did i tell you guys i had a lot of projects planned? see exhibit a, above. march has been a busy month finishing up lingering projects (5, 6), whipping up some last minute ones (2, 4, 7), and just generally staying busy in the craft room. i accumulated so much stuff over the past few weeks that i’ve decided to roll it all into one long post, because it was too hard to parse out categories vs. gifts without ruining surprises as they travel to their rightful recipients. so, break out your decoder rings for a look at what i’ve been up to…
1 & 6 hoodie vests! i bought this pattern around christmas time to make something for my own kids, and shockingly, never got around to it. i’m always on the lookout for unisex patterns in multiple sizes, and i’ve been very happy with this designer. the patterns have few pieces and are simple to follow. bonus points for being fully lined–no seam finishing! (1) is for the newest baby in our family, made with quilting cotton from joann’s. i’m sort of taken with the print, so you’ll probably be seeing it again soon. both are lined in nonpilling micro fleece from the joann’s black friday sale, which i left bleeding and starving, and evidently with a lot of fleece. (6) (made from quilting cotton in my stash) is for baby eli’s first birthday, the adorable little boy of my friend alyssa, who you’ve probably seen around the sewing blogosphere in the cute duds his mom makes him.
a few notes on the pattern if you’d like to make it (i know, this post covers a lot of territory, so please skip if you’re not interested in the pattern itself):
- i cut the back piece on the fold rather than cutting two pieces and seaming. i just trim off the excess seam allowance when i attach the fronts to the back.
- i top stitched the hood after it was assembled…i don’t know, habit?
- i found one diagram misleading. when sewing the main and lining pieces together at the armholes and shoulders, seam ONLY from the outer edge of the collar to where the hood first attaches to the back, not all the way to the shoulder seam as indicated in the photo. you will still create a closed system without doubling up on seams and making it impossible to turn right side out.
- rather than leaving one of the front pieces slightly open at the bottom for turning, leave the back piece open! unless you have flawless slipstitching technique, might as well hide the inevitable little wrinkles in the back. maybe one day i will learn how to do this properly.
- rather than a gathered pocket, i made an elastic pocket, for holding in little treasures.
2 & 8 confused geese pillows! i know we all had doubts about my return to quilting, or if indeed that would ever transpire after this debacle. but, transpire it did, and it was a much more enjoyable experience this time. the pillowcase design comes from the very talented cherie, with a clear cut tutorial that was easy to follow and actually pretty fast to complete. this can be done in one day, as sewing projects should be! especially if you use quilting cotton (8), as one should for quilting. as i learned by making (2) with a loosely woven linen that behaved worse than my 3 year old, there is a reason that crisp, clean, manageable quilting cotton is used for precise measurements, cutting, and angles required by quilting. (8) uses joel dewberry’s modern meadow leftover from a previous home dec project, and more of my ample supply of muslin. it’s a housewarming gift for my friend who loves trees and just purchased her first home! (2) uses that obstinate linen, and the accent fabric is from a stack my mom just brought back from india (!). you can’t see in the photo, but it has a really neat brocade looking design woven into it.
3 & 9 are i think my third and fourth ever attempts at embroidery. not much to look at (maybe borderline ugly), but significant because i. loved. it. embroidery and fabric printing are the next two big skills i want to learn more about (and i’m about done reading two great books on the latter). i loved the feeling of creating a design with needle and thread, and the portability and kid friendliness (i.e., i can do it around my kids) earn it major bonus points. any suggestions on embroidery guides??
4 screen printed linen napkins made with the rest of that fussy linen. it wasn’t much better to manipulate it into napkins than it was to quilt! these along with item (2) were a wedding gift for our lovely friends erin and geoff who just left the bay area to settle permanently in wisconsin. major bummer for us, big gain for the midwest.
5 a kimono sweater for my friend alyssa’s daughter ava. no fair to send a gift to her brother and leave her out, particularly since she too had a birthday! this sweater was a bit of a nomad for me. over the summer, while visiting my aunt in w. virginia, i inherited several skeins of this royal purple super wash dk wool by sirdar (with the help of my knitting class, i know what all of these terms mean now!) that she intended to use for my cousin ian as an infant (he’s now in his early 20s!). it sat in my stash through our move and into the fall, when i read on alyssa’s blog just how much ava loves purple.
i knew eventually this yarn would thus be destined for her, but wasn’t sure how. i sketched a few ideas, the holidays came and went, and when i finally started swatching, the yarn just wouldn’t agree with the ideas i had in mind. eager to deviate from my usual raglan construction, i designed this kimono style sweater with a leaf band on the trim (very handy that our daughters are roughly the same age for measurements). i really went through at least 20 ideas before settling on this, and i can’t say i’m 100% pleased with the appearance, but i kept finding myself limited by my own lack of knowledge or supplies. however, i do love that this yarn has a story and a past (and is machine washable), and even before its rapid evolution on my needles, it came such a long way from the baby boy jumper it was initially destined for. it also seems to have made a cozy home for pests of some sort during the past 20 years, as i discovered well into the second skein numerous breaks or near breaks in the yarn where something had munched its way through with no other evidence of its whereabouts. it’s the first time i’ve knotted yarn, to try and reinforce it! anyhow, i think it adds character, and i’m banking on the color to win over the one who will wear it.
7 a very last minute birthday gift for our cousin mary. it seems that when communication goes through my spouse, some important details are lost. is this a gender issue? for a month i knew we’d be seeing mary for dinner, and three days before, it came to my attention that this was her *birthday* dinner. i immediately started scanning my mental inspiration boards (i think this is what tech savvy people use pinterest for) for a fast and easy project that was still thoughtful and appropriate for a birthday gift. i had seen this idea on the purl bee awhile back, and had recently come across some lovely light blue and silver striped linen at joann’s (really, sometimes i’m very surprised at what i extract from the bottom of a gnarled mess of ugly fabric there). i went the next day and picked up two yards, then went about making the fringe and embroidering her initials (3), and voila, a lovely shawl/wrap/throw/tablecloth/picnic blanket. pretty and versatile, what more can you ask?
if i can offer some advice to anyone wishing to use a huge cut of linen for a similar project, while a bit tedious, the following method will save you time in the long run. rather than trying to cut a straight edge of fabric, choose one thread running selvedge to selvedge and pull it out, all the way across. my thread kept breaking, which was very annoying, but once you have it out, you have a very clear straight line to cut across, and then pulling out the rest of the threads to make trim goes very quickly. unless you have some amazing rotary cutting skills and can make a perfectly straight cut across that much fabric (i cannot, i tried several times), i would recommend this method. if you’re using something tearable, like cotton, tear away! that is by far the fastest method and most gratifying.
and that does it for march! i know, marathon post, but if i didn’t put it all up now, some of it would be lost forever since it’s all been shipped away, out of sight, out of mind! i’m also happy to report that my craft room has been effectively reorganized (but not redecorated, so no photos yet), which i haven’t taken advantage of since i’ve been working a bit. for the remainder of march, i have to focus on my knitting class…i’m already falling behind and tomorrow begins our final week of lessons!
happy spring, everyone!