How to Plan a Birthday Dress

I mentioned in my last post that I’m going to sew myself a dress for my birthday. I mentioned it for various reasons, most of them being that if I say out loud, I’ll feel like I need to actually do it, and by saying it’s for my birthday, it also gives me a deadline and I just can’t seem to function without a deadline breathing down my neck.

Do you get project paralysis when you’ve got a blank canvas in front of you? Too many choices, so you can’t actually narrow down what the heck you’re going to do? This is totally me, and I find that it works best to take any limitations into account, because limitations help hone your choices by booting out the choices that simply won’t work.

So, we have a time limitation with the birthday deadline: Saturday, May 8th (Not my birthday, but I want the dress done for the Sunday before my birthday) which gives me roughly four weeks. In all honesty, my creative brain totally thinks I’m going to be done with this in a week. My logic brain is worried I don’t actually have enough time to finish this because hi, it’s spring (gardening), school sports are starting up again for some of my kids, I have another secret project that’s going to be taking up a lot of my times, and OH YEAH I HAVE FOUR KIDS. (The four kids yelling thing is something my BFF keeps stage-yelling at me every time I get down on myself for not being “more productive.” I’m supposed to now always yell it whenever I’m thinking of things that I need to take into consideration when thinking about starting new projects, according to her.)

The fabric: Kokka Natural Garden Voile, purchased from Miss Matatabi during a sale in December. I have a rule that if I gasp out loud because a fabric or yarn is so beautiful, that I really need to figure out how to buy some. I gasped at this, saw it was on sale, and bought the rest of it. Not sorry at all. STALKS OF LAVENDER, people! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Another limitation is the amount of fabric I have for this dress: 4 3/8 yards (8 meters). I know that seems like a lot of fabric, but it’s not because a) I am a full skirt addict, and b) I’m a plus-size gal with a lot going on up top. Of course, I want to do a beautiful circle or pleated skirt that swooshes around, but I just don’t have the yardage for it. I think I’m going to have to go with an A-Line skirt, which isn’t my favorite…but I can’t fight the reality of yardage amounts. It was end-of-bolt, so I got what I could get, and there’s nothing else I can do about it.

Two other limitations: Modesty (Has to have sleeves and hit below the knee), and I don’t really want to spend any more money on extras for this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to line this because it is voile, but I’m hoping I already have something on-hand for that. I might buy 1/2-1 yard of a coordinating fabric, if my heart gets set on a contrast extra, like a Peter Pan collar, or cuffs, or a midriff section or something like that.

I haven’t made myself a dress in quite some time, and my measurements have changed a lot since then, so it might be a good idea to keep things simple–basic bodice, short sleeves, a-line skirt. There’ll need to be something extra, but I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be just yet. I’d like this dress to be prettily functional; nice enough for church, and not too nice for wearing to the grocery story on days where I want to be cute as I go about my errands.

OK…that’s not too tough. I’ve done it before! (Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me close to year to get it done like I did with the last one, k?)

Goals for this week:

  • Choose pattern
  • Make muslin
  • Adjust pattern
  • Buy lining, if needed
  • Cut fashion fabric and lining

It’s a big list, I know. Any progress will be good progress.

What spring projects are you thinking about right now?

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Finishing Instructions

We made it to the end of the sew along! We’ve made it to the end of 2020! When I volunteered to take on this task at the beginning of the year, I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams how this would end up going this year. But I’m glad we at least had this little block of the month to keep us connected. Thanks for going on this journey with me, and thanks for the little texts and Facebook messages with pictures of your blocks! I love seeing them!

So here it is, the finishing instructions for this quilt:

I hope your quilts come together with ease and I look forward to seeing them in actual real life AT SOME POINT when all this craziness has passed us. Pat yourself on the back for finishing this up! Good job!

As always, if you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing! (And thank you!)

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 9: Martha Washington Star

THE LAST BLOCK! WE MADE IT!

When I volunteered to do this Block of the Month, I don’t even think I’d heard of COVID-19, and we got a late start on it because of quarantine and not knowing what the heck was going on. But here we are, nearing the end of a very long year, and I’m so glad to have been able to offer this little spark of light to you throughout it. Hopefully your quilts are looking good, and I hope that the time when we can finally gather in-person to see each others’ blocks arrives sooner than later.

I left this block until to the end because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to “draw” it in the PDF. I gave up and just threw in some actual photos on the second page of the pattern. If the directions are a little unclear, this block has a lot of pattern explanations all over the internet…I did my best.

You can download the instructions for the Martha Washington Star block here:

Good job, everyone! Keep sewing and look for the bright side in these murky times!

Half Yard Jam Quilt

Fat Quarter Shop contacted me a while ago about sewing up one of their new patterns, the Half Yard Jam Quilt. Seeing that I’d like to redecorate my bedroom, and the quilt is queen-sized, I jumped at the opportunity.

It’s an easy pattern–simple seams and BIG blocks. I got it done really fast once I got through the headache of starching my fabrics.

The pattern uses eighteen half yard cuts and I decided to make mine out of two boxes of those beautiful Art Gallery Color Master collections that always get me dreaming whenever I scroll past them on Fat Quarter Shop’s website. I decided to use the Fresh Waters and Coraline collections.

I think this will be a GREAT pattern for wedding and gift quilts–fast, modern, and you can definitely showcase the personalities of recipients. And, obviously, it will work well for indulging one’s desire to redecorate without going overboard with an overly-complicated new quilt.

You can download the pattern here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-free-pdf-quilt-pattern

And Fat Quarter Shop has a quilt kit available, that you can look at here:  https://www.fatquartershop.com/half-yard-jam-quilt-kit

And you can visit the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog to learn more about the quilt, too: https://blog.fatquartershop.com/shortcut-quilt-half-yard-jam

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to join you on this new pattern’s release! I really love this quilt and can’t wait to finish redecorating so I can start using it!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 8: Rail Fence Star

OK, let’s see if my blog is finally going to let me publish an actual post…it’s being weird this week, and coupled with how lousy I was feeling yesterday, I decided to just wait out the bug. A few hours late shouldn’t hurt anyone’s plans, I hope…

We are getting so close to the end, you all! How exciting!

You can download the pattern instructions here:

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 7: Shoofly Star Block

We’re starting to get close to the end of our sew along! School has started, and hopefully that means a little extra time in your sewing rooms! Alright, this month’s block is the Shoofly Star Block:

You can download the pattern instructions here:

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 6: Friendship Star (in a Star)

CQ BOM Main

Welcome back for the sixth block of our sew along! [insert confetti here]

This month’s block is pretty easy, which I find I need during the summer months because there’s not a lot of time for indoor sewing when the kiddos are quarantined at home with no distance learning to keep them entertained. (Oh my word, this year…)

Friendship Star within a Star:

Friendship Star block

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re following the original pattern’s color choices, the star points have been red up until now, but as of this block they are now the lime green color.

Download the instructions here: Sew Many Stars BOM Pattern_Block 6 Friendship Star

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!

Nature Trail Quilt for Blank Quilting

IMG_20200730_200528-01I was beyond thrilled to open my July box from Blank Quilting and find the Nature Trail fabric collection within!  It’s a woodsy collection filled with all the cute, scurrying things in the forest, along with colorful mushrooms and bugs.  I’d been stalking the potential choices for July, and had already decided that if I received Nature Trail I’d use it to make some sort of quilt that featured Maple Leaf blocks.  Because, hello, Canadian.

You know how you get about halfway through a project and start to second-guess yourself like crazy?  I did that with this quilt so hard, and now, as I look at it in its completed form, I have no idea why that even happened.  I absolutely love it, and it’s going to look fantastic with my autumn decor, which is super heavy on aqua and teal.  (Well, let’s be honest, almost everything in my house is heavy on aqua and teal.  Why would autumn be an exception?)

IMG_20200730_200545-01-01The collection is designed by Ingrid Slyder of Nutshell Designs and it’s a lovely mix of forest things.  The scraps are dear to me and will be used very carefully because I love them so. There’s also two panels that come with this collection, and I have an idea stewing in my mind for one of them, and a general idea with no specifics for the other.  Maybe I can get to those after I get through with mask-sewing.  Because, hello, masks.  *grumble, grumble*

Thank you again to Blank Quilting Corporation for this truly enjoyable opportunity to make beautiful things from fun collections.

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A quick internet search shows that you can pre-order this fabric from Bug Fabrics here in Washington State (who I’ve ordered from in the past and they’re quick with shipping!), and it looks like Eclectic Maker in the UK will also carry the collection at some point.

On Sewing Face Masks

Oh my goodness, I will never forget this year and a lot of those memories will revolve around all the face mask sewing I’ve done…and have yet to do.  It occurred to me last week, given that my kids are slated to return to school in the autumn for 2-4 days a week, depending on what school they attend, that I need to get my behind in gear in regards to mask production.  I’ve done some mathing and decided that I need to sew up fifty-two masks to comfortably outfit my family of six.

Here’s my reasoning:

#1: I’ve been out in public, wearing my mask like a good girl, and I’ve noticed that those things can get pretty damp, if not downright soggy, after 3-4 hours, so I’m going to send my kids to school with two masks each day and instruct them to swap them out at lunch.  Soggy masks are hot and make your skin itch, yuck. So, two masks for each day scheduled for on-campus learning per child = 4-8 masks per kid.

#2: I’m planning on doing a massive “mask washing” day once a week because I prize my sanity. You should wash your mask after each wearing, which means more masks because of the once-a-week laundry schedule. (Note to self: Set up a mask bucket to hold used masks in the laundry room.)

#3: We’ve had the problem of the kids forgetting to bring a mask with them when we go places and having to drive back home to get their masks, so I want a full family set of masks in each vehicle.

#4: I want a full family set of masks set up by the front door for all the reasons I can’t think of, and to serve as a replacement set for the inevitable losing of masks.

All in all, it works out to fifty-two masks, split amongst the six of us in their specific ways. Ughhhhhh.  But we had a fun time having a family fabric pull in the craft room:

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I broke down and bought the Creative Grids mask template, and it is awesome, I love it so much.  I was able to cut out all my family’s fabrics lickety-split and I’m almost done cutting out the linings when I find myself with free time.  If you’ve got lots of masks to make, it’s a good investment. (And an 18mm rotary cutter…)

Requests to sew masks for others are starting to trickle in, and I imagine that they’ll increase as we get closer to the start of school, but I’m saying no to them all until I get my family’s masks done.  I keep telling myself that that is the sane thing to do, but it still makes me sad to decline.  But it’d be terrible for me to say I’ll make them and then not get them done and those families having to scramble at the last minute to find masks for school.  I’m only one woman, and my first priority is my own family members.  It is my hope to make some extras to sell/give away later, but we’ll have to see how the rest of the summer shapes up for that aspiration.  Summer vacation with nowhere to go and most things closed is really testing my patience as a parent…sigh.  Some things you get through, and some things you just get dragged through until they’re done…

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…like sewing face masks.  😉  (Tula Pink Fairy Dust and rainbow top-stitching makes it a whole lot more fun to do, though.  Highly recommended.)

(And if I get these masks done and my school district decides to follow in San Diego’s footsteps and cancel anyway, I. will. not. be. O. K.)

Crystal Quilters Block of the Month: Sew Many Stars! Block 5: Checkerboard Star Block

CQ BOM Main

Happy July, everyone!  Yay, we made it to the point where we’ll only have a new block every month now!

This month’s block is another easy one, the Checkerboard Star:

Checkerboard Star Block EQ8

Download the instructions here: Sew Many Stars BOM Pattern_Block 5 Checkerboard Star

If you’re posting your block to Instagram, please make sure to tag it with the #crystalquiltersbom (If you’re a member of the guild) and #sewmanystarsquilt hashtags so we can find your blocks!

Happy sewing!