Friday, May 3, 2013

Roller Skate Dress - Class at TQL, Seattle!

Come sew with me! I'm teaching Beginning Garment Construction: Oliver + S Roller Skate Dress this spring at The Quilting Loft in Seattle. It is a three-class series, taught over successive Tuesday evenings. We'll learn how to read pattern envelopes, discuss fabric selection, trace patterns, cut out the fabric, learn how to sew curved seams, top stitching, edge stitching, and a simple hem. We'll also cover elastic casings, and finishing details like hand-sewing a button, and ribbon detail on the front. It's going to be so much fun!! Prerequisites: you need to know how to thread your sewing machine, wind a bobbin, and sew a straight seam. We'll be sewing the adorable new Oliver + S Roller Skate Dress in whatever fabric you choose. I've sewn a sample for the shop to display (pictured below) in the new Denyse Schmidt Shelburne Falls fabric. 

Front view

Ribbon detail - I found the ribbon at Nancy's Sewing Basket. It matches the blue/teal in the dress quite well, no? Interestingly, the ribbon is about 70 years old - it's vintage from the 1940s! 

I also found this pretty button at Nancy's. They have a great button selection - it's organized by color, and I love that the majority of their buttons are sold loose in boxes, so I can bring in the garment I'm putting buttons on and lay the buttons directly on the dress to audition them. Almost always, the first button that I think will work is not the button I end up using. Having the ability to try them out by setting them on the fabric (difficult when they are attached to a little white card) makes it easier to find a perfect button. 

Roller Skate Dress, Size 6
Fabric: Denyse Schmidt, Shelburne Falls
Sewn by Emily Steed

Friday, April 5, 2013

Beautiful Finishes

(Note: I am typing this with a Band-Aid on the tip of my finger. I'll edit, but please excuse any typos - it is difficult to type this way!!)

This summer, I did a bunch of "batch-sewing" for Eleanor's back-to-school wardrobe. This is a fast and efficient way to sew, at least for me. I pick a pattern, and cut it out 3 or 4 times in different fabric, and then do the first step for each version, then the 2nd step, and so on. It decreases the amount of time I spend figuring out how the pattern goes together - even if I've sewn it before, and no matter how well-written the pattern is, there's always some amount of time spent reading the instructions and thinking about how the written words and 2-d drawing apply to the 3-d object in my hands. Sewing the same step across 3 or 4 garments cuts down on this time, because even if I have to figure it out the first time, if I do more in quick succession, I remember what I'm doing on the other garments. 

My mother is an extremely capable and accomplished sewist. Especially with children's clothes, I occasionally take shortcuts (unfinished seam allowances, mainly...) but she takes finishing details and elevates them to an art. I asked her if she would sew Eleanor a few oliver + s Music Class blouses, and boy howdy did she. The pattern has some fiddly little details (tiny pintucks, sleeve cuffs, a peter pan collar) and it's absolutely perfect for the attention-to-detail sewist and some beautiful fabric. 

The shirt pictured here is sewn from my *least* favorite fabric of the four that I sent her, and it's easily the most beautiful and lovely piece of clothing in Eleanor's back-to-school clothes from this fall. Look at those pintucks!!

The seams inside are finished with self-bias. 

The collar is hand-finished. 

Look at the french seams on the sides! 

And the shoulders!

Truly, she did a BEAUTIFUL job - I'm blown away by how gorgeous it is. Here, Eleanor is wearing it with a Benetton argyle cardigan (instead of diamonds, it has hearts!!), a grey twirly skirt, and brown leather boots. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Tones Charming Solids

My Pink Chalk Charming Solids pack arrived last weekend. I *love* this collection - it's so cheerful and happy and summery! I picked up this white solid to pair with it. I forget what it is - not Moda or Kona or FreeSpirit. It's some organic something, but it's lovely and soft and smooth. The solids in the pack are all Cotton Couture, which also has a really nice smooth and soft hand. I'm planning to do some sort of HST quilt, but I'm not exactly sure what, yet. Each charm pack as 30 charms (fewer than normal), so two will make 120 HST squares when paired with the white solid. The colored solids will make another 96 HST squares, for a total of 216 squares that will finish to about 4" each. 

A 14x15 arrangement would use 210 square and finish to about 56"x60". A 12x18 arrangement would use all 216 squares, and finish to about 48"x72". There are a lot of HST arrangements, but I'm thinking that off-center concentric squares on point would be nice, something like this: 

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

I also really like this quilt, and a similar arrangement could be really lovely: 

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

I've done a few HST zig-zag arrangements, and something like this could be pretty as well:

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

Friday, March 22, 2013

Popsicle Dress (finished!)

I was right, it did take about an hour to finish the details on the popsicle dress. I was able to sew the edge stitching, the elastic casing channel, and the hem in the hour I gave myself to finish it before bed. When I went to look for the elastic, though, I couldn't find it. It seemed like a good stopping point, so I decided to call it a night and pick it up again in the morning.

I went to Nancy's to look for a button, and I auditioned a few. I was thinking that I'd use a green button, so I tried a few of those first:

But they weren't really working very well.

Then, I saw this one, grouped with the red buttons, that was actually the same color as the dark pink popsicles. I love that it has a four-leaf clover on it!

Eleanor has been asking about this dress, so I'm eager for her to be able to wear it. I'm pleased to have finished it at the beginning of spring, so she'll be able to use it all spring (probably with a cardigan) and summer long. With any luck, she'll get some wear out of it next year as well.

The next projects in the queue are the o+s Family Reunion dresses awaiting buttons, and some o+s Jump Rope dresses that are half constructed. The biggest obstacle in my way is that I've left the direction sheet at my studio. Despite having sewn the pattern at least 8 or 10 times, I like to follow the directions step-by-step each time. Typing this out, I'm realizing that I need to swing by my studio to pick up the directions, and then I'll be well on my way to finishing another pile of unfinished WIPs.

Adventures in Contrast Selection
Popsicle Dress Progress

Modern Madness

I've never really been one for professional sports. I have trouble understanding the point in investing my own time, money, and emotional energy the success of a team owned by a corporation or group of extremely wealthy individuals. They're not MY Seattle Sonics, you know? They belong(ed) to Howard Shultz. What do I care whether they win or lose?

... and I feel largely the same about college sports. My dad likes to say, "I don't care much for semi-pro football" when people talk about college football. I always thought it was patently unfair that college athletes at UW got to register before everyone else, because they had practice and game schedules to work around or something. (Unlike the students putting themselves through school with three jobs, or the single mothers with childcare to take care of, and every other student with scheduling demands...)

So I find the NCAA March Madness to be... well, nothing. I never pay attention to it. I know people get all excited about their brackets and whatever, but it's just not my bag.

Fat Quarterly's Modern Madness, though? Totally my thing. All my favorite modern fabric collections from the past year, pitted against one another in a bracket-style tournament until one winner is selected. I've enjoyed following it in years past, but this year I filled out a bracket for the first time!

I picked Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures to win it all. I love this fabric! I have a set of the entire line (FQs) as well as Pink Chalk's coordinating solids set squirreled away, waiting for the perfect project to present itself to me.

I think that Jay McCarroll's Center City will also do well, although it's not my personal favorite. People went NUTS for his Habitat line, which won Modern Madness a few years ago.

Has anyone else filled out a bracket this year, for this tournament or another one?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Popsicle dress progress

I managed to get the dress cut on on Tuesday, while we were home all day from school. After the kids went to bed, I started working on the construction. Today I finished all the major seams and then ironed  the edges, which just leaves the finishing work to do: edge stitching the neck and sleeves, finish the hems, insert the elastic, and hand sew the button.

It's interesting to me how shapeless and sad the dress is before the finishing work is done. The elastic really adds shape and definition; right now it looks like a nightgown.

The plan is to give it another hour tonight and see how far along I get, and then swing by Nancy's while E is in preschool tomorrow to find a button. I'm thinking that a green one might be nice, or maybe pink. Something that looks nice against the blue, and that goes with the dress. She has a playdate tomorrow afternoon, so I'm going to bring some hand sewing with me and see if I can finish up two dresses: this one and the fourth Family Reunion dress that needs buttons sewn on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adventures in Contrast Selection

I bought this popsicle poplin along with the fabric I used in the yellow Roller Skate dress on sale last weekend at JoAnn's. My initial plan was to make a reversible dress, with one fabric on each side. Then, when I laid it out to cut, I discovered that I could get an entire dress and most of the lining out of just one 1.5 yard cut of fabric. I decided that two dresses are better than one reversible dress, so I made the first out of the yellow with the pink contrast. When I picked the contrast, I thought I would use it with the popsicle fabric as well, but then I laid out out: 

Too pink. 

Then, today I was at The Quilting Loft to pick up some hexie templates for another project I'm working on. I didn't have the poplin with me, but I figured that while I was there I'd get a few quarter yard cuts - surely one would be close enough, and would work as the contrast! 

Nope. Too red, too yellow, too blue. Curses. 

This evening, I managed to bring the fabric that I was trying to match WITH ME (first step to success...) when I swung by Pacific Fabrics. I found three good matches: 

I liked the orange, and the green was nice, but the blue really pops, doesn't it? It's a pretty close match for the blue in the poplin, and I think it will really set off the neckline of the dress. I'm planning to cut it out tomorrow, and see how far I can get in the construction of the dress.