Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Snapshot of Times Past

Bias Tape from the 70's
Last Thursday I had a hair cut appointment and about 2 hours before I needed to leave I realized I needed a baby gift for my hairdresser's new twin grandbabies. I quickly made a couple bibs and burp cloths. I was rooting through my tub of bias tape to use on the bibs and came across this package. It caught my attention because of the price-25 cents! I am fairly certain I purchased this back in the 1970's when I was in high school. The Talon brand was carried at my favorite fabric store back then. I think this caught my attention because I just purchased green bias tape to make those 3 hot pads last week. That package cost $1.90! And, it has only 3 yards of tape. This package has 5 yards. Oh, the good old days!

Sunday Afternoon Sewing

I've had a very 'sewing' afternoon. I am in love with Craftsy. I've signed up for a couple of classes and a couple workshops and I've bought a couple of patterns. This is a high quality site that provides instruction for a variety of crafts, not all of them thread (sewing, knitting, quilting) related. I saw a class today that is all about making great buttercream frosting! I also love that once you purchase a class it is available at all times, at your own pace. The files are not taken down after a set number of days. The video doesn't disappear. You can take notes, leave questions for the instructor or other participants. And the projects appear to be awesome. Most classes cost 39.99 although Craftsy features a couple classes on sale periodically. The workshops are run the same way. Some classes are offered free of charge. I signed up for a Block of the Month quilting class. (I am still surprised at my sudden interest in quilting.) The class is free and from what I've viewed, it's a good intro into quilting in a fun presentation. So that is how I spent part of my afternoon. 

I also worked on the blue rayon pants. I'm almost back to where I started. The pockets are reassembled, the back darts re-sewn. I'm ready to start the waistband. The waistbands are attached to the front & back separately, then sewn at the side seams. That will be the point where I will find out if all this effort, energy and time has been worth it. I sure hope so. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UFO's To The Rescue

I was so bored at work yesterday that I was motivated to finish 3 knitting UFO's. What's a UFO, you ask? UnFinished Object. I bet every crafter, regardless of medium, has them. In the knitting and sewing world, UFO's abound. I've been reorganizing my sewing studio and found way more sewing UFO's than I care to reveal. I'm working on finishing up many of them. It is puzzling to me why some projects get set aside with so little left to do to finish. A thought for another day. I want to write about what I finished. 

I finished these 2 sock projects. 
The colorful red sock on the left is the dreaded "2nd sock" from a pair I started last summer in the Purl Hunter KAL. The mate has been in my sock drawer for 9 months. Here is the perfect example of "Why didn't I finish this?" I had 10 stitches to bind off. That was it! Bind off 10 stitches and it was completed. It took me about 10 minutes. Now why didn't I finish it? Why did I lay it aside with only 10 stitches to bind off? No clue, but it's finished now and happily united with its mate. 

The odd looking socks on the right are yoga socks. They have neither a heel nor toe to provide grip when doing yoga poses. I only started these in June so they've not been laying around long. Still I'm glad to have them off the needles and available for my weekly yoga session. 

I also finished this cardigan. This was a KAL at my LYS last early fall. I actually had finished this and worn it a couple of times. Then I realized that the sleeve seams were finished on the right side. Oops! It was a pain to take out the seams. The yarn is thick/thin and because the fabric is so open, the seams had been crocheted, not just regular-style seaming. So the cardi sat around for several months before I tackled taking out the seams. Then it sat around a couple more months before I resewed the seams. Again, it took me all of about 30 minutes to accomplish the seaming. And now I can wear it again. 
I know this doesn't look very exciting, but the yarn is interesting and the cardigan was knit and constructed in an interesting manner. Instead of a back, 2 fronts and 2 sleeves, this is knit in rectangles that are then seamed together to create the garment. It can actually be turned upside down and worn that way, but I think it creates too much fabric around my neck, not a good look for me. I wasn't that crazy about the color, but I was matching it up with tops I have and it looks great with a navy or dark brown knit top underneath. 

So I'm really pleased with what I accomplished yesterday. With these 3 projects complete I'm pretty sure I have only 4 projects left on my needles. 
  • My Dahlia cardi which is coming along nicely. I'm about halfway finished with the 1st sleeve. 
  • My Bayarri cardi. This is a challenging entrelac cardigan. It's another knitting project way above my skill level so it's slow going. It will move up in priority once I finish Dahlia.
  • A simple fuzzy scarf for Miss Riley's Christmas present
  • A simple g-string project to match a knitted nightgown I made a couple years ago. This is going to be one of those projects I finish up in 30 minutes and wonder why it took me so long. 
So I celebrated my accomplishments by ordering yarn for a project I'm planning. And that's all I'm going to say about that!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Sewing

I've had a hard time focusing today so rather than work on the blue rayon slacks, I finished another UFO this afternoon. Yeah!

I made these hot pad holders to match an apron I made last summer. 

When I made the apron I didn't have any heat-resistant batting so I laid the squares aside until "later". I have no idea why I even remembered these little things, but a week or so ago, they popped in my head. I made a trip to Jo-Ann's and bought what I needed and here they are. 

Here is the apron I made last year. It is reversible, which is a technique I first used with this apron, but now utilize any time I work with quilting weight fabrics. 

It makes the apron beefier and provides a much nicer edge finish. 

A Friday Fabric Field Trip

I don't know where this week went, but I didn't accomplish much in the sewing studio. I did go fabric shopping though. 

A friend emailed me Thursday and invited me to go to Jackman's Fabrics on Friday. Big sale! We went to the location in Fairview Heights IL. I had never been there and fell in love. The store is laid out differently than the Missouri store I usually shop at. I don't understand why simply arranging the store differently would make such a big difference, but it did. So with the help of my friend, Aline, here is what I came home with. 

I am going to use these fabrics to make the book cover shown below. I had the 3 fabrics on the left in my stash. No clue where I got them or when. I didn't really care for the brown piece at the bottom. I know that it "goes" with the blue and the oriental print, but it just didn't sit right with me. So I found the brown (upper right) and the "light" fabric (lower right). With the 2 additional fabrics, I liked the original brown better and will use it in the book cover. 

So this project is pretty "quilty" for me, the die-hard I-don't-quilt seamstress. But, we made some of these Friendship Triangles at a recent ASG neighborhood meeting. I was really taken with them--to the point that I purchased the book. I want to make a cover for my Bible. So now that I have a good mix of fabrics I will be starting this after I finish my blue rayon slacks. 

I also purchased these 2 coordinating fabrics for a future project. 
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

And my final purchase opens up a real can of worms. 

 I saw these Calendar Quilts hanging on the wall and fell in love with them. I asked my friend, Aline, if she thought I could do these. She was so realistic. She told me that, yes, I could do them, but I would need to learn to machine quilt, whether it was free form or follow a pattern. The designs are appliqued and most of them are fairly simple. A couple are more complex, but they are all so lovely I couldn't resist. This long-range project will teach me new skills and I'm excited about that. 

So that's my shopping trip. It was wonderful!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Next Up

My next sewing project is already in process. Like the Dahlia Cardi this project was started last year. It is a pair of blue rayon dress slacks. I'm using Simplicity pattern 2700.
This is an Amazing Fit Collection pattern. I really like the slacks and have actually used this pattern a couple of times. Here's the back story:

Having used the pattern a couple of times and liking the fit, I cut the slacks out of this gorgeous blue rayon I found at a local fabric store, Make It Sew. I stitched the slacks together and tried them on for the first time. Uh oh! They were too big! I took in both side seams and the back seam an additional 5/8" on each seam. I tried them on again and they were still too big. As I recall I was doing this one night. (Operative word there is night.) I was discouraged and wadded them up and threw them in a tub with a bunch of other fabric in it. Over the last several months I've felt guilty that I spent so much on the fabric and never finished the slacks. I dug them out and worked out a plan to salvage them.

I think what happened to the fit is that between the last time I made something from the pattern and these slacks, I lost weight and having been working out and running very consistently. I've lost about 20 pounds, really toned up and gone down 2 pattern sizes. Simply continuing to take the seams in won't work here. There is just too big a difference in size. So I've taken the slacks apart except for the zipper. This means that the pockets are still attached at the front, but I have them loose at the side seams. I think I can recut the pockets as they are now, then go on from there. Here is how the project looks tonight. Just a bunch of fabric right now.

Dahlia Cardi Part 1

Last Fall I started knitting the Dahlia cardi from Interweave Knits Fall 2011.  (You can purchase the pattern here.)  The description is: Uniquely constructed cardigan with wrapped front and an eye-catching back lace panel. Fun to knit and wear.

The knitting is not really difficult once the lace motif is completed on the back. It's a lot of stockinette stitch. Perhaps that is why I lost interest. But I couldn't sleep a couple of nights ago so I picked it up and started knitting on it again. I just completed the body of the sweater and am now ready to knit the sleeves.

A couple of really neat things about this sweater is that the only seaming to be done is attaching the sides to the back lace motif. The sleeves are called 'after thought' sleeves. I've never done these but while knitting the body of the sweater (it's all one piece) you knit waste yarn into the body. Then go back, remove the waste yarn, pick up those stitches and knit the sleeves. In the round no less! How cool is that. The front falls open into soft folds, so there isn't any button band, buttonholes or any type of knit-on closure. You can close the front using a sweater pin.

So here's a picture of my sweater body. The lace back isn't real clear, but the 'holes' on either side of it are the spots where I will go back and do the seaming. The white lines are the 'after thought' sleeve markers.

So I'm kind of excited about this cardi again. Since it is designed for fall, I'll have it finished and ready to wear when the weather turns cool in October. 

1/2 Yard Purse

Michelle mentioned to me recently that all her purses were wearing out. She has a remarkable knack for making shoes & purses last longer than any person I know. I once spent $80 on a pair of dress shoes for her for a high school dance. She loved them and assured me she would wear them $80 worth. She did. Ten years later she was still wearing them. What a girl!

So I made her this purse. I had the fabric in my stash--materials I had purchased for a class I never attended. The fabric is very soft, kinda suede-y feeling. Very soft. The lining is some kind of black soft, slightly nappy fabric. I added 3 suede stripes on the front. The purse closes with a handmade button from my friend Londa's shop. The directions for the purse came from Judy Kessinger. I was on her mailing list for a while and the purse pattern was a free pattern from her. It takes only 1/2 yard of fabric (add'l 1/2 yd. for the lining.) It was pretty simple to construct. The only issue I had was stitching through all the layers at the top. Part of that problem could have been my fabric. I also lengthened the straps since Michelle likes a shoulder bag.

The bag looked pretty good and she loved it! Happy Momma!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Chef in a Sundress

My youngest daughter, Michelle, is a chef and spends most of her time in chef's attire, white jacket and black & white check chef pants. I love making her something soft and feminine to wear.

Michelle & I were shopping at our local Jo-Ann's on July 4th and she saw this fabric. The colors are perfect for her. She wrapped the fabric around herself and it was so cute, how could I resist? I bought what was left on the bolt, about 2-1/2 yds. At 50% off it was very affordable. The fabric is 100% polyester-easy care for my busy chef!

I sewed rows & rows of elastic thread at the top of the dress. Then I sewed the fabric in a tube, hemmed it and added a halter neck tie. Oh so easy! And it will look beautiful on my beautiful daughter.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lemons On My Table

Here are the place mats I just finished. I bought this fabric at the Puyallup sewing expo back in 2001. Whew! Well aged! It took me a total of about 2 hours to create these. I could kick myself for not doing this project some time in the last 10 years.

(Can't figure out how to  turn this sideways)
The fabric is a heavy cotton. I think the lemons are screened printed on the blue fabric. I made 4 place mats and have fabric leftover. I don't know if I should make more place mats (I could make another 8.) or something else. I have 54" in length and the fabric is 68" wide. I could cut 20" crosswise and make a table runner, then make another 4 place mats. I promise not to think about this for another 10 years!

Sewing My Fingers To The Bone

It has been so hot here that pretty much all I've done is stay inside and sew. It is amazing how much I accomplish when I turn off the TV.

In the past month I've made me a pair of shorts, a summer t-shirt, a winter t-shirt, a pair of pajamas, dolls clothes for Riley's American Girl dolls, and I also altered several pairs of capris and shorts to fit just a bit better. I'm working on a sundress for Michelle and a set of placemats for the kitchen. Those 2 items will be finished tonight.

It's such a great feeling when I actually finish things I start.