Friday, November 29, 2013

A Few for Friday - #48

'Allo! How are all of you? I'm about to say something I haven't said on the day after Thanksgiving...ever...--I feel rested and ready for today. Not that I'm doing anything. My sissies and mumsy and I go shopping in the early evening hours when many folks are gone but the deals are still plenty, so I don't need to rest up for all the Black Friday hullabaloo. No, for the first time in my memory we had a small Thanksgiving. Every year we have everyone in the free world, it seems--elbow to elbow, noisy, a constant buzz of activity. For an introvert such as myself it is so completely draining that it actually exhausts me and I need more than a night's sleep to recover. But this year we had just a very intimate dinner that didn't require days of work beforehand and a total rearrangement of the house (literally--we have to switch rooms of furniture to be able to fit everyone). It was delightful. I've made no secret that Thanksgiving isn't my favorite holiday, but if each one was to be like yesterday I think it might move its way up that particular ladder.

 Anyway, here are a few random pics.

 After last week's quilting adventure I didn't feel like getting into any major projects, so I curled up on the couch and worked on Z's afghan. I lit a scented candle, watched old TV ('old' meaning reruns of Full House because I'm a super-geek like that), and stitched away while Charlie warmed my feet.

So here's something. I burned this Monday night with no issue. I lit it again on Tuesday because it smelled so delicious, but found myself coughing and feeling actually kind of blah. When I looked closer I saw it was a soy candle, and remembered similar issues from a few years ago. This only happens with soy candles. Which is good, because I bought two new delicious Yankee candles (great deal or I never ever would have) and I want to enjoy them.

 When men go Black Friday shopping they go to Home Depot to buy North Pole train sets, shop vacs, ladders, and storage containers. They still go at ungodly hours because they're awake anyway, but I don't think they get into fighting matches at the Depot.

So that was my week. Quiet and pleasant and cozy. Today we haul the endless boxes of Christmas decorations out of the attic and start strewing it about. So I'm off to eat up some leftover cookies so I have the energy to do so :)  Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, here we are again. The big day of thanks for those of us in the States. It has been quite the year around here, and not an easy one. It has been an emotional roller coast, with more lows than highs and many head-slapping WTF moments. But I'm grateful for it, as it seems to be winding down in a more positive way that I don't know if I'd appreciate if there weren't some big dips along the wave of life. We're all still here and we're all still well. In the grand scheme of things what more could you ask for? So thank you, life, for being what you are (and certainly not apologizing for it).

Now, I'm going to go put on my pants with the stretchy waistband and settle in. Happy Thanksgiving, and as the younger of my nephews would say, "Boggle boggle!"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brit Kit #3

I promise this is the last you will see of my subscription box posts, because I've cancelled this one as well. The premise of a subscription box is that you sign up for one (and there are many to choose from) and every month you receive a surprise box of goodies specific to the genre you chose (crafts, food, bath and body, and so on). While I do love the idea of it, my experience with them has been less than stellar, so I'm stopping for good.

I'll show you my final kit I received, but I'm not making anything with it. I would never use it and consider it a waste of good zippers...

OK, so I'm supposed to take those perfectly good zippers and cut them to pieces (intentionally!). Then I'm supposed to cut that black piece of vinyl into the shape you see on that card. The zipper pieces get glued or something to it. Then I take the chain in the baggie and use the pliers to get the whole thing to become a necklace of sorts. It is nothing I will ever ever wear (and don't know anyone who would) so why waste the stuff in making something useless just because?

So I'm stashing these perfectly lovely zippers--

--and putting the pliers with my sewing notions because you never know--

--and I'll see if my sister wants the jewelry bits as she's the jewelry-maker (but I doubt she will as they're kind of cheap looking). And I'll use the vinyl bit to practice sewing on leather for when I get the guts to try to make something out of leather...

So I'm done. I'm not signing up for any more of these. I did enjoy the surprise each month, and the money wasn't a hindrance. It's just that I want to like the surprise I'm getting, hahaha. So what I've decided to do if I'm feeling the need for some random crafty bits is to pick something from the tons of pins I've got on Pinterest and make that instead.

To quote Forrest Gump "...and that's all I've got to say about that."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Perfectly Imperfect Quilt

If you follow me on Facebook you may know that on Friday afternoon I had a certain bit of stitching whirring through the washing machine and then tumbling around the dryer to crinkle up. Yes, my dears, it is the quilt that I have been going on and on...and on...about for a long time. It all started when Katy posted that she had lost interest in finishing a Sherbet Pips quilt she had started, and was offering the bits (a quilt in progress and a jelly roll) up to a good home. So they came to live here. I had most of the quilt top done in short order. But then it sat because I just couldn't get my act together to cut some squares out of a jelly roll she sent. Yes, laying down strips and cutting in one direction is apparently hard work. But at some point at the beginning of the month, my motivation came out of hiding and I have been tackling a ton of projects, most notably this one. 

The pattern itself is very easy--a disappearing nine-patch. Easy cutting and sewing with a very interesting result that doesn't look like what it starts out as. Throw in a few borders (if you want) and you've got yourself a quilt top.  The center part inside the pink borders came to me in progress and with the other blocks all cut and ready so it was very easy to stitch up. I struggled with a good border color but went with pink in the end as the center had a lot of white (though gray could have been nice as well).

I really wanted to do a long wavy sort of stitch that could almost loosely mimic free motion quilting, but of all the stitches my machine has it lacks that one. So I went with the one above. It reminds me of cupcake holders--nice and crinkly looking. This quilt finished at a twin size and is the largest I have ever made. As such, I really had a time quilting this one (it is quite heavy). But I managed and I love it.

I wanted to go only in one direction with the quilting. The quilt is full of squares, and to my eye the squiggly stitch softens it a bit. I didn't want to add another square element to it if I didn't have to. I used Warm and White batting, and was curious about how it must be stitched. I checked out their site, and as long as your stitching is ten inches apart in any one direction it's OK. So one direction it was.

I went with a tonal gray for the backing. I had always thought this quilt would have a gray backing, but it seemed to always be the color that was out of stock. I had visions that the stitching would be pink (even though it'd only be on the back) and was kind of irked it might not happen. I ended up buying plain white at Joann's, but when I laid it out to baste it the fabric was riddled with flaws. I returned it and had another look online, and lucky me they had gray in stock. It's like it was meant to be--it was there when I was ready for it and not a moment sooner.

There are a few teensy puckers in the back that formed in the instances I was force-feeding the quilt through (and stopped when I chillaxed a bit). But with the stitching and the crinkling you have to look pretty hard to see them. This stitch was a bit beastly to pick out, so unless it was really bad I left it in as the picking was more frustrating than the pucker.

Let's discuss the binding. I was struggling with choosing something for that as well. But a few months ago I won a giveaway and one of the things I chose was a yard of the perfect binding fabric for this project. Stripes, pink, and red. Yes, yes, yes! I made it up before I even had the quilt basted, because if I didn't have this ready to go it would have sat for another six months.

There was no way in anywhere I was hand-stitching this binding, but my machine binding never really looks as nice as I'd like it to as straight stitching can be so unforgiving. I've always loved that little asterisk stitch as it reminds me of a snowflake, so that's what I used. I had not a single issue, which has never ever happened. No puckering, no veering off course, none of that. I think it might be my favorite part.

My main issue with binding is that the back never seems to catch like the front and gets some funkiness to it. This stitch kept that from happening, especially since I pressed it and clipped it in place before I stitched it. It took a long time but it was worth it.

When I look at this quilt I can't believe it took me as long as it did. Everything about it is quite simple, but sometimes the simple things get hung up because I'll think "Oh, I can breeze through that whenever I want" but whenever doesn't come and things don't move forward. I also tend to get hung up on things being perfect instead of just...being themselves. This quilt was made my inner child (whose name is Rosie, by the way)--the pinks, the wavy lines that aren't evenly spaced because I wanted lines straight down the centers of the pink border pieces (and because it was all eyeballed), the snowflakey binding, the puckers on the back that don't count because they won't be seen, all of it. Once I moved forward with it I had fun doing it and the work zipped along, especially when I didn't obsess over a crooked stitch or ten.

I always get 'yelled' at when I say there are mistakes in something. But I don't say it in a woe-is-me way or in a please-praise-me-anyway manner, but because so often online you see nothing but perfection. Fabulous pictures, perfect stitching, not a hair our of place if you will. I've found that can hold people back--"I'll never be able to do that so why try?" seems to be the mentality. Try because you want to. Try knowing that nothing is perfect, and embrace the imperfections as perfect in their own way. Life is so much easier when we cut ourselves a little slack. So no, I don't make perfect quilts. I don't know if I'd want to. Because then you get into "I can't use it because it'll get messed up." See what a vicious cycle perfection can be? Break that cycle--sew a pucker, stitch a little crooked, chop off a point, and snuggle under your beautiful creation that is the only one like it.

This was finished just in time. That little girl in the pic above may have been swinging free and easy yesterday, but today she was snuggled under this quilt as it plummeted to the twenties from nowhere. Unfortunately I'll have to crawl out from under the covers to go to work, but it's a short work week so I think I'll be able to survive. Have a happy Monday, chickens!

Linking up here:
Saturdays: Show and Tell Saturdays

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Few for Friday - #47

Ahoy ahoy! I have had quite a busy week. I've been parked behind my sewing machine, and I am this close to having my quilt finish. All that's left is trimming, binding, and giving it a wash. I am so excited for this to be done. It is my largest quilt ever and has been patiently waiting for over six months. I would glance over at it and see it folded up and unmoving week after week, patiently sitting there--the guilt will be gone and I will feel like a weight has been lifted. We should all have such ridiculously meaningless problems, eh? Anyway, here are a few snaps I took the past week--

My sister's friend of a gazillion years asked me to put some blanket stitches on some thin fleece so she could have a nice snuggle blanket for her tot. Once I got into the rhythm of it the process was actually kind of soothing and rhythmic. Plus it was chilly and this kept me cozy while I worked my way around the edges.

 I saw this display in Michael's and said "Are you freakin' kidding me?" loud enough to draw stares. First, who does this? Many people, I suppose, as the box was fairly empty. But the freaky part is the photos. Those nails look ridiculously humanesque. I think if the pictures weren't so creepy I would have merely hoped it was non-toxic and moved on. Also--whose dog would sit still for this? I've never known a dog to lay perfectly still while you play with its feet. 

 I spent a whole evening crawling around on the floor putting pins in this sucker. It is heavy!! But almost done. Can't wait!

 This is the side yard of my house. I have a feeling those leaves won't last much longer. So many trees not have that depths-of-winter look. One windy day or rainstorm and they'll all be gone.

Now I must trot off to my aerobics class. I have been trying to behave with my munching and getting to class as the holidays will taunt me with their goodies. I figure if I get into a healthy mindset beforehand the damage might not be so bad. Have a most excellent Friday! And I'm hoping I'll have a quilt to show you very soon :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brit Kit #2

I had a bunch of small sewing odd jobs this past week that I finished up and have ready to move on out the door. I feel quite accomplished. When I was cleaning up my sewing area afterwards, I came across the box that my second Brit Kit came in and immediately set to (read about the first here).

This month's (or I should say last month's) box was for a set of clay-covered candle holders. I've never been a sculptor--my Play Doh exploits include snakes, balls, spaghetti, and boulders. That's about it. But these were actually really easy. Here is the box of supplies I received--

I actually received three candles, but in the initial delivery two of them were broken. I contacted the company and they shipped new ones, so I had four to play with. I don't know that I would have chosen the colors, but I wasn't about to buy more. So what you do is lump your clay into a...lump, and then roll it out smooth and even. During my Pluffy misadventures a few years ago I had bought a roller for clay, so I used that and it was marvelous. Once it's rolled out, you roll your votive holder in it--

--and then trim to fit. You roll it around a few times to smooth out the seam, and that's about it for that.

Included in the kit was a lollipop stick for making designs. I should have had my sister help with this part as she is a fantastic doodler and I am NOT, but I didn't and just poked away. The first one is all-over polka dots--

--and the others are random shapes. The extra one I cut out some little confetti bits from the leftovers and stuck those on to see if that could work out. After the holes are all poked through (or shapes stuck on), you preheat the oven to 275 and pop these in for about ten minutes.

Take them out, and let them cool. Then put your candles in and light 'em up.

I thought I was going to hate doing this, but did it since I had paid for it. BUT once I was working on them I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. Basically you need some glass candle holders (these weren't super thin so I didn't worry about smashing them when I was wrapping them and squeezing them), and some clay that you can bake on. And some sort of poker. That's it. These things are all actually fairly inexpensive at any craft store, and would thus be a cute little gift for a child to make (with some adult supervision for the trimming and the baking). Christmas colors with cute shapes, white to look like snowflakes, red with hearts for Valentine's Day, and so on could all be really adorable. In the pic just above, see how that heart reflects nicely? Wouldn't some of these grouped on a silvered or mirrored tray twinkle just perfectly?

If you do give these a shot, keep in mind that the thinner you roll the clay the more the holder will glow in whatever color you rolled it, while a thicker clay wrap will mostly just show the lights through the holes. 

I was absolutely pleasantly surprised with this kit. My initial thought was "Oh. Clay." But as I said before, once I got going I found it to be quite engaging. I'm working like the dickens to have most of my sewing tasks done by the end of the month so that I can be free and clear to do whatever I want, and I'm thinking I may just want to do more of these...

Linking up here:
Saturdays: Show and Tell Saturdays

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Few for Friday - #46

OK, so have you ever had an irrational fear of, oh, let's say spiders, and then been sitting in your living room where there is a piece of dark fuzz on the carpet that you keep seeing out of the corner of your eye, and every time you see it your heart does twirlies and you feel like you should run, but you look and it's a fuzz, but this keeps happening and God forbid you get up and pick up the stupid fuzz so you spend an evening in a heightened state of fuzz awareness, trying to convince yourself that it could still be a spider? I'm hoping I'm not the only one...and if I am just forget that you read anything, m'kay?

Maybe we should move onto some photos...

Sherbet Pips by lamplight. I have had most of a quilt finished since spring, waiting for its border to be pieced. I finally did that and have the top all finished now. I almost got it basted, but when I laid out the backing it was riddled with pulls and flaws, so I returned that and ordered some online (in gray instead of white, which is what I wanted anyway, so yay, I guess).

 The interesting thing about all these clips holding that new zipper in place is that after I got to about the second one I stopped and took them all off and continued just using my fingers to position everything. What do you mean that's not interesting?

A's treasures from playing outside--a cruddy looking leaf and a stone. Not a rock--a stone, according to him. His vocabulary and pronunciation astound me. I am truly blessed to have two very smart, good-looking nephews (and there's no bias there. None at all).

Got any fun plans this weekend? I'm having dinner tomorrow with a friend who I don't see enough, and then hopefully finishing up putting some edge stitches on a fleece blanket. Then I have to check my list. Busy is better than bored snacking, I suppose. Toodles!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Little Stitches on the Prairie

A few weeks ago my mother asked me "What are you reading? I'm almost done my book and I need something new." I told her "I'm rereading the Little House books right now." She didn't think I was serious. I was. My mother will not reread something as there are so many other books out there. I, on the other hand, have and do. It appalled my sister a little bit that I was reading what is basically a children's series. My take on it is that I am a different person than I was the last time I read them, high school? I don't remember... The first time I read the series I was in sixth grade and loved the historical aspect of it. I remember then reading them several years later, and identifying with Laura's introversion and love of her family. This time I found myself paying attention to the more adult things--how long those wagon rides must have been when a ride out to Pittsburgh makes me crazy; making a campfire meal with not much more than a pan and some flour; how Pa would do whatever it took to provide for his family in lean years; the unimaginable cabin fever they must have experienced during the long winter. And then when Laura left home to be married and enter a completely new life? I felt the same sadness she must have.

One thing I certainly zeroed in on this time around was the sewing and knitting that was always taking place. Knitting needles always had stockings and mittens on them. Secret embroidery projects became unexpected Christmas presents. Lace was crocheted for petticoat edgings. Things I know I glanced right over before now stood out to me, in a kindred spirit sort of way. And, of course, the sewing. Hehehe--were you wondering where I was going, or are you used to me by now?

Truth be told, when I was younger Laura Ingalls Wilder was my idol (this was before I realized the whole lack of indoor plumbing thing), but I do not think I would have been able to hang on the prairie. Take, for instance this bit from On the Banks of Plum Creek:   
Mary was still sewing nine-patch blocks. Now Laura started a bear’s track quilt. It was harder than a nine-patch, because there were bias seams, very hard to make smooth. Every seam must be exactly right before Ma would let her make another, and often Laura worked several days on one short seam.

Yeah, I can see me working for days on one seam. But this time I knew what bias seams are. 

Or how about this bit when Laura had to help Ma sew new sheets just before The Long Winter?  

Laura  was sewing two long breadths of muslin together to make a sheet. She pinned the edges together carefully and fastened them with a pin to her dress at the knee. Carefully holding the edges even, she whipped them together with even, tiny stitches. The stitches must be close and small and firm and they must be deep enough but not too deep, for the sheet must lie smooth, with not the tiniest ridge down its middle. And all the stitches must be so exactly alike that you could not tell them apart, because that was the way to sew.

Without even focusing on all those hand-stitches, how about we focus on the fact that they all had to be identical?

If you modernized this statement from Little Town on the Prairie  it would kind of be exactly why I dislike sewing garments for myself:  

She had cut the patterns from newspaper, using her dressmaker’s chart of thin cardboard as a guide. Lines and figures for all different sizes were printed on it. The trouble was that nobody was exactly any of the sizes on the chart. After Ma had measured Mary, and figured and marked the size of every sleeve and skirt and bodice piece on the chart, and cut the patterns, and cut and basted the dress line, then when she tried the lining on Mary she had to make changes all along the seams.

But then, of course, came the invention of the sewing machine. Pa was describing it to Ma, and while things have gotten fancy the basic principles are still the same: 

"You work the pedal with your feet, and that turns the wheel and works the needle up and down. There’s a little contraption underneath the needle that’s wound full of thread, too. It goes like greased lightning, and that makes as neat a seam as you’d want to see."

Which led to much simpler sewing and some subsequent grave-turning during These Happy Golden Years:

"I have an idea for making the sheets,” Laura said. “I’m not going to sew those long seams down the middle with over-and-over stitch by hand. If I lap the edges flat and sew with the machine down the center, I do believe they’ll be smooth enough and even more serviceable.” 
“It may well be,” said Ma. “Our grandmothers would turn in their graves, but after all, these are modern times.”

My grandmother might get twitchy if she saw how I don't baste anything (or even use pins sometimes), but these are modern times...

But the passage that made me put the book down for a minute (Little Town), and just think and imagine? The description of the dry goods store where Laura worked basting shirts and sewing buttonholes (again, by hand): 

At her right hand was a short counter-top of glass, and inside it were cards of all kinds of buttons, and papers of needles and pins. On the counter beside it, a rack was full of spools of thread of every color. Those colored threads were beautiful in the light from the windows. The sewing machine stood just behind the front end of the other counter. Its nickel parts and its long needle glittered and its varnished wood shone. A spool of white thread stood up on its thin black ridge. Laura would not have touched it for anything.

Do you ever read something more than once? Do you wait a few years, or just turn right back to the first page and start over (like I may or may not have done with Fried Green Tomatoes)? If so, what was it? And what sorts of things jumped out at you?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This Is Not My Skirt

Whose skirt is it? My sister Alicia's. As you may know I've been teaching my sister to sew here and there (we both work full-time and things have been pretty busy around here so lately we haven't been doing much) but this is her most recent creation (see her first here). She is very simple in her tastes--she likes simple and tailored and prefers a good fit and a few accessories over wild patterns and crazy details. We could have bought a pattern for a skirt, but we decided to draft our own. I had found a book on eBay from 1971 that shows you how to draft your own clothing to fit your specific measurements and achieve a good fit.

The 'original' title amuses me in its datedness --

Basically you take a bunch of measurements (more than I'd ever have thought you'd need) and the book shows you what to do with them, and provides extra tips for fit.

The first lesson in the book is making a straight skirt, which we easily adapted to be slightly a-line. We were instructed to add a generous amount in the bum, which my sister doesn't need (but her sister might, hehehe), which we then had to remove by resewing the side seams. We tinkered with the fit, put in the darts, tinkered some more, and finally achieved a skirt that fits her perfectly. We took notes on any changes so the next time she makes one she can just sew straight through. Anyway--here it is:

It doesn't look like much, but once it's on it really looks nice (especially with tights, boots, and a cute sweater).

 She put this zipper in with zero trouble. Down one side, across the bottom, and up the other. We couldn't find a zipper that matched, so we used black. You can barely see it, but even if you could it works much better than a poorly matching green. You can also see the rear dart action up there.

 The fabric is corduroy microfiber in a dark olive green that also wants to look brownish at times. We tried very hard to get the zipper stops at the top so we wouldn't need to fuss with hooks and eyes that would be a pain to close. The textured fabric hides any stitching oopsies (if there were any).

OK, so unlike her first skirt where all the details were highly visible on the outside, this one has all the details on the inside. So let's flip it, shall we?

Everything looks just as neat and tidy on the inside (we're both sticklers for details but I'm better at letting things slide than she is, hahaha).

Our original plan was to make a waistband but we realized that where we measured and where she wanted the skirt to sit was going to be too high for comfort with an added band, so we went with a facing for structure and support in the tummy area. We actually could have made it work, in retrospect, since we had to take so much in at the sides. Next time...

I didn't feel like getting my serger out, so I read my machine manual and found a stitch that finishes the raw edge with a look similar to a serger. Each edge is finished like so. However, it uses a lot of thread. Like a freakin' ton of thread. When we resewed the side seams she looked at me and said "Do I have to do the edge again?" She did. Not without complaint, but again--stickler for detail, sooo..... It also takes a long time to do. Like read write a novel long time. I will be getting out the serger for her next project.

 She wanted a deep hem on this, and one thing I hadn't considered was how much extra fabric would be created from folding up a wider hem to a narrower point on the skirt. Pressing didn't help much, neither did coaxing with a tailor's awl. I didn't feel like doing the whole gathering stitch method, so I introduced her to the glory that is a walking foot. I blather on about things but a walking foot is one of those things that have to be experienced to be appreciated. She had not a lick of trouble once we attached it.

 One other note--you see how that hem is uneven looking? That's intentional. I used to hem skirts straight across, and then I'd wonder why they were shorter in the back (it's cause your bum hitches them up a bit). So now I hem skirts like my grandma taught my mom--one person wears it, the other measures up from the floor to wherever the hem is going to fall. This way, your hem is parallel to the floor, which is what looks nicest (unless you want an asymmetrical hem). If you haven't got a person to help with this step, they sell a nifty little gadget called a hem marker that marks your hemline while you stand still--rotate slightly--stand still--rotate slightly, etc.

So that's that. It's a skirt of much simpler construction than the red one, but the pattern drafting and fitting are where the lessons were learned with this particular endeavor. I don't know what's in store for me next with these lessons, but I have seen the fabric and it is delightful.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Few for Friday - #45

'Allo! How's tricks? I'm looking forward to the weekend. First, I'm this close to finishing a quilt top that has stagnated for months and months for lack of the motivation to cut fabric into squares. To be precise--to cut a jelly roll into squares. In other words, I am too lazy to lay strips of fabric on a gridded cutting mat, cover it with a gridded ruler, and apply pressure to a rotary cutter. That's a special kind of lazy. But the squares are cut, and once those are sewn together I've just got a few long strips to sew to finish the border and that much is done. Quilting it is another story for another year. Second, Joann's is opening a store about ten minutes from my house, and that opening is tomorrow. Do you know what that means? It means I don't need to plan a block of time to try to find a weird color of thread at a store that is a bit of a drive to get to; I can just stop on the way home from work or run out during lunch. It's going to be sweet. Third, Friday night is pizza night and that's yummy. Yeah, that list kind of tanked at the end, I know. Anyhoodle--here are some pics.

Now that I leave work at that perfect moment during sunset I am treated to skies like this. In a week or two that will be done with until about February as it will be dark when I leave. Which I love. But still--looks like a fire in the sky, no?

 We have waffled between blue and gray skies all week. The leaves are brilliant against the blue, but it's been grayish in the morning. Which also provides a nice contrast for my favorite leaves--the bright red ones. It's a good thing I don't have an office at work, as our building is surrounded by beautiful landscaping and plenty of trees. I would sit and daydream all day. And forget about productivity if it were to snow. I suppose I will be a little girl forever...

 Thumbnail moon :)

Anything else to share? Ummm....oh! I used a double needle on my sewing machine for the first time ever. Holy cow is that crazy! I usually sew two parallel lines to mimic a storebought shirt, but this time I decided to be wild and crazy. You would think the threads would get tangled and do bad things, but they just zip through and you end up with a beautiful hem for no effort. I must try that more often as it looks like I can use the double needle for some of the decorative stitches on my machine... Other than that, I spent a few nights folding and tying and pricing up most of the goodies in my shop. My aerobics instructor told me to bring her my stuff and she'd push it during all her classes, so I was prettifying everything for display.  At least this way I can move it on out without worrying about packing and shipping and the post office messing things up, and make room for new makes to sell. 

So that's about it. I have been excited to go to bed this week as I bought myself new pajamas and they are so supremely cozy I want to get to sleep just so I can wake up in the morning in that sweet spot of warmth and coziness that exists only in the early morning. That's sounded really scrummy right now, so I'll say good night and see you soon :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Hello there :) I certainly haven't been blogging much lately and I don't like that. I'm hoping that changes as the calendar turns towards my favorite part of the year. You know how you have something you're kind of not feeling like doing because there's something to it you've never done before, but you can't do much unless you do that first because you promised? So everything is kind of stagnant? That's where I've been. And now that I've done that thing I can move forward and hopefully have more projects to share with you, especially since we're in the countdown towards...I'll just call it the end of the year so as not to elicit groans.

This week I finally cracked out my last custom order for the year (I hope). I was asked via my wee online shop to make some evening bags for a wedding. I was a little nervous as fancy fabrics make me clenchy, but of course I said yes as frame purses are one of those sewing projects that look kind of eh at the start, but end up all wowsers. After a bit of back and forth I had all the details nailed down, and I finished them up this week. Five large frame purse for the ladies, and one smaller one for the flower girl.

These were the most perfect shade of red. I was walking around the store with my phone with her color reference on it matching it up to different satins, and this one was right on. Like...right on.

I usually use a six inch frame, but these are eight inches wide. When I make the six inchers I feel like "Oooo, these are a great size" but they seem so teeny compared to these frames. Glad I sized up because this is a perfect perfect evening bag size--everything will fit without any smoosh and bulge.

These have a bit of interfacing in them. The outside satin was quite sturdy, so I only put fleece on it. The lining was a bit flimsier, so I used woven fusible on that and it ended up feeling how I hoped it would. I then used some sew-in Pellon craft interfacing #40. I was in the store waffling between forty and fifty and I'm glad I chose this--I think the fifty may have ended up a bit too stiff. These are soft and squishy but structured and don't sag under the weight of the frame. It took a lot of tries over the past few years, but I finally found interfacing combos that work well.

The linings are all in champagne (though the photo shows ivory). The larger frames have flopping loops--if you want to attach the chain they swing up, and if you don't they'll fold to the inside of the bag out of sight. The smaller frame has permanent loops.

That extra sparkle just makes them seem so much better. These simple clutches will be perfect for after the wedding, too. Everyone should have a red bag in their closet, yes? But the lining is kind of special. She asked me to include a personalized tag in each one with a simple message to her girls.

THIS is the part that had made me nervous as I had never done it before. There are oodles of tag-making resources online, but they would cost way too much. Instead I found printable cotton on Amazon. I worked up a few examples and she picked the font she liked. I ran them through the printer and let them sit overnight before I touched them again so there was no way I could smudge the ink. One side has adhesive, so you lay that on your fabric, press it, and stitch it down if you want. I was concerned the adhesive might not work on the satin but it was delightful--even the corners didn't want to peel up. I added the stitching so it wouldn't look too plain, and I think the dark print contrasts really nice with the lighter colors. I used the triple-stitch function on my machine to make the stitches stand out more.

So that was my sewing for the week. I am normally a marathon sewer, but I've found that lately that leads to me getting a bit of a headache from my shoulders being tensed up. What I've been doing is setting aside a limited amount of hours during which to sew, and then I work on my granny square afghan. This way I'm making progress on a few fronts without sacrificing NOT having a headache. I really must get back to my yoga classes, though. My body misses those.

Here's hoping you have a cheerful week! Later, taters!

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Saturdays: Show and Tell Saturdays


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