Project Waterproof Skirt

I live in a city which is quite wet and windy on a regular basis, so waterproofs are a must. I have waterproof trousers, but it’s always bugged me that I’m restricted to wearing trousers on a rainy day. And so, Project Waterproof Skirt was born. I bought some ripstop nylon and a few other bits and pieces, and set to work. (I recommend this post from Sewaholic for some good tips for sewing with waterproof fabric).

This will be a simple, elasticated waist skirt. It needs to be big enough to fit over my hips (so there’s my waist size for the skirt) and long enough to cover my longest skirt (so there’s my skirt length). I used a silver pen to draw a pattern on the back of the waterproof fabric (a silver gel pen or one of those chalkboard pens would probably work well, too), and then I cut it out, using this as a template to draw around for the second skirt piece. If you wanted to do this, pick your favourite simple A-line skirt pattern, or just draw a rectangle the half width of your skirt waist and the length of your skirt length, then make it a few inches wider at the bottom. Leave enough extra length to turn under a waistband, and to turn up a small hem.


I decided I wanted reflective piping in the side seams, so the next step was to make some. I got some 1″ reflective tape and some nylon piping cord (must be nylon, cotton might rot). I wrapped the tape around the cord and secured with Clover Wonder Clips, then sewed. I used my zipper foot, polyester thread and a microtex needle. I gently pushed the cord towards the needle as I went, to keep the stitching as close to the cord as possible. It was surprisingly easy!

(Shockingly awful night-time photo, sorry!)


At this point, I realised I didn’t know how to attach my piping to my seams. Google to the rescue! This tutorial from the Coletterie was very useful. I basted my piping to my side seams, about 1/8″ from the edge, then sewed my side seams, gently pushing my piping towards the foot as I went. Up until this point, I’d been able to get away with my normal machine zipper foot with no problems, but when I first tried to sew the seams, it didn’t work so well. The back of the ripstop is a little bit stickier than the front and stuck to the bottom of the foot, bunching up and making my seam wonky. I was lucky enough to be able to rip it and re-sew, because the errant stitches were within the seam allowance. I ended up having to put tissue paper along the seam, which slid under the foot nicely. Then I top-stitched the seams about 1/8″ from the piping.


For the skirt to be waterproof, I needed to seal the seams somehow (all that sewing makes holes in the fabric, which let the water through). I opted for an iron-on tape. I ended up having to trim my seam allowances quite close to the top-stitching so they’d fit under the tape, and then I ironed it on. I’d recommend using a pressing cloth for this; mine is Teflon and I can see through it, which helped a lot. First, I laid the tape down in place. Then I sort of tacked it to the seam allowance with the nose of the iron (no pressing cloth) every few inches. Then I put the pressing cloth over the seam and pressed according to the seam tape instructions. It was time consuming but reasonably straightforward and there were no horrible chemical smells.


All that’s left are the elastic waistband and the hem. Almost there!

A cautionary tale

I’ve often joked that if all else fails, I can at least serve as a warning to others. So here is my quilty cautionary tale of woe, much of which would have been avoided by listening to my gut right at the start.

I decided to sash my Kona Modern Quilts blocks individually, because I was worried about getting it all lined up and square with long lengths of sashing (ha! the irony!). I got the first strip of sashing sewn on, and my blocks looked like this:

(The top isn’t really wonky, it’s just the picture. The bottom, however, is). I contemplated trimming the sashing back to the edge of the main block, but thought better of it. Here’s what that overhang looked like close up:

“I’m sure I can fudge the seam allowance when I sew the next sashing strip on,” I thought. “It’ll be fine!”

Which is how I ended up with 77 seams that looked like this. So far, so reasonable. I got a bit cocky, thought I could wing it, failed. This is recoverable. But, you see, I was lazy. I decided I didn’t want to rip and re-sew 77 seams. I would just plough on. I could fudge it, it would all come out in the wash…

(It really is this wonky, it’s not just the picture). Which is how I ended up with blocks that look like this (these are edge blocks, hence missing a strip of sashing. All the middle blocks are like this too). At this point, the best I can hope for is ‘endearingly wonky’. Perhaps even ‘deliberately wonky in a modern sort of way’, given the fabric. I’m really hoping this doesn’t finish up looking like it was made by a four year old. Ooops!

In other news, I’d originally planned to make one big quilt from these, for a teen-ish boy. I thought they weren’t quite baby quilt colours. But now they’re coming together, they’re actually much brighter than I thought, and those pastel blue squares with the little circles really stand out. I have enough blocks to make two baby quilts, so I think that’s what I’ll end up doing. Here’s the original layout:

But that’s all for a fortnight. I’m off on my hols (finally!), spending the next two weeks looking at views not unlike this, eating lots of delicious French cheese and drinking delicious French wine. Can’t wait!


Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a holiday whoop whoop!

Have you ever wondered…

… just how many scraps you can stuff into a flat-rate USPS box?

This many! Thank you, Laura Ann at Fuzzy Hat Quilter! I see a happy afternoon with the iron and cutting board in my future, turning that glorious pile into a rainbow of squares and strips for my scrap box 🙂

Sewing has been slow. It turns out this pesky ‘job’ thing is a real timesink. Who knew? I was away for work last week, and I knit when I travel, so just a very little progress to show on the Kona Modern Quilts quilt:

It took me an hour to press all those seams! An hour! I’ve got them all pinned again (that’s my pinning station, aka ironing board), ready to chain chain chain again tomorrow. Then I can start carefully crafting my ‘random’ square layout.

In other exciting news, I’ve signed up for my very first swap:

I Love Kona Charm Swap at Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa over at Pile o’Fabric is running the I Love Kona swap again, and I was lucky enough to snag a spot. All those gorgeous solids! I’m thinking a bow tie quilt, maybe…

Linking up with Plum and June’s Let’s Get Acquainted Monday Linkup, and SewHappyGeek’s Manic Monday linky party.

A little progress

I did, indeed, get my sashing cut for the Kona Modern Quilts quilt. I decided to cut sashing for each individual square, rather than using long strips. I was concerned I’d end up with squares out of alignment, from stretching or just plain inattention, if I used long strips of sashing. So then I spent what felt like all weekend pinning at my ironing board pinning station:

And today, lots of sewing. Very meditative, chaining piece after piece after piece…

I cut them apart this evening and stacked them all up (no pics, it’s dark), ready to press 88 seams and sew another piecing of sashing on the next side (tomorrow? Perhaps). And lo, I felt better for making tangible progress with something.

Happy mail never hurts, either 🙂 I got these pretty pretties in the mail from Miss Beau Jangles today, from the recent Back to School blog hop. The boyish quilt I’m making right now is from winnings, and is going to Project Linus, so I think these girlish fabrics will go with some others I have in the stash for another Linus quilt 🙂

Linking up with Manic Monday over at Sew Happy Geek.


Re-entry to work has been a little harder than I anticipated. In fact, it’s kicked my butt. I’m tired and sore and fairly stressed. The first two have put a major dent in my sewing time, while the last one means I need it all the more! Hopefully things are settling down now, between a new routine and new medication. Fingers crossed, eh?

I haven’t sewn much, but I have cut things out. First up, a t-shirt:

I got some inexpensive cotton jersey from good old Abakhan to fiddle around with this t-shirt pattern. Just two pieces, and it looks cute. I cut the pieces, then realise that stripes were perhaps not the best choice for a first go. The stripes match on one side, but not the other. Ooops! Nevermind, it will do for proof of concept. With any luck, I’ll sew it up this weekend.

I also cut out squares from my stack of Kona Modern Quilts:

I’m going to make a simple sashed square quilt. I think the fabric needs large, simple pieces, because they’re busy enough on their own. I briefly considered big equilateral triangles, but went with squares because it was the end of a long day and I had run out of brain. They’ll be sashed with Kona Ash (the background in the pic). I’ll get the sashing cut out today, I think.

And I got happy mail! I entered some giveaways in the recent ‘Back to School’ blog hop, and I won! In fact, slightly to my embarassment (I’m English, it’s a national sport), I won four! In no particular order, I won some buttons and floral fabrics from Miss Beau Jangles, and some scraps from The Fuzzy Hat Quilter, which I’ll post about when they get here. Two parcels arrived yesterday:

A pack of gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh. They’re so pretty! I’m contemplating what to do with them. They might become lovely fish swimming in a blue sea – the hand-dyed fabric has great depth and movement.

And last, but by no means least, Kristy from Quiet Play sent me some of her paper piecing patterns and a charm pack of Pure by Sweetwater. Pretty fabric! I love the chocolate and pale blue combination 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a Friday Whoop Whoop! I think I need one just for getting this far into September!

It’s the little things

Some weeks, it’s the little things that make a difference. Here’s two little things that have brightened my world this week.

Thing the first: my first free motion quilting!

I knew those batting sample squares would come in handy for something. My first effort is top left, my last is bottom right. I saw a lot of improvement even over those 5 little squares! Mostly, my loops became a little smoother and I resolved a thread-breaking issue (tension and a new needle). On the first square, I set my stitch length to zero, used a darning foot and covered the feed dogs with a special needle plate that came with the machine. I wasn’t happy with the tension at all. I came across Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project and gave her method a shot – same set up as before, but with the feed dogs uncovered, just like normal stitching. The improvement in my tension was immediate! Here’s a close up of my final stitching (the red stitches, not the white).

My next step is to go for an actual quilt. I’ve got Colourful Lemonade all basted and ready to go, just as soon as my place mats are bound. I’m going to scribble all over it and I’ll bet I’ll learn a lot!

The second little thing that cheered me this week: I won a giveaway! Alyssa, over at Pile of Fabric, hosted a giveaway sponsored by Marmalade Fabrics. I won a half-yard bundle of Kona Modern Quilts in the Pacific colourway. Isn’t it lovely?

I think this will turn into a teen-ish boy quilt for my local Project Linus group. I’m inspired by this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts, and I’m thinking Kona Ash for the sashing…

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Squares within squares

Or rectangles, more precisely. It’s been a week of them. I’m quilting away at my placemats. Thank goodness there are only 6 of them – I think doing the same thing more than 6 times in a row is my limit for going bonkers!

I’ve done all the middles, with 3 concentric rectangles. They’ve turned out pretty nicely. Half of the mats have a red back, and half have a gold back, so I used bobbin thread to match the back. It worked better than I feared – not too much show-through on the front at all!

Next are the gold borders. I was toying with the idea of FMQ some swirls, but I’ve never done FMQ before and I’ll be staring at these mats every day, every mealtime. I’d rather save my first wonky stitches for something I’ll be scrutinising less often! Instead, just one rectangle, at a different spacing to the centre, matching threads to front and back again. I’ll have that done this week, but they probably won’t be bound, because tomorrow is my first day back at work! Exciting 🙂

In other rectangular news, I also whipped up a batch of ‘reusable kitchen roll’. I cut squares from old t-shirts and zig-zagged the edges. Voila, small, light cloths for small kitchen tasks which can be washed and reused. I don’t have a photo of these (bad blogger!), but imagine a pile of t-shirt squares carelessly zig-zagged in a casual ‘using up random thread’ colour scheme!

I’ll leave you with a shot from our weekend trip to the Yorkshire Dales. So pretty, and so relaxing. Just what we needed!

Linking up, as always, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Rebecca this week.

A finished skirt!

Yep, green skirt has gone from WIP Wednesday to Finished Friday!

It fits and everything! I’m thrilled with it 😀


Random cotton knit from the by-kilo bins at Abakhan. I think I had about 1.6 metres. No pattern. I just drew around a skirt I own and love, and added a seam allowance. I sort of figured out the waistband as I went (leading to a bit of learning by trial and error). Side seams and hems were super easy. My vintage machine doesn’t have fancy stretch stitches, so I just used zig-zag and it was fine.

I love this fabric. It’s something I would definitely have ignored in a clothes shop, but it jumped out at me in the fabric store. The pattern reminds me of a wrap skirt my mum had in the late 70s/early 80s in red and black.

Waistband shenanigans meant I gave up fighting my machine for one seam and hand-sewed. I used this tutorial to do herringbone stitch, a stretchy handsewing stitch. Troubleshooting my machine’s skipped stitch issues also meant I learned how to adjust my machine’s timing, which was a groovy bonus 🙂

Next time I’ll make the waistband a little narrower. I used 40mm elastic and it kind of sticks straight up at the front – my tummy, on the other hand, doesn’t. I think narrower elastic will fix that. And oh yes, there’ll be a next time! Sewing clothing was much easier than I feared! I’ve got a t-shirt pattern to try out next, on some lovely purple stripey jersey.

My biggest reason for a Whoop Whoop this week is more personal. I started quilting and sewing just a few months ago (back in May, just before I started this blog). I was very bored; I’d been off work ill for a couple of months and needed something creative I could do at my own pace. I’ve knitted for years, but I was giving myself tendon problems by sitting and knitting all day!

My illness is nothing major or life-threatening, just some incredibly painful complications from a simple little operation at the beginning of the year. And now, finally, I’m well enough to go back to work! There’s my WHOOP WHOOP! I’m not fully recovered yet, but enough to get back to the office next week. I’m so happy to be going back to my work and my colleagues. Even with quilting, I’ve been so bored stuck at home!

The best thing is, I’ve gained an addictive new hobby. Quilting has occupied my time and my brain, and given me a great deal of pleasure, both from the finished items and from learning something new. I’m even starting to learn how to sew clothes, something I’ve dreamed about for years but had written off as ‘too complicated’. It will take some adjustment to figure out how to fit sewing and quilting time into my back-at-work schedule, but I’ll make it happen. I love the sewing too much to stop 🙂

But first, we’re celebrating my return to health with a little weekend away. Peaceful countryside and some good food, what could be better?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a WHOOP WHOOP!, and TGIFF over at Mama Love Quilts this week.

WIPing along

Progress is a little slower this week, but I won’t complain – last week was exceptional and I did have a day at the Olympics on Sunday (men’s basketball final – fabulous!).

My skirt now has side seams and a hem. I’m finishing off the waistband at the moment. Yes, I know, wrong order, long story. We had a bit of a ‘disagreement’ and I put the partial waistband in time out while I did the hem. I could have done 3 waistbands by now, with all the ripping and re-sewing! With luck and a prevailing wind, it’ll be done today.

My placemats are basted, too, and all ready for quilting. I just need to decide what to do with them. Probably some echo quilting in the centre rectangle – I want to keep it simple.

I’ve got a stack of old t-shirts I’m going to cut up and hem for reusable ‘kitchen roll’ in the kitchen, too. Shouldn’t take too long (famous last words!). Hmmm. Perhaps this is why my To Do list never gets any shorter – I keep adding new things!

Linking up, as ever, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Cindy this week.

Captain ProductivePants!

What a week! So much done, and so many new things learned.

Sheets and pillowcases – not scary! (I had no idea there was more than one kind of seam). Bags (and a bonus basket) – also not scary! That’s four finished objects right there (five, if you count both pillowcases).

And works in progress, too. I said I wanted to make some placemats on Wednesday. Well, as of Thursday evening, I have 6 pieced placemats, 6 backings cut, 6 sets of wadding cut, and 6 sets of binding, all ready to go. Next step, basting and quilting!

I also said I wanted to make a skirt. Here’s how it looked on Thursday afternoon:

All cut out and ready to go. I winged the pattern (I drew around my favourite skirt and added a seam allowance). At bedtime Thursday, it looks like a skirt! I need to sew down the waistband and hem it, and then I have a new skirt! Woah! There must be something in the water, or I’m drinking way too much caffeine 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict, for my well-earned Whoop Whoop!, and with Blossom Heart Quilts for this week’s TGIFF.