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Out of hibernation

Well I thought that I could no longer justify my blog absence and that it was about time to once more dip my toe into the water and write something.

The main reason for my lack of posts has been a rather large house/country move which started in October last year and it is only now that I’m starting to feel settled enough and unpacked enough to get back into the swing of my blog. However I haven’t been totally lacking in creativity over the last few months and have done a little bit of sewing, and even started on the final run of hexagons that I’m going to need for my charm quilt!

In January I made my daughter a couple of Ice Cream Dresses from needlecord. I’ve never sewn with needlecord before and was worried about the heaviness but actually it was pretty easy to sew with. Due to the slightly heavier material I decided to make a slightly easier version of the dress by leaving out the notches from the neckline and pockets (actually I left out the pockets completely on one of the dresses – much to the disgust of my daughter!).

Initially I was going to make one dress. I found some bright pink cord and wanted something with a pattern for the band at the bottom of the dress. However it turned out that patterned pink cord was almost impossible to find. I eventually found a gorgeous patterned cord on Prints to Polka Dots which appeared to me to be pinker than it was. When it turned up I realised that I needed an eye test because the main colour is actually a lovely coral red with hints of teal and pink. So now I had a length of pink and a smaller length of patterned cord and needed to match both.

Luckily I love close to a really nice fabric/yarn shop and by chance in early January they received a shipment of patterned and plain needlecord and there I found a deep teal and a sweet sprigged pink flower printed cord.

The first dress I made was the teal one. This cord was actually verging on normal weight and was quite bulky to sew with which is why I baulked at the idea of pockets. To add to this, the much lighter weight patterned cord has a percentage of elastane and so had an annoying habit of changing shape as I sewed. However with a bit of effort I managed to make the dress and I am so pleased with how it has turned out.

dress

fabric

button

The second dress should have been a lot easier as the two cords were pretty much the same weight, however I made a slight hash of the top stitching on the bodice of this one, especially on the back. Having said that, it has now been worn numerous times and machine washed (and tumble dried) and it is standing up well and the wiggly stitching is hardly noticeable at all.

dress

fabric

button

This was the first time that I sewed dresses without pre-washing the fabric and I was slightly worried about that. I made both the dress in the size 5 pattern as my just 4 year old daughter is rather tall (and the size 4 Ice Cream dress I made in the summer is a bit of a snug fit for her). When I washed the pink dress it shrunk slightly but nothing too much. As yet I haven’t washed the other dress but I will probably be more careful about that due to the difference in fabric colours and weights.

I really enjoy making the Ice Cream Dress. It is a satisfying project which produces a lovely looking dress that my daughter is really happy to wear. I will definitely be making lots more. Actually I’ve got some needlecord already lined up to make dress number 3. Could that be classed as overkill?!

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Dropping by

I felt that I couldn’t let September completely go by without even a measily one paragraph post.

It’s been a very full-on month since my last post, involving an largish annual event I organise and then buying a new house and contemplating the nightmare of packing up my house and moving, so there has been little mental and actual time for crafting and sewing.

I had rather optimistically thought I could sneak in the time to join in the Jump Rope Dress sew along and had got as far as buying the pattern and the (absolutely lovely) fabric. I’ve even managed to pre-wash the fabric so perhaps I can convince myself that I’ve started the project?! Does that count? Anyway I hope now to get on with that over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve also been trying out some new embroidery techniques and hope to have evidence of these to show you some time very soon. And I’ve been pattern buying and book buying, and I’m still slogging away at my hexagons. However the one area where I’m really lacking in any photographic evidence of all this!

So all in all I think it’s best to forget about my lack of blogging in September and start concentrating on all the stuff that I promise to show you in October.

Parcel

daisy dance

I had a very nice surprise waiting for me when I got home from work on Wednesday evening. It was a package from Etsy seller Stitchesngiggles4U which (I’m ashamed to admit) I had forgotten I’d ordered.   Inside were 13 fat quarters from Michael Miller’s Daisy Dance collection plus a Patty Young Playdate fabric panel to make 3 rag dolls.

daisy dance

The FQs are going to be used for my hexagon quilt (and no doubt other things) as this collection is EXACTLY the colour scheme that I’m planning for the quilt.  I saw the photo on Etsy and couldn’t believe how perfect the colours were.  In fact I have now decided that a combination of three or four will be used to make the curtains for my daughter’s new bedroom as well.  I am so pleased with this fabric!

DSC01789

I bought the Playdate panel as I thought I could make the ragdolls for my daughter (some time soon) and then we could have fun making them dresses.  Well that’s the idea anyway. 

Talking of fabric buying, almost all the charmpacks and FQs that I’ve bought to start off my fabric collection and get going on the hexagon quilt have come from Etsy sellers.  I’ve found them to be much more competitive than anyone else and really professional to deal with.  I love Etsy!

Experimenting

detail

I discovered the joy that is Spoonflower a few months ago and, when I had come up with my (extremely basic) little bug logo for this blog, I thought I’d see what it would look like as a printed fabric. 

I’d originally doodled the bug on a piece of scrap paper one morning while I was waiting for my emails to download. This scrap sat around for a few weeks and then I scanned it and asked a friend (who knows how to use Illustrator) to turn it into a usable image file. She sent it back to me in ladybird colours but I’d always envisaged the bug as a pink or green bug and so we tried a couple of options (basing the choice of shades on some Ikea napkins I’d bought ages ago for my daughter’s christening party).

evolution

My friend was rather doubtful about the number of legs that the bug has – surely there should be at least 4, if not 6? However I wanted to keep the bug as close to how I’d drawn it as possible. In the future, when I’ve mastered Illustrator, I’ll be happy to fiddle around with my own drawings!

A couple of days later I asked the same friend to make me up another file with the bugs in 3 different colour variations and lined up in a certain way.

pattern_bug

I quite liked the layout and so uploaded it to Spoonflower, fiddled around a bit with the repeat pattern and then ordered my swatch.

swatch

It is by no means perfect and in fact, almost as soon as I’d ordered it, I thought of more complicated and interesting patterns I could have come up with, but it was an experiment. The swatch arrived pretty quickly, wrapped up in tissue paper, and has been sitting around waiting for me to take a photo which I finally did earlier this month and then immediately turned the swatch into hexagons to add to my quilt. I like the idea of a few of them being in there!

I’m fascinated with the design of fabric and it is definitely something I’d like to explore in the future. I’ve got a lot of idea whirling around in my head and I’d like to find a spare moment to sit down with some crayons or paint and just sketch them out.

Earlier this month the theme for Spoonflower’s contest was “cheater quilt fabric” and there were some great prints. The very deserving winner was Melanie Sullivan from Texas Freckles who came up with a lovely design, made with one inch hexagons in mind. I shall definitely be ordering some of it to also add to my quilt. I’ve got to get all those hexagons somehow!!

Dutch chintz

Last month I had to go to Amsterdam for a trade fair and so before I went I thought I’d Google fabric shops in Amsterdam.  I spent a few fruitless minutes not finding anything of interest and then I stumbled across this site: Dutch Quilts.

It was a revelation.  I saw these chintzes and knew that this is what I wanted to use to make myself a quilt.  The fabrics are all reproductions of traditional 16th Dutch glazed chintzes, and the designs are just lovely. And even though I live far away from Amsterdam the shop has a great online shop so I could buy whatever I needed. 

However virtual fabric buying isn’t quite the same as seeing and touching the real thing.  So I decided to pop into the shop when I was in Amsterdam.  This was nearly impossible because my only free time was about an hour on the day I was leaving (it was a business trip after all!).  However I got to the shop a few minutes before it opened and waited, peering in through the windows at the amazing fabrics inside.

It was well worth the wait.  Inside where all the chintzes featured on the site, but even better there were a number of handmade quilts made by the women that run the shop.  And each one was hand quilted in the most exquisite designs.  It was at that moment that I understood what was so important about hand quilting.  As someone who has yet to start quilting (although I hope to very soon) I always thought that the idea of hand quilting was just too long-winded and fiddly.  However when I saw these quilts and how the hand quilting added so much to the beauty of the fabric, I finally understood what all the fuss was about.  And so I will definitely be trying my hand at it, hopefully first on my daughter’s hexagon charm quilt and then on a quilt for me made from Dutch chintz!

I would have loved to have bought an enormous supply of fabric there are then but as the chintzes are quite pricey I limited myself to buying a charm pack (they have quite a few to choose from) and two fat quarters of other fabrics I loved that weren’t in the charm pack.  As now that I’ve seen them in real life I can buy more online and know exactly how the colours are going to be.

If you are in Amsterdam it is definitely worth a visit.  I know I will be going back again and again, even if it is to just gaze longingly at the all the prints on offer.