Jumping back in here after a roller coaster eight months. We’ll talk about some of that later but there’s a lot happening and even more to come, so let’s get back to business.
I have been doing improv patchwork since my early days of sewing. It has always felt like a type of meditation with fabric to me. I find that it can help me to tune in to how I am feeling and give me a sense of grounding. I have been lucky to have taken many improv patchwork classes from many different teachers, including Denyse Schmidt and Cheryl Arkison. Everyone has a different approach and style that open my mind a bit more the infinite possibilities within this technique. When the opportunity came to bring Sherri Lynn Wood to the workroom, it felt like a dream come true. A very big thank you to Pam at Mad About Patchwork for organizing everything so that our two shops could have this experience with Sherri. The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is one of my favourite quilting books and Sherri’s approach to improv is so incredibly inspiring.
I really loved how Sherri related improv patchwork to our daily improv in life. There are so many important lessons to learn when you sew this way and I can see more and more that I consciously use these lessons when I hit roadblocks in my daily life. I generally feel less stressed and look for creative solutions to make things work no matter how bad things seem and I’m sure it is because of my conscious improv practice.
Commit one step at a time. Be in the present, don’t try to plan ahead.
Yes AND – build on what you have, if you don’t like it, add something so that you will love it
Set limits but feel free to change those if you get bored
Listen to your internal cues
Ruler free – express your own line in your work
I started three really exciting pieces over the course of her classes that I’m really looking forward to finishing. I’ve decided to do wall hangings rather than larger quilts. I challenged myself to only using solids in the first two sessions. I used two of our curated Kona bundles. For the final class I added in a couple prints that I was inspired by that day and worked in leftover solids from the previous days. These are going to be awesome when they are finished. The work that everyone produced over the three days was really amazing to see. Each person interpreted the ideas in such unique ways.
Sherri traveled such a long way to visit us (California!) and I had such a lovely time hanging out and learning from her. If we’re lucky, maybe she’ll come back to Toronto again. If you have the chance to learn from her, you should definitely take it! Thank you so much, Sherri!
It’s true, I have a big crush on the Les Fleurs collection and I can’t stop sewing with it. After I finished my Trapeze Dress, I knew that I wanted to make something with one of the canvas prints. For me, a garment bag is such a lovely (and easy!) way to show off a fabulous fabric without having to chop it up too much. (Check out my nani IRO version) I always lengthen the garment bag to fit a fancy dress.
The navy/coral colour combination has me thinking about my next quilt palette. I’ll be making a Diamond Mountain Quilt with Lizzy House in just a couple weeks. I have a feeling there’s going to be lots of Les Fleurs in there.
It’s a hot summer. It’s so hot that I am currently lamenting the fact that I don’t have enough sleeveless dresses to wear. I’ve made so many of the Merchant & Mills patterns, but this is my first time making the classic Trapeze Dress. I picked it up a couple weeks ago with the intention of making it in a lightweight chambray.
The Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs collection arrived this week and right away, I knew that their floral rayon would pair perfectly with the simple style of the Trapeze Dress. I’ve made a few things with the Cotton & Steel rayon and I don’t usually pre-wash this fabric. They recommend dry cleaning for the longest wearing, but I’ve just been washing in cold and hanging to dry. This has worked well for me so far.
The pattern makes efficient use of your fabric by having the back piece cut in two. You would need twice as much fabric if it was cut on the fold. The pattern also assumes that you are not using a directional print. The front piece and back pieces are cut in opposite directions. Luckily this Floral Birch print was not obviously directional, so I just cut the back pieces ‘upside down’, as directed. If you have something where this would matter, you would want to adjust the yardage to account for that. For once, I found that I need exactly the amount of yardage that the pattern recommended. There were only small bits left over once I cut out the five pieces.
One thing that I was so excited about making this dress is that it is super simple. I figured it would come together quickly with no issues. Of course, there were a couple issues. I knew that I wanted to check the fit. Most of the Merchant & Mills patterns are a bit more of a relaxed fit than I like. I often will take in the sides a little bit, especially around the waist just to give a bit more definition there. That’s exactly what I ended up doing here. I just took a bit off the sides, adjusted my pattern and then matched my changes to the front and back facing pieces.
This pattern uses a proper facing rather than just bias finishing. Hooray! I love facings. Not only that, it’s an all-in-one facing, meaning it faces the neck and the sleeves at once. I’ve done this before and have used a method that leave the shoulder seams open. I was interested in trying their method. I tried to walk through it carefully a few times and always got stuck with everything being all twisted up. There was a lot of stitch ripping and cursing as I tried to make sense of the steps. Hoping the internet would have the answer, I looked it up and found a few people mentioning having difficulty, as well. Some people gave up and did bias trim and others figured it out but didn’t offer any insights. When I checked YouTube for a tutorial, I found a few, but none following the same method as the Merchant & Mills instructions. This tutorial from Threads seemed really straightforward and worked perfectly for me. I did have to back track a bit to undo the side seams of the dress and the facings but it was worth it to learn this great technique. Also, the pattern calls for interfacing the facings, which I skipped and I’m happy that I did. This rayon is heavy enough to hold it’s own. To tack down the facing under the arms, I just stitched in the ditch of the side seam (through the dress & the facing) for a few inches to hold the facing in place. Facings that flip around are incredibly annoying.
I kept the length of the dress as it is in the pattern. It’s pretty dressy and I’m planning on wearing it to a wedding in a couple weeks. Normally, I would add side seam pockets but I wanted to keep the drape and lines of the swishy silhouette without the pockets (and my iPhone) dragging the side seam down.
This first version took me a bit longer to make than I anticipated, but now that it’s all sorted. I know I will be able to knock out my next ones in just a couple hours. This is truly the perfect dress for the summer!
SEWING NOTES Size: 8 Adjustments: took the sides in slightly for a better bit Yardage: Pattern calls for 1.9 metres of 44 inch wide fabric and it was a tight squeeze. You would need more fabric if your print is directional. Didn’t use interfacing on the facing pieces. Construction: Could not figure out their instructions for sewing in the facing. Found a great YouTube tutorial from Threads and followed it instead. It changes the order of assembling the dress though! Added the extra step of tacking down the facing by stitching in the ditch of the underarm seam for a couple inches.
When Cotton + Steel announced that their first guest designer was going to be Rifle Paper Co. last year, it seemed like the day would never come for the fabric to finally be released. The time is now and I’m so excited! Like many people, I’ve loved Rifle Paper Co products forever. The idea that I’m going to be able to sew with these gorgeous designs is pretty inspiring.
Our delivery will be arriving very soon and we’ve just posted our pre-order sale at the workroom. Who else is obsessing over what they are going to do with this collection? There are 13 quilting cotton prints – so definitely there is a Rifle Paper quilt in my future. There are 5 cotton/linen canvas prints – perfect for bags, pillows, curtains, structured garments and accessories. Personally, I’d love to cover a chair with one of them. There are also 4 Cotton Lawn Prints (flamingos!) and 3 Rayon prints. So, definitely a fun floral dress, some cute t-shirts and tops. Maybe some cute dark floral pants?!
I’m sharing my photos of the actual fabric samples I ordered from. In person these fabrics are really special and the colours are perfect. I just keep scrolling through and trying to narrow down my choices, but who am I kidding? I kinda need it all. I can’t wait to splash out on this collection and surround myself in this floral dream.
Making a Liberty of London Archer Shirt has been on my wish list for a while now. Seems like the most classic combo, pairing a button-front shirt with Liberty tana lawn cotton. Now that I’ve made one, I want to line up a few more into the sewing queue.
I’m so happy to have this project as one of our newest classes at the workroom. First off, I learned that a button-down shirt refers to shirts where the collar buttons down. I always assumed it meant any shirt with buttons down the front. Nope. Thus, we named the class Button-Front Shirt! This class is a wonderful way to refine your garment making skills. I learned a lot of great tricks from Emma. I was especially excited to use french seams throughout the whole garment, even the armholes. I’ve never tried it before and it is so satisfying to see such a beautiful finish on the inside. I love to serge, but this is next level.
I also made my best collar ever. Something always goes slightly awry for me when attaching the collar stand to the shirt, but the method in the pattern worked perfectly and we nicknamed it ‘banana split’. The other thing that I finally got was the sleeve placket. Those things have always confused the heck out of me. But again, walking through it with Emma and following the pattern it came together like a dream.
The class ended with Emma’s button trick, which is a game changer for perfectly sewn buttons.
I’ve had such great experiences with Grainline Studio patterns. The fit usually works great and everything is so well designed with easy to understand instructions. I’m so happy I’ve cracked the Archer Shirt and I’m ready to make a dozen more. Also – totally going to try the Pop-over Variation. I’ve got some brushed cotton set aside for that one.
Time to turn this peachy Lizzy House Constellations cotton lawn into a dress (for Lizzy’s wedding)! Wearing my bamboo jersey Moneta Dress and hanging out with a room full of crafty ladies at the workroom Sewing Date.