but for now... homework.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"My" Quiche Recipe

I say "my" recipe because like most things a person learns through practice it started out as a newspaper recipe** that is still pinned to my kitchen bulletin board for reference, but over time has been simplified and customized per my liking. The main thing to know about my quiche is that it is assembled in layers to control the distribution of ingredients. The only thing that is mixed is the last 4 ingredients.


1 Pillsbury pie crust (the kind in the refrigerated section that comes in a box of 2, not a frozen shell)
2 heads of raw broccoli trimmed into florets.
4~5 oz shredded cheese (cheddar and pepper jack usually but I also like smoked gouda)
3~4 oz cubed cheese (usually less pepper jack than cheddar) (cubes should be about 1/4")
1 small red onion, diced
3 large eggs
1 cup half and half (but you can substitute some whole milk if you are low on half and half)
kosher salt
pepper grinder


Place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
Follow directions on pie crust box to prepare dough into a 9" pyrex pie dish.

Layer ingredients;
Spread a layer of shredded cheese on bottom (about half of the shreds).
Arrange broccoli florets evenly on top of shredded cheese.
Sprinkle most of the red onion evenly over broccoli. Don't be shy. Admire the colors.
Add cubed cheese evenly.
Sprinkle any remaining onion.
Spread remaining shredded cheese on top.
(I also added parsley on top per the hubs request... for color)

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl. If you are me, dig out any shells.
Add salt and pepper to taste (consider the salt content of the cheese... don't over do the salt. I usually use a heavy pinch). **you could add sriracha or red pepper flakes here if you where so inclined**
Whisk in the half and half with a fork. My hub says this makes it fluffy so do whisk it!
Pour gently and evenly into pie. It won't look like it fills it up and the broccoli will look like it's too much, but have faith that the eggs mixture will puff up.  



Bake for 45 minutes, until top looks golden.
Let sit for 8~10 minutes before cutting with a pizza cutter.

** The original recipe was printed in either the Metro or AM as a Mother's Day Brunch idea and had sauteed mushrooms and onions and some malarky about pre toasting the pie crust. The recipe was via

Monday, December 30, 2013

Little French Jacket : Update #7

Just a quick update on my Little French Jacket project...
I started trimming my seam allowances and readying the lining for a lapped fell stitched seam.

I started on one front seam and worked my way toward the back but I decided to make a change on my second seam (the side seam)... to press the lining seams open and slip stitch closed rather than lapped and fell-stitched. Claire Shaeffer goes over both methods in her book, but doesn't really elaborate on why one might be preferable over another. I decided to make the switch because my boucle and my lining are rather light and the triple layer of lining on the lapped seam was quite visible and I didn't like it. It looked a bit unbalanced. After doing two seams open I unpicked the first seam and redid it. The show through is much less and more balanced in appearance. 

The open seams are accomplished by first pinning the seams together and pressing (above, top) and then basting with a quick running stitch on each side. After basting I can then slip stitch without concern for shifting the layers of fabric (above, bottom). 

I've finished the first half of the jacket and I have the next seam trimmed and pinned. I hope to finish up with all the vertical seams over the New Year so I can move on to preparing the sleeves. 

If I have one resolution for 2014 it is to finish this jacket by my 1 year anniversary (and to finish my thank you notes and photo album). 

PS... I REALLY HATE the new Flicker photo sharing code. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Chanel-Inspired" French Cardigan Jacket: Part 6

I may have mentioned this earlier, but I started to quilt my french jacket pieces over a year ago when I first started the project. I tested out the quilting on some pieces of scrap fabric slightly smaller than a sheet of paper and didn’t use an obsessive amount of pins, just enough scattered around so that the silk and boucle wouldn’t shift or slide much. The walking foot do the work, and went slowly starting from the same end for each row. The results looked good so I went ahead and quilted all but the center front panels.

Then I put the jacket aside for the winter, spring, summer, fall (took a jacket making class) and last winter when I made my wedding dress.  That brings me (more or less) to the present and despite being in 2 classes this semester I have finally come back to the project and made several new muslins to check and refine the fit. I decided to go up one jacket size and worked on same fit issues that I had previously.

Muslin #1  - front not hanging straight

Muslin #2 - Neckline also overlaps at front
I don't have any pictures of the current V7975 muslins (#3, #4) but the problem is pretty much the same, the front is swinging away at the hem and the neckline overlaps at the top. The difference is that I now have a little bit more knowledge about jacket fitting. The first place one should address when dealing with this sort of fit problem is the shoulder seam. In order to get the front to hang straight (grain-lines are important in a muslin fitting!) one must correct the placement of the shoulder seam. In the case of this pattern, my shoulder seams are too far forward at the neck which is causing the problems.

To correct the problem on the new muslins (I did this for all three that I made) I only used pins at the seams (yes, I have tons of scratches on my arms... don't say I didn't warn you) and I was able to re pin the shoulder seams in increments until I was satisfied with the placement of the shoulder seam and the grain-line on the front of the jacket. It turned out that the front pieces were fine, but the back pieces were too long/high and the back neck of the muslin was creeping up my neck.

evidence of my erect back (muslin #1)
Now, I have a rather pronounced front (ahem) and a rather straight, erect back. I often have wrinkles across my back at the bra line because my front is longer than my back thanks to my assets. I have done some research and know that an "erect" back alteration is quite similar to a sway back alteration.
(My fix usually involves picking up the back about/at least a 1/2".  By "pick-up" I mean to actually lower the back neck and shoulders. (note: Pattern, Scissors, Cloth has a great tutorial) In the case of this jacket I could easily see that the same alteration would correct the back neck and shoulder seam line.

Muslin #3 - back correction
Further muslin refinements included a front FBA by letting out the front princess seams and replacing the bust curve. I also tried an even larger muslin (20) but the fit in the armholes and across back was too big so I went back to the size 18. The muslin adjustments were transferred back to my paper pattern and then I re-thread traced my pattern onto the already quilted pattern pieces. Thank Susan for those extra large seam margins! The difference was no more than 1/2" total so it should work out fine. For the moment I am leaving the original basting threads in.

The current state of the jacekt
I have also begun to machine baste the pieces together and I'm looking forward to matching and cutting out the sleeve pieces.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: The Couture Cardigan Jacket by Claire B Shaeffer

I couldn't wait for black friday or christmas to buy Claire Shaeffer's latest book, Couture Sewing; The Couture Cardigan Jacket; Sewing secrets from a Chanel Collector, so I ordered it from Amazon while purchasing my hub's birthday present.

Recent Acquisitions
So... I've read almost everything there is to read on the subject (patterns, magazine articles, websites, blogs) so I knew that a lot of the information would be a little redundant. What I was hoping for was some further illumination on the process and of course the DVD that came with the book. 

I read the book in about 2 hours, maybe less. The print is large and there are a lot of pictures. That said, I don't feel that it is particularly light on content, however it feels more like an expanded construction for her Vogue 8804 pattern than a definitive book on the subject. The fabric choices and trim options shown in the book are rather uninspiring and there is no discussion of fitting the jacket or how a Chanel jacket should fit. She only mentions other patterns is in the DVD. Speaking of the DVD... all the step-by step pictures in the book are still images from the DVD, so the quality of the images is a little less than ideal, however the content of the images and the DVD is quite nice. I feel that the real value in this book is the DVD because there is just nothing like watching someone with years of sewing experience do the work. As Claire sews she is able to point out methods and details that an instructor might not think to mention after the fact. Overall, I'm glad I have this book/DVD, but it in no way replaces all of the other research one can and should do in preparation for their own Little French Jacket project.

Also, on black friday I was in the burbs visiting my in-laws and I managed to sweet talk my husband into taking me to Jo-Ann's and AC Moore. I was able to purchase a sleeve board with my black friday 50% off coupon and some clover fork pins, which I have decided are only marginally more useful than regular glass headed pins as they require a bit of attention to insert properly and WILL break your needle if you sew over them.
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