Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Have Sheep

The Sheep quilt top is finally finished!

I added 1/4 inch flange of yellow fabric between the inner blue and outer striped borders. I saw this on a blog somewhere but I can't remember where now. I actually considered (for about ten seconds) adding piping into this seam. But I didn't have the patience to make and apply it, so I went with the flange.

Check out the mitered corner on my outer border:

I'm so relieved to have this top completed.

Now I just need to find someone around here to quilt it for me!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Year in Review

I decided to look back over 2008 and take a look at what I accomplished. Not counting projects that were started in 2007 and finished in 2008, I completed a total of 45 projects ranging from simple boxer shorts to smocked dresses, to a fitted cheongsam. That's an average of 3.75 projects per month. My most prolific months were the spring and summer months. I blame it on the longer days and the relaxed schedule, as well as the fact that, well, I'm just a warm weather gal.

Of the 45 completed projects, 10 were smocked outfits. My favorite smocked projects were:

T (Temily) 5

And Annika.

Seventeen projects were made for the Princess. My favorite was the Wall-E dress:

I just love the colors and the way the fabrics went together. The Princess's favorite project was Summertime Pink:

I think she liked the halter top.

Eight projects were made for the men in my life. I'd have to say my favorite is the Astronaut shirt:

The Prince agrees.

Eighteen of the 45 projects were for me. That's an average of one and a half projects per month! Not all of them were successes, but of them all my favorites were:


I wore this a lot!

The leopard shirt:

This was surprisingly easy and fun to make and it's already getting a lot of wear.

The most challenging piece was definitely the cheongsam:

The challenge here was fit. I don't think this piece was 100% successful, but it was wearable and that, at least, is something.

I encourage you to look back over the past year and see what you got done. Like me, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you actually got accomplished!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let's Talk Resolutions

There are still a couple of weeks to go, but I have been thinking about New Year's Rsolutions, and I thought I'd share what's been on my mind. Normally, I don't make New Year's resolutions. I think that if you want to make a change or start something new you can do it anytime. Why wait for the New Year? But since 2009 is just around the corner (gosh, where did 2008 go?), I thought, why not just go for it this time?

So here, without further ado, are my 2009 sewing/crafting resolutions:
1. Reduce the fabric stash by two boxes.

I love my stash, but storage has become an issue, and the volume has just become unwieldy for me. I know I've previously blogged at least twice about losing fabric in my stash, and to me that is a sign that things have gotten out of control. Besides, I love buying new fabric and I can't justify bringing it home if there's nowhere to put it!
2. Dig out all UFO's (be honest about it), blog them (to keep me honest) and finish them!

This should help a little bit with Resolution #1.

3. Make at least one quilt.

More would be nice, but for resolution purposes one will do. This should also help with Res #1.
4. Make some wardrobe staples: plain blouses, skirts, jackets, etc.

This will pump up my work wardrobe and help reduce the stash.

5. Make more dresses for me.

I love the ease of wearing a dress. As with #4, this will help pad the wardrobe and reduce stash.

6. Make more dresses/outfits for the Princess.

She grows like a weed and I need to take advantage of being able to sew for her while she will still let me. Not to mention a huge chunk of the stash was purchased for just this purpose.
7. Graduate from scarves: Knit a sweater! Notice I just said "a sweater." I didn't say complicated, overly fitted, or multicolored. A stockinette shell will do, just something beyond a rectangle.
That's it. Actually, that's a lot! But, I have a whole year. Although if 2009 flashes by like 2008 did, I may be in trouble!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quilting on My Mind

Lately I've had quilting on my mind. Maybe because for the last week, I've been working on this:

This is my version of "Sheep in Dreamland" from the book, Wonderfully Whimsical Quilts by Carol Burniston. I blogged about this project before- in October of 2007! (It's been a UFO for over a year!!!) So it's time to wrap this baby up.

The sheep blocks are fused applique blocks alternated with the pieced pinwheel blocks. Here's what the sheep look like with their googly eyes sewn on:

I think they're cute. I am in the process of hand blanket stitching the sheep. I've got 11 blocks completed and I need to get 7 more done and then I can get to the fun part which is sewing them all together to make the quilt top.

In the background, you can see my first quilt ever.

It's a Double Irish Chain that I made back in 1990 while my husband was off in the Gulf War. The whole quilt uses only four fabrics, three prints for the top, and a solid black cotton for the backing and binding. I used the strip piecing method and it was super fast and easy.

The colors have faded over the years. This quilt has been washed and dried many times and spent a lot of time at the end of my bed or draped over a chair in the living room.

You can just barely see the paisley print in the black background fabric. Angie, recognize that green fabric?
I love lying under this quilt to read or watch TV. I've already had to mend the edge where the fabric had begun to split where the binding is sewn on. I hope it holds up for a long time yet.
Stay tuned for an update on the sheep quilt and on Winter Garden. I'n still plugging away on that project also. If only there were more hours in the day...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Wrap

The BWOF dress is done. (October 2008 issue, Dress 120)

From the magazine: "Tiny pleats at the neckline and in the skirt as well as a raised waist are the girlish attributes of this dress, yet the severe graphic print in cool colors makes it ideal for every woman."

I don't know that I'd call my print (a poly something print from Hancock Fabrics) severe or graphic, but it is rather sophisticated, at least in my opinion, and it worked well for this dress.

I like the overall style of this dress. It's easy and comfortable and it makes me feel kinda cute in a dressed up way. I haven't found just the right accessories for it yet, but it's just a matter of time.
I made a size 44. The only adjustments I made were to add 1/2" of width to the bottom of the sleeve, and I snugged up the side seams a total of 7/8" from the underbust seam down. After all, there's "loose and easy fitting" and then there's "shapeless and sack-like." I was going for the former. The fit seams pretty good. The shoulders and back do feel a bit snug, but since this is my first BWOF pattern in over 15 years, I don't know if it's because I chose the wrong size, or if it's just this particular pattern. I will need to try a couple more patterns before deciding. I really don't think I could have gone any larger in the bust. This fit me fine even without a FBA. And incidentally, I did make a muslin and it did not seem to be quite as snug. Hmm.
My favorite feature of the dress is the neckline pleats.

I also love that the neckline is modest, but not too severe. I chose not to use the facings that the pattern called for. Instead, I used bias binding cut from my fabric to finish the neckline. I cut a double width, folded it in half, stitched it to the dress, folded it to the inside and topstitched it down. It's almost unnoticeable, and it stays hidden. I was worried about the facing trying to roll to the outside, especially at center front.

One word of caution if you are thinking about making this dress: Check the length before you cut. I added 2 inches to the pattern piece for a hem and only ended up using 1 and 1/2. Although I think this dress would be really adorable in a shorter length- on someone else- I really wanted to be careful. I felt that the length I ended up making was just right. Short enough to be fun and fashionable, but not so short as to be unflattering or ridiculous. Okay, make it two words of caution. Make sure and use a fabric with plenty of drape. There are 6 pleats across the front of this dress and 6 across the back. A stiff fabric will definitely give you that "Mother to Be" look that so many of us are trying to avoid.

I'm going to give this pattern an A-. For now anyway. I'm going to have to wear it out and get a good feel for it before I decide if it's a favorite. I wore it to church this morning, but it was so cold I never even took my coat off, so it doesn't count. In any case, I'm glad this dress is done because I'm ready to move on to other things.

Like Winter Garden.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter Garden

No picture of the BWOF dress yet. I hope to get it hemmed tonight and have pics tomorrow. (Crossing my fingers.)

Remember this?

I'm working on Winter Garden again. I hope to have it smocked before long. The Princess is in dire need of some new dresses since her last growth spurt and I really want to get this done soon.

I've got a lot of 3 step, half space trellis to go. I guess I better get to work!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shannon Sews BWOF

It's been many years- and many sizes- since I've sewn a Burda pattern. The last time was in the early 90's when I lived in Germany and could buy the magazines at the local PX. I was about a size 36 back then.

Times have definitely changed. Today I'm living in Oklahoma, and I'm nowhere near that skinny anymore. But I'm giving BWOF a try again. I'm working on dress 120 from the October issue.

What first attracted me to this dress was the overall style: easy, breezy, and simple. (The fabric used in the magazine is pretty spiffy, too.) At first I thought this was a knit dress, but no, lo and behold, it's woven! Not that you couldn't use a knit if you wanted to.
However, the technical drawing turned me off somewhat.

It's rather boxy and boring. So I kept looking for a different project.

Then I saw this dress made up and reviewed on Pattern Review and I decided to take another look at it. Maybe simple and boxy doesn't have to be boring. I reminded myself that sometimes an easy fitting, comfortable, yet cute dress is a good thing to have. I can imagine this dress would be great on those days that I feel a little bloated and uncomfortable, or on days when I have to be on my feet a lot running around at work.

I'm seeing it in my mind's eye with black tights and some killer shoes. (Killer as in good looking- not crippling!) A bold necklace and maybe some chunky bracelets like the model is wearing in the magazine will set it off just right.

So off to the stash I went. I chose this drapey polyester print- gotta have drape to pull this look off.

Sorry about the dark photo.

I made a muslin- a size 44 straight out of the book. The fit was pretty good. The bust was even a bit roomy- without a FBA! It could be the nature of the design- easy fit and pleated at the neckline, but whatever. It works. And frankly, the pleats are my favorite feature of this design.

I felt that the sleeves were just a tad snug and the underbust seam just a smidge loose. So I added 1/2" of width to the sleeve and trimmed 1/4" from all the side seams. With those slight adjustments made, I cut my fabric.

So far I have the back darts sewn, all the pleats basted, and the bodice front sewn to the skirt front. I am so excited to see this come together. I think I'm going to go work on it right now! Stay tuned for an update soon.