Completed: A wedding jacket

When my husband and I got married two years ago I knew I wanted to make some things for the wedding. I considered sewing my own wedding dress, for about 5 seconds. With all the other things going on in my life at the time, sewing a wedding dress had the potential to become a bit too stressful.

We had chosen a dark fuchsia colour for our wedding and this was featured on our invitation, a belt on my dress, my jacket, my husband’s tie and the corsages for the wedding party.

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Picture take by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

 

I debated for long time whether I wanted a white dress because white is not the best colour for me to wear and I don’t really care about these kinds of traditions anyway. To both my sisters’ relief I did eventually buy a white dress but I simply had to add some colour. The dress came with a black belt that I didn’t like so it was removed and I replaced it with a dark fuchsia one. I also made a jacket because I don’t like being cold and as it turned out I wore it for most of the day.

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Picture taken by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

My first attempt at a jacket didn’t work out at all (imagine the stress if this would have been my dress!), so I switched to the cropped version of By Hand London’s Victoria blazer that I had made once before (but unblogged). I removed some of the fullness in the back as I found it stood out quite a bit on my first version. I also moved the shoulder seams forward and made some small changes to the sleeves. I used the collar but left off the lapel.

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Construction wise I changed a whole lot of things. The entire jacket is underlined in silk organza. The seam allowances were catch stitched to the silk organza so they remain flat. Sadly, I don’t think I made any in progress pictures of this step. I also created facings and a separate lining pattern. The lining was attached by hand.

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For the lining I originally intended to use a white Bemberg rayon, but I found it was a bit too sheer as you could see all the seam allowances (and catch stitches) through it, which for a skirt lining would have been fine, but not for a jacket where the lining can be on display while you’re wearing it. I found a pretty wild fabric that had some of the fuchsia colour in it and used that, I like how it added even more colour to my outfit.

We had a great wedding day and after two years we still can’t help but smile when we bring back memories of this day.

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Because I know some of you will be curious about the dress without the jacket. Picture taken by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

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I am giving FMQ a second chance!

FMQ being free motion quilting, which is a quilting technique in which you use your hands to guide the fabric through your machine instead of letting the feed dogs do it for you. This gives you a lot more options for different quilting designs because you can stitch in every direction. It also requires a lot more practice than a walking foot because it’s not so easy to get a (somewhat) consistent stitch length as you are manoeuvring all over your quilt.

I tried FMQ when I was still quite new to quilting back in 2012 or 2013. I mostly remember being frustrated by the whole process which is why I gave up pretty soon and never tried again.

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This is one of my first practice sandwiches.

So, why am I trying it now? Over the past two years I have been making a lot more quilts so I am also doing a lot more quilting. It would be nice to occasionally use something different than straight lines for the quilting of my quilts. During the gettogether of the DMQG last weekend we also had a show and tell and I loved some of the FMQ designs that others had used, it made me a bit envious and willing to give it another go.

So, over the past couple of days I’ve been playing a bit with FMQ and, much to my surprise, I actually find it a quite pleasant activity. Even after only a couple of days I already feel that I am getting more control over where I am stitching and I don’t think the stitching looks all that bad for something I’m only just trying out.

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Today’s practice piece with (not so straight) lines.

I can think of several reasons why I now find the process a lot less frustrating. My expectations were pretty low this time, so perhaps I am more easily pleased by what I am creating? I think the back of my stitching looks a lot better now than it did all those years ago, perhaps the Aurifil 50 wt thread that I have used for these practice pieces works better with my machine than what I used before? I also have less physical issues right now than I did 5 years ago, possibly allowing me to move the sandwich through the machine a lot smoother and giving me a more pleasant looking result.

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The back of today’s practice piece.

Anyway, the only way I will eventually dare to use this technique on an actual quilt is to practice a lot more. So, my goal for the coming month is to attempt some FMQ every day. Today I have made several small quilt sandwiches to use in the coming week so I only need to grab one and start stitching. This way 10-15 minutes a day should be totally doable.

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Stack ready for some quilting fun this week! The squares on the sandwich were also free motion quilted to get some extra practice.

Week 23/2018: What’s on my design wall?

During the Dutch modern quilt guild gettogether that I went to on Sunday we worked on our contribution for the Quiltcon 2019 Charity Quilt Challenge. Everyone has to stick to a certain colour palette and a design theme. This year’s theme is small piecing with elements that are smaller than 1′. We are going to make 690 (yes, you read that correct, 690!) 3” finished blocks. Whoah.

On Sunday we finished close to 110 blocks and everyone took home some fabric to make some more. Members that didn’t attend on Sunday will be send fabric if they also want to contribute.

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This is what our design wall looked like on Sunday afternoon.

This morning I cut into the fabrics I had taken home and added a couple of my own that I hope are a well enough match to the colour palette. I managed to complete 10 blocks before I ran out of fabric. On Sunday I completed a dozen or so as well, so if 34 other members also complete 20 blocks we’re good.

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The blocks I made today.

 

 

Tutorial: How to sew a hem in a woven fabric using a thread guide

I used to dread hemming somewhat and would sometimes put it off until another day. When I had to fold and press a hem on a woven top I usually wished I had an extra set of arms. I am not so good at measuring a specific hem depth, keeping it folded down at the right measurement and pressing a fold using my iron all at the same time.

That’s something of the past though. When I discovered the thread guide method, life suddenly got a whole lot easier and I no longer wait before I do the hem on a garment. I took some quick pictures when I made my latest Belcarra blouse to show you how this super simple trick works.

Basically you use a temporary line of stitches as a guide for folding your hem.

You will need:

  • A garment made from a woven fabric that needs hemming
  • Seam ripper
  • Thread

Method

Step1: Set your sewing machine to a much longer stitch length, I put it on 5, which is the maximum on my machine. The longer stitch length will make it easier to remove your thread guide afterwards.

Step 2: Stitch all around the garment at the hem allowance distance from the raw edge. The hem allowance on my top was 1.5’’, so I sewed my line of stitches 1.5’’ from the edge. You can use one of the markings on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide, or, if you don’t have a marking at the right distance, put a sticky note or a piece of tape on the plate to use as a guide.

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Step 2: I used a matching thread colour because I was too lazy to switch thread to a contrasting one, so I hope you’re able to see it.

Step 3: Put the stitch length on your sewing machine back to normal so you don’t accidently end up stitching your hem with a ridiculously long stitch. This may have happened to me more than once which is why I try to remember to put it back to normal immediately.

Step 4: Take your garment to the ironing board and fold the hem to the inside using the stitched line as your guide. The stitches should fall just to the inside of the garment. You’ll find that the stitched line not only saves you from having to measure while you’re using your iron, it also helps the fabric fold more naturally at that position.

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Step 4: For me it works best if the raw edge of the fabric faces away from me at first so that I fold the hem towards me as I am pressing with the iron.

Step 5: I like a double folded hem with a completely enclosed raw edge so I fold the fabric a second time, this made the hem depth on my top ¾’’ (half of my 1.5’’ hem allowance). Alternatively, if you don’t mind a single folded hem, you could finish the raw edge with a zig zag or overlock stitch and skip this second fold, that way you end up with a deeper hem.

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Step 5: You can see how I folded the hem a second time so that the raw edge almost touches the inside of the first fold.

Step 6: Stitch your hem, make sure to catch the edge of the folded up hem allowance. I like to sew with the right side of the garment facing up, but if you’re anxious about not catching the hem you can also sew with the inside of the garment facing up.

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Step 6

Step 7: To remove the thread guide, unpick some stitches and then it should be really easy to pull the thread out.

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Step 7: You only need to unpick a couple of stitches, the long stitch length makes it really easy to pull the thread out. I normally really dislike unpicking something but this is a piece of cake.

Step 8: Give your hem a final press and wear your garment with pride!

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Finished hem from the right side.

This trick is especially great if you want to make a narrow hem (e.g. ½’’ inch hem allowance, ¼’’ hem), that has a bit of a curve to it like on a classic tailored shirt.

Were you already familiar with this method? Or is this something you’d like to give a try on your next garment?

Week 22/2018: What did I buy?

I recently joined the Dutch Modern Quilt Guild. I had somehow missed that the MQG now has a Dutch guild, probably because I had other things on my mind last year. On Sunday, I am going to my first gettogether which is very conveniently held in Leiden!

We will be having a workshop to work on a charity quilt for Quiltcon 2019 so, naturally, I want to bring my sewing machine. I got myself this very neat Tutto Machine On Wheels to carry my machine! Even though I haven’t done much more than unfold it and put my machine inside, I am already pretty chuffed about this trolley. I got size M and as you can see my sewing machine fits nicely inside, even with its hard cover. There are also plenty of additional pockets to bring tools and supplies. My small cutting mat even fits in one of the side pockets so I think I’ll be able to bring everything I need in order to have some quilting fun this weekend.

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I am looking forward to some shared adventures!

 

Completed: Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

180527_1We are having some warm weather and I wore my first (unblogged) Sewaholic Belcarra blouse this week. It made me realize that I would like to have another one because the loose fit makes it very comfortable to wear when it’s hot. Because I had already made this top once before the construction was quite straightforward and I was able to complete it in a weekend.

For my first version I had made a muslin (size 8) and on my traced pattern moved the shoulder seam forward, which is a standard adjustment for me, and made a horizontal slice above the bust to drop the front a bit to reduce draglines.

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Because the shoulder seams have a curve I folded the front sleeve to remove some width and sliced through the back sleeve to add the amount that I removed from the front.

The fabric is the sacred seeds Mojave fabric from April Rhodes Wanderer collection for ArtGallery. I really like this colour and the subtle V-shape pattern. It’s a colour I don’t wear often so it also adds a bit of variation to my (very blue) wardrobe.

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The wide neckline is also not something I wear often, I considered narrowing it, but after trying on the muslin I decided that I could live with the occasional bra strap peeking out. If you can’t, there is a tutorial on the Sewaholic blog on how to narrow it.

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The blouse was sewn on my sewing machine and the seam allowances were finished with my overlocker. I did have one mishap when I overlocked the seam of one of the front sleeves as I caught some of the sleeve fabric. Luckily I hadn’t yet overlocked the seam of the front so I could easily remove the sleeve, cut a new one and continue. I do feel so stupid when this happens.

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I am not the only one this happens to, right?

 

The only real downside to these tops is that they really need to be ironed before I can wear them and even then I don’t get them completely wrinkle free, but that’s probably mostly due to my ironing skills…

Completed: Ombre equilateral triangle quilt

180407_3When Vannessa Christenson from V and co. released her first fabric collections for Moda, I was intrigued by the ombre fabrics in her lines, so I bought a yard of each of the 7 colourways. It took a while before I dared cut into them.

For my first quilt with these fabrics I used chartreuse, plum, blue, orange and grey and combined these with 2 flowery prints from my stash that I thought fit with these colours.

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Front, quilted but unbound.

I cut a whole bunch of equilateral triangles from each fabric using an equilateral triangle ruler (really, if you want to make something like this get yourself a dedicated ruler, it makes your life at least ten times easier). At first I just threw the triangles onto my design wall and didn’t really like it that much because it seemed a bit too messy. When I placed them in a diagonal dark to light gradient I started to like it a whole lot more and cut even more triangles to achieve the effect that I was after.

The assembly of this quilt was no walk in the park. I had to unrip it several times because I realized I had made some mistakes in the layout, certainly learning a lesson about being a bit more patient when I am making something and letting the design sink in first before I run to my sewing machine.

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Can you spot the differences with the final lay out that you can see in the next picture? Do you also see that the left part is already pieced here?

Unripping is not something I enjoy so this caused some quite extensive delays. I knew I had to do it because the mistakes bothered me too much but I kept putting it off. The unripping probably also caused some of the triangles to stretch out a bit because in some parts it became quite difficult to match the corners.

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The sun was a bit too harsh when we took pictures of the finished quilt.

For the back I kept the piecing a bit simpler. I didn’t have anything in my stash big enough that I liked, but I still had quite a bit of the ombre fabrics left and decided to make a jelly roll race quilt. Instead of cutting 2.5’’ strips I cut mine 3’’. It turned out slightly too small so I added a strip to the bottom and top to make it tall enough.

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Back, quilted but unbound. The quilting lines are easier to see on the back.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool/Cotton blend and I quilted it with a light and dark grey Gütermann Sulky thread following some of the patterns that I saw in the design. I quite like how this turned out. For the binding I used a light grey fabric with a subtle print.

It took a while to get this quilt done but I am glad I persevered. It has already been given to a sweet little girl.

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