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 feel 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.

10 April 2018

#2018FALQ2 Mindy

It's time for another round of Finish-a-Long!  
I did this for the last round of 2017 and finished 3 of 5 projects.

The lamb fabric used to be part of a dress that tore.
I was able to keep the bodice and Cupcake loves sheep, 
so I wanted to remake it, and I finally will.

2. Baby Toys (three)
Lots of new babies (especially boys) so time to make gifts!
They will look similar to this one.

I actually won a gift certificate from the FAL I did before,
and with it I got the Alder skirt pattern. 
I've made two already and adore them.  This will be one too!

4. My Little Pony - Maggie Mae
The pattern from #1 (Maggie Mae)
and the MLP fabric from #3.

I love the McKenzie Tunic pattern.
It's my favorite and I've made it many many many times.
Cupcake has now outgrown the pattern, so time to grade up!

6. Abbey Jacket for Cupcake
This is the repeat from the first FAL that never got done.
(The fifth FAL did get finished, just not in conjunction with FAL.)

7. Doll Quilt
A UFO I started for Christmas, and realized she was getting enough stuff.
Low priority, but it's always nice to clear out the project box.

8. Christmas Quilt
Not likely to get done, but just in case I get motivated.
I've got about half of the squares sewn together, I think.

08 April 2018

V is for Valentine

We went a little crazy with Valentine's Day this year. We made:

- hearts out of plastic canvas and yarn. We ended up with more than 20 of these, and we looped ribbon and hung them up in windows. TA and JK kept saying they wanted to "knit" and I had to keep correcting them to "sew" or "embroider." They had found some random sheets of plastic canvas that have been kicking around for forever, and I cut every last bit of it into hearts. It was a lot of handstitching. My little girls thought it was awesome.

- cards with cardstock, foam stickers from Target, and ink/stamps. We didn't mail any out this year, just made them for each other.

- envelopes to hold all those cards along with some treats. I trimmed the tabs off manila folders and closed the sides with packing tape. Easy. Even SM, a big middle schooler now, loves our family Valentine party every year.

- "suncatchers" (although obviously without the SUN) with contact paper, tissue paper, and a Sharpie.

I'm in a bit of a craft-like-crazy mode this year, just to clear out a lot of old supplies that have been sitting around for forever. This was helpful with the plastic canvas and the contact paper.

And even though we moved into March and now April, I was still in heart mode when I made my little quilt for A Doll Like Me. I was trying to get it done for Project Quilting, but I got just the top done. Finally did some light quilting and the binding today. I outlined the hearts with stitch-in-the-ditch to make them stand out more, and then the loops down the side. I didn't want it too dense because I'm learning that dense quilting makes things stiff. This is for a child so it needs to be soft. The back is the same flannel that I used on the doll quilt TA made.

06 April 2018

Ishi Dress

Remember the finish-a-long from October?  It is hosted on many blogs, but it was Marci who contacted me to let me know I was one of the winners!  I think Trina hates me for all the things I've won (the fat quarters for the Woven Star, a jelly roll for the Jelly Dot, and more recently some Christmas layer cakes), so I decided to share my gift certificate to Imagine Gnats.  She got fabric, and I got more patterns: Alder skirt for me and Ishi dress for the girls.

I had seen the Ishi dress pattern long before I bought it, and thought it looked like a lot of fun.  I was happy to have the opportunity to use it to make some as Easter dresses for my girls.  As I sewed though, I was happier that I didn't have to pay for the pattern because there were some tricky parts.

-The weight of fabric is important.  The blue is a lighter weight, so I feel like Cupcake's dress loses a bit of the shape.  And the pockets (plus lining) are heavier, so hemming that was ridiculous and didn't go well at all. 

-Those princess seams are a bugger.

-Set-in sleeves are not my favorite.  I did manage to do two of them without puckers though.

-Zippers. Yuck. This was my first time actually following a pattern to put zippers in an article of clothing.  Add the lining in there, and it was a bit finicky.  I did Cupcake's dress first, and sewed too close to the zipper so the fabric keeps getting caught.  At least I learned from my mistake so Snowflake's zipper runs smooth.

I let myself get distracted by a lot of other projects in the middle of making these, but I forced myself to get them finished in time for Easter.  After trying the size 10 on Cupcake I worried it looked too big (but not too long), she loved it anyway and didn't want to take it off.  And I'm glad I made the size 2T for Snowflake, because it fit her perfectly. The longer they wore them, the more I liked them.

-Cupcake loves sheep, and I had just picked up some fat quarters with sheep on them.  I was just barely able to eek out the pockets from that fat quarter!  Yay!

-It was fun to pick out a variety of fabrics - that sunshiney yellow! - even if I would pair things up differently in the future.  (I like less contrast between the side and the pocket.)

-Can we talk about those pockets?  Although Cupcake said it was too hard to reach them, she certainly loved having them.  Because it was EASTER!  She had a place to put all her eggs and candy!  I felt like such a genius when I noticed that.  

So in the end, I was happy I made them,  It was a pattern I had been wanting to try, and the girls got new dresses.  Will I make it again?  I'm not sure.  There are other patterns that I would repeat first, but this one may pop up again in the future.

05 April 2018

U is for UFO

A UFO in sewing-speak is UnFinished Object. This is different from WIP - Work In Progress. A UFO is something that is just sitting there unfinished. A WIP is actually progressing, even if it's suuuuuper slow.

Over a year ago, I finished the Pink Babies quilt for JE. I had some blocks left over, so I put them together into a rail-fence big block and bordered it with the same fabric as the quilt border. And it's just sat there ever since, moved around from this shelf to that shelf.

I finally made it into a pillow this week.

The swirly pink top edge of the quilt is also the fabric for the back of the pillow. I was going to make a matching pillow case with it, but I cut it wrong so now it won't work for that. So it's the pillow back, and the last of it is into the scrap bin.

03 April 2018

T is for travel

More zip bags! This makes 11. (I need a card on the wall to make tally marks - I'm going to lose track one of these days.) I made these as a set - they're reversed from each other with the inside/outside fabrics.

The larger tan/red one is identical to the one I made for RG's teacher at school - my sister-in-law saw it and wanted one too. She didn't have toiletry bags for traveling, and her birthday was coming up anyway ...

And here they are in her luggage ready for their spring break trip.

31 March 2018

March journal

Very few photos here, because these things are either already in their own posts, or will get them when they're all the way finished ... here we go again for my monthly review.

1. I bought new curtains for my bedroom from Ikea and they were WAY too long. I cut them almost in half to get the length where I wanted it, so now I have that extra fabric for the other small window and probably the bathroom. It almost seems like cheating to BUY curtains instead of making them from scratch, but hello - cheap Ikea fabric! The windows don't get to wear expensive fabric, my kids and I do.

2. SM's theater costume - I finished the peasant top in Feb, the skirt and apron this month. I also did an alteration job on a skirt for a friend, which took a lot longer than I thought it would.

Less than an hour after I finished SM's apron, I was cutting fabric for more zip bags because I never finished the batch on the list from right after Christmas. JK wants her treasure bag! And I sliced my index finger with my rotary blade ... so that ended all sewing for over a week, which was especially irritating because I was motivated to keep sewing! Who knows what I would have finished that day if I hadn't gashed my finger! It's still not fully healed but I could at least get back to work finally before the end of the month.

3. Doll quilt - Back to work with my own contribution for A Doll Like Me, which was going to be submitted to Project Quilting 9.6 as a scrap project ... but I ran out of time for that. I did get the pieced top entirely done but it still needs to be quilted and bound. This is where it sits now. It will have pink binding, which is also a leftover scrap! And I'm apparently cleaning out the baby-print flannel on the doll quilt project, because I haven't sewn anything for a baby for a really long time.

And I still need to get 4 more daughters to work on theirs. This is apparently an extremely long-term service project - I'm glad that ADLM has all the other contributions from the quilt drive to distribute first.

4. I made 2 more zip bags for gifts that will be given to their recipient tomorrow. Up to 11 now, and poor TA and JK still haven't gotten their's. If it weren't for that darn finger injury!! SM wants another one for summer camp, I want one for summer camp (I'm going with SM as a leader), and I'll probably make more at Christmas for the next bunch of school teachers. But those can wait awhile.

5. I worked on my DC map embroidered quilt off and on because I hauled it to two different book clubs and when I was chaperoning backstage during SM's play performance.

We needed to rearrange some curtain rods between the living room and one of the bedrooms, and FINALLY got that done. We took down the metal slatted blinds in the last bedroom when we put up the curtains, because I hate those blinds. (Too many years in apartments.) There is now only one set in my house, and they're in the basement next to the furnace. So we'll leave them. But the rest are GONE!!! Hooray!!!

Adam got another set of doors up on the kitchen cabinets, but doesn't like how they line up together, so he's probably going to take it all down and do it again. Where's the eye roll on Blogger ... just get the doors up!!! He keeps saying that he "sees every flaw." I'm really not sure what level of perfection he's going here but if he doesn't let some of those flaws go, we're going to die before the kitchen is done.

One of the garage doors has been sticking and not working properly. Conveniently, a former neighbor gave us a brand new door opener motor and pulley system, still in the box, when they moved 3 years ago. It's just been sitting there all this time, so Adam spent a Saturday swapping out the door opener system. (And it's one less thing taking up space! Yay!)

21 March 2018

Happy Scrappy Baby Toy

This is a busy week.  On Thursday (tomorrow!) we are leaving our cold Canadian home to visit the slightly-less-cold of Idaho for spring break.  Lots of cleaning and packing and maybe finishing the girls' Easter dresses.  So I shouldn't have looked up the latest Quilt Challenge on Persimon Dreams.  But I did.  I had really enjoyed veering off my planned path and making my little String Bean quilt last time, so why not see if I'm inspired again.  

Scraptastic.  Of course I'm inspired!  I love scraps.  I love working with them and turning them into something new.  How could I not want to do this??  With so little time, the only way I could allow myself to do it was to use it to check off something on my to-do list.  And I have a handful of baby presents I need to make.  Perfect.

Scanning over my Pinterest board of quilting ideas, I saw a lot of scrappy stars, so I quickly jumped on that idea (since I'm really bad at debating between everything) and got working.  I pulled out all my pinks and purples and cut 3" squares - I was impressed I found 16 different fabrics!  And I had just enough of the sunny floral for my background (leftover from Snowflake's Easter dress).

Lots of fun fabrics on the front.  Super soft pink fleece on the back.  A few ribbons for baby to play with.  And as a bonus, it crinkles too!  Finished at about 8" square and made in about three hours.  Another bonus, since I didn't repeat any fabrics, I have a second set of HST's to make another one.  And while I was at it I cut out squares to make a boy version (since this is for a set of twins!).