Basket of Flowers quilt block

basket of flowers quilt block

Introducing the Basket of Flowers block, from issue 14 ‘Art of Quilting’. And what a little trickster this was! Just when you get the hang of ‘chaining’ and running seams from top to bottom, this little bunch of pieces involved set-in seams, meaning the seams meet at the same point rather than the lines of stitching crossing over.

Though my quarter inch foot is still my best friend when it comes to quilting, in this instance it is also advisable to draw on the seam lines so you can accurately pin point where the seams will meet.

The red flower diamond shape and the orange daisy diamond shape are seamed together, starting and ending at the seam points. This is repeated for the second set.

The small white triangles are then positioned between the diamond pairs, and each side sewn from edge to seam point.

These two sets are then joined along the long edges of the diamonds from seam point to edge.

The white square then is inserted between the two sets, being careful to meet at the seam points.

Then it starts to get a little easier as the big green paisley triangle is sewn along the long edge. No seam points to meet just edge to edge seam.

The little green paisley triangles are then seamed to the white rectangles and seamed to each side.

One last big white triangle to sew across the bottom… a good old press … et voilà!

This one did take a little more time than the others but it was still a pleasure to make and its a lovely one to add to the set.

Block Facts:

Name: ‘Basket of Flowers’ or ‘Lily Basket’ or ‘Flower Basket’
History: This design was ideally suited to the dress and feedsack prints of 1930s America, where it was a particular favourite
Level: Set in seams require experience.
No. of pieces:13

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Block 11: To come!
Block 12: The Windmill Sails block
Block 13: The Basket of Flowers block

Blue suede shoes… and no silly walks!

blue suede shoes

Well you could’ve knocked me down when I saw these in Clarks! And in the sale… and they’re wide fitting (for my stupidly square feet) and so blue and soooo incredibly comfy and now they are mine!

They go by the name of Camelia Kate and a bargain, methinks, at £34.99. Here’s a link if they make you go ‘ooo’ and you fancy a pair too!

More often than not I will go for quirk over comfort when it comes to shoes, and that usually rules out Clarks, but these little beauties ticked all boxes and were defo one for the money! They have little spongy bits to soothe the ball of your foot which means I don’t look like a member of the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ when I come home from work! (usually like the lady with the tea tray)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZlBUglE6Hc]
And before you ask, no of course I don’t have anything for them to go with, that would be plain silly!

The 1940s Shoe Dress

1940s shoe dress

I do believe I have just made my most fitting and appropriate dress for this lovely hot summer we have just entered into. And it’s covered in shoes! And it fits in with this weeks Sew Weekly challenge, ‘Inspired by the 1940s’. And I just realised it matches my Ooobop header too! I am just a little bit happy!

1940s shoe dress

Last July, I posted about the ‘shoe fabric’, quite sure it was destined to be a 1950s shirt buttoned dress. The pattern had to be just right. I wasn’t going to waste that fabric, even if it did only cost a fiver! That was until I found this amazing pattern for a 1940s shirt buttoned dress which was spot on.

butterick 2638

I was sold on the midriff! I knew it would be flattering, it was just a question of how the shirt top would fit. Well it all went together like a dream. I took 5 inches off the length, worried as usual about the granny factor but actually I might be inclined to leave it a bit longer next time. And yes, there will so totally be a next time! The other alterations I made included adding 2 inches to the waist, being careful to add it to the shirt top and the midriff and the top of the skirt.

1940s shoe dress pleats

I was a bit worried about the gathering ‘poofing’ out the skirt section so I replaced the gathers with soft pleats. I know it kind of takes away a bit of the authenticity but I think its a lot more flattering. I also included a little turn up on the sleeves, as I did with my wing collar shirt. Just a little detail but I think it finishes a short sleeve much better and gives a little more interest.

1940s shoe dress front

I so enjoy a good old rummage in the button tin. I quite often had my whole head in my mum’s button tin when I was little and so the whole searching for the right button thing generates such a nostalgic feeling which escalates to pure joy when you find the perfect ones! These two little red beauties were 2 of a little set so kindly gifted to me by Rachel at House of Pinheiro as a thank you for doing a little guest spot over at her place! Gotta love this whole blogging thing!

1940s shirt dress buttons

The back of the dress is finished off nicely with side-ties that tie in a little bow at the back which also serve as a great device to hide the near invisible side zip.

1940s shirt dress back

Of course, there are no prizes for guessing who took the lovely photos! Mr Ooobop! is so clever and so willing and so lovely. My blog would be truly rubbish without his wonderful photos.

1940s dress yellow backgroundWe had such fun taking these today, en route to lunch in a local pub garden…. and then onto dinner at our local Italian restaurant, Casa Mia. Totally indulgent day today but it wasn’t our fault. It was all sunny and everything and we were seriously confused into thinking we were on holiday!

1940s dress sunshine

Sewing, Sunshine, park life, Prosecco and pizza….and more sunshine! I am so easily pleased!

Happy birthday Mr Ooobop!

dans pyjamas

Rocking up, fashionably late for Karen’s pyjama party but with good reason. This pair of pjs was one of Mr Ooobop’s birthday pressies and couldn’t be properly revealed until yesterday.

I sewed them in secret and so I was over the moon when they were so gratefully received! This was my first sewalong and my first pair of pjs… and my first time using a side-cutter!

ooobop pjs

Karen did a great job of providing a stress-free and leisurely sewalong. Just the ticket for someone who, like me, has taken on far too much recently… but who can’t resist an extra sewing project! And hey… it helped to solve what to buy the most-difficult-to-buy-for boyf, for his birthday.

I started the project armed with lots of tracing paper and an old pair of pjs from ‘Marks Expensives’, intending to draw round them and create my own pattern but this proved to be trickier than I thought so I headed to Jaycotts sewing patterns for an easier option. I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out the envelopes in the general nightwear section but there are some hilarious options even ones that include doggie loungewear!

Anyhows I narrowed the selection down to these two:

Simplicity S2317
simplicity s9871
Simplicity S9871

I set out to use Simplicity S9871 but when I realised how big that one pattern piece was, I changed my mind! My kitchen table just wasn’t big enough! So I decided on Simplicity S2317 instead, only real difference being, it had front and back leg, with side seams. But what I did like about S9871 was the drawstring feature. It just involved adding a couple of vertical buttonholes at the front, before making the casing. The drawstring was threaded through after the elastic. Turning a 1cm wide tube of 66 inch fabric inside out, I’m sure took longer than making the pjs themselves!

ooobop pjs

I used a lovely brushed cotton shirting fabric, cream with red and navy checks. It feels so lovely and reminds me of my bedsheets when I was little! It sewed up beautifully. I enjoyed using my side cutter foot for this project. It acts like a serger and cuts 1cm of fabric as it ‘overlocks’…genius! The only not-genius thing about it was unpicking an overlocked seam when I realised I’d sewed wrong sides together, doh! Wont be making that mistake again!

The Windmill Sails block

Windmill sails quilt block

Quilt block number 12, the Windmill Sails block, from issue 13 ‘Art of Quilting’. I appear to have mislaid issue 12 but there’s no real urgency… I’ve still got 69 others to do!

I totally recognised the order of piecing this time, purposefully not looking at the instructions to test how much I have learned so far. I think in fairness, even though there are a fair few pieces, it was a pretty easy one to work out:

The 2 smaller triangles were sewn to the diagonals of the larger red triangles to make 4 rectangles. The blue gingham then sewn to the side of the red fabric point to make a small block. Then the four blocks sewn together. I thought I was going to have to seek reference on which way to press the seams but even that seemed pretty natural, until I got to the last centre seam where I had to check to find out that it must be pressed open to get it to lay flat.

windmill sails block reverse

I had a bit of a mare with the blue gingham though. The grain of the fabric wasn’t in tune with the checks and I had to decide whether to go for straight grain or straight pattern. I opted for the first even though it is hugely annoying that the pattern isn’t totally straight and I think I did the right thing because when I pressed it at the end it made for a perfect square. Might have been a different story if I’d have gone against the grain. Oh my! I really didn’t think these little things would have me thinking so much!

Block Facts:

Name: ‘Windmill sails’ or ‘Louisiana’
History: Each of the fifty states that make up the USA has its own embematic quilt block. This represents the southern state of Louisiana
Level: Some experience needed to make the centre seams converge neatly.
No. of pieces:16

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Block 11: To come!
Block 12: The Windmill Sails block

The 4-birds-with-one-stone plaid shorts!

plaid shorts simplicity 2659A little bit of sunshine was all it took to inspire these shorts. Don’t panic! I’m not about to get those pasty pins out just yet! I much prefer to wear shorts as spring attire with a pair of 60 dernier tights and the trusty Docs! That photo will have to wait until I can grab Mr Ooobop! to work his photographic magic. In the meantime, I’m afraid we’ll have to make do with my boring pics.

The 4-birds-ness came about as follows:

  1. After my recent pleasure working with and deciding to invest in better fabric (re the audition dress) I also made a conscious decision to wade into ‘stash mountain’ for practice projects and toiles rather than buy any more substandard material. This plaid/tartan fabric was quite a large piece left over from my vintage plaid dress. Its totally synthetic, I’m sure, but it was a good weight for these shorts and so minor stash bust #1 achieved!
  2. I’ve been hearing the words ‘lapped zipper’ on other peoples blogs and in sewing mags quite a lot recently. And I figured it should be something I should know how to do by now. Since getting the hang of the ‘invisible one’ (after some practice, mind) I have kind of forgotten that there is any other way of inserting a zip. Of course I headed straight to YouTube as my first love of demos. I am far more receptive to watching someone demonstrate it for real! Turns out that this was the perfect kind of zipper for these shorts. I think I did it properly. Well, the zip goes up and down and the lapped bit covers the teeth so that’ll do me and will also tick the box of having mastered a new (for me) zip technique.
    plaid shorts side zip
  3. Plaid matching has always been a bit flooky for me, I have to say, and using this fabric on a small, uncomplicated project gave me the chance to practice matching up those seams. Both left and right side seams are as near as dammit and at least across the front and the butt the horizontal stripes line up. Shame I couldn’t do the maths on the side seam of the cuff. I have to say though, having the checks line up across the zipper had me doing a little dance round the ironing board!
    plaid shorts side
  4. And finally the fourth birdie was the mere fact that I have never made a pair of shorts before. This pattern is Simplicity 2659 and I’m pretty sure it came free with an issue of Sew magazine. I’m not sure I would ever make the dress. I can make my belly stick out without any extra help thank you very much, but the top could be cute and I’m sure the bolero would work with a classic dress! Anyhows, one baby step closer to making a pair of trousers but its defo a baby step I am very likely to repeat with some different fabric.
    simplicity 2659 pattern

The cuffs of these shorts are my favourite addition. I love that they are separate and cut on the bias. I wasn’t expecting that as the turn ups on the sleeves I did for my wing collar blouse were technically a very deep hem, turned back on itself. The bias of any sort of checked/plaid/tartan fabric is fabulous against a straight grain of its own kind and I think it really looks neat. Finishes off the hem inside perfectly too.

plaid shorts cuff

I would say that I lost big points on the waist finishing. I have never finished a waist without facing or waistband before and this pattern called for the use of twill tape at the inner waist edge. Very simple to understand and to achieve but I really must remember to stitch from the top when I’m doing things like this. That way I will get a much neater and straighter line. It won’t get noticed, I know, as my children will be horrified if I start tucking my tops into shorts but I know I could have done better. I just find it very amusing, and everso slightly annoying, that a little bit of topstitching is my main cause for concern on this tiny project!

plaid shorts waist

I highly recommend this shorts pattern for anyone wanting a little project to run up in an evening. I’m sure they would look great (on someone else) in a more summery linen or gingham… ooo gingham… imagine the cuffs!

Sashing time!

first 10 quilt blocks

Issue 11 of the Art of quilting is all about the sashing… and a tutorial for a cute little drawstring bag, oh and an interview with Jennifer Hollingdale. I’ve been putting this off this next stage mainly because I have been distracted by more glamourous dressmaking projects… among other things! But also because I thought it would take ages and wouldn’t be much to write home about. After all I still haven’t even scratched the surface with this quilt!

But ‘you know what thought, thought’ as my mum would say! It was a really relaxing thing to do this evening and has made my first 10 blocks visually larger so they look slightly more impressive spread out altogether!

It came together a lot quicker than I had anticipated too. Rectangles of white sashing fabric were pinned along the left edges of the blocks and and then ‘chained’ together. I love doing this as it really speeds things up. Following a good pressing, with the seam towards the sashing, I ‘chained’ the corner sashing squares onto the remaining rectangles, snipped and pressed and then sewed these onto the bottom of each of the blocks.

I have a neat little pile of mags up to issue no. 17, complete with a the necessary fabric pieces, just begging to be pieced together so they can hang out with their chums! But you know what I’m like… I will just have to find something else to do in the meantime!

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star
Issue 11: Sashing of the first 10 blocks

The audition dress!

V8280 audition dress

I made this dress last weekend to wear to an audition on Friday. I’m afraid I can not speak of the adventures it had or the reaction it got as I am sworn to a confidentiality agreement so I can only tell of the making of the dress itself!

V8280 Roland Mouret dress

I’m sure, for most of you lovely sewing people out there, you have already guessed it to be the Roland Mouret knock off by Vogue – pattern no V8280 – the Galaxy Dress. But perhaps it wasn’t instantly recognisable without its signature sleeves.

V8280 galaxy dress

On reading lots of reviews about how the sleeves would be best placed on a pitch against the New York Giants, I did run up a quick toile to test out their outrageousness. I wasn’t too scared by them but I wanted this dress to be right and not feel too self-conscious in it! So I went for Vew A. It looks a bit boring on the envelope but I do believe this is probably the classiest dress I’ve made to date.

v8280 sewing pattern

Might have something to do with fabric choice though. I’ve come to realise that the longer I keep up this sewing lark, the more choosy I’m getting about quality of materials. For sure I still love a charity shop find but in truth, nothing beats shopping specifically for the most appropriate fabric. I needed to impress with this dress so it had to be good stuff. I chose wool crepe and silk lining. Oh what luxury! I have really started something now! Just look at the texture in that wool…

wool crepe texture

I love the way that it pressed so beautifully yet didn’t crease too much when it was worn.The wool crepe was £15.99 and the silk lining £6.99 a metre from one of my favourite fabric shops in the Goldhawk Road. Probably my most expensive make, around £42 in total but the blow was softened after I checked the prices of similar wool and silk in Berwick Street, London…. more like £30 – £80 a metre!!!!

If I’d have had the time, I would have made a full toile to check the sizing properly. I overestimated the sizing of the bodice and ended up taking it in by 3 inches under the arms. I will definitely take it down a size next time. And oh yes, there will be a next time!

This is also my first experience working with a modern Vogue pattern. I have heeded the warning of others about their ‘vague’ instructions, but I found this one to be very simple to put together. Bearing in mind I didn’t go for the sleeves!

Once you get the hang of the ‘flanges’… lol – or once you get used to calling them ‘flanges’ – it will all make perfect sense. And they do help to create a very flattering neckline. I chose the sweetheart neckline just because I think its more feminine and reminiscent of  glamourous ’40s ladies.

sweetheart neckline

Working with this fabric was a dream and made inserting a zip and lining up darts and seams, a breeze.

v8280 back view

invisible zipper

There were no instructions to fully line the dress, only to line the bodice. But from past experience I know I will never get away with an unlined skirt. My biggest fashion blunder was to take my coat off in the entrance to a party only to find out my unlined dress had ridden all the way up to my armpits. The worst (or most life-saving moment) of that was that another guest had to tell me. Otherwise I’d have strutted my stuff onto the dance floor like a complete fool, outdoing any Bridget Jones moment! And so I cut the lining, the same as the skirt but with an additional half inch added to the side of each piece. I sewed the back seam from the zipper opening to the top of the vent and the side seams but didn’t make the darts. I pinned the waist of the lining to seam allowance of the skirt section, first pinning at the side seams, then to the back openings, with one pin at the centre front. I then folded pleats at the dart positions and pinned those in place before sewing to the seam allowance all round.

I’m not entirely sure this was the best way forward. There may be more professional ways of doing this but it worked, for me, anyhows!

I bound the hem with bias tape and machine hemmed the lining. Tricky old stuff, silk lining. Seems to carry far more static than poly lining, when ironed. But boy does it feel good! Raising one’s own standards is very amusing!!

bound hem

And all that is left to say is thank you once again to Mr Ooobop! for being amazing in every way. Not only does he dutifully take lovely photos for me, he is the most amazing support for my often waining morale and makes me so happy… gush gush!

He will insist on a leg shot though!

side detail on tights

A certain night-attire ‘party’ sewalong!

I’m sure most of you will know what I’m talking about but I’m having to be slightly cryptic as my ‘thingies’ are a surprise gift… and I won’t be able to reveal them in all their glory until the end of May.

I wasn’t going to post any progress reports, mainly because I didn’t know how, without giving the game away, but to be honest, if a certain person endeavours to follow these clues I should be impressed that he shares an incredible interest in what I love to do! Either that or he is bloomin’ nosey!

But the main reason for this post, not only to let the lovely Karen know that I found a window to jump on board, but I made another amazing discovery about my sewing machine. It serges! Well, of a fashion, I’m sure! There I was, head cupped in hands, eyebrows raised in awe and jealousness at Karen’s beautiful serged seams when… ping! I remembered a strange mechanical foot among my machines accessories and reference in the manual to a ‘side-cutter’! Oh the joy, the joy!! I WILL have beautiful 5mm seams too!

side cutter foot

Took a bit of getting used to though, as you can imagine! And I’m sure I can get a better-looking, tighter stitch with a bit more fiddling. But the needle kept falling out! I checked and double checked that I had attached the foot properly, mainly because it does’t sit firmly in position. It is such a clumsy attachment and it kind of wobbles around.

needle falling out

But according to the manual, I had, and there was no reference to this problem in the troubleshooting section either. So I just used the little screwdriver to really tighten the needle clamp screw. Perhaps I ought to be doing this anyway, whenever I replace a needle. I just usually tighten it with my fingers but clearly it needs to be tighter when the fork attachment of the side-cutter is hooked over it.

tightening needle clamp

Anyhows… I am as happy as some Larry’s and quietly confident I will make the party on the 28th once I figure out my disguise!

The Sawtooth Star block

sawtooth star quilt block

Quilt block number 10, the Sawtooth Star block and more importantly, one whole column’s worth of the final quilt! Not that these first 10 do actually sit in the same column but it is still an eight of the way there, all the same! It helps a lot that my lovely neighbour has subscribed me to the ‘Art of Quilting’. There is of course an obligation but it is the nicest kind of pressure!

It’s becoming easier to recognise the order in which these block pieces should be assembled. I just find it a bit tricky knowing the best way to press the seams. It’s not always towards the darker fabric, as I thought. So I am still very much paying attention to the instructions for that advice. Hopefully that will become second nature eventually.

To make this one, two smaller triangles were attached either side to the diagonals of the larger triangle to form a rectangle. Four sets of these were made. Two of these rectangles were sewn east and west side of the large central square. The smaller squares were attached each end of the other two rectangles, which were then sewn north and south of the block.

As with most of the blocks that contain small triangles, there is a necessity to watch those points and keep those seams to exactly 6mm. I was very concsious of how much room there was for error in this one but took it extra slow. Well, for the duration of Little Miss Ooobop’s flute lesson, actually!

Block Facts:

Name: Sawtooth Star block
History: This block gets it’s name from the triangles that are reminiscent of a saw’s cutting edge. It has appeared on very early quilts in the US, dating back to 1860.
Level: Slightly more advanced as accuracy is vital to create the points of the star
No. of pieces:17

Progress report:

Block 1: The Double Four Patch
Block 2: The Whirlwind
Block 3: The Sailboat
Block 4: The Shoo-fly
Block 5: The Trafalgar
Block 6: The Windmill
Block 7: The Chequer Square
Block 8: The Diamond Square
Block 9: The Cactus Pot
Block 10: The Sawtooth Star