I went to Downton Abbey, so I had to join a quilt along.

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Speaking of my Anglophile tendencies, I went to Downton Abbey in May.  A trip to the promised land for someone like me, someone whose idea of a rollicking viewing experience is Sense and Sensibility.  Or Downton Abbey, of course.  It’s my absolute favorite TV show in recent years.

Andover fabrics came out with Christmas Downton Abbey fabric this year!  OMG, Christmas and Downton Abbey together?  You know you can count me in!

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Ebony Love at Lovebug Studios (http://www.lovebugstudios.com) started a Downton Abbey Christmas in July mystery quilt along this summer.  I felt it was my destiny, nay, my responsibility, to join in.

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I’ve never participated in a mystery quilt along before.  I decided to go for this one, because I already knew I loved the fabric.  In fact, I had already purchasesda half yard bundle of the fabric.  The fabric requirements are obviously not the same as a half yard bundle, but I am going to be flexible and mix it up a little to use all the pieces in the bundle.

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These 16 patch blocks show some of the changes made so far.  I like the variety that this is bringing into my version of the quilt.

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I have quite the assortment of candles going on in mine!  I will be fascinated when the layout is available, so I can figure out how to incorporate my blocks into it.

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It’s the fifth week of the quilt along, and I am up to date!  That is something to celebrate, in my estimation.  Once or twice in my life I have joined progressive projects, and let’s just say that staying up to date is not always my modus operandi.  I guess it helps that I still like this project.  And I know it helps that I love Downton Abbey.  I think Lord and Lady Grantham are probably going to invite me to a shooting party soon.

Anglophile alert! Union Jack quilt squares and Liberty Tana Lawn fabric, all in one convenient place!

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How much do I love all things English?  Other than mushy peas, I’m in pretty deep.  I love the humor, the TV shows, chips, crisps, you name it.  And it is well documented that I LOVE Liberty fabrics.

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I even joined a club.  Westwood Acres (http://www.westwoodacresfabric.com) has a Liberty of London Tana Lawn club!  Each month they send a bundle of 10 beautiful pieces in fat quarters, eighths or sixteenths.  So I thought and I thought until my thinker was sore.

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I remembered an online magazine I bought a while back, issue #10 of Fat Quarterly magazine (http://www.fatquarterly.com)  There it was, the perfect quilt for small cuts of fabric, appropriately named Jumping Jacks.  I can’t think of a more perfect match!

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I decided I would pair up each month’s fabrics, choosing one for the triangle “background” and one for the wide stripes.  I chose a solid Kona white for the narrow stripes.  Even the prints that I don’t instantly love are turning out beautifully in these blocks!

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There are brights and lights, mostly traditional with some flair thrown in.  I am so excited to use all the diverse prints to make a quilt that can only be one-of-a-kind!  I have not yet decided what I will do for the sashing on this quilt.  I am sure some inspiration will come along as the months progress.

The blocks are foundation paper pieced.  It is such a great way to make perfect blocks every time.  When I post the next set of blocks, I will flip some over so you can get a good view of the paper piecing.  With only five blocks to make each month, I should be able to keep up with this project while still working on everything else that tickles my fancy!

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Anybody have a favorite?

Yippee skippy, I have another new dress! And I made it from some yummy Liberty fabric!

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Look at me, cutting into yet another one of my coveted lengths of Liberty Tana lawn.  Every time I start a project with this fabric, I feel like I should have a ceremony before the first cut with the scissors.  Not only is this fabric expensive, it has the nicest hand of any cotton I have ever sewn.

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This picture is a little fuzzy. I may have to fire my photographer.

For this dress, I chose a pattern by Serendipity Studio called the Marilyn dress.  The Serendipity patterns seem to be sized for what I will call, um, relatively flat-chested bodies.  There is also a note on the back of this pattern that reads, “the length of the skirt will suit up to 5’4″ in height.”  Oops, I just found that note.

I took one look at the bodice front and knew it would need some adjustment.  I re-drew the bodice, adding a generous amount of space to cover my not-flat-chested self.  Here are the before and after shots of the front bodice.

Here is the tissue pattern next to the redrafted pattern I used.
Here is the tissue pattern next to the redrafted pattern I used.
The original laid over the new pattern piece.  To cover everything that needs to stay inside the bodice, I added width and length to the pattern piece.
The original laid over the new pattern piece. To cover everything that needs to stay inside the bodice, I added width and length to the pattern piece.
You can see it took multiple tries to add enough fabric to cover...
You can see it took multiple tries to add enough fabric to cover…

I love the back v-neckline and the invisible zipper.  I have a major supply of invisible zippers, so it’s easy to slap one in the garments I make.  One of the wonderful things about invisible zippers is that it pretty much doesn’t matter what color the zipper is.  If inserted correctly, the only part that shows is the zipper pull.  The zip in this dress is kelly green.

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The Liberty lawn fabric is so soft and drapey.  Now this is a good quality in a dress, in my opinion.  However, that means that the hem of the dress hangs without any oomph.  To plump out my hem, to get it to have some body, I decided to add some ban-roll interfacing.  Ban-roll is a product that is typically used for interfacing waistbands.  It comes in different widths. IMG_0917

I measured and pressed my hem.  Then I added the ban-roll, snugging it against the pressed hem.  I basted it to the hem, then folded the excess hem over the interfacing. IMG_0918

I pinned my hem into place, then used the blind hem foot and stitch on my machine.  Because that’s how I roll.  I will freely admit that the idea of hand sewing a hem makes me want to heave.

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I love my new dress.  It will be a great garment for the hot and sweaty weather here.  Would I make it again?  No.  While I like the shape of the dress and it’s components, the pattern is obviously sized all over for a petite figure.  My bad for not measuring the length of the bodice, waistband and skirt before cutting.  Lesson learned.

Girly Christmas quilt for a new baby

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It’s raining babies.  Girl flavored babies.  And so the parade of adorable little baby quilts continues.

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I found the cutest pattern for a big block quilt.  It’s called the Lone Star baby quilt by Amy Smart.  She has an amazing blog, Diary of a Quilter.  This pattern is on the Bernina website here:  http://weallsew.com/2015/07/08/lone-star-baby-quilt-tutorial-part/

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I love the look of a one block quilt.  This one uses 10″ squares, a portion of a layer cake.  I got it in my mind that I wanted to make this quilt for an upcoming baby.  And I decided it should be a Christmas quilt.  A Christmas baby girl quilt.

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Then what to my wondering eyes should appear?  A ten inch stacker by Penny Rose fabrics, Little Joys.  12 prints tied up with a bow.  Throw in four white squares and it’s a quilt.

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Dorito approves.  The fabric has such sweet prints.  Little reindeer, toys, trees, bows.  And there are PINKS in this Christmas collection!  My heart is aflutter.  I ordered some yardage for the border, backing and binding. Or course i got extra of the two pink prints!

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You can tell that this gem goes together quickly.  For me, the tricky part, the challenge, is doing the actual quilting.  I’m getting better at making my quilt sandwiches.

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I included this picture because you can see the quilting pretty well.  I used my walking foot, chose a section, and worked in a “spiral” towards the center of each section.  No measuring or anything, I eyeballed it and drove full speed.  I have only quilted a few things myself.  I can’t see myself ever attempting anything the size of a bed.  I do like how this one worked out.  Practice makes perfect, right?

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This one is going in the mail this week, and will reappear in the state of

Look! Out on the lawn! It’s a…giant batik turtle?

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I don’t think there’s any way to explain why I now have a giant batik turtle.  It does have a purpose other than being adorable – extra seating for the living room.

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The pattern is Dudley by McKenna Ryan, from her Sea Breeze collection.  I flat out refuse to call mine Dudley, because it makes me think of Harry Potter’s tormentor.  My turtle did turn out big and round, so maybe I’ll rethink my refusal of the name Dudley.

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For the head and the top of the flippers I used this awesome batik with turtles on it.  That makes this project extra turtley.

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As a cruel prank, I flipped the turtle over so you can see the tummy and the underside of the flippers.  Yet another cool batik, this one with coral print.  Flippers were flailing.  I flipped it back over.

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The eyeballs are appliqued onto the head.  For added interest, and because I thought this turtle looked tired and/or mysterious, I gave it hooded eyelids.  From certain angles the turtle looks angry.

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This is the turtle shell draped over my sewing machine.  Do not worry – no turtles were harmed to provide this picture.  The shell is approximately 34″ diameter, so awkward doesn’t begin to touch what it was like to make the top shell.  It has darts, which allowed me to make my turtle extra fat.

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The opening I left to stuff this monster is pinned right now.  Since I stuffed it more than recommended, I want to try it out on the floor before I sew it shut.  I still have the option to slim it down, but I want to make sure it will keep a butt off the floor.

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Little Dorito is not quite sure what to think of this fatty.  She finished all her puppy shots, so this was her very first day going out to play in the yard.  She will probably expect giant batik animals every day now.

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This is the face of a very happy little girl.  She loves her new playground.  Now I just have to make sure she doesn’t pee on the turtle.

Still July, so more Christmas!

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Time for a project, stat!  I don’t want to get behind on my Christmas in July projects.  Of which I planned ZERO.

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I don’t have nearly enough table runners.  I’m serious.  So I grabbed a charm pack of Folk Art Holiday by Moda.

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The pattern is from the booklet Angles With Ease 2 by Heather Peterson.  And I got to use my Triangler ruler from Anka’s Treasures.  I cut the remaining charm squares in half, sewed them into a 2-1/2″ strip and used them as the binding.  I am loving my scrappy binding!

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I used my walking foot and improvised the quilting.

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Oh look!  The back of the runner is the infamous Hawaiian print of yore!  Christmas 2012 I made matching outfits for the family out of the red and white.  We rocked that Christmas photo.

DSCN2154A few of us had different colored hair back then.

I got the shots of my new table runner, then someone seemed to need a little photo sesh…

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I’m all about indulging the children.

I actually cut my Liberty fabric! Lo and behold, a dress sprang forth!

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I can’t possibly be the only one who hesitates to cut into beautiful Liberty of London yardage.  But I did buy it to sew it into something.

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I chose a wonderful pattern by Sis Boom, the Lucy Halter Dress.  I am in love with the Sis Boom pattern line for a couple of reasons – they give excellent sizing advice, and they include cutting lines for different cup sizes!  The patterns are also technically well written.  I love that I can fit these to my body type.

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The Tana Lawn fabric by Liberty is absolutely amazing to work with.  It has the softest hand and perfect grain lines.  And it goes well with my hair.  Since we are planning another trip to London, I decided it was okay to use it since I can buy more next time!

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This pose was my rather lame version of the Big Fig Newton.  I put this in here just to see if my mom is reading my blog.  Every photo session from my junior and senior high years has a Big Fig pose in it.  I could usually elicit a “stop that!” and maybe a choice word from my mother.

I was so tickled with this dress that I cut into another chunk of my Liberty lawn.  I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath to see that one.  Meanwhile, here is a gratuitous puppy picture.

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I made little Miss Dorito a Minion outfit/jammies.  Way too big as you can see.  She wouldn’t move for awhile, and when she did, with her first footsteps she walked right out of it.

I dyed my hair pink, and now my new dress clashes!

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I felt like whipping up a new dress this weekend.  I have been wanting to make the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio.   I pulled out some voile from the Robert Kaufman fabric line named London Calling.

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The pattern is great.  The fabric is great.  My dress turned out great.  Then I had my hair dyed pink.  Although the dress has pink in it, it reads as orange when you see it in person or in pictures.  I wanted to get some pictures of the dress to show on my blog, and I dislike every photo taken.  It just flat out clashes with my new hair color!

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I used pearl snaps instead of buttons.  I love snaps – so easy to apply and they make it fun to undress at the end of the day.

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I made my usual armhole gap fix on this dress.  I have slim arms and a narrow chest, with larger boobs.  To fit around the boobage, I usually end up with gappy armholes on sleeveless garments.  I fix this by essentially making a casing in the armhole binding about 3 to 4″ each side of the side seam, and inserting a shorter piece of 1/4″ elastic to draw up the excess.  Works great for me.

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I usually wear my hair blonde, so the color of the dress is a short lived problem.  In reality, though, this is not a shape that is flattering on my body.  I am too curvy for a an a-line shirtdress.  The Alder Shirtdress is an amazing pattern, but I am heading back to a more tried and true shape for me.  Stay tuned for my next dress…

Jumping on the “Christmas in July” bandwagon!

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I’m being bombarded by Christmas crafts!  It is futile to resist.

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I decided to work on some quilt squares from the book Winter Wonderland by Sherri Falls of This & That Pattern Company.

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I have these fabulous fabrics called “Holly’s Tree Farm” by Sweetwater for Moda.  How cute is this mug and saucer?

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Aside from the usual red/green/cream, this new Christmas bundle has an awesome aqua and some surprising gray.  I love the way the gray works in this snowflake block.

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This is an ornament block.  I point that out because to me it looks more like a big round bomb with a fuse from a Pink Panther movie.  Maybe that’s just me.

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Here’s a mitten for all the little kittens.  I had some fun deciding how to fussy cut this fabric.

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At least this block is easier to identify than the bomb  ornament.  What says Christmas more than a Scotty with a bow?

These blocks are really fun to put together.  The cutting takes a bit of time, but the stitching goes fast.  I think I found my piecing mojo while sewing these.  Since I got my new sewing machine, I have been struggling to find a comfortable and accurate 1/4″ seam.  Every presser foot, every needle position is different on every machine.  I have two different 1/4″ feet for my Destiny, and neither was working for me.  I think I finally found the right combo that works for me with my machine!  So I’ve got that going for me.  Which is nice.

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Since I’m jumping on this “Christmas in July” bandwagon, I want you to know that I’m not showing up empty handed.  I’m going to bring my own flute player.

Using your sewing time wisely

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Why, oh why do I feel compelled to dress this puppy?  Is it because of her adorable little face?  Those gigantic ears?  The fact that she’s only six inches tall?

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I was trolling around on Etsy and found the mother lode of patterns for tiny little dog clothes.  The pattern company is called Sofi & Friends, this pattern is called the Sweet Pea dress.  I used Moda Scrumptious fabric, the same fabric I used for that cute little baby quilt with the dresses.  Little Dorito is so tiny that I only needed teeny little pieces.

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She still has plenty of room to grow in this, and it is the size xx-small.

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The dress is fully lined.  Only the best for my little diva.  The patterns are beautifully drafted and accurate. There are lots of great details, like the d-ring so the dress can also work as a harness.  I have no idea where or why she will wear this dress.  But when she does, she will look breathtaking.  Now for some examples of her modeling poses…

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She acted like she had been frozen in place when I put it on her.  I didn’t even match up the velcro because I was scrambling to get my camera.  We obviously need to work on her catwalk.