Friday, July 18, 2014

Chirashi - A Mixture

I feel a bit at loose ends - fairly usual for me, I think. This being retired business is not for sissies. Here are a few things I have spent time with recently.

Hawaiian shirt "muslin" - I have had this pattern for a long time. I thought that the casual style would suit me. I had done some pattern alterations some time in the past, so I plunked it down on this blue plaid that was a gift. What ensued was a shirt that was really quite huge on me. So huge that I think I total rethink is necessary on the casual shirt front. The construction was good practice. I did a double yoke on the bias and sewed it a la Trudy at Hot Patterns' tutorial. It worked well. The plaids matched mostly except for the sleeves which for some unknown reason were really gigantic. The fabric has a high percentage of polyester, so did not press well. So, being finished and wearable by someone larger than me, it goes into the Hospice Resale Store bag. The pattern has been unceremoniously disposed of. No Tears.

I have been making attempts in the world of quilting for a while. I decided to invest in a new foot for my old machine.  I sprang for a "Quarter Inch Foot" recently, and whether or not the old machine continues to work long enough to make it a good investment, I'm hooked.

The Viking Husqvarna version has a little sled runner on the right hand side which really ensures easy piecing. It has been a boon. It makes the fact that an "even feed foot" is totally out of the question for this machine due to the price and non-universality slightly easier to bear. Most days I don't know if I hope the machine continues to survive or bites the dust.

The triumph of the week is another quilt block in the Austen Family Album is "King's Crown for the Regent." If you go to the blog post HERE you can read a story of the monarchy during the lifetime of Jane and her family.

Here's my version of the block done in Japanese cottons and featuring the taupe fabric common to all the blocks so far. There will be 35 blocks in total for this series.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blocks 13 and 14 in the Austen Family Album Quilt

I have now completed blocks 13 and 14 in this Austen Family Quilt-along. One was relatively easy, the other was a bit more difficult. I have ordered some of that Best Press stuff and am hoping it will help with some of my pressing issues.

Crosses and Losses is in commemoration of Jane's brother Charles who followed his brother Frances into a career in the British Navy. If you want a more complete story on this or any of the quilts in this series, please go to: for Barbara Brackman's analysis of the Austen Family story. The reason for this choice stems from the practice at the time of the Navy using "prizes" to encourage enlistment and aggression. The bounty of a captured ship was shared with the underpaid sailors. I used lots of the background taupe to highlight the gold and jewel colors in the smaller figures and the green of the larger one.

The block for this week is titled Home Comforts and is for George Austen II an older brother who was born with a developmental disorder. When Jane was 4 years old, he was 13 and was placed in a boarding situation where others with unknown debilitating conditions were cared for in Monk Sherborne.  

Several children in the extended Austen clan had difficulties. Ms Brackman discusses this from the viewpoint of a Special Education teacher.

The block has more pieces than others in the series and unthinkingly I used some fabrics that were just a bit thicker, and this added to my difficulties with seam joins and pressing. Live and learn. Name of the game.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pattern Testing Again

I ventured into the world of pattern testing again. It is an interesting process and depending on the designer can be a learning process for everyone.  This time I decided to apply to work with Linda Joyner Lehn who has been learning pattern drafting and has now produced her first pattern, Esterlyn's Jumper. The pattern will go on sale as a PDF pattern sometime in the next few days. If you are interested you can check out her blog Here.

With the 4th of July Holiday coming up, I decided to celebrate the season and also show up some of the unique features of this pattern. I don't have any children of my own, so I said I would make a size 12 months. Since finishing I have thought of someone with a daughter just the right size so have shipped the dress off to her in time for the festivities.

A couple of things about pattern testing. Some how it has never seemed quite fair that I spend time money and energy making up and untried pattern for no compensation except for the satisfaction of a job well done. This is especially true for me in the burgeoning business of children's clothing patterns, being without children. That's why I have previously opted for purse/bag patterns. You do get a copy of the finished pattern that you can use. 

The other thing you get, sometimes, depending on the designer, is the active participation in the process of making patterns better, clearer and as user friendly as possible. In this case I have to commend Linda Lehn. The group of testers offered her suggestions, gripes, improvements, and any other kind of feedback you can imagine. She took it all on board and used it to improve her finished product. In this respect she's a better woman than I am, and I admire her for it.