Thursday, April 24, 2014

Half Square Triangle Baby Quilts!

Fabric Pull!
Recently I got an email from a friend requesting a baby quilt that will be for a little boy. The only restrictions were that it be modern, crisp, and use the color scheme of navy, turquoise, and grey. I added a little black and white in, and was set! I love this color palate so much, in fact it's one of my faves in recent memory. I have been wanting for ages to try a quilt made with randomly placed half square triangles (like here, here, and here), and so I thought this would be the perfect time to try!

Pieces cut and ready

I started by cutting my fabric into 7" squares and then dividing them into 2 piles of light and dark fabrics (28 square of each). I matched a light square up with a dark, right sides facing, for my favorite half-square triangle method, and drew a diagonal line across the square.

Chain piecing
I happen to have a 1/4" foot for my machine, which is very handy for this method. Just line up the diagonal line you've drawn on the fabric with the blade edge of the foot, and you'll get a seam that's 1/4" away from the line. I chain pieced my squares and then sent them through the other way, getting a second seam 1/4" away from the other side of the seam. Before I had this foot I simply used a ruler to draw lines 1/4" away from the center line, then sewed over those. But this method was faster!

Trim blocks!
I must admit that for the first quilt I didnt trim my blocks, so the seams did not exactly match up. I can get a bit lazy at times. But I made the quilt again, for a baby girl, and I trimmed down the finished half-square triangles to 6" squares. Much better.

Baby boy half square triangle quilt
I just laid out the squares in a manner that I thought looked random, but wasnt actually random because I tried not to have the same fabric right next to itself. It mostly worked out, though I didnt realize until later that one row had three triangles of mustache fabric in it. How do those things sneak past?

Straight line quilted
For the blue quilt I did diagonal quilting about every 2 inches. I didnt want to do anything that relied on the seams, since they were no where near perfect, so this was a good option. I used Michael Miller's Domino in navy for the binding, and I cant for the life of me remember what the backing is called, but it is from Spool, in Chatanooga, TN.

Girls half square triangle quilt
I made the second version in a  really fun palette of pinks, orange, yellow, gold, and a big of white and neon and I really like this one too. It seems cheerful and warm and a good summer picnic/play blanket. (they both measure around 42" x 48")

More straight line quilting
I did the quilting lines 1" apart and 3" apart on this one, which I think I like a little bit better, for whatever reason. The binding is a cute pinwheel pattern by Anna Maria Horner, and the back is an extremely soft Micahel Miller print called Pollen. Sending them off to the recipients this week, so I hope they like them!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My First Briar!

Hello! What an exciting day-- I finished my very first article of clothing sewn from a pattern that 1. fits and 2. I like, and 3. is comfy!! When my family was in town for the opening my cousin Holly and I decided that we would both tackle a t-shirt pattern that we were told was beginner friendly...even though it was sewing with knits! We both picked out fabric (the fabric I used has since been purchased by both a 70-year old and a 6-year old, so clearly it has universal appeal... either that or my tastes are skewing older AND younger than I would have guessed).

The Briar  is a pattern that can be made with a wide variety of knit fabrics, and the pattern also has options for cropped and full length, as well as short and long sleeves. I went with the full length, short sleeve version. It also has a high-low hem, which is fun and cute!

[caption id="attachment_113" align="aligncenter" width="560"]Me and my Briar, downtown Nashville Me and my Briar, downtown Nashville[/caption]

For my first attempt I decided to do exactly what the pattern said, and not make any changes. I cut out the XS and I think it fit really well! This is an online PDF pattern, so you print the pages and then tape them together. For this pattern it finally occured to me to trim the pages with a rotary blade and ruler, rather than scissors, so that made the time go faster. Then I used tracing paper (bought a roll of 24" paper at the art store) so that if this size didnt fit me aI could go back and trace another size, rather than reprinting, taping, and cutting. Also, the fabric I used is a very thin, very drapey knit, which was quite hard to work with, cut, and get to lay flat, but not impossible, plus now the next time I make it, with a more stable knit, it'll be way easier!

[caption id="attachment_114" align="aligncenter" width="560"]High-low hem High-low hem[/caption]

For my own personal preference I thought the back hem was just a little too long. Maybe it also has to do with the thin knit, but it just doesnt lay well over jeans pockets, so next time I will probably make the back a few inches shorter, and the front just an inch or so shorter. Maybe not quite cropped, but.... maybe!

[caption id="attachment_115" align="aligncenter" width="560"]Back with middle seam Back with middle seam[/caption]

One fun thing was that I messed up the cutting right away! Even though I was going very carefully and slowly, I just assumed the back was two pieces, since in a lot of patterns it is! The Briar, however, is not. I just sewed a small seam up the back and it was fine, in fact I kind of like that it breaks up the pattern and gives a little bit of visual interest. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself! Anyway, the neckline still went on fine, so this accident didnt cause many problems, thankfully!

[caption id="attachment_116" align="aligncenter" width="560"]Rounded pocket Rounded pocket[/caption]

I used neckline piece #4 (there are 2 options, #4 and #5, but for was a bias-trim type of deal, so it seemed easier to me). I also added the little cute rounded pocket to the front which doesnt show up that much, and maybe I should have put it higher up, but I like it still.

[caption id="attachment_117" align="aligncenter" width="560"]Waiting for the fountains Waiting for the fountains[/caption]

And there ya have it, my first successful foray into the world of apparel sewing and sewing with knits! It really wasnt so bad, and I suggest just going really slowly and not rushing it. I basically did one step of the directions per day. The shirt is super comfy too, which is great. And I am already planning my next Briar, which will involve strawberries. Stay tuned!

Megan Nielsen's pattern can be purchased and downloaded here.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Welcome SewDown Nashville!

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be able host the entire group of women who came to Nashville to attend SewDown Nashville in my shop. We had discussed setting up a small "pop-up" version of the store at the hotel where the convention was taking place, but since I had no one to watch the store while I would have been at the hotel, and I also didnt really know what I would bring, I asked if they would come to me instead! Luckily they already had a tour bus (in fact it was 2 tour buses!) driving them to Franklin to go on a studio tour at Anna Maria Horner's (which looked amazing), so they added my store to their itinerary.

I luckily had two good friends who agreed to help run the register while I cut fabric, and thank goodness they were there or it would have been absolutely impossible. At around 7:00 we saw this bad boy pull up outside the shop:

[caption id="attachment_103" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Bus 1 of 2 Bus 1 of 2[/caption]

It was huge! And then the woman in charge informed me the second bus was about 10 minutes away. Ok! My store very quickly filled up and within about 2 minutes people were picking things out and handing them to me to cut. I even cut batting for Angela Waters.... it was pretty exciting!

[caption id="attachment_104" align="aligncenter" width="168"]This a picture the Modern Quilt Guild posted on Instagram of my shop looking like a Jeni's ice cream store :) This a picture the Modern Quilt Guild posted on Instagram of my shop looking like a Jeni's ice cream store :)[/caption]

They were in the store for just about 1 hour exactly, and in that time I had 38 transactions. It was crazy, and it was so, so fun! It was great to see what people bought (happy to report that the pink zebra fabric was a hit) and talk to people who are super excited about sewing and fabric, just like me. I met a woman who owns a fabric store in New Jersey and she organizes a "shop owners" dinner at Quilt Market (which I'm going to in Pittsburgh next month), so that was also really fun. It was a great whirlwind, and I was so happy it worked out!

[caption id="attachment_105" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Fabric frenzy Fabric frenzy[/caption]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Now Open!

The big day has finally arrived, and the shop is officially open for business!

Last night was the opening party and I was so pleased with how things went. Lots of people came by to say hi, have a mini cupcake and a mini glass of champagne. It was great to feel lots of creative, excited energy surrounding something I have brought into being. It was nice to have family around and also new friends from Nashville! (And future friends in Nashville!).

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="650"]the fabric studio Cupcakes and beautiful flowers[/caption]

It got sunny right before the party, so my sequin skirt was extra sparkly :) It was nice to see familiar faces and also meet new people who are excited about the shop. Great feeling!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="650"]the fabric studio nashville Old friends![/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="650"]Image New friends[/caption]


Sadly I did not get pictures of most people who came, but it was a really great time and lots of fun. Plus there was pink champagne which never ruins a night!

So today was the first day o' business and I was going to consider it a success if even one person came (havent gotten around to too much advertising yet, but that is April's goal) and I have definitely met the one person goal. Even met some awesome new people!

This month I'll be getting some more Japanese fabrics in, packing up some scrap bundles, planning for May's class schedule, and maybe creating some fun cross stitch kits.... Stay tuned!