17 March 2018

T is for theater club

At our middle school, theater/drama is not a class. It's an after school activity that anyone can participate in if they sign up. I like this much better than when I was in middle school, because if you didn't make the cut in audition, i.e. the teacher didn't already know you, too bad. Here, you're automatically in the chorus if you don't get a major role, so you still get to participate. SM loves theater and has already taken 3 or 4 acting/improvisation classes plus summer theater, and was so excited to be in a bigger play at school. There are 85 kids in the cast this year!!!

I kinda wish they'd given me a bit more notice, because I had only about 10 days (including 5 when we were out of town) to put her costume together for approval by the teachers. I thought they had a costume shop/stash but obviously not. Next year ... I will talk to them sooner. I had to rush this.

The play is Into the Woods Junior so SM needed to be a "fairy tale peasant." How did I do?

The top is a peasant top from this tutorial on Things of Cloth. You're supposed to add elastic to the ends of the sleeves to make them poofy but I skipped it.

The skirt is the Anywhere Skirt from Made EveryDay. I really like it and want one for myself! The red is a linen-ish heavier cotton so it's awesome for colder weather. She can wear this to church for the rest of the winter. I have a strip left over so I can make her a longer waistband when she outgrows this waist but can still wear the length. Just need to adjust the gathering. So this item could conceivably last many winters for her. Adam says this is one of the more professional-looking things I've ever sewn ... don'r look too closely at the buttonholes ... I thought about using brown wooden buttons but went with the black because she always ends up with black shoes.

The apron is something I put together just winging it, modeled after the pioneer-ish aprons my mom made for my kids years ago, and are in the dress-up bin. SM requested the white ribbon for a bonus.

10 March 2018

A Stitch In Time

The Challenge: create a project that includes patchwork, applique or quilting using the theme: A Stitch In Time in one week. (via Persimon Dreams, Project Quilting 9.5)

Step 1: Decide on a project.  This is where I feel like I spend the most time.  Brainstorming ideas, picking fabrics, and debating options over and over.  My sewing project wish list is quite lengthy, so why not add one more!  OR, better yet, why not use this challenge to cross something off my list?  This challenge is all about making good use of time!

Last week, while cleaning out my closet, I found a bag of scraps I was planning (before I started quilting) on using to make a rag rug.  Not anymore!  You know what saves time?  Pre-cut pieces.  Those small strips would be perfect for string piecing, which is something I had been wanting to do again.

Step 2: Prepare the fabric.  Since my scraps were all ready, the only thing I needed to do for this was cut the foundation pieces.  I originally wanted 9x9 squares but none of my scraps were long enough, so I cut them in half for 9x4.5 rectangles. Perfect.

Step 3: Piece.  I loved this part.  I spent three days sewing and ironing, over and over.  I used my little TV-tray-turned-ironing-board set up right next to my desk so I just had to turn in my seat to switch from one step to the next.  It was so relaxing, and I had fun picking what strips would come next (my only rule was no pink).  Later they got squared up and then sewn together in a 9x9 grid to complete the top.

Step 4: Sandwich and quilt.  Problem: I ran out of batting!  All my small pieces were used for the doll quilts I made last month.  Solution: don't use it and use fleece for the backing instead.  It saved me a trip to the store and certainly made the sandwich come together quickly.  I just had to be a little extra careful while quilting since fleece is stretchy.  It made the quilt so much more cuddly, perfect for these cold Alberta winters.

Step 5: Bind.  I have been slowly getting better at this part.  This time I made my seam allowance on the front quite small (a little too small perhaps), so I had more binding on the back than the front.  Which made it much easier to do, but probably isn't how it should go.  I was happy I had the perfect geometric print to make it, and it went on smoothly.  (PS I totally cheat and sew on both front and back, because I don't have time for hand-sewing!)

Step 6: Pictures!  The final stitches were sewn well after the sun went down, so I planned to take pictures the next day.  But we went to the zoo and made cookie dough, and before I knew it the sun was setting again and I still didn't have pictures.  I wandered around my tiny, dark apartment trying various locations and lighting before stumbling across a place I never thought of before - behind the bathroom door.  Blank white wall, and bright lights?  Perfect for photographing my happy little quilt!

String Bean
24" x 24"

Maple Mission

I'm not a writer like Trina is.  The hardest part of blogging is trying to write all the words between the pictures.  I spend so much time typing and retyping everything, second guessing what people want to read and am I entertaining enough and do they really care about all the behind-the-scenes.  Blah.  

Anyway, I made a quilt!  Last summer my parents got their mission call to Nova Scotia, and immediately I knew I wanted to make them a quilt.  Within a few days I sketched out an idea on graph paper and later did all the math to convert that drawing to an actual quilt.  Trina wanted to help as well, and we decided she could do the border so we weren't having to mail a lot of stuff back and forth.

Pretty huh?  It took such a long time.  After all the planning and math there was cutting the fabric.  Thank you so very much to my friend Liz who gave it all to me!  She is an amazing quilter who doesn't quilt much anymore, but has rediscovered painting and art.  Which is funny since I am an artist who is now discovering quilting!  

After the cutting came the piecing and then the project was put on pause while Christmas sewing happened.  I also had to wait for Trina's contribution - I mailed her all of the leftover red scraps which she turned into the beautiful border and then mailed back to me.  I don't usually do a lot of borders or extras on my quilts, but I really like how this frames the leaf so nicely.

Okay, quilt top was done, so a quick sandwich (a quilt sandwich that is, with top, batting and backing), and time to do the actual quilting.  The leaf wasn't too bad, with the basic diagonals.  But then came the background.  This was the first time I had to quilt something that wasn't a grid.  I foolishly used the edge of my walking foot (about 5/8") and sewed straight lines.  100+ straight lines.  It took well over a week!  It did give it a really neat texture though.

After Christmas I gave myself a Valentine's deadline to get it finished, and it was on February 14th that I put it into the mail headed for Nova Scotia.  Ta da!  More pretty pictures.

A week later I got a phone message from my mother.  They were so surprised!  They have been showing it off to everyone and they are so thrilled to have this as a reminder of their mission and time spent in Eastern Canada.

It was quite a journey, from sketch to completion. The most time-consuming sewing project I've ever done, but so worth it to show my parents how much I love and respect them.  And it's official - I love quilting!

PS. Did you notice the heart?

28 February 2018

February journal

1. Squared Away block of the month: 4 blocks. I finished two more blocks for light blue-January that had already been started. I did just two purple blocks for February, and Mindy and I will each get one of them. So Mindy and I each have a set of blocks that looks like this, so far:

2. Valentine's hearts in plastic canvas and yarn: my little girls wanted Valentine's decorations, and one of them found a few random sheets of plastic canvas that have been kicking around for forever. No more. It's all been cut into hearts, and yarn or ribbon looped through them to hang in the windows. TA and JK took turns stitching and we made a bunch of them. JK keeps calling it "knitting" and I keep correcting her to "embroidery." (There is no knitting in our house - I tried and it didn't take.) Happy Valentine's Day!

3. Night Sky quilt: only two more 10-inch blocks (the center one was January's block), but I finished what will be the top row of the quilt! Next target is to finish the entire second section.

4. Clothing: SM came home one day with costume instructions for the school play, and I had all of a week and a half to figure it out. And we were traveling for 5 of those 10 days. Thanks for the advance notice, School, that you don't have a costume shop and I had to take care of it. She's a "fairy tale peasant," in the chorus of Into the Woods. So I knocked out her peasant top using some white fabric from my quilting pile (I think it used to be a bedsheet) and these directions from Things of Cloth. It only took me a couple of hours, I was surprised but pleased it went that fast. The skirt is in the works, and I also need to make an apron. I'll do pictures of the whole costume together when it's done.

I'm glad that this got me kicked into gear on making clothing - the target is 12 items for the year, and here's two right together.

5. A Doll Like Me doll quilt drive: I committed to 6, and the first one is done. The traveling and the theater costume took cuts in line for my time.

I meant to do T and U for the Alphabet Challenge before going to V for Valentines ... I know what I'm doing for them but other things have obviously taken priority.

For March, it's time to make dresses and skirts for Easter, because it's April 1 this year. I've made Easter outfits only once before. Last summer, my mom found a close-out sale of a fabric store in Idaho and FaceTimed me (in Connecticut) while walking around the store choosing fabric. Best fabric shopping ever! The catch was, you had to buy what was left on the bolt. (I also got major yardage of flannel to use for quilt backs, and the whole load cost me only 50 bucks. And they were coming here on vacation anyway, so we didn't have to ship it!) I ended up with 8 yards of this lightweight cotton that's perfect for skirts and dresses. I'm going to try to use it ALL. I have the Carousel Dress pattern traced off and trimmed for either TA or JK.

doll quilt one from TA

It's not a family service project quite yet, but we are underway in the Needle and Foot doll quilt drive for A Doll Like Me! TA started us off.

Photo of the 6-year-old sewing taken by the 5-year-old

6 inch squares - the finish is 18x24 inches

21 February 2018

Doll Quilts

Trina's last post talked about making doll quilts.  So I followed the link and read all about it.  I had been in the middle of cutting out two new patterns (here and here) but I was inspired and immediately set those aside and started digging in my scrap box. 

Throughout the last year I had been cutting out 2.5" squares out of scraps - it helped my scrap bin stay somewhat organized and seeing a nice stack of squares made me happy.  I didn't have a particular project for them, just something to save up.  But now was the perfect time to use them.  Having pre-cut squares sure helped this little quilt come together fast.  I already had the backing (leftover from this shirt) and the binding was leftover from a recent project too. 

Also found in my scrap box: the leftover pieces from the Woven Star quilt.  I also had exactly enough navy for the backing, and one long piece of teal that demanded to be used for the binding.  The quilting was the most time consuming part of this project, but was worth it.  Maybe someday I'll even get good enough to not have any puckers in the back.  At least my binding skills have improved, just between quilt one and quilt two!

11 February 2018

family service project

Last fall, I started doing a Family Service Project every month. We participated in the town clean-up in East Hartford in September. We don't live there, but our church congregation boundaries include that town. In October and November, we committed our time to relief efforts for the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico. We made hygiene kits, and fleece scarves to be given to PR natives who are moving to the Hartford area. In December, we went caroling at a senior home on Christmas Eve.

January's service was a bit of a bust. The girls were supposed to serve each other (in an effort to help them stop fighting so much). Maybe Adam and I didn't stay on top of it enough but it didn't get anywhere. 

So we're regrouping for February. Our next family service project will be making doll-size quilts for A Doll Like Me

31 January 2018

January journal

I'm going to try to keep a monthly log here of the sewing, quilting, and household projects I'm working on, so I can keep myself moving forward and keep track of what I'm actually doing.

I made a Year Ten sewing/house/project list a couple of years ago for my 10th year of being home to raise my kids. I didn't get very far with it because there was a lot going on with homeschooling and just life. It occurs to me that 2018 is Year Ten of this blog (!!!!) and it's gone through a lot of changes. My life has gone through a lot of changes just in the past 10 months, including putting my kids into public school. So I have a lot more time at home to do things that are NOT fighting about doing math. (Don't worry - there's still plenty of fighting about math. And science. But it's in a much more condensed time of day.)

My overall sewing goal for this year is to sew at least 2 1/2 hours per week and make one article of clothing per month. With 5 girls and me, this should mean we each get two new handmade items this year! The main sewing focus is quilts.

- clothing item ... Well, let's start with what I did NOT do this month ... I have fabric pulled and a tutorial up on my phone, but just didn't get to it.

- 5 more blocks on the Christmas log cabin for a total of 12. I was working on this at New Years, then thought - wait. I have my kids' quilts to finish. Why am I working on this now? So this has now been deliberately set aside (as opposed to ignoring it while other things are more interesting) until I finish Night Sky, Extreme Reader, and T's Town.

- 2 hours of stitching on my DC embroidered map. This is taking a LONG time, but I'm okay with that. I'm trying to get the entire bottom section done so I'm not shredding the pattern any further by leaning on it to work on higher sections.

- 2 zipper bags for a total of 9, at least 4 more to go. These are birthday presents for cousins. I'm out of interfacing so need to go to the store before I can finish this project.

- 5 blocks on SM's Night Sky quilt. Most of them were little 4-inchers, and one 10-inch. I almost think that the little ones shouldn't "count" for the block tally but really, they take as much or more time than the big ones! Large pieces of fabric are a lot easier to work with than tiny ones! I got the first section of five finished. February's target is to get section 2 done. Adam says I should take out the solar system colored section, but I was going to put little pieces of it in other sections too so it's not a one-off. Any feedback?

- 2 blocks for the Squared Away BOM (Block Of the Month). I saw this and thought it looked easy and kind of fun to make just a couple of blocks a month over the course of a year, and then get a quilt at the end! Mindy and I are going to make twin quilts - I made TWO of this block, and will give one of them to her and keep the other for myself. This particular BOM is intended to use up scraps, so they give a color every month - January was light blue, and this was the suggested block. I have another set of two with different light blue fabrics but they're not done yet. February is supposed to be purple, and the new block will be posted on Saturday.

Before it was sewn together and yes, I have two of them done. It's supposed to be 10 and a half inches square at the end, so there's a seam allowance around the outer edge. Mine was exactly 10 inches when I was finished, so somewhere in there, I'm doing my seams a shade more than a quarter-inch. I thought I was doing a correct quarter-inch seam, but apparently not if I'm losing a full half-inch. 

I decided my background will be white-on-white. I'm not sure where this fabric came from because I only had a little bit of it. Someone was cleaning out their fabric and giving me the little pieces. 

I also have a goal to do one project per month on the house. It could be sewing, but not necessarily - there's a lot of painting on the list. Adam did a lot of electrical work this month with fixing the 3-way wiring in a bunch of light switches. Whoever did them before we moved in had it all kinds of monkeyed up. That was his project. I suppose I could count it because it was project done for the house. But no.

My project was cleaning cleaning cleaning the homeschool area of the playroom, and opening it up to be an art/activity area. The kids now do their homework in the kitchen or at the computer desk in the living room where I can keep an eye on them, so having a study area downstairs is no longer necessary. We have a couple of years worth of paper piled up, multiple boxes with random game and puzzle pieces in them, and a crazy number of books that aren't read anymore. It wasn't a decorating scheme or paint job, but it certainly needed to be done and ... I'm still working on it.

At church, I do all the weeknight activities for the girls ages 8-11. (LDS: Activity Days) We had a meeting with all the families of kids turning 8 this year to introduce them to the programming and get them excited to come. This was a gift for the kids my friend Megan and I did - painted wood frames and blinged them up, with a little sign of the sections of the Faith in God award program. We even made two for the boys.

06 January 2018

2017 Review / 2018 Preview

2017 Projects
Looking back at my list from a year ago, I completed it... mostly.  I did complete my alphabet, but didn't do the final project I originally planned.  I'm going to do it though, to celebrate the end of the Alphabet Challenge!  And I was very vague by saying "more quilting" which definitely happened (including using that jelly roll and the white charm squares) but I still haven't attempted paper piecing or done any more string quilting.
PLUS I made ....

2018 Plans
With the Sew All 26 complete (except that last zipper pouch) I've thought of a new challenge. COLOR!  No deadline, no specifics (sewing? quilting? both?), so not really challenging, but it'll be nice to branch out and use colors I don't normally use.  I already have RED well underway, and PINK is on my list for the next Finish-A-Long

Quilting!  I knew that once I got started I would love it.  And I do!  The last thing I need in my house is more blankets, but I live in a cold place, so who cares.  I have one surprise quilt almost ready to be quilted (thank you Trina for the border) and I've started a Christmas one with a layer cake that I won in a giveaway.  I still want to try my hand at paper piecing, once I find the right pattern.  I'd love to do string quilting again like I did on my sewing machine cover.  I received a set of hexagon and triangle rulers for Christmas and I have a few ideas for how to use those. I'm a total copycat and want to make a table runner like Trina.  And maybe, just for fun, I'll make a sampler quilt, just to try out new blocks without committing to a whole quilt.

Clothes!  Time for a batch of new pajamas for Cupcake, specifically a sheepy nightgown.  Snowflake needs a new sleepsack since the one I made over the summer is falling apart at the shoulders.  And I'd love to make more outfits for them to match (while neither will complain) - possibly Easter dresses, or something for the summer.  I also have fabric to make jackets for them (one is already cut out).  Snowflake doesn't really need clothes, but I have several patterns I want to make for her - either Maggie Mae or McKenzie.  The first Maggie Mae I made for Cupcake actually tore, so I have a sheepy bodice I need to make into a new dress.  And if that pattern still fits, I'm going to use the new My Little Pony fabric I got for Christmas to make another dress from the same pattern.  To round it all out, I've got a few friends having babies soon, and I need to make some more bibs and toys for gifts!  I'm looking forward to a very productive year!

05 January 2018

2017 annual review and 2018 plans

I didn't have a whole lot of planning for this year. I knew we'd be doing a lot of work on the house in the first half of the year, and wow - we did! Most of my sewing was in the 2nd half of the year. I did get the bedroom curtains done for the girls in January (surprise surprise!) and I made JE the split skirt that she wanted ... and now has worn all of two times. *frowny face* I worked on the quilt for SM and bought fabric for RG's quilt but haven't really done anything with it yet.

Mending: 21
Spools used up: 6

Alphabet Challenge - I knocked out another 6 letters - N O P Q R S. Shooting to finish it this year! October will be 4 years - we started in October 2014. That's long enough for a sewing challenge, but I have persevered! Good for Mindy for finishing last month, and completing it in about 3 years!

1. For Laura Ingalls Wilder's 150th birthday in February, we had a whole Laura Day with a number of homeschool friends. The girls all dressed up in bonnets and aprons, we made Laura's recipe for gingerbread (heaven!), and we attempted to make rag dolls like Charlotte. The girls decorated the faces, and I sewed all the edges. Unfortunately, I cut them too narrow and the fabric frayed a lot more than I thought it would. Double whammy. This was eventually abandoned, but not without a lot of effort.

2. Felt banners for the girls' Frontier Girls badges. We haven't spent the money on the uniform vests yet (and might not at all), but they needed a place to put the badges they've earned.

3. Oliver + S family reunion dress, lunch box culottes, ice cream dress. For JK, JE, and TA. (SM and RG got dresses last year. Also Oliver +S!)

4. Open mouth zip pouches: 7 total for the year. The first one was a bomb, but I tried it again to much greater success.

5. Bento origami bag - only one this year, but it makes 7 total. All 5 girls have them for their dance bags, and JK was FINALLY old enough to start dance. And 2 more were made as gifts a couple of years ago.

6. Purple cape for JE to be Skyra the Guardian of the Portal (!!!) from Lego Elves at Halloween. The other side of the cape was a dark purple, and I did a fancy embroidery stitch all the way around the edge. Dad made her staff out of a really long dowel he found in the garage.

7. No-sew fleece scarves - we made 5, and they were donated with a larger amount made at a church activity to an organization helping people from Puerto Rico relocate to our area after the hurricane destruction during the summer.

8. Two placemats made from the leftover table runner strips, and Christmas strips on the other side. Double duty, as a Christmas gift for my parents.

9. Flannel handwarmers for the principal and vice principal for Christmas gifts. I apparently need to make more because Adam and the girls want them too.

1. Night Sky quilt: Work in Progress. I started cutting pieces for this in January of last year, and have been sloooooowly moving forward with it. I have these on the wall, and a piece of graph paper with the quilt mapped out into 5 sections to do, then put all together. The first of the 5 has been mostly sewn together but is not quite done. 2018 plan: Finish it. Sooner rather than later. I already have the backing purchased - a light blue flannel.

2. DC Map embroidered quilt: Work in Progress. I don't have a photo of the current status, but I've put in north of 50 hours on it so far. I haven't really kept track. I've learned the running stitch, back stitch, split back stitch, and French knot. 2018 plan: Keep going! The work on this goes in spurts because I don't want to move it around so much. The map template is starting to shred in places I haven't done yet. Maybe I'll get it done, but I won't be surprised if I don't.

3. Jeans upcycling: I'm chopping up old jeans and making picnic blankets. I did one last year, and spent some time this summer chopping up more jeans and sewing some strips. Not much done on this extended project. 2018 plan: Make at least 2 for the end of year gifts for the 4th and 2nd grade teachers, so they can sit outside and relax during their summer break! They've earned it! I've got enough pants piled up that I can probably make 10. I want to have 4 for myself, so I have an 8-foot square.

4. Reinforcement stitching: Adam has a couple of quilts that his mom made for him. She has little tiny ties in the corners of fairly large squares, so I shoved them through my machine and did stitch-in-the-ditch around the main blocks to strengthen it all.

5. Joint project with Mindy: navy and gray giant woven star quilt: DONE 12/10/17. Given to Tawnia for Christmas.

6. Joint project with Mindy: jelly dot baby quilt: DONE. I did a lot of the piecework in making the squares, so I'm going to claim it for my own work list. She finished it and gave it away as a gift.

7. Autumn table runner: DONE 11/22/17.

8. Aussie duvet quilt: DONE 10/15/17

9. A red quilt: Work in Progress. This is the third joint project with Mindy, which she is doing most of. I did the border and mailed it to her, and she's doing the rest of the quilt. She has suggested doing a Color challenge when we finish the Alphabet Challenge - well, she's done with the alphabet so she can start on her rainbow. Here's the entry for Red.

10. Red White and Green quilt: Work in Progress. I have a bunch of random Christmas fabric scraps, from making Christmas outfits for the girls in the past (including the very first clothing I ever sewed), the Christmas tree skirt I made (my first sewing project EVER), and a few other projects. I'd been wanting to make it all into a Christmas quilt to put on the couch to snuggle with in the winter, and I decided recently that log cabin blocks were the way to go. I made these first 5 just on Christmas Day. I have a total of 10 done now at 12.5x12.5 unfinished. 2018 plan: The target is 25 blocks to make it 60X60. I might need to redo the layout - I don't know that this diamond layout will work with 5 squares across. I'll figure that out when I have my 25 blocks.

1. The kitchen is Adam's project, and it's not done yet. But wow - he did a TON of work and it's a completely different room than when we started. Adam custom built floor-to-ceiling cabinets all the way around, including all the drawers, facings, doors, and hardware. He also raised the ceiling around the edge of the room, wired for new lights above the sink and for moving the stove, ran a water line for the fridge ice maker, a lot of drywall and plastering, and laid new tile when we moved the appliances. We had granite counters professionally installed. I repainted the entire kitchen, including a cranberry red accent wall.

So happy to have the counters installed! We had plywood with contact paper stapled to it for 4 months. This was in July. The bottom cabinets all have drawers and doors now, and the corner cabinet has a big lazy Susan turn-around. Still no doors for the top.

2018 plan: Adam needs to finish the fronts and doors of the cabinets, finish touching up the ceiling where it was raised, add the molding for the top and bottom edges, and we need to choose and install the backsplash. My job is the detail work like the window and making all new hot pads so we can throw out the junky ones we have now that are trashed anyway.

2. Curtains for both bedrooms for the girls. I made 10 panels in all with ruffles across the bottom.

3. I made a drop cloth cover for the white (and filthy - I've been scrubbing at it, and it's clean-ER but still not CLEAN) armchair in the reading room.

4. I painted the reading room, kitchen, and front hall during the summer.

our front hall from the living room on Christmas morning. 

the color before, last Valentine's Day

2018 plan: finish all the touchups from my previous paint jobs - there are gray marks on my white ceiling still. I also need to go over all the baseboards where I've already painted the wall, and at least scrub them if I'm not going to repaint them. The front door is slated to become navy blue. I have paint ideas for both bathrooms, and the girls keep bouncing around on if they want their bedrooms painted or not. I do have a gallon of really pale lavender that could get started on one of them.

WOW. I had no idea I'd done so much! My plans for 2018 don't mean starting a bunch of new projects, but continuing the ones that are already in process. Hopefully finishing them! So then I can start on new projects. I have a list of over 20 quilt ideas that I'd like to do, so I'd better get moving with the ones I've already started!