“Hey, this part’s missing!” he exclaims, giggling. Silly me! I was hoping it was time to turn the heel. Turns out I am missing a couple inches.
Ah, decisions. Is this Edward Gorey illustration from The Shrinking of Treehorn better in black and white,
or black, white and greys?
I love Edward Gorey’s illustrations. I found The Shrinking of Treehorn at a library book sale for a quarter (!) at the same time I was taking a polyester plate lithography class at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I made polyester plates for a few Treehorn illustrations, to see how the medium would handle such fine lines. It handled them surprisingly well! The top picture is a lithograph I printed, the second is a lithograph + colored pencil. I’m having a hard time deciding which I like best. I have a few more prints, I’ll try more colored pencil variations. One variation will eventually go in the artwork rotation in Isaac’s room.
We are making a big deal out of Halloween this year. We have read spooky books every day for weeks, we got a pumpkin (although we didn’t carve it), made a spider thaumatrope, baked and decorated cookies. I made some new decorations.
A really simple wreath. I used a wreath form and skull and crossbones paper from Paper Source, ribbon scraps, and three metal stickers. The hardest part was coloring the edges of the wreath form with a black Sharpie.
Cross stitch spider web and glow-in-the-dark spider. I used a kit from Subversive Cross Stitch.
Dirt cup and a cloth napkin made from Robert Kaufman’s Eerie Alley fabric.
But the very best part of Halloween this year is Isaac’s costume. We asked what he wanted to be a month ago, and he said “An Aquabat!” I half-heartedly tried to talk him into being Batman or a hockey player – both things that he really likes, costumes that would be much easier to make, and other people would actually recognize the costume - but he had his heart set on Aquabat. He loves the Aquabats Super Show, which we discovered this year and is conveniently available on Netflix streaming. It is such a goofy show, and it makes me sooo happy to see him enjoying it because I love the Aquabats, too! I first heard of them over a decade ago and have been a fan ever since. I’ve seen them in concert three times. They put on such a fun show!
My little Aquabat! I am so proud of this costume! The goggles are just two layers of felt and elastic. I did a lot of top-stitching on them to help them keep their shape. It helped, but not as much as I’d hoped – they are kinda floppy. If I ever make another pair of goggles, I will use some sort of interfacing between the felt layers to keep them from stretching out of shape. The logo on the shirt is felt that I very carefully cut with an exacto knife. I stitched the layers of felt together before stitching the logo to the shirt.
The belt is my favorite part. Two layers of black felt sewn together, velcro closure, layers of grey and white felt on top with a free-motion quilted Aquabat. This is by far the most successful free-motion quilting that I’ve ever done.
The helmet is made of grey sweatshirt fabric, and I started with the Winter Hood pattern from the Oliver + S book. I modified it a lot – taking in the seam allowances, making the middle section skinnier, and giving it a widow’s peak in the front. I left the ears covered because a) it was less work and b) it’ll be warmer. We live in Minnesota. It might snow.
This costume was a challenge and it took some time, but it was worth every minute! Isaac “helped” me sew (watching and/or sitting on my lap while I sewed) some of the costume, and he was so eager to try on pieces for fittings. We recorded the first time he tried the whole costume on and he was so excited he literally could not stand still – he was singing, giggling and dancing with glee! I honestly don’t know who is happier about this costume – him or me.
Hope you all have an equally Happy Halloween!
I started my first pieced quilt over a decade ago. I joined a block of the month club at a local quilt shop, and I pieced one block every month for a year. Then I let the blocks sit around for a couple years before assembling the top. I had a friend quilt it, then let it sit around for another few years before binding it. That’s how my first quilt also became my latest finished quilt, approximately 12 years later. Sigh.
I am a little upset that a lot of the batiks bled, especially the blue that I used for sashing and binding, which is also in a few of the blocks. I put a few tablespoons of synthrapol and two color catchers in the wash, and there was still some backstaining. For the block of the month club, we picked up a little kit every month with instructions and just barely enough fabric to make the block – so there was no way to prewash the fabric. I’ve learned a lesson for next time though – always always always prewash batiks.
I do really like the quilt now that it’s all washed and crinkly and (finally) ready to use.
I’m a big fan of Oliver + S patterns. Really, who isn’t? The raglan t-shirt pattern may be my favorite yet, and it is by far the quickest to whip up. I recently made a couple raglan t-shirts, size 3T and 4T, that I’m really happy with. I found the Paul Frank fabric on sale at Joann’s, and the blue (I think) came from the Textile Center annual garage sale.
I tried out two different hems – on the left I did a blind hem with my serger. On the right I used a twin needle in my sewing machine.
Cutting out the t-shirts took less than an hour, and serging the pieces together took about 10 minutes. The serged blind hem took approximately 17 tries and two hours. Ugh. I should have given it a few more tries, because it drives me crazy that it doesn’t lay perfectly flat and the stitches are not even. The twin needle looks great but it’s not nearly as stretchy as the serged blind hem. I prefer stretchier hems for kid’s clothes, so I’ll be practicing the serged blind hem for next time.
It’s sweater weather again in Minneapolis. Although I like knitting wool garments and the changing seasons, I don’t look forward to the first days of having to wear mittens and scrape frost off car windshields. The transition is made a little better when I have new handknits to look forward to. This year I finished three projects in time for the first frost.
The blue shawl is Westlake by Stephen West. I knit it with a pretty heathered yarn my sister picked up at a state fair. I love the details on this shawl, but it turned out a bit small because I used US4 needles instead of 4mm (US6). I read the pattern at home, packed US4 needles instead of 4mm needles, and proceeded to knit the whole thing on a flight to India without ever re-reading the gauge section. Whoops. It’s small but I’ll wear it as-is, so I’m not going to reknit the darn thing.
The cream shawl is Blue Whale by Stephen West, also made with yarn gifted from my sister. This time I used the called-for US6 needles and the shawl turned out to be a good size.
I started the little brown sweater back in April for JC Briar’s set-in sleeves class at Yarnover. The pattern is from her class handouts. I do like this method, and I’ll use it again. I opted to finish the sweater with a zipper instead of a button band, and I’m super pleased with the result. Isaac seems very excited about this sweater and the orange zipper, so I’m optimistic it will get worn a lot this winter.
I’ve been kicking around the idea of a plaid quilt for a while. This summer I did a lot of sketches, some math, bought some fabric and stitched a baby quilt. And then I wrote up the pattern.
I wanted a simple, bold, macro-view of a plaid pattern. I wanted the crossing of stripes to mimic a woven plaid, where two stripes combine to create a new color. I also wanted it to be efficient – quick and easy to piece, with minimal leftover fabric. Although the top of the quilt uses 10 different fabrics, there is not a lot leftover. For 5 of the fabrics only a fat eighth or 1/8 yard is required.
The finished dimensions are 36″ x 50″, which is big enough to cover a standard toddler bed. I made this quilt for a baby boy, but I know it would look equally cute in girly colors. I already have plans for a few more.
I quilted the background pretty densely and quilted into the plaid stripes by about 1/8″. I think straight lines at a 45 degree angle across the whole quilt or meandering in the background would also look great.
I’ve written up the pattern and it’s available in my etsy shop. The pattern includes tips for selecting fabric, detailed instructions and diagrams for cutting and piecing the top.
I’ve been working on a couple pen pal kits, to be Christmas gifts for two special kiddos. I’ve been gradually collecting ideas and supplies for a couple months but hadn’t found a suitable package for the kits. Until now.
This week I was inspired by a Michelle Patterns post, where she scaled down her Idea Pouch pattern to 75% for use as a sewing kit. Clever! I scaled it down a bit further, to 55%, so it would be just big enough to hold large post cards.
I used an Alexander Henry fabric I picked up at Joann’s years ago, and a coordinating piece of Kona PFD that I dyed for the lining. This size pouch requires only a fat quarter each of lining and outer fabric.
In addition to scaling to 55%, I made a few changes to the original pattern:
- Since I used directional fabric I pieced the outer back + flap (pattern piece D) from two pieces so the mushrooms are right-side up on the back, and right-side up on the front flap (when closed).
- I changed the placement of lines on the pencil pocket, dividing it into 3 sections: 1/2, 1/4 and 1/4
- I omitted the top-stitching on the pleats – I felt at this size there just wasn’t room.
Next time, I will trim the interfacing down by 1/4″ on all sides to avoid bulky seam allowances. I might also add a pocket to the flap, like Michelle did in her post.
I need to gather a few more goodies. I think the finished kits will include:
- washable gluesticks
- washi tape
- crayons, small pens or washable markers
- a small envelope, full of vintage stamps
- 4-bar and A2 envelopes and note cards
- cheatsheet for postage, stationary and postcard sizes
If you’re thinking of making your own pen pal kit, you might find these links useful:
This summer the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild hosted a “take it with you” challenge. Projects had to include some hand-work and be portable, ideally so we could work on them at the beach. I didn’t make it to the beach, but I did take several road trips this summer. The big reveal was at the guild meeting last Thursday.
My project was a set of place mats. I hand-basted the hexagons, machine appliqued and quilted the place mats, then hand-stitched the binding.
I had originally intended to do six place mats, but four is still a set, right?
For the front and back of the place mats, I cut 13″ x 16″ rectangles. After quilting I trimmed them down to 12.5″ x 15.25″. They hold a Fiesta-ware dinner plate, silverware and glass but it’s a tight fit. The next set I make will be a little larger, probably 13″ x 16″.
One of my goals this year was to (successfully) use topstitching thread on garments. I have three projects I want to make this year that require topstitching:
- twill or denim shorts for Isaac
- Oliver + S school days jacket for Isaac
- Colette Lady Grey jacket for myself
I have successfully completed project #1!
I made Isaac two pairs of twill shorts, topstitched with actual topstitching thread. Earlier this year I made him a pair of corduroy pants. They’re ok, but I used regular thread for topstitching which kinda disappears in the corduroy. You can just barely see the faux fly I stitched on the pants. I used Simplicity 2907, for the pants and shorts, which I highly recommend.
I learned many lessons while making the twill shorts with topstitching thread:
- sew slowly
- set your stitch length longer- I used 3 for topstitching, I normally use 2-2.5 for sewing garments
- do not backstitch! Backstitching is likely to create a giant knot of thread on the backside. Instead, leave long tails, pull the top thread to the backside, knot and trim.
- choose a needle that works for the maximum number of fabric layers you’ll be sewing through. This will probably not be a topstitch needle, unless you are sewing with quilting cotton or shirting. If you’re topstitching a seam on a pant leg, you’re sewing through three layers of fabric – one outward-facing layer, plus two layers of seam allowance. If you’ve folded the fabric over once for a hem (if you’ve serged the edge, you can do this) you’re sewing through six layers of fabric at the side seams. If you fold the fabric over twice for a hem, as most patterns have you do – you are sewing through nine layers of fabric at the seams. This is a lot of fabric!! While sewing the hem of the twill shorts, I used size 110 denim needles.
- experiment with bobbin thread – you can use regular thread or topstitching thread in the bobbin. Either way, you will likely need to adjust your bobbin tension. I had to loosen mine by 1/2 turn left (looser). Using regular thread worked best for me for this project.
- I want to experiment with different brands of topstitching thread. I used a Coats and Clark topstitch thread, which was quite heavy. I’ve heard Guterman topstitching thread is also quite heavy, but Guterman upholstery thread is not as heavy and works for garments. I think a slightly thinner topstitching thread would work great for non-denim fabric.
We took our summer vacation very early this year, last week in fact. When we left Minnesota for Florida it was too chilly for shorts, I had to make Isaac try on his summer clothes to make sure we packed things that fit. Turns out he had plenty of shorts and shirts but had outgrown all his hats.
I used the Betz White bucket hat pattern for probably the seventh time, this time in a medium. I can’t say enough good things about the pattern – it is easy, comes in a wide range of sizes, and fits well. It’s a little big on him but he likes to pull it down over his eyes so it works out ok. Here’s the little dude playing his first game of mini golf in his new hat.
I used Kokka Trefle vehicles, linen, and 2 layers of medium-weight fusible interfacing. I like the amount of interfacing, it keeps the brim from flopping in his eyes.
There has been a lot of cute map-themed decor on the interwebs lately. I’ve been motivated to make some wall hangings lately. Hence this “where-we’ve-been” map.
I downloaded and printed a US map, then enlarged it. To transfer the map to the fabric I taped the map to a window, taped the fabric over it and traced the state outlines using a water-soluble pencil.
I used fusible web to iron states to the map, then I machine-appliqued them to the map. I quilted the outline of the US with a walking foot, and free-motion-quilted the background. This is my first free-motion project in years, and this is definitely the best looking one yet.
I washed the fabric to get the nice wrinkly look and hide a few flaws in the machine quilting. This also washed out all the state outlines I had drawn, and now the middle looks empty. I’m debating whether to quilt some of the outlines, all of the outlines, or just wait until we visit more states and applique them on. What would you do?
Pattern: Fly with me by I Heart Linen
I finished my first ever paper-pieced pattern! It’s a little wall hanging for Isaac. He calls it “mai hairplane!” I love that he says everything with an exclamation point.
Paper-piecing is not so bad. I did not follow the directions and cut the pieces based on the templates, I just cut scraps that I thought would be big enough, thinking that would save time and be less fussy. Turns out that’s a good way to waste a lot of fabric and time. Next time I will either use the template or cut scraps much much bigger than I think they need to be. I also had some trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that I was putting the fabric on the wrong side of the paper and sewing on the right side of the paper. Sigh. I unintentionally reversed a few pieces, and had to redo them. I think I also unintentionally mixed up the ordering of the background fabrics, too.
Even with all my mistakes, this took only an afternoon. And I was super happy with it until I washed it. One of the batiks bled and stained the white fabric. Sigh. It wasn’t even the dark batiks that bled, it was the lightest one – third from the right. I used the same fabric to bind a quilt made with other not-pre-washed batiks – it was a block of the month quilt, pieces were distributed by a local store precut and not pre-washed. When I wash the block of the month quilt I will definitely be using color catchers, and maybe retayne or synthrapol.
Now that I think about it, I have finished some things in 2013. I made a couple hats for Stash & Burn’s Use it Or Lose It challenge.
Pattern: Top down bonnet by Adrian Bizilia (ravelry)
Yarn: S.R. Kertzer Down to Earth Cotton
Pattern: Quynn by Woolly Wormhead (ravelry) modified to have 8 extra stitches.
Yarn: alpaca, bought @ Shepherd’s Harvest festival
Me in my Uptown Coat, Isaac in his “papa hat”. This was back in November when we were waiting for snow. Now we can’t wait for the snow to leave.
Isaac loves his papas. He calls this his papa hat. It is in fact a Huck Finn cap that I made using the Sew Liberated pattern. It was not easy – I had a lot of difficulty with the brim, but it was worth it. He wears it often, he loves it, and he gets a lot of compliments on it. I’m already planning a papa hat in the next size up.
I made my jacket years ago in a class at Crafty Planet. It is probably the sewing project I am most proud of, definitely the garment I am most proud of. I am planning another jacket for next fall that will hopefully top this one.
I designated 2013 as the year I finished things. Hmm. Well, I’ve finished one thing. I made a baby quilt for my high school BFF, who just had her baby last week.
I wanted to make a hexagon quilt, similar to this one that I made for my niece. I wanted to make it with a rainbow of fabrics and have it be kind of an I-Spy quilt. I dug through all the bits of fabric I’ve saved from past projects, which was super fun. I had previously made my friend a quilt for her college graduation and her wedding, and I was able to work in fabric from both those quilts. I also used fabric from two quilts I made for Isaac, the quilt for my niece, from the big pink quilt, and more. I love that I can remember where I used each fabric.
As I sorted through my stash I found a plethora of greens, blues and purples. The three red pieces you see are all of the red fabric that I own. That is all of it. Three pieces of red. Tied for second-to-last in my stash are yellow and orange with four pieces each.
On the back I put three prairie points on the bottom right side. I think they are pretty cute, I will probably be adding prairie points to more quilts soon. I love that these prairie points are the same fabric as the binding for my friend’s wedding quilt.
This quilt was so fun to put together that I am already planning a duvet cover for myself.
I organize my embroidery supplies in a small ArtBin.
I’ve got the usual floss, thimble, hoops and measuring tape. I also keep a stock of extra bobbins, printouts courtesy of Wild Olive, a box of Thread Heaven, and a Prismacolor water soluble pencil. If you use thread, you should use Thread Heaven! That’s the motto on the box – cheesy but true. I only bought it a few months ago and I wish I’d bought it sooner. It really keeps thread and floss from tangling while stitching, and it makes stitches look smoother. The Prismacolor pencil is my favorite for drawing or tracing patterns on fabric. It washes out with water – I don’t even use soap or agitation. It doesn’t stain fabric, doesn’t smudge like chalk and it doesn’t fade like marking pens. It’s the best!
I made an envelope clutch using this (free!) pattern from See Kate Sew to hold projects. The only change I made to the pattern was using magnets instead of a button. I used the Prismacolor pencil to doodle on the faux addresses – you can see the pencil markings totally washed out. My sister made me the cute envelope needle book a few years back.
The clutch is 7.5 x 12.5 inches, just big enough to hold one project and tools. I always keep my needles, needle threader and Gingher scissors in here. My current project is (gasp!) cross stitch instead of embroidery – a pendant. I found the laser-cut blank at the Workroom, and took inspiration from their flickr gallery.
This post is my entry in the &Stitches embroidery toolkit competition. Go check out the other entries!
Pattern: Mortimer the Dog (ravelry)
Yarn: Cascade 220
Needles: US5 DPNs
This is the last toy I knit for Isaac for a while. This is the first and only time he has snuggled with it. He usually just throws it on the ground and yells “No puppy!” Even though he loves puppies. Sigh.
I stocked up on Marty goes to Mars fabric this summer during a couple trips to the S.R. Harris outlet. I got enough for 2 toddler-size pillow cases, a quilt, and some leftovers. The quilt is made of mostly 4″ squares, with a couple 4×8 and 8×8 pieces thrown in. It’s 52×36 inches, the perfect size for Isaac’s toddler bed. Which he used for a month before he switched to a twin bed. Sigh.
I wanted this to be perfectly square since (I thought) it was going on a toddler bed (for at least a year) it would be painfully obvious (to me, anyway) if it wasn’t square. I also had pieced the back and I wanted the quilting lines to be parallel to the seams on both the front and the back of the quilt. I have been making quilt sandwiches by taping baby quilts to the floor with painters tape, but I’ve noticed that method doesn’t always guarantee that the front and back seams line up perfectly. Painters tape is only so sticky, and it can only hold fabric for about an hour before it starts to give up. To make sure everything lined up I used a quilt frame.
My husband helped me make the frame. It’s canvas tacked on to strips of hard wood. I think the strips are 2.5 inches x 6 feet. There are 4 strips. The first two are set up on parallel sawhorses. I use a tape measure and carpenter square to make sure the frame is set up squarely.
I start by laying the back of the quilt wrong-side down and pinning it to the frame, starting with the center of each side and working out. I pull it pretty tight. Then I smooth the batting over the back but I don’t pin it. Last I pin the quilt top down, again starting with the center of each side and working towards the corners.
Once everything is pinned in place I baste the quilt using really long – about 3 inch – running stitches. Then I take it off the frame and it’s ready to be machine-quilted.
My grandma taught me how to stretch quilts like this. It does take more time and I don’t do it for every quilt, but this is my favorite way to stretch quilts.