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The thread featured in this post was given to my by Aurifil.

Seven years ago, when they were small, I started making garments for my children. They were fun little projects and much faster than making and finishing a quilt. These clothes were all made out of quilting cotton, though once I made a satin skirt for a friend's daughter. Quilting cotton is easy to sew with.

For years now I've been wanting to make garments for myself. In August of 2017, I started listening to the new, weekly Love to Sew podcast. Co-hosts Helen and Caroline are an inspiration as they "engage with the global sewing community and encourage listeners to create their dream wardrobe by sewing their own clothes." But still, I didn't sew myself a single garment. In January 2018, Caroline's shop, Blackbird Fabrics, offered a black and white bamboo jersey knit (95% rayon from bamboo/5% spandex). One of the things I love about her shop is that the fabric listings include recommendations for what types of garments a fabric is suitable for. This information is gold to a newbie garment sewist! And I'd been wanting to make a Blackwood Cardigan. So I ordered the fabric. And I love it. The more than two-year procrastination of actually making said cardigan was some combination of not liking the size I am, intimidation about sewing knits, and living an overextended/busy life. As an Aurifil Artisan for 2019-2020, I was delighted to see Me Made May as the May Artisan Challenge. I seriously thought I'd get it done way ahead of time and then share it in May. Nope. True to form, I was still sewing at the 11th hour. Last Friday, I started cutting out my fabric.

This project was the perfect opportunity for me to try out Aurifil 40/3. This thread was created with longarmers in mind, but I'd heard of other garment sewists who prefer this weight for their garments. It worked well for me. I pieced my cardigan using a zigzag stitch with a stretch needle. Due to my inexperience with sewing knits, during my test sewing I struggled to get a nice topstitch that didn't create puckers. So I opted to leave the pockets off (where will I put my M&Ms!?) and I should add topstitching to the front band later (the final step). I'll continue with the trial and error of finding the right settings/needle combination to get a result I like for topstitching. More needles are on the way!

My 8-year-old daughter took photos of me in the cardigan.

The pattern was clear and easy to follow. It certainly could have been sewn in a day or two. My cardigan is the long view in XXL of the original version of the pattern (equivalent to a 20/22 B-cup in the current version). I added 2" of length since I'm 5'7" and like my cardigans long. I don't think this was necessary, but I figured that I'd rather it be too long than too short for my liking. :-) It was hard for me to measure myself to really understand how long the pattern would be on me... and I failed to take into consideration that it would stretch a bit when it was on from the weight of the fabric.

Tips from my experience sewing my first knit garment:

  • Be really careful of fabric stretching when you lay it out to cut.
  • Mark notches using a marking pen.
  • Pin liberally.
  • Do a lot of test sewing to find a stitch that works well. Label each sample with your settings/needle. (See above.)
  • Maybe don't choose stripes for your first project. It added a level of difficulty.
  • Try stretch, jersey, and ballpoint needles (as the pattern recommends) as you may get different results with each.

Check out what others are sewing and wearing for Me Made May on Instagram at #memademay. See more Blackwoods at #blackwoodcardigan.

Since I mentioned them, here are a few of my favorite garments that I made for the kids years ago:

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So I woke up this morning and thought "Yesterday was May 1!" I'm sure at least a few of you can relate to not knowing what day of the week or date it is. :-) At least May is one of those long months with 31 days! Also, this month is an easy one. ;-)

Sometime in May please Show Me Something Blue! Choose a quilt project you've already finished or use Show Me Something as a one-month quilt challenge to finish something new. Just make sure to linkup by May 31. See all the details below.

There are so many blues to choose from. What are your favorite colors to pair with blue?

Here are the linkup details:

  • The monthly Show Me Something quilt linkup will start on the first of the month and continue until midnight (PST) on the last day of the month.
  • You may linkup a maximum of 3 new or old finished projects that fit the theme.
  • You may linkup a blog post or Instagram post.
  • If you linkup from a blog post, please link back to this post in your post. If you post from Instagram, you can tag me @sarahgoerquilts.
  • Visit others in the community who share their projects... and leave comments. :-)

2020 Planning Party

 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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This morning I shared a tutorial of this block with a few dozen fellow guild members of SCVQA during our virtual meeting. We miss having meetings and are enjoying the Virtual Coffee Break Zoom meetings that Mel and Geri have been hosting. Have your local quilt groups been meeting virtually?

Also, this is your final reminder to link up your improv projects by the end of the month for Show Me Something Improv. :-)

 

Split Complementary

My color palette for this block grew out of some color play with my Kona fabric chips. Analogous Colors are a group of three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. For example, yellow, yellow-green, and green. Complementary Colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow and violet, or yellow-green and red-violet. A Split Complementary color palette uses one color, combined with the neighbors of its complement. I've chosen red-violet with yellow and green.

Scrappy Slab*

I used a scrappy slab for the center of my block. This "made fabric" can be built from any scraps on hand and can be used alone, in a design of your own, or in any position in a traditional block or pattern you already own. The possibilities are truly endless.

I don't concern myself with starting pieces being square or seams being parallel and perpendicular. I simply sew together pieces of scrap fabric choosing mates that have edges that are roughly the same length. If necessary, I trim the edge of the fabric (with scissors) so I am sewing straight seams, and I attach them with 1/4" seam allowance, same as if I were doing precise piecing (though this is more forgiving in that sense). I press my seams open (having used a reduced stitch length during sewing) which is my personal preference. If necessary I trim off any overhanging fabric to give me a new straight edge for the next seam.

Generally, I start numerous scrappy slabs at once that can be pieced together as my project grows. Smaller slabs can be used just like individual pieces of fabric, combined with single or pieced chunks*. I find once slabs get large enough to be unwieldy that I have an easier time trimming edges with a rotary cutter and ruler.

Keep building to the size necessary for your project.

*I use the words slab and chunk to describe a pieced unit that is not a specific "block" size. Blocks are a predetermined, specific size. Slabs are what they are. You can trim down to a specific unit or block size as needed for a project.

16" Sawtooth Star Block

Color 1 (green): Using monochromatic scraps, piece a slab large enough to cut one (1) 8 1/2” x 8 1/2” square. 

Color 2 (yellow): Cut eight (8) 4 1/2” x 4 1/2" squares. 

Background/Color 3 (red-violet): Cut four (4) 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” rectangles and four (4) 4 1/2” x 4 1/2”  squares. 

Construct four one-at-a-time Flying Geese units.

Step 1: Aligning the edges, place a 4 1/2” x 4 1/2" yellow square on top of an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” red-violet rectangle, right sides together. With your favorite marking tool, mark the stitching line corner to corner on the yellow square.

Step 2: Stitch on the marked line. Optionally, sew a second line of stitching 1/2" from your first line as shown. This will create a bonus HST when you trim 1/4" from your marked line.

Step 3: Trim 1/4" from your marked line as shown (or halfway between your two lines of stitching).

Step 4: Press your seam.

Step 5: Repeat on the second side.

Unit finishes at 8 1/2" x 4 1/2". Make 4.

Layout your nine pieces as shown. Sew each row together and combine rows for the finished block. Unfinished dimensions are 16 1/2" x 16 1/2".

Three blocks would make a 16" x 48" table runner. Sixteen blocks (or 9 blocks with an 8" border) would make a 64" x 64" lap quilt. These could all be identical color placement, a variety of placements of the same three colors, a variety of different split complementary combinations, or anything you'd like!

P.S. Here's another Sawtooth Star where I used my scrappy slab in the background and binding.

Happy quilting!