Row by Row with Salty Oat

It’s that time of year again! Row by Row begins next week on June 21st, and we are ready! If you aren’t familiar with Row by Row, here is the scoop: participating quilt shops around the US (and some countries around the world) offer a quilt row pattern for free that they have created for every person that comes through the door. Each pattern is created by the shops, so that no two should be alike. If you have a competitive nature, you can put together eight different rows, and if you are the first one to bring in a finished quilt (pieced, quilted, bound and labeled) you have the chance to win a prize of 25 fat quarters! Such fun!

We have teamed up again with Caitlin from Salty Oat, who has designed our row this year, and we are so excited! We thought we would take this opportunity to get to know a little bit more about Caitlin and her design process and have her tell us all about the row this year!

Can you tell us a bit about Salty Oat?
Salty Oat is a one-woman quilt business, which I run from my home studio in Framingham, MA. I sell both readymade and custom patchwork quilts, pillows, and a small line of hand embroidery patterns. I also teach both sewing and embroidery classes in the area.

How long have you been quilting?
I’ve sewn since childhood, but I began quilting in 2009. One of my first quilts was made from the fabric bunting we used as a decoration at our wedding.

What was your inspiration for this year’s row by row design?
When I was brainstorming ideas for the row based on the theme of “On the Go,” I kept coming back to the idea of tires and the infinite number of rim designs I see every time I’m driving on the highway. I thought it would be fun to create a somewhat abstract design based on tires by creating circles within circles, each of which is unique. I opted to use an improvisational framework for the construction of the blocks–each circle is cut by hand, hand-sewn, and placed at random in each block–so no two blocks are the same and no two rows will be the same. I also love how the random placement of the tires suggests movement across the row–perfect for this theme!

What drove your fabric choice?
Maggie has such a gorgeous selection of Liberty of London Tana Lawns in the shop, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate such special prints into the row. I love mixing different substrates into my work, and lawn is also a great fabric for hand sewing.

You chose hand appliqué for this year’s block, why?
Since this year’s theme is “On the Go,” I loved the idea of creating a row that you could sew while you’re actually on the go. Hand appliqué is super portable, and I love the idea of people working on this row throughout the summer, taking blocks with them to the beach or the pool, or while traveling in cars or planes.

Do you have any tips or advice for putting together this block?
Enjoy it and take your time! The construction of this block will require you to slow down a bit, as is the nature of hand sewing. Also, embrace the imperfections of hand sewing and be patient with yourself. I guarantee you’ll see your skills improve as you work your way down the row!

Thanks, Caitlin! We are super excited about this year’s row and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Photo of Caitlin by Linsey Hite

Frances Dress in Wonderland Rayon

I think I was on a posting roll for awhile, and then WHAM! Since I last posted we had Heather from Closet Case Patterns here at the shop, and I also went on a ten-day (10!!) vacation to Athens and Rome. Side note: in case you are curious if fabric store owners still purchase fabric when they are on vacation, the answer is a big fat yes. Hopefully I will get to sew some of the new stash before the end of the year, so hold tight on that front!

Before I got crazy busy, I was able to whip this little number up. This is the Frances Dress, by Green Bee Patterns. Green Bee is co-owned by Alexia Abegg, who is also one of the main designers for Cotton + Steel.  I will be perfectly honest, this dress is a full-on copy of the one I saw Devon Iott, a.k.a. Miss Make, wear at Quilt Market last fall. She didn’t do the elastic and had a straight hem, so I guess it isn’t a complete copy, but she is absolutely responsible for this arriving in my closet the store as a sample.

This is one of those patterns that kind of sneaks up on you. The pattern cover shows a contrast button band and collar, which is just not my jam, so I never really gave it a thought. If it’s your jam, you are way more of a risk taker than I am. It just kind of sat on our pattern shelf until I saw it in person at Quilt Market. Then I was completely obsessed and waited until the Cotton + Steel Wonderland fabric arrived.

Wonderland is the second collection from the Rifle Paper Co. and C+S collaboration. The hardest decision was which color way to use:  the pink/brown–a personal favorite combo, or the blue/black. I think either would have been amazing, but I settled on the pink. This also gave me a chance to use hot pink thread for construction and topstitching. I can’t say that with any of my other projects! 🙂

As far as construction goes, this dress is pretty darn simple and the instructions were very well written! The sleeves are sewn in flat (yay for no gathering stitches!) and the collar is a camp collar. If you aren’t familiar with that type of collar, it means there is no collar stand–the collar is sewn directly onto the dress. This takes some of the stress out of making a collar. Think of it as a collar with training wheels! It will get you ready to take the big plunge with a grown-up collar (with stand!). When I saw Devon’s, she didn’t add the elastic at the waist and it had more of a boxy style, which I adored, but after asking everyone at Sip + Stitch what I should do, I ended up adding the elastic.

One thing to note for anyone out there who is going to make this with elastic: I did notice that the elastic guide seemed kind of high (and double check that since I didn’t actually transfer the lines, I just remember thinking it as I traced the pattern), so I just made my own line. How? I just measuered up from the side seams and only ONE of the fronts. Can you figure out what I did wrong? I bet you can. Yes, please measure both fronts. Mine aren’t level, but you know what? Wabi Sabi, man.

I did not do any adjustments to this pattern either! I actually sewed it…gulp…without making a muslin. I know, I know! This is totally against all my rules, but I just wanted to sew something and figured that the loose/relaxed style of the dress would work in my favor. Which it did. Thankfully! The pattern is drafted well and everything lined up as it should.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Actually, I guess did make one small change to the pattern. It called for buttons, but instead I used our fancy pearl snaps in hot pink. I do feel like a superhero when I take it off at night, which is awesome. I am sure one night I will rip one of those little suckers off with my mighty strength! 😉

If you want to make a shirt-dress but are intimidated, this pattern is a great place to start. It has easy construction, a nice relaxed fit, and is super cute! It is like its own super power!

Have you sewn this dress up? Are you a constrasty-trim type of sew-er? Do you have your own super power?? Fess up! 🙂

Grainline Lark Tee in Liberty Knit

Remember when I said I had another Lark Tee to show off? Well, here it is! This tee is one of my favorite makes and gets heavy rotation in my wardrobe due the amazing fabric. We were fortunate enough to get a small cut of this Liberty Wiltshire rayon  jersey last year and when we cut the last piece for a customer, a small half to two-thirds of a yard was left. It was pretty small and I was unsure what I was going to use it for, but I was NOT going to let it go to waste. It went into my small (yet ever-growing) pile of hoarded fabric and sat for a few months. I finally decided that I could squeeze a Lark out of it, if I did the cap sleeves. And, so…my shirt was born.

I didn’t do anything different this time around with the pattern, except for using the cap sleeves. As I mentioned last time, I could have (and probably should have) shortened it, but I didn’t. It’s still fine, but next time around I will shorten it. I have my eye on a few knits that we have that will shortly make their way into my stash.

This rayon jersey was a bit slinkier than my last shirt and I did need to exercise a little more care with it during certain steps. It was prone to excessive shifting during the cutting stage, so to combat this, I did not cut the back or front on the fold, but instead opened the fabric out into a single layer and matched up the center front/back. I also had to really play around with my stitch length for the twin needle until I found a look I liked when finishing the neckline and hem. I don’t remember having so much trouble with my last one. It might be possible that since this was Liberty, I was being a bit fussier than normal. Haha!

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating:  if you are looking for a great introduction to knit sewing patterns and wear t-shirts all the time, this pattern is amazing. Four different necklines plus four sleeves equals endless sewing and wearing enjoyment!

I also want to point out that this post will mark the end of my pink hair. You can probably tell that some of my posts were in a crazy order, since my hair went from brown, to magenta, to pale pink, back to brown with regularity. Those who have visited the store know that I had the pink for quite awhile, but that is all gone now. I loved having it, but the upkeep was a bit much at the end. Our backlog of photos and posts have now been exhausted and we are back to our regularly scheduled hair color. At least for now. 😉

So…have you sewn the Lark yet? Have you ever sewn with Liberty knit? Does your hair match your shirt?? Do tell! 🙂

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Polka Dot Grainline Scout Tee

Have you ventured into the land of garment making yet? Are you scared? Think it will be too hard? Let me tell you, if you have made enough tote bags or pillowcases to last a lifetime (or are pretty comfortable with your machine), you are ready. Need a pattern to get your feet wet?

Here at the shop we use Grainline’s Scout Tee as one of our intro to garment making classes. The pattern instructions are easy to understand, there are only two big hurdles in the pattern, and it creates a great easy wardrobe staple in a matter of hours. It is one of my personal favorites.

The fit of the Scout is on the boxy side. There are no darts in the shirt for shaping. This is great for a nice drapey fabric, or soft cottons. This does not help if you choose to make your Scout out of something on the stiffer side. Not to say that you can’t use a firm linen, just know going in that the shape of the shirt will be more pronounced. It all depends on the final look of the shirt that you want. If you poke around the internet, you should see examples of all sorts of fabrics. I made this version with fabric from my stash. Since I am surrounded by fabric every day it is really hard to shop my stash, but this cotton and silk blend was a perfect match to the pattern.

I talked about the two big hurdles from the pattern, and I am sure you are curious what those are. The first is setting in sleeves. This is something that is super daunting to people. The trick is to go slow and be really aware of what you are sewing. I have seen many students sew half a beautiful sleeve, to find out that the other side has been sewn to the body. Double check you are only going through two layers.

The second hurdle is the bias binding for the neckline. If you follow the pattern it will be fiddly, annoying, and at some point (most likely in the trimming) you will want to quit, but if you do what she suggests, you will end up with a beautiful binding.  Trust me. Well… trust Jen from Grainline. She knows her necklines!

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

I have had plans to make a few more of this pattern. One is to make it out of a nice wool crepe. Since we are heading into warmer weather, that project has now been moved to the back of the line. I also have plans to redo my current favorite black silk one that sees some heavy rotation. I wear it at least once a week and it is starting to look pretty sad. Hopefully you will see the new one, but the old one, alas, will soon see the bottom of the trash bin. 🙁

Have you sewn the Scout? Does this post make you want to? What would be your ultimate fabric for this pattern? Do tell!

Swans Island Twisted Cowl

This time of year is tricky. One day it’s warm, the next freezing. It really makes it difficult to dress in the morning, not knowing what will happen within the course of the day, weather-wise. My solution: the knitted cowl. It’s something that can add a nice layer of warmth, and since this one is made from Swans Island Natural Fingering, which is 100% merino wool, it is warm when it needs to be warm, but not too hot. This pattern also works well with this type of spring-or-winter layering technique. It has a nice loose lace-like quality, so it doesn’t feel overly heavy.

Have you knit with Swans Island before? If not, you should give it a try–their yarn is heavenly. And it is made right next door in beautiful Maine. I traveled up there before the shop opened and was completely smitten with their yarn and the people that ran the company. Should you ever be up in the Camden area, please do yourself a favor and swing by their dye house. You will see how they get their array of stunning colors and get a weaving demonstration of their amazing blankets. I feel like I’m overusing adjectives in this paragraph, but once you see and feel this stuff in person, you will completely understand!

The pattern for this cowl was created by one of my instructors. It’s a riff on a traditional lace pattern and really makes this yarn shine. The nice part about the pattern is that you can adjust the dimensions to be whatever you prefer! The pattern as written will use up most of the yardage of one skein of the Swans Island, but if you wanted to use up leftover yarn, this would be a great pattern for that. I love patterns that you can customize yourself. I think the difficulty level is not too high and as long as you can do the required stitches, you should be good to go! We are offering this pattern free with the purchase of one skein of the Swans Island Fingering, which comes in a great array of colors.

Do you have a particular way to dress with this weird spring-maybe-still-winter weather? Are you a layer-er like me? Or is there another way? Do tell!


All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography