Floral voile Archer: sneak peeks

Floral Archer in progress - under collar

I think shirtmaking is my absolute favorite type of sewing.  I find so much peace and satisfaction in all the precision and details, and I love the endless possibilities for customization.  Also, there’s nothing like wearing a crisp button-down shirt, especially one that’s light and airy on a warm summer day.  I suspect this shirt will get a lot of wear once the weather warms up, and I can almost feel the warm breeze of the harbor on my face…. almost.  It’s still snowing around here.  :)

Floral Archer in progress - sleeve placket

This weekend I indulged in some super-slow sewing — my favorite way to sew.  Tower plackets, collars and collar stands, grosgrain ribbon along the button band.  Lots of precision topstitching.  A handful of pointy corners.  Does it get any better than this?

Floral Archer in progress - collar

The combination of this floral voile and striped shirting is divine, and I’ve been enjoying the feel of the light and soft fabrics against my fingertips.  I tried to minimize the use of interfacing on this shirt to maintain the light feel, but I did use some lightweight fusible in the collar.  A floppy collar is too sad a thought to bear!Floral Archer in progress - sleeve cuffI keep petting my creation-in-progress as I walk by, admiring my work and imagining all the summer adventures I’ll have in this shirt.  At least the sun was out today — a promise of warmer days to come.  I’ll be ready with a new shirt when spring decides to finally show its face.

Until then, I’ll remain chained at the hip to my puffer coat.  At least my prison is warm and fluffy.  :)

A floral top for “sprinter” (and various sewing updates)

Floral Renfrew - finished

Get it?  Spring + winter = sprinter?  The calendar says spring, but clearly the weather hasn’t gotten the memo!  Since my brain has officially switched over to spring/summer sewing but it’s still below freezing here in Boston, I sewed up a pretty floral top that hints at the upcoming spring but still keeps me warm while I (very impatiently) wait for its arrival.

Project Stats:

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew (yes, I know, my millionth one).  Do you think indie pattern designers should start giving out awards for extreme pattern use?  Tasia, any thoughts?  :)

Fabric: My second Art Gallery knit – Recollections by Katarina Roccella in “flowered engrams delicate.”  The fabric is 95% cotton and 5% spandex.

Modifications: Nothing new, just my TNT modified Renfrew pattern.

Level of crafty satisfaction: This fabric makes me smile!  For a simple top, I’d say this is a winner.

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Tulip Quilt pattern (it’s free!)

Tulip Quilt collage

Just when you thought you’d seen the last quilting-related post on this blog, here comes another one.  :)  I’ve written up a PDF pattern for my Tulip Quilt, and it’s totally free!  Download and enjoy!

Download the FREE Tulip Quilt pattern

The pattern will reside on the dedicated Tulip Quilt page of this blog, and I’ve added a link in the menu bar of the blog header.  Check out the page for more details about the pattern.  I’ll keep track of any updates and errata on that page.

Now, you may be asking yourself a few questions, such as:

Is blog going to turn into a quilting blog?

Nope!  While I enjoyed making this quilt and putting the patten together, my true love is garment sewing, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Are you planning to release any more patterns?

Nope!  I already had the pattern for this quilt worked out from 11 years ago (!!), so writing it up wasn’t that much extra work.  I don’t see myself making any more quilts anytime soon (or ever!), so don’t hold your breath for any more quilting patterns.  As for garment patterns, yeah right!  That is WAY more work, and honestly I have no interest in ever developing one.

Why aren’t you charging anything for this pattern?

There are many reasons why this pattern is free (check out the Tulip Quilt page for details), but mostly it’s because I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in combining my passion for sewing with any sort of business.  Sewing is my hobby, pure and simple.  I had a ton of fun putting this pattern together, and I don’t need or want to be paid for enjoying my hobby in my free time.

Any other questions?  Ask away!

Share your Tulip Quilts

If you use this pattern to make a quilt or anything else, I’d absolutely love to see it.  You can post photos in the Tulip Quilt Flickr group so we can all admire your work.  :)

I hope you enjoy this pattern, and happy sewing!

Tulip Quilt – finished!

Tulip Quilt - finished

Today I am absolutely thrilled to share my finished Tulip Quilt, a project 11 years in the making.  This quilt is certainly not a masterpiece in design or craftsmanship, but I am so happy with the finished project nonetheless.  This quilt has been with me for most of my adult life and has witnessed so many ups and downs over the years, from grad school to a real job and, rather ironically, right back to grad school!  It represents perseverance through crafting and through life, and I’m proud to see it finally completed.

I started the quilt in 2004, immediately after I finished my first quilt.  I cut out all the pieces for the tulip blocks and started piecing them by hand (before I had a sewing machine), and then the quilt sat untouched for 8 years, surviving several moves and apartment clean-outs.  I guess I was sentimentally attached to it!  In 2012 when I bought my machine, this was the first project I started working on, and I finished piecing the quilt top and assembled the “quilt sandwich.”  After another hiatus, I resumed in the fall of 2014 when I purchased a walking foot, essentially required equipment for machine quilting, and finally the quilt is complete in 2015.

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Fitting broad shoulders: a pattern comparison

Fitting broad shoulders - the problem

Shoulders.  While I’ve grown to accept my genetic makeup and everything that comes along with it, having broad shoulders definitely presents a challenge in my sewing.  Maybe I’m biased, but I feel like adjusting the fit in the shoulder area is one of the trickiest adjustments to make, perhaps second only to the mystical crotch curve.  There’s just so much going on in that area, and a simple change can easily affect nearly every major pattern piece.  The fit issue is really noticeable too – just look at how far away the shoulder seam of my Renfrew is from my actual shoulder point!

There are plenty of sewists out where who are similarly blessed with broad shoulders and a broad upper back, including Morgan, Sunni, Erin, and countless others.  Morgan recently wrote a great post on fitting her broad shoulders, essentially an open letter to the sewing community for suggestions and support.  Go read the comments on that post – they’re full of shoulder fitting wisdom and camaraderie!

Inspired by Morgan’s post, I wanted to add a bit to the conversation.  Specifically, I wanted to illustrate how fundamentally different the drafting has to be to accommodate broad shoulders, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience.  So, I whipped out my bodice sloper and compared it to my adjusted Renfrew pattern, focusing on the back bodice pieces.  Granted, the sloper is drafted for a woven fabric, and the Renfrew is drafted for a stable knit, so they aren’t really directly comparable.  However, I still think the comparison nicely illustrates a few basic points, even if the numerical differences have to be taken with a grain of salt.

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The tranquility of hand quilting

Tulip Quilt - hand quilting tools

Surprisingly, my motivation to finish my Tulip Quilt is still going strong!  I’ve been working on it almost exclusively for the past few weeks, and I’m getting more and more excited about finishing this project as I get closer to the end.  The quilt has been growing on me the more I work on it, and although this project certainly doesn’t represent my finest craftsmanship, I’m really starting to love it.  :)

After struggling with machine quilting a few weeks ago, I decided to tackle the rest of the quilting by hand.  I know, I’m crazy!  But I took a few shortcuts to save both time and my sanity.  I made two sizes of heart templates out of cardboard from an empty tissue box, used wash-away fabric markers to trace the hearts onto the fabric, and used hand quilting thread and an embroidery needle to roughly quilt around the outlines.  Why hearts?  Well, they’re a little cheesy, but I feel like a handmade quilt is by definition made with love, so I thought a few subtle hearts would be fitting.

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Where are they now: Archer edition

Where are they now - Archer edition

Do you ever wonder what happens to handmade garments after their initial blog debut?  I do!  It’s one of the reasons I always enjoy Gillian’s year-in-review series where everyone confesses which garments didn’t quite live up to their expectations.  We all put so much work into our garments… but then what?  Are we still wearing them a year later?  Did our tastes change?  Did the garments survive the wash?

And why am I talking about failed garments and my beloved Archers in the same post??

Well, I have a confession to make.  As the long winter drags on, I’ve realized that I haven’t been reaching for my Archers anymore.  It’s not that I don’t love them.  In fact, I’m actually kind of sad that they haven’t been making the rounds lately.  So what gives?

People, IT’S COLD.  So cold, in fact, that a loose-fitting woven top just doesn’t cut it in the warmth department.  I’ve been layering with close-fitting tops and sweaters that hug my body and keep in the heat.  The lightweight cotton of my precious Archers combined with the generous cut (read: plenty of room for cold air to seep in!) are just not a good combination for winter.  There, I said it!  I’ve come to the conclusion that my Archers are 3-season garments.  Perfect for transitional weather in spring and fall, and even great for summer in all those air-conditioned buildings.  But winter?  Not so great.

Some of you may recall my grand plan of sewing Renfrews to match my Archers, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  It turns out that getting a long cotton sleeve to fit into another long cotton sleeve produces almost enough friction to start a fire, and if you do manage to squeeze into those sleeves, it’s pretty uncomfortable to wear all day.  Womp womp.  I am crying a single tear.

So where are my Archers now?  Hanging in my closet, being neglected, and waiting for warmer days when I can wear them with a tank top.  Until further notice I’ll be living in my huge puffer coat and covered with a down blanket.

Do you have any handmade garment confessions to make?  It feels good to let them out.  :)

The insanity of machine quilting

Tulip quilt - folded on table

Are you a quilter, or a Quilter?

quilter (noun): A person who casually makes quilts.  Might also enjoy sewing garments, knitting, and other creative pursuits.  Enjoys the company of other human beings, a furry companion or two, and generally leading a normal and well-balanced life.

Quilter (noun): A person who considers quilting to be serious business.  Tolerates, and perhaps even relishes in, the absolute insanity of machine quilting.  Has the massive upper body strength required to wrestle a quilt into the all-too-tiny opening in the free arm of the machine.  Most importantly, has the mental fortitude to restrain oneself from jumping out the window during a long session of quilting at the machine.

Friends, I am saddened to inform you that I am decidedly NOT a Quilter.

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A new look for Allspice Abounds

The new look of Allspice AboundsWelcome to my updated creative space!  This blog was in desperate need of a facelift after several years of the old design, and I wanted to breathe some new life into this space from which I derive so much enjoyment.  I can only do so much in terms of re-design with this 100% free WordPress.com blog, but I’m happy with the new, more modern look.

The first thing you probably noticed is that everything is BIGGER!  My eyes still aren’t used to the huge change in scale, but it seems that blogs have been tending toward larger scale designs lately, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  The larger text is easier on my eyes (which don’t seem to be getting any younger, LOL), and I like having more width in the content area to display larger photos.  I’ll have to experiment with how large is too large for my less-than-professional photos, but I hope you’ll bear with me as I figure things out.

I also updated my Finished Project Gallery with larger photos, which I think is a welcome change from the thumbnails I had previously.  The page is now much longer in terms of scrolling, but it’s nice to be able to see the images a bit more clearly.

I’m still tweaking a few things here and there, so please let me know if you encounter any bugs or formatting issues.  I’m not an expert in blog design by any means, but I’ll do my best to fix any issues that arise.

I hope you enjoy the new look, or at the very least find it easier to read!  Have a great weekend, and Happy Valentine’s Day!  :)

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit by Allspice Abounds

The fact that I’m sewing basic t-shirts and couldn’t find any time to photograph them in natural light pretty much sums up the state of my sewing right now.  Such is life!  With that said, I find these simple knit tops extremely relaxing to sew, and I wear one almost every day in the winter, so this is total win in my book.  Hooray for my everyday wardrobe!  Plus, I have some thoughts on my first time sewing with the new Art Gallery knits, so hopefully you’ll find something interesting in this plan vanilla post.

Now you may be thinking, “Carolyn, didn’t you mention something about drafting your own pants a few weeks ago?  Why are you showing me boring t-shirts when you could be writing a juicy post on pants?”  Umm, ok, you’ve got me there.  Let’s just say that the pants have been sitting in the corner of my cutting table, patiently awaiting the day when I have enough brain power to revisit them.  The fact that this post is about t-shirts should give you a clue about the brain power I’ve been able to dedicate to my sewing lately.  :)

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