July 24, 2013


1 comment:

I adore how this folksy little baby quilt turned out and was so happy to hear the lovely parents-to-be enjoyed it too.

In a previous post, I covered the process of naturally dyeing some of the quilt colours. I love how understated the design is, its all like "hey baby" not all in your face like "HEY, CHECK IT OUT, DID YOU KNOW I AM TOTALLY FOR A BABY? CRAZY RIGHT?!".

Oh dear.

The quilt is backed with a hand-blocked cotton fabric made in India and available at Maiwa. I love the imperfections in the printing, it was the perfect compliment to this quilts handmade goodness.

I hadn't made this type of intricate quilt before and organizing the rows of colour to be in the right place at the right time was a little confusing. So there was a lot of numbering and quadruple checking before each trip to the machine but not without a little seam ripping. The alphabetized chart I've made for the pattern should make this process much easier.

I used Olympus brand sashiko thread for the quilting and wouldn't you know there is a wonderful local supplier of this rather specific item. Check them out, they are located in beautiful Gibsons BC, have great pricing and ship quick!

And just a bit more gratuitous quilt love.

I've never used a quilt pattern so I hope my rendition does the trick for most folks. Compared to clothing patterns I must say quilts are a cinch.

I didn't go into detail on creating and sewing binding as there are already so many great online tutorials. Here is one I used, I like Nancy Ellen because she does everything old school (OG). I chose to machine stitch the binding to the quilt front and hand stitch it to the back, just like Nancy.

Please download your Calico Diamond Quilt Pattern here!

Neil's friends introduced us to a super fabulous hike the other weekend to Marriot Lake near Pemberton, BC. This hike is like a secret nugget of gold so shhh, seriously, keep it down!

What a treat, you usually can't get these kinds of alpine vistas so close to the city, well relatively close, and the elevation was just right for a gal who hasn't run in months and practices intermittent yoga.

Happy sewing and happy summering!

xoxo Melissa

July 14, 2013



One of the most illuminating courses from my long ago postgraduate education was textile design.

I may have said it already but I LOVE FABRIC. I have a healthy respect for a well made piece of cloth. The content of a fabric is crucial but it certainly doesn't end there; the construction and finishing is what truly gives it, its sumptuous, forgiving and enhancing properties. Using plants creates a depth of colour you just can't achieve with synthetic dyes. There is just something about it.

I was inspired to return to natural dyeing when planning out my next quilt. I wanted to produce a less toxic, more natural and generally more human friendly baby quilt but I could not find solid colour organic quilting fabrics. After oggling Folk Fibers amazing quilts (if only I could sell a quilt for $4000) I decided to create the quilt using natural dyes. My plan was to use an organic base fabric but unfortunately and very disappointingly I could not find one so I opted for Snow coloured Kona cotton, my favourite off-white for quilts.

I picked up all the dye's at Maiwa which is a local store that sells a fantastic array of textile design supplies. Here is an inspiring guide to Maiwa's natural dyes and their indigo dyes. These guides will give you a thorough understanding of the process and how each dye must be handled uniquely.

When using natural dyes different colours are achieved through the complex combination of the type of mordant(s) used, amount of dye matter, length of steeping, layering of colours and even the temperature of the dye bath. After designing the quilt, of which I will share later, I realized I would need eleven colours, that's a lot! Hence the dork chart, aka colour coded Excel chart. Excel is an evil yet often necessary tool, at least the colour coding makes it pretty to look at.

Depending on the desired shade some colours get every bath like my attempt at black, as opposed to the light peach which was steeped in only three. As you can imagine the process took days but it was incredibly rewarding to see the colours progress. 

Watching the indigo oxidize is always a magical process.

And of course, like any good dyer, I kept a snippet of fabric from every step of the process to create a record for future endeavors.

I love the end results. It's like the colours are alive! Plus I get all romantic about preserving the use of ancient dye techniques. It makes me feel all, you know, connected and stuff.

Precautions need to be taken to not inhale any of the dye matters (ie. wear a mask, tie a piece of fabric around your face or at least hold your breath). Working with natural dyes still requires some harsher chemicals to help the dye adhere to the fabric; when preparing indigo one of them is lye. Super scary lye. Luckily you use minuscule amounts so a pair of gloves and careful movements will keep you safe.

Because I live in a rental box in the sky, and was not able to work in a garage or on the lawn on a sunny day, I took serious precautions to protect the kitchen from dye splatter. I covered almost all surrounding surfaces, including the incredibly porous white marble floors, with dropcloths. Yeesh.

In the end I was not able to achieve the black I needed for the planned design as it is a very difficult colour to accomplish with natural dyes. I am determined to try again though and think a super strong logwood bath with an iron mordant may do the trick. Because I wanted/needed/had to have black to complete the quilt vision I decided to buy it pre-dyed. Boo. But, hey I'll still give myself a pat on the shoulder.

Here are the final colours for the upcoming quilt.

And here is a sneak peek of the design coming together. Pretty!

We also recently took a camping trip to Whidbey Island. What a gorgeous place! I recommend it if you like amazing farmer's markets, historical forts, old-timey candy shops, alpacas and field filled vistas.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I know it's a pretty dry subject and the images not entirely appealing but I just enjoyed this process so much and wanted to share.

xoxo Melissa

July 09, 2013


shorts with free pattern

Summer is officially here, time to celebrate it with some shorts!

shorts with free pattern

The Jimmy shorts are lined and pleated with a loose fit. There are handy side pockets for introvert comfort, a fly zipper and a pant hook waist closure. They aren't high-waisted, I would call them a regular rise. The fit could be considered slightly "man-repelling" however they are certainly short enough to make up for it and I love a blouse-y short right now.

jimmy shorts with free pattern

I decided to try my hand on a bit of beading. I used silver glass beads and beaded over the fabric pattern. These shorts give such a lovely sparkle in the sunlight. The sparkle from glass is just oh, so much nicer than the sparkle from say plastic sequins. If you do try out some beading make sure to leave at least a 1" gap from any seams or areas of topstitching.

beading shorts

It took 10 hours to bead the two front and two back panels. Yikes. Luckily I was able to do about 2 hours of it with this lovely view. 

david lam park

This fuschia pair is made from a lovely breathable linen. You might recognize them from the previous Elise Tee post. Thanks for all the encouraging comments on getting this pattern out!

jimmy shorts with free pattern

What a catalogue shot.

jimmy shorts with free pattern

I have a greater understanding of why I created super simple patterns previously because this one took forever! Expect a return to simplicity.

jimmy shorts with free pattern

Happy sewing!

xoxo Melissa
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