“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

I just missed submitting my quilt to the annual Richmond Fair and that was going to be the name I entered it under- fits my feisty little girl perfectly! I was inspired to make this when I fell in love with a quilt on Etsy but it was out of my price range. Never mind that I easily spent that amount in fabric, batting, shipping costs, a rotary cutter, and cutting mat! At least they are investments in my continued learning and growing as a sewist (sewer sounds too much like the pipe attached to a toilet)!

quilt layout

Working on the layout with my little helper

The fabric came from Weave and Woven Textiles, a shop based in Hamilton that I found on Instagram one day when I was about to head back to work after mat leave, and was feeling a bit sentimental about the time I had spent with my daughter. I wanted to make her something special, and what better keepsake is there than a quilt? My husband still has a quilt that his great-aunt made him and it’s one of our favourite blankets to cuddle up with. The passing years have made it super soft and there is just something so special about a tangible item that has been with you since childhood.

pinning and piecing

Pinning and piecing the fabric into larger strips

I also wanted something for my daughter’s room to bring in some colour; I loved our “neutral nursery” when we didn’t know the gender of our baby, but she is so full of personality that we needed to bring in some pizzazz and (pardon my French) badass-ery to her space! Unicorns are having a bit of a moment right now and to me, they embody everything my girl is- strong, kind, unique, fearless. So naturally, the first fabric I chose was the awesome turquoise unicorn pattern from Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics. There is also a hint of metallic gold for that je-ne-sais-quois bit of sparkle that she has (I’m sure every mom thinks this but I am just constantly wondering how it’s possible that this little marvel used to be a flutter in my belly).

ironing

So much ironing… 

The next pattern I picked was a tableau of beautifully decorated cakes and macarons by Patty Sloniger, also for Michael Miller fabrics; this one caught my eye because my husband’s sister is trained as a pastry chef and all the women in our family love to bake. After those two the rest just fell into place, since I knew I wanted a bold black and white stripe for the binding, so I chose other fabrics that just repeated colours from the unicorn/cakes prints without being too bold or busy. At the last minute I decided I needed more white so I added the gold raindrops print after I had already cut out most of the pieces! I also realized that I was a few inches short for my backing fabric, so instead of making it smaller I opted to add a strip of the binding fabric at either end. Now it’s truly unique and will better suit my longer-than-average girl. Choosing the fabrics was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of this project, and seeing it come together was the motivation I needed to get through the tedious tasks of ironing and pinning!

batting and backing

Had to extend the backing with the binding fabric since I miscalculated :(

Throughout the process there were some really helpful resources that I relied on. I didn’t follow a pattern so I looked up how to do a somewhat random assortment of squares and rectangles; I used the “magic number” method of repeated 3″, 6″, and 12″ side lengths for the pieces, adding 0.5″ for the 0.25″ seam allowance on either side (meaning I cut pieces that were 3.5×3.5″ squares, 6.5×6.5″ squares, 6.5×3.5″ rectangles, and 6.5×12.5″ rectangles). This made it easier to place the pieces somewhat randomly without a pattern, because the smaller pieces were elements of the larger pieces (ie, 4 of the 3.5″ squares would make a 6.5″ square after sewing them together).

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Assembling the “sandwich”: backing, batting, and quilt front

Another great resource was Suzy Quilts for the quilting and binding parts, which I was a teeny bit stressed about, due to the amount of work that goes into the quilt before you even get to the quilting stage! I also referred back to my favourite ladder stitch YouTube video for attaching the binding to the backside of the quilt, which I did by hand. I used cotton thread for the all of the seams because I read that using poly thread with cotton fabrics over time will wear unevenly and could lead to breakage in the fabric; also, I discovered that the thread for machine quilting must be meant for that use, because not all cotton thread is compatible with being machine fed. I picked up some quilt clips which I did find were handy to hold the binding on the quilt while I stitched it.

quilting complete

Machine quilting the sandwich layers together complete

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Testing stage

binding

Hand-stitching the binding on the backside of the quilt after machine sewing the front side

[Side note- if you regularly purchase notions from a larger fabric store (like in Canada we have FabricLand and Joanns in the US) you may be paying more than you have to. The Sewing Machine Hospital on Merivale Rd in Ottawa that I took my machine to had stuff like buttons, needles, and blades for my rotary cutter that were 50% less than the same items at FabricLand!!! The man who I spoke to there is also an independent shop owner so I’d much rather support him and his ability to find the missing piece for my walking foot! He said it’s totally common for larger stores to triple the cost of items since they get people in with big coupons and sales and have to make up the money somewhere. So, support your local sewing machine repair shop!]

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Action shot! Tried to get one of her gazing lovingly and full of admiration at it but it didn’t happen

Overall this project was really enjoyable and I’m glad I took the plunge! It definitely took a lot of hours and the hand stitching part at the end was pretty time consuming, but I didn’t want a visible seam around the perimeter so it had to happen.

finished

Done! Proud of my hard work!

Have you tackled a quilt project? Now that I’ve finished this one I must admit, I want to do another!

-C

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Baby Sleeper Teddy Bear

I can’t seem to stop sewing at the moment! The other day I was sifting through a box of our daughter’s newborn clothes and after “Awww-ing” repeatedly, I decided I had to make something out of my favourite newborn sleeper. Pinterest hooked me up with a blog post, pattern and tutorial so I decided to go for it- first I tried it with my second favourite sleeper of hers, just in case! This was a bit trickier than I thought it would be and I am REALLY GLAD that I followed the tutorial and used the iron-on interfacing. The jersey knit fabric would have been not pleasant to work with around all those curves! I’m glad I decided to do a trial run first because there are a few things I would change.

baby sleeper bear in progress
Front pieces joined for hand stitching nose and eye details

finished baby sleeper bear
The finished product

I think he’s pretty sweet, for a practice bear! When I’m ready for the main event, I’m going to modify the pattern slightly for the “bear front” so that the nose is a bit lower on the face and less pronounced, and make the legs point outwards more. If I do and it’s successful, I will post the new pattern as an update later. I continued to build on my sewing skills with this project by learning how to do a satin stitch with embroidery floss. Pretty basic stuff but it’s always fun to try something new!

There are so many things you can do to preserve those fleeting newborn moments- I like the idea of a quilt too- but I think this teddy will get a lot of snuggles and hopefully stand the test of time. I’m not one for keeping boxes and boxes of clothes that never see the light of day. I have more of a minimalist mentality and clutter really stresses me out, so I would rather donate the majority to someone who can use it and keep a few precious items as a keepsake.

Let me know if you try it or if you have another pattern to suggest, I struggled to find one that I liked!
-C

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Making time for Me- and Sewing

This may come as a shock, but it is really hard to make time for myself now that I’m a mom. I haven’t even gone back to work yet and I can’t believe how tired I am All. The. Time. It’s probably also the weather and time change but I just have no energy lately! It’s been hard to work on some of the projects we want to tackle around the house because they aren’t really suited to “mom life,” AKA only having 10 minutes to devote to something before I have to prepare a meal, clean up, change a diaper, make animal noises, clean up, do nap time, make a snack, clean up, do bath time, do story time, do bed time, and clean up. Did I mention all the cleaning?

someecards dinner every night

Sewing, however, is something I can work on in stages. It’s also great “me time” because I can get totally absorbed in it and it’s a hobby I really enjoy that I can be truly selfish with (my husband is unlikely to ever tag along with me to FabricLand). I’ve completed a number of sewing projects since I got back into it a few years ago, but mostly just basic stuff like throw pillows and curtains (not counting my slipcover project, which involved basic techniques but was still a major undertaking). I’ve been trying to work up the courage to sew some clothing for a while, but I find it hard to motivate myself to push through the learning phase; I just want to my plan to work out perfectly and want to skip past the mistakes to get to a finished and flawless product. I know if I’m not 100% happy with the way something turns out, I’ll just never wear it and it would be a waste of time and energy. But after seeing a bunch of other people have success with the Scout Tee pattern from Grainline Studios and hearing everyone rave about it as a beginner pattern, I decided to go for it. I figured if I liked it, I could try one of the variations next.

sewing and cocktails scout tee variation

Split neckline variation 

Knit variation with a fuller back

dandelion drift colour block lace

Lace colour blocked variation

craft sessions longer sleeve

Longer sleeved variation

I just went with the bog standard Scout Tee pattern as is, and I’m so glad I tried it out! I am really happy with the fit and will definitely wear it. I like it so much that I can’t wait to buy different fabric to try it with! This pattern was awesome because it was easy enough but also challenged me, I got to learn some new techniques like the neckline bias binding and using basting stitches to attach the sleeves, not to mention refresh my memory on how to actually follow a pattern. Another new skill I learned with this project was how to use a serger, so my seams look pretty darn professional and finished (if you don’t look that closely :P). Shout out to my dad for letting me borrow it! Here is my Scout Tee (you can see I worked especially hard on my model “stare off into the distance thoughtfully” pose)

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I can’t wait to try the Scout Tee with different fabric. As I mentioned, there are a ton of variations on the pattern with some great tutorials. The author (designer?) of the pattern also has a great tutorial on how to do the neckline which I couldn’t have managed without. I would definitely recommend this pattern to a beginner, or seasoned vet looking for a quick project!

Let me know what you think! If you’ve been looking for a starter sewing project, the Scout Tee is a great option.

-C

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The Long-Awaited Kimono

It’s been a while, eh? Now that Baby H has finally started napping  somewhat reliably and I actually have more than 5 minutes a day where I’m not brushing my teeth, showering, shoveling food down my gullet, or catching up on sleep, I might have time to blog again! 😮 [side note- I first wrote this draft three months ago; clearly the napping has been going swimmingly. I have one of those babies that naps anywhere from 30-45 min and occasionally over an hour. I can count on one hand the number of 2 hour naps she’s had. Somewhere out there, a friend of a friend of my husband’s told him that by 6 months, he could expect that our daughter would nap for 2 hours, 3x a day and I would have time to grow a veggie garden, clean the house, and cook elaborate homemade meals with all my free time. Dude, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but I hope karma does.]

I would also like to take this time to formally apologize to every new mom I know, who I quietly judged inside my head before becoming one myself. Forgive me. The best quote I have heard on this topic is “It’s awfully hard to get on that high horse with a baby in your arms.”

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We both know it’s going to be weeks months before you finish this, so I’m just going to make myself comfy…

I’ve had a kimono project in the back of my mind ever since I saw Holly Dolly’s. When I found a cute peachy floral fabric at my #1 happy place AKA FabricLand, I knew just what to do! Actually that’s a lie, here is the original fabric that I wanted to use, but it was like $20/m so I settled on the cheaper alternative.

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I wanted something that would be light for the summer that I could nurse discreetly in. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but the last item of clothing I sewed was a pair of PJ pants back when I was oh, 10 or so? And I hated them and never wore them (sorry, Mom). I used a tutorial from Elle Apparel Blog as a rough guide, laid out my fabric, and got to it!

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Why yes, that is a baby strapped to my body while I sewed. #babywearingforthewin

One thing this project gave me was experience using the presser foot on my sewing machine. I’m super impressed with my little Janome SUV 1108. It came with a ton of accessories that I am slowly learning the different uses for. It was a fun challenge figuring out how to do a rolled hem. Shout out to the people of the sewing sub on Reddit for their tips! The fabric was super fine and hard to work with, so I used spray starch to get it to “stick” and feed better into the foot. I made sure to practice on a few test strips until I got the feel for how to feed the fabric into the foot, and took my time- unpicking was tedious and not suited to the delicate nature of the fabric, so I really had to try to get it right on the first pass. I also used these tips from Megan Nielsen and this video from The Colorful World of Sewing to help me out.

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Test strips, test strips, and more test strips

Et voila.

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Just in time for the fall [Edit… winter] and for baby to start solids, my easy breezy summery nursing-friendly kimono!

-C

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Acetone Transfer Graphic Cushion Cover

Whenever I’m having a bad day and want to throw a pity party for myself, making a list of all the things I am blessed with helps to keep things in perspective. Even better if I can have some sort of daily reminder that there are many things in my life that I am grateful for. So I printed a favourite quote of mine on a cushion cover that I sewed for our sofa. Here’s the finished product first for all you impatient people out there!

cushion-cover

I used the acetone transfer on canvas technique that I have previously posted about. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as last time, mostly because I was working with a larger image and had to do it in sections, but overall it turned out well. One thing I have learned in motherhood is to be happy- or try to be- with “good enough.” I no longer have the time or energy to be the perfectionist that I want to be, so I’m making my peace with the imperfections in this one. That’s how you can tell I made it and didn’t buy it at some crappy store, right?

You can refer to the original post for the full tutorial, and I’ll highlight what I did differently below. Just remember the most important steps are to create a mirror image of the design you want and then print it on a laser printer, or this technique won’t work. [In the pictures below the image looks like it’s the “right” way because the printed image is facing the canvas and the backside of the paper is facing up, essentially flipping the flipped image if that makes sense!] To start with, I measured the pillow I was covering and cut a piece of canvas to the right size to form the front face. I figured out where I wanted the transfer to go and used pins to mark the left and top margins of the paper so that it would be exactly in the centre.

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Then I cut the paper into segments to make it more manageable to do the transfer- the acetone evaporates quickly so you want to work in sections. Starting with the first piece, I pinned the paper to the canvas, usingthe pins I placed on the canvas as my guide.

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I also marked the bottom of each section of the paper with a pin so that I knew where to put the next one to keep the alignment of the design the way I wanted it; I didn’t want it to look “piecey.”

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I kept moving down the canvas, section by section, following the steps in the tutorial to burnish the image from the paper onto the canvas until it was done.

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Once that was over (phew), I filled in any bare patches with a fine-tip Sharpie and then cut pieces of canvas to form the back of my cushion cover. I decided to do an envelope enclosure which is really simple- I just cut two pieces of fabric to form two “halves” for the back of the cushion, adding some extra length so that they overlapped in the centre. I had my pieces overlap by 4 inces, after hemming the ends that made up the opening. Then I just pinned the two back pieces with the overlap to the front pieces (right sides together of course), sewed all around the outside, and it was done!

cushion-cover

Let’s just not talk about the part that I smudged or the questionable Sharpie touch up job. I really dig these transfers, they are a neat way to make a custom print and I always have fun doing them (once the cursing is over). Try it and let me know how it goes!
-C

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