Category : sewing


So I‘m making have made another quilt!

After lurking around Cluck Cluck Sew for a few months, ogling pretty quilts, I landed on the Raw Edge Circle Quilt Tutorial and thought Im going to make that for the Munchkin.

Two things attracted me to this quilt; first the colours, which those who know me will recognize as some of my favourites, and second that it looked non-fiddly enough that I might actually get it done before he leaves home.

I spent some time perusing my favourite online fabric stores, bought much more than I’d need for this quilt (gotta build the stash somehow…) and got started.

I won’t bore you with every single step, just know that it involved doing this about 35 times.

(I say “about” 35 times because I did a few extra, just in case.)

After quartering all those squares I ended up with this

which I then had to arrange into a quilt-like composition, like so;

all the while attempting a reasonable distribution of different colours and tones and pattern types.

The day I did the layout, I didn’t quite finish before the wee beastie awoke from his nap, upon which I blame the fact that there are a few places with matching fabrics touching each other. Oops. I didn’t even notice until I had the front all sewn together (another logistical joy, keeping all those pieces in order), and I sure as hell wasn’t going to redo it then. He’ll just have to live with it. Hopefully it won’t shatter him to discover at an early age that mommy isn’t perfect.

I wanted this to be a cosy warm quilt, not just a pretty throw, so I went with Thinsulate for the batting, and tufting instead of real quilting to keep it nice and lofty. (I used leftover variegated green sock yarn that a certain someone should recognize.) I never think far enough ahead to plan the binding, but luckily I had some green fabric that I think works well, helping balance out the warmth of all the oranges and browns.

For the backing (also not planned ahead of time) I picked out some fun flannels at the local fabric & craft store, and ended up with this:

I love it, but the little boy hasn’t exactly warmed up to it yet. This may have to do with the fact that he is quite opposed to the use of blankets in general, and for himself in particular. But I don’t mind. I figure we’ll just keep it around so it insinuates into his subconscious, and by the time he leaves home he won’t be able to imagine not having it.

See, I do plan ahead after all.

Getting started, and the tricky bit.

It seems insane, but we’re doing the 401 Richmond holiday craft show again.
Why insane?
It’s a little over a month away.
I haven’t started making things for it yet.

OK, that’s not entirely true. Last week I bought some fabric, and today I made a prototype (as fugly as all my prototypes, more an exercise in finding the many faults in a preliminary pattern than creating anything useable).
I pulled out the large and small quantities of materials I hope to use to make the stock, and stacked it up in a hopeful kind of way on my desk, like so:

This morning I scribbled out a couple of patterns

which will hopefully be the basis for some fairly easy to make but still funky, useful and attractive purses & pouches.

So I have begun, it just doesn’t quite feel like it yet.

Because before I can really get going, I need to figure out how many of which items I’m going to make out of which materials. This is the tricky bit, because if I do it right we could theoretically have a good show and sell lots, and if I do it wrong it could be an utter failure and I’ll have lots of Christmas presents (of things people didn’t want to buy – how great is that) but no income (or self-esteem, but who’s counting…). So, you know, no pressure or anything.

And it really is the trickiest part for me; I’m OK at making plans out of chaos, but I’m much better at the following part. I feel all wobbly and unsure and doubtful when making the plan, and keep second-guessing myself. Once it’s made I can zip along full steam like nobody’s business, but I’m just not so good with the whole “big picture” thing. I’m more of a details person.

So here’s hoping I’m somehow aware enough of the current trends, and other people’s taste in general to put together a collection that will sell like hot-cakes and leave us with empty bins at the end of the show.

And enough money in my pocket to get people Christmas presents that aren’t just craft show rejects.

A-Gardening We Go, and some Quilt-making too.

Managed a few minutes today to pop some carrot seeds into the ground at the Community Garden. The peas I planted about a month ago are on their way, and last years garlic is satisfyingly tall and green, as is the sage.
Like so (unfortunately my real camera is suffering some kind of lens malfunction so we’ll have to settle for crappy cell phone pictures until the batteries for the backup camera are charged):
I was accompanied by Himself (you can see his snazzy orange stroller in the corner of the above picture), and he managed to refrain from wailing just long enough for a quick portrait of sorts.

I’ve also been working on another quilt. This is more of a “salvage an old comforter and cover the nasty old sofa” quilt than anything else. It’s extremely basic, with squares of various stash fabrics separated by strips of a duvet cover that generously sacrificed its previous identity for the project. The central panel is put together (thanks to the OH looking after His Royal Poopiness for a good chunk of Mother’s Day – hurrah!), and while it’s nothing special, I’m confident it will be more attractive than both the floral comforter I’ll be stuffing it with and the aforementioned nasty old sofa.
Quilt2 Panel
(You may notice, if these are the sorts of things that you notice, that I managed to piece it such that no fabrics repeat in a given row or column. Considering the severe case of new-mommy-brain I’m sporting these days, I thought that was quite an accomplishment, though it did require a modest amount of taking-apart and re-assembling to pull it off.)

That is all.

Getting Ready…

Item complete: diaper bag.

To whit:

Diaper Bag OuterDiaper Bag Zip

A pocket on each end fits a water or baby bottle.
Diaper Bag End Pocket

There’s one biggish pocket and four smaller ones around the main interior space. Inside in this pic are: 2 prefold diapers, one diaper cover, a couple of washcloths, a changing pad cover, a drying cloth, and a burp cloth, with lots of space left for a bottle of wipe formula, lotion and some small toys.
Diaper Bag Inside

Outside there’s a zippered pocket for mama’s stuff, and I even made a little pouch to go with it.
Diaper Bag Pouch

I’m going to make a couple of wet bags for, well, wet stuff, as well as a travel change mat for all those uncertain public surfaces. There’s a layer of PU coated nylon between the outer and inner fabrics to help keep messes from getting out of control. It hangs off the handles of the stroller nicely and goes easily in the cargo area as well. Of course I won’t know for sure whether it’s really well-designed until I’ve used it a bit, but I think it’ll do at least for a while.

I’ve got so much sewing to do! Thankfully I’ve got nearly all my supplies and should have plenty of time over the next month to devote to getting it all made. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel really ready…

Battle: won! Or at least a truce declared.

As usual, you my readers have exhibited impeccable judgement, and suggested precisely the action with regards to the quilt knotting that I had decided to take on my own.

My yarn stash, unfortunately, was not so agreeable. I could probably have found matches for four or five of the six square fabrics, but they would have all been very different yarns, and there would have still been some poor matches.

So I ended up going with two subtly variegated colourways of the same yarn, one for the intersections and the other for the squares. It’s not great, but not bad at all. And since it only took about 1/2 hour to do all the knots, it won’t be a big deal if I decide to change them later.

Here she is, all knotted up, binding attached.
Quilt1 DoneQuilt1 Done Close Up

See? Not great, but not bad. I can certainly live with it.

In the end, I just can’t get too fussy about being all matchy-matchy with the yarn when my binding is of the “what I could find in my stash in the right quantity” sort rather than the “well-thought-out and coordinated” sort. Cause that’s just how it is when I really want to finish something and I’m not in a condition to just “pop out” to the not-so-local fabric store to hunt down just the trim material.

Choosing my battles; I figure I might as well get used to it since it’ll be a theme for the next, oh, 25 years or so…


Woohoo! Quilt progress!

Today I sewed together all the pieces, lined up the front and back with the Thinsulate and basted it. Like so:
quilt basted

I think it’s secure enough that I’ll be able to sit with it on my lap to do the knot quilting. The fun part will be picking out the yarn to do it with. I think sock yarn will be best; it’s not too thick, fairly tightly wound, and has a bit of nylon that’ll help keep it from falling apart. I could use cotton I suppose, but I’ve got so much sock yarn around…

The next question is whether to use all one colour, or to match or contrast with each square and the background colour? I think it would be more fun to use different colours, but it might get a little too chaotic-looking. Maybe one for the background and a different one for all the squares?

I’m just happy to be at this point, having had all the squares sitting there taunting me for so many months…

Of course, I still have to figure out the binding. I’d like to use something contrasting, but will have to investigate my stash to see if I’ve got anything appropriate. You never know; I do have an awful lot of this and that loitering about in various drawers and boxes. I might just get lucky!

The Prototype

This morning I woke up thinking; “wallet.”

Actually, I had several other thoughts first, like “why am I fully awake at 6:22 on Sunday morning?” and “I wish that cat would bugger off”, but the wallet thing came soon afterwards.

The particular type of wallet I had in mind is the classic long, flat sort with a few card slots, bill pockets and a change section. I pictured this old kimono fabric that’s been lurking in my stash for a few years, and a particular layout, though as usual the actual construction process was a little hazy.

But naturally I dove in anyways, figuring out the details as I went. And all in all, the result isn’t too far off my goal, with one major exception. Way too much interfacing. The final seam ended up so thick I couldn’t even get my presser foot onto it and had to finish it off with the big machine (nice to have the option, but not really what I was going for). Now I’m not entirely sure how to deal with this, as I feel like the materials do need the reinforcing, but I suppose I’ll just have to figure it out.

Of course I’ll use it anyways (this is why so many of my own hand made things are somewhat imperfect), out of sheer bloody-mindedness if nothing else, but I’m only posting pictures that don’t quite show how awkward it turned out.
Wallet the firstWallet the first

So, yeah. Not quite a disaster, but it definitely needs some revising.

From Brain to Blog in 48 hours or Less.

So lately I’ve been feeling in a bit of a slump, creatively speaking.

I seem to get like this every year at about this time; I spend a lot of time wondering if I’m doing the right thing and what else can I do that’s creative and productive and all that kind of thing.

So this week I got really into some personal sewing. First it was just a couple of pot holders that have been desperately needed for ages and there’s really no excuse for not just sitting down and tossing them off. Then I made a new apron because I only have one and it’s kind of stained and as my belly gets bigger I find it necessary to wear an apron whenever I prepare food or eat anything, so it’s nice to have a new one. (No pictures, sorry, but it is just an apron…)

Then I got fed up with all my purses/handbags being made of Cordura and plastic and decided it was time to make myself a couple of real, grown up type purses. The night before last I sat down and sketched out a couple of ideas:
Purse Sketches
then had a look through my stash to see if I had enough of the materials I had in mind, and drafted up the first pattern.
Yesterday I made the first one, which looks like this:
Brown Purse 1Brown Purse 2
and like this:
Brown Purse 3Brown Purse 5

It’s nice and soft, but got just enough structure with interfacing and leather that I think it’ll hold its shape pretty well. I only came up with the strap at the end, after having several different handle/strap ideas in mind. It came down to not having any hardware laying about that was appropriate, but I really like how it turned out.

Last night I drafted up Purse #2, and put it together today. I didn’t really know how I was going to order the construction while I was doing it, so I ended up having to redo several seams more than once, and there are still a few corners I won’t be showing anybody close up, but on the whole I’m very happy that it turned out almost exactly as I pictured it in my mind.
Here it is:
Black Purse 1Black Purse 3
(I swear, half the fun was styling the dress form… do I really have outfits this coordinated? And when will I get to wear them again?)
And up close:
Black Purse 4Black Purse 5Black Purse 6

I’ve always resisted the idea of selling purses on the grounds that too many people make them therefore there’s too much competition (which I don’t like), but women do seem to be crazy about purses, and willing to spend beaucoup dollars on them, and feel like one or two just isn’t enough. (While the messenger bag crowd can be somewhat enthusiastic, they’re a little lacking in the second two sentiments).

So I dunno, maybe it’s time to think seriously about it. I mean, I’ve got experience making bag-type things so it’s not a total leap off a bridge, and I can still use my lovely super heavy duty monster sewing machine (I do adore the way it just punches through 6 layers of leather like they’re a swiss cheese sandwich…). It would mean getting to play with pretty fabrics and metal hardware, not just nylon and plastic, but without the ghastly scene that is the garment industry.

Hmmm… We’re going to be in the 401 Richmond Holiday Marketplace in December; I think I’ll try making a few simple handbags and clutches for that and see how they go over. At the very least I’ll have some fun doing something a little different, and I can always gift them if they don’t sell.

A (very) modest amount of progress

Remember how I got those awesome fabric swatches to make into a little quilt? Well they’ve been quartered, and I found a sheet that, while not exactly matching, I figure makes a good accent/trim/reverse for it anyways and today I present to you the layout (forgive the bad photo; I promise to take good pictures when it’s done):
Ye Quilte Layoute

Though looking at it now I believe I’ll need to rotate the squares with the light blue background and squiggly green + black flourishes and white florally things. You know the one I mean. I didn’t notice close up but the directional elements are definitely misaligned to the other squares.

So the plan is light green 1.5″ strips between all the squares, 2″ edging, solid back (the sheet is folded in half in the photo, for those of you who think I’ve skipped an area calculation groove). I still have to find a blanket to fill it with. I think for the quilting I’m going to go with the old fashioned little knots of yarn at intersections or corners or square centres or some combination thereof. Given my lack of a long-arm machine, and my unwillingness to do serious quilting by hand, this seems like the most achievable option. Of course who knows what I might not do when February cabin fever/nesting madness hits…