Wednesday, May 18, 2011

wip wed #4

my big work in progress to report this week:

a pin cushion.

and that's really about the extent of my sewing life lately thanks to my other big work in progress (baby, 10 weeks down, 30 to go). i'm tired, sick on and off, and just not interested in doing more than look at sewing projects and rifling through my stash dreaming.

still, i am really liking heather bailey's fruit pincushions and hope to work my way up to one of her darling elephant pincushion patterns.

this little lady, effie, is about the cutest thing i could ever stick a pin in and i'm not even a huge elephant lover. but i have the goods to make her and the pattern, so i hope to get around to assembling her soon. once the fruit is done.

and once i finish "taite", which i promised my daughter would be done by her birthday, fast approaching.

Friday, May 13, 2011

improving, i think

i hope it's apparent that this time it was moi, not the eight year old, who dove in and made another apron. i tried heather ross's "sunday hostess apron" from weekend sewing again. this time i chose the more kitschy/retro 60's-ish floral and graphic print combo in golds and pinks from alexander henry "in the kitchen" collection. last time, i didn't gather the skirt enough. this time i think i gathered too much and it's not quite wide enough to suit an adult, which is a bummer because i was making it for an adult. pooh!
there are times when i wonder if i'll ever get my sewing right. not perfect, mind you. just right.

something i did do right this go around that i am feeling rather pleased with myself about: i realized all on my own that in order to get my edge stitching as close to the edge as possible, i should move my needle to the farthest right position. so smart of me! (big smile on my face.) i love it when i actually know something or figure it out on my own.
on the first apron i made (top two fabrics) you can see i got near the edge on the tie (green fabric), but not really super close like i did on the second apron's ties (gold crosshatch fabric). and doing the tiny hem on the skirt was a lot more accurate and easy when i moved the needle over (red fabric, 1st apron; white & yellow fabric, 2nd apron). it's hard to keep the fabric moving through properly when it's not even touching one of the feed dogs. this time as i sat down to sew, i thought to myself, "you could get a lot closer to the edge and still have the fabric on the feed dogs if you would just adjust the needle position." i was so right. good job, me.

something i still didn't get right on my second piece: a smooth skirt hem.
you can see i have some gathers on the underside of the skirt hem due to excess fabric and trying to keep a smooth, even hem on the top side. in reality, i may not have done anything wrong, it may just be due to the way the pattern is drawn. you are supposed to do a tiny flip under on the skirt bottom then flip it up for a 5" hem. five inches seemed a bit deep to me, so i only did 3" instead. but the pattern is drawn in a tapered shape which means that when you flip it up several inches, it doesn't match up and the only way to make it match that i could figure was to have a few gathers in there. it all looks good on the front side, i just worry it looks wrong on the backside. which of course doesn't really matter except that i want to make this for someone and don't want it to look hokey, even from the backside.

in reality, i'm just glad to be done. i've not felt like making anything at all for the better part of 3 weeks. last friday i got myself geared up to make these aprons, but had to stop halfway through and couldn't get my gumption going again until today. i just made myself sit down and do it. now 'tis done. only it's not suitable for the person i'd intended it for. good thing my girls like it. truth is, i was going to make these aprons for my first five followers, but i'm not feeling too confident with how their turning out and may have changed my mind again. it's a vulnerable feeling, offering something handmade and imperfect to another soul. even if it is a gift.

the upshot of all this rambling is that my follower giveaways are still not done (over two months later) and i'm back to square one with what to make. really, what was i thinking volunteering to make something random? silly me. don't anyone worry too much or feel bad if you're supposed to be getting one. i'm not that stressed about it, i'd just like to make something simple and nice as a thank you and i'm having a hard time deciding what that will be. the headbands were easy, this one not as much. back to the drawing board and daydreaming.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

tie another one on

my eight year old daughter is making us a "healthy lunch" today as part of requirements for her Faith in God award that she is working on. she decided to whip up this little number for the occasion. she says it's "old fashioned" and she wants to put some trim around the bottom and top. oh, i love how she just tackles an idea and goes for it! the apron is cut from one piece. it reminds me of how fauna starts to make the special birthday dress for briar rose in sleeping beauty - she cuts a hole out of the fabric for the bottom opening in the skirt, etc.

i really do need to get her some instruction so her projects are more durable. then again, maybe she wouldn't go for it if she knew more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


last wednesday, i took a freemotion quilting class to learn how to do my own quilting beyond just straight lines. i am especially interested in learning how to stipple quilt so i can do it on "taite". the first half of the class was spent putting together mini-quilt sample pieces that we can practice on later. i wish we'd spent about half an hour less on that and a bit more on the actual content of the class because we ran out of time. louise continued to give instruction, but i had to get home for the afternoon taxi runs and missed some of the more detailed instruction she gave. still, i learned a lot and got some wonderful new ideas.

i had time to do a few samples of different basic stitch techniques:
we started with writing our names and doing loops. basically, when doing freemotion, you drop the feed dogs (those grippy guys under the needle plate that move the fabric through the machine) and you guide the fabric through all on your own. you "draw" with the needle and thread. it involves thinking a lot as you would when you draw with a pen. that's why we started with our names since louise said we could write them in the dark by now. our brains already know how to do it.

i was pretty pleased with how my name turned out and i did alright on the loopy vines. stones/pebbles/bubbles were also relatively easy. the stipple and feather techniques were harder. definitely need to practice doodling them on paper and on the machine before i attempt them on a quilt. it's a careful balance of speed and knowing which direction to move in. i would be moving along well, then suddenly not know exactly where to go next, but you have to keep moving, so i would get flustered and make mistakes. pretty challenging, but fun, too.

louise demonstrated how to do more complex designs, some very detailed, like flowers and geometrics, but i'm far, far away from anything like that. if i can just get stippling under my belt, i'll be happy. i think it's great to learn new things, to feel a little foolish as you try to wrap your brain around something new, and to continue to do so through out life. now i just need the time to practice and perfect the new skills.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

wip wed #3

i've missed the last few wips whilst keeping up with quilting class last month. since quilt class is over and i am pregnant, i honestly have been less than enthused about sewing for the last two weeks or so. this week i have nothing new to report unless you count when i broke open and sorted through a jelly roll yesterday afternoon. i found myself actually wanting to make something, but not something too big (like working on my quilts) and pulled out the scraps from "out on a limb" intending to chain piece them for a doll quilt only to realize my machine still had pink thread in it and the neutral i needed was downstairs. i'm avoiding excessive or unnecessary stair climbing as much as possible these days, so i nixed that idea. then i took out a heather bailey pattern for some pin cushions but realized my entire sewing kit was also still downstairs and rather gave up. i have a jelly roll of just wing it by momo for moda that i'm thinking of making into a quilt with the same pattern i created for "out on a limb."  sorting through that didn't require any missing sewing tools so i tackled it. i took out the raisins and denim blues to brighten up the color palette. i have no idea what to do with them, so maybe i'll give them away once i decide exactly what i'm doing. i don't know what anyone else will do with them either, but that's their choice, not my worry.
"ins" so far
otherwise, here's my report since my last wip:

under construction: 
a whole lot of my house. changing out the carpets turned into "lets go ahead and do all those baseboards, molding, window casings, wall trim and shelving we wanted to do first." looks like this everywhere downstairs:

"out on a limb" - completed another 1/4 of the machine quilting, including the 30 minutes i spent sewing with the wrong color in the bobbin thread, which had to be redone with the right color

"taite" - top block rows completed; small inner border done unsatisfactorily, needs to be redone. still needs outer border, backing, binding

on hold:
"at last" still needs a ruffle (won't it always?)

trips to the store:
went to joann (anyone else have a hard time saying that without the "s" on the end, which really isn't actually part of the name?) easter weekend for the big button sale and some skirt material for my girls

been saving up and waiting for buttons to go on sale so i could stock up. love buttons!

in the mail:
got some pom pom de paris by french general for moda for some baby girl quilts for the voice teacher (and maybe myself)

in the wings (or stuff i have and would like to do eventually):
about a dozen quilts (nothing new other than baby girl quilt)
easter spring skirts for my girls
sweetwater yellow apron kit
"ladybug" from small stash sewing for the 4yr old
fresh picked fruit pincushions from heather bailey
"abbey tote" by v & co.

new projects: none (well, there is the pregnancy i guess)
completed: none
currently in progress: just two quilts? i think that's all i can count

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


my gradual interest in sewing was partially brought on by the discovery of softies, also known as plush toys and a few other names to boot. i have some issues of stuffed magazine on my crafting book shelf and at least half a dozen books featuring softies or sock creatures. something about their handmade, individualized, loved-to-pieces velveteen rabbit look really appeals to me. they're supposed to be quirky and off beat. or they can be much more polished looking if you like. softies can really be any which way you choose because they're made by you, for you. i love the idea of picking up some fabric, a needle & thread, then just making up a special little friend. there are also plenty of patterns for copying other people's wonderful ideas.

the above gal is my one and only creation so far. at one point i named her either "claire" or "clarabell" but i can't remember which and neither seems to fit anymore. that's an interesting phenomenon about softies: they begin to take on personalities. when i first read stuffed i was amused and even somewhat annoyed by the profiles and back stories many creations had. now i kinda understand.

i started her over a year ago. can't even remember how long it's been and i'm not sure why she's still unfinished. at the minimum, she needs her head stuffed and sewn on. i might put some arms on her. i might not. i've got plenty of plans for others i'd like to try out, but my 'to do' list is already quite long. softies aren't even useful. they're just cute. at least a quilt will keep you warm or an apron can be worn. that's probably why i've not spent much time sewing softies.

my oldest daughter has made the most softies. they are all completely cute even if lacking in durability but the quality of her work is improving. she pulls them out to work on periodically. so far there is a swan/ostrich, the animal print girl (species unspecified), frogalina, and the cutest little goat made out of some light blue polka dot satin leftover from one of my old pajama pants. couldn't find the goat, who is probably my favorite.

my oldest son loves the mixed-up kind and made a truly off-beat little monster but has since not done more. he said it took a long time. maybe when the fancy strikes he'll do it again.

the eight year old has made the body of a doll and partially completed a classic sock monkey, which is a long-standing form of the now exploding crafting genre.

here are a few of my favorite softie books:

wee wonderfuls by hillary lang - tons of sweet fairytale-ish dolls. i'm dying to make the red-headed flip doll and the fairy tale doll with yellow grosgrain ribbon hair.

socks appeal by brenna maloney - all sock creations to keep your monkey company. there are some totally basic forms that i'm sure the kids can make. the seven year old son is itching to try out the snakes and starfish.

softies only a mother could love - this is one i bought early on before many others were available. a huge variety of styles, each with a pattern.

sew me, love me by hsui-lan kuei -  this one is chock full of the cutest, vintage-y, well loved looking softies. each one seems to be some child's best friend lovingly made by a grandmother. most have really long, lean limbs, which i've discovered appeals to me. and that pig with the button nose puts piglet to shame. the four year old really, really wants the "sleeping doggy." she pours over the book on a regular basis, making up long lists of "to do's" for me. there's a darling monkey at the back of the book that i'm sighing over, but unfortunately no instructions for him. i think this is my favorite.

oh, this has got me itching to make some new friends!  we certainly don't need any more toys around here, but the fun of dreaming up and then producing our own is irresistible. if i get put on bedrest again, you can bet i'm going to be stitching away some of these by hand.