Tuesday, December 31, 2013

McCall's 6442: A Coat!

M6442 pattern cover, from mccallpattern.mccall.com
You know when you get all dressed up for something, and it's chilly, and all you have is that one winter raincoat that is maybe not-so-fancy? Maybe you don't know. But in my experience, it just feels weird to put on that casual-ish raincoat over the fancy-schmancy outfit. I needed a coat. A nice coat. But buying a coat from the store is tough because it invariably fits in one area, but not in another-- so I'm either squished in the boobs, or wearing a tent. So I decided I was gonna make me a coat... in 2008. That is when I bought the fabric. But frankly, I was intimidated.

This year, just after Thanksgiving, I found myself inspired by a few lovely versions of McCall's 6442 that I found on Pattern Review (including this, this, and this). I started out by making a muslin of the bodice.

M6442, muslin shot

The muslin helped me to decide on a full bust adjustment of 1" (which included adding a horizontal dart from the side seam), shortening the sleeves by 1-1/2", and going up one size (to an 18). Then I went to cut out my actual fabric. That was a time-consuming process. Because I wanted to be sure it was a warm coat, I decided on adding an underlining of flannel to my wool outer fabric. I did some research and found a Threads article by sewing guru Sandra Betzina, "Understanding Underlining," that offered great guidance on how to go about doing that. Part of the process involved hand basting all of the wool and flannel pieces together. By the time I was done with that, I needed a break and just stepped away from the project (and all other crafty pursuits) for a month.

Last weekend, I finally got to work on the actual putting-together of the coat. Over the course of three days, I finished it. Yay!!! My husband helped me take some pictures today:

M6442, closer front view

I made view C with the notched collar and then added the belt from view B.

M6442, side view

The outer fabric is wool purchased from Hancock Fabrics in 2008. I just used a plain off-white 100% cotton flannel for the underlining. The resulting coat really is nice and cozy!

M6442, more belt hijinks view

The pattern does not include belt loops. I really wish I had thought to include some. They would make putting the belt on a bit simpler.

M6442, pulled open to show the lining

The lining is a poly charmeuse I found at JoAnn's. I wanted something fun and colorful.

M6442, back view

I ended up making a few other changes as I went:
  • Added topstitching to the collar and the bodice front facing.
  • Shortened the sleeves by an additional 2-1/8" from the outer fabric, and 1-5/8" from the lining.
  • I didn't like the way the pattern suggested to finish the sleeves, so I finished it the same way as the pattern instructs to do the skirt hem.
  • At step 45 in the instructions (wherein you baste the skirt lining to the outer at the top), I trimmed the lining by about 1/2" and then aligned the edges and basted (I didn't want my lining, which is slinkier, to be drooping down below the hemline).
  • Added two 30 mm snaps.
  • Interfaced and topstitched the belt.

M6442,showing the snaps

This coat was NOT a fast project. In addition to the work I added for myself with the underlining, there was a lot of hand sewing involved with the lining (the sleeves to the armholes, the bodice to the skirt, the skirt facing to the lining). I know there are ways to do linings that don't involve nearly so much handwork, but I was tired of researching and just wanted to get in there and get this coat made; so I went with what the pattern instructed. The pattern instructions are straightforward and the techniques involved are not difficult, but I still don't know that I would consider the pattern to be "Easy" as advertised on the pattern cover. Overall, this coat is a winner. It was a great learning project and my sewing skills have improved as well. And it feels good to finally have a snazzy, fancy coat to wear when I'm feeling the need to dress up.

M6442, looking snazzy view

Huzzah!!! A new coat!!!

Happy new year!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Applique with Karen Kay Buckley!

One of the classes I took last week at Quilt Festival was "Garden Medley Applique," taught by Karen Kay Buckley. I have been a huge fan of her work and her glorious Perfect Circles for quite some time, so it was a super treat to actually take a class with her. And it was a great class! I came out feeling so inspired and confident with some great new techniques.

Our class project was a little flower.

Garden Medley applique class project

We didn't have enough time to really make a lot of progress on it, but we did have the opportunity to practice the various techniques required to complete it, with the main focus on preparing the applique pieces.

While I still love me some needleturn applique, there are times when I want to have stronger consistency in the look of my applique from piece to piece. Her method, using heat-resistant template material and starch, really results in crisp, consistent pieces that also make the actual applique part of the process a breeze.

I'm so excited about really applying what I've learned that I've dug out a kit I bought back in 2008 from SewBatik for the "Blooms All Around" quilt (a pattern by The Rabbit Factory).

Blooms All Around preparations begin

All of those flowers in the border offer a great opportunity to really put all of the techniques she shared to work, including marking placement, using Perfect Stems, preparing curved shapes, and getting consistent pointy-points (which has always been my applique nemesis!).

Blooms All Around fabrics

My fabric is ready to go and my templates are made, so I'm gonna start prepping some applique fun!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween 2013!!!

Tomorrow I leave for Houston to attend the International Quilt Festival (woo hoo!!!!!!), so I have to write my annual Halloween post a bit early. While I am bummed I won't be at home to share in the festivities with my family, I am at the same time super excited to have the opportunity to go to Festival this year (woo hoo!!!!!!!).

In recent months, the hotness at our house has been a video game called Guacamelee! from Drinkbox Studios. My boys absolutely love this game. And truly, it is pretty darn awesome-- the art, the music (seriously, the music is incredible; we even bought the soundtrack!), the story, the mechanics, the different endings... way cool! So it was no surprise that when it came time to choose their costumes, Big Bear and Little Bear both wanted to be characters from the game. Big Bear wanted to be a yellow skeleton (because they're super fast!). Little Bear wanted to be a green skeleton (because they're green!).

I started by perusing eBay. There I found sombreros of appropriate hues (thank you, noveltwholesale!), as well as some gently used glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas. Then I got to work on the rest.

Guacamelee costumes, including sombrero, poncho, tattered pants, and red sash

I ended up making ponchos, tattered pants, and red sashes. I didn't use a pattern for the ponchos or sashes and just kind of winged it. For the pants, I used Kwik Sew pajama patterns, 3126 (toddler sizes; I made a T3) and 3604 (boys & girls sizes; I made a Medium).

green skeleton, side-by-side pics, game and costume

Above is a picture of the green skeleton from the game next to Little Bear's rendition.

Little Bear as the Green Skeleton

The ponchos are made of fleece, including the appliqued stripes. I decided on fleece because Halloween night around here is typically cold (and wet... but, as always, we are crossing our fingers for a dry evening!). The green poncho was a bit of a challenge, as there were angles involved. It made me glad that it was a small size as I could lay the whole thing out on the table.

yellow skeleton, side-by-side pics, game and costume

The yellow poncho was much more straightforward. I think it turned out pretty darn close to the look of the in-game version, which you can see in the image above. Since the sombreros came with ball trim on them, I decided to add some to the ponchos as well, to help tie the look together.

Big Bear as the Yellow Skeleton

My husband was concerned that the costumes be as "cosplay accurate" as possible. So I made the pants and sash. But I didn't have it in me to make shirts too... I mean, they'd just be completely covered up by the ponchos anyway, right? I feel a bit like a slacker, but really, the boys are both happy, and that's what really counts.

Skeleton boy duo action shot

When they put on their costumes, they immediately got into character and were very excited to show off all of their skeleton moves.

Skeleton boy duo

What a pair!

Happy Halloween 2013 from Crafty Musings

Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2013: "Short Circuit"

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2013 button

For this season's Blogger's Quilt Festival, I'm entering "Short Circuit" in the Group/Bee Quilts category:

Short Circuit, front view

The design is inspired by Elizabeth Hartman's "Mod Mosaic Floor Pillow Tutorial." One of the mosaic blocks was made by me, and the other ten were made via a block exchange with some ladies in my quilt guild. (If you want to learn a little more about how the exchange worked, you can read about it here.)

Short Circuit, another front-ish view

The blocks were all completed a couple of years ago. It took me awhile to get around to putting them all together, but once I got going, I looked to Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial for making a floating blocks quilt. I also have to give thanks to Carrie P. and her Nothing But UFOs Challenge. The challenge really got inspired to work on this and get it done. The final stitches in the binding were finally completed last week. Yay!

Short Circuit, quilting detail

The fabrics are a mix of solids along with prints primarily from Michael Miller's Bot Camp collection. With that in mind, I decided on quilting inspired by a design in the book Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters, "Geometric Allover." The design made me think of circuit boards, which seemed like a good fit with all the robots. It is quilted using Aurifil 50/2 thread in Light Robin's Egg blue (#2710) over the whole quilt. You can't really tell in the pictures, but I actually quilted the design in a larger scale over the mosaic blocks and then more densely over the solid background (which, if you are curious, is a Kona solid, Ocean).

Short Circuit, back view

I really like how the pieced back worked out as well! It was a nice way to use up some of the extra bits from the front. The finished size of the quilt is 58" x 70".

Short Circuit, label

The label includes the name of each of the ladies who made a block for the quilt. But I've gone ahead and blurred all their names, just in case they don't want to be floating around on the interwebs.

Short Circuit, folded up in an artsy fashion

And now it is all ready for some snuggling!

Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out "Short Circuit" and I hope you have a great time as you continue to check out other entries on display in Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2013! There is no shortage of inspiration and eye candy. And many thanks to Amy's Creative Side for hosting this fabulous event!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

And another new project:

Way back in the Spring, I posted about this as a potential project... a little bit of daydreaming at the time. But it is for reals now!

True Blue, another 36 blocks in progress

The pattern is called "True Blue" and is from Miss Rosie's Qult Co. I decided I needed to do it in greens. Because I have lots of greens. And I'm loving it so far! (I also love that I was able to cut up 9.5 yards of bits and scraps and not-quite-fat-quarters and clear them from the stash!)

True Blue, 64 blocks complete

Last night I managed to finish up all of the main blocks-- there are 100 total (64 are pictured above... my design wall isn't big enough to hold all of them). Now it is time to set this one aside for a bit so I can focus on Halloween. Finishing the blocks may have pushed me to the procrastinating edge, but I'm so glad to have a sense of closure on them. Now I can clear my sewing area and not worry about losing any bits or pieces. There's a lot to be said for that.

Next up: ponchos!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stitchin' along...

It seems that blogging has again fallen by the wayside for me. But I have been busy! One thing I've been focusing on is keeping up with Wild Olive's Autumn Stitching Club.

I'm really enjoying the happy little stitcheries that arrive in my inbox each week.

Autumn Stitching Club in progress

I've even managed to hexify most of them so that they are ready for the next stage of the project.

Autumn Stitching Club, look at that cute little loaf of bread!

The project is designed to become a cushion cover, but I'm definitely leaning more toward a wallhanging right now.

Autumn Stitching Club, laid out in a pretty fashion

The cuteness is nearly too much. Nearly. But I am definitely having fun!

Speaking of autumn...

Pumpkin patch boys, 2013

Last weekend we made a fun trip the pumpkin patch. It is hard to believe that Halloween is next week. I gotta get crackin' on those costumes!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A belated gift...

I recently got to spend some time with a friend whom I hadn't seen in more than a year. Such a treat! Even better, it meant that I could finally give her a (very) belated birthday gift:

Sanctuary zip bag, front view

This happy little pouch is from Elizabeth Hartman of Oh! Fransson; it is the "Perfect Zip Bags" pattern. This is View C in the large size. I've actually made this view before, but this is the first time I tried the large size-- and it is BIG (you can see how I loaded it up below). Overall, it is a great pattern. But, there is one thing I didn't mention last time which would have been helpful for me as I completely forgot when I was making this one. This is a user error issue, not necessarily a problem with the pattern-- but definitely a problem for me (since I've done it twice now!).

For my bags, I've been using a canvas interlining to add stability (the canvas goes in-between the outer fabric and the lining, and is cut to size so as to not cause bulk at seams). It works really well. However, you need to be careful to make the topstitching along the the zipper far enough away such that the interlining is caught in the stitches as well. I topstitched about 1/8" away from the zipper; when I went to turn everything right-side-out, I realized that the interlining was not caught in the stitches (or it caught so close to the edge that it was starting to fray apart) because it had slipped a smidge in the whole zipper insertion/sewing process. The end result was a slightly loosey-goosey interlining at the top of the bag. It definitely wasn't horrible (certainly not enough to merit me doing a ton of unsewing and tearing out topstitching to fix it), and I don't think it will affect the shape or durability of the bag. But it bugs me-- especially since it is a simple fix: topstitch 3/8" to 1/4" away from the zipper, thus ensuring that the interlining will be caught as well. Had I noted this the first time, I might have remembered it and actually made the correction this time around. Sigh...

So. Now I have made a note. Listen-up self-- don't make this same mistake again! :)

Sanctuary zip bag, top zipper view

I used scraps from Patty Young's beautiful Sanctuary collection paired with Kona Coal. The lining is Kona Green Tea.

Sanctuary zip bag, shown with gifts to go inside

My friend enjoys a bit of wordsmithing at times, so I loaded it up with writing-related stuff-- like disposable fountain pens, a leather-bound journal, and some Haiku inspiration. And an amazon.com gift card. Just because.

Sanctuary zip bag, loaded up with gifty goodness

There is something about creating a holder and then filling it with special stuff that just makes me happy. Fortunately, it made her happy too! :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

September wrap-up

I am still kind of in disbelief that tomorrow is October 1. September just flew by for me! But it has been a good month. Back-to-school went very smoothly; the new schedule is finally starting to feel "normal" (as opposed to crazed); and I managed to meet my September crafty goals for Carrie P.'s Nothing but UFOs Challenge! Woo!

Nothing But UFOs in 2013 button

  1. School bag for Little Bear:

    Mail Sack, Little Bear view

    The bag was complete just in time for back-to-school (blogged).

  2. Harrington & Hannah:

    basting Harrington & Hannah

    Not only did I finish the top, but I managed to get it basted. Yay!!!

  3. Spring Mystery Quilt:

    Spring Mystery Quilt, front view

    Completed and blogged!

It feels good to check things off the list. Many thanks to Carrie P. for the continued inspiration and motivation!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spring Mystery Quilt complete!

Heather Spence Mystery Quilt button

My 2013 Spring Mystery Quilt from Heather Spence Designs is complete!

Spring Mystery Quilt, front view

It was a fun quilt to put together, and it was good use-what-I-have project: no fabric was purchased for this quilt!

Spring Mystery Quilt, front quilting detail

I used Aurifil 50/2 thread in dove (2600) and rusty orange (2240) for the quilting. I started with the straight diagonal lines using my walking foot. Then I stippled in the open areas of the center.

Spring Mystery Quilt, back quilting detail

I then did the inner border in a stacked ripple and each of the cornerstones have a square-on-point outline with stippling in the center (I failed to get a good picture of that though.) The outside border is quilted in straight lines the same width apart as the ones in the center. I used Kona Navy for the binding and finished it by machine, ala Red Pepper Quilts.

Spring Mystery Quilt, back view

I love the pieced back on this. It really works for me. I think the symmetry makes me happy.

Spring Mystery Quilt, side view

This quilt is going to be donated to Camp Korey, one of the local charitable organizations my guild supports. I have no doubt its future will include many snuggles. :)

And, in case the thought of doing a mystery quilt intrigues you-- there is going to be another one starting soon! The Heather Spence Designs Fall 2013 Mystery is starting on October 4th. Sign up now!

Edited to add:

If you like this design, it is now available for purchase through Heather's shop. The pattern is called "Connect the Dots."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's time!

After spending the last few months really focused on UFOs and finishing projects, I finally decided that it was time to start something new. Woo! I've actually started two new projects-- one small, one big. In this post, I want to focus on the smaller one:

I decided to join Wild Olive's Autumn Stitching Club! It is $8.00 to sign up for this serial project featuring hexagons and cute little embroidery designs. I love fall, and a small project like this just sounded super appealing-- so I signed up! I get to look forward to an email every week during the months of September, October, and November that contains a piece of the project. So far, I have received the main instructions (fabric requirements, etc.) and three designs. At this point, I have managed to stitch up one of them and the second is in progress.

Autumn Stitching Club, block 1, scarecrow

These are tiny! The fabric is cut 4-1/2" square. The embroidery design is only about 2" tall. But look at the cuteness! As a bonus, this is a great scrap project-- I was able to find all the fabrics I need in my stash. Yay!

Autumn Stitching Club, block 2 in progress

Mollie recently posted a hint regarding the use of sticky-backed water-soluable stabilizer for embroidery. You trace your pattern on the stabilizer and then stick it to your fabric; it offers both nice clear lines as well as some firmness to the fabric, making embroidery a breeze. I've done that with the first couple of blocks, and really appreciate the extra stiffness the stabilizer gives to the super-soft and slippery linen. I'm finding myself really enjoying stitching these up.

Small + simple + autumn = happy.

Oh, and you need to check out this cute little pumpkin spice latte design from Mollie! Love.