Hi there Explore Quilt-A-Long quilters! Welcome back to the Explore Quilt-A-Long! If you are just now hearing about it, click this link to read all the initial details, find out how to get the Explore quilt and pillow pattern for FREE, and see the whole list of amazing prize sponsors!
We are just now starting Week 3, but if you have not yet started your quilt I just want to say that it is OK to start now! It’ll be super quick to “catch up” to the Quilt-A-Long pace. Week 1 included picking out your fabrics and Week 2 was cutting them – both of which can be pretty quick!
If you have made a simple garment or two and want to tackle some bigger challenges, then this post is for you! This post is also for you if you’ve been sewing other things (like quilts!) for a little while and want to put those sewing skills to the test! I’m going to walk you through some new skills to learn how to sew your own clothes!
I started getting a lot more into sewing garments earlier this year after being super inspired by #MeMadeMay. If you aren’t familiar with #MeMadeMay, it’s when people deliberately wear homemade clothing as much as possible during the month of May and get to share their creations with the world! I was very inspired by all the beautiful garments I saw and just HAD to get started!
The first garment I sewed for Me Made May was my Peplum Top which you can read about here, and then I kept the garment sewing going by making myself a Molly Dress, re-vamping my wardrobe by altering some of my own clothes, and then even made a little girl dress too! Eventually I decided that I really should compile some of my garment tips and tricks into one place for you so I posted Tips for Beginning Garment Sewing. This post is a follow-up to that one, so go ahead and read my initial tips to learn how to sew with Rayon and some of the tools I love to use.
The fabric I used for this top is called Flower Toss in pink. It is part of the Rollakan collection by Cathy Nordstrom for FIGO Fabrics.
Today I want to share with you about the process of making my pink Gelato Blouse. This super comfortable, transitional summer-to-fall blouse fits perfectly into my current wardrobe and is already one of my absolute favorites for wearing to work! The Gelato Blouse Pattern features a couple slightly trickier techniques that make it perfect for an intermediate project. You’ll see this top has lots of ruffles, lots of buttons, and has sleeves, which I was actually scared of until I made this top!
Before I dive into my tips to master these skills, be sure to read about my Tips for Sewing with Rayon if you are using rayon for your project!
Tips for Sewing Ruffles
Ruffles are actually pretty easy and I probably could have shared these tips earlier in my beginner blog post, but the top I made to show off on that one did not have any ruffles so I left it out. The key in sewing gathers is to sew slow and accurate!
Using a contrasting thread color, sew a large basting stitch (I use the largest stitch size my machine has) 3/8″ away from the edge of the fabric, then go back again and sew another line at the 5/8″ mark. Be sure to leave long tails of thread on both sides of the stitches so you can gather
Grab both TOP threads and start to pull gently, careful not to break the thread but firm enough to make the fabric gather together.
Play around with your gather placement for a little while. You’ll want to make it as even as possible, which is harder than it looks!
Before sewing your gathered piece to the garment itself, I like to stitch another line using normal stitch length at the 3/8″ mark (over the first line you stitched). I find doing this extra step helps the gathering stay where you want it)
Tips for Sewing Buttons
I never would have tackled buttons if it weren’t for my amazing sewing machine. My HUSQVARNA VIKING machine actually has an automatic buttonhole foot that makes it a total breeze! I’m here to say though that you do not need a super fancy machine in order to succeed at making a button hole or sewing on the buttons!
Regardless of what your machine is, be sure to look through the owner’s manual to find out what features your machine includes when it comes to button sewing.
Next, go to the good ole’ google machine and search for some videos of people using making buttonholes on your specific make or model of sewing machine.
Practice a few time on scraps of your fabric that you’re using on your garment. If the place on your garment where you’ll be putting the buttonhole is 2 layers of fabric and one layer of interfacing, then create a practice piece with the same layers to give you the most “real” practice experience.
Lastly, you’ve got this! I believe in you! You’ll be a button pro in no time!
When sewing on sleeves, you will want to go slow and be very careful not to gather too much or too little. Your pattern will likely allow for a tiny but of gathering, and will show you how to match them up to the bodice, so each sleeve is even.
When getting ready to sew on your sleeves, I recommend pinning very carefully, and then sewing it on with a large basting stitch just as if you were doing the real thing. Basting stitches are much easier to take out just in case you don’t love how it looks the first go around. Once your sleeves are basted on, try the shirt on and see how it looks. Are the sleeve ladies even? Are there any accidental holes or puckers? Once everything looks satisfactory, go ahead and sew right on top of your basting stitch with a smaller stitch length. Ta-da, your sleeves are now done!
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Are you considering buying a new sewing machine? Maybe you’ve been having the itch to learn how to sew for a while now and you just want to dive in by getting your very first machine, or maybe you are gaining experience and are looking to upgrade! Whatever the case, I am here to help guide you towards finding the best machine for your needs!
As a sewist and a quilter, there are a few key things I looked for when sewing machine shopping, and even some features that I wasn’t particularly looking for but I turned out to love SO MUCH! so are you ready to find out the Top 5 Best Sewing Machine Features?!
You might already know this about me, but I am a total HUSQVARNA® VIKING® fan. My very first machine was a HUSQVARNA® VIKING® EMERALD that I got for my 16th birthday and I’ve been obsessed with this brand ever since. The machines are total workhorses and have tons of unique design features with the sewist in mind! I recently upgraded to the HUSQVARNA® VIKING® DESIGNER BRILLIANCE 80 machine and I am pleased to announce that this machine has all 5 of these amazing features and so. much. more.
Hi there Explore Quilt-A-Long quilters! I hope you’re having fun as we get started making this quilt! I designed this quilt pattern to be beginner friendly, and if you are just now hearing about it, click this link to read all the initial details, find out how to get the Explore quilt and pillow pattern for FREE, and see the whole list of amazing prize sponsors!
Ever since Lo & Behold Stitchery released her Vintage Lace Quilt Pattern I have had my eye on it! I love the delicate, modern vibes and all the negative space in it, and I knew it would be the perfect quilt to do with solids. I had a busy summer but am thrilled I finally got around to making this gorgeous quilt!
Welcome to the Explore Quilt-A-Long! I hope you’re as excited to make this quilt together as I am to host it! I designed this quilt pattern to be beginner friendly, and if you are just now hearing about it, click this link to read all the initial details, find out how to get the pattern for FREE, and see the whole list of amazing prize sponsors!
Although I’ve technically been sewing since middle school, the large bulk of my sewing experience has been quilting. My grandma taught me to quilt and it’s been a huge way I’ve gotten to bond with her. I recently have a new-found love for garment sewing, and I just can’t stop dreaming up what my next me-made garments will be! Earlier this year I was inspired to make something with some Rifle Paper Co. rayon and made a Peplum Top which you can read about here . That project has kicked off quite a few fun, homemade garment projects!
Since making that Peplum top, I’ve also made a baby girl’s dress and a few other pieces for my wardrobe, which has inspired me to help teach more quilters (or total sewing beginners!) how to get started with garments! Let’s dive in as I walk you through the process of making this tank top!
The day is finally here and I get to officially release my first quilt pattern to you all!
I designed this quilt to be easy enough for anyone at any level, so if you’ve never made a quilt before, this is a great place to start! If you’ve been quilting for years, I am sure you’ll have fun making the Explore Quilt too! You can choose from 3 sizes: Pillow, Baby, and Throw! I’m toying around with the idea of scaling down even further to make a mug-rug size. Would you be into an extension pattern for some tiny piecing?
Oh and by the way, this is also the launch of my very first newsletter! Yay! Sign up today so you can be in on the very beginning! When I start sending them out, please do share feedback with me about what you like/don’t like/want to see more of!
Have you heard that I will be hosting a QUILT-A-LONG for the new Explore quilt pattern? (I’ve been talking all about it on my Instagram!)
I have planned for the Explore Quilt-A-Long to be super laid back in terms of time commitment, so anyone can do it. I want to let you know we are going to make this thing in its entirety from START to FINISH during this QAL! I am not about unfinished projects! But do not worry, the Quilt-a-Long will be spread out through 7 weeks to make sure we all have plenty of time to finish!
What you need to know about this QAL timeline:
Like I said, we are taking things SLOW. I have things set out in a neat weekly timeline, but some things may actually take more or less time for you. For instance, if you plan on doing tons of intricate hand quilting, you might want to get started on the hand quilting a little early. I am 100% all for working at your own pace, but if you want to be entered to win prizes, you’ve just gotta be careful to post your photos during the correct week!
Oh that’s right, there will be PRIZES!
Each week we will have a prize or two, courtesy of some amazing sponsors! To be entered to win the prize, simply post the corresponding picture for that week’s prompt on Instagram using #ExploreQAL and make sure you register for the QAL at this link here. I will draw each winner at the end of each week, the morning that the next prompt begins. All the prize info will be sent out in the weekly Quilt-A-Long emails you’ll get when you register.
Here’s a shoutout for some of our sponsors! Go check them out!!
This sewing machine is an amazing work horse and lightweight enough for you to take it with to sewing groups and classes; I actually learned to sew on an EMERALD and still have the one my parents gave me for my 16th birthday! I would recommend this machine to anyone, which is why I’m so thrilled that I get to give one away!
But Emily, does it really take 8 weeks to make this quilt?
It actually can come together really fast! One of my pattern testers actually made the baby size quilt with HAND QUILTING in less than 3 days, so if you want to go ahead and sew faster than this QAL timeline, go for it! Just remember that to be eligible for the grand prize, you MUST post pictures for the weekly prompt DURING that week!
Without further ado, I want to show off to you the beautiful & creative ways my pattern testers made their own Explore pillows and quilts! I hope these inspire you and give you ideas for what your own will look like!
Do you know Brittany from @Loandbeholdstitchery? If not, you need to start following her! She designs and writes incredible patterns. Brittany’s grandma Lois was a quilter too and passed down her enthusiasm for this great art. I love this about Brittany/Lois because, I too, come from a quiltin’ grandma!
A few months ago Brittany came up with this awesome way to honor grandma Lois by starting to release patterns that are inspired by her own work: the Lois Quilt Collection. The first pattern to release as part of the collection was the First Gift Quilt, which I loved so much that I made TWO! (Click here to see them!) And now the second pattern inspired by grandma Lois is Model Farm! You can read Brittany’s story behind the quilt design here!