Cut Layers Baby Blanket

Babies love texture right? I’ve been making so many quilts for little ones lately, and despite picking the softest cottons, I have been wanting to try something a little different. I happened upon a great tutorial for a multi-layered chenille blanket at Aesthetic Nest; it looked positively plush! I decided I had to give it a try.

I picked out a lovely floral pima cotton to be the front side of the quilt. For the underside layers, I chose flannel instead of chenille. Babies have to stay warm, right? I was also a bit puzzled by binding this creation (I usually use a mock binding on my quilts). After a bit of research, I decided to buy double fold bias tape, and used this tutorial as a guide.

In any case, I think it turned out great! Of course, it might be a bit warm for a California baby. But at least it’s soft!

Latin Dress Alteration

Dress as worn by Vlada Semenova
Dress as worn by Vlada Semenova

Dress before alteration
Dress before alteration

My latest project has been a Latin dress alteration. The dress, created by and originally worn by Vlada Semenova, is simply gorgeous. However, it made my friend, its new owner, a little nervous. It is designed to sit very low, and the last thing she wanted to worry about on the floor was a wardrobe malfunction of Super Bowl half time show proportion. The dress, as originally worn by Vlada, and by my friend, are at right.

We decided to bring the dress up to create a faux halter. So, I took the black fabric that was moving freely before and folded, tacked, and sewed it up to the the straps at about the neckline so that it created a halter style. I didn’t bring the fabric all the way behind the neck to avoid putting any weight there; the weight of the dress stayed in the straps as before. Then, to give the dress some balance and movement, I sewed rows of angled fringe across the top. I left the “keyhole” opening, but with the new halter and moving fringe, it was no longer so revealing. I also ended the fringe higher on the bodice than the black fabric had been, accentuating the tiny waist while keeping the movement on top.  She stoned the new top using Swarovski jet under the fringe, and added emerald to the top line of the dress, providing further balance with the green bodice and skirt.

Here’s how the alteration came out:

Dress After Alteration
Dress After Alteration
Dress After Alteration
Dress After Alteration

Yay for fun sewing! I love helping people make great dresses even better for them!

Happy V-Day

Happy Valentines Day, and also, Happy V-Day.  V-Day is a day of global awareness to end violence against women and girls.  A cause we can all get behind right? Lots of really amazing people already have, including the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. It’s even better because this year’s theme is dance.  In the words of Eve Ensler, V-Day’s founder,

Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, contagious, it breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere, anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it’s free. Dancing insists we take up space, we go there together in community. Dance joins us and pushes us to go further…

Couldn’t be more true. I hope everyone dances today, in celebration of life and in struggle for a safer world for all of us.

Watch the video created by the V-Day folks this year:

 

 

Hair Creations

Thanks to everyone at Yuletide Ball for the opportunity to do your hair! From classic curls to crazy swirls, I had a great time. For those of you that weren’t there, here are some pictures of my creations:

Merry Christmas from Denver!

As an e-response to my adorable little sister’s Christmas card on her blog, and a postcard to her (and all of you!) … here’s mine… Merry Christmas from Denver!

Check out those wicked cool legwarmers. They were hand-knitted by my awesome sister. Be sure to look at her blog for really good tutorials and other fun things.

Happy dancing, skating, or whatever fun things you are doing this holiday season!

 

Why we love ballroom

A dear friend in need of a bit of encouragement today asked me to remind her why we dance ballroom.  The answer flew off my tongue, surprising even me:

We love ballroom because it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

Simmer on that for a while. And do a rumba basic while you’re at it.

xoxo

Smooth Gown For Sale

This gorgeous smooth gown is now for sale!  Perfect for a petite dancer up to 5’4″ and under 125 lbs. It has a gorgeous heavily stoned belt and bodice. The skirt has layers of ruffles on each godet, is lightweight and slightly sheer. Accentuates a tiny waist and brings elegance to the floor! Comes with matching cuffs and choker. More photos are available in the project gallery. $1000. Contact me for more info!


Fabric Mecca: A Quick & Dirty Guide to New York’s Garment District for Dance Costumers

Oh the irony that once upon a time, I worked in Manhattan’s Garment District. In those days, I was studying hula, not ballroom, and I was making films, not gowns.  Go figure that now I long for that seedy neighborhood teeming with stores stuffed to the gills with bolts of fabric, buckets of appliqué, and rows of ribbon and lace that I used to hustle by on my way to lunch.  I am now destined to dart in for an hour on my way to or from the train when I am in the City for work trips.  It is so sad, but still, so fun.

I was in New York overnight today for a conference and had a spare two hours.  With no time to lose, I popped into my two favorite stores and brought home all the makings of my next Latin dress.  If you’re short on time, these places will have everything you need.

Start at Spandex House, at 263 West 38th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues). The downstairs level has highly organized patterned, vinyl, sequin, and other novelty stretch fabrics.  You’ll need to venture upstairs for the plain matte and shiny 4-way stretch you will probably want as the basis for a dance costume.  Upstairs is a different world, the bolts are never organized by color but at least by type (shiny vs. matte, lace vs. net etc). You are welcome to wander around and no one will bother you, but expect a surprisingly large team of employees cutting and packaging fabric for shipment and nearly running you over around every corner.  As soon as you pull a bolt down, someone will stop and ask you how much you want.  I always feel a bit rushed, but politely ignore their invitations to cut and purchase immediately until I know I have what I need. The prices are unbeatable, at $8/yard for a 60” bolt. If you have some extra time, you might want to comparison shop at the nearby Spandex World, at 228 West 38th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues).  I’ve found their prices to be comparable, but with a smaller selection.

 

     

This time I went in for turquoise.  I find it hilarious that at JoAnn Fabrics I’d be crazy to expect such a color, but at Spandex House I’m sifting through at least 10 hues. How blue? How green? How dark? How light?  You can see my top pics in the spectrum below.  After a lifeline call to my dance partner, we decided to go with a rich, blue-end turquoise.  I think it will read as bright on the floor, without being garish.

     

Your next stop is a trim store. If you have some time, wander the area. You’ll uncover all kinds of gems, and in the last year I’ve purchased from at least three stores I found this way. But if you only have an hour, go to B&Q Trim, at 102 West 38th Street (between 6th Avenue and Broadway).  They carry incredible appliqués, fringes, fabric flowers, and feathers.  You know you’re in the right place when the TV crew walks in a few minutes after you filming some fashion reality show (I’m sorry to say I didn’t ask them which one they were with). B&Q also has an incredible array of beads and stones (including Swarovski).  I cannot vouch for their rhinestone prices, but I would say they are on average a little more expensive than the other Garment District trim stores, so I expect their stones would be the same way.  The selection, however, makes up for the slight mark-up.

On this trip I came home with beaded fringe, two patterns of beaded appliqué, and a beaded trim.  It was a heck of a decision, and as I was running out of time I literally started to sweat.  The salesgirls though I was nuts but I came home happy.

     

Do you have a favorite New York fabric store? Where do you go for your dance wear projects?

Happy shopping!

 

The Double Trouble Stash Pack

My favorite couple in Arlington just had a pair of beautiful twin boys.  I met them yesterday when they were only 24 hours old.  They are sweet, tiny people.  But you know they’re going to grow into little troublemakers.  What are a couple of NoVa hipster kids going to need?  Mustaches.  And why wait until they are in their teens when Aunty Kate can get them going early?

The Double Trouble Stash Pack consists of the following amazing items:

  • Matching pacifiers with mustaches.  These incredibly hilarious things may be purchased from Babes To Grandmas’ Etsy Store.
  • Organic rice cereal AKA “Mustache Enhancer.”  This product should be used daily for best results.
  • Quilted bibs so the boys can eat in style.

Want to quilt your own bib?

This is a simple quilting project and great to use up that scrap fabric you have laying around.

To make your own, you will need:

  • Approximately 1 yard of coordinating quilting fabric (try 5-6 patterned fabrics – again, this is a great project for scrap!)
  • Matching thread
  • Thin cotton batting or terrycloth
  • Snaps, velcro, or ribbon to make the bib closure

Here are the detailed instructions:

1. Make a bib pattern.  If you happen to have a bib already, trace it onto paper to make your pattern.  If you don’t, Martha Stewart has a free printable pattern available.

 

 

2. Cut your fabric.  Be sure anything you use is pre-washed and dried.  To make a checkered look, I cut 1.5″ squares of a variety of coordinating fabrics.  You can use bigger squares to suit your taste.

 

 

3. Measure. Lay your pattern bib on a quilting mat and determine the maximum height and width of the bib.  Then organize your cut squares into rows, adding 3 squares in every row to account for seam allowance.

 

 

4. Sew, baby, sew. Using a straight stitch on your machine, connect the squares into rows. Use the smallest seam allowance you can execute accurately (I did 1/4″ on the bibs shown). Remember that the larger your seam allowance, the more extra squares you will need to add to each row, and eventually you’ll need to add another row, too. Don’t worry about backing up your seams. When you have all your rows completed, take a break and iron the seams open.  Then connect all your rows together so that you have one big quilted square.  Iron again.

5. Cut. Now pin your pattern to the quilted square. Cut it out.

 

 

 

6. Batting and backing. Choose either a thin cotton batting or terry cloth to fill out the bib.  Also pick your backing fabric.  Lay your backing fabric pattern side facing down. Lay the batting on top. You probably do not need to pin, but one or two never hurt.  Put your bib pattern on top of the batting and cut 1/2 inch minimum outside of the edges (that’s right! Make the batting and backing bigger than your original pattern).

7. Quilt. Get busy! Lay the layers together – first the backing (backing pattern side facing down), batting, and quilt top on top (pattern side facing up). Pin everything down. There are a ton of machine quilting options (examples here). I would suggest on this basic square pattern to simply “stitch in the ditch.” That is, using a matching thread and a straight stitch, sew in the seam lines of the rows of squares you originally put together. The idea is that the stitch is not visible on the top of the quilt, though a tufting effect is created, but it is visible on the backing. This technique is easiest when your squares and rows are lined up correctly in the first place.  Don’t beat yourself up if they don’t; relax and remember that this is a bib for a baby and it is meant to get dirty.  Plus an imperfect quilting project is always better.

8. It’s time for binding!  Take your extra backing and batting fabric and fold it up and over so that its raw edges lines up with the edge of the quilt top.  Now fold it a second time so there are no raw edges visible. Pin it down (this is key!). Then simply stitch over it – I like to use a zig zag stitch to add a bit of character, but a straight stitch or a blind hem stitch also work great.  The curves on the bib can pose a bit of a challenge, you may have to adjust your folds as you go around the curves.

9. Snap Snap! If you’ve chosen a bib pattern that needs a closure, you will need to hand sew on some snaps! You may just put one, or even two or three to allow for size adjustment as the baby grows. If you’re not into snaps, you could try velcro, buttons, or ribbon ties.

 

 

And voilàHappy quilting!