Wednesday, January 21, 2015

McCalls6696 Shirtdress!

McCalls 6696 View B
I recently (yesterday) finally sewed the buttons and buttonholes on this dress to complete it, and it only took 2 months! I actually think that's a pretty good speed for me because i loved this pattern but thought it would be too hard for me. 
Greetings from my shirt dress!
When Mary from Idle Fancy  first announced this kind of "group sew" for this dress, I was intrigued. It wouldn't be a bunch of very detailed posts on how to make this dress, just a lot of helpful links and tips, and plus I work best under deadlines, so I thought I'd give it a shot and push myself a bit, knowing there'd be some support around!

Extremely washed out in the Nashville sun (no complaints)
Side note: I used to think my ipad took good pictures but I've recently become obsessed with a camera I cant afford, so now I no longer like them :( But stick around and hopefully someday soon I'll have that camera! 

Awkward close up
I really like that this dress can be made up in lots of different fabrics, but looks really classic and good in something a bit stiffer, which makes it easy to work with, cut, and iron. I got this light blue and white striped cotton for a super low price at a jeans store here. Twice a year they have a yard sale and sell awesome fabric and denim for cray prices. It's great! I think I got 5 yards for $15. Which made it very easy to cut into and attempt this dress. 

The bodice. 
I did, however, make a muslin of the bodice first. This pattern goes by cup size, not bust measurements, so I was slightly confused at first, but I ended up cutting the size 8, which I believe is the smallest, with the small bust bodice (A-B cup). Once I tried the muslin on I ended up adding 1" to the bodice pattern pieces because I have a longish torso, and then it ended right at my natural waist.

More January sunshine
Other than that adjustment the only thing I changed was to take an extra 2" off the hemline. This pattern has lots of fun things (fun to me since it was my first time doing them), like hemming before you add the button placket. I also love making pleats, I had fun making little belt loops and pockets, and I also sewed a collar for the first time (with mom's guidance while home for Christmas). I like patterns that teach me things but aren't overwhelmingly hard, and this one did that for sure! 

Laughing at Katie, my stylist/photographer
I think the sleeves and bodice are really flattering on this, and the skirt is a little poofy in this somewhat stiff fabric, but not overly so, which I was a bit worried about at first. 
The back
The back bodice is also gathered at the top and bottom, and while I think it's cute it kinda puffs out a bit too much so I think I will try removing that for the next one I make (have some eyelet already cut out for a sleeveless second version).
Who knows
I'm so glad that I pushed myself and took my time and really tried to figure this pattern out. It felt good that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! There are lots of other dresses entered in this sewalong,  you can check them out on the Flickr page, here. Or you can search Instagram with #1000shirtdresses.
Parking lot modeling
Thanks for checking out my dress! Making something that fits and looks good is such a great motivator. I have a large wish-list of items to make for a trip down under that is only 46 days away so wish me fast sewing!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quilting Bee! Everything you ever hoped to learn, and more!

Thanks again for signing up for a quilting bee! They are a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone is able to create and learn throughout the coming year! Below are the general guidelines for being a part of a bee. If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask!

When you are the host:
When you are the host you will be in charge of emailing the rest of the hive at the beginning of your month, telling everyone what block you'd like! (or, if this is a more free-form request, just what size and color). This is also a good time to introduce yourself a bit and tell everyone a bit about yourself! The deadline for emailing out the info will be the 4th of each month, but feel free to do it sooner. Tell them the color scheme you are after, and if there is a specific fabric you'd like them to use, then please be prepared to mail that out to everyone. You also want to let your bee know whether you want seams pressed open, or in one direction, and whether or not you want them to send trimmed blocks to you.  Generally, you will make yourself a block as well, and possibly, at the beginning of the month, post a photo of the fabrics you are planning to use so people have a better idea of what you're after. Then you just sit back and let the blocks roll in! Be sure to send out your address when you email the hive so everyone knows where to mail their blocks, and then keep track as you get them of who has sent theirs in and who hasn't.

Here is a link to a Pinterest page I've started with links to many blocks and block tutorials. I will keep adding to it! Click here!

When you are making blocks for others:
This is a fun chance to get to make blocks you wouldn't normally make, and possibly work with color combos that you wouldnt always choose for yourself. Embrace it! Try your best to follow the guidelines given to you by the host each month. Feel free to post pictures of fabric possibilities if you want feedback from the host. If you are having trouble with any part of a block, just reach out for help! That's another benefit to being in a bee, that you have other people to give you pointers and tips. You also want to make sure to iron seams however it's been requested, and check if the host wants their block trimmed or untrimmed. Do you best to mail things on time! I know months can get hectic and fly by, so if you know you will be a week or so late, just let the host know that you still plan on making the block. The deadline to mail should be around the 10th of the following month. When you mail, please put your block inside a ziploc bag, just in case! And include a note so the host knows who it is from!

One more thing it is useful to have during a quilting bee is a "queen bee," this is simply a person who keeps track of things and makes sure that everyone is sending their blocks on time, and if someone vanishes from the bee they can help to find a replacement. The month that you are the host, you will want to report to them who, if anyone, did not send you blocks.
Collected blocks from my first bee, up on my design wall

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Join a Quilting Bee in 2015!

One of my favorite things that I did in 2014 was take part in my very first quilt bee! I saw on Instagram that someone was getting groups (or hives) together for a bee using a book my friend Lindsay wrote! (see book here). I had never done a bee before and thought it would be fun to try.

A bee, for those of you who havent done one before, is made up of 12 people, and it takes a 1 year commitment. This is because each person in the bee gets assigned a month that is "theirs." When it is your month, you chose the block and the color scheme, and the 11 other people in your bee make the block that you have chosen. I have seen bees where people mail out fabric to the other group members, but I really enjoyed seeing what other people had in their stash, and having the chance to receive fabrics that I had never bought or even seen before! The 11 other members are to send their completed block to you by the end of your month, and then, ideally, they have 12 (or sometimes 24, if the block is smaller) blocks with which to make their own quilt! Then the next month begins and you get a new block assignment from someone else!

Some of the blocks I have made in my bee this year
There was a lot that I loved about the bee (and I've written about it in more detail here). It was really fun and interesting to me to see what color combinations people requested, and it is fun to work in a palate that you dont normally work in. It's a good way to stretch your design sensibility, I think. I also liked that a lot of this bee took place on Instagram, a really fun way to connect and see peoples progress. Sewing is such a visual hobby, and has a history of companionship, back when quilt bees were worked on all together in person, and I like that Instagram can help create a modern version of this. For all the bad things that people say about technology making us more isolated and removed from human interaction, I think it also has the ability to bring you close to people that you wouldnt get to meet or interact with otherwise.

Good, old-fashioned fun! (image from here)

And that brings me to the bees I'd like to get started this year! What better time than now to start something new!

1. The Tennessee Local Bee (#tnlocalhoneybee)-- I'd love to start a bee of people living in or around Nashville (or just TN in general if there arent enough people interested in town). I would love to incorporate some of the in-person aspects of the quilting bee, such as coming together to help baste large quilts (and being able to take advantage of the large table in the store to make this so much easier!), to possibly having group quilting days, hanging out drinking tea, and having the option of choosing any fabric at the store to use and have it available at a discount. This can be open to all levels of skill, so dont be shy if you have never done a bee.

2. The Newbie Bee (#newbiebee2015)-- For first timers! A great place to start, and I will post throughout the year and be available to answer any questions that may arise. This will be for beginner-intermediate skill levels, and you will also receive discounts at the online Etsy portion of The Fabric Studio throughout the year.

3. Paper-Piecing/ Advanced Block Bee (#challengeacceptedbee2015)-- Is 2015 the year you'd like to push yourself to try more difficult blocks, and maybe learn a few new techniques? Maybe you've seen some of From Blank Pages' amazing paper-pieced quilts but thought there was no way you could ever make 12 of the same thing (I know I have). I think (and hope!) this bee will create some really spectacular quilts that just might not be possible on your own. Keep in mind for this bee people may be choosing paper piecing patterns that you would need to purchase (usually these are less than $10, though there are also tons of free ones available) but just think of it as a way to expand your pattern library and help independent pattern designers. Discounts from The Fabric Studio will also apply.

So, if any of these sound tempting and fun to you, please do join! You can leave a comment with your email and which bee you'd like to join, and I'll be emailing you with info in the next week. Looking forward to a fun and quilt-y 2015!!

Some of my favorite #moderninstabee2014 quilts
(from instagrm users @alexandra1008, @heatherisgr8, @tennjenny, and @tifray)