Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Mix and Match Print Fabrics for Sewing: Part 4

Welcome back!  If you missed the first three parts of this series, you can go back and check them out
at the links below.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Today we are going to look at fabric matches that don't work, and why they are not great choices.

First we will start with this brown fabric.

You can see that it has the right colors and it is a different scale from our base fabric.  So why doesn't it work?

As you can see the scale is VASTLY different. In my opinion, it is too much of a difference.  But, that is only the first thing that I find wrong with it.  The print in this fabric has these flourishes which are almost kind of a baroque thing.  It's much more of a classical feel to me and so that doesn't really fit with the vibe that our modern base fabric has to offer.

Then there is this pink houndstooth check.  Just wrong...

The check is, again, the right colors and the scale is better than the first example, but the feel is wrong, again.  When I think of houndstooth check, I am immediately thrown to the glamor gals of the 1960's era.  I specifically think of Jackie Kennedy for some reason.  So the retro essence of this fabric really doesn't match the modernness of the base fabric.

And our third example.  Once again the vibes of the fabric just don't go together.  I love this little aqua print, this fabric is totally me, but it doesn't go with our base fabric.  This print, while still modern, has a much more whimsical, childish feel to it than our base fabric.

So there you have it.  We have looked at choosing a base fabric, toning it down, livening it up, and what not to do.  Next week we will look at some practical suggestions as to how to gain some experience and get some practice with your fabric pairings.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Swhetty Betties Pattern Swap

A while back I joined a Facebook group called the Swhetty Betties.  It is a fun group of working designers who are really great at encouraging each other and supporting each other in our designing efforts. About a month or so ago, one of the "Betties" proposed that some of us do a pattern swap and post to our blogs about it.  I got paired with the very creative Lisa of Stubbornly Crafty  She made my Estherlyn's Jumper, and I made her Little Lamb Zippy Critters pattern.

Just look at how cute this little lamb zip pouch turned out!

I had a hard time deciding which fabrics to use as this would be very sweet in a multitude of fabrics.  It was simple to make so don't be afraid to try making one yourself.  I think this would be super adorable with a shoulder strap added for a little girl's purse for Easter.

Lisa has more patterns at her Etsy shop which are every bit as fantastic as this one so I encourage you to stop by and check them out.

Until next time,
Happy sewing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

How to Mix and Match Print Fabrics for Sewing : Part 3

Thanks for joining us here again for this fun series.  We are looking at mixing and matching print fabrics. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them at the links below and get up to speed with where we will pick up today.  

Making Choices for a More Bold Look

Today, lets look at some bolder pairings that will spice it up a bit.  For me, yellows, golds, oranges and hot pinks are very eye catching colors.  Using these colors will really punch up the look of your garment.   Notice that the swatch in the lower left corner once again echoes the centers of the dark pink flowers by using the orange and pink together.  Contrast between light values and dark values also add to the visual impact of these fabric combinations.  The gold dots in the center of the bottom row are really a medium value, but because it is an eye catching color, it really belongs with these bolder fabrics.  

Just so you can see that it really doesn't have to just be dots, here are some other pairings.  In these I picked up on the orange a little bit as well as the darker pink.   

So what if you really want to get crazy with it?  You could even do something like this.  The two prints on the ends are very similar in scale and feel and have many of the same colors, but they are broken up with this dot fabric in a color that appears in both prints.  Having a third print that is smaller in scale and more monochromatic gives the eye a place to land.  Without it, the two fabrics would compete for attention, but with it, the fabrics are drawn together and make sense. You will also notice that there are three different fabric values here, a light a medium and a dark.  This also helps transition from one fabric to the next.   

Bold pairings can sometimes present the biggest challenge, but they can also really pay off when done well. Don't be afraid to experiment and play with different sets of fabrics.  You might surprise yourself! 

Join us again next week when we explore some pairings that don't work and why they are not good choices.  

Until next time, Happy Sewing! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Mix and Match Print Fabrics for Sewing : Part 2

Welcome back to our series on mixing and matching print fabrics!

If you missed Part 1, you can go back and get caught up.

In Part 1, we discussed choosing a "base" fabric.  We examined it closely and studied the scale, the colors and the "vibe" that the fabric gives off and also talked about choosing an appropriate print for  your particular project.

Choosing Fabrics for a Softer Look

This is quite a bold print, so let's look at ways to soften it.  If I were wanting to tone this fabric down with other fabrics, I would probably choose to match some of the lighter colors.  To start with, I usually will look at a geometric print of some sort. Keep in mind that dots and stripes don't have to just be polka dots or circus tent stripes, they can be a variation as you will see in some of the examples.

I do have to add a disclaimer... for children's clothing, which is my main area of sewing, I LOVE polka dots.  I just think they have a playful feel in general and they pair great with almost anything.  Michael Miller's "Ta Dots"fabrics are among my favorites.  There is a very wide range of color combinations to choose from and you are almost guaranteed to find something to match your print.  The scale also is a good size to complement a lot of different fabrics.

Here is a simple pairing with a couple of different polka dot fabrics. Notice that the scale of these dots is considerably smaller than the scale of the base fabric. In one, the dots are placed further apart which brings in more of the pink color.  The other is a slightly lighter color with the dots placed closer together which gives the fabric a lighter presence.  Either of these fabrics would be a great choice, especially for a little girl who loves pink. (Or a mom who loves pink, too)

Here are some examples of what could be done if you chose to go with the aqua color to tone it down. You can see that some of the dots are not traditional polka dots, there is a chevron and even a more hand drawn type of print in the lower left corner.  If you look at the detail in the aqua flowers, the same type of idea is echoed in that print.  Echoing something in your base fabric is also a good way to bring cohesiveness to your fabric pairings.  

Another way of toning this fabric down might be to choose to pair with the brown that is in it.  This would bring out the earthiness of this print. Again non-traditional dots work wonderfully as well as traditional with the brown being the dots instead of the background. The oval fabric at the bottom also kind of mimics the shape of the petals of the brown flower.  

So, there you have seen some ways to soften the look of this fabric.  Next time we will look at some bolder fabrics that will make a bit more of a statement when used with this base fabric.

Until next time, Happy Sewing! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

How to Mix and Match Print Fabrics for Sewing : Part 1

On one of the Facebook groups I follow, a question was recently posed about how to mix and match fabrics.  Some of the people in the discussion seemed to think that it was just a talent that they didn't possess.  I'm here to tell you that that is just NONSENSE.  I truly believe that ANYONE can learn to mix and match fabrics if you learn a few basic tricks and give it some practice.

Over the next few posts, I thought I'd just share with you some of the tricks that I have learned through all of my years of "playing fabric" as I often like to call it.

I've broken this up into 5 different posts and I plan to share one each week with you.

Part 1: Choosing a "Base Fabric"
Part 2: Choosing Fabrics for a Softer Look
Part 3: Making Choices for a More Bold Look
Part 4: Fabrics That Don't Work and Why
Part 5: Other Considerations

Choosing a "Base Fabric"

I once heard someone on some HGTV show ages and ages ago talk about picking paint colors for a room by starting with an "inspiration piece" such as a pillow or a painting.  That person said to really look at the piece and pick out what colors were in it and to draw your paint color from one of the colors in the piece.  I figured if it works in interior design, it could work for fabric too.  Why not?

What I do when I decide to make a dress or an outfit is I usually pick a base fabric to start with. I have a love of floral prints and so mine is usually a floral print of some sort, but you could also use a novelty print and they work just as well.  Something like this works well:

There are a few things to consider when choosing your base fabric.
First, think about the application.  What will you be using this fabric to make?  Is it for a bag, is it a garment, is it for an adult, is it for a child?  Who will be using it?  What is their personality?

All of those things play into your initial fabric choice. A very large print like the one I have chosen for my example may not be the best choice for a baby or a very small child.  There are at least a couple of reasons for that.  Firstly, if you are sewing for a baby, remember that the pieces you are cutting out will be very small.  One piece may not encompass enough of the print to really show it off.  Secondly, large prints with a lot of colors tend to overwhelm a baby's features.  In short, you see the dress and not the child.  For a baby or a smaller child it might be better to choose a smaller scale print.

However, this fabric might be great for an older child or a teenager, maybe an adult or perhaps for a bag, pillow or other household item.

Whatever fabric you choose I believe that the same basic principles apply, whether it be a large scale like the example I will use here, or a smaller scale print that you might choose.

Here are those principles in a nutshell:

1. Choose your colors from the palette in your base fabric.
2. Vary the scale.
3. Find something to echo when you can.
4. Keep the "feeling" or "vibe" of your fabrics the same.

For my example I have chosen this Anna Maria Horner print.  I found all of the fabric swatches that I will use at I chose this one because there are really a lot of ways that you can pair this fabric.

Look closely at the fabric and see what colors are in it.  Also look at the lines and try to get a sense of the mood that the fabric gives off.

When looking at the fabric below... what do you see?

I see, first of all, that it is a very large scale print. I also see about 8 or 9 different colors.  There are two shades of both the aqua blue and the pink, there is also brown, gold, soft white, and even a tiny bit of orange if you look closely at the centers of the dark pink flowers.

Another thing that I see is the clean lines of the stems and flowers.  The edges are very crisp and there's no fuzziness to the print.  The vibe that this fabric gives off is a very funky, modern, almost Bohemian, but not quite, feel.  It isn't super "cutesy", but it is very feminine and there is a certain playfulness to it as well.  There is a lot of "motion" happening with the curved lines and the scattered flowers.

Once I have studied the base fabric for both the colors and the overall feel that the fabric gives then I can think about starting to choose coordinating fabrics.  This is a fabric that could either be played up or toned down depending on the fabrics that you choose to place with it.

In the next installment we will begin to look at pairings that will tone down the boldness of this print and soften the overall look and feel that it gives off.  Until then, I challenge you to choose your own "base" fabric to play with when we meet next time.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What I Want to Accomplish in 2015

Here it is January 1st... again.  It's time to look back at the last year and see just how I fared with the goals that I set for myself and look ahead to the coming year and where I would like to go from here.  

So, let's take a peek into the archives and see what actually happened as compared to what I hoped would happen.  I'm sure I'm in for a rude awakening! 

Goals for 2014:
For The Merry Church Mouse:
1. Create a multi sized PDF pattern and make it available here on the blog.  

In this, I feel like I did really well as I actually finished two patterns as well as a sew along for my Shoulder Tie Dress pattern.  

2. Explore my creativity by creating 6 completely different flips all from the same pattern.  

This sort of happened.  I did create 5 variations all based on my Shoulder Tie Dress, however, only 3 of them ever got photographed and wound up in blog posts as I had difficulty connecting with one of the moms of the girls who were set to model for me.  I might still do the other two come spring, I'll have to wait and see.  

3. Finish specific UFOs - dresses already cut out, strawberry feliz, and red, white and blue vida.

For this I came out so-so.  I did finish the strawberry feliz and the red, white and blue vida, but I didn't finish the other dresses that I have cut out.  

For my quilting:
1. Finish at least 6 unfinished quilts.

This is just plain laughable.  I got no where NEAR this much done.  I did make a little progress on a few of them, but done... um... no.  

2. Have at least 50 completed hexi flowers for my hexi quilt finished.

Again a bit laughable.  I have 14 and a half finished.

3. Begin work on a quilt for my niece, Lexi.

I got about a third of the scraps cut up into squares.  I plan to try and have the quilt finished by the time she graduates high school.  That gives me about another 4 1/2 years.  At the rate that I finish quilts these days, even that might be a challenge. 

4. Continue to use up scraps.          

I did use up a lot of stash this year and did use some scraps in some of the smaller projects. Like my Zippy Keepers bags. 

1. Blog at least 4 times per month. 

I had 62 posts for the year and that is more than one per week.  I do feel that I was slacking a little toward the end of the year. 

2. Finish a post which I have already started writing with a pattern that I would like to share.

This was never even touched. In fact I kind of even forgot about it.  It's a knitting pattern that I began writing last January.   

So what is ahead for 2015?  Hopefully better planning and more realistic goals to start! I am hoping to have a little better focus this year and to try and not feel overwhelmed by having too many things going all at the same time.  

So here is what I have set before myself this year. 

1. 4 patterns, one of which will be free
2. Quilt and bind 2 quilts and bind one additional quilt that has been waiting for far too long. 
3. Finish a quilt top for my cousin
4. Continue cutting scraps for Lexi's quilt
5. One pair of knit socks-- to finish the unfinished pattern from last year
6. 30 Hexi flowers
7. Blog on a more regularly consistent basis

I also hope to do more small projects this year.  I call them instant gratification projects.  Sometimes I need those to keep my motivation moving forward.  Having a lot of big projects sometimes gives me the sense of slogging through mud.  

As always, I also want to continue to stash bust and use scraps.  In addition, I would like to make more contributions to charity from my sewing.  Perhaps some dresses for Little Dresses for Africa with a call for other bloggers as well.  I also plan to do some more bandanas for St Jude hospital.  My cousin is a nurse there and she takes them and hands them out to her patients.  

What are your goals for the coming year?  Do you have big projects planned?  I'd love to hear about them!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Monday, December 8, 2014

On God, Creativity, the "Whys" and the "Why Nots"

I saw this Maya Angelou quote on Facebook a couple of months ago and it caused me to think.  I felt that it rang true with me.  I know that there are more ideas in my head than I will ever have time to pursue in an entire lifetime, and they just keep multiplying.  Sometimes it gets frustrating because I want to make "all the things", I want to design "all the things", I want to do "all the things", but I know that my time is limited.  Anyone else ever feel this way?  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

This quote caused me to think about creativity and its source and why it rings true with me.

If you have read my blog for a while, I hope it is evident that I am a Christian.  I believe in God.  I believe in Jesus and that His death on the cross is what brings the reconciliation to God that we need because of our sin that separates us from Him.  I believe that God is the Creator of the universe. Everything on this Earth was carefully and masterfully made by an ultimately creative Artist.  From every beautifully painted flower, to every rugged mountain, to the smallest delicate butterfly, to you and me, all has been created by Him.

Genesis tells us that God created mankind in His image, after his likeness.  What an honor!  I truly believe that every one of us reflects God in some way, whether we know it or not, whether we believe in Him or not.  We can't help it, we are made in His image.  I think that different aspects of Him are shown through different personalities, talents and abilities.  Guess what... I thinks that's pretty creative.

I think that God's creative nature resides within all of us.  You may not be artistically inclined, but that doesn't mean that you are not creative.  Maybe you are a good problem solver, maybe you are good at managing people, maybe you are good at organizing events, or crunching numbers to stretch your budget, or even organizing closets.  There are so many ways that we as humans are creative.

Until fairly recently, I have sort of wrestled with my own creative nature.  I have often thought "I have all of this creative ability, but what good is it?  How is it impacting eternity?  Why am I like this?".  I thought it needed to have some grand purpose, that somehow I needed to "use my powers for the good of mankind" or something.  Somehow, through all of that, I began to think that it was self indulgent to enjoy being creative. I began to think that it wasn't ok, that it was maybe a waste of time, time that had been given to me by God, time I should be spending doing nobler things.

I  heard a sermon  a few weeks ago that talked about just enjoying God, and that our enjoyment of Him brings Him glory.  It sort of struck a bullseye with me. Its OK to enjoy being creative. Really? Suddenly a lot of things made more sense.  By enjoying the creativity in my life, which is a reflection of God's nature, I'm enjoying Him.  As long as I acknowledge the source, the One from which the creativity comes, it's a form of praise.  I'm SUPPOSED to enjoy it.  What a revelation! What freedom!

Part of our purpose here on Earth is to bring glory to God and by doing so, draw others to Him.  Our time here is short and we have a lot to do while we are here.  Not long ago my husband and I watched a question and answer session on Netflix with man who is a film maker.  During the discussion he told about how his father died painfully and unexpectedly and how that impacted his view on life.  He spoke about how it inspired him to sort of recklessly follow his dreams, because life is short.  One of the things that impressed me was that he said to surround your yourself with the people who were the "why not?" type rather than the "why" type.  What he meant by that was to surround yourself with people who, when you express a creative idea, say "why not do it?" instead of people who just say "why would you want to do that?".

I want to be a "why not?" kind of person.  I want this blog to be a "why not?" kind of place. I want to inspire you to revel in the creativity that God has placed within you so that you can enjoy Him and glorify Him as well.

So if you are waffling about trying something new, I say to you, "Why not? What is there to lose? Try it!"  Maybe you will find that it is something that you truly love and you will wonder why you waited so long.  So what if you find it isn't for you?  Then try something else. Keep exploring.  It isn't a waste of time to find out that a certain activity isn't suited to you because you learned something about yourself that you didn't know before and you won't waste your time and energy wondering about it.

So go... do... be creative... follow what inspires you... :)