Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt

I'm so happy to be participating in Faye's Carnival of Skirts sew-along this month! It was just the motivation I needed to get back to sewing some additions to my work wardrobe, since I wear skirts a lot. After seeing so many successful projects using Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt pattern, I ordered one online along with her recommended elastic. Of course, I received my order *several* weeks (months??) ago, and it's been just sitting on my sewing table mocking me. 

Per pattern instructions I used a stretch woven fabric, not sure where it came from....maybe Vogue Fabrics a year or two ago? It has quite a bit of stretch, with a weight similar to a stretch denim. The fabric is actually two-sided, with a shot of gold thread here and there (which fails to come across in the photo). Of course, I spent quite a bit of time last night trying to make up my mind which side of the fabric to use, and decided that the darker side with very little metallic thread visible would be more office appropriate. 

Using the measurements on the pattern envelope, I cut out a size Large.....and that was the wrong choice. I ended up taking the skirt in twice, so now I'm at the size Medium. I'm sure the generous amount of stretch in this fabric helped, but still nice to know going forward. Also, I may peg the hemline a bit more next time.  And I will be using this pattern again. Quick and easy, with a perfect pencil skirt silhouette. And I love the elastic waist, which looks like a waistband due to the streamlined cut resulting in a nice smooth waist and hip, without the usual "fullness" of an elastic waist.
Below are some pics with styling options....

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Pin-baste a Quilt for Machine Quilting

Christmas will be here in 81 days, and I try to have a new Christmas quilt each year. "Try" is the operative word here....most years it doesn't happen :-) But this year it will, since I pulled a top out of the to-be-quilted pile and got to work.
First thing I needed to do was to lay out and layer the quilt sandwich: backing, batting and quilt top.
This quilt is almost queen-sized, so I needed to piece the backing fabric. I don't worry about the seam down the middle, and whether or not it is strong enough. The quilt will be held together with enough machine quilting, and I've yet to have a seam pop, even on those "couch quilts" that get used a lot.  Since my basement floor has a commercial-grade, low-pile carpet, I just pin the backing to the carpet with straight pins, making sure it is stretched taut.

My batting of choice is 100% cotton. Though I usually use Warm and Natural, this Mountain Mist cotton batting was on sale so I thought I'd give it a try. Not much different from the W & N, in my opinion.

When laying out the batting over the backing fabric, I take my time to smooth out all the wrinkles. It's wonderful how the cotton batting "sticks" to the cotton fabric.

Since I had that center seam running vertically on my backing fabric, I used that as a guide for laying out the quilt top by folding the top in half vertically and laying it along that seam. Though I can't see the seam through the batting, I can feel it with my fingers. As you can see, there is plenty of extra backing and batting extending past the quilt top. There will be a little bit of shrinkage with the quilting, and I don't want to be short. This particular project has a little too much and when done pinning I will trim off the extra, leaving about 4 inches extra all the way around.

Now it's time to get out the large square ruler to be sure the corners are square. I make sure and check each of the four corners, both at the pieced border and the outside border edge.

Now the fun begins, pin-basting the 3 layers together. I used approximately 350 small safety pins for this project. The Kwik Klip shown below can make it easier on your fingers, but to be honest I rarely use it.

The pins are placed about 4-6 inches apart over the entire quilt. A good measurement is a fist-length apart. I don't do very much marking on my quilt top for quilting design, but this is the point
when I start to think about how I will machine quilt. Since this is a sampler of quilt blocks from a guild exchange, I know I will quilt in the ditch around the squares to start. Therefore, I don't place any pins in the ditch areas.

Time for the glamour shots! Really, this is what it looks like for a couple of hours while I place those hundreds of pins. I really don't enjoy this too much, but for a quilt this size this is what works for me. Sometimes I'll use a quilt basting spray, but only for small projects. I don't like the aerosol, I don't like the cost, and it only seems to stick for a short time.

Whew! The basting is finished, off to the machine to quilt! I'm so happy that this project will be finished for the holidays this year!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

McCall's 6318

Getting to the end of my summer sewing for 2012 by finishing up a dress for my daughter Kristen: McCall's 6318, View C, which is now out of print. This is such a cute dress, with a bit of a retro feel in View C. The princess seams in the front bodice allow for easy alterations if necessary. 
My daughter chose this fabric on our visit to Mood Fabrics in NYC on a trip we took in May, 2010. A lovely, tightly woven cotton, it sewed like a dream. I lined this dress with a poly batiste that I had in my stash. 
I have to say that my pictures don't really show how cute this dress looked on Kristen. She's promised me a picture next time she wears it!

L.O.V.E. the pocket detail!

My daughter especially liked the way the bodice shoulder "straps" formed a Vee in the back.

Hard to see in the photos is the 6 inch walking slit at center back.

            I think my daughter Kristen made a great choice marrying this fabric to such a cute pattern!