Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I wear your Grandma’s clothes…

Last week I mentioned I’d bought The Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes and was busy cutting it out.  I bought a few fashion fabrics last week at JoAnn and I’m ready to build a new summer wardrobe of dresses, skirts and tops.

But before I cut into that $9/yd fabric I wanted to make sure the dress would fit me without any big alterations needed.  So I ran to Walmart and found both a rayon and linen-like fabric for only $3/yd and bought them as muslin options.

I figured if they turned great, then I’d have an extra dress, but if not—I’d only be out $10.  I decided to start  
with the rayon because I felt it better fit this dress style.

I have to say first and foremost that April has written one heck of a pattern.  The directions are simple, clear and straight-to-the point.  She addresses issues you might be concerned with and the fit is spot-on.

All pictures are taken by me with my camera/tripod/timer--please excuse bad photography and less than stellar hair!  

I am usually a medium to large depending on the cut.  In RTW sizes, I’m between a 10 and 12 most of the time.  Based on my measurements, I made a large just to be sure and the fit is great.

She mentions before you shirr the waist not to be alarmed if it looks like a hospital gown and I laughed because it really did.  But I did 4 rows of shirring a little above my natural waist and I think it pulled the dress in just right.

I opted for the straight hem on this dress, but a high-low hemline and directions are included.  I also included the pockets because I think everything should have pockets.  just saying…otherwise I have to hold my phone and that just gets old.  ;)

When I got finished, I really wasn’t sure about it.  Not the dress itself, but the fabric.  I was hesitant whether I had crossed the "vintage-chic" line over into Grandma’s dress.  I asked Chris and he said he liked it, but all I could think of was that Macklemore song Thrift Shop. (This is the clean version.)

So I wore it this morning thinking “I wear your Grandma’s clothes.  I look incredible!”  A friend assured me it was right on trend, but I figured I like it, so I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway.

I wore it today with a belt over the shirring and matching sandals, but I think it would be really cute with boots and a sweater too. 

This dress is simple—it’s a staple.  There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s just right, you know?  I can see many more of these in my future.  I’d like to try a sleeveless one, but that is gonna require some thinking, and I’ve never doubted that I’m a better pattern-follower than a pattern-maker so we’ll see.

Are you a seasonal creator?  I tend to knit in the fall and winter and get the urge to make dresses and skirts as soon as the weather warms up.  What about you?  

And have you ever used fabric you weren't quite sure about?  Would you Rock Your Grandma's Style?  Don't tell me I'm alone???

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nearly Wordless WIP Wednesday

Starting on that summer wardrobe after all...

This is The Staple Dress Pattern by April Rhodes.  Still deciding on fabric choices, but I think I'm going to start with a blue paisley linen-like fabric I got at JoAnn's on Monday.  But first comes the worst part--taping all those pieces of paper together to make a pattern.  :)

Here's a sneak peek of what the dress looks like:

Details to follow...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Scrappy Diamonds

I mentioned last Thursday that inspiration had struck and I'd combined some ideas to start a scrappy strings quilt to enter into Le Challenge.  Well--I got the top done!
**ETA--I'm entering it into Rachel's Festival of Strings too!**

I finished up the piecing yesterday but it was so rainy and gray I waited till this morning to snap some photos.

  Lucy and Nat issued a challenge to all who wanted to participate to make something with the broad theme of "Geometric."  After waiting till the last minute and not having time to complete what I'd planned I came across Rachel's idea of scrappy string zigzags.

  So I took that idea and made it my own.  I gathered a bunch of old worksheets Emma had brought home from school and cut them in half lengthwise so I had sheets of paper that were 5.5" by 8.5".  Then I glued a 1.5" strip of black fabric on the diagonal (alternating directions to make the diamond shapes form) and went for it with my string scraps.

  I obviously had a lot of 2.5" strips, but also some 1-inch and 1.5-inch and some in-between widths too.  I really went random here with my only planning being that I used each of the colors the same number of times roughly.  I didn't worry too much about what matched up where.  When I got all of the rectangles done I stood back and looked at it to see if anything stuck out at me and then sewed all of the rows together!

  Seriously, the most time-consuming and hardest part of this quilt top was tearing all of the paper off the back!  I should have taken a picture of the pile of paper I had on the floor last night!

  I wanted to border this quilt both to add width/length and to frame the diamonds so I used every last inch of  the Kona black I had left and that is how I decided on the width of the borders.  :)  I think I ended up making the side borders 6 inches and the top and bottom were about 3.5 inches.

  Lucy and Nat--I know you said completed projects for this challenge, so if you don't want to count this one as completed, I do understand since it still needs to be quilted.  BUT, I did want to make sure you knew I was playing along with your fun idea.

  This quilt is not what I usually make.  It's in your face and very striking.  It doesn't really match the decor of our house, but you know what--I LOVE it!  I love that it's bold and fresh.  I love that it looks both modern and traditional.  I love that it's a piece of art made from many of my previous projects.  I am very happy with it.  :)

Thanks to Lucy and Nat for this fun challenge.  I'm off to link up and check out the other takes on geometric.  And I just saw that next month's challenge is:  WINGS!  Ooh, my wheels are already turning.  :)

Did you play along this month?  Will you next time?

Thursday, April 11, 2013


  Happy Thursday y'all!  I'm happy it's Thursday because it means our internet data plan started again and I have all the data I could want to spend today online.  Okay, not really, but after putting myself on an all-internet-fast to prove I could for the last 3 days, it's nice to be able to check my email, scroll through instagram, talk with y'all here, etc.  :)

So...what have I been up to??  Well, softball and karate keep us busy most afternoons.

Seriously--she didn't even know I was taking pictures.  She was just so excited to play.  And those are Chris' sexy legs in the background.  My two favorites on the team in one shot!  ;)

I made two more blocks for Oren's Star Wars quilt.  I called them ninja stars but Chris said he wasn't sure.  Technically they're variations of the Friendship star, but ninja sounds way cooler.  Especially for a 7-yr-old boy's quilt.

I finished up my bee blocks for That Stash Bee.  Sweet Valerie chose to make her month be about someone else.  She has friends who just lost their young son to cancer.  She's making them a cheerful quilt of rainbow colors, stars, and words like hope, love, peace, etc.  She asked for bright colors, any stars we wanted or pieced words.  I've never done words, but here's what I came up with.

My heart goes out to this family and many prayers were said over these blocks while sewing.

Two of my favorite Europeans, Lucy and Nat, have started a new project blog called Le Challenge.  Each month on the 15th they'll offer up a challenge for any interested participants.  The details are all here, but it's open to anyone and any project so long as it fits the theme.

This first challenge was "Geometric."  I had all kinds of ideas--really great ideas--but ran out of the time to make them.  So last night I was looking at some old blog posts I had up on my computer before the "internet fast" and saw this post by Rachel about string quilts.  I saw her zig zags and was hooked.  I LOVE string quilts for both their clever use of scraps and their amazing visual weight.  So, I decided to make Rachel's rectangular string blocks my own by using black sashing, a different-sized block and turning the strings into diamonds instead of zig zags.

Long, long, long way to go...

I'm just getting started so I'm not sure if I'll make the challenge deadline or not, but my rule for participating in projects/challenges/quilt-a-longs is It has to be something I'd do anyway/like anyway/use anyway.  And so far, I'm digging this one, so I'm happy.

Other than quilting, I've been running more.  I ended up taking about a month off after my race to just decompress.  I waited for the urge to run.  I waited till running was fun again and so far, so good.  I've only been running short distances (2-3 miles) at a time, a few days a week, but this month marks 2 years I've been running and I honestly really do love it.  I may never be fast, or graceful, or pull off a fast time at a race, but I do it for me and I love it.  That's what matters.

I also mentioned that I've got an imaginary summer wardrobe all planned out in my head that I'm going to sometime make into reality...well, I've got a few dress patterns bought and one printed out and ready to sew.  Now I've just got to pick out some fabric and get busy.

So, what have you been up to this week?  Tell me your random daily goings-on.  Or better yet, link up with Cindy and tell a lot of us!  I am.  :)

Live A Colorful Life

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Halfway There

In November I asked the Empower Circle of do. Good Stitches to make wonky pinwheels (from this tutorial)

Wonky Pinwheel Tutorial

in these colors:


I love this design and I also loved the simplicity I thought putting them together would bring.  I'd get them in November, slap them together, sew up my rows and be ready to quilt, bind and send this baby on.

I thought wrong...

With the holidays and some personal issues going on, I didn't get them all in until January and then I still had to make mine which I'd put off until I had them all.

Then when I got them all laid out to sew together I realized that some of the blocks were sewn together wrong.  It was an easy-to-make mistake.  I almost did it myself.  A few girls matched the points instead of making the wonky pinwheel and these blocks stuck out big time!

So, I had to rip them apart and re-sew those blocks before I could put the top together.  I think 5-6 were wrong, so it wasn't hard to fix them, it just took time to do it.

But finally, I've got all of the block sewn together into a quilt top and I do love it!

I love the fabrics in this block!  

I'm thinking an over-all FMQ on this quilt.  Maybe stippling.  Maybe a loop-de-loop design.  I'm not sure.  I don't think I want to do anything straight because of all of the angles in the quilt besides the wonky-ness of the pinwheels.

This block was made with linen--LOVE it!!!
But I don't want overly dense quilting because of all of the seams in this one.  It's already pretty heavy.  I don't want this quilt to be a pain to cuddle under.

Suggestions?  Ideas?

I love my d.GS circle.  The girls are all so kind and creative.  It's such a fun group to work with, talk with, and do good for others with.

If you've ever considered joining up either as a stitcher or a quilter, I'd highly recommend it.  The rewards far outweigh the work you put in.  And we can all stand to give a little more to make someone else's day brighter can't we?

Monday, April 1, 2013

It only felt like...

A Trip Around the World.

Chris' cousin and his wife had a baby in December after years of trying and complications.  We were all over the moon happy for them and Chris and I wanted to make something special for them.  He's still trying to figure out what to build them, but I FINALLY finished up the baby quilt I made for sweet Izzy.

After finishing the blocks, I machine-embroidered her name on the quilt and then attempted to machine-embroider a flower only to have it tear a hole in the quilt top.  So, I found this little satin applique at Walmart of all places and added it over the mishap.

 When it came to quilting I wasn't sure, so this project took a little nap for awhile while I thought.  I wanted to do straight lines along the diagonals, but Izzy's name was in the way.  So I thought I'd meander-quilt it with hearts or flowers included but still her name was there and bugging me.  So I decided to just draw a circle around her name and go from there.  But then I liked the idea of circles (because I just do) so I traced both a plate and a saucer all over the quilt and machine-quilted over them.

I tried to use my free-motion foot, but my machine kept jamming up, so these are with just a regular foot and lots of pivoting and moving.  :)

For the back I just grabbed fabrics in pink, green, or brown and slapped them together.  I'm not a big fan of the back, but the quilting does show up nicely.

So, honesty time--This quilt is not my favorite.  It seems like this quilt fought me at every turn and it seemed like a battle to get it done.  But I was trying to marry my style with someone else's who has very different tastes to me.  She is very traditional, elegant, etc.  I'm whimsical, bright, and eclectic.  So I guess I'm not surprised.  A few times I really considered just starting all the way over and doing something different, but with Izzy embroidered on the front, it makes it kinda hard to re-tool the project and I hated to trash something I'd worked on and was so near completion.

I plan to give it to them with the understanding that it's not an heirloom quilt.  Izzy can roll, spit up, play, and nap on it.  She can drag it around, make a fort with it, keep it in the car/stroller/etc. Whatever floats their boat.  I hope it will get much use out of it and that they'll know we love them and wanted to make them feel special.  I guess that's all you can really ask for with a gift.

I am glad to be done with this project and hopefully they will love it.  Not all of our finishes have to be favorites, sometimes we can get bogged down by what we see as negatives.  I'm not going to--I'm going to see this as a finish that will hopefully provide comfort and love to a family I care about.  And now I've got time to work on a project I do love, so it's a win-win!

Have you ever made a gift that you weren't overly fond of?  Did you go ahead and gift it or start over?