Tag Archives: sewing

Me-Made May 2014, Week 1

Day 1


Subtitled: I was just running some errands and thought I’d stop off in the backyard to admire the non-greenery in the freezing cold while wearing a bunch of stuff I made myself.

Everything you can see in this picture, I made. Pants (V1266, fabric a light italian wool), shirt (Colette Jasmine, Liberty lawn fabric), bag (Craftsy, ostrich-embossed cowhide), shopping bag (behind my knees– 1,2,3 Quilt, stash scraps).

Day 2


I am once again just casually stopping in to my frigid and grey-brown backyard for no reason in particular while coincidentally wearing a shirt I made myself. The photo part of this is all kinds of goofy, isn’t it?

Anyway. Shirt’s a Butterick tunic pattern made from Liberty lawn. It’s soft and thin and just the right length for skinny jeans though, again, the pattern ease was way too much. I’d make at least a size smaller next time.

Day 3

I wore my homemade red-and-pink fleece pajama bottoms, and you don’t get to see them, mostly because I was too lazy for the picture.

Day 4

Pajamas again–I told you I’d get a lot of mileage out of those!–and Frances wore the nightie I made her last year, plus her mom-made raincoat and bat-wing t-shirt for our jaunt to the book club. Tag this one Mom-Made May ’14, and I think it still works. Also, Frances loved her shirt and wore it happily all day. Yay for sewing with knits! I have two more t-shirts cut out for her.

Day 5


V1266 top to bottom. Fingers crossed, we won’t be able to wear long-sleeved shirts in this part of the country for much longer, so I thought I should get it in.

I’ll stop commenting on the goofiness of the Fashion Selfies now, but please know that I am thinking it. So goofy! Yet is a communal sort of goofiness that all the MMMers take part in at least partially, so here I am, being dutifully goofy with the goof-crowd. In spirit.

Pleated undersleeves!
Pleated undersleeves!

I’m not thrilled with how the shoulders turned out on the shirt, but otherwise I love the pattern and the finished product. The ridiculously pouffy sleeves are just the kind of thing I love, and with the concealed front buttons and self-covered buttons on the sleeve, plus the pleats on the back of the sleeves and at the cuffs, it all adds up to a very fun shirt. If only Vogue didn’t believe that anyone over a size 8 must want to be swathed in sheets of fabric, because I cut out my size according to the pattern envelope and, despite that it was supposed to be semi-fitted, it was way too baggy at first. Too much ease. Next time I’d take a size or two off of the pattern, and even then maybe fit the waist down a bit.

Day 6 & 7


Ok, not strictly true. Handmade PJs at home, and my new leather work bag. But that’s it. Two rushed mornings = no time to look into my closet and ponder how to incorporate my handmade wearables into functional workwear in new and surprising ways. But I’ll be wearing the handmades again Thursday and Friday, if only because I need to show off the crochet sweater that is finally (finally!) done.

leather, part 2

bloggish-15-8In short: the bag looks great, but I picked the wrong leather.

It doesn’t look wrong and goodness knows it should be very sturdy, and when it was only two or three layers under the needle, it sewed up fine. But whenever it was any thicker than three layers (which happened more than once), and even using the biggest leather needle I had, it would jam up something fierce and sometimes strip the thread. What this means, from a practical perspective, is that I’m not entirely sure of the sturdiness of my seams.

Time will tell, I guess.


1. It has lovely flat handles with d-rings, making it look more like a professional bag, and also allowing the handles to rest flat when I put it down. The tabs holding the d-rings to the bag should really have had studs to reinforce them, but I didn’t think of it until it was too late. If it comes down to it and the tabs start looking like they’ll rip, it should be a pretty easy fix.

bloggish-21-122. It has an outside pocket that I lined with leftover nylon from Frances’s raincoat, and is the perfect size for a little umbrella.

3. It has both an inner pouch pocket and an inner zippered pocket. Sadly, I found this pocket very very exciting. I made a zippered pocket! I know how to make them now! Yay! I now must make another purse so I can have a zippered pocket on it! Zippered pockets for everyone forever!

bloggish-19-114. I added a little key fob to attach key rings to. One of my pet peeves is having to muss around in the bottom of a bag for my keys, thus panicking myself every time that I left the keys somewhere or they’ve fallen through a grate. Little key fob means keys always stay in one place.

5. And I added purse feet to the bottom so it can stand up properly and the bottom will stay out of the dirt when I put it down. Also, it makes a very satisfying little chink when I put it down on a hard surface.bloggish-22-13

I’m also very pleased with the recessed zipper top. I like bags that can theoretically be closed altogether, especially when it’s raining or snowing. Plus it’s big enough to hold all of my work stuff, including dayplanner, book and lunch.

bloggish-17-9If any of (the three of) you have ever wondered, the Craftsy class I made this for was pretty good. I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth. Like those lovely zippered pockets, and what kind of thread to use, and that the inside of leather acts like sandpaper and will erode the fabric lining if you don’t interface it. But next time–goatskin or lambskin, not cowhide.  Something that can theoretically pleat and will fold without being beaten with a little hammer (yes, really).

Me-Made May ’14?

I’ve been sitting on this fence so long my butt fell asleep.

So Me-Made May is an annual thing whereby you commit to wearing a certain number of your own hand-made garments each day/week/over the month during May. Just because.

On the plus side, I do like to show off my handmade pieces, even if I’m the only one who knows that they’re handmade.

On the downside, the last thing I want is anything that smacks of even the faintest hint of work to taint my beloved hobby.

It’s like running. I like running, so long as I don’t track my times or distances or make any effort to improve in any way. I just head out the door, run for a while, run home, and then stop. The moment I try to start a Program or run faster or train for something, I quit. I know it’s motivating for other people, but for me it’s quite obviously and emphatically demotivating. Running to run is fun. Running to run better is Not Fun.

Sewing is a great good joy in my life in part because there isn’t the slightest obligatory thing about it, unless you count “I promised Frances a raincoat and I have 2m of blue waterproof nylon and no desire to go to Gymboree” as an obligation. Which maybe it is. But in general, I have a big pile of fabric, a pile of patterns and a stack of sewing books and I just tackle things as I want to. I’m under no illusion whatsoever that I would enjoy sewing for a living–I’d have to sew something that needed to be sewn! Terrors.

I do like wearing the things I make and I already wear them fairly frequently. But it might be cheating. I mean, I made myself a leather workbag. If I carry it to work with me every day, then I’ve fulfilled my monthly commitment without lifting a damned finger. Or at least, it’s a damned finger I would have lifted anyway. Is that fair? Plus the handmade lunch bag and business card case, and my handmade jammies–I’d have to work not to have something me-made on me in May.

I could just wear stuff I made in May without being such a joiner, I know. But then I can’t really participate in the whole community side of things. It’s nice to talk about the stuff you made and wore with people who also think it’s significant instead of odd or grandmotherly. Once people stop taking you aside to suggest that you go home on your lunch hour and change into something more work appropriate, or at least stop thinking it–say, if you made a shirt out of a too-heavy fabric so that the back zipper bubbles by your neck, not that this has ever happened to me–no one notices. If they’re thinking anything, it’s likely, “Andrea’s wearing a nice shirt today.” Even more likely it’s “goddammit how am I supposed to finish that report by tomorrow?”

So there’s the benefit of being able to show off shame-free to a group of people who Get It.

I know that I have turned into A Thing something that is not supposed to be A Thing. I’ve Thinged it. But I need to make up my mind. Like a cat at the back door. Am I in, or am I out?







OK. I think I’m in. But in my own way: I’ll wear or use something handmade every day in May–pretty hard not to, considering–and I’ll document it when I can, though I make no promises given other responsibilities. I’m allowed to repeat, so the workbag counts if there’s nothing else I can use or wear. And I’ll try to finish the following, and wear them too:

  1. the linen-silk sheath dress of doom
  2. the pink blouse I cut out the pieces for, and which now sits on the dining table
  3. a Moneta
  4. and two t-shirts for Frances, though I obviously won’t be wearing those. It might look funny.

Besides poetry month

13913216782_455e1c2c64_oI have been sewing up a storm this April, and not writing about it. Bad me. Projects include a raincoat for my darling Frances, the leather bag, quilt blocks, a little bat-wing t-shirt for Frances, and a sheath dress for me.

I sewed the raincoat up on Good Friday, except for the hems and buttons so I could make sure it fit. Good thing, because Frances asked for a number of adjustments: the pockets are too low and the waistband is too tight (despite cutting it out bigger than I thought I’d need … sigh). The pockets will require a fair bit of seam ripping and re-sewing. Hopefully I can get that done this weekend, and then she will have a lovely raincoat to wear this spring, that fits.

We also made the executive decision to replace the buttons with a nice zipper, mostly to make it more comfortable.

On the whole, though, I’m pretty proud of it: it’s a lightweight fully waterproof nylon that I lined with a very soft fleece for a bit of extra warmth and comfort. The shoulders are perfect and she can move her arms easily. The hood is just right. And it’s blue, which is her New Favourite Colour. When you’re ten, favourite colours are pretty important. Practically her entire wardrobe is blue at this point, which at least makes getting dressed in the morning easy.

13667469873_52cd09863e_oThe bat-wing t-shirt was a snap: fast and soft and it fits perfectly. Frances loves it, and asked for another one in navy blue. So there is now of course some navy blue rayon knit in the den waiting to be cut out.

I also have been working on my leather bag.

I found a Craftsy class covering this very subject that includes a pattern, and for not much more than the price of a book on sewing purses–at least, since I got the class on sale. It recommends making a felt mock-up first, so I sighed and, beginning on Good Friday and carrying over to Easter Sunday (since Frances was at her Dad’s house and my mother is not speaking to me right now, giving me a ton of free time), I made the mock-up, decided it would work, stocked up on all the little notions and odds-and-ends required to sew leather like double-sided mounting tape and binder clips, cut everything out, and assembled about half of the pieces before I ran out of the tape. But there are several lovely pieces on my dining room table, including two flat shoulder straps using d-rings. This was my own improvisation since the Craftsy pattern called for round straps that attach directly to the bag, and I didn’t like them.

I still like the idea of a pleated bag, but the leather I chose was too stiff for it. Next time. I’m undecided on whether or not to embroider the bag, problem being that the tannins in treated leather will rot natural fibres, and nearly all of my embroidery threads are natural fibres (silk, cotton, etc.). I guess I do have some rayon flosses. I’m just not sure I want to use rayon flosses on my leather bag. So.

And I’ve been working away on a silk-linen sheath dress, which will get its own post. The amount of stitching and basting and unstitching and rebasting and pinning and letting out that went into getting a shell that fits completely exhausted me this week. However, I did manage to sew a shell I’m happy with. Now I’m taking a break before repeating the whole exhausting process with the lining.

13936414393_2e3d61b33a_oPlus a couple of Farmers’ Wife Quiltalong blocks. I’m about halfway to having enough to make a lap-sized quilt, which isn’t bad for April.

Not too shabby for a week’s work, eh? But of course, as fast as I take things off the Someday Shelf new projects arrive to take their place: a grade 5 grad dress for Frances, a Moneta dress for me, a knit sheath dress, and something with the too-fabulous-to-pass-up Italian silk print I picked up last weekend on Queen West. I’m thinking a drapey shift of some kind, muslin most definitely required in advance.

Sara Teasdale in needle-book form

poetry month-3-1I like poetry, a lot. A shelf of my Favourites Bookcase is devoted to poetry books (and there are more in the basement).  I also–as you may have gathered–like sewing and embroidery, a lot. So what better than to combine them?

A few years back, I was in need of a needle-book (a fabric book with fabric pages for storing needles not in use). There was a pattern in an issue of Inspirations magazine that I liked structurally, with its multiple pages and french-knot border, but at the time I was not a fan of stumpwork and wanted something different for the cover art. I took a Sublime Stitching bird pattern (I realize it is not a wood thrush) and combined it with my favourite Sara Teasdale poem to make this little needle-book, which is in more or less constant use.

It has a page for sharp needles, a page for crewel needles, and a page for beading needles, and little endpapers of crazy bird fabric scraps. The needle pads themselves are made out of wool felt, since it holds needles so nicely. The titles are just poetry month-4-1stamped in with regular ink, and the wool felt is held to the pages with regular zig-zag stitch–nothing fancy.

Sara Teasdale was not the world’s happiest poet, though she did win the first ever Pulitzer Prize for poetry. I once spent an afternoon reading a chronological anthology of her work, which became progressively more depressive; unsurprising since she died of suicide in her late 40s. Wood Song is one of her more uplifting poems, and it’s from comparatively early in her career. As you can see, it’s not so much the work of someone who is happy, as of someone who is trying very hard to be happy.

Wood Song

I HEARD a wood-thrush in the dusk
Twirl three notes and make a star—
My heart that walked with bitterness
Came back from very far.

Three shining notes were all he had,
And yet they made a starry call—
I caught life back against my breast
And kissed it, scars and all.

It is gorgeous work, if sad. As much as I appreciate its artistry and the portrayal of having found meaning and solace in an interaction with nature, I also wish someone had been there to hold her hand and offer her some solace.


Cross one item off the Someday Shelf: I finished my Meringue skirt.

meringue-13-7I added a lining since the fabric was both slightly sheer and also would stick to tights. The wool silk, though lovely and soft, also is not happy about holding a crease, which made pressing the scallops tricky. But anyway, it’s done! And Simba approves.

I might unpick the stitches joining the lining and skirt facing, though. They pull a bit. And I took about an inch out of the hips by making the back darts bigger, since I found the hips too loose.

It’s a really cute skirt and I’m glad I made it, but I’m not sure I’d make another one. Scallops just don’t feel like me. Although, I don’t know. What about in leather or suede? Then the hemline’s a lot easier, and it might be fun. It would mean putting seamlines along the current darts and making a version with much less ease so that it hangs properly … but it might be doable. Hmm.


No ... too plain.
No … too plain. But the colour’s lovely.

Last week, I finally got around to buying a big piece of cow skin to experiment with. It’s brown, which isn’t my first choice, but I wanted something less fancy to make mistakes on; it’s embossed to look like ostrich skin and should distress well, so I hope whatever I make will be successful enough to use. Even cheap leather is not cheap, when you’re buying what used to cover half an ungulate.

What I need now is a pattern. A pattern for a tote bag that is slightly slouchy, would look good in a brown bumpy leather, is roomy enough for all my work stuff but not excessively so, has good interior pockets with a nice cotton lining, a solid bottom so it won’t collapse when I pick it up, and handles suitable for a shoulder-bag.

Hmm. Maybe. But also a bit plain.
Hmm. Maybe. But also a bit plain.

I cannot find even a pattern for a leather bag that isn’t hideous. Well, if not hideous, at least not boxy and boring. Even the patterns for not-leather bags are either way, way too much (picture frills and frou-frou exploding all over the place, or enormous trendy showstoppers designed to look appealing in quilting cotton) or way, way not enough (as in, two pieces of fabric sewn together at the sides, make a gusset, attach straps, and that’s it).

No no no.

I’ve pretty well resigned myself to making my own pattern. Which so far has involved looking through approximately 1,000 pages of fashion magazine so I can rip out pictures of leather bags I like, and squint at them to see if I can figure out how they were put together. Where are the seams? How did they attach the pockets? Does it have a top zip closure, or a clasp? What did they put in the bottom to give it structure?

The top pleats are cute. I wonder what they did for the sides and bottom?
The top pleats are cute. I wonder what they did for the sides and bottom?

I have previously made shoulder bags without a pattern. My favourite was the one that started with an old pair of jeans for the lining; then I cut some boiled wool for the top facing and attached it, used that to sketch out a pattern piece for the front and back, estimated a length and width for the straps and used cotton scraps to line them, embroidered the bag front, sewed it all together and added a gusset. It looks great and it’s very functional, though embroidering through boiled wool with yarn is no joke.

So I know it is doable. But the prospect is less intimidating when one is experimenting with old blue jeans and $5/metre boiled wool, rather than embossed leather.

I like these darts too, especially the way the handles are attached on top of them.

I also thought about adding a bit of cross-stitching or other embroidery, and bought glover’s needles just in case I end up doing any hand-work. Glover’s needles are serious weapons. I could probably sew my fingers together with them.

Current thoughts are something like the Dior bag, but a titch smaller and maybe with some embroidery; a separate side piece to give it some good interior room and avoid the need for darts or gussets; and a top-zip, if I can figure out how to assemble and install it. I want rings for the handles, like in the aqua bag, and studs to reinforce joints and seams. I want it to have feet, and a base that is attached to the side piece for a bit of extra strength and structure. And maybe I’ll have my spring/summer work bag in time for fall.

party animal

In December of last year, I had an over-active thyroid.

In March of this year, I have an under-active thyroid.

Go figure. According to the endo, there is a type of thyroid infection where it goes into hyperdrive for a while, completely drains itself, boomerangs low, and then rebounds to a normal level, and I am now in the tail end of this process. I don’t quite follow the details–I’m going to blame this on a hypothyroid-induced mental fog–but whatever. I’m too tired to care. I thought it was the hyperthyroid thing continuing or recurring, but apparently not.

I’m going to blame the whole mess on stress. It’s a stress mess.

I am now just under the normal range, so I can expect to start feeling better soon. As in, maybe I can sleep for 8 hours and wake up feeling rested, without my hands shaking.

On Monday, I turn 39; what’s more, Frances is with her Dad all weekend. If you think I’m planning an exciting and fun-filled Saturday and Sunday, you are exactly right; if you are thinking that exciting and fun-filled means being someplace other than my living room, you are maybe partially right. My favourite local fabric store has exciting! new! fabrics! in stock, and even though my stash is getting embarrassing, I cannot pass up exciting! new! fabrics! Also, it is my birthday, and I need to buy books. It’s a law, I believe: Thou Shalt Buy a Book on thy Birthday or Face the Wrath of the Bookseller. Or maybe that was just the fine print on the Chapters membership application. I forget.

I duly obliged with a bookstore visit yesterday, and three books, one of which is for Frances so doesn’t really count. But I might read it first.

I am also going to scour fabrics as part of my natural dyeing adventures. Scouring is basically boiling fabric with some heavy-duty detergents to get rid of whatever natural oils or pectins they have, so they will better accept dyes. I started with the linen last night–fresh, beautiful, never-used, brand-new linen–and the water turned as brown as dark tea. It was pretty revolting, but made a good case for the importance of scouring.

So there’s the bookstore, and the fabric store and maybe, if I’m feeling crazy, the tea store; there’s a haircut tomorrow; and also my basement for fabric scouring. There’s the short ribs in red wine & cinnamon curry I want to make for dinner on Saturday, in the kitchen. Plus sleep. Otherwise I will be in my living room, sewing. I want to finish my Meringue skirt and Jasmine blouse, and have them all ready to go for when the weather isn’t atrocious; I want to dig into Frances’s rain jacket; and I want to do some of my Farmers’ Wife Quiltalong squares. I also want to sew up a bunch of other things and add to the Someday Shelf, but this is unlikely, even with a slightly-more-cooperative thyroid.

If I emerge from my house on Monday pale, raccoon-eyed and covered in bits of thread, you’ll know why.

The Someday Shelf

This is a Post that might become a Page: a list of all the things I’d like to make. At some point. When it’s fun. No pressure.

  1. The Colette Meringue skirt.  (Done!) (Also on the Someday Shelf is the Taffy Blouse and one of the dresses, also from the book, but they are farther down the list–spring/summer)
  2. A Project Yet To Be Determined, with the heavy-weight alpaca wool I picked up at the Creativ Festival. It’s a flannel-weight fabric, incredibly soft, with a pin-stripe, in a nice warm neutral, and I have 1.5 metres of it.
  3. A short-sleeved crochet sweater in Squishy, in marigold yellow (called poppy, for some reason). Because if you access to a yarn called Squishy, it would be criminal not to make something out of it. Currently in progress–a Vogue Crochet pattern that looks a bit like the Taffy Blouse. (Done!)
  4. A sheath dress in creamy/tawny linen-silk blend with a bit of a subtle chevron pattern, also picked up at the Creativ Festival. Yes, that missing e bugs me too. Likely sheath dress pattern from the Built by Wendy Dresses book. (Done!)
  5. A Farmer’s Wife quilt.
  6. A quilt for my room. Something bright and floral.
  7. Another Jasmine blouse. I have a nice Liberty tana lawn cut out for it, so it’s just a matter of sewing it together. (Done!)
  8. Another marigold/orange/yellow pillow cover for the living room
  9. A crocheted sweater for Frances. For next winter at the earliest.
  10. Fleece pajamas for Frances. (Done!)
  11. Comfy pants and shirts for Frances: a long-sleeved knit shirt, a bat-wing t-shirt (Done!), and some baggy pants.
  12. Raincoat for Frances. (Done!) I have the nylon shell fabric and the fleece lining, and the pattern, so my target is April/May. (Guess I’d better get started…)
  13. A stumpwork (3D embroidery) dragonfly or butterfly. Probably not on its own. With flowers or something.
  14. A leather handbag. (Done!)
  15. A piece of hand-dyed clothing, or an accessory of some kind.
  16. A hand-embroidered blouse. Maybe in a nice, light linen. Don’t you think a light-weight linen blouse that’s fairly fitted, with pin-tucks and some bits of colour in the embroidery, would be super pretty?
  17. That Vintage Vogue dress I got the pattern for last year–then realized I needed 6.5 freaking metres of fabric for it. I am thinking of getting the freaking metres in a nice Liberty Lawn, though it might require a second mortgage on the house. Or maybe a trip-to-Queen-West fabric, so I can get something a little stiffer. Lawn’s lovely, but it might be too light for the skirt.
  18. Curtains for pretty well every window in the house, but the kitchen and the dining room to start. I have yet to find a decent curtain fabric.
  19. The blackwork sampler.
  20. The dragonfly appliqué embroidery
  21. The cross-stitch piece I’ve been working on since last fall.
  22. Something with the doilies.
  23. A new spring work bag. Maybe canvas? Heavy linen? Heavy linen would be cool, and it takes embroidery well. I could dye it, maybe. And/or smock it. Some kind of fabric manipulation would be a lot of fun. My last work bag used an old pair of jeans as the lining, which was super fun and very practical (and cheap), but I don’t think a summer bag is heavy enough to handle a thick denim lining. So it will take more brainstorming.
  24. More button-up blouses. Work shirts. Boring as hell, but necessary. This pattern is one, with the long sleeves and narrow cuffs. It says crepe de chine is an option, which would be much less boring if I picked something like this.
  25. Work pants. I want to take the pants I made over the winter and tweak the pockets so they are more horizontal and less vertical, but this can wait. I’d also like to make them out of something heavier, a nice wool flannel maybe, so they are work-appropriate but also cozy.
  26. A suit. Just for the challenge. Can I make a suit that’s nice enough to wear to work?
  27. Another Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe. I made one last year (with a lining added) in a lovely wool-silk (Creativ again) that is very light and very soft, but stands out like a bell. It was just perfect. I think the next one will be linen, for summer, with the band and the ties instead of the belt loops. Apparently I want to make everything from linen right now.
  28. Frances’s grade 5 grad dress. Light blue rayon with sparkly trim. (Done!)
  29. A Moneta dress for me (Done!) And another, sleeveless one.
  30. Some knit shirts for me. (Done and Done!)
  31. Something out of the leftover ombre pink silk.
  32. Work-appropriate shorts. (Done!)
  33. A Hollyburn skirt. Yes, I have jumped on the Hollyburn bandwagon.
  34. A silk shift dress.
  35. The McCall faux-wrap dress. (Done!)
  36. A bra. Just for the challenge. And maybe for the cost savings.

I just have to take the long view here. The years-long-view. Clearly this will not be done in time for summer.

Finish Friday: Critter Cuddle Quilt

One of the most treasured objects in my house is a quilt a dear friend made for my daughter many years ago, when I was getting divorced (the pink one in the main photo). This friend has had a very challenging life, and carries many burdens and troubles; and yet, when I was getting divorced and some comparatively blessed friends disappeared, she made my little girl a quilt to help comfort her during a very difficult time. I can’t even put into words how impressed I am by her generosity and kindness to so many people (and if this paragraph has her blushing in her seat, so much the better). Seven years have passed since then, and that lovely little pink quilt is still draped over the back of a chair in the living room, Frances still requests it when she is sick or sad, and if my house were on fire I would grab it on my way out the door.

(Just now, when I went digging through her flickr feed to find a better picture of this quilt than I was able to take this evening when I finally got in from work at 8 pm, I learned two things: holy cow, this woman has made a ton of quilts; and this was the very first picture she ever posted on flickr! What a happy surprise.)

bloggish-2-2Still, time passes, children grow, and mothers like to snuggle under quilts with them while they may–all of which is to say that I wanted also a larger snuggle quilt that Frances and I could enjoy together.   It ended up being a mite larger than it really needed to be, but that is getting ahead of myself.

I am a big believer in tactile comfort. Soft clothes, yummy food, hugs and kisses, warm blankets, hot baths–things that feel good help you feel good, I think, or at least better. This has been a tough year for my girl so far, and there has been a corresponding increase in the number of tactile comforts in the house. A good cuddle quilt was essential, so I moved it to the top of the crafty priority list.

Finding a quilt pattern was the main difficulty. It had to:

1. Be not too difficult to put together. My quilting skills are still very tenuous and I wanted to be reasonably certain that I could line up all the seams and end up with something that didn’t look ridiculously amateur. This meant squares and rectangles.

2. Not use tiny blocks or patches. I wanted the pieces to be large enough that you could see the raccoon faces, or what is the point of using raccoon fabric? (You may ask yourself what is the point of using raccoon fabric in the first place. If you saw our house, Dear Readers, you would know; it is fairly dominated by nature themes and objects throughout. How could we not use the raccoon fabric?)

3. Call for fabric quantities that I already had in my stash, to minimize new required fabric purchases.

See that orange strip beside the raccoon face? That's the culprit, right there.
See that orange strip beside the raccoon face? That’s the culprit, right there.

The Giggle Box pattern from a recent issue of Quilty seemed best, though a few more solids would not have been amiss.  It’s a bit busy. It claimed to be throw quilt size. IT LIED.

I cut out all the strips one night when I couldn’t sleep. Effective for distraction. Not so effective for accurate cutting, as I discovered when I went to assemble the strips into quilt blocks and discovered that all of my geometric orange print rectangles were one inch too short. D’oh! 

This necessitated trimming an inch off all of the blocks before piecing them together, turning all of my giggle boxes into giggle rectangles, which means the quilt as a whole is 8″ shorter than it should be. Oops. Good thing it wasn’t meant for a bed–and maybe a blessing overall, since, well–

critter quiltFor a throw-size quilt this thing sure turned out to be massive once it was all pieced together with the borders and everything. Holy smokes. Even with the missing 8″, it uses most of a piece of queen-sized quilt batting. Will you look at this thing? Can you imagine it 8″ longer?

I put it together with the batting and backing about a month ago and got the whole thing quilted, then realized that (despite the instructions’ insistence to the contrary) my remaining binding fabric would not be enough to bind the whole quilt, so I had to wait for an opportunity to head back to the fabric store for another metre of the pineapple print. In the meantime, we used the unbound version for our snizza dates.

As of last weekend, and many hours spent stitching bias binding pieces together and ironing them into quarters, it is finally finished.

I know the traditional thing is to take a nice outdoor shot of the finished quilt draped over something so you can see it, full-scale and in good light. I have no intention of subjecting myself to that kind of cold or discomfort, however, so we’ll have to make do with my indoor shots. It’s big! It has raccoons, rabbits, foxes and moths on it. It adds a much-welcome touch of bright orange to our living room, what with this gloomy winter we’ve all had. It’s warm. And if need be, I can wrap Frances and myself up in it, cocoon-style, and we can imagine it into a magic force field to keep the whole world safely away.