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Monday, August 03, 2015

Camp Loopy 2015, Project 3

Saturday morning, once I was properly caffeinated, I started cutting out the pieces for my quilt.  By lunchtime, I had them all cut.  That afternoon, I played around with different arrangements of the triangles.  I tried a scrappy layout with all the colors all over the place, but then I decided to try putting the lightest colors in the center and blending out to the darker colors around the edge.  I also took a lot of pictures of the various layouts so I could see if I had clumps of colors or anything weird going on.  (Taking a picture of a quilt in progress helps you see the overall thing and not get caught up in individual details.  It’s also a great way to make sure you don’t have one of your blocks turned the wrong way.)

What surprised me as I was doing this was how the yellow tonal just blended in with the other fabrics.  In the stack of fat quarters, when it arrived from The Loopy Ewe, that yellow stuck out like a sore thumb.  Once I started messing around with the layout, the yellow fabric settled down and played nicely with the others.  If it had been too bright, I was prepared to flip it over and use the wrong side.  The yellow was part of my Short Stack, so I had to use it, but frequently the wrong side of fabrics is lighter and more subtle than the right side.
Yesterday I started sewing the top together.  (I had to have a discussion with Logan who wanted to roll and snarlfle the pieces I had spent hours getting just where I wanted them.  He ended up being on the other side of the child gate while I sewed.)  I was really glad to have taken photos Saturday because it was easy to get the pieces flipped as I sewed them together.  Since I had the photos, I could double check that I had each row assembled correctly before I sewed it together.  I know that obsessively checking each row saved me some time with the seam ripper.  By yesterday afternoon, I had a finished quilt top!

This is a super easy pattern as long as you cut carefully and are gentle with your triangles (two of the sides are bias and will stretch if you’re not careful).  The piecing was fast and since there are no borders, once the rows are stitched together, I was finished.  Today’s goal is to get the backing sewn together.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Camp Loopy 2015, Project Three

Tomorrow is August 1, which means Logan gets his heart worm pill, but also (more importantly to the blog), I can start project three for this summer’s Camp Loopy!  This month’s challenge is I Spy Something Different and in addition to the yardage requirements, we’re supposed to use a color or color combination we don’t usually use.  I will be using the fabrics above because I hardly ever use yellow and I’ve never used this many florals in one project.  (There is one paisley in there, the rest are florals.)  The top fabric on the left is the backing and the top fabric on the right (the red) is the binding.

I will be making the Painter’s Palette Quilt, sort of.  The pattern is free, and I downloaded it and printed up the templates because I was planning on rotary cutting it, but I needed to double check that it was a 60 degree triangle.  It wasn’t.  It was just barely off 60 degrees - the top point is slightly less than 60 and the two bottom points are slightly more.  If I was going to make this quilt exactly, I’d have to use the paper templates and the cutting would be much slower.  I decided to use a 60 degree ruler instead, which will make the cutting much faster.  If I’m going to get a quilt made in a month, I’ve got to be on top of things and move quickly!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

One More Wiksten

I warned you this would be a week of Wikstens didn’t I?  I wasn’t kidding.  This is the third I’ve finished this week (and the last I currently have fabric for).  This is also the seventh Wiksten tank I’ve made.  I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of this pattern!
This one is also made in Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn and this particular print will be great for fall and I’ll probably even get some wear out of it in the winter.  It’s a funny thing about Texas, the calendar says it’s fall, but it doesn’t really begin getting cool around here until late October.  It’s gets cooler (than the summer) sometime around mid-September.  I can always feel it in the air - it’s still hot, but the humidity drops a bit and you tell that it’s going to get better.  Summer won’t last forever.  Even though it takes so long to really get cool, we still like to pretend it’s cooler.  It is technically fall, after all.  So we put away our bright summer clothes and pull out our fall colored clothes, but really, they’re pretty much the same weight and same thing as our summer clothes.  If we’re really lucky, we might be able to toss a lightweight cardigan over something, if it’s cool enough for layers!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another Wiksten Tank and a Tutorial

After Monday’s Wiksten Tank post, there was a question from a blog reader about the neckline.  I realized that I had just been doing what I was taught years ago and had never really read the pattern.  I took a look at the pattern and decided to show you all, step by step how I do the arm and neck edges (they’re sewn the same way).  You will still need the pattern for the other steps in sewing this tank, and you’ll use the seam allowances listed in the pattern.

The pattern has you do the arm and neck edges in two steps: sew the bias facing to the edges and turn them and top stitch.  I use about four steps (with some little sub-steps in between):

  • Sew the bias facing strips to your neck and arm openings, right sides together, following the directions for seam allowance width in the pattern.
  • Under stitch
  • Trim the seam allowances
  • Turn the bias strips to the inside and topstitch.

This is not a particularly fast technique, but if you’re patient and take your time, the edges will lie flat and look perfect.  After you’ve done it a time or two, it does get faster.

Since I was finishing another Wiksten yesterday, I took a bunch of pictures to show how I did this.
I’ve already sewn the bias facing strips to the neck and arm edges, right sides together.  I’ve also already under stitched in this photo.  On the left is what my arm edge looks like from the right side and on the right, you can see the wrong side.

If you’ve never heard of under stitching before, it’s not difficult.  Basically, after sewing your facing to your main project piece, you flip the facing away from your garment and topstitch the facing to the seam allowances.  You aren’t trying to stitch in the ditch, but you are trying to get as close to the edge of the facing as possible (without falling in the “ditch”).  I find that gently pulling the facing and the garment away from each other on either side of the presser foot, and periodically making sure my seam allowances are still flat underneath, makes it easier.  (Don’t pull so hard that you stretch your bias edges.)  Above, you can see the under stitching showing on the white facing strip on the left, and if you look at the wrong side of the arm edge, where you can see two rows of stitching very close together - the stitching on the left is the seam and the stitching on the right is the under stitching.  The under stitching will not show on the right side when your garment is finished, but it makes it easier to turn the facing smoothly and it helps the edge to roll to the inside (so your facing doesn’t show when you wear the garment).
The next step is to trim the seam allowances.  You do this for two reasons:  to reduce bulk and to keep the seam allowances from tightening up your arm and neck openings.  The first reason doesn’t really come into play with a lightweight fabric like Liberty’s Tana Lawn, but if you want your neck and arm openings to lie flat and not be too tight, you still need to trim your seam allowances.  Remember, the seam allowance edge is slightly smaller than your opening edge, and unlike your facing strips the seam allowance isn’t entirely bias.  Where the arm and neck edges are on the straight of grain, they will try to pull in.  Theoretically, on a light weight fabric where bulk isn’t a concern, you could clip the edges to get them to release that pressure, but having clips along the edge could weaken your garment and lead to tears in the future.  Since you have a double row of stitching around each opening (the original seam and the under stitching), you can trim very close to the under stitching and not worry about the integrity of the garment.  When you trim, take your time and make sure the facing itself doesn’t get trimmed.  You just want to trim the seam allowances, as close as you can to the under stitching line.

By the way, I tried not trimming the seam allowances on my first Liberty of London tank (back in March) and the neck and arms were way too tight.  I ended up spending time with the seam ripper and undoing them to get back to this point so I could trim the seam allowances.  Then I refinished the top and all was right with the world.  Learn from my mistake and save yourself some time.
The next step is to go to the ironing board and start turning the bias facing strips to the inside.  I do this in two steps and I actually discovered a way to make it easier with fabric glue when I was getting photos for this tutorial, so thanks blog!  The first part of this is to turn the raw edges of the bias facing strips in.  I like to line up the raw edge with the inner stitching line, so both the seam and the under stitching are covered on the inside and press a fold into the bias facing strip.  Above, you can see this step completed.  On the left is the right side of the garment and on the right is the wrong side  of the garment.  You can still see the line of under stitching from the right side at this point, but both lines of stitching are covered by the bias facing on the wrong side.  Compare this to the first photo if you’re confused about what you’re seeing.

As I was trying to do this and get photos of the process, I used a fabric glue stick to hold the raw edges in place.  I just lightly dabbed some glue on the stitching on the wrong side of the garment, lined up the raw edges as I described above and pressed with my iron WITH THE STEAM OFF.  (If the steam was on, it could dissolve the glue, which would pretty much defeat my purpose.)  Using the glue was like having an extra hand and definitely saved time.  I’ll be using glue again!
The next step is to turn the bias facing all the way to the inside of the garment.  I didn’t use the glue for this second turn.  Since you under stitched earlier, the facing will turn with just the tiniest bit of your main garment piece to the back, keeping the facing from showing on the outside.  In the picture above, the right side of the garment is to the left and the wrong side is to the right.  You can now see the under stitching on the wrong side of the garment, and if you look at that edge, you can see a tiny line of the outer garment fabric, just outside the bias facing strip.  You want that.  If you had folded the bias facing strip exactly on the seam line, the edge of the facing strip would barely show from the right side of the garment.  Under stitching forces the the garment edge to follow the bias facing strip around that fold just a little bit, which makes things look neater.
At this point you need to pin the bias facings to the inside.  (Yes, you’ve already pressed them, but I always pin before I sew just to make sure things don’t get weird while I’m sewing.)  I use lots of pins because I’d rather sew slowly than have to redo this seam.  It’s going to show from the right side, so you really don’t want to have to start and stop.
Then you sew.  Sew with the right side facing up and keep your distance from the edge consistent.  This line of sewing will show on your finished garment - you don’t want bobbles and wobbles. Take your time on this step.  You need to catch the fold of the bias facing strip on the inside, so before you start sewing, use a ruler and see where you need to put the garment edge.
Here’s what the edge should look like once it’s all sewn.  Again, the right side is on the left and the wrong side is on the right.  You can see that I’m not quite all the way over to the edge of the fold of the bias facing, but it’s close enough that it’s not going to flap around, and my stitching from the right side is evenly spaced from the edge, all the way around the opening.  Also, I used a thread to match my fabric on this last bit of stitching (and the hem, which is already finished).  I sewed the side and shoulder seams, attached the bias facing strips and under stitched them with white thread because none of that will show from the right side of the garment.  I did this because I stitched three Wiksten tanks at once and then swapped to matching thread for hems and arm and neck opening top stitching.  If I was only sewing one tank at a time, all the thread would have matched the main fabric.
After top stitching the arm and neck openings, my neck edge isn’t quite laying flat.  Once I hit it with the steam iron, the bias relaxes into the shape of the curve…
…and everything lies flat!
Now I have another finished Wiksten Tank!

Just a side note, the Wiksten Tank pattern calls for using your main fabric for the bias facing strips.  On these pale colored tanks I’ve done, I’ve used a white cotton batiste instead of the Liberty of London Tana Lawn.  By using another fabric for these facings, I only need to buy a yard of Liberty to get a tank top in the XS size.  That’s why my bias facings are white, instead of matching my main floral fabric.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I’ve finished my Carrie wrap/scarf/narrow shawl thing!  I did a light blocking, consisting of laying it out on towels and spraying it down with water and patting it into shape.  No blocking wires, no pins.  It was big enough without them.

This was an easy project that didn’t require a lot of concentration to knit.  I loved the little picot bind off and I think that’s a nice way to finish that final edge.  I think this pattern would work well in a multi-colored variegated yarn as well as a solid also.  I might be making more of these!

There was a question about the Wiksten Tank yesterday and since I’ll be finishing another one today, I’ll get some photos so I can explain how I finish the arm and neck edges tomorrow.  I don’t know if I’ve ever read the directions for those, I just do what I was taught years ago.  My way has a few more steps, but it makes them lie flat when they’re finished.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Another Wiksten Tank

This may well be a week of Wikstens around here because I have two more that are almost finished!  This is another Liberty of London Tana Lawn print.  I love these fabrics.  Lawn is super soft and lightweight, but it’s still a surprisingly sturdy fabric.  It’s perfect for our climate here in North Texas and the prints that Liberty uses are easy to wear.
I haven’t checked yet, but I think this tank will work with my Alpengluehen cardigan, which would mean I can wear the tank past summer!  I’ll have to see, but those blue green flowers look like they’ll match the blue green yarn.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

I’m Still Here

There’s not much blogging going on this week because there’s not much that’s bloggable going on this week!  I’ve been cleaning up my sewing/knitting room after The Bag and pre washing my fabrics for Camp Loopy Project 3.  I’ll show you my fabric choices and project plans next friday, right before I start cutting on Saturday, August 1.

I’m just about through straightening and cleaning upstairs, so I will be back with actual projects next Monday at the latest.

Have a great weekend if I don’t pop in tomorrow!