Saturday, September 24, 2016

Quilt for my daughter

Two years ago, my daughter Amy asked me if I would make her a quilt. I have only made two full size bed quilts previously. One was for my parents' 25th wedding anniversary in 1975, which I pieced and appliqued all by hand!! By the time I got to the quilting, I was a surgery resident working about 100 hours per week so my progress slowed down substantially - well it came to a standstill to be accurate. Eventually I paid a Mennonite woman in Ontario, where I lived at the time, to finish the hand quilting. She charged $50! It's still on a bed in the cabin in Georgian Bay although much faded now.

My second quilt was a wedding present for my sister and her husband back in 1990 and I did it all by machine. Much faster than making it by hand but of course, it doesn't look quite as good when you look closely. I managed to find an old photo that I took when I was basting the layers together but none of the finished project.

And I did do a wall hanging quilt of the map of New Zealand a few years ago. It was full of 3 different sizes of squares and rectangles and let me tell you, the rectangles were a bit of a challenge! It turned out pretty well though and hangs in our stairwell. I think I made the Southern Alps a little too white though! You can't see them very well on the photo but I put buttons on the main cities including a sailboat button for Auckland (the City of Sails) and a heart button for Christchurch (home is where the heart is!).

So in June 2014, Amy and I got together and designed her quilt using the 1-2-3 Quilt program. She chose 3 block designs - Star puzzle, Sister's Choice, and 4 Patch Block #1. She has a queen size bed and we planned a 6 x 5 block quilt with 12 inch blocks and 3 inch sashing plus border. Her mattress is 12 inches deep so it had to be quite large. Amy chose 5 colour schemes: blue, green, red, yellow and orange. As we live in opposite hemispheres, I had to choose the fabric but there were a lot of WhatsApp photos that Amy reviewed before purchase!

It took about a year of on again off again sewing to make all the blocks. Here are examples of two of the designs. Can't find a closeup of the third.

It took about a year to finish all the blocks. As the quilt was 6 by 5 blocks and there were 3 patterns and 5 colour schemes, it turned out to be impossible to create a symmetrical pattern with the blocks. So I just tried to strike a reasonable balance of designs and colours across the quilt - a good test for ignoring my perfectionest tendencies! 

We chose an off-white/cream colour for the sashing and I used the foreground colours from the blocks for the squares where the sashing strips met. The quilt measured 94x79 inches before adding any border. I made the border 4 inches longer on the top so there would be enough quilt to cover pillows and used the leftover material from the blocks. The final size before binding and quilting was 107 x 95 inches.

I bought a king size sheet for the backing and it wasn't long enough so I added some coloured strips at the top. That way it would look more interesting when the quilt top was turned back on the bed. I taped the backing onto the tile floor in our front hall, then added the batting (polyester as Amy is allergic to wool) and the quilt top. I pinned all the edges and across the middle than hand basted at 5 inch intervals. I should have basted a little closer together I think, especially as the sashing fabric turned out to have a little more give than I would have liked. After 8 hours on my hands and knees over 2 days, I was ready to quilt!

I quilted by machine using a walking foot, 2.5 mm stitch length, and stitched 1/8 inch from the seams of the main block pattern pieces using cotton quilting thread that matched the block main colour. I used a variegated thread along the edges of all the sashing. Wisely or unwisely, I decided to put a pattern in the sashing. I chose a cable/rope pattern and, becasue I knew I wouldn't be able to sew it perfectly, I used off-white thread to match the fabric. I made a little loop design so that I could continue across the whole width of the quilt. 

I traced the pattern onto the fabric before quilting it using a non-wax based carbon paper that I had bought in Toronto a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I ran out and had to buy some wax based carbon paper here in Christchurch and some of it was difficult to remove. When quilting the rope pattern, it turned out to be very diificult not to push up folds in the fabric, even using the walking foot. So there are a few, well more than a few, ugly bits. 

Cable template
It was quite a mountain of fabric to manipulate under the sewing machine. I think next time (if there is a next time!), I'll quilt it by hand and not worry about how long hand quilting takes.

After the quilting I added a narrow blue binding. The different colours of quilting thread look kind of cool on the back of the quilt but I didn't remember to take a picture of it. 

After quilting for about 5 hours a day for 10 days, I finally finished just in time to take it with me to the US in June. I had to put off taking out all the basting threads and washing off all the carbon marks until after I got there. I wish I had a photo of Amy and me hanging over her bathtub desperately trying to scrub out all the markings. Then to my horror, I discovered I hadn't quilted one of the 4 seams on one of the sashing rectangles. Fortunately I have a good friend in California with a sewing machine and I had brought along my various colours of threads just in case this type of scenario occurred. So at last, after a couple of days of drying, the quilt was finished. I almost forgot to take a photo but managed to throw it on the bed just before I left town. Ta da!

Knitting Updates

 I knit the Pan Am jacket a few months ago and it has been perfect for the cool spring weather. The pattern is from Ravelry and you can see my detailed blog post there as well.  I used Ashford Tekapo 12-ply that I bought from the Hands Ashford store in Christchurch. I lengthened the sleeves and body as the wool is quite warm so, if I am going to wear it, I will probably want to be well covered. The pattern was a nuisance to figure out but there are some helpful hints by other knitters on the Ravelry website, which helped a lot. The border took forever! Don't think I'll make it again but I do love it.

I have two other sweaters on the go.

One is for me - the Whippet cardigan in Holst Garn Nutmeg that I ordered online from Yarn Glorious Yarn. I'm a little bogged down in the sleeves. I started using the Magic Loop knitting technique from Knitting Daily but I didn't have a flexible enough circular needle and the pattern was looking ugly at the 2 turn points so I have switched to double pointed needles, which hopefully will make it less ugly.

The other sweater is for my sister - the Lightweight Raglan Pullover from PurlSoho in Linen Quill Kiln Red as demonstrated by my granddaughter. It's a breeze to knit so far.  The bottom will need serious blocking as it rolls up in spite of the cording stitch.

Everyday blouse by House of Pinheiro

Over a year ago,  bought a cute giraffe print on a navy background from Blackbird Fabrics with thoughts of making a dress for my granddaughter. But I decided the fabric was too dark for a little girl. Then I thought it would make a nice blouse for my daughter to wear to work as she is a pediatrician. But she has specialized in pediatric ICU now and wears scrubs to work all the time. So I decided to make a blouse for me!

Because of the biggis print, I didn't want too many seam interruptions on the front so I chose the Everyday Blouse, which I downloaded from the Upcraft Club website. Here's an example make from the website. Everyday Blouse
The fabric is a polyester crepe, 59 inches wide, and I bought 2m. For interfacing, I used FashionFuse Soft Knit 40 g/m2 from Hawes and Freer. As I am short-waisted, I shortened the bodice by 3/4 inch. I made no other adjustments. I prewashed the fabric on a cold, gentle cycle machine wash.

When cutting the fabric, I lined up the front and back so the pattern matched below the front dart. I cut each sleeve separately and tried to line it up so the pattern on the sleeve matched the front below the dart. I made a size small.

Equipment: Janome Memorycraft 6600 Professional, thread tension 4, stitch length 2.2mm; Brother 3034D to overlock seams (3-thread); 14 universal needle.

The pattern directions were excellent - very easy to follow with more detail than on 'big 4' patterns. It was a little fussy to do the elastic at the shoulder but the directions were very clear so there were no mistakes! Also remembered to make sure the front and back lengths matched up before hemming as the front and back are not sewn together all the way to the hem.

I was pleased with the result. The shirt has a very relaxed fit and is comfortable. My one issue was that the lower sleeve below the dart was rather tight - and I have pretty thin forearms. If I were to make it again, I would allow another half inch at the sleeve hem, tapering from the elbow. And I might just leave out the sleeve dart as the sleeve seems to hitch up just a little along the seam below the dart.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vogue 7975 wool jacket

I am about to start a wool overcoat for my husband. In anticipation of this, I took the Expert Sewing Techniques for Jackets online course by Sarah Veblen, Essential Guide to Tailoring (both the Structure and Shape and the Construction classes) by Alison Smith, and I decided to sew myself a basic tailored jacket first. I highly recommend the classes, especially the one on structure and shape. This turned out to be the best fitting jacket I have ever made.

I used the following materials:

  • Loose weave Italian wool plaid 1.7m of 154cm wide; bought in Brisbane Australia at Beth-Wyne Couture Fabrics.
  • Cotton sateen for the facings (thought the wool would be too itchy on my neck) from The Fabric Store in Christchurch, NZ
  • Polyester lining from Haralds in Christchurch
  • Vilene 410, a fusible interfacing with stabilizing vertical threads, to interline the front pieces of the jacket and the welt  (made a huge difference with the ravelly wool fabric) from Stitches from the Bush in Australia
  • Fashion Fuse soft knit 1708 interfacing to interline the remaining pieces from Hawes and Freer in Auckland, NZ
  • Fashion Fuse Light Canvas from Hawes and Freer
  • Domette columbine for the sleeve head from Bias Bespoke (I bought a small amount on Amazon)
  • CLR 3002 shoulder pads from Hawes and Freer (max 4mm thickness)
  • Gutermann polyester thread
I used the Vogue 7975 jacket pattern View B Size 12 but with welt pockets - very basic with no collar and no buttons. I first made a muslin with broadcloth. Based on that, I shortened the bodice by 1/2 inch, reduced the breast point by 1/4 inch, took in the bottom edge 1/4 inch on the back side of the side front and both sides of the back and side back. 

I cut out the pieces on a single layer so that I could line up the plaid perfectly. The fabric was super ravelly so I interlined all the pieces with fusible interfacing (see above for details). Here's the interlined back piece.

I used Alison Smith's Speed Tailoring method for the canvas attaching it with fusible interfacing at the armscye and shoulder. I didn't use any tape (forgot - oops!).
I made the sleeve head from domette and attached it using Alison Smith's method, tracing it off the sleeve pattern and attaching the top edge with an ease stitch.  I then using a herringbone stitch to secure the bottom edge. After inserting the sleeves into the jacket, I attached the shoulder pads after first moulding them over a ham - see how they are sticking up like wings with the jacket inside out? As they were so thin, I didn't add anything to the front and back pattern pieces and it turned out fine. I used Sarah Veblen's method of attaching the shoulder pads - rather loose tacking stitch at shoulder seam at neck and about 1 1/4 inches of herringbone stitch at the arm edge.

When attaching the jacket to the lining/facing, I used Sarah Veblen's method of doing corners. You don't turn corners during a seam but sew right off the edge and start again. Then you go back and reinforce the seam starting 1-2 inches before the corner, going down to a small stitch length (I used 1.2mm) before the corner and then cutting across the corner at a 45-degree angle very close to the actual corner, and then continue for another 1-2 inches using a longer stitch.

This pattern did not have you attach the sleeve lining to the rest of the lining before inserting it, which is what I have done in the past. Instead, I basted the armscye edges all together (lining and main fabric) just inside the seam allowance using a firm stitch and knotting it at each end. Then I pressed the sleeve lining armhole along the seam allowance, slid it onto the sleeve and sewed it to the lining armscye. I really liked this method as it holds everything more securely and I didn't have to tack the lining to the fabric anywhere.

Because the fabric was so ravelly, I did a Hong Kong finish on all the hems using silk organza just to be safe. Then I sewed the hem using a herringbone stitch. Then I folded the lining at just the right place so it would droop over just a little when it was finished and sewed it to the silk organza where it met the fabric using an invisible stitch.
And with no buttons or buttonholes to do, I was finished! It fits perfectly although I haven't taken a picture of it on me yet.

Update: Photos wearing the jacket.

Northern Hemisphere Holiday

I have been very lazy again about posting to my blog. I have a few good excuses and lots of poor ones. I caught the true flu in May and it took a month to get over! Bad timing as I spent most of our 10-day holiday in Australia in bed instead of playing tennis. The weather was warm and sunny so it was a lovely spot to be sick. I didn't take many photos but I did snap one of our daily morning visitors on our balcony.

They are called Rainbow Lorikeets. And on the last day before we went to the airport, we stopped at a boat sale and I saw a boat that my Dad would have loved.

After our return to NZ, I headed off to take care of my grandkids in the US while my son went to a meeting. My 87 year old mother joined us for 10 days and we all had a great time. My 5 year old granddaughter played hookey from preschool for the 2 weeks and we went everywhere: Woodland Zoo, Skymania (trampolines), Funtastic Playtorium (very noisy!), the library, Discovery Park, Lake Washington, the Museum of Flight (the simulated hurricane and sitting in the cocckpit of fighter jets were a hit), swimming at the Lynnwood Pool (great spot with everything a kid could want) and we went to see the movie Finding Dory. My grandson joined us when he wasn't at summer camp.
The carousel at Woodland Zoo

View of Mt Rainier from Discovery Park
While in Seattle, my granddaughter wanted me to knit her a dress. She chose the pattern and the yarn (in her favourite two colours) herself. I made a purse to match and it was a hit.

After Seattle, I went to visit my daughter and her boyfriend in San Francisco and I also visited old friends in the Palo Alto area, where I used to live. I brought the quilt that my daughter and I had designed together and after an emergency visit to a friend's to borrow her sewing machine to add one little quilting seam I missed, taking out all the basting, and washing out all the markings in the bathtub, it was finished. It only took 2 years of the 10 year window my daughter negotiated!

My husband then arrived from NZ and we flew to Toronto where we did a road trip around Ontario for 3 days visiting old friends - so much fun! On the way home we stopped in Kingston where I went to university. We had lunch at Chez Piggy (yum) and drove around my old stomping grounds. I took a photo of the house I used to live in with 7 other girls and another of my great aunt's house where she lived alone. Guess which one is which! 

After that, my kids and grandkids all arrived in Toronto and we went up to Georgian Bay for a week with my sibs and mother. We had perfect weather and the water was 73F, which is super warm for there. The kids had a ball on the lily pad (huge floating mat), a floating trampoline, and riding behind the boat on a 'biscuit'. 

My grandson was quite proud of swimming all the way across the channel on his own!

After 5 1/2 weeks of gallivanting around North America, we had to say good bye and head home to winter, which is really pretty mild in Christchurch. And it's always great to get home. The weather had been warm while we were away and one of our rhododendrons was in full bloom when we got home! 
 But real winter arrived shortly after that and we had a little snow. There's lots of snow in the mountains so the skiers are happy.


25 March 2016  Well yesterday was the big day to ear tag our new calves, castrate the male one, and drench all of the cattle. It started out perfectly with me on the quad bike in front leading them down to our neighbours yards and Ross following up at the rear on foot. We easily got them through all the gates and into the yards.

We took each of the calves through the race with their mothers so they wouldn't be nervous. I gave a little squirt on their backs and then they were on to Ross.

Ear tagger in his right hand, elastrator in his left
Bam-Bam and his mother Wilma went through first. Bam-Bam pushed his head right into the head holder and the ear tag was in quickly. Then Ross picked up the dreaded elastrator and reached for the dangly bits - - but there weren't any! Just some small teats! What had looked like the male anatomy in the middle of the belly from a distance was just a flap of skin leftover from where the umbilical cord had been. With a great sigh of relief from Ross (and probably from Bam-Bam also!), Ross released him from the run to be back with his mother, who had gone through first. Maybe we should change his - - I mean her - - name to Bambi?

Next was Pebbles who also went through easily with mother Milkshake. We were pleased to find no surprises there and only an ear tag was required. So there was only Stew left to squirt the anti-parasitic onto his back - should only take a minute right?

As backbround, Stew is a steer and almost 6 years old. He had a Devon mother and Angus father. His mother died when he was 3 weeks old so I hand reared him til he was 3 months old using a pail with a nipple on it. He grew into a handsome but very large steer who is quite docile and loves to be scratched and petted. He doesn't realize how big he is compared to me so I have to be careful not to be between him and a gate when he wants to give my a nuzzle!

Well, back to the present. Stew did not want to go into the race and gave Ross quite a fight - for good reason as it turns out. He is too big for the race and he got stuck.
We eventually got him through most of the race but after the last corner, he gave up and wouldn't go any further. He hung his head down and refused to budge.
Ross decided the best thing was to leave him alone for awhile so we left him stuck there for an hour. Ross then went back, gave him a good head scratch, got Milkshake to come and moo at him and he finally bulldozed his way through the last few feet of the race! He was no worse for the wear at the end thankfully but the cattle sure sprinted up the driveway back to our place! 

Not very impressive farmers are we? Can't tell a boy from a girl. Won't listen to Stew when he tells us he won't fit in the race. But all our fruit and vegies are looking great right now. Here's a little sampling.
Od'Ham Watermelon - delicious!

Dayton apples - they make pink applesauce