Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Last 'My First' Post - My First QUILT!


I am using the calm while everyone else sleeps in after the clock change to post this! I have collected fabric for a long time (over a decade), and in my teenage years made various forays into cutting up old clothes to start quilts that never ever got beyond the cutting phase. But it wasn't until I moved to the States last year and my boyfriend's brother and his girlfriend announced they were pregnant that I seriously thought about actually starting AND finishing a quilt.

I wasn't getting paid much so I knew I had to be sure I'd really follow through if I went ahead and bought, not just the fabric, but a sewing machine for our flat! I thought about it for a few weeks, drooled over all the pretty fabric colours I was seeing online and then took the plunge. Thankfully the boyfriend was on board as he loves all things colour, being an absolute graphics nerd! And we set about laying out the fabrics (I bought random charm packs and mixed 5" square bundles) and moving them around till we (I) was happy. We spent at least 4 hours doing it and I commandeered the sofa with the layout for a few days....

Sorry for the darkness, but it was 1130pm before a 6am start when we finished!

Then, work took over and once I'd labelled all the squares on the back, and drawn a map of the quilt top, I put them away and let it sit at the back of my mind, giving me the guilts, till Christmas! At Christmas I was back at home in Ireland for 6 weeks while I sorted out a new work contract and a new visa to get back to DC. This was the perfect time for me to quilt - distract me from missing our flat and stop me from going flat-out mad while I moved back in with my parents. AND, blessing upon blessing, my proto-niece still hadn't been born!!

It was a slow start, but the quilt quickly grew.

a) and b) are my very first quilt blocks (so proud!) - if you look closely at the layout picture you'll notice I turned all my squares upside-down or back-to-front or something, first lesson I learned in quilting (took me the half the quilt to figure out what I was doing wrong). c shows the panels beginning to build up, and d is the finished quilt top - woohoo!

Then it was on to the pinning and basting. I had never done this, and at this point was still fairly confused by the differences in quilting lingo from the States to Ireland. So it was with great relief that I discovered Flossie Teacakes and her tutorial on how to make a quilt!! Florence remotely, and with no idea herself, walked me through and held my hand as I undertook the basting. First laying out the quilt sandwich:

And then onto the pinning!

It looked so pretty at this point, that I almost wanted to stop!

I decided to do a very simple and sparse quilting due to sheer inexperience. I used a zig-zag stitch because we were having tension issues with our home machine which I didn't know enough to fix at the time!

And even though you can't tell here, I used bright pink thread! Yum!

Then the challenge was to make binding and bind the quilt. I found a lovely navy and white polka dot in our local craft shop (The Crafty Fox) which was just absolutely perfect. It actually turned out to be quite a therapeutic process, and I love seeing binding come together now! There were many curses when it came to pinning the binding on (pinning has never been my favourite, though My First Dress has cured me of it and now I go at it safe in the knowledge that it never lasts that long if I don't procrastinate). But it was totally worth it in the end!

So pretty!

I was bold at the very very end. Baby Grace had arrived safely and I was desperate to get the quilt sent off, so I machined the binding onto the back with a zig-zag stitch again... It would have been prettier if I'd whipstitched it, but on the plus side - I used bright pink thread!! I also attached what I decided would be my signature symbol - a strawberry!!

Finally, I was so proud of it that I emailed some of the people online who had no idea how much they'd helped me out on my first time. There were some lovely replies, the online sewing community are really lovely, and Imagine Fabric (where I bought a lot of my 5" squares) were really lovely and asked for my permission to have a little post on their blog showcasing my quilt... :) I was totally thrilled!! And it still makes me smile to look at this quilt, it was a wrench to send it off, but the little girl who got my first quilt is far prettier!!

Happy Sunday :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

My First Dress

Clearly, not my first ever dress. But the first I have ever, ever, made for myself with my own hands!

(It's not quite finished yet!)

In August, I was utterly inspired by this post from verykerryberry (who was really lovely when I emailed her from nowhere to introduce myself and ask permission to link to her blog, and said very kind things to me!). Within a day of reading her blog I had ordered material and signed up for a local dressmaking course. I have made just two quilts in the past, and started a 3rd and 4th, but have zero experience of dressmaking and found the idea of it really intimidating. However, Kerry's post and the pockets in the dress won me over (I LOVE pockets!).

Our local night-class teacher was brilliant, really knowledgeable and approachable, and made us feel like we could tackle these patterns no problem! OH!! The pattern. I used the same as Kerry: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 1801. It was quite straight forward, though without my teacher I would have been utterly lost as a first-timer. You can see below, some of the steps involved in getting the dress together.

Oh wow, these came out tiny! Sorry - I will practice harder. But you can see the swish pink lining I got!

I bought this fabric at Hickey's in Galway, Ireland. It was on sale - yay! I decided to go for a sale fabric for class because I expected there to be much seam ripping and gnashing of teeth and didn't want to ruin the beautiful fabric I impulsively bought online. How beautiful are Dan Bennett's fabrics (and artsy products too!)!!?? I was seduced by his Ruby collection and bought Tattoo Aqua and Dawn Limestone so I too could have a contrasting waistband and pockets as ingeniously done by verykerryberry!

Here is where I have to apologise for the bad pictures - I'm stuck with my phone right now, unfortunately. So you'll have to try and imagine this picture a little less yellow for the mo... Sorry!

Bizarrely, I bought these fabrics from fabricworm, a US-based online shop, and had them shipped to Ireland for cheaper than I could have if I'd bought them from the UK...

So now that I have 'practiced' (i.e. cursed at, but persevered) on my sale fabric, I shall be shortly (this weekend) be cutting into these beautiful fabrics for the start of Round 2! Between now and then, I will be inserting the sleeves and hemming my very first dress. Pictures (in natural light) will follow of the finished product!!

Aoif :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

welcome, make yourself comfortable - this could take a while....

having just come into existence yesterday, it might take me a few days/weeks to get the hang of this blog. i'm going to start off using here as a place to record the things i'm knitting and sewing, mostly for others. the mostly for others means that when i say "i quilt" i then have nothing to show to back that up (other than an impressive fabric and thread collection)! bringing us full circle back to this blog :) sound? yeah!? happy!!