28. May 2014 · Comments Off on Drop Dead Gorgeous · Categories: paper piecing, pattern review, quilts · Tags: , , , , ,

 

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My friend, Elizabeth Dackson, is a super talented quilt designer, and I was thrilled when she asked me to test her newest pattern called the Drop Dead Gorgeous block. It’s not for the faint of heart, since there are several paper piecing templates, but it certainly wasn’t difficult, just time consuming. Time spent sewing is time well spent if you ask me, and the results are simply breathtaking!

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I turned my block, which finishes at 16 inches, into a 20″ pillow by adding a border using some 2.5″ strips of black kona cotton. I quilted using my walking foot, and then backed my pillow case with white minky dot fabric and stuffed and stitched it up.

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I do plan to use this pattern for another project. One block just isn’t enough! The secondary patterns that emerge when joining more blocks together are just amazing. Check out Elizabeth’s blog post about this block for more Drop Dead Gorgeous eye candy and to purchase the pattern.

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I’m thinking about trying it out in nothing but solids. I’ve never done a solids-only project… I wonder if I’m brave enough?

24. March 2014 · Comments Off on Pattern Testing: Modern Gears · Categories: pattern review, quilts · Tags: , ,

a031014_0276I am not a quilt designer. Yet.

I have ideas for quilt designs, but I haven’t taken the time to learn how to properly write a pattern that someone else can follow. It’s on my To Do list… I am so inspired by what others create, and it is fun to see how simple shapes likes rectangles, squares and triangles can be arranged to make so many interesting designs.

I recently had the opportunity to do some pattern testing for my friend, Elizabeth Dackson, of Don’t Call Me Betsy. What fun! I still need to piece a backing and quilt it, but the piecing was really straightforward, and I chain pieced most of it, so it went really quickly!

I love the way Elizabeth writes her patterns. She provides yardage and cutting instructions for multiple sizes, essentially doing all the quilt mathematics. There’s no guesswork if you decide to make a size other than the one she made. And, she even includes a coloring page so you can audition your fabric selections before you commit.aIMG_5038I went with Kona charcoal for the background, a turquoise kona (can’t remember the name of the shade, and I can’t get my hands on a color card right now…), an absolutely luscious gray cross weave, an orange mini gingham from Michael Miller and the purple is Newsprint stripe, part of the Collage collection.  I also used some purple ombre dots by Riley Blake and some scraps of a green dot print.

a030514_0279I’m not usually a fan of pressing seams open, but I like how nice and flat the blocks are with the seams pressed open. I admit, I still pressed the seams of my hst’s to one side.  Old habits die hard, I guess!

aIMG_5098I love turquoise and orange together. Such bright, happy colors!

a030514_0280Honestly, the purple was a real stretch for me. I am usually sewing for boys, to pink and purple are not even on the radar! But, this quilt, when it’s finished, will be mine. I’m the only girl in the house, and it has purple.  Therefore, it is mine. YES!

a031014_0270My only regret with this quilt is that I didn’t make it bigger! I just might make 4 more blocks to extend the quilt a bit before I quilt and bind.  We’ll see.

It’s a great pattern, Elizabeth! Thanks for letting me test it for you!

07. March 2014 · Comments Off on The Study Hall/Teddy Bear Jacket · Categories: apparel sewing, kids, pattern review

Vermont Teddy Bear BoxMy friend asked me to make a jacket for her son. He has sensory processing disorder, and his sense of touch is especially sensitive. It’s a struggle to keep the boy clothed because fabrics, with their various textures, bother his tender sense of touch. It’s lucky for him that we live in Florida because tank tops are fine nearly year round! My friend has had trouble getting him to wear a jacket or coat when they visit colder climates, and of course, lots of people have lots to say about a kid wearing a tank top and flip flops in frigid temperatures, as you might imagine. It really is quite a struggle for my friend.

aIMG_4259One fabric texture that he loves is that of his teddy bears from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. My friend’s idea was to have a jacket made for him and line the jacket with teddy bear fur to make an association of comfort and familiarity into the jacket. Maybe then it won’t be so difficult to keep him warm!

So, I searched and searched for jacket patterns, since I’m not skilled at pattern drafting. But after looking at countless patterns, I kept coming back to the Study Hall Jacket by Andrea Parnell on Go to Patterns. I didn’t get to measure my friend’s son, because then he would know that new clothes were coming, and he would panic. Change has to be gradual for this guy. I bought the pattern, ordered some fabric swatches, and got on the phone to track down some fur.

We selected a navy brushed twill for the outside of the jacket (this one), and I called Vermont Teddy Bear Company to find out how to get my hands on their fur. I talked to a very helpful lady, and I explained to her what I was making and why, and I asked how much it would be for a yard or two of their fur. We went on the website and tried to determine which fur would match the boy’s teddy bear at home. I received a giant box of fur a few days later (sent at no charge!!), but after talking to my friend, we realized I had selected the wrong fur. Drat!

Even the box from Vermont Teddy Bear is full of fun personality!

Even the box from Vermont Teddy Bear is full of fun personality!

So, we called Vermont Teddy Bear back, talked to the same helpful representative again, and explained my mistake. I thought that my friend’s boy loved the classic teddy bear fur, but it was actually the oversized bear fur. “No problem,” she said, and it wasn’t long before I had a second giant box of fur on my doorstep. Again, at no charge! Inside were two mostly assembled teddy bear bodies, which based on their size were for the six foot tall teddy bears. Since I didn’t pay for anything, I was expecting scraps. I was anticipating sewing smaller pieces together to get the yardage that I needed, but all that was unnecessary. The pieces were so huge!

How amazing is this company?! I was fully expecting to pay $15-30 per yard, but they didn’t charge me a dime, not even shipping.
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The hardest part about the construction of the jacket was working with the fur. As it is cut, fluff goes everywhere! And all the seam allowances had to be trimmed, basically giving the fur a haircut before stitching… Cut. Vacuum. Stitch. Vacuum. Lint Roll. Repeat.

This is my middle child modeling the jacket.  It's a little small for my boy, but fit my friend's boy well.

My middle child

Can I show you what happens if you don’t trim fur before you sew it? Okay. Look at this pic: aIMG_4258See how the extra length of the fur gets trapped in the seam? That’s no good, especially when you’re sewing the fur to to twill. It just looks sloppy.  Now look at this pic:find the seam?Do you see the seam? Good! It’s so worth the extra time and mess.  I also trimmed the length of the fur in the pockets, and I tapered the length of the fur around the zipper and around the hood.

The pattern was wonderfully written, easy to follow. It went together so quickly, even with all the extra prep work from working with the fur! I’m excited to make another one (without fur!) for my little one for next winter. I love the way this jacket turned out. It’s so soft and cuddly inside. It’s warm without being bulky.
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And the best part? My friend’s son actually wore it! He loves the furry pockets the best.

 

(I’m not writing this so that everyone will call the company and ask for free fur. I feel like they heard the circumstances of my friend’s situation and genuinely wanted to help out. We need more companies like that in our world! This is not a sponsored post.)