Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Agnes Tunic

Agnes Tunic from "Girl's World" by Jennifer Paganelli
fabric: Double Daisy Border from the Flora & Fauna collection by Patty Young
placket: Pretty Please by Jennifer Paganelli
size: XL

I recently purchased a copy of "Girls World" by Jennifer Paganelli. What a fun book full of girls' patterns and accessories! Even if you don't have a girl to sew for, you could find something in there for yourself, too.

My girl is starting to outgrow the desire to wear what Mom sews for her, so I thought I better make hay while the sun shines, as they say. The Agnes Tunic appealed to both of us. It looked comfy and versatile, and I really liked the idea of 3/4 sleeves. Perfect for warm Southern autumns paired with leggings.

I made the XL size but should've done the Large size looking back at it. There still would be plenty of growing room! The model in the book is sitting and kind of hunched up, making it difficult to see how much ease is already included in the pattern. If my knitting brain had kicked in, I would've measured the pattern pieces and compared them to my daughter's actual measurements! Apparently my mind only works well in certain craft media. :) The shoulders fit well, but it seems very long and wide, even for my tall girl. A bit like a muumuu? I omitted the sleeve and hem bands which would have added a couple extra inches. Next time I make this I'll lop a few inches off the hem to make it more hip-length and probably make the body a bit narrower. And add pockets - that's a request from the girl.

The back button & loop closure is a sweet little detail.

Very roomy - she won't outgrow this too quickly!

The directions and diagrams were very clear and everything came together quickly and easily except for one piece. The contrast band around the neck was NOT easy to attach to the bodice. If you are a beginner at sewing clothing, leave this pattern for later. All the corners, angles, combined with sections of gathering were quite a challenge to sew. After a lot of fussing and seam ripping, I'm still not 100% happy with how parts of the placket turned out, but I decided to call it good enough for now.

I'm excited to try out the other patterns in the book - but I'll pay closer attention to sizing from now on. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Antique Wedding Quilt

I have the privilege of working on a beautiful antique quilt that's destined to be a wedding gift next weekend. This amazing quilt is all hand pieced hexagons and diamonds - isn't it gorgeous!! I'm in awe of the time it took this quilter to cut and hand sew each piece!

I put the seam ripper in there so you can get an idea of how small each piece is.

The quilt top was made by the groom's grandmother. A crew of ladies from our congregation sandwiched and hand quilted it with perle cotton. I love the pale pink cotton they picked. My role in this process is to bind the quilt, no simple task since the edge is not straight but scalloped! And not only that, the two long sides are a bump-bump-bump type of scallop, while the short sides are a bump-dip-bump-dip S-shaped wave. Did that make any sense at all??? I'm still figuring out how to measure how many inches of bias strips I will need.

The ladies at sent me some samples of Kona Cotton so I could match the green fabric used between the hexagon "flowers." I was so glad to find the color "old leaf" is almost the exact same color. Since there are more than a few seams that are falling apart along the edge of the quit top, I zig-zagged the edge of the top then carefully cut around the scallops. I hope this stabilizes everything while I pin and sew down the binding.

If Hurricane Irene takes out our electricity for a while, I will be busy hand-stitching the binding. Better get the machine stitching done while there's still electricity!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Random Bits

I keep telling myself Autumn is approaching. It may not feel like it yet outside my back door, but eventually it will get cooler and fingers will need some warmth. I finished this pair of fingerless mitts for my friend's birthday last week.
It had been awhile since I did any cables, so a little Celtic knot was in order. All those criss-crosses can sometimes get confusing, but this one wasn't too bad. For an extra twist of excitement, I mirrored the cables from the left mitt to the right one. This was a "snack" project - fun and fast. I really like these and think I might have to make another pair or two!
The cuff around the fingers is great - just fold it down if your fingers need extra warmth!

And here's the Nina - completely unrelated to knitting, but what family doesn't enjoy a good old fashioned OJ carton-turned-boat project? Our kids are deep into the Spanish explorers, so a bevy of boats has provided a lot of entertainment lately. "Let's sail to the New World! (family room)" "OK, now let's bring our loot back to Spain! (kitchen)" "Aack! Hurricane! (5 yr old + fan)" A bit silly, but memorable for the kiddos.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer is for Orange

Rebuilding our deck was our project this spring; outfitting the deck for use was the project for this summer! That included sewing, of course! I bought the large seat cushion for this bench earlier this year, then found that JoAnn Fabrics carried the same fabric! It's Waverly Sun & Shade outdoor fabric - "Magic Carpet."
It took less than 2 hrs of sewing to make the two 18" pillows. The green pom pom fringe is for whimsy. Sewing with pom pom fringe, especially around an invisible zipper, is a little fussy. (The green pillow was purchased, too)

And because my math skills are less than stellar, I over-calculated how much yardage I needed. Extra fabric? No problem. Just whip up some cushions for the bistro chairs, too!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tufon Quilt

The "Tufon" quilt is finally finished! Our guest bed is a futon, which the little guy in our house calls the tufon. So thus the name. I machine quilted this, and there are still a few kinks that I need to work out with that process. I struggled with the stitch tension, never really getting it to a satisfactory point. It's not perfect, but passable. I really enjoyed hand-stitching the binding down; perhaps I'm more of a hand-quilting girl after all!

There are two "Arcadia" by Moda honey buns in there, as well as some khaki Kona Cotton. The back is a length of unknown orange cotton that served us as a curtain in our first apartment. I was surprised to find 12 yards of pumpkin orange cloth in the bottom of my cedar chest! Let's just say there's plenty for coordinating pillows, hee hee.

Left over strips of fabric make a strip up the back as well as the binding. Finished size is about 60" x 80". I'm very happy with it, even with all it's imperfections. To me, that is the charming part about handmade quilts. We have many houseguests each year, and I hope they enjoy this quilt too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Color Autobiography

I love color. Really love it. You can't get enough color in your life, I say. Especially bright vibrant colors rubbing up against other bright colors. Like purple - I'm convinced as of late that purple is possibly the best color around - it goes with everything. Even orange.

When I was 5 I entered a coloring contest hosted by a department store. I remember it clearly: sitting at our round formica-topped dining table, carefully coloring in the airplanes that framed the page. I decided they had to be purple airplanes, with yellow accents. Mom questioned me on that (Mom has impeccable taste, mind you. You just can't argue with that - she's always right, but likes to play it safe). No, purple airplanes they must be, and wouldn't you know it, I won a $25 gift certificate to the store! I really wasn't thinking - I hated shopping at that age, and empowering MORE shopping wasn't the brightest move I made, but it was the start of my art career, so to speak. And it gave me a courage to go with my gut and use color with abandon.

I love the sugary, syrupy colors that show up in the Rococo period. VanGogh had a fearless love of color as well. A couple other colorists I admire are mostly in the textile realm: Kaffe Fasset, and Kristin Nichols (scroll down to see her house interior!).

How does color play into your life? Do you like to keep it "safe" - or do bursts of color energize you? Are there areas you keep it neutral? I'm discovering how neutrals can be full of life, too. An all-white room that is full of texture is beautiful. Not easy to keep clean, but beautiful!

Today's challenge: play with color today in a new way: think clothes, paintings, table settings, even getting out the crayons and experimenting with different color combos. Look to nature for inspiration. But most of all, have fun!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Survival

Mom called me up the other day just to "check on me" - she noticed a lack of email and blog activity and wanted to make sure I was still here! Yes, mom, I'm here, but very busy as of late. School started again, along with swimming lessons, which pretty much takes care of all but 4 hours of my waking moments. Add into that some overly-abundant pear trees, and you have a flurry of lesson plans, beach towels, canning jars, and meals tossed in the slow cooker.

This is just the first bunch of pears - more are falling every day!

You wonder about school starting in July? That's the beauty of homeschooling - when it's too hot to play outside, we work inside. That allows us to enjoy the spring weather (when all the other kids are longingly looking out the classroom window!). It feels great around Labor Day to know you have 1/4 of your school year already completed!

The sewing/knitting front has stalled due to school. Instead, I've switched my mind over to crafting that the kids can do with me for projects. The good ol' "turn the OJ container into a boat" type of crafts. Today the oldest two kiddos created their own triptychs depicting the Annunciation, complete with Renaissance symbolism. Tomorrow the little guy will make a ssssssnake out of one of dad's old neckties while learning about the letter Ss.

There is a quilt hiding under my dining table that's nearly finished being quilted. And a sweater travels with me to the pool to keep my hands busy during swim lessons. My drop spindle has been calling to me, too.... The different seasons in our family life have their own creative challenges, which keeps this domina on her toes!