Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Learning to Alabama Chanin

About a year ago, I came across this picture on Pinterest, and, to my delight, it linked to an actual tutorial for how to make it. It was right up my alley - it was called the "Marimekko Style" tunic, and I love Marimekko (I have Marimekko curtains, wallpaper and shower curtains). I also love busy, intricate prints and patterns like this. This was my first introduction to designer Natalie Chanin, and her company called Alabama Chanin.

So, I ended up buying her book Alabama Studio Sewing and Design, which contains the pattern for this t-shirt tunic. Now, the shirt itself was not difficult to make, but the learning curve to figure everything out made it a LOT of effort, and I was very proud of myself when I accomplished everything and came up with an actual shirt resembling what I set out to make.  Now that I know what I am doing, subsequent projects in this style have been much easier.

My sister-in-law loved the shirt and wanted one, so I made her one for Christmas. I used a different tunic style this time; from the "Camisole Dress" pattern from Alabama Studio Style, cut to tunic length.

For these tunics, I followed the aforementioned tutorial on the A.C. website, supplemented with instructions from the book. Basically, this involves "reverse appliqué", where two layers of fabric - the navy and the white - are layered together, and the navy is cut away to reveal the white layer.

First, I had to make a stencil. I deviated from the Alabama Chanin method by cutting the stencil on my Silhouette cutting machine. I had to figure out how to use my machine to do this!  The stencil is downloadable from the Alabama Chanin website in PDF, but the Silhouette will not read PDFs, so I had to convert the file to a JPG. (I think I used Photoshop Elements to do this. I had to figure out how to do this in Photoshop Elements!)

I then painted the stencil on to the navy fabric with fabric paint. Instead of using a spray brush, which scared me, I just used a paintbrush for this. After it dried, both fabrics were pinned together and I hand-sewed around the shapes, and then cut out the pieces, one by one. The best discovery for me has been button-craft thread, a thick, strong thread used to hand-sew these garments. It is awesome, and I always use it for buttons now.  It turns out they sell it at my local Fabricville store, tucked back in a dusty corner I had never noticed.

No sewing machines for these garments!  It's all by hand. It's still faster than a knitting project, though, and kind of relaxing to do while watching TV.

I got all enthusiastic after this, and so here are some other Alabama Chanin projects I made:

I made myself a lobster dress!  Well, I do live in Atlantic Canada.

For this dress, I used the Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style. I made a stencil of a lobster, painted it on the red fabric in many places, layered it over the white fabric, sewed around each lobster and cut out the inside, leaving the white layer underneath exposed.

I later fell in love with another Alabama Chanin Pin: this one. I decided to replicate it. I used the same Camisole Dress pattern, but with wider straps it is called the Tank Dress version. I also added short sleeves, to make it more wearable in a greater variety of situations. Not sure if I am happy with this choice.... I think I might like the sleeveless version better.

I cut this stencil using my Silhouette machine again, and the facets stencil from the Alabama Chanin website. Although I think I only cut half of it, because it was already huge and I had to tape four pieces of mylar together, and it was a pattern repeat anyway.

I had planned to make this with a reverse appliqué technique, but once I got the blue paint on the white fabric, I liked it so much I decided to leave it as is. I had to use two full small bottles of fabric paint, even though I diluted the paint with water. In some places, this made it look blotchy, but I liked the variegated effect this gave.

I also made a separate skirt out of yellow interlock cotton, using the bottom half of the Camisole dress pattern. But (shhhh....!) that yellow skirt is machine sewed. I figure I can wear it with other tops too, and can wear this dress without the yellow layer.

The white and yellow fabrics are 100% cotton interlock from Organic Cotton Plus. They were less expensive than the fabrics for the projects above which I had purchased from Alabama Chanin, but are still fully organic and of fabulous quality.

Finally, I added some freehand beading and sequins, inspired by the original Pin where I discovered this garment. (Hmmm... kind of an awkward picture angle. Sorry to subject you to it. But it was the only way to show the beading.)

I have more Alabama Chanin projects in the works. Finally, I have some summer casual clothes that are not t-shirts and capris!  Yay.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt

A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

One of my good friends recently had a baby boy. I wanted to make her something, and I settled on a quilt. Even though quilts may not be useful for beds when babies are younger, since babies sleep in sleep sacks, they are great to play on or for tummy time. And I find that blankets and quilts are one of the things that my kids still use today, especially for play. They can become doll blankets, invisibility capes, royal robes and pretend camping blankets. 

I have only ever made a quilt once before. Last year, I made this quilt for a friend who had a baby girl:
A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

My post about this quilt can be found here. Like last time, I had wanted to use multiple coordinating fabrics, but I didn't want the quilt to be too busy, so I thought I would replicate what I did last time, with big squares separated by bars of white.  I seriously could not remember exactly how I had laid things out last time and sewed it together. So, now I figure, if I write it down, I'll have a record for next time.  And maybe someone else will be interested too.

Before I give you the tutorial, here is the low-down on the fabrics I used this time, most of which are scraps and leftovers:

A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

The black fabric is Constellations by Lizzy House. The houses fabric is from IKEA, a few years ago. The funky geometric fabric is a really nice cotton sateen I purchased locally from the store FiberLilly, here in St. John's, Newfoundland. Finally, the chevrons are from Riley Blake Designs.

As for the red binding, it is made from bedsheets! I came across an inexpensive cotton bedsheet set in a gorgeous red, and it has proved to be extremely useful and inexpensive as fabric. 

The back of this quilt is also red - made with pre-made quilted batting (don't know what it's properly called, but it is fabric with quilt batting inside, already quilted, which can be used instead of a batting layer plus a fabric backing layer).

So here is the tutorial:

Final measurements: This will make a quilt measuring approximately 50 x 50 inches.
Seam allowances of 1/4 inches are included in my measurements below.

Now, I am not an expert quilter, so for the technical aspects of quilt assembly,
 I relied on this great tutorial series by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter.  I would recommend checking that out for tips if you are a beginner too.

Also, I have other quilting tutorials posted on my Quilts Pinterest Board, as well as inspiration photos.

Here is a map for assembling the quilt. I thought about trying to prepare this using Illustrator. Then I decided I wanted to post this this year. So you are subjected to my hand drawing.

A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

Step 1: Cut your fabric

Referencing the drawing above, the fabric pieces you will need are:

- Patterned fabric cut to measure 10.5 inches x 10.5 inches:
  • 6 pieces of fabric #1
  • 6 pieces of fabric #2
  • 4 pieces of fabric #3

(Note: This pattern matches what I did with the first, girl's quilt. For the black and white quilt, I replaced two of the fabric #1 pieces - the ones in the upper-right and bottom-left hand corners - with a 4th patterned fabric. This was because I did not have enough pieces of fabric #1! Here is a picture of the girl's quilt again, so you can see what it looks like when the patterns are laid out as in my diagram.)

A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

-You will also need white fabric (or the fabric the colour of your choice) in these measurements:
  • 20 pieces cut to measure 2.5" x 10.5" (These are "A" in the diagram.)
  • 5 pieces cut to measure 2.5" x 50.5(These are "B" in the diagram.)
Finally, you will need fabric to make the binding around the sides, and a fabric for the back, as well as quilt batting for the middle. We'll get back to that.

Step 2: Make a nice pile of fabric


Lay out your patterned fabrics on the ground in the order of the diagram above. Make sure you like how it looks. If you don't, then move the pieces around until you get your desired effect.

Now, pick up the fabric pieces in order and make a pile. Do this in the order you would use to write a book: left to right for the first row, then move back to the left to pick up the second row from left to right, etc.

In the end, the top of your pile should be the fabric in the top-left hand corner. The bottom of your pile should be the fabric in the bottom right-hand corner.

You can also make a separate pile of your small white pieces - the 20 pieces labelled A in the diagram.

Step 3: Assemble your quilt top

(Another quick note: On the black and white quilt, you can see red squares, which I added on at the end. I don't recommend adding them on at the end. If you want to make these squares, piece them in to the white B pieces at the locations you want them. The squares measure 2" x 2" when finished. So, with a seam allowance, you would cut them to be 2.5" x 2.5".)

Now back to the standard instructions:

Start by sewing together the first row of your quilt. This part of Amy Smart's tutorial shows how to assemble and press the rows for best results.

For the first row, you will pick up one A piece, then the top piece on your pile of patterned fabrics. Then another A piece, then the next patterned fabric. In summary, the first row will be composed of A-1-A-2-A-3-A-1-A

When your row is all together, sew a long white B piece to the top of the row, and another B piece to the bottom of the row.

Then start your second row, as per the diagram above. (A-2-A-1-A-2-A-3-A) Once that row is sewed together, sew the top of this second row to the bottom of your piece B which was attached to the bottom of row 1.

Then sew another piece B on the bottom of the second row.

Continue like this until you have sewn together all 4 rows, with a B piece below each of them.  You are done assembling your quilt top!

Steps 4 and 5: Assemble your Quilt and Bind It

Now, sew your quilt top, the batting layer, and the backing fabric layer all together. (Here's Amy Smart's tutorial on how to do this.) For these quilts, I chose to "stitch in the ditch" - basically sew all of the layers together by stitching in the same places I had stitched to sew the top together.

Once that's done, cut and sew together your bias binding. I used bias strips of about 4 inches wide for my quilts. (If you are unfamiliar with making bias binding, check out the quilting tutorial series I mentioned above, or one of the other tutorials for making bias binding on my Sewing Techniques Pinterest Board. )  You will need about a length of about 200 inches to bind around the quilt, and I would suggest making a bit more than that.

Bind your quilt and you are done!

Happy sewing.
A Design and Tutorial for a Simple Baby Quilt by Cicely Ingleside

Thursday, 1 May 2014

What Can You Do With a Metre of Japanese Fabric?

Horaguchi fabric Zippy Top sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I am very behind on posting the kids' clothes I have made recently, but it is Selfish Sewing Week , run by blogger Rachel from Imagine Gnats, in the blogosphere, and so I am posting some more things I made for myself. Also, lately I keep deciding that the fabric I have bought for my daughter should be for me.

Thus, the name of my post -What can you do with a metre of Japanese fabric? Since I bought this fabric for my daughter, I only bought a metre, which could easily make her a top or possibly a dress. But Japanese fabric tends to be quite narrow - about 44" wide - , and to top it off, these are 'directional' prints, which means that they are less flexible to fit in a pattern.

I loved this double gauze print called "Town with the Castle" by Japanese textile designer Kayo Horaguchi. I bought it from the Etsy store Kicoli. I already have two skirts made of Japanese double gauze, and I have a dearth of nice casual shirts, so I decided to make a shirt. I needed a pattern that was fairly simple, due to the fact that the print supplies the detail, so I settled on the Zippy Top pattern by See Kate Sew.
Horaguchi fabric Zippy Top sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I did not have enough fabric to make the whole top, so I decided to 'colour block' the top, using some plain black cotton voile. (I wanted an equally light-weight fabric, which is why I used the voile.) 

I did this by  drawing a line on my pattern from armpit to armpit. Then I cut the black fabric up to that line, plus half an inch seam allowance. I cut my patterned fabric below that line (with another half inch above the line for seam allowance). I sewed the pieces together to look like the full regular pattern piece, and followed the pattern instructions from there. I did finish the seam (I used a serger but any other seam finishing method like zig-zag stitching or trimming would work fine), and ironed it upwards, then top-stitched it along the black fabric, basically sewing the seam allowance upwards. This kept the seam allowance from showing through the bottom lighter fabric.

Nani Iro Fuwari fabric Zippy Top sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I did the same thing with this fabric. I have been hoarding it for a year, loving it but unsure of what to do with it. It is a Nani Iro double gauze cotton print called Fuwari Fuwari.  I bought it from Miss Matatabi on Etsy.

I barely had enough of the blue voile - it was scraps left over from another project, and I had to make the facings in white.

Here's the back.
Nani Iro Fuwari fabric Zippy Top sewn by Cicely Ingleside

In my Japanese fabric-buying frenzy of February (say that five times fast!) - breaking my self-imposed new-fabric moratorium - I came across knit (ie. t-shirt fabric) by Nani Iro. I had no idea there was such a thing!  I decided I really wanted to make myself a t-shirt. So, since this fabric was narrow, I had to order 2.5 metres. (Okay my post name is no longer relevant.)  Again it is from Miss Matatabi, and is called Corsage Kosa-jyu knit. But then I picked an over-size style pattern, and didn't have enough fabric!

This pattern is the Summer Concert Tee by Dixie DIY, with 2 inches added to the length at the front. 
Nani Iro knit Summer Concert Tee sewn by Cicely Ingleside

 What did I do without enough fabric? I colour-blocked again, and made the back out of a plain knit fabric - an undyed jersey (which makes it a cream colour) from Organic Cotton Plus. I don't have a good picture of the back, but I have been really impressed with the fabrics I bought from Organic Cotton Plus  - super comfortable, and natural, and high quality.

I have one more Japanese fabric project - this one made with a fabric which Miss Matatabi called only "Japanese Fabric Forest Cotton Lawn-A". Really lightweight and lovely. You can't see it in this picture, but it has little forest animals and flowers on it. It took 2.5 meters to make this. The pattern I used is by the Roundabout Dress by Anna Maria Horner, which I ordered (again) on Etsy. 

Roundabout Dress in Japanese cotton lawn forest fabric sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I think perhaps that the bias tape at the neckline and the bottom was meant to face the inside and be invisible, but I put it on the outside. Accidentally, really. But I like how it turned out, since it goes with the black band at the waist. (More colour-blocking!)

Probably I should make my daughter something now and stop stealing all her fabric.
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