Mixed Pattern Playdress

Mixed Pattern Playdress

This is one of my favorite sewing projects ever. It’s simple, was really fun to sew, and my daughter’s face just glowed when she put it on the first time. It’s just so her, but I love it, too.

As I’ve mentioned before, she pretty much refuses to wear anything but knits. I’m always trying to find knit play dresses, and I fell in love with some from a certain British catalog that rhymes with Odin. I’m sure they would rather me write “catalogue,” am I right? Their prices are pretty steep for such simple dresses, though, and I thought, hey, I could make that! I’m kind of famous for saying that, but in this case, I actually did it.

From the catalog, we borrowed the idea of mixing patterns (which is also a big part of my daughter’s style) and went to the half-yard clearance section on Girl Charlee. Little Miss picked out the fabrics. I tried to get her to go with a contrasting color mix, but that was a non-starter. She specified no sleeves and a higher waistline with a full skirt.

For the bodice I traced another dress’s bodice. The skirt part is just a gathered rectangle. I used to be so scared of sewing with knits, but really, it’s not so bad once you get the hang of it. I definitely do better with slightly weightier knits. I used a regular machine (not a serger) and used zig zag, serger-ish-like, and triple stitches, depending on the seam/ application.

For some great tutorials on knit finishes, check this and this out.

This time, there are no booty issues (like here).

DSC_0431-001

For more of my sewing adventures, click here.

Oval Medallion Duvet Cover

Oval Applique Duvet  Oval Patchwork  Upcycled Oval Patchwork Applique

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recognize this project. I started it a short four years ago. Four?! I finally finished it!! *Happy dance*

For those of you who are new (and btw, welcome new subscribers!) or don’t remember the project, it’s my take on an Amy Butler pattern in her book In Stitches. She calls it the “Patchwork Duvet Cover.” Mine is a bit different from the original pattern, mainly in the placement of the ovals and the background fabric.

This project took so long for many reasons. I got sick of it many times, and by the end I almost gave up because a) I wasn’t sure I liked the color scheme anymore and b) The oval appliques were giving me such a headache when I tried to sew them on.

My hubs wanted me to finish it, though, so I changed my machine needle and soldiered ahead, and now I’m glad. After putting it on the bed, the patchwork has grown on me, as out-of-favor crafty projects sometimes do. Here’s to perserverance!

For more info on this project in its earlier stages, check out this post and this one. The fabric was all upcycled, with the background made from twin duvet covers and the patterned fabric from thrift store finds, one of them over-dyed to suit.

If you want to see my other patchwork projects, check out this one and this one.

And oh yes, that painting is by yours truly. More info on it here.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend. I’ve had some unexpected sustained writing time, which has been great.

Quickie Fabric Mache Ornament

Cloth Mache Ornament

This is one of those last-minute inspirations that happened to work out. I was trimming bits from a Christmas sewing project (to be pictured later) and had all these great strips of cheery prints. It seemed a shame to waste them.

Christmas Mache ornament

I grabbed a balloon, blew it up just a little (you could do a bigger version if you wanted) and tied it off. Then I made a water-and-Elmer’s-glue mixture, dipped the strips, and wrapped them around the balloon, just like papier mache—-only one layer of strips, though. I left a few holes here and there, but if I had to do it again, I’d leave more holes for effect.

This would be a great quick craft to do with older children, though of course you have to be able to stomach glue mess. Not a problem in my case.

Family members who shall remain nameless were skeptical, but in the morning, when the glue was dry and the balloon popped, it DID actually detach from the cloth and leave this little egg-shaped vessel. It could’ve dried a bit more, though. Make sure it’s dried ALL the way for best results.

Fabric Ornament

Then you just make a thread hoop/hanger thingy and presto! change-o! You’re done.

Overdyeing Silk

Dyeing things gives me such a rush. It feels like magic, and also like haha! I got what I wanted for next to nothing!

A sewing friend who was moving away (a long time ago now) gave me some silk (crepe de chine?) from her fabric stash. Silk! I’ve never sewed with silk before. But I was stumped. The colors are all very, very pale, and I just couldn’t imagine myself wearing them. Paleness tends to wash me out. Months later I had a brainflash. What if I dyed the silk? But silk. Silk! It took me a long time to work up my nerve.

Finally, months after that, I started with a small piece and used the old Easter egg/ Kool Aid dye technique.

Initially I was going to try some embroidery or resist or something to give it some more interest, but then decided to keep it simple. I ended up really liking the color. Warning, though—-this was German Easter egg dye. PAAS will work the same, but I find their colors to be a bit, well, Easter eggy—whereas this green was nice and grassy. You can always mix your PAAS or Kool-Aid colors to get something a bit more nuanced. I think there are even tutorials out there on mixing Kool-Aid colors—-usually with regards to yarn dyeing.

On to silk batch #2. I was a little bolder this time with several larger pieces of pale blue, and decided for an indigo color using two shades of Deka fabric dye.

I didn’t use a full load of dye, but the fabric didn’t take the color as deeply as I’d expected. The blue I ended up with was beautiful but dried a good bit lighter than I wanted:

I really liked the mottled effect I got in this first dye job:

I dyed it one more time to get a deeper color. It doesn’t show up quite true in this photo (below), but I really like the way it turned out–it’s just a tiny bit deeper than the middle tone. The mottled effect is gone, though. I’m planning to make another Anda dress out of the fabric. Wish me luck! My most recent sewing projects have not been going very well.

For tips on overdyeing, check out this previous post.  For more of my adventures in fiber art, click here.

The Cuppa Cuppa Patchwork

“It’s just a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly.  I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.” Dolly Parton as Truvy in Steel Magnolias

For awhile I was calling this the Candy Rainbow patchwork, but now when I look at it, I keep thinking of Truvy serving ice cream with her Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa cake. The intense, sweet colors here were just begging for a little something to cut the sweetness.

I’m liking the quiet spaces the white is making. The front of this is finished now, so hopefully I will finish up the back (all white) and show it to you soon.

I’m getting a little weary of the candy colors, or at least in using them all together. My next new quilt will have to be something a little quieter.

For earlier pictures of this patchwork, click here.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy seeing an earlier patchwork of mine that appears here.

Candy Rainbow Patchwork-In-Progress

You may remember seeing the fabrics for this patchwork here. I’m calling it the Candy Rainbow for now because the colors are so bright and sweet they remind me of a collection of Jolly Ranchers. It’s fitting, because the duvet cover is for my daughter (7), who loves candy better than just about anything.

The inspiration came from a couple of places. First, from this one, which needed a sister. I wanted it to be different and feminine but using many of the same fabrics. My daughter really wanted some florals and some pink, so I incorporated those. The florals are new fabrics, and the pink is scraps from a dress I made for her. The darkest orange is left over from an infant shopping cart cover that never worked, and the rest of the fabrics are scraps from commercial and self-dyed/ batiked crib sheets.

Second inspiration: Malka’s strips and bricks baby quilt. I love the simple shapes here. There’s something really satisfying about it, and the colors match the vibe my daughter wanted. By the way, Malka has this pattern for sale here if you want it.

So our loose design is a riff on these ideas. At first my daughter was totally adamant that there be no white, but she’s relented a bit and seems willing to let me put in some white bands. I just thought we needed a bit of a breather from all that saturated color.

I’m sewing these strips together to make the full width of the bed (queen-size). Then I’ll be cutting the sewn strips different lengths, separating them by bands of white.

As usual, the project changes shape as I work on it. I was thinking of going in this direction:

But then I didn’t really like the way the “stacks” seem to float in the design.

Little Miss and I agreed on something more like this:

I like the way the strips in this version are beginning to look like books on a shelf.

I had a really good writing week last week and got all excited. This week has been a bit tougher. Currently reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

New Patchwork/ Current Reads

I know, I don’t need to be starting yet another patchwork project, but they kind of multiply when you turn your back.

You haven’t heard much from me this week for two reasons:

1) I’m buckling down on my novel and trying to minimize distractions. Ouch! It’s tough. I’m pretty distractable.

2) During craft time I’ve been chipping away at several projects but don’t have much interesting to show just now.

I finally finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and have just started her latest novel, The Lacuna. I had heard bits about it several times but somehow until now missed (I guess I wasn’t really listening) that it takes place in Mexico and involves Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Trotsky.

You had me at Mexico. Add Frida, Diego, and Trotsky delivered by the great Kingsolver and I’m totally committed. I’ve been a  Frida fan since before she was cool (1994-ish?) and have been to her house  and Diego’s murals in Mexico City. Notice how I’m on a first-name basis with them?  Though oddly, I never saw the Selma Hayek movie. I suppose I should try it.

Meanwhile  re-reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. Oh I love this book. It’s read-aloud worthy and really a great companion when you’re slogging through manuscript revisions and expansions.

The fabric strips above are for my daughter’s patchwork duvet cover. I want it to be a sister piece to my son’s. You know, related, but not the same exact looks and personality. I’m using some of the same fabrics as I did in his plus some other scraps and a couple of new florals specifically requested by my daughter. She likes prints, my girl. I wanted to add white but she is adamant that it be full color. Okay, okay.

Little Miss is interested in horses right now so I am looking for a decent read-aloud chapter book about horses. We’re reading Misty of Chincoteague, which I had never read. It has its merits, and she seems to like it, but yow! it really bothers me that the little girl happily stays home wearing a dress while the boy gets to do all the horse-wrangling. I know it’s old, but still. She could at least want to join him.

If you know any good horse books that wouldn’t kill me to read aloud, and possibly involve girl characters who are allowed to do anything, please suggest away. I’m all about reader choice, but when it comes to glittery covers and magic ponies I would rather she read those to herself.

Have a great weekend!