Thursday, 30 April 2015

Skirts, skirts, skirts


Over at the curvy sewing collective they are hosting a season of separates. This month is skirts so at the eleventh hour I am adding a few of my recent makes so wanted to add them here too. I've been getting my son to take pictures of me all week, I think it really adds a professional edge to a blog when the photos are taken by a nine year old! It is so useful to review them all together. All of these are self drafted, about five minutes after I sewed my first skirt I decided to start drafting them myself, that was a bit of a mad decision but I think I've got the hang of it now. The first sloper I used was from How to Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan. There is some useful information in here, and some ideas for skirts too, but the slopers are awful. You have to size them up with squared paper and there was no size chart in my book so it just did not work for me. I made a couple of skirts that were Ok but I don't wear any more. For my next attempt I took a simple skirt pattern, the skirt from the dress in the burda style sewing hand book, and used it to make this first pattern.

This is the oldest pattern but the newest make, made yesterday. It is a 7 panel gored skirt and I used a tutorial like this. Its actually much too big, in comparison to the skirt below which give me a better defined waist, I will take it in 3-4 inches and it will sit higher on my waist. It is in a nice soft stretch polycotton from

Spot the difference! Dark colours don't really show the details do they? This is a half circle skirt and a much better fit on the waist. I think I just worked out the maths for my skirt from scratch, here is a great link with resources for making one. This is a linen blend from Minerva craft which I had to line with lightweight cotton or it was very floppy and shapeless.

A bit more colour now, these two skirts are both made from the same pattern based on this draft-along by frabjous couture. It is really good, she has you measure darts to where they should actually end, creating something quite different to what I had before. For instance, I am much curvier in front than back, so my darts are completely different lengths now to reflect that. I just added a bit at the sides to make it A-line. The first fabric is a beautiful Liberty light weight corduroy, the second is a cheap nasty stretch woven bought here in Jeddah that makes me statically charged when I walk in it.

Friday, 24 April 2015

My First Art Quilt!

Who knew it is so difficult to sew in a straight line!
For a long time I've wanted to take my sewing in a more creative direction. I've read a few books, come up with loads of ideas, but they always get way, way too complicated long before I get near the fabric. For this piece, I started with a photo that was way too complicated,

then I did some sketches that failed to simplify it in any way. I really enjoyed the drawing and got a bit absorbed in it, but no closer to a design.

I then went looking for inspiration and I got a nice book Contemporary Quilts Design, Surface and Stitch by Sandra Meech which is laid out in chapters, each featuring a design class. The second chapter gives lots of inspiration for starting a sketch book. One of the suggestions is to use collage papers to try out ideas. The beautiful examples are like works of art in themselves and my first response was this will be a distraction, just as I had been getting absorbed in drawing. It was not though. This primitive piece is not my finest work but was so useful, really made me think about what I wanted to express from the photo in my composition and how it was actually going to work.

For instance I decided from this that I had two layers, the background and foreground leaves. I wanted to make a pieced background with an applique foreground. I also wanted to keep the spiral composition and the distribution of light across the leaves. So I tried to do an improvisatory background quilt-as-you-go spiral for a background experiment

I'm not an experienced quilter and I thought quilt-as-you-go would be an easy technique but it was actually quite fiddly with so much pressing after each seam. This was a good experiment in fabric combinations. I decided to go for a simpler palette, using less fabrics and that applique over this would be too busy. So I came up with my final pieced design.

I paper pieced the corner sections, the rest is just triangle and rectangle combinations. I followed old Craftsy Block of the Month classes for piecing directions. I'm really pleased with it. I found it a challenge to make a non-functional object, had to keep resisting the temptation to make it bigger and make it functional. I love geometric designs but need to work on my piecing, it is hard to get it accurate. I quilted by stitching in the ditch, the design was too busy for much else and I used a dark thread for definition which I was really pleased with. A very long process for such a small item but a very enjoyable new challenge.