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.

SEWING
- 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. 

THE HOUSE
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.

OTHER CRAFTINESS
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.


SEWING
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.


QUILTS
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.



THE HOUSE
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!

04 January 2018

S is for some more stuff for school

I'm apparently on a run with making the zipper bags from Noodlehead. I started in the summer with trying to make them as little totes for my girls going to school, and the first one BOMBED. Badly.

Because we're supposed to post the failures, as well as the successes, so everyone knows it's not all perfect in Sewing Land, here you go. The little pouch wasn't too bad when it was open - very wide, as planned.


But.  It was SO wide open that when I zipped it closed, it went completely flat because I'd cut the box corners WAY too far into the bag.


I was annoyed but tried again. My second bag was MUCH better! I used a stiffer interfacing and didn't screw up the box corners. Look at how nice and tall it stands up!



So with making the failure, then the good one!, that gave me the optimism to keep going. I had one started for JE that I came across when I was cleaning my sewing room to finish the Woven Star quilt, and it occurred to me to make them for the girls' teachers. I did the 2 for the school teachers, 1 for book club, finished JE's, and did another for RG so she wasn't stuck with the failure. So I'm up to 7.


The Pearl Bracelets fabric one and the botched one were the Small size on the pattern. All the rest were Medium. And check out the fun red fabric! Jane Austen silhouettes! RG's favorite color is red, and I bought the Ardently Austen fabric for her book quilt (which is still just a pile of fabric - not even a Work In Progress yet).

I have orders in for 2 more for my littlest girls - they want "treasure bags" too! My sister-in-law wants one for her birthday for traveling, and her girls are all about accessories as well as having birthdays soon too, so that puts my total at 12. We'll see if I'm sick of this pattern after the next 5, and if I ever make it again.

I've made only a couple of other patterns this many times - the Playtime Tunic into about 10 nightgowns, I have no idea how many pairs of Kid Shorts, and the Bento bag 7 times (one for each daughter for their dance bags, and 2 gifts). So this is kind of weird for me to keep going with the same pattern. Admittedly, I did get a package of 40 zippers from Amazon during my Christmas shopping ... I need to make some elongated pencil bags too - my girls are all about their markers and colored pencils. Artists, the lot of them. 

03 January 2018

Zig-Zag Rag

I'm usually a read-one-book-at-a-time sort of a person, so I'm surprised at how many sewing projects I've got going on at the same time.  This flannel blanket has sat, unfinished, longer than any other project.  I initially cut out the squares at the end of 2016, and put it together in April 2017.  

It stayed pretty much like this for MONTHS, until I pulled out my snippers and clipped all those edges (during book group!).  It didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would, but it is just a little baby blanket.

And finally, over Christmas weekend, I got it washed and properly frayed.

The back mimics the same zig-zag pattern as the front.

All cuddly soft and ready for a baby.
I'm thinking of donating this quilt, but I don't know how/where.
Any suggestions?

2017 Finish-A-Long Quarter 4

Y is for Yellow

When I found some super soft yellow and pink fleece at a garage sale, 
I knew I needed to make a Fluttershy costume for Snowflake.

See?  Perfect match!

It is a simplified Abbey Jacket, a tweaked hood from the Michelle Jacket,
plus a whole bunch of making-it-up-as-I-go-along for details.
The pants were just lengthened Basic Shorts. Much easier.
 
I even went so far as to hand-stitch some wings onto the back.
Even though it was for Halloween, it can keep her warm all winter!


The whole My Little Pony family:
Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Fluttershy and Discord.

Juggling Balls


These fun little juggling balls are from the Oliver + S book Little Things to Sew.  I wanted a small project to do between bigger ones, and this one fit the bill.  Of course I spent more time agonizing over what fabric to use than actually sewing them.  Once I decided on the My Little Pony theme, it went a little faster.  

I only used scraps from my stash.  Thankfully I had recently stolen a few pieces from Trina, or AppleJack's ball would not have happened, and Rainbow Dash got a turtle!  I stuffed them all with unusably-small scraps, so some are firmer than others (fleece makes good stuffing, cotton is a little lumpy unless chopped up super small).  And I finally learned a proper ladder stitch so the openings just disappear into the seams.  

Although I had them done in plenty of time for Christmas, I decided to save them for Snowflake's first birthday, which is in just three weeks!  Where did the time go??



22 December 2017

S is for school

We've homeschooled from the beginning, but this past summer, for a lengthy list of reasons, it was time to register our girls for the local public schools. SM went straight into middle school, RG and JE are at the elementary school, and TA and JK are still little and home. They'll join their sisters at school in a couple more years - the current plan is to put them in late, like at 2nd or 3rd grade. (Although with the way they keep fighting, they may go into 1st and K next fall just so they don't kill each other. But that's another discussion.)

So that meant that for Christmas, I entered the obligatory world of Teacher Gifts. I don't like feeling obligated (and I do), but at the same time, I really do appreciate the teachers our girls have - they've made our transition from home to public school SO smooth! The girls aren't just tolerating it, they're thriving. RG is getting a ton of therapy that we couldn't find in private practice, particularly physical and occupational therapies. (Why is no one willing to treat special needs kids? The demand is massive!!) So big huge thank yous to the new members of Team Caudle! Presents all around! I seriously had to make a list of all of "my staff" to give gifts to, and I still didn't get to them all. Need to finish the list at Valentine's Day, I suppose.

Since I have far more time than money, I made:

Zipper bags from Noodlehead for the 4th and 2nd grade teachers. They really are amazing. This was entirely from my fabric stash, and Mindy had given me a few zippers forever ago. I got more zippers in bulk from Amazon so I can make more for all the therapists for an end-of-the-school-year thank you. (If I get to it. That's the idea, anyway.)

2nd grade teacher - the inside was a blue with an abstract of the phases of the moon

4th grade teacher. I need to make this one exactly as-is again because my sister-in-law loved it, and her birthday is coming up.

This one was for a gift exchange at a book club - I nailed it on the fabric/zipper contrast.

Pocket handwarmers for the principal and vice principal. They are not sit-in-the-office guys, I always see them out and about, including outside at all the recess times. These were all flannel scraps. I added some lemon essential oil to them, and Mr. T loved the scent. Mr. K raved about how nice they are because it's a SUPER cold winter this year!


- Peppermint foot soak - you have to scroll down in the link to get to the foot soak. I didn't just give little tiny one-time "servings." I put it in pint jars and labeled them to use 2 tablespoons at a time. This went to the special ed teachers, 3 therapists, and their extra-curricular dance class. I saw one of the special ed teachers in the hall after I'd left it in the office, and she said it smelled so fresh! She was excited to use it! I made 7 of these. Seven pint jars out of my house! Hooray! (We have a crazy amount of pint jars and we don't do THAT much canning, so I specifically looked for things to make that would be put in jars.)


Cookie jars - particularly to get rid of the millions of Snickers bars that I stashed away at Halloween. We had SO MANY Snickers bars! And we have an obscene number of canning jars in the basement. So all I had to buy was the cake mixes, and those are a buck each. Here's something silly for you: I saw Walmart had cookie jars for sale for $5 each. Ha! I'll make it myself, thanks! We made five jars. These didn't end up going to school - we gave them to people around the neighborhood.


3 minute fudge - this is my secret weapon for the holidays. My alternate is to make it with the Ghiradelli peppermint chips and white chocolate. We took a bunch to the public library for the librarians on the children's floor, because THEY are part of our teaching staff as well!