June hasn’t been my favourite month of the year, that’s for sure. It seems like I’ve spent the month focusing on problems and drama rather than moving forward. The biggest setback has been losing two months worth of our inventory and sales data at the workroom. I wrote about it here. It’s the kinda thing that you hope will never happen and when it does, (despite all your back-up systems) you are crushed with helplessness. Then you need to suck it up and work for several nights until 4am, 2am, 1am to start getting things back on track. If you’re really lucky, like me, when you ask for some help there is an outpouring of kind words, receipts (in person, emailed, photographed, scanned) and offers to do data entry. Thank you. So much.
If you’re just hearing about this now, we are still hoping to get as many of our receipts or emailed invoices from April 5-June 15, 2011. Even if it’s for a spool of thread or a class you took, we’d love to have a copy. No receipt is too small. We’ve been able to rebuild so much quicker with the receipts you have sent in so far. It’s taking a while to go through all your lovely emails, but you’ll hear from us very soon. Please read more details here, if you think you can help.
After four intense days of emergency computer mayhem. We took off to Andrew’s family cottage for 3 days. Perfect timing. Quiet. Escape. Hand stitching. Food. Naps. Nature. Family time.
I took Victoria Day as a sewing day to catch up on working on my Machine Foundation Paper Piecing homework. I have just one more house to do this week before I sew it together and add my border before Saturday’s final class. I can’t wait to see them all come together. Take a look at how different and awesome Agnes’ and Suzanne’s came out. There is so much personality in everyone’s little houses!
One of our many new classes is an Advanced Natural Dyeing class. Many of the past Natural Dyeing students wanted a next level class where they could explore more dyestuffs and different techniques. Also, we just love taking classes from Julie. The advanced class is completely self directed, so each student has their own personal projects and develops a plan with Julie ahead of time.
Natural dyeing is really exciting. I love when the back area and kitchen of the workroom changes into a laboratory with pots everywhere that are bubbling up with bundles of fabric inside. It’s messy and chaotic and thrilling. Also, dyeing with a group of people is so much fun.
I had two projects that I wanted to work on. The first was a very simple natural dyed quilt. I took some organic cotton brushed sheeting and randomly cut it into pieces that I dyed and over-dyed into various colours. My plan is to simply stitch all the pieces back together to create a front and back of a quilt. I’ve kept pretty good notes on what each piece was dyed in, so the quilt will be a bit of a map of all the dyeing I did in class.
My second project was to dye a piece of silk for a dress. I’ve been pinning all kinds of inspirational dyeing images on Pinterest. In particular, I really loved this super dark, inky dress and wanted to try to replicate that depth of colour. A lot of the natural dye colours end up being very soft and muted, so I thought I would have to do some over-dyeing to build up that kind of colour. By accident, I ended up creating a very dark logwood bath using an older bundle of logwood chips that had been previously used and I had kept for the past few months in a plastic bag. I think something about the wood staying wet for so long, released a lot of colour into the bath and we got a purple that was almost black. There are so many great surprises in natural dyeing. I twisted up and tied my bundle of silk and cooked it carefully in the bath for a while. I’m so happy with how it turned out in the end and love the shibori pattern it created.
Arounna made all kinds of lovely scarves and bags from her class work. Margie had all kinds of shibori, yarn and even her beautiful crochet stones dipped into the pots. Carolanne was working on an indigo shibori dyed piece of washi paper that she is hand quilting. Brian was working on creating fabric samples to make quilt blocks from. Susan did some fun solar dyeing, yarn and shibori experiments. Even Julie bundled up some fabric during class for solar dyeing. We had such a great time in class together and I think there will have to be a little dye party reunion during the summer. I want to do more dyeing!
It’s finally here. I hope see you at the snack table at our Spring Trunk Show tomorrow!
I don’t know about you, but I want to sew about a hundred different things right now. (Even more than usual!) New projects need new fabric. This sale is for you friends!
I really miss doing patchwork if I don’t get to do any for even just a couple weeks. I started taking our new Machine Foundation Paper Piecing class on Saturday. We’re making an incredible wall quilt designed by Johanna. I have been wanting to learn paper piecing FOREVER.
Sunday night, I tackled some of my homework for the class and completed the first row of houses, plus one tree. It felt great to get back into my Sunday routine, to make a mess with fabric bits everywhere and to sew until the wee hours of the morning. This technique is a ‘game changer’. It totally unlocks a whole new world of patchwork and I’m so excited by it. Not only can you show off your fussy cutting, but you can showcase awesome scraps of fabric with these intricate designs.
If you want to see some incredible paper piecing possibilities, check out this, this, this and this! I can’t even believe the awesome-ness people come up with sometimes.
Before I left for The Makerie, I spent almost an entire week sewing up a storm of new things to bring and wear on our trip. The Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated was one of the patterns I’ve been meaning to test out for a little while now and I thought it would be great for traveling.
I chose to make it using one of the cotton voiles from Greenfield Hill by Denyse Schmidt. It’s really graphic and a much bolder print that you would normally see me wear, but I really love it. The great thing about voile is that it is a wonderful fabric to use in clothing because it has such a soft, flowing drape. It’s also very nice to sew with.
The pattern was very easy to sew, has some great details and lots of room for variation. They suggest two different lengths (tunic or shirt) and I chose the longer tunic length for my first version. I was in a hurry and didn’t add side seam pockets, but I’ll definitely do that next time. I got to see three other interpretations of the Schoolhouse Tunic at The Makerie, as every day, one of the Fancy Tiger girls was wearing her own version. (You can see Emily’s soft plaid version on the far left) It gave me so many ideas on different fabrics and ways to style the pattern.
I’m trying to decide on fabric for my second Schoolhouse Tunic. Perhaps some Liberty of London?
Keep an eye out for this as a new class at the workroom this summer. Everyone needs to make one of these tunics!
At the workroom we sew on Bernina sewing machines and sergers. People ask me all the time what I sew on at home and now I can finally say ‘a Bernina Aurora 430‘!
I’ve been sewing for the past eight years on a machine called, ‘The Craftmaster’ which has now been passed on to my mom. I rationalized for a long time that I had 7 Berninas already (at the shop), so no need to have one at home. The truth is that I very rarely get to do any actual sewing at the shop. I’ve been wistfully dreaming of a Bernina of my own since I first tried one.
There’s a definite reason that I chose Bernina for the workroom. I believe it’s the best. I spend a lot of time talking to you about the things that I make and now I’d like to mix in talking about how I make them with Bernina. I’ll be talking now and then about special features, feet, accessories about all of the machines. (sewing machines & sergers!) Getting to know your sewing machine and what it can do for you will make you a better seamstress. If you have a Bernina, I bet you love it. I know that I am absolutely in love with mine already. I’m hoping to create a resource for Bernina owners to learn even more about their machines and love them even more!
The Aurora has been my ultimate machine for a while now and I think I’ve earned it. I plan on putting it through its paces and telling you all about it.
(OMG. Seriously. Sewing has never been this fun! This machine is heaven.)
Last year we started a tradition of hosting Pysanky classes just before Easter. Pysanky is the beautiful art of traditional Ukrainian egg decorating.
Fittingly, we held our first class of the year on the first day of Spring. Our instructor, Andrei Gravelle, got us inspired with the historical background and imagery of pysanky eggs. The detail that can be achieved is truly incredible.
Pysanky is created by drawing with melted beeswax on the surface of the egg with a tool called a kistka. The egg is dipped in a colour bath (starting with the lightest colour) and the beeswax acts as a resist. More beeswax detailing is added after each colour bath, until you end with the darkest colour, often black. The layering of colour like this is fascinating to me and after doing my first egg I now have a much better understanding of the effects you can achieve. I love how the final layer of black creates such a bold finish to the designs.
I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn this craft and to create my own yearly pysanky tradition. I feel so strongly that these crafts need to be shared as much as possible. I especially love that this a such a great group/family craft that everyone can sit together and enjoy creating something really unique no matter what age you are.
Sampler Quilt 2 class finished two weeks ago. It was a glorious ten weeks putting together this beauty of a quilt top. I don’t think I’m the only one from the class suffering from a bit of withdrawal. Thursday nights just don’t feel the same.
Johanna designed this next Quilt Sampler version to be bigger and more challenging. I do feel like I underwent some quilt boot camp and learned so many valuable lessons that will make me a better quilter. Firstly, I never fully understood the value of finger pressing and careful ironing. The wonkiness in quilt blocks is often created afterwards when you are moving your iron back and forth over your fabric stretching the heck out of it. Secondly, the miracle of spray starch. Starching some of my wonky blocks made them MUCH less wonky. I imagine pre-starching fabrics before you sew with them would also be helpful. (FYI: you will see starch on our shop shelves in the next few weeks!)
Sampler quilts are tricky, since there are so may different elements going on. I found myself trying to choose very plain fabrics and somehow, I hardly put any mustard coloured fabrics into this quilt. I really wanted to, but it just didn’t seem right. My fellow students, on the other hand, chose brilliant, bold colours and fabrics that I am totally in awe of. Spend some time checking them out here. Also, check out Katherine’s quilt top that I didn’t get a chance to photograph myself. They are all wildly different!
I spent one long night working on the back of my quilt. I decided to use my improv techniques to make something on a larger scale that would fit across the back. I used scrap pieces from four different fabrics to create that pieced bar. I’ve started to pay more attention to my improv process since I know so many of you are interested in how I do it. Perhaps with a bit of nudging there will be an improv class on our schedule.
The quilt is now basted and ready for quilting. I am going to do my best to get going on this sooner than later. I’m thinking some simple machine quilting echoing the designs will do the trick.