Sunday, November 27, 2016

#bpsewvember Part 1

I thought I would have some fun with the #bpsewvember November "post a photo a day" challenge.  I tried keeping up on Instagram, but I fell off the wagon on day 3, and went splat!  So, instead, I thought I would do a couple of blog posts instead.  I love the prompts in this list, so I really wanted to participate.

1. Hi There! 
My name is Kristin and I've been sewing since I was 12.  When I was little, I used to watch my mom sew on the dining room table.  She officially taught me to sew when I was 12.  I didn't take to it right away, but by the time I was 14 I was totally on board and making funky pants all the time.  In this photo, I was 17, and this was my most common uniform.  Wide leg, cotton, funky printed pants.
I went to Olds College and studied Fashion Production for two years.  I absolutely loved it!  I learned lots of basic and couture sewing skills, drafting, draping, and tailoring.  Two simple yet profound things I learned from college: make friends with your stitch ripper, and make a muslin (test garment)!  
I am an upholsterer/seamstress by trade.  I am a proud third generation upholsterer.  I grew up in my Dad and Grandpa's upholstery shop.  This is me at the front desk.  I was 6 years old.
After college, I worked with Dad and started to learn the trade.  My favourite times where those few years when it was just me and him working out of the garage.
I've had various jobs over the years, but I've got 8 1/2 years of upholstery experience and quite a bit of sewing experience.  I am currently working at a drapery studio, and I'm thrilled to be able to put all my experience to the test.  I get to dabble in upholstery and all kinds of custom sewing, and in addition to heavy duty upholstery and woodworking tools, I get to play with lots of sewing tools like industrial sergers and sewing machines, and a gravity feed steam iron.  I'm totally in my element.  

2. Wackiest Pattern
These were my favourite pants I ever made.  I wore the heck out of them, especially the denim pair.
They were so comfy!  The back pockets are really long, and I used to sneak one-litre bottles of pop into the movies.  I still have both pairs, and I've busted them out for halloween a few times!
These pants represent my funky style more than anything I've ever made.  I wore these LIKE A BOSS.

3. Up Close
I got these labels made a few years ago, and sewing them onto stuff is one of my favourite things.  
It gives me a huge sense of pride and accomplishment, and I get to put my personal stamp on it!  Most of these go on gifts like quilts and jammy pants.  I don't always put them on my own clothes, but when I do, it's something with a bit of structure with a great place to sew the label, like a back facing.

4. Fun
I love sewing.  I'm rather a nerd about it, to be honest.  I always try to find something fun in what I'm doing.  Like this!  Hee hee!

5. On My Table
I finally started my new Jalie hoodie!  I've been planning this since last winter, and after I made one in my old size and it didn't fit, I had to start over.  It's taken me 9 months to get back at it, but I finally did it!  I've got the body and the sleeves together, so it's all downhill from here!

6. Red/Purple
Red and Purple are probably my two least favourite colours, besides brown and beige and anything that looks like puke, LOL. But out of these, I don't mind purple.  I got to make a church quilt with various shades of lilac and purple, and I think it looks pretty cute!

7. Playing Favourites
My favourite thing in my sewing room is my Babylock Evolve 8-thread serger/coverstitcher.  My friend Naomi had one in our first year of college, and I got to see it in action.  During summer break, I bought my own.  It is my favourite thing ever!  If you're ever on the fence about buying the expensive thing, go for it!  It's totally worth it!  This machine has never let me down.

8. Dear Past Me
You are one of the most unique individuals I know.  You've always been good at being yourself.  Never lose that.  You're always happiest and most successful when you are grounded in who you are.  Creativity flows best when you're tapped into that funky essence.  Keep being awesome!
Love, Kristin

9. Me Made Collection
One of my most made patterns is this Vogue 2810 corset.  I made about 3 for myself and at least 5 for others.  The first corset I ever made was the orange one I'm wearing with my wedding dress petticoat.  It was my test.  It was simply one layer of cotton with boning sewn in the seams, and when I zipped it up, it was a revelation!  Corsets are amazing!  It's really awesome and fits everyone great.  

10. Shopping List
What's on my list?  Rotary cutter blades and flannel for jammy pants for Christmas gifts.  I've gotten really good at using what I've got, and I'm happy to say that I don't go to the fabric store as often as I used to.

11. The Vault
My mom taught me some quilting skills when I was 15.  I made this outfit for a sewing contest.  I liked the shirt, but I hated the skirt! (Sorry, Mom!)  But it was an excellent learning experience, and I won first place.
 I liked to wear the shirt with jeans, like this.

12. New Find
I've been quilting for about 6 years now, and this year, I was introduced to Longarm Quilting!  I knew what it was, but I didn't know that I would have an opportunity to do it for myself!  Sparrow Quilt Co. opened up a long arm quilting studio above Quiltessential in St. Albert, and I get to rent time on these beautiful machines!  I absolutely love it, and the quilts turn out so professional!

13. Selfless Sew
I've been sewing for others since I was about 18.  People ask, and you say sure!  Not long ago, I spent about 3 years running my own sewing business 2 days a week, and I made some incredible things!  
I'm forever trying to find a balance between selfish sewing and selfless sewing.  It's still a little tipped to the selfless side, and I'm constantly trying to find a way to tip it back to me.  We function better when we take the time to do something just for ourselves.  I actually prefer to make gifts, as I get to be totally generous and pour my heart and soul into the project.  

14. Yellow/Orange
Orange is my favourite colour.  It's so different and bold and bright, and I love it!  I found this photo from June 2013.  I posted it with this:
"I love it when I'm surrounded by such awesomeness! I got to sew 19 sparkly orange chair seats last Wednesday. Best way to spend an afternoon, in my books! Did I mention I got to topstitch every single one of them? "

15. Memories
Making quilts for our church's charity quilt group takes up at least 30% of my sewing time.  But it is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.  I took over the leadership this year, and I'm loving it so far!  We have a great group of enthusiastic people who are willing to share the workload.  We get together once a month and layer our quilts and tie them with yarn.  I've been doing this for several years, and these are some of my favourite memories.

Stay tuned for Part 2!  15 more fun facts about my sewing life!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Girl Quilts!

I have been waiting patiently for weeks to show these off to you!  Out of my plan to make 5 girl quilts, I have finished 3 in the last 2 1/2 months, and all three have gone to their new forever homes.  So I can finally brag about them and show off all the colourful details!
 I started this journey by making 4 boy quilts.  I started them in the fall of 2011, and I have since given 2 away.
 I'm keeping this black camouflage one for myself (don't worry, the borders are complete now!), and I still have one more to finish, whose recipient is yet to be determined.
 Ever since I started the boy quilts, I was dreaming of making girl quilts.  I knew I had scads of funky girly coloured fabric that would just be so totally awesome.  So, after acquiring a few more funky girly fat quarters to supplement my stash, I started making girl squares in Februrary 2015.  
 I kinda overshot my estimation of how many squares I would need, and I made exactly twice as many girl squares as I made boy squares.  160 vs. 80.  So, I exhausted myself by spending an entire quilting retreat weekend assembling said squares.  
 But, many months after the fact, I am happy to have that many squares to play with.  I have enough for 3 baby quilts, 1 lap size, and 1 twin size.  This is the first one I finished: the lap size.  I was saving this funky flowered border fabric for just the right person, and it looks awesome.  I found this while I was shopping for the girly fat quarters.  The border fabric and the matching sashing went together, and they were both on sale.  Score!
 The second one was a baby size, and I made it as funky as I could.  I love how the lime green striped sashing pops, and I love the railroaded effect I got from carefully placing the rainbows on this animal print flannelette.  
 And I was fascinated that the top edge of the bigger quilt was the same size as the side edge of the baby quilt (5 squares across).  And I love how different they look beside each other, even though the squares in the middle are pretty much the same.
 The lap size is quite big.  Its finished measurements are 59" x 77".  And I managed to make them a couple inches bigger by using 1" sashing.  By the way, these are all Yellow Brick Road quilts.
 Even the baby size is decent.  They are 50" x 59".
 And now I get to introduce you to the newest leg of my sewing journey!  Longarm Quilting!  Right around the time I was ready to finish these quilts, my local quilting store announced that a longarm quilting studio was moving in upstairs.  You take a certification class to learn how to use these amazing machines, then you rent time and finish your quilts!
 After I did my certification class, I decided to quilt the baby size first, as it's always  easier to practice on something small.  I used the basic meandering pantograph pattern that they recommend for your first quilt.  It's pretty cool.  You follow the pantograph at the back of the machine with a little red laser, and the machine follows the design and stitches onto your quilt.
 I was very comfortable with the fiddly details, like marking the edges of the quilt, measuring, balancing the design, etc.  I feel like my upholstery skills come in handy with this kind of stuff.  Not to mention that the machine itself is a big industrial sewing machine on casters.  No problem.
 I was, however, a little too ambitious on my first day, and I decided to quilt both of my quilts in the same session.  It took me 5 1/2 hours, and I was exhausted!  Running this machine is pretty physical, and I would have been wise to do one at a time.  But I had given myself a deadline, as I do, and I had to power through.
 It actually boosted my confidence when I showed myself that I am a professional seamstress, and the technical details that always come with things like this don't even phase me.  That's just part of the process.  
 For my second quilt, the lap size, I graduated immediately to a fancy design.  I chose leaves with swirls.  And I used wool batting on this quilt, because I want to try a few and then decide what my favourite batting is.  It was a bit more challenging than the cotton/poly 80/20 that I chose for the baby quilt. (The 80/20 has already become my favourite.  That was an easy decision!)  The wool was much thicker, which makes the quilting stand out more, but I had to make extra adjustments as I went along to compensate for the shrinkage.  See what I mean about technical details?  Upholstery plays a big part here, too, because it involves batting and quilting.
I am very pleased with how well the leaf pantograph turned out.  I was a little leery while I was trying to follow the lines with my little red laser.  I felt a little jerky sometimes, but the sewing machine is a bit smoother than it feels, and it turned out quite lovely.
After a couple hours of binding and attaching my label, it was done!  I used the same fabric as the border, so the binding essentially disappears on this quilt.  And as far as the wool batting goes, I would like to try one that I intend to keep for myself, so I can see how it wears with time.  It felt a little stiff and thick to me, but I imagine it will relax and get softer as time goes on.
The little one was a dream to quilt.  The 80/20 batting is popular, and I can see why.  I love it.  It's thinner, but still has some loft, and it's incredibly easy to work with.  I had no issues with it at all.
I actually bound this one and gave it away last, but I'm trying to follow some semblance of order here and not confuse you.  It sat folded in my sewing room until after I finished the third quilt, and I had so much success with the binding on that one, that I dove right in and finished this one the next day.  
 I love using up scraps for the backing.  I did buy some flannelette in the bargain centre at Fabricland right around the same time I bought all my batting for these quilts.  But after I made the backing for the lap size quit, I had strange sizes of leftovers, so I supplemented with strips of scrap flannel.  The teal green print is actually from this baby's mom's jammy pants that I gave her last Christmas.  I love being able to incorporate personal details like that.  Makes it special.  
 The simple meandering quilting pattern on this one is actually the most appropriate for these busy quilts.  They are so bright and crazy, that this design just complements them.  But, I also know that these are excellent canvases for me to practice on, so I like to try out the complicated designs so I can become a better quilter.  
 Here is girl quilt #3.  I got creative with my borders on this one.  I wanted to do it all in blue, but I didn't have enough.  After letting it sit and percolate for about a week, I came up with this simple idea of using both colours, each in an L shape.  It helps that they are a similar value in colour.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!
 Again, I am fascinated with how different they look!  One is very bold and dynamic, and the other is very soft and girly.  I love them all in their different ways.
I chose a very ambitious pantograph pattern for this one.  It's even more advanced than the leaf pattern I used for the lap quilt.  But, I knew one baby size quilt wouldn't take that long to quilt, even if I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  
 This quilt took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to quilt, and I estimated 2 hours, so it took a bit longer, but I was really happy with the design.
 The stitching is quite dense, so it takes a bit longer.  I really felt like I was pushing myself, and I loved the challenge.  I also challenge myself to be fast, to make the most of the time I'm paying for.  This is a strange concept for me, because I'm not a particularly fast sewer.  But it felt good to push harder and go faster.
 I also challenged myself with the binding.  I decided to cut my binding at 2 1/4" instead of 2 1/2", as the binding on the lap quilt was a bit big, and I wanted to cinch it in.  And then I remembered that my mom used to hand baste her binding.  Since I had to pin at least every 2", I thought I'd give it a try.  It took a bit longer, but the results are astonishing.  It is well worth the extra time.
 I had enough room to stitch in the ditch without running over my basting thread, and I loved how I could get those corners just right by hand stitching them nicely first.
 I love how it turned out.  And, as I mentioned above, I bound the other baby quilt right after this one, because I was so chuffed with how well the binding turned out.  
And I used up more scraps on the back of this quilt.  I love how you can make a big dent in your stash when you dig up stuff for backing, borders, and binding.  The watermelon binding was a stash buster, and I'm glad I found something that worked so well.  I tried out probably 5 different colours, and had to let it sit for a while before I finally thought to dig through a few more fabrics and found the watermelons.

And here you can see the quilting pattern.  It's really pretty.  It's almost too much for this little quilt, but nobody is going to notice the artistic value of this but me, and I love being able to practice on these little quilts.  
I have learned so much in making these 3 quilts, and I am so proud of myself!  I feel like I stretched quite a bit making these, and I have gained a lot of confidence in myself.
The icing on the cake is the love I feel when I get to give gifts as precious as these.  I actually prefer making gifts for people instead of doing paying sewing jobs.  The feeling is incomparable.  Gift sewing is full of love and generosity, and paying sewing is quite a chore, at least for me.  This is the best way to fulfill that feeling!

Thanks for reading!