Monday, September 23, 2013

these skirts aren't just for summer

These are fall skirts! I've now finished three more skirts using the book The Essential A-Line by Jona Giammalva (previously blogged about here.)

I cannot say enough good things about this book! As you probably know, I love skirts, and this book is by far the best one I've seen to help you make your own fitted pattern that can be varied in so many ways.

The first skirt here is the basic A-Line constructed as directed in the book. It has a side seam invisible zipper and traditional (slippery fabric!) lining. What do you think of that fabric? I can wear ANY color with it! It is called "Effervescence" in Jewel by Robert Kaufman. The fabric is printed with a border running along the selvage on one side, but I was able to cut around that.

Can you see that zipper? No, you cannot, because it is invisible!

Next up is a variation of the basic A-Line. You may recognize this AMH print because I already have another skirt made from it!

This time I changed the pattern from the book to utilize a center-back zipper installation. Since I'm going to be teaching some beginning sewists how to make these skirts, I think a regular centered zipper is far easier to master than an invisible one.

I also added an interfaced waistband facing to this version because I think it helps the skirt to lay better around your middle section.

The lining is a poly/cotton blend broadcloth that is layered together with the main fabric, so it does not hang freely as a traditional skirt lining would. This gives the skirt a bit of a heavier feel (perfect for cooler weather!) while still blocking out any sunshine "see-through".

The hem is encased in a bias binding - one of the hem variations shown in the book. This fabric is one of my all-time favorites: Paperweight in Gypsy by Kaffe Fassett.

And lastly, my version of the book's Patchwork skirt. The author made her patchwork skirt with all 5" squares, but I was inspired by another skirt I saw over the summer made from many different sized cuts of fabrics. I got together with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and we each made one of these skirts (similar but different due to fabric layout) utilizing a shared set of 16 fat quarters. I'll share another post soon with photos of that sewing session - so fun!

Again I added the center-back zipper and waist facing.

And the bias binding hem. This hem fabric is Oval Elements in Licorice by Art Gallery Fabrics.

These three fall beauties are now hanging in the window of my LQS advertising my upcoming November class! I've structured the beginning basic skirt class in two three-hour sessions to be held in the evenings.

Then in 2014 I'm planning to add more classes so students can make some of the book's variations of the basic A-Line skirt. Currently there are two versions on the cutting table in my sewing room - the inverted pleat skirt and the tiered skirt - with a Friday deadline! Must get busy sewing!

Enjoy the week!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Back quilt

Fall is nearly upon us here in the Midwest. It's one of my favorite times of year - cooler days, brightly colored leaves, apples, and all things pumpkin. Life is good here in the fall. A couple of weekends ago the September/October issue of Midwest Living magazine arrived in my mailbox, and after reading through it I couldn't get the idea of a fall quilt out of my head. Yes, I have quite a few other projects that need to be finished, and yes, I have two classes coming up very quickly that I need to prep for, but we really need a fall quilt, don't we?

Enter the super quick and easy St. Louis 16-patch block. I've no idea why it's called the "St. Louis 16-patch", but that's the name popping up all over the internet, so let's just go with it!

I had several almost-FQ-sized fall themed scraps in my stash from some projects I made a few years ago. And I supplemented those scraps with this cute and more contemporary stack of FQs purchased at the recent Madison, WI quilt show.

These blocks are so easy to make: cut four equal width strips from each scrap or FQ, pair two matching strips with two other matching strips of a different fabric and sew them together as shown below. I cut my strips at 3.5" width by about 16"-18" length. You can cut your strips any width you choose - I think the standard is 2.5" for this block. But that yields only an 8" finished block, and I needed mine to be bigger (so I could finish the quilt faster!), so I cut my strips at 3.5" to create 12" finished blocks.

I pressed all the seam allowances to the darker fabric, and then cut four 3.5" width pieces from each strip set. The larger piece on the right is leftover. Why is it that making scrap quilts always yields MORE scraps?!

Flip pieces one and three and you've got your 16-patch layout! Sew these together to make one complete block.

These blocks are an excellent project to have around for times when you've only got 15 or 30 minutes here and there for sewing (or when you've got a bunch of projects in progress that you really don't want to work on - "avoidance sewing" coined by my pal Venus de Hilo). After you've chosen the fabrics and decided on the width you want to cut your strips, there really isn't too much thinking involved until the final layout. This would also be a great retreat or sew-in project.

Two FQs (or large scrap pieces) yield two blocks. My quilt has 35 blocks and will finish at 60" x 84" - almost big enough for a twin bed and generously sized for napping or movie-watching on the couch on those chilly fall weekends :)

And as for the newly generated scraps...

They have been repurposed into a table runner!

I'm delivering the quilt top to the long-arm quilter tomorrow, and hopefully it will be back in early October - the height of beautiful fall weather!


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