Thursday, July 31, 2014

indigo and linen quilt - a mini tutorial!

How good is natural linen? It's great for garments and just about any other fabric-y purpose. Recently, I couldn't resist its call for a quilt I'd been planning. I was looking for a not-white neutral, something to go with the indigo-hued scraps I'd collected and something with a bit of texture... but of course - natural linen!

This quilt is a kind of modified wonky, scrappy string quilt. I'm sure there are plenty of tutorials for this kind of thing out there on the internets, but here is how I made this one. There are no hard and fast rules for this kind of quilting, and it really doesn't matter if your corners don't match. The four segments that form each diamond shape aren't supposed to match, either (but of course, they can if you prefer!) It's a great way to bust through your stash and would look awesome in a variety of colours, or monotone like this one.

Finished quilt measures:
just over 100 x 130cm (lap quilt size)
You will need:
About 1.5m natural linen (plus other scraps of complimentary linen or linen/cottons)
Assorted scraps for coloured sections. Each piece should be up to 15cm square.
110cm x 140cm backing fabric (we used our hemp/organic cotton in indigo)
Batting 110cm x 140m (we used our 100% wool batting) 
Perle cotton for hand quilting
Sewing machine, cotton machine thread, scissors, hand quilting needle, iron, cutting mat and rotary cutter, heavy cardboard or template plastic.

Step 1
Measure up your basic square block size and cut it out of a piece of heavy cardboard or template plastic. For this quilt I started with a block size of 16.5cm square.
With your rotary cutter, use this template to cut out a whole lot of squares from the linen (you should be able to cut out more than one at once). My quilt used 63 linen squares.

 Step 2
With random, gay abandon (and your rotary cutter), slice off two opposing corners on each linen square. Any angle and any size. Go crazy!

 Step 3
Now chop up some scraps for the triangular corner pieces. Make sure you have an assortment of sizes. They don't have to fit with the linen squares perfectly at this stage as we will square up later. As you are cutting, keep in mind that each scrap will need to be slightly longer on its longest side than its intended corresponding linen square - this is for the seam allowance.

Step 4
Randomly select a couple of scraps and sew one to each corner of a prepared linen 'square'. I used a seam allowance of 1cm throughout this quilt. Repeat with all the scraps  until you've worked through your pre-cut linen. I substituted a couple of different linen pieces in this quilt (as well as a couple of treasured pieces of Umbrella Print's Perfect Circle) just to keep things visually interesting. Lay your blocks out as you sew to judge how the balance of pattern/colour is coming along and choose your scraps accordingly. Press each block, with seams apart (or whichever method of seam treatment you prefer).

Step 5
Grab your cardboard template and place it on top of one of your pieced blocks. Using the rotary cutter, trim any excess fabric off each block to make it square. Repeat with all of your blocks.

Step 6
Arrange your blocks in their final quilt layout and sew them together in rows, then sew each row together. My quilt consists of 7 blocks across, 9 blocks down. Once you're done, give the whole thing a good press. 

Step 7
On an open expanse of floor or on a quilt-wall make a quilt sandwich to prepare for basting. First spread out the quilt batting right side down, then smooth out the batting on top (ensure the batting sticks out evenly on each side), then lay down your quilt top over the top with its right side up. Make sure there are no creases, then secure the three layers together with safety pins or long basting threads in some highly contrasting thread from your stash (so you can see it easily and take it out at the end).

Step 8
Time to quilt. This quilt was hand stitched together around each centre diamond using some linen coloured Valdani perle cotton. But it could equally be machine quilted - it just depends what kind of finish you want. Here are some excellent instructions for machine quilting from a domestic sewing machine and hand quilting. Remove your basting threads or pins.

Step 9
Once you've finished quilting, all that's left is the binding. For this quilt, I had enough of the backing fabric to wrap around and double fold over the top to seal the edges and self-bind the quilt - more directions here. If you want to use a different fabric to bind your quilt, here are some useful instructions for making and attaching the binding. I always machine sew the first layer of binding and hand finish the second side with an invisible stitch, because I like that finish, but machine sewing both sides gives a lovely look also. 

Now, crumple up that quilt and keep warm!

Happy sewing! 
- Fiona & Jane x

Friday, July 25, 2014

Make it Perfect Pattern Parade - the Essential Shorts (as pants)

The lovely Toni Coward of Make it Perfect Patterns asked The Drapery to be part of her Pattern Parade. So today we're showing off one of her patterns and giving one of our readers the chance to win a Make It Perfect pdf pattern of their choice. A very warm welcome to any new readers who may be encountering The Drapery for the first time via the Pattern Parade. You can read more about us here.

First up was choosing a favourite pattern. Toni is a mum of four and has produced an extensive range of patterns for babies, boys, girls and grownup women, many of which we are delighted to sell in our shop. Truthfully the women's Poppy Tunic is probably my favourite - when Toni released the pattern it was one of those must make now moments for me - but since I have made three (this is my favourite) I really didn't need another one! Another Make It Perfect pattern I adore is the Sprout (ever since I saw it made up here - beware, cuteness) but I have no little girl recipients to make it for, boo. I finally settled on the new Essential Shorts pattern, which I was curious to try lengthened into pants.

For fabric, I reached for my favourite standby, natural linen. Visitors to our shop may have seen these pants hanging in our front window - it's been rather too cold around here for breezy linen legs! Their day will come soon enough.

To lengthen, I simply added onto the existing leg pattern pieces, extending straight down.

The result is just what I was looking for: casual linen pants that are loose and comfortable, but not too baggy. The shape is great - they are meant to be fairly slim-fitting and the flat front and topstitched pockets help prevent excess fabric pouffiness where you wouldn't want it. Bias bound pockets? Me likey. Topstitching that pocket curve with contrast thread would make for a really nice detail but I chose to keep these unadorned. I topstitched the side and rise seams in regular matching thread just for added strength.

I needed something very plain to wear on top, so the pants could star in these photos. This here is my third Plantain top, from some oh-so-soft cream organic cotton interlock we have in the shop. I wanted to try a contrast woven for the elbow patches, as inspired by lovely local Cate, and this Liberty apple print seemed just right.

Before I cut into the linen, I made a muslin of the Essential Shorts from from old bedsheet fabric, trying the Size L as my measurements indicated. Whilst I could pull them on, there was zero ease (I'll spare you the photos of that) so I sized up to XL for the end result. I actually contacted Toni to query the sizing and she was great about it. It's a new pattern so although she has testers work with it in most sizes, she hasn't had a large volume of feedback about it. I would be interested to hear from anyone else who has tried this pattern in the bigger sizes. My feeling is that the measurements for the L and XL correspond to finished garment, not body measurements. Or am I in denial about the size of my forty-something rear end, ahem? Ah, the things we post in the name of sharing sewing information.

Yo internets, does my butt look big in... oh never mind.
If I was to make this pattern again I would probably add about an inch to the height of the back rise for a bit more coverage when bending over, you know how it goes. But otherwise I really like where these sit on the low waist.

Toni's instructions for completing the waistband with elastic back and front drawstring are excellent and I totally stole the method when making pyjama pants recently.

Thanks for including us in your Pattern Parade, Toni!

For your chance to win a Make It Perfect pdf pattern, leave a comment below. We'll pick a winner by random number selection in a week's time.

Check out all the other lovely makes by talented folks in the Make It Perfect Pattern Parade:

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grainline Moss Skirt in Woodgrain

I hope no-one minds that this is just a slightly edited version of the post for my personal blog... it's school holidays and two-for-one posts are about all that's manageable!

Ever since I saw the sample of this woodgrain fabric by Kokka of Japan that we ordered in for The Drapery, I had been imagining this.

The fabric is a mid-weight 100% cotton, very stable, and ideal for the Grainline Moss skirt. And Grainline, Moss, woodgrain - irresistible, right?

Presently the pattern is only available as a pdf download but Jen at Grainline is working hard on getting all her excellent patterns into print and we're poised to order for the shop. Aish Printing on Glen Osmond Road is a good place to get pdf patterns printed out if you hate all that taping of A4 paper.

This skirt is simply a fabulous basic. There's a goodly stack of excellent versions of it out there in the sewing blog-o-sphere so Google Image it up.

 The fabric looked like just a straight woodgrain until Fiona and I unfolded the sample and saw that along one edge, it has these crosscut sections lined up. We had a good giggle thinking about the placement possibilities of these circles in a dress. But for the sake of an actual wearable garment, I decided against a couple of big circles on my butt or whatever, and just popped a couple of slices in the pockets and around the waistband.
 Inside the pockets, I used some scraps of Nani Iro brushed cotton, which is so cosy to tuck my hands into!
Sorry about the rumpled Sunday morning styling.

This is my second version of the Moss skirt. I made my first in a beautiful Hemp/Cotton denim which I am pleased to announce will be back at The Drapery in the near future - in a slightly improved version in that it will be Hemp/Organic Cotton this time!

This is a straight size 14, made in the 'mini' version without the band around the bottom, but with a couple of inches extra length. (For a laugh, you may like to see the muslin I made to check the fit.)

The pattern has a zip fly, and I highly recommend referring to the photo tutorial on the Grainline blog if (like me) you haven't attempted one before. (I'm going to have to come back and add a link to that as it doesn't want to connect right now.) I can't say I found it easy, but the result is so very pleasing that it's totally worth a little... or a lot of... swearing and unpicking. And chocolate, tea and wine.

We have plenty of other fabrics at The Drapery, plain and patterned, that would make excellent Moss skirts so come on in for inspiration.

What's the most daring / unusual fabric you've ever used for a garment?

- Jane x