Simplicity 1601 – Pink and black flower

My latest flower for Andrea Schewe‘s pattern test is view D.

Simplicity 1601 front

This flower consists of three gathered strips sewn together. Gathering these was super easy – and this time I used my machine and that’s what the pattern instructions called for!

2013-07-19 flower pieces

The one thing I’ve found a little confusing so far is how many stitches to make when gathering. For view A, the illustration made it look like I was to sew one gathering stitch, but for view D it looked like I was supposed to sew two. So I did, and I’m going to assume that going by the illustration is the thing to do – but since I’m “testing” the pattern I’m trying to think about what might be unclear to someone else.

The most alarming thing about this flower was that it made it brutally obvious just how few fabric scraps I have. And here I’ve been thinking I had too many! I had to find four fabrics that went together well, and boy was that a challenge. Never again will I feel guilty about keeping a tiny scrap!

The three strips are of different widths and lengths. After they’re gathered, you sew them together to make the petals of the flower.

2013-07-19 flower petals

The center of the flower is a button with a tiny circle of fabric sewn over top. This was quite interesting. When I first looked at the pattern I assumed that this was a fabric-covered button. I don’t have any at the moment, and while I’ve got everything to cover buttons, I’ve never tried it – so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do when I got to this point. It turns out that I had worried needlessly! Andrea’s pattern calls for you to wrap a circle of fabric around a button, then gather the fabric around the button.

2013-07-19 flower center

After camouflaging the button, you stitch it to the petals.

2013-07-20 flower petals and center

Next you add a base to the back of the flower, plus leaves. Both are felt. Apparently I never bought green felt during my Christmas holiday craft phase years ago (although I have a zillion jingle bells left), but I did have black (from my Halloween craft phase). Since this flower has so much black in it, I thought I’d give black leaves a try.

2013-07-20 leaves and base

The colors may be a bit non-traditional, but I quite like the black leaves.

2013-07-20 view D - complete!

The funny bulge in the pink petal section is because I didn’t sew that section to the other two petal pieces well. This part is all hand sewing, and you’re stitching through three layers of gathered fabric, so it’s easy to miss a chunk if you’re not careful. I think I was focusing more on the outer and inner petals, and missed a section of the middle. It’s stitched in now, but it would look better if I’d noticed this sooner.

The one thing I wasn’t sure how to do was fray the ends of the fabric. The pattern says to place the lower end of the pattern piece on the cross-grain torn edge of the fabric. I didn’t read this until I’d already started gathering – which is totally my fault, not Andrea’s. This instruction is in the right place – I just have a (bad!) tendency to jump around with pattern instructions, and I skipped over this one at first. Andrea shows how to do this correctly in her tutorial for views C and D.

I’d also like to try this in other fabrics. In Andrea’s tutorial she made some petals from burlap, and I really like how they turned out.

My next flower is view A again, but I’m going to do something a little different with it than last time. I’m excited – I really hope this turns out well!

The dogs were too sleepy to be in any photos today because we went on a long hike this morning, but as you can see they were very, very happy.

2013-07-20 hiking in the Flatirons

Simplicity 1601 – Pink gingham flower

I’ve made my first flower for my first ever pattern test!

Andrea Schewe designed this pattern for Simplicity, and I’m very excited to be one of her pattern testers!

Simplicity 1601 front

Let’s be clear, though…Andrea asked for volunteers. I was not selected based on any skill other than I responded to her request on her blog post. :)

I decided to start with view A, but found myself baffled by the pattern.

2013-07-13 Simplicity 1601 pattern

It’s been close to 20 years since I followed a craft pattern, and the pieces are all so small! That may explain why I was confused by all the boxes required on piece #1. After a minute of staring at it, I realized that this was total user error…there are four boxes because you have to cut out four squares. I’ve gotten so used to working with tracing paper over the past year that cutting fabric out this way didn’t even occur to me.

After recovering, I traced one square for piece #1 (the outer flower portion) and one for piece #2 (the inner flower portion), then cut out my fabric.

2013-07-13 cut squares

I’d like to use flowers from this pattern to decorate a few things – a bag, a top, a skirt – but I couldn’t visualize how view A would work in a patterned fabric, so I decided to start with one. I had some seersucker gingham leftover from a dress I may or may not finish this summer, and it seemed like a happy fabric choice.

2013-07-14 outer flower

The pattern calls for laying out the squares, then hand gathering them. I decided to use my sewing machine instead.

2013-07-14 gathering the inner flower

After struggling with the thread and hoping that the ends of the seersucker didn’t fray too much, I ended up with a gathered outer flower.

2013-07-14 gathered outer flower

After gathering both the outer and inner flower pieces, they looked like this. Aren’t they cute already?

2013_07_14_004-.3651.-home_sewing

Once both pieces are done, you sew the inner flower inside the outer. You could glue it, but I sewed mine because I ultimately want to use this on something that will be washable.

2013-07-14 finished flower

The pattern calls for two additional things which I decided not to do: add ribbons to the center of the flower for the stamen, and add leaves to the base of the flower. I was going to add the ribbons, but I was so enamored with the flower as-is that I decided to leave it be. Before starting, I’d decided to not do the leaves because what I’d like to do with this view is sew it in clusters on a bag or skirt, and the leaves didn’t seem to fit with the vision in my head.

I really love this flower. It’s super cute, and the gingham was perfect!

The only thing I would do differently next time is finish the edges, and that’s only because I’d like to sew these on to something else. That’s probably not the use Andrea had envisioned, but I think this pattern will work fantastically well for what I need. I’ve been wanting to do something like this ever since I accidentally bleached one of my favorite tops that had flowers around the neckline. (The top was white, but the flowers were in a different fabric and are now more of a taupe…oops.) I also might try scaling the pattern down and making this in a smaller size.

I have fabric cut out for another view, and am looking forward to seeing how that one turns out!

2013-07-14 Jasper and the flower

New Look 6155 – Blue Liberty of London skirt

My first experience with Liberty of London fabric was so wonderful I’m now having to fight the urge to buy more and more and more!

Fortunately it’s so pricey that I have yet to talk myself into spending the money…but it’s really just a matter of time before I cave.

I purchased this lovely print from Fabric.com last fall:

Liberty of London Tana Lawn Mauvey Blue

I had a coupon for 30% off. The (pre-coupon) list price was $32.98, which is low compared to what I’ve seen this fabric go for elsewhere. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more coupons!!!

I was originally going to make a blouse, then got on a skirt kick and this fabric seemed perfect. Here’s the result.

Jasper and New Look 6155

Jasper has shown little interest in sewing, and is really only in the photo because he thought I had his squeaky tennis ball. Maisie has taken over the role of sewing companion, but she didn’t want to leave her shady spot under the table on the patio, so she missed out on today’s photo shoot.

I made version B of New Look 6155. I was going to add the decorative waistband loop the pattern calls for, then changed my mind and made it loop-free.

2013-07-06 New Look 6155 waistband

I only have two issues with this skirt. The first is that I must have made the hem shorter than the pattern called for, because this is what the slit in the back looks like:

2013-07-06 New Look 6155 back slit

It seems a bit…silly. I’m going to either lengthen the slit or remove it entirely, I haven’t decided which.

The second problem is that the skirt is too large. Conveniently, I’m a little large right now too, but at some point this is going to become a problem. I even went back and checked the pattern to see if I’d mistakenly cut out the wrong size, but I hadn’t. I had cut out a size 12, which the pattern claims has a waist measurement of 26 1/2″ and hips of 36″. Clearly this is not the case – I’m going to have to take in both the waist and hips by at least an inch. I do like the pattern, so I’m going to make another version in a size 10, and then adjust this skirt based on how well that goes.

I’ve been extra busy for the past few months – my goal was to finish the first draft of my current novel before doing much else. I’m close to two-thirds of the way through the first draft, but it’s going a little more slowly than I expected, so I’ve been doing a little more sewing lately. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place. Sewing is a fun – and productive! – break from writing. I’ve finished a few more sewing projects, but I’ll hold off on posting about them because I’m about to embark on something new and exciting…pattern testing!

I’m testing this fun pattern:

Simplicity 1601 front

It was developed by Andrea Schewe for Simplicity. Andrea has designed patterns for years, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to test out one of her patterns. She has posted tutorials on making these flowers on her blog.

Flower photos coming soon!