Sewing with Liberty

I’ve had several requests to do a post about sewing with Liberty of London fabric, so today I’m giving you a rundown of tools and techniques that will make the process easy peasy, and you won’t need to feel nervous about cutting into your precious lawn!

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What is lawn anyway?

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Liberty tana lawn is a lightweight, tightly woven cotton fabric that often features very detailed and colorful floral motifs. The threads are very fine, and the material is quite supple and flowy. Liberty tana lawn is best friends with Free Spirit solid voile, which makes for a great lining for garments or pairing for a quilt.

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You may also combine Liberty with something like double gauze, like I did here with this quilt I made for Layla. While the materials are quite different, they are both lightweight and together they made a beautiful pair! I simply prewashed the double gauze which has a very loose weave in order to avoid any uneven shrinkage between the two.

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Liberty also goes well with chambray and even standard quilting weight cotton. Lawn doesn’t have noticeable shrinkage, so if you are using something heavier or with a looser weave, I definitely recommend prewashing.

I use a fine needle when sewing with Liberty so as not to break any of the threads. I’ll often use a 70/10 universal needle, but I’ll move to something larger if I’m pairing my lawn with a heavier fabric. Thread wise, I’m quite particular. In my ordinary sewing, I just use a Coats and Clark mega roll of white all-purpose thread, which I believe is cotton. I do not use this with Lawn, because the thread is thicker than the threads that the lawn is made of and it often causes puckering. I’ve found that 40wt Aurifil is the perfect thread for Liberty. Its similar in weight, and causes zero puckering.

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If I am machine quilting, 28wt Aurifil is the way to go. Though 40wt works well for quilting, I like my stitches to stand out a bit more, and the 28wt is heavier, but still will not cause puckering. (above picture is 28wt, and picture below is 40wt).

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Anyway, I’m not an “Aurisnob”, or anything like that, I just use Aurifil with Liberty because I think superior fabric calls for superior thread, and together they make for an exceptional combination.

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Liberty is the perfect woven fabric for garment sewing. Its my go to brand because of its quality, and the diversity of prints offered means I could have an all Liberty wardrobe and no one would be the wiser.

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As I mentioned before (and a bajillion other times if you’re a regular reader here), Liberty’s perfect match is Free Spirit solid voile. I line every single garment I make with Liberty with Free Spirit solid voile, because they are nearly identical fabrics. When combined, they act as one fabric and there is no weird shifting due to differences in the cloth. Additionally, you still have a lightweight garment when pairing these two.

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I also used Liberty with solid voile to make this quilt.

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When piecing tana lawn, I still use 40wt Aurifil. Just because no one sees those stitches doesn’t mean they won’t see puckers, so stick with the good thread throughout your sewing. I press seams to one side, and rotate between rows so that my seams “lock” together. I don’t always do that, but with such a lightweight fabric, you don’t notice extra thickness at the seams when doing this.

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Liberty is also very hand quilting friendly! I’ve hand quilted many a quilt with my go to Perle cotton (size 8) with great success.

I should also mention, if I’m sewing a garment or if I’ve made a quilt, I’ll overlock seams that will be exposed, even if they’re only exposed for a while. So if I’m attaching a bodice and skirt that will eventually be covered because I’m hand sewing the lining down, I’ll overlock that seam to avoid any amount of fraying. Liberty doesn’t have a terrible amount of fraying, but why let it unravel at all? Likewise, when I’ve finished a quilt and attached binding to the front but I’m still waiting to hand sew it down in the back, I’ll overlock all the way around the quilt to avoid useless fraying. Many people would say that is overkill, but I just look at it like this: I’m using a really high end, expensive fabric to make this and I very much want it to outlast me, therefore, I’m going to take any precaution I can to ensure the long life of this item.

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I’ll also throw in here that I don’t ever use scissors to cut fabric. Anything that needs to be cut can be done with a rotary cutter- even curved pieces. If you feel that you can cut with scissors with zero shifting and total accuracy, go for it. I know I’m not that talented, so I avoid uneven pieces by cutting swiftly with my rotary cutter.

Liberty tana lawn is not at all difficult to sew with. I honestly believe that with the right tools, and patience you can do anything you want to do with it. I think much of the fear and anxiety about sewing with Liberty is due to the cost of it (approx $36yd/mtr), and we just don’t want to mess it up. If you think through your project and come into it prepared, you’ll have great success and a beautiful item to boot! Liberty is so exquisite and refined, but don’t let that scare you away from owning it and adding bits of it to your wardrobe and home!

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If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. I’ll answer it to the best of my abilities. I’d love to hear about your Liberty projects as well! I hope this has been helpful, and more than anything, I hope its given you the gumption to dig into your Liberty stash and make something beautiful.

If you don’t own any Liberty, I highly recommend checking out Jones and Vandermeer. I purchase most of my Liberty from them as they have a wonderful selection of prints, but they also have the best prices. They’re the only company I know of in the states that gives you a whole meter for $36! Go check them out and have fun! :)

-Meredith

Queue for the Zoo Quilt

I had the immense pleasure of working with one of my all time favorite Liberty prints once again over the past couple of weeks. A client requested a custom quilt with this Queue for the Zoo Liberty fabric as the “theme” print, and I went from there.

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I paired it with this metallic dot from Dear Stella, some Handcrafted and Sunprint from Alison Glass, some voiles from Anna Maria Horner, and of course, some other coordinating Liberty prints.

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I spent much of last week quilting it, and really trying to draw out that bright purple, which is her favorite color.

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Alison Glass’ Bike Path print made for the perfect binding! The color is spot on, and I love that it really pops.

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I’m finishing up another hand quilted quilt for Market next week. Its taking much longer than I initially thought it would because it turns out that I get very little accomplished when Wallace takes two naps a day totaling one hour. I’m praying that changes! I NEED that boy to rest. :)

Anyway, if all goes according to plan, I have lots to share with you this week, including a post on sewing with Liberty. It can be really intimidating to cut into such a beautiful (and expensive) fabric, but with the right notions and careful planning, you’ll do just fine! Then you’ll have to convince yourself to tone down all the Liberty sewing.

Did you have a great long weekend?

-Meredith

Pleated Lawn Dress

I’m beyond thrilled to show off today’s dress! I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited about a handmade finish.

My sister, Emilee, is my best friend. We understand one another on a level other people don’t want to go. :) We trade off on lunch, shopping, and other things, and I think that’s way more fun than splitting things right down the middle. She does most all of the photography for this here blog of mine, and I’m so grateful to her for that. Emilee has lent me some major talent. I like to get her back when I can, and this time I made her a new dress with some seriously gorgeous Cotton + Steel lawn from Sarah Watts.

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I dreamed up this dress months ago, but it was one of those things I wanted to turn out so perfectly, it just stayed in my head. I was afraid to pull the trigger for fear of failing, or at the very least, not meeting my own expectations. When I finally worked up the gumption to begin making the bodice, I was just tickled to see that my idea was working!

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Do you love the pleated top?!

I’m completely obsessed with it! After completing the bodice, I was seriously considering “losing” this dress and making her another one. You can see that didn’t happen, but I would be lying if I told you it was for any reason other than her prodding me to be finished with it now.

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The contrasting waistband gives the dress a nice pop. I love that this print came in two colors. The waistband is regular quilting weight cotton, while the rest of the dress is lawn. I lined it with Free Spirit solid voile. Big surprise!

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Because of the structure of the top, I thought the skirt really needed some bounce and movement. I decided to make an *almost* circle skirt like I did on this dress, and it seems to be a perfect fit!

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But look at the hem. Mmhmm. Is that not delicious? What you’re seeing there is some gorgeous Aurifil stitched into a cross stitch by my Janome. My 1997 Janome. So glad they thought to include this beautiful stitch back then. I mean, its a really close race between the pleated top and the embroidered hem as to which one is my favorite feature of this dress.

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Isn’t she beautiful? I love my sister so much, and I’m glad she loves her new dress. She certainly deserves it. I’m glad something as special as this gets to live in her closet, which I get to raid from time to time. :)

-Meredith

Handcrafted + Liberty : A New Tunic

I have another Handcrafted project to share with you today! I got the privilege of working with Alison’s upcoming line once again, and this time I paired it with Liberty.

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This tunic, which is actually my next pattern, was perfect for showcasing Handcrafted and adding that pop of Liberty.

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These two fabrics play so well together. Perfectly, in fact! The weight is nearly identical, and they are both of such beautiful quality.

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Don’t you think the detailed Liberty complements the minimalist design of Handcrafted so well? I cannot get over how much I love them together!

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I’ll certainly be making a quilt with Handcrafted and Liberty once yardage is available. Did you know you can preorder this new line directly from Alison. It will be out any day. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a whole bundle, she has the whole line available in 10″ cuts. I have a feeling once you see it in person, you’ll want as much of each fabric as you can get!

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This fabric is totally new. Alison and Andover really have come up with something special in Handcrafted. The process of making this fabric is entirely by hand, and quite unique. Alison has written up a few posts detailing the process and introducing the fabrics which you can read on her blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Meredith

Modified My Belle : Juliana Horner

After making one My Belle with a button down bodice, I just had to have another!

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I made this one with two prints from Juliana Horner’s Homestead collection which I absolutely love! In fact, as soon as I laid eyes on this blue print, I knew I needed a few yards just for a dress.

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Wow, that rebellious section of bangs is super annoying. :/

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Unlike the other dress I made with a button front, this one has a standard gathered skirt, whereas my last dress had an almost circle skirt. Since this one is regular quilting weight cotton, I thought it would handle this cut better than a skirt that was meant to be flowy.

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In case you don’t already know, the My Belle dress is a pattern from Alexia Abegg’s book, Liberty Love. Its my all time favorite craft book because every single project is useful and gorgeous. This is probably the tenth dress I’ve made with this pattern in a year’s time, so if you are looking for a great classic dress pattern, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Liberty Love. You can click here to get a copy from Amazon (where I get a couple of cents toward the purchase of another book), or you can head over to Jones and Vandermeer, and while your there you can load up on fabric and every other kind of crafting goodness! They have the most amazing selection of Liberty at the best price for a whole meter!  20141001-DSC_0033

The other dress I was working on is really something. That Cotton + Steel lawn is utterly gorgeous by itself, but just wait until next week when I get to show you the dress I made for my sister. Its going to be really difficult to hand off! But before I get to share that, I’m excited to show you a top I got to make for Layla that will be making an appearance at Market!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Meredith

Back at it

Thank you guys so much for your kind words of encouragement the other day. I guess we probably all have days of self doubt. The important thing is to just keep going. I started sewing because I thought it would be fun and rewarding to make something with my own hands. I kept sewing because I fell in love with this beautiful skill set, and it quickly became my passion. One day of self doubt, one little pity party, isn’t going to put out that flame.

I worked all weekend on three different garments which I’m excited to show you starting tomorrow, but I thought today I would give you a little peak at what I’m working on this very moment.

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A client of mine requested a custom quilt for her daughter using Liberty’s Queue for the Zoo as the main fabric. Again with this quilt, I got control of the design, and I’ve already gotten started. We worked together on the fabric choices, and I’m so thrilled with what we were able to come up with!

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Tracking down a cut of this fabric was no small feat given its insane popularity, but praise the Lord, I was able to find enough to make this quilt! Queue for the Zoo is one of my all time favorite Liberty prints, and I’m just tickled to be able to work with it again!

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I can’t wait to show you the finished quilt! Pop back in tomorrow to see one of the dresses I made this weekend.

-Meredith

Portrait of my day

I’m so happy to be able to have a day to fit in a little bit of selfish sewing. I thought I was going to lose my sewing mojo after yesterdays Crafters for Courage auction. My quilt went for $250 which after the cost of materials put my hourly rate at a whopping $2. That hurt. Like a lot. I didn’t care that I wasn’t actually making anything. After all, I donated for a reason. But I went big thinking the girls would get a big return from it.

Determined to do something to get my mind off of my feeling of worthlessness, I woke up this morning ready to accomplish something. Because the truth is, most of the world has zero clue what goes into anything that’s handmade. Most of the time when I sell something I don’t make what I could doing a minimum wage job. That’s why I don’t sell many ready made things. I much prefer to do custom work where I get sought out because, presumably, that means whoever it is that wants a handmade item already knows that they like my style and the quality of the work I do.

Anyway, that was a giant rabbit trail, but I’m getting back into what I love today for the purest of reasons: because I love sewing, and I love the result, and I appreciate my own work. That sounds incredibly selfish, but who better to understand the work than the person doing it? I’m finishing up the tunic for Layla that I cut yesterday, and I’m starting on new dresses for me and Emilee.

Emilee’s is a brand new dress style I’m trying out in this gloriously soft Cotton + Steel lawn from Jones and Vandermeer.

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Mine will be made with these favorite prints from Juliana Horner. Mine will be similar to this Liberty dress I made a few weeks back.

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What are your thoughts on buying and selling handmade? Do you sell? Do you actually charge for the amount of work you’re doing, or do you tend to sell yourself short? I’d really love to know. I’m struggling to understand how anyone that is willing to undercut themselves can feel good about the work they’re doing. No judgment here. Just want to understand your perspective!

Have an amazing and fulfilling weekend!

-Meredith

Catching up and a great cause

I haven’t been able to get good pictures all week because we’ve had nothing but heavy grey skies. I’ve still been hard at work however. I received a custom order from a good customer for a blanket. She chose the main fabric, and I had total freedom on what to do from there. The quilt front is flannel, the back in Shannon cuddle, and the binding is a Free Spirit solid voile – so basically its the softest thing I’ve ever made. Its been such a fun project, and I’m thrilled to be sending it off all the way to Bahrain today!

This morning I cut into some Liberty + Alison Glass Handcrafted to make a little something for Market. I cannot wait to show it off!

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I also wanted to give you a heads up about a really great auction going on right now. It was a short one, and it will be ending soon, so there’s not much time. Crafters for Courage on Instagram (@craftersforcourage) is putting on an auction to raise funds for Courage House, a safe haven for young girls who have been rescued out of the slavery of sex trafficking. I’ll be the first to tell you I cringe even thinking about it, and my first reaction is to just want to pretend it doesn’t exist. But sadly it does, and there is this wonderful organization who is looking to raise money so they don’t have to keep turning away girls for lack of room.

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There are over 170 items up for grabs including pouches signed by Anna Maria and Heather Ross, Cotton + Steel key fobs and pincushions, an Opposites Attract Quilt, a geranium dress, lots of jewelry, Heather Ross and Liberty jelly rolls, hoop art, and tons of other great items.

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I’ve donated this hand quilted Soul Blossoms quilt which has over 50 hours of labor into it.

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I’d love to see some of these higher value items bring in good money for this organization which has done and will continue to do so much for women in need of real help. Won’t you head over to their Instagram feed and bid? Bidding ends at 2pm EST/11am PST. @craftersforcourage

-Meredith

Lady Killer

Wallace shall hereafter be referred to as the Lady Killer.

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I’m just going to go ahead and warn you: this is a picture filled post. I hope you don’t mind too much.

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I have no clue what’s on Layla’s teeth, but I think Papa gave her candy.

He is a drooly little man, but now that he’s teething, its only gotten significantly worse. I’m swapping out bibs three times a day because he’s soaking through them so quickly. I knew I didn’t have enough here to last the few days we were out of town, so before we left, I whipped up several of these bandana bibs which do an amazing job of soaking up drool and spit up.

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This black and white bib is made with Alison Glass’s Sunprint Feathers in black and Chambray Union Slubby Dot20140913-DSC_0067

This one is made with Chambray Union Slubby Dot and Muddy Works Stars double gauze. 20140913-DSC_0092 20140913-DSC_0080

How dapper does he look?

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om nom nom. Look at those legs! 

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I’m partial to this Liberty print and Chambray Dot bib. Its definitely my favorite of the bunch! Next in line has the be the one in the picture below. I can’t resist those Bostons on lawn!

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These are absolutely perfect for my little man. They do the job, and they’re so darn cute! I can’t wait to make more for him. I love the Liberty one so much, I’m not going to hold back this time. He’s getting a whole bunch in Liberty!

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A giant thank-you to Emilee for the pictures! You did an amazing job with this squirmy little four month old!

See you back here next week!

-Meredith

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I really enjoyed reading your comments about spending time with your children. They’re the most important parts of our lives, and taking that purposeful time to just do something with them is so crucial- and rewarding.

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This week we’ve taken a little time off from the normal schedule to go away for a few days with family. Its not been the most relaxing trip by a long shot, but its been as relaxing as taking a vacation with a four month old who won’t go to anyone but me can be.

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We’ve spent the last couple of days floating in the lazy river, and Layla has stolen her papa away to swing her until he feels like his arm is going to fall off. The rest of the time I’ve spent trying to coax Wallace to go down for a nap. Poor little man is frustrated that he can’t just get up and run around with Layla, and he gets so overstimulated that we need to get those naps in to refresh him. I keep telling him that’s its alright for him to be a baby, but I don’t think he’s buying it.

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Its been nice to get away from our normal scenery, but I am eager to get home to the husband and be in my own bed. And by the way, Layla would be in more pictures with me if she loved me as much as her grandpa. :) She loves me a smidge more, I think, but no one else exists when Papa is around.

Stop back by tomorrow to see the studliest little fellow modeling his new bandana bibs.

-Meredith