Thursday, March 12, 2009

weekend sewing with Heather Ross

Heather Ross and I were talking about her book the other day. Have you seen it yet? I adore it. When I saw the galleys last spring at Quilt Market, where I finally met her, I nearly flipped. The photos, the designs, the sewing room ideas, even the Basics information in the back of the book. It's all great. (And of course anything that Brooke--who designed the book--touches looks amazing, so it's got that going for it, too. I'm not biased or anything--Brooke does all the visuals for Oliver + S)

Heather's book includes patterns and instructions for all sorts of projects like bags and slippers to lots of apparel for women and children. It's a lot like Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts in the sense that I want to make every single project in the book. Every single one. But especially the Summer Blouse. Or maybe the Kimono Dress. Or the Guest-Room Slippers. Oh, well. Eventually I'll have to select one to get started. It's going to be a tough choice.

So anyway, Heather and I were discussing the pattern for Lucy's Kimono from the Kids section of her book. Turns out that we must have been twins for a day, long before we met. Lucy's Kimono and the Oliver + S Bedtime Story Pajamas are so similar, unbeknownst to either of us until both patterns were finished and printed. Even the way we construct the the kimonos is similar. The biggest difference between the two patterns is the sizes we developed. Lucy's Kimono is sized newborn to three months, while the Bedtime Story pattern is 6 months through size 8, which is pretty awesome since they don't overlap each other at all. Cool, yes? You'd think we planned it. We can't claim that level of foresight, however, especially since we only met after the book and pattern were both finished.

Well, that settled it. We needed to sew this little shirt as a project together to celebrate the similarities between the two kimonos. And just for an excuse to hang out, of course.

You might know Heather best for her fabric designs. Her newest fabric line is printed on that amazing double gauze everyone has been raving about. It's a dream to sew with. And since the first yards had just arrived, that's what we decided to use for our version of Lucy's Kimono. But we wanted to try something slightly different than the instructions in the book. We wanted to make a quilted kimono jacket, vaguely reminiscent of traditional Asian baby gear (or our concept of it, anyway).

So back to the double gauze, which has the perfect drape for a little quilted jacket. If we were going to finish our quilted jacket in short order, we needed extra help.

Enter Heather's friend Claudia, who has one of those amazing stitch-regulated Bernina machines that have taken the quilting world into a new realm of fantastic-ness. Add some gourmet Indian take-out, a little wine, and a late night. What do you have? Well, you'll just have to wait to see, because first I want to tell you about the process.

We had so much fun with this. Selecting the fabrics (it wasn't easy, with all those great colorways and prints to choose from), deciding on a quilting pattern for our fabric layers (free-style figure 8's is probably the best way to describe it, fueled in part by the wine, I'm sure--you're a steady stitcher, Claudia), and the sweetest little hand-stitched buttons from Heather's stash.

We traced the pattern pieces onto blank paper following the instructions in Heather's book, and then we cut out the layers, leaving extra fabric around the edges to allow for shrinkage during the quilting process.

While Heather and I pondered trim colors and buttons, Claudia got busy with the free-motion quilting.

Once all the fabric was quilted, we cut out the pattern pieces. To construct the jacket, we (or actually, Heather and Claudia) followed the instructions in Heather's book but bound the outside edges of the jacket instead of hemming them. We chose a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton for the binding and added three button loops for the closure.

And the result?

Don't you love it? It's all Heather: her pattern, her fabrics, her quilted layers inspiration. And all three of us having fun with it.

If you've visited Heather's blog recently, you've seen other apparel made using variations of the patterns in her book. And with all the different patterns that are included, you could honestly make an entire summer wardrobe from the book. (Don't miss the design challenge, or at least look at the other entries for some inspiration for your own sewing projects.)

The book is one to keep handy. I suspect you'll use it frequently as a source of inspiration, specific information about sewing, and of course for the patterns and projects themselves. I adore the little details throughout the book and the beautiful photography. Like those cute little strawberry pincushions that showed up on the cupcakes at her book party. (see photos from the party and from making the kimono here. You can also see images from the book at the Melanie Falick blog.)

When you buy the book, be sure to get yourself some supplies for tracing the patterns, too. You'll need them, because you'll want to make all the projects in the book.


  1. Lovely! I can't wait to get my copy of the book. I'm so inspired by what is making its way around the blogging universe.

  2. That jacket is so adorable, what a lovely idea, and you girls look like you had alot of FUN! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous1:31 PM

    that jacket is a little heartbreaker. so sweet!

  4. gorgeous! i love that little quilted kimono jacket!!
    i just received heather's book for a birthday gift, and the projects are so lovely, i can't wait to start sewing! now i just have to get my hands on your new oliver + s spring patterns :)

  5. Anonymous4:01 PM

    What a wonderful jacket! Thanks for the peek at your little sewing party. I can't wait to get the Far and Away fabrics and the book!

  6. I'm having sewing party envy over here. :) Love, love the color choices.

  7. Funny, I just ordered this lovely book a couple of days ago! Can't wait to have it in my anxious little fingers...

  8. I love the kimono jacket its so beautiful. I just cant get enough of that book. I have a girlfriend expecting her first daughter in july I cant wait to make a kimono for her too.. once im done making myself a bunch of summer clothes that is ;-)

  9. That is stunning! It never occurred to me to use the kimono top for regular clothing. Genius!

    I love sewing dates with friends. Glad you had a fun one.

  10. Well, that settles THAT!! Must have the book for sure! Thanks for the great post and the wonderful inspiration of a sewing playdate!

  11. absolutely lovely...looks like you had a fun day!

  12. The jacket is just beautiful, especially paired with the dress. I might have to have another baby (or figure out how to size the jacket up) because my little girl is 13 months now.

  13. It's beautiful guys! I love the idea of a little quilted kimono jacket.. I may have to attempt that for little Bee (and if I get stuck, I'll know who to ask for help!)

  14. Oh, I just love that project. I have the book on hold at our local store, and can't wait until it comes in. I wish I could have been at such a cool sewing party. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Oh man, I can almost feel that double gauze! I love that stuff, can't wait to get some with the new designs! The kimono top is just precious! I want one for myself, though. : ) And now, of course, I want a stitch-regulated Bernina! Thanks for sharing!

  16. adorable.
    i love all the tweaking that can be done to her patterns. it's a fantastic book.

  17. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I have heard so much about this book but yet to get my hands on a copy. Sounds like a must have.

    Looks like you gals have really enjoyed it!!!

  18. Being the designer of my own baby gift co. Bunnies By the Bay....size is a very interesting concept. Babies are so variable! Who would have thought.....
    Your blog is really fun..I enjoy reading it.

  19. Anonymous1:54 AM

    I just love the kimono jacket and how the binding is stitched on with contrasting thread. I have got to do that sometime!

    And of course, I just gotta buy Heather's book! thanks for the pic's :)

  20. yep I am loving this book! I only received it yesterday and already finished and blogged 2 patterns and thats a world record

    i love the quilted jacket and am now kicking myself as I just bought some of the new far away line but not in the fuschia unicorns and it looks perfect!

    well done! looks great!