Diamonds – Finally…

After weeks of walking around these forty 2 1/2″ fabric strips, I finally managed to get started.

Remember, I’m trying to create a quilt based on diamonds, from a jellyroll of 2 1/2″ strips.  I came up with a way of combining strips to end up with a reasonable size diamond and a possibly pleasing colour flow.

I paired up strips close in colour, then sewed three pairs along one edge. I stopped to create a diamond template based on the 4 1/2″ width (twice as tall as wide) using a file folder (for stiffness) and cut out three diamonds from the sewn dark pair, which left me with six half diamonds from the off-cuts. I laid the diamonds out on the two other uncut strips to see how the this would look.

Dark Diamonds On Uncut Strips

I could immediately see that if I stitched the second side of each pair, when I cut out a diamond, the off-cut would also be a stitched diamond (same size) that I could open and press rather than trying to sew two half diamonds (which is difficult!). So I sewed the second side of the medium and light pairs and cut them into diamonds:

Diamonds From Three Strip Pairs

The contrast between the light/medium/dark was stark so I introduced the turquoise Grunge fabric I was intending to use as a contrast – as half diamonds and as a full diamond (If I decide to use full diamonds in turquoise I will cut them as diamonds, not as half-diamonds).

Before sewing more strip pairs together I made a better template using quilting template plastic, backed it with file folder cardboard, marked the seam line along one edge as a reference and included the end cuts so I don’t have to cut a gazillion dog-ears from the diamonds after I’ve cut them all.

I stitched two more pairs, this time on both sides of the strips, cut them into diamonds and added them to the array.

Now you can start to see how I might be able to work on colour flow since the remaining 14 pairs are an array of light/medium/dark hues.

Jellyroll Collection

It’ll be interesting to see how much colour flow I can actually manage from this collection of fabrics – I won’t know until I’ve stitched all the remaining pairs, cut out the diamonds and start laying them on the floor (I don’t have a design wall – I don’t have a spare wall in my apartment studio to accommodate one).

Let you know how it goes once I’ve got a layout.

iPhone Cases & Small Zippered Bags

I’m preparing for an upcoming class on using zipper tape for bag-making.

I had on hand a couple of fabric sample sets with cuts of each fabric in the colourway. The samples were 13″ wide so I cut 5 1/2″ strips, then 1 3/4″ strips from the leftover bits, sewed them to the wider pieces to create a “header”, then made them up into small zippered bags. They’re in my gift stash. I left three bags unassembled so I can use them to demonstrate for the class.

Before that, I’d made 10 more iPhone bags, having given away the first batch. Also useful to have on hand as a gift. I also left two of these bags unassembled as examples for the class.

Small Zippered Bags / iPhone Cases

Just keeping busy while I’m trying to wrap my head around the “diamonds” quilt I want to do. I’m closer than I was. I’ve paired up the jellyroll strips again, this time matching up strips closer in shade – I think that will work better. The pairs of strips are currently laying on one of my sewing tables – maybe later this afternoon, or tomorrow morning, I will sew them up and cut out diamonds….

Two More Pair Of Pull-On Pants

I may not have been posting much but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. After the original “muslin” – the beige corduroy pants (which I continued modifying – more on that later), I adjusted the pattern by adding 1 1/4″ to the top of both front and back pieces.

I cut out and sewed a pair of burgundy corduroy pants which worked without any further adjusting! Wonderful.

Navy Pants Finished

I then did the third pair in navy.  I can also wear these without further adjusting. 

For now, I actually have a pattern I can cut out and assemble and wear without any fuss – so I can do a pair of pants in under 5 hours – cut them out, sew them together, and they’re wearable.

Navy Pants

Navy Pants

I may actually have a go at redrafting this pattern to incorporate a fly-front and a waistband after all. I’m finding pulling on these pants more difficult than getting on my jeans with the front opening! Now that I have a working crotch depth, it shouldn’t be too hard to shape the top a bit and incorporate the front fly opening.

As for the beige pants: I added a waistband which I wasn’t happy with – the crotch depth was a bit too long. I cut that waistband off (losing 1/4″ from the length of the body) and added a narrower waistband – this time using leftover navy corduroy since I no longer had any of the original beige left.

4th Iteration of the Beige Pull-on Pants

They’re wearable although I found yesterday that I was hiking them up more than I had to with the burgundy pants which pretty much stay at my waist in the back when I sit down. These do slip down some – may have to do with the stiffness of the fabric – the burgundy is a much softer corduroy, although the navy seem to stay up reasonable well (I’ve got them on now). I discovered, and recorded, that my inseam on these pants is 26 1/2″, the side seam ends up at 37″. That information now takes any guesswork out of making up this pattern.

BTW – for the record, I’m a pressed crease person. I’ve been getting flack from a friend for pressing front and back creases in my pants. The crease makes them hang better, and I’m after a slightly more formal look – these may be pull on pants but I’ve made them into a cross between jeans (with jeans front pockets and pockets on the back) and a dress pants. A good pair of worsted flannel pants would have front and back creases! They’d look slept-in, if they weren’t pressed. I don’t want sweatpants! My mother would have called me a “schloomp” were I to wear unpressed pants to go out.

Close – But Not A Match

I sold the first pair of “blue dots” socks before Christmas. I had another ball of that yarn so I made up the second pair of socks. The colour shift in the first pair worked out pretty much on its own – I don’t recall having to unwind a lot of yarn to match the second sock.

Given where the first sock of this second pair ended I knew I had to unwind a substantial amount of yarn to set up a match – but the colour shadings in this yarn were so gradual I didn’t quite make it. That doesn’t happen to me very often (but then again, most pattern repeats are generally easier to discern).

I actually needed to unwind at least 12 rows of the pale blue on the second sock (the sock underneath) in order to have come close to a match but it wasn’t until I was closer to 25 rows into the sock that I could see the mismatch and decided just to keep knitting anyway.

Blue Ombre With Dots

These socks are destined for a friend who I’m sure will laugh each time she wears them, wiggle her toes, and carry on. Slightly mismatched socks won’t bother her.

And now onto a brighter pair where the repeat is more obvious – I’ll be able to match the second sock to the first with relative ease.

Another Pair Of Socks

Finished this pair of socks last evening. I bought this ball of sock yarn because in the ball it looked like a reasonable set of colours but knitted up it’s pretty drab. There is a hint of “rose” in one of the grey sections so I decided to complement the yarn with a sparkly mauve.

I got well into the first leg when I decided I need to break up the drabness and added three alternating rows of the mauve wanting them to show below the pant legs (in hindsight, those rows would have been more balanced had they been closer to the cuff, however…).

One set of stripes didn’t seem enough so I added a second set near the toe. All fine.

Last night as I was approaching the toe, I remembered the second set of stripes! I had to unravel 12 rows to position the second set of mauve rows to match the rows on the first sock! I still managed to finish the sock, stripes intact.

Now on to another pair of the blue dots yarn tonight.

The “Muslin”

It’s close to two weeks since I posted anything. That’s because I’ve been stuck on the latest quilt – I have this lovely collection of jellyroll strips – I’d like to do something with them using diamonds – and the 2 1/2″ strip width limit has me blocked!

Jellyroll Collection

I’ve tried sorting the strips in pairs (which is one way I could assemble diamonds by cutting each vertical half diamond from the strips and pair them up):

Jellyroll collection with contrast

However, I lose the flow of colour I’m looking for if I pair them this way, and I can’t see a way to bring in the perfectly contrasted turquoise grunge fabric. So I gathered up the strips and set them aside for now.

I returned to my photograph of Ruby and played with it – enlarging her 50% and then extrapolating to a final panel size. I’ve cut out the backing muslin but got no further than that. What’s stopping me with this project is trying to figure out how to make the mud flat look wet – not there yet.

I needed something I could accomplish – I made 10 iPhone cases to give away. I’ve passed on three of the ones I made for myself so I decided I should make some to have in my gift stash.

iPhone Cases to give away

And then I finally got to the corduroy that has been sitting on my serger table for well over a year and decided to make pants.

I’ve capitulated – pull-on pants is what I need to make, not pants with a fly front and fitted waistband. I’m tired of wearing pants that are too tight in the waist (in spite of the elastic gussets I’ve inserted in the sides of many of them). So I went searching for a pattern online.

I started with the Jalie Pattern 3243 for pull-on pants. I bought the PDF version which sends me two files – one I can print on my home printer – that means 25-30 pages that I then have to organize and tape together to create a pattern array before tracing the size I want to make; and one I can take to a print shop and have printed on blueprint size paper.

I did the latter. I went to Staples and after much discussion with the gal (who clearly has never sewn anything in her short life) I decided to print the sheet based on the very limited information I could find on the pattern (all it said was “copy shop 36″). I asked for a 36″ x 48” sheet. When I measured the test block, what I ended up with was a pattern at 88% of full size! At $14 per printed sheet I wasn’t going to try printing it again, so I took it home and started doing some math.

This is one of those pattern with 27 sizes printed as one. I checked the pattern size info and decided my hip measurement was a size V (US size 9), my waist was a size Z (US size 13). To get those measurements on this 88% printout, I needed to upsize those measurements to a Z and a CC.

I marked the pattern accordingly using a bright highlight pen, used my French curve to make the adjustment from hip (size Z) to waist (size CC). I traced the resulting pattern, cut it out, placed it on my corduroy, and looked at it for a day before cutting the fabric, forgetting that corduroy has to be cut all in the same direction! (I didn’t realize I’d done that until I went to press the side seams and could see the colour difference).

Because this is my first attempt at this pattern, it really qualifies as a “muslin”. I’m not expecting it to work out perfectly but the changes I make will inform any adjustments I need to make to the pattern and the project might just turn out to be a wearable garment. So I carry on.

I don’t like the pocket shape and size they provide; I substitute my jeans-shaped pocket instead and make it deep enough to hold my iPhone. I also want back pockets – I have enough fabric to include a pair. I also cut out the waist facings in corduroy, realizing I may want to change that for a batik in the end.

I make one other adjustment. No pants pattern is going to fit my body with scant bum and thin thighs. At one of my visits to Sandra Betzina I learned how to get rid of the excess fabric under my bum and down my thighs by sewing a fisheye dart down the centre back of the pants. What I didn’t anticipate was how that adjustment would affect the centre back crotch length – more about that later.

I make the front pockets; I construct the back pockets. I stitch the centre front and back crotch seams; next the side seams – although when I held up the constructed front and back against my body I was pretty sure the pants were going to end up too small to get on! But I carry on, anyway – this is a “muslin” I tell myself – see what it turns out like.

I add the waistband, put the elastic in, and try the pants on – this is a “muslin”, right?

I can actually get the pants on over my hips, I need to tighten the elastic quite a bit. I hem the pants but I have a problem – the back crotch length is about 1 1/2″ too short. I wear the pants anyway and my turtleneck shirt keeps pulling out when I sit and the pants slip down in back.

So the next day, I take off the waist facings, add a yoke to the back of the pants increasing the centre back length by 1 1/2″. Here’s where I decide I don’t want to reuse the corduroy waist facings so I cut out and attach a new set in a complementary batik (not as heavy a fabric so the waist should gather more easily). Inserted the elastic and zigzagged a seam down the middle of the elastic to keep it from twisting – but in order to do that I had to stretch the elastic to fit the waist and in the process the elastic is stretched making the waist loose.

I wear the pants again, anyway – just a “muslin”, right? I find myself constantly tucking in my shirt again.

So this morning I painstakingly took out the zigzag stitching, opened the inside side seam to gain access to the elastic, shortened it quite a bit more, then instead of doing a zigzag down the middle, I simply vertically stitched across both side seams, the centre front, the centre back and in the middle of the back on each side – that will keep the elastic in place and avoid stretching it.

The Pull-on Pants after adding a back yoke

The waist of the pants is now definitely tighter. I plan on wearing them again today to test out the fit. Furthermore, I send the PDF file to a friend with access to a blueprint printer. I should have a new 100% printout of the pattern to work from and then I will make up a second pair using the navy corduroy I bought a couple of days ago.

The pants fitting saga continues.

Light Blue Socks With Dots

I’ve enjoyed working on the sock fingerling yarn I bought from Denmark in the spring. This is one more pair from that batch of yarns.

Light Blue Socks With Dots

Light Blue Socks With Dots

It’s a fine, well twisted, yet soft yarn that’s a pleasure to knit with. Two things are happening in this yarn – the ombre effect which you can see in the ball but is very subtle in the socks; and the darker dots which appear every six or so rows. The overall effect is pleasing.

And of course, I’m already on to my next pair!

Comet Quilt – Completed

Finally finished. Yesterday I attached the hidden binding (mitring the corners) and hand stitched it to the back.

Comet Quilt - Top

Comet Quilt – Top

I’m happy with the colour flow from top left to bottom right. The bronze “sparkle” in the background fabric shows nicely, as well – I didn’t see that as a possibility when I ordered the fabric. There’s also a blue speckle which is brought out by the medium blue shades in the brighter blocks.

The back turned out nicely, as well.  I was able to incorporate the single pink triangle there. In the photo, the blocks look darker than they are – that’s because in a brighter light (it’s a dark cloudy day today – a large snowstorm is forecast to start around noon) the bronze sparkle in the blocks from the background fabric do show.

Just about every scrap of fabric I had leftover from the front got used in that strip. I was lucky to be able to complete the 125 blocks I needed for the stripe.

When I was making the quilt back  made sure I’d have enough fabric from the offcuts to be able to make the hidden binding. I like how the elements of the back come to the edge of the quilt that way rather than being interrupted by a conventional binding.

Comet Quilt – Back

This morning I pulled out two complementary jellyroll packages from the stash. Now I have to figure out some way to use them in a quilt. That’s my next project.

Comet Quilt VI – The Back

All those bright blue triangles I had leftover when I remade so many of those HST blocks? I used them to make more HST blocks for the insert on the back of the quilt!

25 of 125 blocks

The quilt top is 54″ x 68″. I need to make the back 4″ larger in both length and width: 58″ x 72″ or thereabouts (I’ll be using the off-cuts to do a hidden binding after the quilt is quilted). My HST blocks finish at 3″ so I needed 25 of them for the length (one extra row just in case), and 5 blocks for the width (15″ to make the back panel wide enough: 42″ + 16 1/2″) will do it.

I needed 125 blocks to construct the insert strip. The strip will be bordered with two dark strips – a finished 1″ strip using the last small scraps I had of the Sparkle fabric (not a single bit left), and one other (finished width 1/2″) yet to be determined!

Back strip under construction

I have assembled two of the 25 blocks elements – 3 to go. I should get those done today. Tomorrow I’ll put the quilt back together, set up the sandwich and then think about what kind of quilting design would complement the Comet Quilt top – no idea about that yet.