Sew Together Tuesday: Apparel Sewing with Cuddle®

I earned a lot of my sewing chops by sewing garments, so when we got a request to do a Sew Together Tuesday about using Cuddle® for clothing, I was down for it, but I knew I’d want some help. I reached out to Bianca at Thanks, I Made Them and Ajaire from Call Ajaire to see if they’d join me to talk all about the patterns, fabrics and sewing techniques they’ve used. They both agreed and yesterday we had the joy of sitting down for an hour-long chit chat for Sew Together Tuesday.

It was great to talk about all the garments that can be made with the fabric thanks to the wide variety of looks, textures, and stretch. We showed a bunch more projects in the video, but here are a few of my favorites:

Lined Open Front Coat (Butterick 6382) made by me and modeled by my daughter
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Making a Coat Out of a Quilt

Back in November, before the recent hubbub about quilt clothes needing to die, I cut up my quilt to make a coat. And I kinda really love it. I’d had the quilt for a while, tucked in the closet with no real purpose (it’s not like I had a guest bedroom or cute display cabinet), so when we were starting to pack up the house to move out, I decided I would finally get to making a jacket out of it. That way I could take it with me as something I’d actually use on-the-road versus something I’d just store for later storage.

To me, that’s the crux of any of the argument about saving quilts from being re-purposed as clothing. If you’re going to use it and love it, heck even if you just like it, re-purposing sounds like a great idea. There are so very many quilts out there; we don’t need to save them all. Anyway…

The quilt was a throw size and almost worked perfectly. If I were to do it again, I would probably trace the pieces on first to make sure I had enough room (I had to piece a sleeve), but for taking about two minutes to make the decision and start cutting it turned out okay.

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Sew Together Tuesday: Conversation Hearts

If you’re anything like me, you grew up with those candy hearts as a part of every February. I not-so-secretly still love them, so when the idea was tossed around to make our own conversation hearts for Sew Together Tuesday, I jumped at the idea. And I’m so glad I did, they turned out so great!

I worked on this in between classes at Road to California and wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to pull it off, but with the help of Hawke, Mary (my friends and fellow Shannon Fabrics Brand Ambassador) and Shannon Fabrics pattern writer, Rose, it all came together the morning of the show. Phew!

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10 Tips for Sewing with Cuddle Minky

If you are new to sewing with minky fabrics, I know they can be a bit intimidating. Minky is completely different than quilting cotton, requiring different techniques and tools.

I’ve found that lots of quilters have wanted to use minky, but when they’ve tried it with their quilter techniques, it’s been a frustration. Cuddle® is the Shannon Fabrics brand of minky fabric and I work with it exclusively (obviously, since I’m their National Educator!) and along the way I’ve learned a lot that can help learn to tackle this fabric in a way that makes is successful and not stressful.

For Sew Together Tuesday, we visited Red Roxy Quilt Co. in Decorah, Iowa and filmed this updated version of the 10 Tips:

You can read more about the tips that I shared and get the downloadable PDF over at the Shannon Fabrics blog!

Happy sewing!

Oops–a cutting mistake & how to “fix” it

Sometimes I shouldn’t be talking while using a rotary cutter and this was the result recently. I was making a sample for an upcoming Sew Together Tuesday and instead of cutting the square, I kept on cutting into the fabric. Oops! Considering this was nearly two yards of Cuddle® fabric, I wasn’t about to just throw it away and start over. I had to figure out a way to fix it.

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Always Learning a Little More

Truth is when I interviewed for my current job at Shannon Fabrics, I’d avoided using the fabrics that they sell. Cuddle is a lovely feeling minky fabric that I only knew about from the complaining others had done in the past. I’d heard sewists and quilters gripe about its slippery nature, the preponderance to stretch and had stayed away except when I absolutely had to tackle it in a sewing class or private lesson.  Double gauze had seemed unwieldy and I had no idea what to do with it anyway.

Then I got a job at Shannon Fabrics and knew it was time to tackle this fear of the unknown. I take pride in my adventurous spirit; it was time to put my suppositions and assumptions to the side and give this stuff a try.

My first was a Little Pilot kit, a Wee One quilt that would be perfect as an oversized pillow, I thought. I got cocky, sewed the strips together –wham, bam, thank you, ma’am–and suddenly I realized I wasn’t even close to infallible. It turned out all cock-eyed and more like a parallelogram than a square. I threw it in the WIP pile with a heavy heart.  (Since then I’ve learned what I did wrong and I’ll share that soon!)

But since I’m not one to really give up, I picked up the next project: a Honey Bun Patty Cakes kit that combines the two fabrics in case the fear of one wasn’t enough. This time I decided to actually read all the instructions, too. This might be a first in the last decade…. I pretty universally refuse to read the primer, but this time I figured why the hell not. And I’m so glad I did.

I marked all the edges just like the pattern said to do and brought each of the four corners together and pinned, then stitched them. I chain-piece as much as possible, so my apologies that it looks more confusing that it is.

I trimmed the seam allowances then flipped the corner in, tucking the Embrace double gauze in and pinning just before I flipped.

I didn’t pin it exactly as directed, I’ll admit it. The pattern suggests you pin before doing the corners, but I didn’t want to deal with all those extra stabby points so I did it after finishing the corners. And then on the third side I realized that I could actually just glue-baste it and it would work perfectly well. 

Once I brought the yellow Rose Cuddle over the bee Embrace fabric, I simply pinned it well and zig-zagged the edges down. Easy as pie. The other parts of the kit include a smaller little “lovey” that’s made similarly and a swaddle.

I made all three and still had some of the Embrace double gauze left over, so I whipped myself up a little scarf. The trick, just as I’d done with the other projects, was the starch. It kept it in check and I was easily able to fold over the seam. I had trimmed it along the gridlines of the gauze, then folded that down to match the next gridline. Then I went back and folded that raw edge and pressed again. That gave it a nice even scant 1/2″ hem which I really liked and it was much easier than fidgeting with a tiny quarter-inch seam.

So there you have it. When i need to to, I will actually read the instructions (then change them) and learn something new. It was easier than expected (way easier, actually) and I was able to not only make some samples to show off when I visit stores, but also make a scarf for myself in the process.  A win-win!

Trying to Catch Up

You know how life is, right? Too often the daily bits get in the way of doing the things I really want to do…like update the blog, add new tutorials, finish that pattern, etc. Every New Year’s Eve I think this will be the year to get stuff done. And then suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve again and I feel like nothing was actually done.

It was the same for me this past year, but then I started looking through my pics and realized that I finished 18 quilt tops (none of which were for me) and made more than 200 projects overall, including lots and lots of store samples and custom work. I taught classes at Fabric Depot and Nic & Fig’s. I released two patterns. Despite not getting more clothes sewn for myself (my real goal for last year), I got plenty finished.

So far this year, I’ve already finished two more quilt tops and onto a third. I’ve started, but not yet finished, a coat and a dress for myself. I have two patterns at the pattern-testing stage and my teaching schedule is nicely filling up. I’m doing okay, I remind myself.

Sometimes I struggle to savor the little accomplishments, instead worrying that I’ll never actually get to the big ones.

There are big things to come this year and I’m looking forward to every one of them: my first retreat teaching gig, new patterns, my daughter will graduate high school and I have a road trip to plan for late summer.

For now, I need to get back to planning out the classes for my upcoming Fancy Forest Quilt Along at Fabric Depot. We’ve just added our third session and the first one hasn’t even started yet…this one is gonna be a doozy. I can hardly wait!

Small stitching 

Life has been a little stressful lately with some pretty serious health problems for my dad, relationships that aren’t smooth sailing and having more month than money. So what do I do about? I start stitching little stuff, like this mini Bartow quilt using Kona mini charms from Quilt Market. Because sometimes I need to concentrate on totally insignificant things, like 1/4″ strips and 1/8″ seam allowances.

Sewing Pincushions

I made pincushions this weekend. A bunch of them, in fact, with Vanessa Christenson and Malka Dubrawsky fabrics from Moda and just one with Carolyn Friedlander fabrics from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. They’re backed with (and have a covered button in) Kaufman’s Essex Linen.  Four of them already have homes, but I’ll list the rest on the shop in the next day or two. So freakin’ cute!

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Hello September!

Tryon Creek State Park
End of summer hike at Tryon Creek State Park near Lake Oswego, Oregon

Can you believe it’s September already?! This summer has just flown by but I’m super happy to report that the sun is still shining here in Portland. We had one cloudy day last week, but it’s back to blue skies, sunshine and supposedly  into the 90s  again this weekend!

I may be one of the few Portlanders who actually love the forecast of continued heat. Blame a year in California with sunshine every.single.day.

September means things start changing and the daughter goes back to school. We’ll get back to a routine of work/school days with homework and weekends for fun. I’ll be teaching again and I’m thrilled. Plus I have a few consulting gigs starting this month and the pincushions and pillows are coming right along.

 

Then there are all these projects on this month’s to-do list:

  • Kell’s quilt
  • Laura’s quilt
  • Natalie’s quilt
  • Luke‘s quilt
  • Negroni shirt for class prep
  • Rae skirt for class prep
  • Sail repair for Eric
  • Plaid cape for myself
  • Wool coat for my son

I’ve got Kell’s quilt started and Luke’s is cut out. So are both the garments for class. At least there is a bit of a jumpstart, but this could very well take all of September if I’m not careful with my time.  So I’m up early again today, did some yoga and now it’s down to the studio to get cracking on that list. Welcome to September.