Sunday, 29 May 2016

May’s events, reasons for celebration

How are you celebrating life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, awards?… Do you throw parties?  Go out of your way to find fancy, inspiring gifts?  Do you bake epic cakes? Plot surprises for months?  I don’t. I’m not sure why.  However after a discussion with Victor, I realised that we should probably go bigger on celebrations and make happy memories

So here is what we had to be grateful for in May:

some family and friends birthdays… quite a lot actually
an engagement… 24 years ago
a wedding anniversary
mother’s days… twice, the American one, then the French one… the British one was in March
the end of High School for Victor… we missed Speech day, but we will be there for the Graduation ball
Juliette being recognised for her Community Service engagement… with an award and a letter from the White House
a (almost) mended leg…Alice is still walking with a boot, but not for long
all the kids done with their exams
summer time and hot weather… not quite sure why I’m celebrating hot weather!

000 Temp16

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Baby star

I started on this quilt for no particular reason, except the fact that Juliette had picked up the fabrics when we were in Savannah in February, a bundle of 8 fat-quarters.  Actually, I think she wanted me to make a quilt for a friend’s baby, but instead  I had knitted a tiny cardi

Well, I had the fabric, I had an idea so in the end I made this big star quilt.  It is only Half Square Triangles in the end!  Mine are measuring 10” plus some 2.5” squares for the uneven borders.

And then I went crazy on the quilting.  I am sure there’s a rule about not over quilting a quilt. The quilting is the result of two things.  First I took my first lesson on Craftsy, Machine Quilting Negative Space by Angela Walters. And secondly, I recently purchased of a quilting ruler with a specific quilting foot for domestic sewing machine.

First the Craftsy lesson.  I really enjoyed it but also felt frustrated.  The first part focuses on practicing designs on paper, pebbles, swirls, leaves, paisley...  I love doodling, I’ve been doing it for a long time and it is very satisfying to see how I improved over time.  I actually find doodling easy, the doodling area is small, not overwhelming – easy peasy!  For me, the difficulty starts with larger spaces,  And when it comes to put the quilt on the machine then the frustration kicks in.  Thanks to Angela Walters, I learnt to mark, or more precisely I finally accept the fact that marking, even very roughly, is a necessity.  It makes sense you need a roadmap and some escape strategies to navigate a whole quilt.  I also accept that machine quilting is not a speedy process, but it takes time, planning… What a surprise!

Baby Star1

Another thing I learn is to change the scale of a design, to mix it with another one to make it more interesting or flowing from one pattern to the next one.  I practice of few of the techniques on each point of the point of the star.

My frustration comes from the fact that the lesson is probably more design for longarmers.  I know that several time Angela explain how to translate the design on a domestic sewing machine but I would I loved seeing it done.  Also, the designs taught in the first part of the lesson (the doodling part) are repeated one the machine.  I would have loved to learn more about planning for the quilting patterns: how to look at a quilt, how to decide the density of the quilting pattern…

Like everything, the lesson is not enough.  I now need to do my homework, practice and practice again.  I will go back to the lesson because I realised that doing the exercise while watching the video did not work too well for me.  I will also go back to her book, Free-Motion Quilting which actually is a very good complement to the lesson.

Baby Star2

Now the ruler and quilting foot for domestic sewing machine.  I quilted straight lines between the points of the star using my newly acquired ruler.  First, I had to get use to visualising the 1/4” difference between where the ruler is and where the needle drops.  I realised that I might be eye-hand-coordination challenged: so many time I lifted my hand before the needle was down resulting in stitches skipping off the straight line.  In all honesty, I think I would have save myself some trouble by quilting with my walking foot.

Baby Star

Overall the result is not as bad as it sound.  Actually, it is a pretty darn little quilt.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Autopsy of the Scout Tee

Once again, I’m jumping late on the band wagon.  The Scout Tee has been around for a while, I’m sure that many people had written at length about it, so why not adding my contribution?

Pattern name: Scout Tee
Company: Grainline Studio
Size: 18 and 16 with FBA

I’ve been making my own clothes since I was a teen, and during this time, I never ever made adjustment to any of my patterns.  I would normally cut the size the closest to my measurements and make the garment fit, more or less, my body by changing the seam allowance did modify patterns but only once the fabric was cut, in an attempt to make the garment fit.  But this is the first time I cut into the paper pattern.

Here is my process.  First, I cut a size 18 which is where my bust measurement takes me, the fabric is Lawn dot to dot from Gertie’s collection at Joann.  As much as I liked this first version, I wanted the shoulder to be more fitted and a bit less fabric around my body.  Unfortunately, you can’t see any of these on the pictures, the top has shrank during the first wash an it is now a bit snug around my chest and back.  I don’t normally pre-wash my fabrics before making garments, I should probably!  Also this top is all worked with French seems which makes it nice and clean on the inside.

Scout Tee6

Now the second version.  I traced a size 16 and chopped into the pattern adding a 1’' ease on my FBA, adding a dart on the sides.  I followed Jenny’s tutorial for Full Bust Adjustment and added some ease at the chest area.  Not bad, but I feel that the darts are a bit too low, it is not quite visible on these pictures, but trust me on this.  Also, on this version, I sewed a 2.5” hem, making it slightly cropped.  I quite like it.

Scout Tee4

So here is FBA #2, with an apex 1.5” higher that the previous one, but with the same 1” ease at the bust area.  For this version, I’ve use some Liberty’s fabric that I have been hoarding forever.  Working with Liberty’s is such a pleasure.  I should probably have used French seams here too but even after a couple of washes the fabric hasn’t frayed.

Scout Tee5

Now looking at these pictures, I realised two things.  First, I think I probably need to make some back adjustment, all the tops look a bit tight at the shoulders.  It is interesting that I did not ‘feel’ the snug on my shoulders, I guess most of my tops are like that and I’ve been getting used to it.  Secondly, I don’t understand why the front hem of my modified tops are picking up? Should I move my darts higher on the sides to avoid this?  Or could it be the nature of the fabric? Any expert’s advice please?

For the last 2 tops I cut the bias neck bidding from a different fabric.  This way I don’t need as much yardage of my more expensive fabric.

Scout Tee7

All in all, I love this top.  It is pretty easy and fast to make.  I’m sure I can speed up the process even more by setting the sleeves flat.  I can see many more Scout Tee in my near future, I have some knit fabric I want to try, I just need a bit more time…

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Slow sewing

Our (my) guild has recently started a library (thanks to the generosity of Lucky Spoon).  The choice was not easy, but this month I went for Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander.  I really like Carolyn Friedlander's aesthetic. It's clean, soft, almost minimalist.
The book explores design principles (Line, Contrast, Scale, Color...).  Each chapter is constructed like a lesson , followed by workshops which invite you to explore different ideas, then illustrated by 3 variations of the same project, and finally the instructions for the project itself.  There's a techniques section at the end of the book and of course the patterns.  
The book has a very nice clean feel, simple and aesthetic pictures, no distractions, just beautiful quilts.  I really like it, it is not overload by technical stuff and I'm sure can appeal to quilters of any skills' level.
I also love that Carolyn advocates for slow sewing.  The vast majority of the projects are hand appliquéed.  I do believe in the benefits of taking time for each stitches.  Until I became 'Modern', I was a hand quilter - tiny needles, tiny stitches and long hours rocking the needle up and down. I loved the process of making memories whilst quilting - so many hours spent by the pool while the kids were training, or in the car waiting for the end of ballet lessons, soccer trainings...  I don't really miss the bleeding fingers after hours of poking myself.  I’m not sure why I never really tried hand-appliqué. 
Some time ago, I've been inspired by Cheryl Arkinson and her version of Carolyn's Alturas pattern.  It's been on my radar and when I found a charm pack of batiks (I normally don't like quilting batik, still I bought 3 packs!), I started working on it.
So far I have 20 squares done, it is a very slow process – the cutting, the basting, and those little curves, but it’s the perfect portable project for travels.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Some surprising encounters

On Easter Sunday, the weather was nice and we had the afternoon free so we headed to Titusville for a lunch of crab and prawns.  Don’t you love crab shacks?  Then off to the beach for a walk.  Canaveral beach is such a pleasant beach, quiet, no construction, very beautiful.

If you’ve been there you might know that the last parking lot is a nudists spot.  We did not know!  Juliette’s words: ‘Mom, I know it’s Easter, but I’ve seen more eggs that I wanted.  Oh well, this was not on my bucket list, but it’s done now.’  She makes me laugh.


Easter at Cape Canaveral1

We drove the Black Point Wildlife drive, saw a lot of birds and encountered a couple of baby gators.  Do you see it on the top picture of the collage?  Then off the Manatee Observation deck where we were greeted by a lot of Manatees, big ones and this little cutie that came to play hide-and-sick with us.  Don’t you like its face?

Easter at Cape Canaveral

If you have a chance, go and enjoy some wildlife at the Canaveral National Seashore, just stop before the last parking lot :–).