Sunday, September 25, 2016

Anders' Modern Building Blocks Quilt: Block One Underway

I wasn't in my sewing room much this week, and I haven't touched the skirt again at all since my last post.  I've been busy with work, and squeezed in a couple of bike rides to enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures.  I got a bit of hand sewing done as I was out and about, stitching stems down on a couple of Frankenwhiggish Rose applique blocks while I was waiting in the carpool line and during a violin lesson. I also made preparations for the first block of Anders' new quilt

First Block Will Finish 30" x 30"
It's my 30" version of the 36" block in the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt, which I resized to fit my son's twin bed.  Since I've been enjoying the stress-free, instantaneous perfection of foundation paper piecing for my little 6" sampler blocks, I eyed those many triangle points and decided to FPP the block.  This block is already in the EQ7 software's Block Library (or else it was in the Block Base 2 add on; can't remember where I found it), so I didn't have to draft it from scratch, and I was able to plop it into my quilt design at 30" and then click "print foundation patterns" for the block.  Easy peasy, except that the foundation patterns for a 30" block don't really fit on 8 1/2" x 11" newsprint paper...

Foundation Papers, Some Assembly Required
So this is what I got.  TWENTY sheets of paper, and as you can see in the photo above, some of my block segments needed to have as many as three pieces taped together once I'd cut them out.  I took my time cutting and taping them, knowing that the accuracy of paper piecing is only as good as the accuracy of the foundation papers.  Traditional piecing might have been a better way to go, except that the quarter square triangles needed to make this block in a 30" size are not "ruler friendly."  I would have had to cut out 7 3/16" squares and cross-cut them into QSTs (Quarter Square Triangles).  Yuck!

After carefully cutting and taping, I got this:

Foundation Papers Ready to Piece
I put a scribble of black, blue or green on each patch to help me keep track of which fabric goes where.  After taking this picture, I also planned the stitching order to ensure that I have opposing seam allowances when I join the segments together to form the block, and I numbered the patches accordingly.  And then I pressed my fabric and cut myself some oversized QSTs.  I didn't cut out the giant green triangles yet, though, because I haven't figured out how I want to cut them yet.  They are QSTs from a 19 3/16" square. 

But meanwhile, there's a skirt upstairs waiting to be finished, and that's what I'm going to work on today: Interfacing the skirt yoke with SF101, assembling and attaching the yoke to the skirt, and maybe if I'm lucky I'll even get to that invisible zipper (that I probably should have put in first).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Of Skirts, Blouses, and Forgotten DVDs

Well, looky what I found in my studio the other day, all brand-new, still wrapped in cellophane and nearly forgotten in a corner! 

Threads Magazine Blouse DVD
It appears that, amongst my many purchases at last year's Sewing and Quilt Expo in Atlanta, I bought a Threads DVD featuring Sandra Miller's blouse construction techniques.  In my defense, I crashed on my bike a week after returning from the Expo, smashing my collar bone into little pieces and snapping all the way through the bone at the tip of my left thumb.  Humpty Dumpty didn't get back to her sewing room for a few months, and by then I didn't remember what all I'd bought and planned to work on.

Sounds like EXACTLY the supplemental information I need to walk me through my first blouse project, don't you think?  Anyway, before I spend any money on any online blouse sewing classes, I'm going to go through this DVD and watch the whole thing.  And take notes.  And maybe practice stuff.  We'll see.

Harrison Blouse Pattern, available from Cashmerette here
Another blouse resource that I discovered this week comes from Jenny of Cashmerette, an indie pattern company that specializes in patterns that fit and flatter curves.  Jenny's new Harrison Blouse pattern, shown above, fits exactly the way I'd hoped my White House Black Market blouse would fit after alterations (didn't work out that way, though).  I really like how the double princess seams on the Harrison blouse originate from the armscye instead of being straight lines from the shoulder seams; I think that will be more flattering on me.  The Harrison Blouse is available either as a PDF download or as a paper pattern, and they even have an online "Plus Size and Curvy Shirtmaking" workshop that walks you through their pattern step by step.  The only glitch is that the smallest size the Harrison Blouse comes in is a 12 and that might still be too big on me in the upper chest, shoulders, and upper back.  But it's nice to know I have some options.

Meanwhile, my skirt looked like this a few days ago after I'd cut everything out and then walked away from the project (again):

Paralyzing Mess Prevents Progress!
You are looking at not just the skirt pieces, but stacks and stacks of fat quarters for those 6" Farmer's Wife blocks, and a pile of prewashed and folded fabric and templates for Anders' quilt.  Too much started, not enough finished -- and I hardly had any time in the sewing room all week, because I've been working on a project design for a client.  Work before play.

But I'm trying to maintain that elusive balance in my life by observing a work-free weekend rule, or at least a No Working On Sundays rule, so I did manage to sneak into the sewing room for a bit on Sunday afternoon.  Now, my skirt looks like this:

One Side Seam Accomplished
You are looking at the right side seam of my skirt, and you are supposed to be admiring the precision of my pattern matching.  So, what I accomplished so far was to stay stitch the top of the skirt front and back and the lining pieces.  Then I sewed that right side seam in both the skirt fabric and the lining fabric, and serged off the raw edges of the seam allowances.  The skirt and lining were matched up, wrong sides together, and I basted the two layers together at the top of the skirt inside the seam allowance.  This took more time than you might imagine due to the slippery, shifty voile and my determination to match that pattern as precisely as possible at the seam.  There was obsessive pinning and basting involved, and I am pleased.  My skirt is an A-line shape, so the rows of flowers converge diagonally at the seam line, but I am satisfied that the rows of flowers will appear to be straight on the finished skirt.  Now let's hope I can match up the print so nicely on the other side, when I install my invisible zipper!

I still have to make and attach the yoke thingy to the waist of the skirt before the zipper goes in, and I'm still kind of foggy on just HOW I'm going to put that zipper in, because I am adamant that it's going to be an invisible zipper (in defiance of the dorky pattern instructions) and I am determined that the zipper tape is going to be hidden between the skirt fabric and the lining, just like it would be in a nice store bought skirt.  I found a couple of video tutorials online for inserting invisible zippers into skirts, a few that even showed how to do it with lining, but I'm going to have to adapt and combine techniques from different videos to make it work for my particular skirt style.  ALL of the video tutorials say to put the zipper in FIRST, before sewing any side seams, and I have to say, it does look like that would be easier.  Too late now! 

I don't know whether I'll get a chance to do anymore sewing before the weekend, but may be able to conduct additional zipper insertion research at odd moments in the carpool line.  Wish me luck!

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