A Loominous Cleo Skirt

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Even though I have plenty of other projects on my plate (stop looking at me, other Cleo pattern) I couldn’t get past the idea of a full, swishy skirt made from Anna Maria Horner’s gorgeous plaid woven from her Loominous 2 collection. The Cleo Skirt pattern from Made by Rae fit the bill perfectly, with a simple, flattering shape.

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I’m just in love with all of Loominous 2– each print has a slightly different feel and texture from being woven, and the colors are gorgeous. I chose the print “Plenty” in the berry colorway for my skirt, and I’m already planning a quilt with the scraps.

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While I initially thought I would design the skirt myself (I do have a degree in pattern making and it is a simple gathered skirt) ultimately I’m so glad I saved myself the time and used Rae’s pattern. I adore the pockets, the back elastic, the length, and the detailed instructions– I can’t recommend it enough. Her “skirtalong” blog posts are an awesome visual companion to the pattern.

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The only negative is my own fault– I didn’t interface the front waistband because, well, I was out of interfacing and didn’t want to make a second trip to the store that day. I also used regular knit elastic instead of non-roll, and it’s rolling like crazy, but tacking it down with a few vertical lines of stitching helped. I paired the skirt with an Old Navy long sleeve T, black tights, and my Dansko heels (which are THE BEST SHOES ON THE PLANET not even exaggerating, I can actually wear their heels on my arthritic feet) and I think with sandals it will be cute in the summer. I’m already planning a few more Cleo skirts, including something Christmas-y.

fall.jpgThe skirt was comfy enough to wear for a walk, though I did sub the heels for sneakers.

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Finished: An Adventure Quilt

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The first Christmas we were together, at the tender ages of 16 and 17, I knit Tyler mittens and a scarf for a gift. For the 6 following Christmases and his early November birthday, I’ve always made him something, usually knit– a better scarf after the first one felted, reversible double knit hat with a Mythosaur skull (double knitting is a beyotch,) another pair of mittens after the first ones felted, a sweater with sleeves that would thrill a Doctor Seuss character, and a small, frayed quilt.
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Having an early November birthday means double gift making in a marathon time frame– as soon as the birthday’s over, it’s a sprint to the next finish line. That means gift making usually starts sometime around September, so the “feel” of the gifts is always fall-oriented. Luckily, that aligns perfectly with his taste, because brown and forest green and neutral colors and  a love for the outdoors is never so strong as in the fall. Last year, I decided that the tiny quilt from five years ago deserved a worthy replacement, and this half-square-triangle-Ron-Swonson-approved-queen-sized-beast was created. I knew for Tyler only two things would really matter in a quilt: size (big enough for his 6+ft frame to burrito himself in) and warmth.
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Design
My initial plan was flying geese blocks, enough for a queen sized quilt, but after reading Jeni Baker’s “Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle” I switched gears and decided a “mock” flying geese (2 half square triangle blocks with dark colors together) would be much better. The book enlightened me to the 8 at a time method for making HSTs, and folks it changed my lyfe.
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Fabric
I ordered a fat quarter bundle of “High Adventure” fabric and added in a few favorites– “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel in Pickup Truck (the name alone would have made it perfect) and Counting Stars, and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie. The neutral off white is Kona in Natural, which has tiny dark brown flecks in the weave that I just love. I wound up needing to order a few more half yards of some of the prints, but the 8 at a time method left very little waste from the fat quarters so I felt no guilt. I love the espresso colored Peppered Cotton from Studio E for backing, and as a special touch, Molly helped me embroider a gorgeous deer motif on a corner of the backing.
Sewing
There’s so much I could say about sewing a quilt this size I’ll save it for a special post, but I will say this– being organized and taking the time to sew where you can get it is crucial. So is good TV for endless hours of cutting, chain piecing, trimming, ironing, chain piecing again, ironing again…
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Quilting
I had my sister and two of my brothers help me stretch, tape, and baste this thing. The internet is also helpful. Then I straight-line quilted it on my new Janome AMH M100 and even though I forgot the extension table, not a single seam twisted or puckered or folded and I think that machine is my best friend.
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Binding
Is it weird that binding is my favorite part of the quilt making process? I hand bound this quilt because I was tired of sitting upstairs alone at my machine and wanted to hand sew next to the Christmas tree in front of Christmas movies. Also, hand binding looks so much better.
Washing
Wool batting has the loft and softness of polyester and warmth like a big, flat oven. I washed the whole quilt on delicate in cold water and it held up like a champ. Warning: it will smell like a dirty sheep when you open the washer machine. Relax, don’t take a deep breath, tumble dry it low and cool then air dry to get the final dampness out.
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After it was done, I felt triumphant and relieved and frolicked with it in the snow to take these photos, thinking about how happy I was it was done and I wasn’t chained to a huge project with a deadline anymore. Then I made a dress (post on that soon,) passed my finals and medicated my stress with wine and tears and cookies.
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He loved it, by the way, and was actually speechless, a feat I don’t take lightly.
Quilt Stats
  • Pattern: Technique for HSTs from Jeni Baker’s book,”Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle”
  • Quilt top fabric: “High Adventure” by Designs by Dani for Riley Blake, supplemented by “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie; Kona in Natural
  • Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
  • Backing: Peppered Cotton 108″ wide by Studio E
  • Binding: Red buffalo plaid from “High Adventure”
  • Quilting by: me, on my Janome AMH M100
  • Number/size and type of blocks: 256/ 6.5″ half-square triangle blocks
  • Finished size: 96″ x 96″

Retro Pincushion Tutorial

 

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Sometimes you just need a cute little project to revive your spirit after hours of soul-crushing prototyping on another project, one that seemed so innocent and simple at the

time. Anyways maybe that’s just me. This little boxy pincushion, made from scraps of quilting cotton, took me about 30 minutes to make, and makes me happy every time I see it next to the sewing machine. It’s retro-ey in both spirit and fabric (the floral is a 1930s reproduction feedsack print) and something you’ll actually use. Try it as a beginner sewing project– the corners and button offer just enough complexity, and the quick nature of the project means almost instant gratification. Little girls might find it the perfect size for a doll chair cushion or pillow.

I just managed to write over 100 words about a pincushion. I have no idea what that says about me as a person.

Materials

-Two 5″ by 5″ squares cotton fabric

-One 20″ by 2″ strip cotton fabric

-Thread to match

-Small amount polyester fiberfill

-2 buttons, any size really, though tiny ones may be more difficult to sew on

3/8″ seam allowance

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1. With one square right side up and the band upside down, line up top edges together and pin. Sew along the top edge, corner to corner.

2. To turn the corner, fold the fabric up against the edge you just sewed. Pin the top edges of the next side together. Sew carefully around the corner, trying not to stitch any folds.

3. Repeat on the next 2 sides. Be sure to leave the one vertical corner with the binding edges open.

4. Pin the second square to the top binding edge and sew, carefully easing around corners.

5. Repeat on the other 3 sides.

6. Turn the whole thing inside-out through corner opening.

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7 & 8. Stuff cushion with polyester fiberfill. Use the eraser end of a pencil to get it in the corners (the gap is rather small.) Stuff firmly as you can.

9. Use a hand sewing needle and thread to stitch up the corner gap. Turn raw edges inside and use mattress stitch for the cleanest finish.

10, 11. Use a ruler to find the center of both the top and bottom of the pincushion; draw a dot with a pencil or fabric pen. Place one button on the bottom and one on the top; sew through both together. Tie thread firmly around both buttons to draw cushion in.Continue to sew on buttons together, pulling tightly through each round (the buttons equalize each other’s pressure and allow for a nice snug center.) Tie off and clip thread.

12. The finished cushion!

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