'A Day In The Life of Natalie Chanin' &
'Rachel Comey's SoHo Shop Tour' by Design Sponge

When one thinks of two talented women's clothing designers, who are also part of the garment sewers' world... Rachel Comey, of the Vogue pattern 1247 popularity, and the illustrious, multi-talented Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin, definitely comes to mind.  What a pleasant surprise to see DesignSponge recently featuring each of them.

A Day In The Life of Natalie Chanin
Photo credit:  Design*Sponge

10-Second Shop Tour:  Rachel Comey

Thank you DesignSponge for letting us have a little inside glimpse into these two talented designers' lives.


Towa was a big help.  Her cuteness is just so.... helpful.
Wonder why she had her back to me?    Anyway, the colors below, are more accurate....
....than how it photographed on my design wall ..... all pieced and sewn together!  Yes!  Please tell me you can feel the excitement emanating from my home this afternoon!!!
Thought it'd be fun to compare my top, photo below, right, to Karen's beautiful quilt, to the left... my inspiration.  It was tight quarters taking the photograph, so it looks a little cut-off and uneven.  Right now my quilt measures @48" x 64", which is plenty big enough for a lap quilt.... but am thinking about adding a 2 1/2" solid chocolate brown color border before moving on.  I like Karen's double solid color interior borders and think that might finish mine off nicely.... I guess that means, technically, I am not yet quite done with the top.  *sigh*

*'Road to Oklahoma' - the beginning
*Assembly Line progress
*The top is done..... or is it?!
*Let the quilting begin!
*'just keep quilting.... just keep quilting....'
*The rest of the story


What's been happening this week.....

I've been out of town this week and have only now been able to reply to all the great comments on my Make a Garment a Month Sept. plans post.   Thank you so much ladies for weighing in on with your thoughts of 'sewing block'!  It's nice to know I might not be the only one suffering from this peculiar ailment.  :)  If you haven't had a chance to read their opinions, pop on over to see what these multi-talented ladies had to say.  OpportunityKnits analyzed it pretty well.... !

Meanwhile, the sewing machine has been working overtime on the Road to Oklahoma quilt.   We are hoping to get out there mid-October and I think I've been so afraid I'll procrastinate ponder too much about this quilt, that instead it's all I can think about and work on.  Daily.  Hours.  Each.  Day.  I've never pieced blocks like this before, as my other 2 quilts were more strip pieced.  I'm finding each block is not hard, particularly when I got the hang of which side to press which seam to, so each seam nestles together to match up nicely --- most of the time.   Also figured out mathematically how much of what I needed cut and assembled for each block..... to equal 48 blocks total using 4 background colors.
Things really starting moving along when I came up with my assembly line process.  Using 2 pieces of sturdy cardboard, I've got 16 - 2 1/2" squares in each of the 12 blocks, stacked one on top of each other, prepped for sewing in the proper order here, photo below.  Thought this was one of my more brilliant ideas than getting up and down to go back and forth to the ironing board with every individual block that I was previously doing.  :)
So far 12 blocks of the golden background color is done.  Check!
12 blocks of the spotted light brown blocks are done.  Check!
10 blocks of the light brown circles are done.  Ran out of fabric.  Need 2 more, so will substitute another color and it should be fine.
12 blocks of the mottled tan fabric is prepped for assembly. 
I am using the Gourmet Quilter's fantastic video on how she created her blocks, using 2 1/2" squares, assembling them together like a 4 patch, as well as how she made her half-square triangles.  She has you make secondary, smaller half-square triangles at the same time as your larger 2 1/2" hst for minimum fabric waste and to have another design element already made almost effortlessly.  My little basket, below, is filling up with the secondary triangles that I hope to incorporate in this quilt somewhere.
These measure at @ 1 3/4" square and are effortless to make.
On the garment sewing front I serged the raw edges of my fabric before it was washed in cold water, delicate cycle and dried in the dryer on the delicate cycle.  At least some progress has been made towards the jacket!
Also this week, I was honored to be the judge for our county's 4-H project record books.  My two girls, who are now young adults, were a part of the 4-H program for years and it's nice to see what our 4-H youth are doing today.
Better get back to those last 12 blocks!  I'm looking forward to bringing the entire design together for the quilt top then.  Then there's the borders/sashing to do, sandwiching of the quilt, quilting the quilt, the binding..... oh my!  So much to do.... okay, I'm only thinking about the next 12 blocks.... 

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

*'Road to Oklahoma' - the beginning
*Assembly Line progress
*The top is done..... or is it?!
*Let the quilting begin!
*'just keep quilting.... just keep quilting....'
*The rest of the story


'Make a Garment a Month' plans for September 2014

We've all heard of 'writer's block', but do any of you experience 'garment sewing block'?  It's time to make my September plans for the 'Make a Garment a Month' challenge, and I'm just at a loss. *sigh*

Sarah Liz's thought process behind her monthly themes she shares with us are always fun, and this September's Sewing Theme was no different.
After some 'sideways thinking' she came to the point of simply encouraging us to sew for the new season upon us.  This is an international group of sewists, so some are entering spring/summer and some are entering fall/winter.
In South Carolina we are entering the season of Autumn (or Fall) of which I am so ready!!  There's something about the change in the air, the crispness, the way the sunlight falls, harvest moon, pumpkins.... okay, okay, you get the idea that Fall is my favorite season of all.  Hmmm, this still isn't helping my garment sewing block.  *sigh*  For some reason I feel completely... uninspired.  *sigh*  It didn't help that after measuring a couple of fabric pieces earlier today, while thinking of this post I needed to write, to find, disappointingly, that I did not purchase enough yardage to make into the garment I was thinking of.  *sigh*   Trying to move forward, I think I'll crack open my 'Happy Homemade Sew Chic 20 Simple Everyday Designs' book by Yoshiko Tsukiori... make Pattern J... down there in the bottom right corner, photo below.... (btw, my book was purchased from B&N and is written in English)....
image from
...Jacket with Back Tie...
...from a piece of gorgeous woven fabric...
...that has a beautiful raw selvage end I'm hoping to incorporate for the front finish.  I think (hope!) I have enough to do this, as each raw selvage's end threads are a little different, so the front pieces will have to be cut separately using only one side.
This will be my first garment from this book..... or from any of her books for that matter.  Most of the other versions of this jacket have been done in linen and one in a wool can check out the links here.....
.....and now I cannot remember what my fabric's content is...  *sigh*  ...other than it is not linen... and it was only purchased yesterday, because after one's annual mammogram, which is oh-not-so-fun, one has to stop by the fabric store and enlarge one's stash.   Hancock's Fabrics was the perfect place to go!


'Road to Oklahoma' Quilt - the beginning

My Alabama roots may run deep, but my connection to Oklahoma is also pretty strong.  My mother's side of the family was part of the 1893 'Sooners' Land Rush, with my great-grandmother regaling us kids with the story of her family's covered wagon journey from the state of Iowa to settle in Oklahoma when she was a little girl sometime around 1899/1900.  One of my great-grandmother's daughters grew up to marry a handsome young man, photo below.... (there may be a pistol hidden underneath that jacket somewhere!)...
year @1932
My grandmother, Opal, with my grandfather, Paul Bennett
....who had 2 daughters..... one of which became my mother.  The photo below is probably dated around 1943 and shows one of my grandfather's oil rigs in the background of the family picture.  I believe he was a 'wildcatter'.  My mother is front, right, when she was about 10 years old.
year @1943
My grandmother, Opal, had a younger sister named Juanita.  Opal, my grandmother, to the left in the photo below, Juanita to the right.  Juanita grew up to be the mother to my cousins Dorothy and Clifford.  Clifford was close to my age and he and I would play together and his kindness, generosity, and unselfishness towards me when we'd visit out there are a big part of my childhood memories.  I am sure you are wondering what all this family history has to do with a sewing blog! 
Well, a quilt always has a story to tell and I've decided my 3rd quilt will be for Clifford, who still lives in Oklahoma.  I wanted his quilt to have some sort of connection to Oklahoma and was thrilled to find the 'Road to Oklahoma' quilt block.   The photo below, is from The Quilt Index, showing this block dates to 1895 and was created by The Ladies Art Company.  There's more historical information on this block at the link.
Having decided upon the quilt block, I looked at dozens of Road to Oklahoma quilts to get an idea of how to pull mine together.  When I saw Karen's gorgeous Road to Oklahoma quilt, photo below, I immediately knew THAT would be the one.  I've had the great good fortune to 'meet' Karen through Pinterest and she graciously allowed me to share her photo of her quilt with you.  I love her quilt so much, I downloaded the photo into my iPad and have studied it time and time again.
I've cropped and enlarged a section here, below, to show you the muted colors of the background blocks.  Each block has a different background color palette.... love it. 
My quilt will be done using 2 1/2" blocks and this video by The Gourmet Quilter, below, was very helpful.
I've purchased my fabrics.... some came from my stash.... these will be for the quilt top....
.... and I'm thinking this will be the quilt back.  He likes deer.... a lot.
One block complete..... 47 more to go!  Each finished block measures 8", so by the time I add the border/sashing, it should be @56"x72" - perfect for a quilt for his sofa.
Another block ready to be pulled together.  At this point I was still figuring out what fabrics to use where.  I'm trying to use different, but complementary, background colors in tans, golds and beiges like Karen's quilt. Each star will be green and the middle squares will be the scrappy browns.
And if you are interested in the rest of my grandparent's story...... my grandfather worked very hard building an oil business and when he was in his early 50's, enough oil had just come in to pay off all his equipment debt that amounted to over $100,000 - a lot of money in those days.  Thinking he was on the way, finally, to the 'good life', an oil rig accident left him paralyzed and dependent on my grandmother's care for the rest of his life.  His oil company faded away as my grandmother made ends meet by sewing for clients out of their home.  She cared for him for over 25 years and never once ever complained.  She passed away only a few short years after he died.
I sure hope Clifford doesn't read this blog! as his quilt is a surprise I hope to be able to give to him, in person, on our ( tentatively-planned) upcoming trip to Oklahoma next month as we travel the Road to Oklahoma.

*Assembly Line progress
*The top is done..... or is it?!
*Let the quilting begin!
*'just keep quilting.... just keep quilting....'
*The rest of the story