Sunday, October 29, 2017

Knit Panic: Summer Garment Sewing

As I try to catch up on recording my sewing here, this post will showcase the clothing items I made for Charlotte this summer and fall.  It all started when I had a little bit of a panicked feeling, realizing that I had a few one yard cuts of knit fabric stowed away- fabric intended to be dresses for Charlotte.  My days of being able to just buy one yard of fabric for my growing daughter are nearly over.  She's growing so fast.  

So I started with this one yard of Ann Kelle flower knit.  I started on to cut the fabric for a Me Hearties dress (Patterns for Pirates), after cutting the large circle skirt, I soon realized that I did not have enough fabric to cut out the bodice pieces for the dress.  It did not help that this particular fabric seriously had a 3-4" selvedge!  I ran to the computer to see if I could buy more of the fabric somewhere and I did find a source quickly.  But I really didn't like the idea of spending at least $13 more to make up for my mistake- especially when I was really trying to use up the fabric I already had and not buy more!

So I decided I'd try my hand at making Charlotte a skirt.  I don't think I've ever made her a skirt before- dresses are just so satisfying to make....  I clumsily handled the upper part of the circle skirt piece and tried to see if I could simply fold it over to make an elastic channel.  That did not work.  I returned to the internet and found a tutorial that taught me how to put an elastic waistband on the circle skirt piece and I had it done in less than an hour.  (I think I used this tutorial on Pretty Providence.)

Within the same week, I was able to make a Me Hearties dress with another one yard cut of knit fabric (cutting much more carefully this time and it helped a lot that the selvedge for this fabric was much thinner):

As much as I love the Me Hearties dress, I really wanted to try another knit dress pattern.  Happily, I already had one in my stash: the Hopscotch dress pattern by Oliver and S.  This pattern was a total game changer in using up stash- you only need one yard (or less!) to make a size 6 and I whipped up this hot air balloon dress in less than an hour.  It honestly is the EASIEST garment I have ever made in my life.  I made it just in time for our favorite Colorado Springs event - Labor Day Liftoff.  Poor Charlotte is being a good sport but she was cold when I had her take off her jacket for this picture.  

  I soon made another Hopscotch dress for a visit to the Denver aquarium- we love to be corny and theme our wardrobe choices with fun destinations:

So I was definitely happy to use up about four yards of stashed knit fabric.  I've decided it's definitely a little stressful to stash garment fabrics- the intended recipient might eventually outgrow the yardage you've acquired!  Lesson learned.

Finally, just before the craft fair craziness descended on my life, I made Charlotte an Oliver and S Apple Picking dress.

Here she is posed in front of a sneak peak of a recently finished quilt top I still need to document on the blog:

In the early days after Charlotte's birth, I put her in a cute little yellow sleeper and my mom and I agreed that "yellow was not her color."  Haha!  Fashion choices for a newborn.......  But I think she pulls this dress off rather well.  The fabric was a bargain find when I stumbled upon the Keepsake Quilting clearance sale last summer. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Craft Fair Preparations: Seventy Zip Pouches

I've been sewing so much lately but having a hard time fitting in blogging too. I want to share a big recent finish: 70 zip pouches I completed for some upcoming craft fairs.  These took me just under two weeks to make.  All the fabric is from my stash, about half the zippers were thrifted (from some awesome yard sale scores!) and I ordered some zippers from Zipit on Etsy and I ordered some hardware from Amazon.  

I did NO craft fair sewing this past summer simply because I didn't have a lot of time and I had been wait-listed for the two shows I had applied to- I really had minimal motivation.  But within a few weeks, I got off of the wait lists and accepted to a third show.  That third show happens to conflict with one of the shows I'd disregarded - thinking I had no hope of getting in.... - so now I am double booked for November 11.  I worked it out to have my husband run one show for me and a kind friend agreed to watch my kids (in exchange for some handmade goodies).  But I basically feel like I need to have DOUBLE the inventory that I might otherwise try to carry... hence 70 zip pouches!  I spent one full weekend cutting the fabrics and interfacing and matching zippers to each pouch.  After that, I had a goal of making eight pouches per day and I pretty much stuck to that except for Sundays and one busy Saturday.  

Elm Street Quilts is running an awesome Bag It event, encouraging crafters and sewists to make bags and learn new bag making skills.  I am going to submit this post to their link-up but only count these as "6" bags because I think it would be pretty obnoxious to claim 70 entries and I seriously don't even have time to photograph all of these in small-ish groups.  Go check out the other bags people are making at the linkup!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2017

 I've enjoyed entering and visiting the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side over several years.  I've delayed sharing my most recent quilt finish for a few months, so the festival was a good excuse to get back to the blog and continue documenting my adventures in sewing.

One of my first quilts I made with modern fabrics was "Circle Circus." I fell in love with one of the first modern boy fabric collections ever to arrive on the fabric scene: Urban Circus by Laurie Wisbrun.  I honestly ended up buying and using 7.5 yards of that blue elephant print.  (I was a new mom to a sweet baby boy and loved sewing for him.... who's now about to turn 8 years old!).

Here's a picture of that quilt from 2013:

Adhering to the mentality, "I love this fabric and if I don't buy it now, it will be unavailable when I am ready to use it;" I stocked up on the girl colors of the fabrics too, not necessarily convinced I'd someday have a daughter- I just loved the collection!  So several years later, I made the girl version of this quilt.

Being corny and always one to enjoy an "on location" photo opportunity, we took the quilt to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo a few months ago.  One of the giraffes seemed curious about what we were doing:

This quilt is made from such a simple pattern: circles on squares.  I appliqued the circles using the Super Circles technique, aka the "tin foil method."  I used tons of stash fabrics for this quilt, cutting a circle and square out of 47 different fabrics.  I really like the scrappy look.

I bravely decided to quilt this as my first quilt on my newly acquired longarm over the summer.  Quilting it went pretty well overall, I had a decent degree of confidence in being able to quilt this quilt because I'd (essentially) already quilted it before.  I simply started at the beginning of a row and swirled in and out of the circles along the row.

You can see the quilting here pretty well:

For the backing, I used a big chunk of an older RK London Calling fabric as well as a bunch of orphan blocks from a baby quilt I'd made in 2011.  That felt great to finally use those up!

I used an Ann Kelle dotted stripe for the binding:

The quilt measures about 64x80.  It's now one of many quilts in possession by my daughter but she's still graciously allowed me to use it now and then.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My big news: I bought a longarm

I think I've been procrastinating writing this post for some odd reason....  But it's time to finally reveal the "big news": I bought a longarm quilting machine!  A good friend from my amazing book club, Kathy, who is a die-hard quilter, learned that our mutual friend, Marti, was selling her longarm due to an impending move.  Kathy has known that I've been very interested in owning a longarm and mentioned this to Marti....  It all became a whirlwind of a process, but soon enough, this Viking Husqvarna 18x8 Mega Quilter is now occupying a large part of our basement.

I'll admit that I've had some anxiety about this purchase and commitment....  But I was given a great price and the machine has not been overly used by any means.  I was told by a reliable source that you don't come across this kind of deal on such a well kept machine very often.  It's been my dream to own a longarm for a very long time.  I've rented longarms for about seven years now and after renting for so long, it's become quite natural to want to own my own.  Generally, when I go to the longarm rental places, I've felt a bit nervous because I am paying for my time and haven't felt that I could afford the luxury of practicing free motion quilting at $20-25 per hour.... Now I can practice in my own home and get my quilts quilted without waiting for my husband to have a day off so that he can watch the kids.

I will say that I feel like I am more "used to" the Gammill longarm brand (because that's the kind I've rented for so long) and I can kind of understand why they cost many more thousands of dollars than this Husqvarna.  I have to admit that I still want to own a computerized Gammill but owning this much more affordable Husqvarna will help me build my free motion quilting skills in the meantime without having large monthly payments and the pressure of building a quilting business while my children are so young.

Speaking of my children, this summer has been turning out to yield very little sewing time, and I am sure you, my kind readers, are not surprised that I am reporting this and you may even be experiencing the same thing.  I think this is a big reason why I am a bit stressed about the machine right now: I don't have a lot of time to work with it and practice on it lately.  But a few weeks ago I gave myself a little internal lecture that went something like this, "Just chill out.  You know you are glad to have a break from the school routine.  Do not wish away this summer or the extra time with the kids.  You got stressed when you had to go rent a longarm and now you're acting all stressed because you own a longarm.  Chill!"  Honestly, my little pep talk helped and now I am just trying to be okay with it not being used a ton right now and just be patient with myself.

Even though I've complained about not using my longarm often enough, I have finished the Circle Circus quilt and will showcase that this Friday.

One side note I'd like to add about renting longarms: long time readers of this blog know I just LOVED living nearby and renting from Laurena in Burlington, MA.  She recently sold her business to a personal friend of mine: Louise Rains.  So if you're one of my good readers from the Boston area, please continue to support that business and tell Louise I sent you.  She's a great lady who was generous enough to have me over years ago and she actually taught me how to make and put on a real quilt binding (I used to fold the back of the quilt to the front for a makeshift binding.... *shudder*).  Louise has named her new business Burlington Electric Quilters and I believe she's in the same studio Laurena had used.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daysail Baby Gifts

 During May and early June, I had a lot of sewing goals to accomplish.  I am happy to say that I just wrapped up one of my biggest projects: making baby gifts for a niece.  My brother Brian and his wife Ashley are expecting a little girl and I guess the plan is for Ashley to be induced this Thursday.  They already have a little boy, just 2 weeks older than my youngest son.  I knew they appreciated the baby gifts I made for their son, and I love to spoil babies in the family, so I went all out for their little girl.

Long before Ashley was even pregnant with her daughter, I bought two Daysail charm packs to stash away for the possibility of her ever having a girl.  She and Brian are obsessed with sailing and I knew I should grab some "feminine sailing" fabrics, as that is not a very common theme!  I am so glad I did, making a bunch of "Daysail" projects was a lot of fun.

Of course, I had to make a quilt.  I used the Moda Bakeshop tutorial, Charming Stars, by Stefanie of Little Lady Patchwork.  I made just 9 blocks, it was a very easy and enjoyable project.  Initially, i was just going to do red solid stars in the middle of every block, but by adding pink and blue, I was able to use a lot more of the Daysail squares without anything blending in with surrounding fabrics too much.

I sashed the blocks with a Cloud9 background fabric from my stash- I was *so* close to not having enough, but I managed to find some scraps of it, which helped me have just enough to make it work.  I thought about sashing the blocks in white, but I just couldn't do it.  I really don't like using too much white for a baby quilt!

I finished this quilt while my parents were visiting last week.  It was such a busy time, but I knew I wanted to get everything done in time for my mom to take the sewn gifts home (as they live about 45 minutes from Ashley and Brian).  Stippling a quilt is the fastest way for me to quilt on my domestic machine, but I am so tired of doing that.  I decided to try a decorative stitch and sew it along across my quilt.  It's like waves, right?

I used stash fabrics for the back and purchased a Bonnie and Camille basic stripe for the binding.

I made a tiny Geranium dress, size 3-6 months, for the baby too.  Isn't it just darling?!  I happened to have these Daysail fabrics in my stash- but I wish I had first remembered that I had a whole half yard of the aqua sailboat fabric.  Having a large stash can have some drawbacks!

Eventually, I remembered that I had the aqua sailboat fabric and I went ahead and made some bibs and a diaper pouch.

Here's all of the themed gifts together.  Isn't it so fun?!

It feels so good to have finished up all this stuff and I know it will be appreciated.  It feels kind of weird to have lots of freedom on what to choose to sew next....  I will say that I have big news on a big change that is coming to my "sewing life."  I'll share more soon!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Spring Time Clothes Sewing

I have SO many quilt WIPS and fabric pull piles for potential quilts.... but I keep making my kids clothes.  I am kind of dying to get back to more 2D sewing - not having to worry about curves, buttonholes, and gathers....  BUT these cute kids keep growing and I am truly trying to sew up garments for them now- when I have the right amount of yardage for their size and before their willingness to wear my makes goes away..........  Plus I love seeing them walk around in prints that I love and my daughter still adores the dresses I make her....

So, I made her two Ice Cream Social dresses, size 6T.  

This purple one gave me SO much trouble.... I especially struggled with the bottom band- which is technically a lot easier than the top yoke... but I was dying!  I even threw it across the room in frustration at one point!

The cat corduroy is an old favorite, long out of print, that I used 2 years ago to make Charlotte a jacket.  When she grew out of it, she cried and cried!  I was so happy to discover more of the fabric recently and surprise her with this dress, even if I had many frustrating moments in making it!

I've had this pink solid and Japanese print prewashed and waiting since the fall.... it was definitely time for me to sew these fabrics into a dress.

My second go at making this pattern went much more smoothly.

My other big project has been making Charlotte and Owen matching jackets.  I wanted to make Charlotte yet another "Baby in the Hood" jacket and purchased this Ann Kelle fox corduroy.  Later, I found the coordinating red version locally and knew I wanted to make Owen a matching jacket!

Making these went very smoothly!  I was so grateful.  I guess the only significant hiccup was my automatic buttonhole feature on my machine went a little wacky.  That was frustrating- and I was SO close to being finished!

This kid just turned two years old!  He's about to be discharged from speech therapy six months early because he's made so much progress.  Comically, his favorite phrase is, "go away."

This scene is evidence of my third attempt to get a picture of these two wearing their jackets together.... it's so not easy to photograph kids!  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MOPS Gifts: Perfect Zip Bags, Celestial Style

I've said before that this move to Colorado from my beloved New England has been H.A.R.D.  But thank goodness there is one community I'm a part of here that has become quite meaningful and integral to my emotional survival: my MOPS group.  I found them by enrolling my oldest son in Holy Apostles preschool and a mom invited me to their "mom's group"... and the rest is history!

One way I learned quickly to enhance my experience in the group is to always volunteer to be in leadership of the MOPs group.  It just helps you get to know others better and in a more meaningful way; when the group roster changes dramatically every fall (hello military town!), you still maintain a sense of continuity.  

Last year I was in charge of Membership and that was a BIG job!  This year I decided to give myself an easier time and agreed to be a "Discussion Group Leader" (DGL).  My role was to lead an assigned table and help those ladies know about upcoming events, any responsibilities we had, and help everyone feel involved and included.  

ANYWAY- I decided to make them all parting gifts as our 2016-2017 year came to a close.  The MOPS theme was "We are the Starry Eyed"- so I finally broke out a bunch of my moon and star fabrics to make Bag C from Perfect Zip Bags, an Elizabeth Hartman pattern (if you don't have this pattern, you NEED it.  It enables you to have that clean finish by each end of the zipper that is very elusive in other bag patterns!  She is also very clever with an interfacing approach that makes these bags super sturdy).  

The bag was made out of Yarn Dyed Essex Linen in Flax, my stash patchwork, thrifted zippers, and some handmade "celestial themed" custom zipper pulls.  My friend Leslie, who has experience in jewelry making, helped me make them and they were the perfect accent to the project:

The ladies were very appreciative of my gift and it was a little sad to say goodbye to such a fun year we had together.  

Thanks for reading!