22 December 2017

S is for school

We've homeschooled from the beginning, but this past summer, for a lengthy list of reasons, it was time to register our girls for the local public schools. SM went straight into middle school, RG and JE are at the elementary school, and TA and JK are still little and home. They'll join their sisters at school in a couple more years - the current plan is to put them in late, like at 2nd or 3rd grade. (Although with the way they keep fighting, they may go into 1st and K next fall just so they don't kill each other. But that's another discussion.)

So that meant that for Christmas, I entered the obligatory world of Teacher Gifts. I don't like feeling obligated (and I do), but at the same time, I really do appreciate the teachers our girls have - they've made our transition from home to public school SO smooth! The girls aren't just tolerating it, they're thriving. RG is getting a ton of therapy that we couldn't find in private practice, particularly physical and occupational therapies. (Why is no one willing to treat special needs kids? The demand is massive!!) So big huge thank yous to the new members of Team Caudle! Presents all around! I seriously had to make a list of all of "my staff" to give gifts to, and I still didn't get to them all. Need to finish the list at Valentine's Day, I suppose.

Since I have far more time than money, I made:

Zipper bags from Noodlehead for the 4th and 2nd grade teachers. They really are amazing. This was entirely from my fabric stash, and Mindy had given me a few zippers forever ago. I got more zippers in bulk from Amazon so I can make more for all the therapists for an end-of-the-school-year thank you. (If I get to it. That's the idea, anyway.)

2nd grade teacher - the inside was a blue with an abstract of the phases of the moon

4th grade teacher. I need to make this one exactly as-is again because my sister-in-law loved it, and her birthday is coming up.

This one was for a gift exchange at a book club - I nailed it on the fabric/zipper contrast.

Pocket handwarmers for the principal and vice principal. They are not sit-in-the-office guys, I always see them out and about, including outside at all the recess times. These were all flannel scraps. I added some lemon essential oil to them, and Mr. T loved the scent. Mr. K raved about how nice they are because it's a SUPER cold winter this year!

- Peppermint foot soak - you have to scroll down in the link to get to the foot soak. I didn't just give little tiny one-time "servings." I put it in pint jars and labeled them to use 2 tablespoons at a time. This went to the special ed teachers, 3 therapists, and their extra-curricular dance class. I saw one of the special ed teachers in the hall after I'd left it in the office, and she said it smelled so fresh! She was excited to use it! I made 7 of these. Seven pint jars out of my house! Hooray! (We have a crazy amount of pint jars and we don't do THAT much canning, so I specifically looked for things to make that would be put in jars.)

Cookie jars - particularly to get rid of the millions of Snickers bars that I stashed away at Halloween. We had SO MANY Snickers bars! And we have an obscene number of canning jars in the basement. So all I had to buy was the cake mixes, and those are a buck each. Here's something silly for you: I saw Walmart had cookie jars for sale for $5 each. Ha! I'll make it myself, thanks! We made five jars. These didn't end up going to school - we gave them to people around the neighborhood.

3 minute fudge - this is my secret weapon for the holidays. My alternate is to make it with the Ghiradelli peppermint chips and white chocolate. We took a bunch to the public library for the librarians on the children's floor, because THEY are part of our teaching staff as well!

15 December 2017

R is for ribbon border

Mindy and I are working on our first long-distance joint project! The woven star doesn't count for long distance, because we did it while she was visiting me at my house, and I just finished it after she left. This time, we're sending stuff back and forth in the mail. She's doing the main part of the quilt and I took the border.

We went with this tutorial by Ivy Arts for a "ribbon border". I started by figuring out what I needed for my squares. If you have 2.5 inch strips (like a jelly roll pre-cut), 4 strips will make an 8-inch square. So 2.5x8 for individual cuts. If you have 2-inch strips, like I was cutting out of scraps, 4 strips will make a SIX-inch square. Quite a difference.

The more types of fabric you have, the better. We used leftover fabric from other projects, scraps, and any coordinating red Mindy could round up. So I did a lot of trimming of fabric to 2x6 inch strips.

Once you have your squares, cut them diagonally, half in each direction. If you cut them all the same direction, the ribbon effect is lost when putting them into the border lengths.

 BAD - you don't want the strips all in continuation, you want them alternating.

GOOD - each straight side is touched by the end slice, giving it a "braided" effect.

When it was done, my 6-inch squares made a border that was 4 inches across.

Keep adding triangles until you get what you need! Mindy requested four border strips - two at 60-inches long and the other two at 48. I also sent her some extra triangles if she needs to add anything for corners, or if we miscalculated anything. And now we all wait for her to get the strips and a few extra triangles in the mail, and to put it all together to show us the final quilt!

22 November 2017

R is for runner

Entry: 2017 4th quarter finish-along - my original entry post
Final link up: 2017 4th quarter finish-along

I don't have many decorations for my house for any season/holiday except Christmas (and even there, I don't have nearly as many as I'd like). When the weather started to turn cool for fall, I got a bug for some kind of autumn something-or-other to spice up my house, and I went with a table runner.

The strips were cut to 2 1/2 x 12 inches, and the whole thing is 88 inches long. I have a really long kitchen table. There are only 2 fabrics in the whole thing that were cut from yardage - the green with silver hearts, and the red silhouette. It's Jane Austen from the Ardently Austen line - I'm on an Austen kick right now with audio books while sewing, so I needed that one. I'm sure you understand about needing a certain piece of fabric.

Anyway, the rest of the fabric was all scraps.

I quilted it with straight line X's every 6 strips. The back and the binding were separate pieces, but the same fabric.

Done just in time for Thanksgiving! 

Because I had some extra strips, I made reversible placemats for my parents for their Christmas present. Thanksgiving on one side and Christmas on the other.

08 November 2017

White Discovery Quilt

As I was experimenting with the layout for the original I Spy Quilt, someone made the suggestion to pull out the white squares.  And boy, what a difference it made for that rainbow-colored quilt.  But I was left with a bunch of novelty squares - so another quilt, of course!  

I got the top put together during my crafting-time in Connecticut this summer. I kept the quilting simple (a chevron pattern to mimic the backing) and got that done in an afternoon.  And then it waited while I got other projects done.  Trimmed and bound, it is a fun little quilt for baby Snowflake's first Christmas.

02 November 2017

Joint Projects

After several years of sewing, we finally got to do some together!
I spent the month of July in Connecticut with Trina and we made a quilt.
Our Woven Star in progress.
I did a majority of the cutting, pressing and sewing, to get the top done.
And Trina is doing the quilting and binding.

Three squares I made for Trina's Night Sky. 
Only three small squares out of... lots, but it was fun to contribute.

And my Jelly Dot baby quilt using my first jelly roll.
It was so nice to have Trina there to play with patterns and ideas.
She also did a LOT of sewing and cutting for the first half of the squares.
One thing I learned: small squares = lots of seams
(If you have the choice of 6" or 10" blocks, do 10.)


I love that I have someone to be excited about sewing with.  We share links and brainstorm ideas and I desperately wish we lived closer!  Looking forward to more shared projects in the future.

Ironing Board

My home is not big enough for a full size ironing board, so I've been using a wooden TV tray with a towel on it for a long time.  I finally upgraded!  A pretty cover that doesn't slip around or bunch up.  And it's detachable (Velcro!) so the tray can be used for other things. 

15 October 2017

Q is for quilting skills

4th quarter finish-along entry post
4th quarter link-up post on Sew Me

When I was 29, I spent a year working in Montana and due to a variety of circumstances, I had no living expenses except my car payment. I was able to save A LOT of money that year. So for my 30th birthday, I bought myself a plane ticket to Australia for a month. One of the souvenirs I brought home was a duvet for my bed and a couple of duvet covers, a plain purple jersey one and this one:

It's still near and dear to my  heart, but it's been sitting in the closet for years now. Last year, I was thinking about making quilts for my kids during our cold New England winters, and the idea came to me to make this into a quilt - lay it out with batting inside, quilt it, and sew it shut. I decided this would be my first test run for learning how to do free motion quilting. 

Last week, I literally crawled inside the duvet cover to lay out the batting smooth, and then pinned it all. Got it set up on my machine, and within 60 seconds of starting to sew, I had managed to get the fabric wrapped around the free motion foot, snagged in the machine, and snapped off the needle. Right.

Rule 1: GO SLOW.
Rule 2: Don't let the fabric get bunched up near the needle.

Picked out the stitches, and started over.

I was going to do swirls all over, but we see how that went so quickly. I think I'll backtrack and learn free motion quilting swirls on something substantially smaller ...

I just traced around the edges of the flowers, and didn't add any other quilting except an outline all the way around the edge of the quilt to make sure the batting stayed all the way out to the sides.

Don't look too closely at the flowers because heck yeah, this was a wrestling match between me and the sewing machine, and it's not very pretty. I'm being quite generous to myself to call this a new quilting "skill." The fabric isn't smooth at all - there are tucks and bulges all over the place. But from a distance, it works. JK, who is 4 and has claimed this for her bed, doesn't care. She just knows it's purple, and it's a quilt that Mommy made. That's good enough for me too.

06 October 2017

2017 finish along q4 - Trina

If you are here from the Finish Along link-up ... yes, there are two submissions from Operation Domestic Goddess. Mindy and I are sisters who share this blog from opposite ends of the continent, not even in the same country. She's in Alberta, Canada and I'm in Connecticut, USA. Different people, different projects!

My line-up:

1. This is a large woven star that Mindy and I did as a joint project when she visited me this summer. I need to sandwich, quilt, and bind it. I plan to follow the lines of the star with the quilting, but I'm not sure about quilting the outside yet. Maybe just keep following the lines out to the edge.

2. This is a duvet cover that is near and dear to my heart because I bought it in Australia. It hasn't been used for a duvet in years and years - it's just been sitting in a closet. So I'm turning it into a quilt - I literally crawled inside it the other day and laid out batting, and pinned it. This is my project for learning free motion quilting. Swirls! My 4 year old has claimed it because it's purple.

3. I got a bug the other day to make a fall-colored runner for my kitchen table. It's almost entirely from scraps - the only yardage I cut into was the green/silver hearts, and the red/silhouette (which is Jane Austen, by the way!) It's 88 inches long - I have a big table! The strips are 12 x 2.5 inches (no, I don't know why I didn't think to cut them 12.5 long). Time to figure out a backing. It will be bound in a brown and white tiny print.

4. My attempt at a design wall - it's just some random space in my work/storage room. (I do not have a pretty studio. At all.) I've been working on this off and on since January for my 11 year old - she calls it her "Night Sky" quilt. The big stars are 20 inches across and I'm not planning to make any more of them. Time to figure out my layout and start making little stars for the filler. Mindy made the three 8-inch ones to contribute.

And the theory is that I should make all new flannel pajamas for my 5 kids for Christmas, but honestly, they don't need more pajamas. Their drawers are crammed full of perfectly good clothing already. I might actually get to devote this winter's sewing ALL to quilts! That would be AWESOME!

05 October 2017

P is for Pearl bracelets

Yep, this is another Oliver + S pattern! The Ice Cream dress. I have the pattern only up to a size 4 - TA is turning 6 in a couple of weeks but is my teeny girl, so I just had to lengthen it a bit. I added a couple of inches to the green section and to the bottom band so it reaches the vicinity of her knees. If it gets too short, we'll just add leggings.

The green center fabric is called Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House - this is the first fabric I ever bought that I knew the name of the pattern and the designer. (I've since bought other fabrics by specific designers, but that's another story.) I loved it as soon as I saw it. I've actually been holding onto it for ... a really long time ... I think I bought it when we lived in Mississippi and we've lived in Connecticut for 4 years. Hmmm. Anyway - I've started using it now! I find it amusing that I see a lot of clothing and even quilts on various blogs and I can identify the fabric/designer, and some of it is used by a lot of people so it's really common. Like Pearl Bracelets. But in real life? Totally unique. No one else has a dress like this - the pattern or the fabric!

O is for Oliver + S

I love Oliver + S patterns - I learn something new every time I do a pattern. Pleats, pin tucks, different ways to flip a neckline with or without a lining ... those are the ones that stand out the most. I read the directions ahead of time but can never understand what they mean until I'm actually DOING it ... and then it's, "Oooohhhh ... I still have no idea what I did, but it worked."

First up - a Family Reunion Dress. I made it sleeveless because I expanded the shoulder/neck area, and I didn't feel brave enough to alter the sleeve pattern to accommodate for that. I also added length. I have the pattern only up to size 4, and JK is almost into a 5. She chose the fabric at the store, and we added the hint of blue lace around the bottom. She didn't like the pintucks - she called them "wiggles" - but they're such an integral part of the pattern that I might as well have just scrapped the whole thing. She came around when I threatened to give it to her sister when it was finished, and now she loves it.

Next was a pair of Lunch Box Culottes. JE recently decided she hates dresses (yyyyeah, she's my kid. I hated them too.) and was putting up a fight about getting ready for church. So I told her I'd make her some shorts that look like a skirt for her to wear to church and we could fool everyone.

Last is an Ice Cream Dress for TA. She bounced around with patterns and fabrics, and I finally cut her off. That will be posted next, for the letter P.

Lest you think the older two girls are getting shortchanged ... in 2016, I made only two dresses, for them. RG got the Fairy Tale Dress last summer, and SM wanted a Book Report Dress at Christmas. Also O+S! This wraps us around back to the beginning ... next set of 5 garments coming up! (After some more quilting.)

N is for Navy

Mindy and I did this joint quilt project while she was here this summer - it's now time for me to sandwich, quilt and bind it. We're really proud of how it turned out and excited for more joint projects in the future!

Even with my couch in the way ... this is the ONE picture we have of the two of us with the quilt top. And now we're on opposite ends of the continent again.

Entry post for 4th quarter Finish along
4th quarter Finish Along link up

I wanted to get the flimsy posted for N, because I have O and P done, and Q on the sewing machine. Ha! I'll post another picture when it's all the way finished.

ADDED 30 OCT 2017
It's finally pinned and ready for quilting!

ADDED 10 DEC 2017
D.O.N.E. And into the mail to be sent to Tawnia for Christmas! It's about 48x48 inches square.

04 October 2017

Finish-A-Long 2017 Q4 (Mindy)

I stumbled across a blog: Sew Me. Or rather, a particular post on that blog: the 2017 Finish-A-Long.  It's a multi-blog contest where you post a list of all the projects you have started and hope to get finished by the end of the quarter.  And then you post your finished projects at the end and possibly win some prizes.  Motivation to finish things?  I'm in.  
1. Fluttershy costume for Snowflake
The basic jacket is done, but needs hems and details.
Pants are cut out but not sewn.

All 12 are cut out, 4 sewn, 3 stuffed but not closed.
A Christmas gift for Snowflake.

I actually had it sewn together in May? June?
It has been a while.  Time to make it fray.

4. Fleece Jacket for Cupcake
I made one for Snowflake (as a trial Fluttershy)
and cut one out in a much larger size at the same time.
So the pieces are cut, but nothing is put together.
I should probably finish this one too - it needs closures.

This is where most of my time will go.
I've designed it and got all the fabric.
I can't wait to start making my squares!