Kaleidoscope Pillow

Sewing

Kaleidoscope Pillow

I have a new love. It is a blazing, impassioned, delirious sort of love, one that swallows me whole and leaves me asthmatic with creative fulfillment. My new love is quilting, and I can’t for the life of me believe I’ve waited so long to add this undertaking to my roster of obsessions.

Quilting encompasses everything that is awesome about sewing (i.e., seaming pretty fabrics together and making neat designs) and none of the aggravation (i.e., darts, pleats, hems, zippers, and making things actually fit).

It’s sewing for people who don’t like sewing. Or if you do happen to like sewing, it’s sewing on steroids. Quilting is an incredibly satisfying and even tranquilizing activity that lets you experiment with textiles and use up scraps from projects past. I knew I had been collecting leftover fabric scraps all these years for a reason!

My lovely friend Christina (hi Christina!) invited me to take this Sampler Quilt class with her at the Workroom, a quaint little sewing studio in the west end. The class, of course, was the most fun ever, and has totally sent me on a trajectory of lifelong quilting.

I’m a little ashamed to admit I haven’t yet completed my sampler quilt despite the class having ended several weeks ago… but it’s totally going to happen. I have my quilt slated as a Christmas present, so it will (hopefully) be sewn to completion very soon.

So, you know how I just praised the demigods of quilting and convinced you that there is no finer avocation on this green earth? I totally lied. Quilting is bloody awesome, but there is one thing out there that’s even better: English paper piecing.

English paper piecing is a quilting method that uses paper templates and fabric scraps to create perfectly crisp seams and precise blocking. It’s a completely different approach to quilting, but yields mostly the same results. I learned how to English paper piece via YouTube and was immediately hooked. The method requires no measuring or pre-cut strips fabric, no rotary cutters or cutting mats. Just a paper template and some fabric scraps.

So, with my newly acquired quilting and English paper piecing acumen, I ventured upon this kaleidoscope pillow project pictured above, which will serve a Christmas present for my darling little sister. (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog or any form of written memorandum for that matter, so I don’t think I’m ruining any surprises by posting this.)

This project was seriously fun to make. It uses a 16″ x 16″ pillow form, and you can incorporate as many or as few fabrics as you like. I used five patterned fabrics and one solid, and I think the results are very handsome.

English paper piecing is necessary for this project because the pieces are joined in a way that forms a spiral-like point at the centre of each piece – maybe this can be accomplished with regular quilting, but I can’t wrap my brain around how this would happen. Plus that would involve an insane amount of measuring and cutting accuracy.

There are many kaleidoscope pillow tutorials in the vast and endless interweb, but the one I used and recommend is here. (Look at all those super helpful instructional photos!)

To conclude, I am hopelessly and incurably enamoured by the art of quilting, and even more so by its simpler and more forgiving little sister, English paper piecing. Be mine forever, glorious textile crafts <3.

Burda Strapless Corset Dress (03/2010 #107)

Sewing

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Pattern Description: Women’s strapless dress. Fully lined and with structured boning.

Pattern Sizing: I’m pretty sure I cut a 10. But many modifications were made.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Not especially, but instructions for Burda print-at-home patterns tend to be minimal.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked that this pattern was kind of hard. It was a pain to make, but I learned how to do cool things like sew boning casing into lining seams and make a fitted corset.

Fabric Used: Woven cotton and Bemberg lining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I only used the pattern for the bodice design and I drafted the skirt myself. I didn’t make many alterations to the bodice other than I sewed an extra seam up the piece below the bust to make it fit better, and I added a bit more boning than what was called for.

Would you sew it again? Definitely. I loved the way the bodice turned out, and I’d like to make it again but with a narrow pencil skirt instead of a flared skirt.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes, but only to experienced sewers. If I had attempted this during my more amateur days I probably would have scratched my eyes out in frustration.

Last June I had the extreme pleasure of attending Sewing Garments Camp at The Make Den sewing studio. I am not exaggerating when I say it was the most magical, recuperative week of my entire summer, if not my entire existence.

I chose this particular dress for sewing camp because it looked like a huge pain in the ass to make; it did not disappoint. The bodice in this pattern is structured and fully lined, and I got to play with boning for the first time.

Boning is somewhat laborious to insert, especially the steel coil variety, but once it’s in something magical happens: the garment becomes structured enough to hoist up your fleshy segments all by itself, thus eliminating the need to wear a bra. SERIOUSLY. I’m going to sew boning into absolutely everything I own.

I made this dress to wear at a friend’s wedding, and here’s a photo to prove that I did indeed wear it:

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The pattern for this dress (the bodice, at least) can be found here. This is a downloadable pattern, which means you get to spend an evening printing a gigantic PDF file, scaling the pages, cutting everything out, taping the pieces together, tracing them into pattern paper, adding seam allowances, and cutting the pieces out again, which is an oddly satisfying process.

My enchantingly stunning friend Sora was kind enough to model my sewing camp dress for me, and doesn’t she look lovely? Just the loveliest.

Here’s one more shot of fair Sora, who wears this dress far better than I do:

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I realized mid-construction that this dress looks just a little Snow White. A lot Snow White, actually. My dark hair and pigment-devoid skin only exasperate this issue. I may have selected something other than yellow for the skirt if I had realized this earlier, but instead I’m going to pretend this is exactly what I was going for.

Simplicity 1610

Sewing

Simplicity 1610

Pattern Description: Misses’ dress in knee or maxi length with fitted bodice and pleated skirt with pockets.

Pattern Sizing: I can’t really remember, but I think I cut a size 10.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like that this is a Project Runway pattern because I am madly in love with Tim Gunn and secretly want him to adopt me, I like that the dress was easy to fit, I like how the pockets are hidden in the front pleats, and I love the V shape in the back. Love love love. I’m not such a fan of sewing princess seams, but they are what the pattern called for so I went with it.

Fabric Used: Woven cotton.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None that I can remember. I pretty much just stuck to the pattern design.

Would you sew it again? Yes, I want to make the maxi halter version! I have finally come around to maxi dresses and need to attempt making one. I haven’t yet come around to halter tops, however… so maybe I’ll leave this project to next summer.

Would you recommend it to others? Totally.

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Doesn’t this dress just scream FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE ME TO A SUMMER GARDEN PARTY? That’s totally the emotion I was trying to channel into this dress when I made it. Complete success, right?

Where the summer garden parties at, anyway? I don’t believe I’ve attended a single garden party all season. There have been patio luncheons, beach affairs, and picnic festivities, but not a single garden party.

This may have something to do with the fact that everyone I know lives in a high-rise, so I have decided to open my social circle to any suitable aspirants who both a) have a garden, and b) like to get their garden party on.

In the meantime, I plan on wearing this dress on every remaining sunny day because it’s just too pretty not to. I’m really happy with the way it turned out and the fit is excellent, but it is just a pinch Bo Peep. Maybe I’m just not used to flared skirts.

Regardless, this is a great basic pattern, and one that would be super easy to modify and make other garments out of. Although I’m perfectly content to keep making this same dress over and over because I like it so very much.

Reversible Infinity Scarf Tutorial

Sewing

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Take a good look, people. Those are indeed my armpits. Also featured in the above photograph is my most recent creation, a reversible infinity scarf!

Scarves are most definitely a year-round appurtenance. My summer neckwear selection seemed a little scant, so I picked up some quilting fabric from The Make Den, a super awesome sewing studio in the west end where I attended Sewing Garments Camp back in June! In fact, I spent my week at sewing camp admiring the beautiful fabric selection at The Make Den, and finally picked up a half yard of my two favourites on the last day.

As it turns out, half a yard of fabric isn’t really enough to make anything even semi-wearable. I kind of knew this at the time, but I let the unduly frugal part of my anima take over during the transaction, and ended up with enough fabric to make my envisioned infinity scarf only if I cut four small pieces of fabric, instead of two large pieces, and sewed an extra seam up the side.

No problem! The result was actually better than my original plan – instead of having a scarf with one pattern on the outside and another on the inside, each side is reversible, which displays nicely because both patterns can be seen equally from each side.

This reversible infinity scarf pattern will take about an hour to make, beginning to end. You know when you buy a Simplicity pattern and it says it will only take an hour, and six hours later all you have is half a semi-lined bodice and your apartment looks like a Malaysian garment factory?

Not this time. This tutorial will take an actual hour to complete, as in sixty minutes, and should result in minimal frustration. Here we go!

Materials:

  • 1/2 yard each of fabric A and B
  • Needle and thread

Cut two 11″ x 26″ rectangles of each fabric (four rectangles total).

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With right sides together, sew each fabric A piece to a fabric B piece along one of the short edges. You will now have two long fabric rectangles.

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With right sides together, sew the two pieces together along each long edge, leaving the short edges open. You will now have one continuous tube of fabric.

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Pin the two short edges together, matching upper and lower seams. Sew in a continuous circle, leaving a 2″ gap. Pull the entire scarf through the gap and press. Slip stitch the gap closed.

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Butterick 4720

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B4720

Pattern Description: 1960s Misses’ Culotte. Concealed culotte darted into waistband has front and back overskirt with patch pocket.

Pattern Sizing: Waist 25 1/2″; Hip 36″

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Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? So easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Well, it’s a culotte pattern, so everything about it was inherently awesome.

Fabric Used: Super soft and drapey cotton suiting fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None, other than I used a contrast fabric for the shorts.

Would you sew it again? Yes. It is totally time for culottes to make a comeback, and I plan on spearheading the movement.

Would you recommend it to others? Definitely!

Consider the culotte. Versatile, urbane, and an exceedingly stylish nod to the knee breeches-wearing upperclassmen of the fifteenth century. Why aren’t these things still in style? Why did they ever go out of style? Can someone please explain this to me?

Culottes are decisively awesome. They are simultaneously shorts and a skirt! Check this out!:

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Right? If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m super excited about these culottes. My momma bought me this lovely vintage Butterick pattern for Christmas, and I’m so so happy with the results. I plan on making a summer pair out of something light and flowy very soon, because culottes need to happen all year ’round.

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I’m also really excited about my new cat Francis! He is the sweetest boy in the whole world and a soon-to-be cat bow tie recipient. Or… oh my god. Cat culottes. Yes. This needs to happen!

McCall’s M6035

Sewing

McCall's M6035

Pattern Description: Misses’ shirt with princess seams and button closure.

Pattern Sizing: I cut a size 10, and the fit was true to size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really liked the cuffed sleeve! I’ve never made this kind of sleeve before and I think it turned out really well. The cuff folds over the sleeve seam on the inside, hiding the seams and giving it a very clean, professional look. I also liked how the button band is self-lined, rather than interfaced.

Fabric Used: Both shirts are made from woven cotton; the striped shirt is a heavier stretch cotton.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made the yellow floral shirt first. The fabric is light and drapes nicely, and fit without any alteration. The striped version uses heavier fabric that clings to the body a bit more. I ended up having to take in the princess seams and back side seams to make it more fitted. I also used contrast fabric for the striped shirt! I had to alter the pattern so the button band was cut from the contrast fabric and attached separately.

Would you sew it again? Yes! I’ve sewn this shirt twice so far, and have plans for a third design.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes.

I made both shirts for Shelly. Doesn’t she look lovely?!

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