20 October 2018

Z is for zig-zag

Four years and six days later ... I have FINALLY finished the Sew All 26 Challenge!! With lots and lots and lots and lots of zig-zag stitches. I ended up with this: a purse made of rope.

I got the idea for a rope tote bag from this post by SouleMama - second picture down. LOVE that. I didn't have enough rope to get quite that large, but still ended up here and I'm excited to use this! The bottom is 11 inches long, and the widest point of the curves is 14 inches. The height is 10 inches.

The curves are totally accidental but I like them a lot!

The handles were glued on with a whole lot of hot glue. My sewing machine will barely fit one layer of rope under the foot. No way I was even going to try with two layers.

The general idea when sewing with rope is to set a zig-zag stitch, and put two sections of rope right up against each other. You just keep turning and turning the piece until you get what you want - lots of people do bowls because they don't take much rope. I made some small rope bowls in 2015 - they hold random little things, and one is currently on JE's dresser to hold a bunch of hairbands.

For the Sew All 26 Challenge, I'm excited this is my grand finale!

19 October 2018

Happy Hogwarts Birthday

I'm no Pinterest junkie, so I kind of shocked Adam when I started working on a Harry Potter themed birthday party for RG ... who turned ELEVEN this month, so hello! Hogwarts party it is!! (When SM turned 11, that was sadly the year I decreed no parties at all. What was I thinking!?!? We'll have to make it up to her at her next birthday.)

There are many, many more elaborate ways to have a Hogwarts or Harry Potter party. This would barely registering on the scale for "party stylist" type people, but it was a pretty big deal for me. We spiced up our living room with a bit of Hogwarts Great Hall flair.

Crepe paper and disposable tablecloths on my friend Kelly's long tables did the trick. (The dollar store is my new favorite place for things that are just going to be thrown away. What took me so long?) I also printed out small House banners on cardstock, which were on either side of the fireplace.

The birthday girl greeted her guests in her brand new Gryffindor robes.

I used this tutorial, but made things more complicated for myself by putting right sides together in a couple of places. Meh. Just follow the directions as is, and fold in your raw edges to secure with a top-stitch. It would have gone a lot faster. If using 44-inch fabric for the wrist-to-wrist side so you can do the fold on a length of yardage, this is sized for kids. I don't think you could use this tutorial with the way the fabric is folded for adults. Two and a half yards is a good amount of fabric for a child somewhere around 4-foot-6. RG is 4'8". 

As the witches and wizards arrived, they each selected their own sorting hat.

They had a single color of M&Ms in each one to identify the House (red = Gryffindor, etc), and there was no way even for me to know who was choosing what after they were glued shut. It was fully a surprise for everyone in the room.

We had 12 guests, so there were three per house for our Harry Potter Trivia Challenge. RG wasn't allowed to be sorted/compete anyway because she would have answered every question ... so to stop that before it even started, I told her she could help moderate the competition. One of the Slytherin girls - by herself - beat all three other teams. I would have liked to have seen how she and RG stacked up against each other, but RG already knew the questions.

After Slytherin kicked butt in the trivia test, it was time to eat. Butterbeer cookies, double chocolate cauldrons, and Polyjuice potion. Recipes for the cookies and cake are at the links. The potion was Sprite, blue Hawaiian punch, and pineapple juice.

The chocolate cauldrons were AWESOME. This was definitely my favorite on how it turned out. I used the recipe for the cake, which had the thick and heavy consistency of brownies, and for the center cream filling. There's also a recipe for the outer chocolate frosting included, but I just bought that. The handles were made from Wilton's Candy Melt chocolate shaped with a plain round icing tip and "drawn" on parchment paper until it set.

After our sugared-up "feast," we sent them all downstairs to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. As our guests left, their favor was a chocolate frog. I bought the mold on Amazon (watch the little spots for the eyes - I had to use my finger to press the melted chocolate all the way in), so there is a strong possibility of more Harry Potter celebrations in the future!

14 October 2018

The Narwhal Quilts

I haven't posted much all summer.  It was certainly busy, but I was sewing lots too.  I made progress on all four of the quilts I've been working on - all the blocks are done for the Christmas Cake Quilt, I've caught up on all but the very last of the Squared Away blocks, and I finally finished the two narwhal quilts. 

Both of my husband's siblings were expecting baby girls.  Taera was due October 11th and Nathan's was slated for September 29th.  Well Jade was born on the 29th, but she belongs to Taera.  Nathan's little girl Kinsley arrived on October 5th, which just happens to be Taera's oldest's birthday.  Miraculously I was able to finish the quilts AND get them to them within a week of each being born!  

I picked up this adorable fabric (Snowfall by Paula McGloin for Camelot Fabrics) when I won a giftcard to The Fabric Snob, an online Canadian fabric store.  It specializes in amazing knits, but I'm still scared of them, so I went for the fat quarter bundles I knew I'd use.  I narrowed it down to a few choices and let the parents make the final decision - and they both picked the same fabric.  Matching quilts for the twin cousins!

I originally saw this simple squared pattern here.  I played around with some math and made my own cutting diagram to get two squares out of each fat quarter, to use every inch of fabric I could.  The quilt top was fun and quick to put together.  The quilting took more time than everything else though!  But worth it.

This woven pattern though, was one hundred percent my own.  There was lots of sketching and math to figure out how to use as much of the fat quarters as I could.  I ended up with very few scraps.  It came together very easily, and I'm proud to say that all the corners match perfectly!

I need to work on my sandwich skills - the backs of both quilts are not nearly as pretty as the fronts.  It isn't bad for the number of different directions I had to sew in, but there are a lot of little puckers and tucks.  I don't have a large amount of space in my apartment, so I'm wanting to look into the board basting technique for the future.  I was just surprised by how well my binding turned out, since it is just the backing folded to the front.

It feels so good to have projects finished, freeing some room to start something new!  I've got four little girl dresses and a couple of ties to make for my sister's wedding, plus all the Christmas sewing.  Not sure I'll get that Christmas quilt finished this year, plus I've started collecting fabric for a second one!

30 September 2018

September journal

At the beginning of the month, I wanted to get back into my quilts after a crazy summer, and it's fall! It's quilt season! But there was a bunch of random stuff all over my sewing table, and all these unfinished little projects annoyed me. So that's what I started with.

1. Zip pouches for TA and JK - my last two girlies who didn't have their own bags. They chose the fabric forever ago and have been waiting so patiently, and I finally just sat down and made them. They were SO excited, and immediately put their markers in the bags. TA calls her the "everything bag."

2. Squared Away quilt blocks: 4 pink (2 of each fabric set) and 2 aqua.

That's it. Didn't even take pictures of the zip bags. I meant to do a lot more, but I've been editing a book this month. I really want to get it done so I can get back to sewing!

31 August 2018

August journal

1. 60 feet of a pennant garland for camp

2. cross-body bag for my phone

3. an a-line denim skirt for SM

Now that I'm finally HOME for awhile, after a crazy-busy summer of being gone all the time, I can get back to more sewing. After I put my house back together. It's a wreck.

29 August 2018

school skirt

SM came across some glitter-infused denim about a year ago in the fabric piles, and there was just enough to make her a skirt. I used this tutorial on how to make a skirt pattern, but didn't bother with making a pattern - I just drew it straight onto the fabric.

There are no directions on making the skirt itself, so that got ... interesting ... I'm glad I already knew the basic idea of adding darts - there are four, two in the front and two in the back. I had to wing it on adding the facing. This was so I didn't lose 2 inches of fabric on the top from folding over to add a waistband, and also because that fabric would itch if the glitter side was against her skin. I just lost the teeniest seam allowance.

This is only the 2nd zipper I've added in clothing - the first time I put it on, it was twisted so I had to remove the whole thing and do it again. It still isn't as "invisible" as it should be because I didn't put the seams in tight enough, so there is a slash of mint down her hip ... it's a design feature, not a mistake. And I barely did a hem, also to maintain as much skirt length as possible - bias tape beneath.

Makes me laugh that the inside is all colored and detailed more than the outside. I wasn't aiming for a mini-skirt but it is a couple of inches above her knee. Siiiiiigh. She's getting too tall. I made her put on cut-off leggings underneath, because it went halfway up her thigh when she sat down.

And here she is, ready for 7th grade! 

24 August 2018

The Creativity Project - my entry

I came across The Creativity Project on the Leland Ave Studios website recently - 52 interviews with quilters around the world, one per week this year. I went back to the first one and have been reading through everything to get caught up. They're really interesting, but now that I'm up to number 20, it's starting to get repetitive. They all are with the modern/improvisational aesthetic. No precise piecing here! All solid-colored fabrics - not a print to be found. If there is one, it certainly would not be random scrappage from 20-40 years ago, as inhabits my fabric boxes, from other people giving me their old fabric when they clean out their sewing rooms. All have won competitions or been been featured at QuiltCon, some after quilting for only a couple of years.

So for fun, here's my "entry" into the Creativity Project. Maybe I'll actually submit it to that website - HA! Because I am SO not like that! Let me know what you think ...

Trina is a stay-at-home-mom who started sewing because she wanted pretty things in her house that she couldn't afford, but a couple of bloggers convinced her it was possible to make them herself. She grew up actually hating even the idea of sewing, because it was a girl thing and she wanted to do cool things at Scouts with her brothers ... too bad BSA didn't let girls join until Jan. 2019. Her bachelor's degree from Western Oregon University was the generic "Social Sciences" - it was a composite of history, government and journalism. Nothing to do with art. She has entered no quilt shows or competitions, she teaches no sewing classes, and she has received no recognition for her work beyond the Likes she got on Facebook from personal friends when she finished her first (and only, so far) quilt.

red sand on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, June 2018.

How would you describe your quilting style/aesthetic?
Mostly scrappy, because that's what I have. I have lots of fabric from other people cleaning out their sewing rooms and giving me their leftovers. Some was big enough to make into clothes, and some is just scraps. The fabric I've purchased myself has mostly been to make clothes for my kids, and the leftovers have been shifted into starting quilts.

All the pink I could find in my sewing boxes, including scraps from various dresses, into this rail-fence twin-sized quilt. Title: The Pink Babies. Started summer 2014, finished Dec. 2016.

How would you describe the creative environment in your home as a child?
Creativity at my house as kids was focused on music, story telling, and writing. Some of my siblings got into drawing, but not me. Textiles as an art medium is a totally new thing for me.

What artists and makers do you most admire or have an influence on your work?
Dana at Made Everyday
gets full, 100% credit in helping me believe that sewing was something that I could even do in the first place. I did not set out to find her sewing blog. I wasn't looking for/at sewing blogs at all. I was doing online searches for home decorating ideas, and somehow managed to stumble across her website. She was posting tutorials of adorable clothes she was making for her daughter who was 3 or 4 - I have a daughter the same age. I didn't necessarily want to SEW, but I did want those clothes for my kid. So I started sewing clothes. A lot of the clothes-sewing bloggers I followed also made quilts, and that also looked like something I wanted to have in my home ... it was a natural evolution that I can't really pinpoint something specific that expanded my horizons. Now I follow primarily quilt blogs, and I've got it in my head to start making bags as well. Again, natural flow of the thought process and not anything I've specifically sought out.

The first article of clothing I ever made: a skirt attached to a store-bought shirt, fall 2011.

I could list a lot of bloggers who have given me ideas and inspiration, both clothes and quilt sewing, but the list has changed over the years. I still follow Made Everyday, and I also like Noodlehead and Stitched in Color right now. I'm also doing this year's Block of the Month with Academic Quilter.

Do you consider yourself a quilter, an artist, or some combination of both?
Probably more a quilter than an artist because I'm still very much at the beginning of my quilting/learning process. I knew when I started that I was either making zero quilts, or six. No in between, because I have 5 kids and a husband. I've finished one so far, two more started, and the other three planned. But I do believe that quilts can be art. Mine aren't necessarily "art" because they're meant to be on someone's bed. There are some out there that definitely are art!

How do you define "making with intention"? 
I define it as a pretentious phrase to make people feel better about themselves regarding their sewing. Is it possible to make without intention? If you're going to create something, even if it's just experimenting with your materials to see what happens, there's a certain amount of intention just to get off your couch and do something.

Do you think that having a craft makes us more compassionate? If so, then how?
I don't think compassion is inherent in craft. I'm sure people can get pretty arrogant about things they've made, which is an opposite of compassion. But if you're making something for someone, or to provide a service, yes. Craft can absolutely help one develop compassion.

How does creating feed your soul/spiritual purpose?
As a Mormon, I believe that creating IS our spiritual purpose. We get to share creating with God as we grow and develop. It is very cool to take random things - fabric and notions, in this case - and manipulate and organize them into something that's beautiful. That was what got me started in sewing - the motivation to get to the end result. I didn't want to sew, but I wanted the clothes and the quilts, and I was willing to do the work to get them.

Are there any rituals that you perform to prepare/ground yourself in your work?
I need a clean sewing table. My "sewing room" is a table stuck in the middle of an open storage room in my basement, so I'm surrounded by all kinds of random things. Camping gear, food storage, the laundry, all the coats and shoes, etc ... I need my physical environment to be at least a little bit tidy so I can focus, so the table itself has to be clean for me to work.

What is the support system you have in place for creating work?
My husband is so encouraging and supportive, he could carry this all on his own. Fortunately, he doesn't have to. My sister Mindy, who shares this blog, also started sewing around the same time I did and we've had a great time learning together. I've loved our joint projects - we made a quilt for our sister Tawnia, and another one for our parents.

They're also an awesome support - they travel between our two homes more than we can, and have always been willing to haul packages back and forth of fabric, patterns, and projects so we don't have to pay international shipping. The funniest was a couple of years ago - Tawnia was driving from Alberta to Connecticut with two huge garbage bags of fabric in her car, from Mindy to me ... and got quizzed at Customs when crossing Canada-US border. "What's with all the material?"

How do you deal with comparison to/envy of others? Can you describe a time when you used comparison/envy/admiration to push yourself in your own work and self-discovery?
My entire sewing hobby is based on admiration of others! Hard to narrow it down to just one or two specific moments. I read blogs and get ideas - my quilt list of things I want to make is 20-30 different things, so I'd better get busy. I don't really have an envious component to it, because I still consider myself a total beginner. And they are not. I am fine seeking inspiration and guidance.

The only envy-point, I guess, would be that they seem to be able to buy all the fabric under the sun - there's a lot that I want. I don't want to say that I "can't afford" it. I could buy it - my husband does have a good job and we are financially secure. But our income is not infinite and we have higher priorities for our money rather than more fabric.

What was the most challenging thing you ever made?
A dress, actually. The Fairy Tale dress from Oliver+S. The lining being attached to the dress was hard, and it was the first time I installed a zipper. It looks like a simple dress, but boy howdy, it was not! Easily the most complicated thing I've ever made, before or since.

June 2016

What does it mean to you to work in a traditionally domestic medium that historically has been regarded as predominantly female (aka "women's work")?
I find it hilarious, because I always avoided sewing for that very reason. I still shake my head about it on a regular basis. The first time my husband came home from work and saw me at a sewing machine, he stopped, turned around, and came back 5 seconds later with a camera.

The very first picture - the first thing I ever sewed was a Christmas tree skirt, that my friend cut out and pinned for me, and then loaned me her machine to sew it. Jan 2011.

How do you see your current work in the context of quilting history?
I don't. I see it in the context of my family's history. The Pink Babies quilt has a story with the title, and in the pieces in the quilt. I can tell you every single dress I made from those fabrics - who it was for, and why. The quilts I'm making for my other daughters also have meaning and significance to our family, but not really anyone else. If my quilts are only for my children and their descendants, and no one else ever hears my name, I'm good with that. As long as my family knows I love them and made these things for them, that's enough.

the Grandma Nancy's Heritage quilt - my husband's mother made the top, and we found it in her house after she passed away. I finished it and gave it to my daughters, May 2016.

22 August 2018

Y is for youth camp

One of these days, I will get back to my original Y plan and actually execute it!! But first ... youth camp. At our church, there's day camp for ages 8 to 11, and when you turn 12, you can go to sleep-away camp. SM turned 12 this spring, so it is time for Girls Camp! Our area always goes the third week of August.

I weaseled my way into being one of the adult leaders because I just wanted to go to camp myself - I LOVE CAMP!!!! - and I want to experience this with my daughters. There's also the fact that she has ADHD limitations and I felt like I should be there to help her navigate this new thing. (Second daughter is on the autism spectrum, so this will not be my only year as an adult leader at camp.)

Because it's GIRLS Camp, we decorate. My contribution was this pennant garland that kept going and going and going ... it ended up being put together in three different sections that were each 20 feet long.

It turned out to be a good thing that it was in sections. I had planned to put it around our central pavilion ... which we didn't have. The tents were in an oval grouping with just some picnic tables in the center but no covered area, not even a pop-up canopy or tarp. So I strung it between the tents.

I also made myself a small cross-body bag for my phone. The kids were banned from even bringing their phones to camp. The adults, on the other hand, were required to have them on their person at all times. I had a backpack, but I wanted my phone more accessible. Plus it will be handy to have going forward when I want to carry my phone and just a couple of small things instead of an entire purse.

I used the same zip pouch tutorial that I've used all the other times, so this is number 14, I think. But I resized it to 6x9 inches to start, and put the zipper across the short end rather than the long side. That made for a really small opening to flip it right side out after sewing, but it worked. Eventually. That was some tight maneuvering. I couldn't figure out how to insert the strap (which was just 5 feet of 2-inch grosgrain ribbon) between the outer and lining fabrics with the zipper there, so I just attached it to the outside.

And now I have a small cross-body bag for my phone! Camp or no camp. Yay!

31 July 2018

July journal

Just two projects this month: the seven mermaid tails for Peter Pan ...

... and continuing work on a decorative pennant garland (May journal #5) that I'm making for youth camp in 2 weeks.

The garland pieces will all be attached across the top by a (really, really long) strip of dark blue with stars on it. So far I have 60 triangles of various sizes, depending on the size of scrap fabric I was working with, and 40 circle flowers done. I'm using every piece of blue in my scrap bin that won't be added to a quilt because it's too scratchy, too flimsy, or I just don't really like the print. It's going to be outside at camp, so I'm using the less-loved fabric that I don't care about it getting trashed. (And for that matter, it's all scraps that were given to me when people were cleaning out their sewing - someone else's rejects!)

27 July 2018

still insane

Two years ago, I went a little insane with making ten togas for the community theater's summer production of The Music Man (which I was in with 3 of my girls). We weren't able to do summer theater last year because it was the same week as our family reunion (it was Annie, which we were very sad to miss) but we are back at it this year! Peter Pan!

I am still insane, because this year, I declined taking an on-stage role and instead, I was backstage as the costume manager. I figured I needed to be backstage to help take care of my own kids - JK is technically too young to be in the production (the rule is 6/entering 1st grade - she's 5 and entering Kindergarten), but she was going to be dragged along to all the rehearsals anyway. As for me, well, I can sew or figure out costume planning, as already demonstrated with the togas, so that's where I ended up even before the end of the auditions.

JK arrived at the audition and marched straight up to the executive producer, Jane ...

JK, very firmly: I want to be the pink mermaid!
Jane: Oh? Is pink your favorite color?
JK: No. My favorite color is purple.
Jane: Don't you want to be the purple mermaid?
JK derisively: There aren't any purple mermaids. I want to be the pink mermaid.

Her role was pretty much cast in stone at that point. And since I'd already agreed to take care of costumes, I needed to figure out mermaid tails ... seven of them.

This is a small community theater that's all volunteers, so there's no big costume shop. Everyone is pretty much on their own, unless it's a specialty piece. My job was basically to decide (with Jane, and some consulting with the director) what the costume guidelines would be for the various groups - pirates, lost boys, islanders - and everyone was on their own to get a costume. The theater organization was able to rent an outfit for Captain Hook and a few of other pieces. We also raided the high school costume room (where we perform) for some more items. Lucky for us, the girl playing Peter Pan is a major cosplay fan, and had multiple Peter Pan costumes of her own - the director chose the one he liked best. And I'm traffic control for all of it.

Back to the mermaids ... specialty piece, so I made all the mermaid tails. Most was fabric pulled from my own boxes, but I did go buy PINK.

I looked up a couple of tutorials, but basically they were all made totally freehand and based on each girl's measurements. The body part goes all the way to their feet, with the fin separate. The fins have stiff interfacing between two pieces of fabric. I couldn't figure out how to enclose the seams and still be able to turn them on the curves, so I left them raw edge and finished them on the machine with a wide blanket stitch. I also sprayed everything really thoroughly with starch to cut down on fraying and unraveling, and used glitter glue on the edges. They're holding up pretty well.

Some of the girls did their own decorating with tulle, pearl beads, shells, and flowers. I worked on the ones for my own kids and a couple of the younger girls. Lots of glitter paint. Another mom covered them all in a glitter spray. They seriously look really awesome.

The mermaid scene is that they help Peter play a trick on Hook, when he "disguises" himself as a woman and covers his head with a lace shawl/veil. There's a duet between Peter and Hook that's really funny, "Oh My Mysterious Lady." My two littles are bottom right, and you can see that JK is indeed The Pink Mermaid.

Another costume I'm proud of is Tiger Lily - this one was all me. I decided that she'd wear a Polynesian sarong, and I made her flower crown.

(When TA and JK were not being mermaids, they were also islanders so they could run around and not have to sit the entire time.

So this is what we've done nonstop in the three weeks since getting back from vacation. And probably what we'll end up doing most summers for as long as we live here. It's long and tiring, but it's FUN. Theater is AWESOME.

P.S. Because I've been asked - yes, all 5 of my girls were in the play. SM was one of the Lost Boys. RG and JE were islanders. TA and JK were islanders and got the extra of the mermaids.