Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Even Simpler Child's Apron

You read that even simpler apron.  After making the child's apron, I was able to improve on the pattern.  Barbara from Oodles and Oodles and I had gotten together for coffee the other day.  We had fun sharing projects we were working on and then Barbara shared with me a sweet Singer booklet she had received as a child.  Inside its gently worn pages was an apron design with an easy to sew waistband and ties.  This booklet made me realize it would be fun to revise my pattern especially if working with double fold bias tape as your waistband and ties is too difficult for your little one to manage sewing.

Here is An Even Simper Child's Apron:

Here is how I changed the apron pattern for the additional waistband and ties:
For the waistband, cut one piece of fabric 6" x 16".
For the ties, cut two pieces of fabric 6" x 36".

Follow the directions for the Child's Apron using steps 1 -5.  There is no change to the apron body and ruffle.

6.  Press under 1/2" on three sides of the waistband (6" x 16" piece).

7.  Run two rows of basting stitches across the top of the apron.  One row at 1/2" and the second row at 1/4".  Then gather the apron top to fit the waistband piece.
Sewing the two rows of basting stitches.   

8.  Pin the gathered apron top to the waistband.  Sew a 1/2" seam.

9.  Press the seam towards the waistband and then stitch the waistband down to the apron.   

Sewing the waistband down. Leave the sides open.  This will be where the ties are inserted.   

10.  For each tie:  Fold the 6" x 36" piece of fabric in half right sides together and sew one small end and the entire length of the tie.  Trim seam allowance to 1/4" and turn the tie through the open end.  Press.  Insert the open end of the tie into the waistband. Sew the tie into place.

Repeat sewing the remaining tie and sewing into the waistband.  

This apron has two features that is an improvement over the other apron:
1)  sewing the 1/2" seam is easier for a very young child rather than the 1/4" seam; and
2) the big ties makes a pretty bow for the little one who enjoys dressing up.

The big ties are sometimes preferred by little ones.
Thank you Barbara for sharing your treasured Singer booklet!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Directions for a simple Child's Apron

I tried searching for a simple pattern to teach sewing to a young girl.  When I didn't find what I was looking for, I came up with the following apron design that uses minimal cutting and sewing, yet doesn't look like a potato sack.  I used two coordinating prints for this apron, but if you choose to only use one fabric, it will only take a half yard of fabric that is 44" wide.

What you'll need:
1/2 yard of 44 inch wide fabric or 14" of one print and 3" of coordinating print
rick rack - optional
double fold bias tape for the waistband and ties
Here are the dimensions cutting your pattern.  1 square = 1 inch   The straight edge of the apron body pattern will be placed on the fold of the fabric.  The same with the ruffle pattern piece.

Your cut out fabrics should look like this:
Here are the steps to assemble using a 1/4" seam allowance:
1)  Sew a hem on the long edge of the ruffle (turn in 1/4" and turn in again. stitch the fold down)
2)  Sew a gathering/basting stitch on the other edge.  Gather the ruffle to match the bottom of the apron.  On my piece I had to gather to 32". 
3)  Pin the right side of the ruffle to the right side of the apron bottom matching the outer edges.  Sew a 1/4" seam.
4)  Press the seam towards the apron.  Optional:  Sew a piece of rick rack over the seam with a straight stitch.
5)  Make a hem along the outside edges of the apron and the ruffle (turn in 1/4" and turn in again and stitch the fold down).
6.  Make a gathering stitch along the top of the apron.  I gathered my apron to measure 13".
7.  Cut a piece of double fold bias tape 45".  Mark the center of the tape.
8.  Open up the tape matching the center of the tape with the center of the apron top.  Pin the right side of the opened tape up with the wrong side of the apron.  (You will be attaching the opened up tape and sewing it to the back first).
9.  Sew the tape and apron together stitching along the bias tape fold line.
10. Press the seam and fold the tape over to the front of the apron.  Pin the tape down on the apron.
11.  Starting from the end of the bias tape (which is now your apron tie) sew the bias tape closed all the way to the apron body.  Continue sewing over the apron body removing your pins carefully as you sew.  Finish sewing out the tape which creates the other apron tie.
12. Sew another row of stitching along the entire top of the bias top. 
13.  Your apron is finished when you tie a knot at the end of each of your apron ties!

Yippppeeeeee   You're done!  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cooperation with the elements

My baby quilt was quilted, bound and washed and ready for a photograph.  I thought I'd try and snap a few pictures outside on a clothesline to capture the elements of a winter landscape.   What I didn't think about was 1) the wind and 2) the frigid temperatures.

I got dressed for the elements sans the gloves and tromped through the snow to the clothesline.  I was quite proud of myself that I even found turquoise clothespins to coordinate with the backing fabric.  My camera was ready to start snapping some pictures after it was pinned to the line and...

the breeze was relentless and kept the quilt in a horizontal position rather than vertical.  By the time I was actually able to capture a few photographs I realized my fingers could barely work the camera settings.  How quickly the wind chill was making me long for a warmer setting.  How foolish not to think gloves were important.

The good thing about the experience of trying to photograph my quilt outside was how the quilt pattern reminded me of confetti being tossed in the air for an important celebration.  I never would have had the same association of the quilt pattern being confetti until I saw the quilt moving in the breeze.  So I'm calling the quilt Winter Confetti .  Anytime a little one comes into the world it is time for a celebration - confetti and all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

She's back...

...winter that is.  How quickly the winds started blowing from the north and within a day the weather changed to its seasonal normal.  Remember the Witch Hazel Bush?

Here it is with a blanket of snow.  I realize a close-up shot would have given the sweet blooms more justice, but I took it from inside the house where it was warm and I could stay in my slippers. 

In the back yard, I caught a glimpse of this male cardinal (now from the kitchen window)... and still in slippers...

Tonight when I was finishing up a baby quilt I was piecing, I realized how much my environment influences my color palette.

 We'll see what happens in the spring when the flowers start to bloom to see if my theory is correct.  For now, back to sewing...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What a Winter!

By the middle of January, I am usually holed up in my sewing room and thinking of only sewing.  This winter season has been quite different from recent years.  Any other year, by this date we would have had over 70 inches of snow in Central New York with the worst of the season yet to greet us, and I would have pieced or quilted a few tops.  However...

the grass is vibrant and the Witch Hazel Shrubs are blooming!  This means I've been trying to get outside to enjoy the reprieve from winter. We just planted these bushes this past summer and this is their first winter.  Their intention was to add color to an otherwise snowy landscape since they are the first to bloom in late winter. 

There is something else that is an anomaly for Central New York.  Do you notice the beautiful blue sky?  No wonder nature has been a bit confused this season - no snow and sunny days.

It also seems the Canada Geese are also not migrating as far south as they usually do and flocks can be heard overhead as they circle around from lake to lake.  Some flocks are so large it sounds thunderous in the skies above.

Hearing the geese reminded me of previously admonishing the quiltmaker from the 80's for keeping painstaking records of her fabric purchases.  Now is when I must do a retake and tell you why I admire her... and why the geese overhead remind me of her.

This quilt maker  from the 80's dedicating herself to learning patchwork skills.

Tucked into boxes of 1980's fabrics was this Flying Geese wallhanging unfinished top.  It measures 43" x 45" and is hand pieced.  Rotary cutting was not in a quilt makers vocabulary until Mary Ellen Hopkins revolutionized the quilt making process demonstrating faster techniques and allowing quilters to break from historical ways.

But remember I said I really admired this quilt maker.  It is because she was so precise and meticulous in her craft. 

Notice the careful pressing and trimmed excess fabric to eliminate bulk at the seams.

Templates were traced with pencil and the marks became the seam line.

The quilt revival was sparked during the 1976 American Bicentennial.  Prior to the bicentennial, quilt making techniques had slowly been fading from American culture.  Certainly from my own experience, although my great-grandmother was a quilter it was not a skill my mother possessed.   Growing up during the depression, my mother viewed quilts as a sign of poverty and hence quilts were used as mattress bed covers in our household.

I knew how to sew in the 80's, but it wasn't until I received Let's Make a Sampler Quilt by Diana Leone when I pieced together quilt blocks correctly and gained an understanding of the quilt making process missing in my own sewing vocabulary. 

Take note of the green fabric in the center.... more on some of these greens later :)

So thank you to beautiful skies, migrating geese and quilt makers of the 70's and 80's for keeping the art of quilting alive for quilt makers today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Quilts from an Old Quilt

In August I purchased a nine patch quilt top on Etsy which measured 66" x 83".  I liked the colors! The palette was so happy compared to the somber prints of the 19th century which fill my shelves.   Before I even clicked the purchase tab, I had mentally challenged myself to create four baby quilts from this piece.  Happy colors for happy times with baby.
You can see how the bright colors acted like a neon sign flashing "buy me.... buy me".

But during my love fest with this charming piece of 20th century, I found myself a bit leery of the above red fabric.  I have made it a habit to wash fabrics to ensure color fastness and stability to ensure they will hold up in years of repurposed use.   Good reason to be cautious as the red dye was not stable and bled into the adjoining plaid.  The lesson for everyone:  when in doubt always test your fabric before sewing. 
My plans for how I was going to make the baby quilts had to switch gear as I had to cut out every nine patch with the red cotton.  This new plan of action was easier than I thought.  Here was the first quilt.

The nine patches now resemble hole in the barn door blocks.  I included reproduction 30's prints and Moda fabric by Sandy Klop.

It was purchased for a new baby expected in March 2012. 

The second baby quilt I made I called Vintage Blocks New Quilt Nine Patch and Circles.  The circular blocks were a nice addition, but I was accumulating a pile of fabric scraps.

Since I couldn't throw away even the tiniest of pieces,  my solution was to piece them together in long bars for the Homage to Mary Engelbreit quilt.  The traditional Chinese Coins  pattern was my inspiration for the design for the third quilt.

I can understand why 20th century quiltmakers fells in love with feed sacks.  Unlike broadcloth and percale also manufactured during the era, feed sacks have a lower thread count making it easy to needle. 

Today I finished up the fourth quilt from the original vintage nine-patch quilt.

I set four patches I salvaged from the original quilt on point. Then I set them with alternating blocks from the American Jane fabric by Sandy Klop for Moda. 

Now the real challenge - how to use the remaining scraps to create just one more quilt!