08 June 2018

Y is for yellow

I was not going to do a Y post with yellow - Mindy already did that. But for the second Thursday night in a row, I found myself with a sewing project that needed to be done RIGHT NOW.

Found out yesterday morning that Field Day was today at school, and the 2nd graders needed to wear yellow shirts. After some looking around, I figured out that the only yellow shirts for children that we own are all pajamas. But ... there's some yellow knit fabric ... and I did just get the Girl on the Go dress/shirt pattern from Oliver+S ... so at 10 pm last night, I made one.

Size 8, with the length at a size 10 because I like shirts to go a little further onto the hip. It took about 2 hours, because the knit was thin and kept rolling up on me, and I went reeeeeeally slow because I didn't want to warp it while it went through the machine.

Here's our fearless warrior girl ready to go to Field Day this morning!

I did a decorative stitch for binding the facing down, just for fun.

04 June 2018

another way to use a quilt block

JK's friend BR is really into snails, which utterly confuses her parents. It's really hilarious. But they humored her at her birthday last week (she turned 5). They had a garden themed birthday party on Saturday and even gave her live snails as a pet for her gift.

A couple of nights before her party, I was randomly surfing quilting blogs and came across a snail quilt block. Stop. The. Presses. I am making this quilt block for BR and putting it on a tote bag for her gift. Now. I didn't buy the pattern, but eye-balled it, and this is how it ended up:

The snail itself is 6x8 inches. If I were to make this again, I would start with an 8-inch colored square instead of 6 to give more room for the seam allowances. The body started at 3 inches wide. The corner squares started at 2 inches, and then were sewn on the diagonal and the excess trimmed off. The smaller size worked great this time because BR is a tiny girl.

The block isn't quilted at all, but there is interfacing behind it. I used this tutorial from Simply Notable for the bag itself. It's a good sized bag for a small child for library books and carrying random toys around. I also experimented a little bit with the handles - I originally cut the strips at 2 1/2 inches wide like usual, and then folded them shut like bias tape. My addition was that I tucked a 1-inch wide strip of low-loft quilt batting into the fold before I sewed the strip shut. I like how that turned out - makes it softer to put over your shoulder! Planning to use that again with future bags.

31 May 2018

May journal

Quilts, crafts, and clothes. Covered it all this month.

1. X is for X block in the Squared Away Block of the Month. The X was March's block, and I also did April's block. Green done, yellow done. Still working on pink for May.

2. Four more blocks for the Night Sky quilt. I'm trying to get section 2 done of the quilt, but it's not quite coming together yet. I wanted to do more on this project, but at least I hit the minimum.

3. Two pairs of shorts, one of TA and the other for JK. More coming.

The purple speckles was from the remnant bin at Hobby Lobby. The ice cream cones are from Made EveryDay, the Boardwalk Delight line.

I think I resolved my Shorts conundrum. I have the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday but it only goes to a size 10. SM is way out of that now. I was trying to figure out how to size it up, and I probably still could. But I discovered that Oliver+S has a FREE!!! Sunny Day Shorts pattern online, so I printed it off. They're made differently - Kid Shorts does not have a separate waistband, Sunny Days Shorts does. They're put together differently, even though they look pretty much the same when they're done. And hey, I don't know that SM will even fit into a 12 anymore - I've been buying her 14/16 at the store, and even went to the Juniors section when we were shopping for a dress for her last week. So we'll see. But at least I have one more size up after the Kid Shorts 10.

4. On Sunday night this week, I got a sewing bug, and in just a little while, I made a swim cover for JK. Adam asked how this dress is different from any other dress ... it's not. It's regular fabric. But the top is too loose to be modest so we'll call it a swim cover. JK found the bow in my basket of random items and asked me to add it.

She's ready for the pool! Bring on the summer!

5. I started ... another ... WIP ... a fabric pennant garland for summer camp. I'm going to our church's youth camp with SM as one of the adult chaperones, and this is girly in that campsites are "decorated" somehow. So enter a pennant garland. This is just getting started so no photos yet.

It has the typical triangles but also flowers scattered randomly in between. I made a bunch of flowers as a hand-sewing project (and one was even swiped by JK - she had me stitch it to a hair tie). The gathering stitch would be MUCH faster on the machine, but I wanted a hand project to carry around and knocked out over 20 of them just while sitting in a women's church conference. This particular version of a pennant/flower garland is from the book Sewing Bits and Pieces by Sandi Henderson - I got it from the library for a different project, but this looked cute too.

This has been a great way to clear out blues that quite frankly, I'm not going to ever use in a quilt because the fabric is too rough, doesn't go with anything else, or I just don't like it. Putting those fabrics in a garland that's going to get the crap beat out of it by being outside!

We have a baaaaaaaack-splaaaaaaaaash!

This was the last major piece of our kitchen puzzle, and kind of on a whim, we just got it done. I wanted glass tiles in some shade of blue. When I was running errands at Home Depot once, I went through their entire in-store selection and really wasn't happy with it. It's mostly brown-toned, which doesn't not work with our gray/black counter at all. I found a couple of things and took samples home but nope. So we tried Lowe's and hooray! They had a lot of blues! We brought home a bunch, and the all-white that Adam liked and grabbed at the last second was the winner. The blues didn't look right with the counter - that was a hard match. The white/gray was also the cheapest - score!

I went to a Saturday night book club and when I got home, Adam had most of it up. (I need to leave him unsupervised more often.) I just had to come through behind him for the wipe-down of the extra mortar. (Typical. He makes a mess, I clean it up.) It still needs the grout and to be polished off, but the tiles are up! Hooray!

28 May 2018

X is for X-block

I got behind on the Squared Away quilt block of the month challenge after just January and February. Now that it's May, I did March and April, and this is where X has arrived for the Alphabet Challenge - a quilt block!

March's color was green to celebrate the start of spring ... which did not arrive in my state until April, so this was wishful thinking.

April was yellow:

I like the sunshine! I needed some of that in April, because spring didn't come until the END of the month!

May's Squared Away block is still under construction. I made a whole bunch of HSTs, but then didn't like them. The white scrap fabric that I used is really flimsy. Now that Mindy and I have decided to give the twin quilts to our daughters who are "twinsies" (Cupcake and JK are very close in age, and were best friends last summer), I don't know that this fabric will hold up very well. Also, the pink in the HSTs didn't go with any of the other pinks I have - I didn't coordinate that well at all. So I need to start over on the May block, but had to put the quilts on pause to make summer shorts for the girls.

18 May 2018

Maggie Experiment

What I really wanted was another Mckenzie, since it is my favorite.  My little girl is NOT little, and she has grown out of that pattern. *sad face*  I was going to grade it up but to make it easier, since she still fits in the Maggie Mae just fine, I used this idea to make the Maggie look at bit more like the Mckenzie.  I even squared off the neckline a bit (sorry you can't see it very well!).

See that fuzzy lump in the upper left corner?
No, behind the bush. 
That's what we've seen of our new pandas so far!

I gave Cupcake a variety of fabric to choose from, and she chose the light pink/orange to go with the fabulous My Little Pony fabric that we got from Trina (picked out by JK and TA).  The pattern came together easily, but even though I used a size 10 it came out a little more snug than I expected.  She likes it though, and I've still got a 1/2 yard of MLP fabric to play with!  Woohoo!

New statues AND a new bridge at the zoo too!
My kid has a fabulous sense of style, yes?

This finishes #5 on this quarter's Finish-A-Long, not quite as planned, again.

12 May 2018

Maggie Remix

Last spring I made Cupcake an Easter dress with the special lavender lamb fabric - because my kid loves sheep.  I chose my coordinating fabric poorly, and a few months later it ripped right across the bodice.  The precious sheep were untouched though so I set it aside to remake later.

It only took me nine months to get around to it so I'm glad that it still fits!  I was going to make it a shirt, but overestimated the length of the third fabric so when she tried it on she insisted it be a dress.  I scrambled to find a fourth coordinating fabric, but Cupcake couldn't be happier. And I think it is pretty stinkin' adorable too.

I think the reason I held off remaking this dress was finding the right fabric to pair with the lambs.  I wasn't going to go out of my way to find coordinating fabric because I generally avoid going to the fabric store and try not to buy fabric at all.  But I did recently bring home a fat quarter bundle of cute sheepy fabric (because sheep) that had just what I was looking for.  That grey fabric?  It says "baaaa" on it over and over!  And the bottom band used exactly one fat quarter of pink daisies.  And the main skirt (with tiny blue and purple flowers) came with lots of other yardage from a sweet old lady at church who doesn't sew anymore.  I love the gift of fabric!

I've loved Shwin Designs for a long time, and have made the Mckenzie pattern many many times.  But Cupcake has grown out of it (since at 5 she wears at least a 10, and it only goes to an 8) so I was happy to rediscover this pattern, the Maggie Mae,  Not only does this size 8 still fit (shocking since I made it last summer) it also goes up to a size 10! Yay!

And for the Finish-A-Long, turns out I didn't have enough of the pictured fabric to make into the skirt piece (even at a shirt length).  Those flowers became the pockets instead!

01 May 2018

W is for WIP

WIP is "work in progress" and I am working really hard that this quilt does not stall out and become a UFO!

Here's the story so far of the Night Sky quilt, which has now been in process for 16 months. It's going slooooooow.

When I was making The Pink Babies quilt and said that JE would get it, SM told me what she wanted for her own quilt - blues and purples with stars, like the night sky, because she would be sleeping under it. Makes sense. My brainchild was to do star blocks in white with blue backgrounds, rather than colored stars on lighter backgrounds as is common. We named it Night Sky before I even started.

Then I went a little crazy. I did online searches for star blocks because I wanted a variety - this is totally a sampler quilt. I've made maybe a couple of duplicates, but in different sizes. Mostly everything is different, but mostly also half-square triangles. I guess that's the easier part.

This was block 1. I found it in a Google image search (no source), and mapped it out on graph paper. It's huge - 20 inches across. I call it a Woven Starburst.

I made the next 4 large blocks veeeerrrry slowly over time last spring. We were busy at the time with house projects - remodeling the kitchen and a lot of painting. Adam had his Summer of the Mental Health Crisis. But by September 2017, this is what I had:

P.S. This is NOT a "design wall." It's just some random space between the doorway and coat rack on the left, and the water heater on the right. I pinned up my blocks because I didn't want them getting lost or messed up. Plus, they're pretty! I like to look at them!

The three 8-inch stars on the left were Mindy's contribution, that she wanted to add when she saw the big blocks during our family reunion. The little teeny bear claw was randomly pieced together of trimmings from the big blocks. At this point, I diagrammed the whole thing out on graph paper to figure out how to set in the large blocks and where I needed to add filler of smaller blocks.

January 2018, a year after I started cutting fabric: the first of five sections was done! Working on my Christmas log cabin quilt was going pretty fast, because that's the same block over and over. But I purposefully set that aside to focus on Night Sky. This is still going slow because I keep finding more star blocks online! But section one (top left on the graph paper) is finally done!

I set a baseline target this year to sew at least 2 1/2 hours every week. I did pretty well in January and February, but this quilt has to share my time with a lot of other things, as you can see from my monthly journal reports. During those 2 months, I made four 4-inch blocks and three 10-inch blocks. Then in March, as soon as I finished SM's costume for the school play - seriously, 15 minutes later - I gashed my finger with my rotary cutter. There went over a week of no sewing time at all. Dang it! Night Sky was entirely neglected in March.

In April, I got myself sewing again with little projects of zip bags and the pillow, and I had to make JE's baptism dress. Now we're starting May, so I'm regrouping on the quilts. I'm shooting for at least one block per week/four per month on THIS quilt - any other quilt blocks (like the Squared Away block of the month, which I'm now behind on) are extra.

30 April 2018

The Alder Skirt

When I got a prize for FAL2017, I used it to buy the Ishi dress pattern for the girls, some fabric for Trina, and the Alder skirt pattern for me. 

The fabric was gifted from me from a friend, who got it from her father,
who got in on a trip to Thailand!  The waistband was actually the border print.

I was excited to get started, but was a little frustrated with the pattern itself - there are no capital letters in the whole thing!  Upper case letters are important, even just to help find the beginning of sentences.  Annoying, but fine, I can deal with it.  The other hiccup -- no finished length measurement.  I know I can easily customize the length of the skirt, but I had no idea where I was starting from.  Turns out I had to eek in a 1/4" hem to have it stay at my knees.

This was actually skirt I had made years ago, but never liked the way it fit. Not anymore!

Once I actually made the first skirt though, I was happy to make another.  And another!  For me, I didn't need the pleat in the front, and would 100% suggest the flat pockets (big yay for pockets!).  I added two inches to the length, for some wiggle room, and I'm pleased with the way it fits me.  

My husband made me buy this amazing fabric (because I rarely buy for me).
Of course I'm glad he did, because it is awesome and totally my favorite.

The biggest struggle though?  Getting pictures!  I can take a decent picture, but it's quite hard to take a picture of my own self - especially my lower body.  My husband is super tall and always takes pictures at awkward angles, and really doesn't know what he's doing.  And my apartment has horrible lighting.  I really just need to make some photography friends nearby!  (I'll trade them cute skirts like this!)

And bonus: this is part of my 2018FALQ2!  I love it when projects are completed and turn out even better than expected!

April journal

Aren't I so great with post titles? Ha ha!

Major progress on my Alphabet Challenge! I got U, V, and W done just this month! It helped that they were small projects ... X is in process. Y has the fabric washed and ready, just need to trace off the pattern. Z is going to be EPIC. Definitely planning to end this challenge with a bang!

1. U: JE's pillow that matches her quilt.

2. V: Finished my contribution to the doll quilts for A Doll Like Me - the top was complete in March, but I still had to quilt and bind it. All done now. I'll give us a little more time to work on the doll quilts from the girls, but if they're not done by the end of the summer, I'm calling it good and sending what we have.

3. W: JE's white baptism dress.

4. Night Sky quilt: I made a couple of these blocks, called Clay's Choice from 1920. I think it's cool to make old-time blocks, and learn their names. I had planned to do more, but I got sidetracked with making plans for summer clothes for the girls. My new target with this quilt starting in May is one block per week. Otherwise, it's never going to get done.

5. DC map quilt: just a few stitches here and there, but that means I'm a few stitches closer every time I pick up the needle! I have it set out in my bedroom where it's accessible to me, but the kids aren't going to mess it up. I have the entire bottom "row" almost done.

6. English paper piecing (EPP): yet another WIP started! A couple of years ago, I was visiting my bestie Sarah in Utah who was working on EPP at the time. She showed me how to do it and gave me a couple of samples, and they've just been sitting here waiting for me to figure something out with them. Recently, I saw this tote bag online and I. Want. It. My EPP is diamonds, not hexagons, so it will look different ... but the concept will be the same, all the way down to the grommets. I can't buy her pattern because of the money exchange - this a blog in Ireland ... but I've figured out enough about bags by now that I think I can do this one on my own with just the photo for inspiration.

7. Flannel rice bags: we've had some aches and pains this month, and some fussing for a rice bag as a heating pad. We had an old sock filled with rice and tied off with a rubber band, but ... yuck. So in literally 5 minutes, I grabbed a flannel scrap, sewed it around 3 sides, filled it with rice, and then sewed it shut. Bam. Done. I did this twice, including with boy flannel for Adam to have one for himself. We don't need everything pink or floral-printed around here.

8. I attempted to participate in Kid Clothes Week, which is a challenge to sew for one hour every day for a week. I sewed for an hour and 45 minutes ONE day. That's all. But I got a pair of shorts and a quickie nightgown done! They were made from fleece pillowcases, from a sheet set that wore out.

We've had an antique cabinet grand piano for a few years that we got for free when an elderly person from our church passed away and their house was being emptied out. We figured out that it was built in 1905, and we tried to get it tuned. That ended up killing it. Adam asked around with piano tuners and shops: we could have a $20,000 restored piano ... after we spent at least half that getting all the pegs, strings and keys replaced ... so Adam decided to turn it into a desk. In about 3 days, he pulled it apart, cleaned the pieces he decided to keep, and put it back together ... ta da! We have an antique cabinet grand desk!

So far this year, the house projects have all been Adam's. Sigh.

22 April 2018

W is for white

Adam wants each of our girls to have their own white dress for their baptisms, and it's JE's turn!

We bounced around a bit on the pattern - the one she chose from my pattern box was too big, both for her and for the fabric that she selected at the store. (It called for making a circle skirt with the fabric out all flat, and the curve didn't fit from side to side between the selveges.) We ended up here: 

Girls Easter Dress Sewing Pattern, Ruffle Petticoat Dress by Handmaiden's Cottage

I was randomly looking at a spring dress round-up, which bounced me around a number of blogs ... and I came across this and thought, "There it is!"

I used my stand-by Oliver+S Playtime Tunic (number 11 of that pattern!) and modified the heck out of it. I:

- used size 7 for the top and size 10 for the bottom so it would be longer and more full.
- left the sleeves off, because the dropped shoulders are enough of a cap sleeve for a spring/summer dress.
- lengthened the bodice by 2 inches so it isn't right under her armpits.
- fully lined the bodice rather than using just the pattern facings.
- lengthened the skirt portion to a dress rather than a tunic top.

- put bias tape over the seam between the bodice and skirt, because wow, that was a crazy itchy edge on JE! I had intended to tuck this between the lining and outer fabrics, but I didn't cut the lining quite long enough. Fortunately, I'd just come across a tutorial about a Hong Kong seam finish. I don't know why it's called that, but I'm glad I found it!

- I didn't worry about stitching from the bias tape showing through, because it was already in the plan to add a band of lace at the divide between the bodice and skirt.

- added ruffles ruffles ruffles! They were first cut at 7 inches wide, and 2 lengths of selvage-to-selvage put together. I looped them all around the base skirt before attaching anything to see how they should be spaced, and I went with 4 inches apart. I started at the bottom, and worked my way up. The base is right side facing up, the ruffle is attached upside down (left side of the picture), and then folded down when it's done so the seam is hidden (right side of the picture).

You gotta be committed when doing ruffles - they take a lot of time, fabric, and thread. The dress would have been done in half a day if it weren't for the ruffles.