The 2021 Halloween Costume Chronicles: Renaissance, Part 1

Me: “Ren, what do you want to be for Halloween?”

Renaissance: [shrugs shoulders] “Meh.”

Me: “Does that mean you don’t want to dress up for Halloween?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [inhales and exhales slowly] “Please use English words to convey what thoughts are going through your brain right now regarding this year’s Halloween costume.”

Renaissance: “I don’t know. Maybe a witch?”

Me: “I can do witch. What kind of witch?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [has an aneurysm explode in my brain] “I’m going to restate my request for actual words.”

Renaissance: “How about a 1950s witch?”

Me: [heart skips a beat as ears perk up] “That’s…oddly specific? What’s the vision?”

Renaissance: “Meh.”

Me: [death glare]

Renaissance: “How about a cat or a pumpkin on a circle skirt?”

Me: “I can do that.”

Mini Charm Chiffon Quilt

I love how this one turned out! Fat Quarter Shop is releasing a new pattern called the Mini Charm Chiffon Quilt and it is PERFECT for quick little baby quilts. Just four Mini Charm packs and some background fabric and you’re good to go!

I chose to use the “Flowers for Freya” fabric collection by Linzee McCray because I absolutely love the color palette that she uses in her collections. It was a few little sewing sessions and then it was done! It finishes at 36.5 inches square, which is a great size for a new baby quilt. Excellent for baby shower gifting!

You can download the FREE quilt pattern by clicking here. It includes instructions for crib-, lap-, twin-, and queen-sized quilts.

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to participate in this little sew along! You can subscribe to receive a notification when the quilt kit becomes available–shipping delays have impacted when the sample fabric will be available. (Also, they sent me the fabric to sew up in exchange for my time and posts–transparency and all.)

And thank you to Rachel for being my quilt model on this one:

There’s also a new video out about this pattern:

Embroidering my Historical Pocket

While my foot continues to heal, I’m limited in my crafting abilities to hand projects because it’s difficult to operate a sewing machine pedal in a boot. No worries, my desire to start assembling historical ensembles means that a lot of things I want to make are perfectly suited for hand sewing due to the fact that sewing machines either weren’t invented or not widely used in domestic spheres for the periods I’m interpreting.

I’ve decided to start working on a pair of pockets for my 1850s ensemble. Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme about Lucy Locket losing her pocket?

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon ’round it.

I was always puzzled by it as a child, but it turns out that pockets used to be detachable items of clothing, tied around your waist under your skirts. And yes, sometimes those ties could come undone and your pocket could get lost.

Historical pocket embroidery transfer by Cara Brooke of That Crafty Cara. Pattern is from Godey's Lady's Book, October 1853.

There are many historical examples of pockets in museums, and a lot of them have beautiful embroidery. I love a chance to practice my embroidery skills, so I’m going to embroider my pockets as well.

I’ve chosen an embroidery pattern that was published in the October 1853 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book because my 1850s ensemble that I’m making is for a character that lived in Washington Territory in 1855 and would be a little behind on fashions due to slowness of mail delivery. (Let’s be honest here, though–a middle-aged mother of four in any era of history would probably not worry about pocket embroidery at all because yeesh, feeding and clothing your family was hard back then and I wouldn’t be using my time to make my invisible articles of clothing more pretty. Or, maybe it’d be a nice little thing I’d do for myself, finding snippets of time to embroider by candlelight? I like to think about that while I’m working on this.)

I’ve been slowly working on the embroidery, and this pocket has turned into a pocket embroidery “sampler” as I figure out my embroidery likes and dislikes. It’s a good piece to practice and experiment on, and I’m hopeful that my embroidery skills will be much improved by the end of this project. I started with Pinterest tutorials, but hated how they were looking, so I dug out a book on needlepainting by Trish Burr and started working according to her instructions. I like the needlepainting portions much more than the random Pinterest embroidery technique sections.

It seems that most people wore two pockets, so I’ll eventually have to make another. Extant examples of pocket pairs tend to match, but I don’t think I have enough interest in me to do this pattern again–I’m still trying to pump myself up to mirror the image on this particular pocket and stitch it again. Another two times after that?!?! It’s a no from me. Maybe I’ll do the other pocket in that grape vine pattern sharing the page? Or maybe I’ll get lost in researching more embroidery patterns from the era and choose from those! (Probably that last one…because I really enjoy reading through historical ladies’ magazines.)

The embroidery process thus far:

More embroidery awaits! This might be set aside for a little while, though; one of my kids wants a very specific look for their Halloween costume this year, and I’m going to have to sew some of it up myself.

More info on historical pockets:

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!