Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh {Wonky} Christmas Tree!

Trees and trunks

I finished a project! I know, I'm as surprised as anyone. This is probably the first quilting project I have finished in two years, which was probably a baby quilt. And this one is even smaller! 

It's Christmas in July - a wonky tree wallhanging requested by my stepmom. Well, she requested a Christmas wallhanging and this is what I decided to do. I was going to add in a little triangle Santa at the bottom. But then I figured that the trees alone could be wintery and Christmassy, so she can leave it up thru the winter season (which in Minnesota is quite a long time!). 

I think it's about 22" x  34". I really wanted to make three hanging loops, so it would hang lower, but I couldn't come up with a way to do that that I made sense to me... So, I went with a very thin sleeve. I didn't tack it down to the back because I didn't want the top of the hanging to sit above the rod.

Oh {Wonky} Christmas Tree

In typical me-fashion, this started out as one thing and ended up as another. I wanted to do this as a paper-piecing project - precise and crisp. Then naturally, because I am not precise and I am not good at following directions, things went wrong pretty quickly. The original plan got scrapped and wonky won the day. But, I like the visual interest of the wonky trees and trunks. So, it all worked out. 

Wonky Trees detail

I thought long and hard about the quilting. I am a terrible free motion quilter. Terrible. I know it's about practice, but having the right tools and the right set is also important. I'm in the midst of moving house, so I definitely don't have any of those things, which I'm sure affected this attempt. But all my other attempts have been pretty abysmal as well. Also, I broke my walking foot a couple years ago, so straight-line is a bit challenging. I looked at other people's beautiful swirls and snowflakes and other intricate designs on their Christmas tree quilts and knew that those were pretty far outside my abilities. But I really didn't want to ruin the whole project with crap quilting.

First, I tried some free-hand square-ish motifs at the the bottom. They do not look great, but are ok. Then I used my regular piecing foot (feed dogs up) and made the triangles between the trees. That actually worked out pretty well. I think the feed dogs helped keep the stitches more even.

Wonky Trees detail Wonky Trees detail

I added a wonky star at the top for interest. I actually started to machine quilt the made negative space in large concentric triangles on the side, but that quickly got away from me, as my basting had shifted somewhat and as I got closer to the center, there was too much excess fabric bunching up. So - my friend the seam ripper came out. Then, I spritzed the wallhanging with a little water and gave it a press and the holes pretty much closed up. I was very relieved since I don't plan on washing this one and there were a ton of holes!

Since I had been so disappointed with my efforts to FMQ, I decided it would be a good idea to hand-quilt the remainder of the negative space. I'm not really sure if it turned out to be a good idea, but I figured I could do that better than using the machine. I never really got the thimble/rocking motion down, so each of these stitches is exactly that - one stitch at a time. Not efficient, but ultimately effective.

Wonky Trees detail

I intended to hand-quilt the trees, as well but then I decided I liked them plain. I think that the star and the hand quilting give it a slightly folky feel, which detracts a little bit from the more modern/contemporary feel that I was going for. But overall, I am pretty happy with it and I hope that my stepmom likes it.

To end on an up note, I think that this is probably one of the most successful machine bindings I have ever done. Maybe because it is such a small project. There is one tiny blip on the right side that I can see and that bothers me, but not enough to unpick it and re-do it. With a little pressing, it hangs fine.

 Oh {Wonky} Christmas Tree 

So many ideas and designs floating around my head. When we move I will be able to have a dedicated corner in a room to sew, so I hope that I will be able to get back into it and check a few things off of my list!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sewing Again


I have started to do a little bit of sewing lately. I've found that with my limited space, the biggest problem is finding a safe place to iron. My 15 month old is not walking on her own, yet, but she is a wicked-fast crawler and she's into pulling stuff down and throwing things. So, ironing, while she is awake is not really safe. And then I have to decide if it's worth it to pull all the sewing stuff out after she goes to bed and then try to get it back away before I hit the hay.

But I was on a little kick a couple of weeks ago and I managed to eek out a few projects.

First, my daughter needed a few pairs of shorts now that it's decided to be spring here in Wisconsin. (Took long enough!) I used this pattern and tutorial from Caila Made. I printed out the 18 month size and did the cuff-length legs, for longer shorts (oxymoron?). I finished the edges of the seams with an overlock stitch. I broke my actual overlock stitch foot, so technically it's a "special overlock" stitch and it seems a little looser but I think it still gets the job done. Then I did a sort of flat felled seam for all three seams.

Flat felled seams

The pink cross-hatch is a cotton poplin and the other two are twill. They were 50% off red tag at Joann, so each pair cost about $1.25. Here they are in action:

New shorts!

I would say that they could use a little more room in the bum area for a diaper. And if you use cloth diapers, you will probably need to modify them quite a bit to fit the bulk. But they work really well despite that one thing. I forgot to put a little tag or ribbon in the back, but so far daycare and Dad have managed to figure out the front from the back!

AMH Piece a cake dress
Last weekend, my mother-in-law had a pirate party for all the grandkids. I had wanted to try out Anna Maria Horner's Piece A Cake dress, which is a free pattern and tutorial on the Janome blog. And it looks kinda pirate-y! The largest size is 12 months. But my kid is a teapot ("short and stout" - she's in the 16th percentile for length/height!) and I literally just put away the 9 month clothes about two weeks ago. So, with a flowy dress, I knew that 12 months would still fit her.

I love this fabric so much and I'm so happy with this dress! I have attempted slightly more technically challenging patterns before, but it's the combo of the fabric and the shape that I just love. This is a really simple dress and yet, I had to give it the total Type B treatment because I made it out of a previously-made item. It was a nursing cover and I made it out of this Tula Pink print because I loved it so much and didn't want to cut it to pieces (yet!). But I hardly ever used the cover. So, I decided make it into something else. I used an existing seam for the bottom of the dress, so it might be a little shorter than the pattern calls for. And then I didn't have enough for the total length of the sleeves. I also didn't have the time or inclination to make or buy the proper, single-fold bias binding. But I had a package of double-fold binding. With a little finagling, I made it work for the casing. I don't like that purchased binding is cotton/poly and it's a little itchy, even after you wash it. But my daughter didn't seem to mind. I think I'll make her a pair of these knickers to go under the dress, too!

I made this modified Ice Cream Social dress back in May. It's a 12-18 month and I had initially cut out the pieces and intended to make it for my god-daughter. She is 3 years old now... So, my daughter got it instead :) It's definitely a bit roomy on her, but with a long sleeved shirt and some leggings, it might get some use into the fall.

Ice Cream Social Dress

Ice Cream Social Dress

I made this pattern for the first time several years ago and I didn't take a single picture of that process and it resides with a different niece (who is now also, three years old). But, I am not a garment seamstress quite yet (this post notwithstanding), and I had trouble with the notch and figuring out the pockets for that version and I didn't have enough fabric to make the wide band/sashing around the bottom. So, for this one I omitted the notch, did some simple patch pockets and just extended the pattern for the printed fabric to the length of the band.

I also made two muslins for myself. I scored a woven rayon print from fabric.com for about $2/yard. I'd never tried to sew with rayon before, so I thought it would be good practice. First, I made (but did not photograph) what I hoped would be a wearable muslin of the Date Night Dress by April Rhodes, back in April. It's still hanging in the closet, unfinished. Again, I need bias tape and to do the hem. I hate bias tape - making it, anyway.

Next, I've been looking for a pattern to make woven maxi dress out of some cotton voile I have. I know that the Wiksten tank and the Grainline Tiny Pocket tank are really popular. While Googling tank patterns, I came across Megan Nielsen's Eucalypt tank and dress pattern. It is super simple - no darts, four seams, and then just finish the open edges. The neck and arms aren't finished on my muslin, but I did try my hand at a rolled hem at the bottom and it worked pretty well with this type of fabric. It was a little challenging for me to move around the bigger curves, but I think that will get better with practice.

Eucalypt muslin

The pattern itself has an option to do a front center-seam, as well. I didn't do one but because of the design of the stripes it looks like there is one. A lot of people noted that the armscyes were a bit low and Megan did a tutorial on how to raise them, but I think I might where a tank under the dress anyway, so I am not going to bother trying to alter it. I think I may need to try my hand at grading out around the hip area, but I like the fit through the top. Who knows when I'll actually get to sewing up a real version. But maybe before summer's out.

And I joined up with the Monthly Fabric Swap Group again in May with a much better outcome :) I participated in November and sent my package off but did not receive one in return :( The lovely Leona, who runs the swap offered to send something from her own stash, but I didn't think that was fair to her! So, I just chalked it up to - life happens. In May, I got this wonderful package from Jacqueline (another Wisconsin gal). I'm interested in trying out that Frixion pen and everyone needs chocolate when they're sewing :) This is a fun swap, especially if you are trying to hold off on buying fabric but still want to add new things to your stash.

MFSG May package from Jacqueline

So, there it is. A monster post of the things I've managed to over a 2+ month time period! I'll see if I can get another post in before we move house on Aug. 1. It's always good to have goals, right :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

For the Win!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and to those of you who entered to win! It was a really fun learning experience. I learned that I need to play around with Rafflecopter before I try to use it again. And I learned that my blog template is somehow resistant to every effort I tried to number my comments (CSS, html, etc.). Beth from the blog Hello Quilt Lady made a valiant effort to help me (thanks, Beth!), but alas, no numbers. So, I decided to do it the old fashioned way - I picked a random number and counted. I'll play around more with my blog template and see if I can be ready for next time.

More importantly, I learned that quite a few of you are making (or have made) plus quilts or string blocks recently. There was a lot of love for the half-square triangle and paper piecing. A lot of quilters chose their first quilt as their favorite. For others, it's always the last project they worked on. A lot of people mentioned that they were really proud of a certain project and then said, "even though it's not perfect," or something similar. Personally, I think technical perfection is overrated (notice the title of this blog...). It's nice to have a goal and good craftsmanship is a worthy one, but we're all learning and growing. A project that you give your time to, that you put your heart into, that is cherished and enjoyed - that sounds like perfection to me! Let's encourage one another!

(I tried to reply to comments and then I just got over-run, so I stopped :) But I read them all and visited any links that you shared.)

Without further ado (sorry for so much of the fore-going "ado"!). Drumroll please...

The winner of Giveaway #1 - the Joel Dewberry Heirloom fabric is #164...


The winner of Giveaway #2 - the Waterfront Park bridges fabric is #123...

Catskill Quilter

I have emailed both Catskill Quilter and Selleck. Thanks again, everyone! Hopefully, I'll run things a little better next time :)

Happy sewing! Make something beautiful!

Monday, May 12, 2014

SewMamaSew Giveaway Day Giveaway #2

Waterfront Park for swap

(***Edited - I removed the Rafflecopter app since the number of entries was not tracking with the number of comments. I will just pick a number at random (with the help of a trusty assistant or random.org) and count my way to the winner :)***)

Hey there Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day blog hoppers!

As the title says - this is SMS GD Giveaway #2 for my blog. Please see post #1 for the other giveaway. This is the first time I'm doing a giveaway and I have a feeling that I'll do something to mess it up, but you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...

(Did you shout "the Facts of Life?!" If so, that is awesome. If you didn't, well, that's totally fine, too. Facts of Life was an American sitcom from the 80's. George Clooney even had a role on some of the later seasons, long before his Academy Award days.)

Anyhoo, I decided to do two giveaways because I couldn't figure out how to do it in one and in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to let people know that I had previously listed these five fabrics in some Flickr swap groups but didn't get any takers. But I still felt like there was someone out there who might really want to use them in their projects. And I thought I might be able to reach that person thru this giveaway. So, if that person is you - please enter! I like all my fabrics to go to homes where they are loved and cherished :)

These are five half-yard cuts in navy, grey, black, yellow and off white and they come from the Waterfront Park collection by Violet Craft for Michael Miller.

Please leave a comment by May 16 at 10:00pm CST and tell me about your current favorite pattern or technique. My apologies, but this is open to US addresses only.

Best of luck! Can't wait to read your comments! Check out more giveaways at SewMamaSew.