Apr 19 2015

Designing an apron

Published by under Sewing

Sudz Apron 1 Sudz Apron 2

A few weeks back, before making my macaron apron, I was trying out making some other aprons. I had this fun cleaning fabric and decided it would be perfect for making some tester aprons since I was designing my own. I was trying out two different styles to see which I liked better. Of course both styles had to have ruffles because I <3 ruffles.

The first style, seen above left, was cut as one piece for the bodice on the fold. Here are the pieces:

  • 2 bodice piece cut on the fold — one of the pattern fabric and one of some white muslin to use for the lining.
  • 2 neck straps, 4 inches wide by 22 inches or so (half the width left of the polka dot fabric). These were then folded over on themselves and top stitched.
  • 4 waist straps, 4 inches wide by 44 inches (fabric width). These were then sewed as pairs right sides together, sewing one end off at an angle. I turned them right side out and then top stitched.
  • 2 ruffle strips, 8 inches wide by 44 inches. I sewed the two strips together on the short end, pressed in half and then gathered the old fashion way (not with a ruffler).

I attached the ruffle to the bottom of the bodice, distributing the ruffles and attached the neck and shoulder straps. Then I pulled everything in and sewed the lining on. Turned everything inside out so all the raw edges were inside and then top stitched.

Here are some detail photos:

Apron sewn ties

Neck ties

Apron waist ties

Waist ties

Apron ruffle

Ruffle!

For the second style, seen above right, there were many different pieces:

  • 1 bodice pieces. I was making do with fabric from the first so I had to put a seam down the middle, but otherwise I would have done it on the fold. This used the top half of the first apron for the top pattern.
  • 1 bodice lining piece cut on the fold and with the length to include both the bodice and the waist strap.
  • 1 skirt, 16 inches long by 44 inches (the fabric width)
  • 1 waist, 4.25 inches (for a finished width of 3 inches) by 21 inches (the bottom width of the bodice)
  • The straps and ruffle were 1 inch and 3 inch respectively grosgrain ribbon. The 3 inch wide was also used for the waist ties.

For this one, I first attached the waist to the bodice. Then I gathered the skirt top manually for even distribution of gathers and attached to the bottom of the waist. Next was attaching the straps — waist and neck — to the bodice. After that I once again rolled everything in, attached the bodice lining and turned right side out so that all the seams were enclosed, finishing up with some topstitching. The last step was to use my ruffler to ruffle the grosgrain ribbon and attach that to the bottom of the skirt. I decided to sew that directly on top since I was pretty sure it would really lie well if it had to turn inside.

Here are some detail photos:

Apron bodice

Bodice front and waist band

Apron bodice lining

Bodice lining

Apron ribbon ruffle

Ribbon ruffle

Although both are cute, I prefer the quality of the first apron with the fabric ties and fabric ruffle, but my husband preferred the look of the second one with the more gathered skirt. The first is more time consuming since the second uses many pre-made items like the ribbon. For both, I would make the top of the apron narrower since it gaped a bit on me. So definitely still some refinements to make before I achieve my perfect apron pattern, but I’m on my way.

I leave you with a back view of the first apron so you can see how cute the waist ties look when tied.

Sudz Apron 1 back

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Apr 16 2015

Experiments in quilting: walking foot

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

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Now that the weather is getting nicer, I wanted some placemats for when we eat outside. I think I actually picked up these two fat quarters a while ago, but I liked the look of them because they reminded me of picnic table tablecloths. My intention even then though was to use them to practice my quilting.

After trying out free motion quilting and failing deciding it wasn’t for me, I decided to go with simple straight stitching since the fabric gives me guides.

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I ended up doing one using a normal presser foot on my Husqvarna and one using a walking foot on my Singer. I bought the walking foot for my Singer because I didn’t have one before (gasp — I know!) and buying one for my Singer was about 1/3 the price as for the Husqvarna. I got it at Sewing Parts Online in case you’re looking for one. I knew they would carry parts for a slant shank which is what I have.

A walking foot is pretty awesome. I don’t think I ever used one before, but it really made everything so simple. I didn’t have to keep pulling everything taught. It just flowed through!

In the photo above, the placemat on the left was done with the walking foot and the one on the right was done with a normal foot. You can see the one of the right has slightly more distortion (the check pattern really shows it off) due to the pulling of the fabric since I switched directions with each stitch.

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A slightly closer up shot. Again, walking foot on the left and regular presser foot on the right. Basically a walking foot is totally cool, I can’t believe I didn’t have one before and I’m looking forward to using it for my neon quilt.

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Apr 13 2015

St. Patrick’s Day Renfrew Tunic

Published by under Sewing

Shamrock tunic

Slight detour from our current quilting kick I’ve been on. As you may recall, March 17 is St. Patrick’s day. I bought this fun shamrock jersey last year and I was determined this year to have a top out of it to wear.

So I pulled out the pattern for the Sewaholic Renfrew top that I had previously made. Because I had already made it, I pretty much knew what I was doing and knew that i would fit me (this is a size 6). I altered it slightly but extending it 6 inches in length. That was the only change — the band stayed the same size.

I was able to stitch the whole thing up in an evening, probably a couple hours and was quite happy with it! The fabric wasn’t the softest, but it worked for what I needed and I’m sure I’ll wear it again next year. :)

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Apr 10 2015

Experiments in quilting: free motion

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

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Before quilting up my neon quilt I decided to test out some different methods of quilting. One of the first methods I tried was free motion.

I’ve done stippling before using the longarm quilter but not using my home machine. The sample above was done on my Husqvarna with the darning foot (because I don’t have the actual free motion foot). I didn’t play around with the stitch tension too much. I’ve since read that you can decrease the thread tension to make the stitches a bit nicer. The machine is in the shop right now (first time since I bought it!) so maybe I’ll try that when I get it back, but not sure.

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Next I decided to try on my Singer which has a free motion foot included with it. This one had slightly better results. I actually like the way this looks pretty well. For this sample, I did play with the tension a bit.

However when I tried it on an actual piece to be quilted (some placemats you’ll see in the next post), it left something to be desired. I found I had a real hard time moving the fabric around and definitely a difficult time moving it at a consistent speed so the stitches weren’t consistent and didn’t look pretty. Ultimately I ended up pulling it out and deciding to go with straight stitches, but I definitely need to revisit free motion quilting.

I’m taking another longarm certification course at a different location because the original location stopped offering rental :( but I suspect once I have that available to me, I’ll prefer that over my home machine for speed and complexity potential.

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Apr 07 2015

WIP: Neon quilt 3

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Quilt rolled up to be sewn

Last I posted, I showed some of my backing fabric. I couldn’t decide on which color to do for the backing so I just decided to do all of them. I put them in strips. Above is my quilt rolled and ready to be quilted on my home machine.

I decided to try doing a spray basting instead of pins based on some blog posts I’ve read. I have no idea where they are now to link them but I’ll update this post if I find them again. One of the blog posts I read recommended June Taylor brand, but I picked up some Spray n Bond basting spray since that was what they had at JoAnn’s. Fortunately I had a 60% off coupon because that stuff is not cheap (normally $15.99!) so if I have a coupon, I know what I’ll be stocking up on. I think I went a little heavy on the spray because I suspect this should get me through more quilts. It’s about half empty so I think I should be able to get another quilt out of it.

Verdit? This stuff is awesome. I hate dealing with pins and this stuff works really well. It appeared to wash off my feet easily (more on that later) so I suspect it will wash out of the quilt easily as well. I’m still quilting so we’ll see. But it’s so nice being able to manipulate the quilt and not worry about pins. Here’s what I did:

Newspaper base for basting

First I laid down a bunch of newspaper and taped them to the floor using painters tape. Next time I will use a large tarp because that will be simpler. Also next time, I will do this outside. Despite the fact that I had about a foot clearance on each side, I still managed to get errant basting spray on the floor around the edges. That stuff goes the distance (har har). So I had to wipe that up which was annoying. So next time: tarp & outside.

Basting backing to batting

Then I taped my backing to the paper. No picture of just the backing although you can see how nice the stripes of dots are. :D I did press this before laying it down. The painters tape sticks “just okay” to the fabric. And the paper wanted to move — another reason for a tarp. 

After I’d laid down my backing, I laid out the batting and cut it to size. I lifted one half over and starting in the middle began spraying in 12-15 inch strips, pressing down the batting in an outward motion as I went. Then I repeated on the other half.

Basting top to batting

After doing the batting, I did the same thing with the top. I folded it in half and laid the half right in the middle, then did the same spray-press-repeat for both halves.

Basted quilt

And there you go. A lovely basted quilt. One thing I realized doing it this way is that I don’t need so much batting and backing fabric around the outside edge of the top. When I finally trim, I’m going to end up with a lot of extra. I’m sure I’ll use the scraps, but still, it’s always nice to conserve if possible. The last two quilts I finished I did on a longarm which needs a lot more wiggle room, but if I’m doing it on my home machine, that’s not as necessary — especially with the spray basting!

I’m also happy to report that now that I’ve started quilting, the spray basting hasn’t gummed up the needles at all!

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Mar 25 2015

I did not miss macaron day

Published by under Food,Quilting

Happy Macaron Day

Although it may seem that I did, I didn’t miss Macaron Day — or Jour Du Macaron as the French call it — on March 20. I made vanilla (see above) and raspberry macarons, trying out some new flavor options with the filling. My husband was sorely disappointed that there was nothing chocolate, but the macarons were met with positive reviews at work. (I didn’t get to take a good photo so that’s why you get an instagram style photo to hide the quality.)

Neon dot backing fabric

Fear not, there is more work being done on the quilt as well. I recently got my backing fabric from Hawthorne Threads. Isn’t it pretty? I couldn’t decide on just one of the colors so I decided to do them all!

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Mar 18 2015

More French Macarons

Published by under Cooking

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As previously mentioned, I’m obsessed with macarons. Here’s the latest batch: chocolate peanut butter, raspberry chocolate, chocolate with chocolate caramel and plain with chocolate caramel.

This was my first time making chocolate meringue (with cocoa powder in the meringue) and I may have to tweak some of the cooking times or temperatures as they came out a little crispy, but still very tasty and chocolatey delicious.

In an interesting tidbit, macarons cost about $2 a piece in this area. I estimate that I made around 70 macarons which means about $140 worth of the crazy things!

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Mar 15 2015

WIP: Neon quilt 2

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

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I continued working on my neon quilt. Love that image above. I just love the way all these colors look together. I think all those strips sewn together would make a nice quilt just by themselves!

Today I worked on the binding. I had bought some jelly rolls to make binding. I started by finding a pleasing arrangement. Then I sewed all the strips together (see picture at the top).

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I pressed the whole thing and then sliced them into 2.5 inch strips. Finally, I pressed it in half lengthwise and rolled it around a tube. I now have yards and yards of beautiful binding. I might have enough for 2 quilts, actually. Frankly, I think the binding took more time than the actual quilt top, but I don’t mind because I think it came out fantastic!

Next up is getting some batting and piecing the back together . . .

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Mar 12 2015

French macarons

Published by under Cooking

French Macarons

The fact of the matter is that I’m currently obsessed with french macarons. I did a macaron making party for my birthday. I made my macaron apron. I have more macaron fabric which I haven’t used yet. I love them. They are cute. They are tasty.

The other weekend I made 5 batches (I only got pictures of samples from 4 of them because my husband at the first batch before I could take decent pictures). I originally learned using an Italian meringue method, but decided to try using the Martha Stewart recipe which is the French meringue method. It worked great and the macarons came out awesome (see above). I’m really loving this new recipe because it’s less messy and smaller batches which means I can make more variety.

The flavors above are lemon, raspberry-lemon, chocolate-mint and chocolate-caramel filled. They were met with very positive reviews. :)

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Mar 09 2015

Found some more neon :)

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Just some Riley Blake Neon basics . . .

Remember how I needed more neon basics in order to do the edging on my neon quilt? Well, it was my lucky day and Craftsy was having a big ol’ sale and it turns out they just happened to have a ton of the neon basics on serious discount. Of course I could not resist. I love them. They’re on super sale since they’re discontinuing them but hopefully the folks at Riley Blake will decide to come back out with them or something similar at some point because I totally love them and wish I had found them sooner since I would have gotten more of the solids.

This time I picked up 2 more of the layer cakes, 2 of the jelly rolls (that’s what I’m using to make the binding) and a fat quarter pile. I’ve already got plans for the 2 layer cakes and one of the jelly rolls. I’m sure the fat quarters and other jelly roll are going to burn a hole in my figurative quilt pocket.

I also grabbed some white Aurifil thread since that was on sale and a Dresden template, also on sale. I wanted to try making some Dresden plates for fun.

I had picked up some Aurifil thread when I placed my last order with Hawthorne Threads and used it to make the neon quilt top. I’ve read a bunch about Aurifil thread on a number of quilt blogs and thought, oh, that’s just thread. It actually is super nice to sew with! My stitches look so pretty! So I got a big spool to use for the next few quilts. I realized that I had been using 40 wt and the one I just bought was 50 wt so we’ll see how that goes. I suspect I’ll sewing with the 40 wt more than the 50 but who knows. I do think the 50 wt will be nice for doing my quilt top with the neon since it will blend a bit more.

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