Sunday, April 29, 2007

Toddler Proof Sewing Box!

Small kids underfoot? I HIGHLY recommend that you RUN right out and purchase a tool box - the kind that you can put a lock on! This is mine - on the smaller side as far as tool boxes go, but plenty big enough to safely lock away my rotary cutters, blades, scissors, permanent fabric pens, sewing machine needles, pins, and various other notions. I like the setable combination lock - set at my birthday so I won't forget (no key to lose!).

I think this is a good idea for grandmom's with visiting grandkids too. Oh - and all those sewers who want to guard their precious fabric scissors from a housefull of teens or husband - grin - how many times have your eyes shot daggers if anyone so much as THINKS about using your sewing scissors to cut paper!

Actually, it is spacious enough to hold a good collection of sewing notions that I would rather not see spread out through-out the house - in other words, safely out of the grasp of one very curious Little Boy. I would feel just terrible if he got hurt with one of my very sharp sewing tools. Plus - it keeps everything in one handy spot for me.

And - look who woke me up, bright and early yesterday morning - a pheasant! His mate is much, much shy-er - prefering to safely hang out near the outskirts of the woods.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Like everyone else, I have tons of projects in various stages of completion. I keep picking away at getting things completed so with that goal in mind, I purchased this fabric... all needed to finish up something already in progress (except Little Boy's choices).
Light green and green mottled fabric - I will use this either setting my 9 patch blocks or for my string tulips. $3 a yard, 3 yards of each to give me flexibility.
Front row left - 2 yards of blue fabric - final borders for my checkerboard log cabin. $3 yard.
Front row - the other 2 prints are extra wide quilt backs - I think 105" wide! I got 2 3/4 yard of each for backing fabrics at $5 a yard.
Back row - 2 flannel fabrics (one green butterfly at $1.70 per yard and the other blue flowers for $1.98 per yard) - picked out by Little Boy for a soft blanket. I will just put wrong sides together and probably straight quilt lines up and down to keep it together in the wash. We also got shiny blanket binding for 29 cents a yard - it is a maroon color. Definately not the combination of colors I would have chosen, but it IS his blanket so whatever he wants is just fine!
Where did we find such bargains? At Marden's - one of my very favorite fabic stores in Maine. The trip north? Well, I will save that for another post! Let's just say, I am happy that I stopped at Marden's because, although not the BEST part of the trip, it was 2nd to best.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Change of Scenery

My sister invited Little Boy and me to NH for a little get-away. The 1st day was great and our 2 boys (plus the dog!) had a great time playing in the snow. Then - that storm that hit the east coast last week set in and we had lots of rain! Still, we had a good time... took a drive to see the washed out roads (yikes)!, went for a walk in the rain to check out the waterfalls, brought the boys to the library... oh - and had 2 very nice soaks in the jacuzzi. The boys were super excited when they saw deer outside the window one morning (pawing at the snow to get at my sister's oregeno bush, no doubt! Also - some photos of sap buckets... I like the old fashioned ones, but took a photo of the other method too as I had never seen it before - tubes running along the trees and dispensing into 1 big tub. Interesting. Maybe some day I will make it into one of the sugar houses when they have an open house!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Heart Quilt

Even though I haven't been doing much of any quilt related sewing lately, my finished quilts are starting to come back from the quilters, so I have something quilt related to share!

I seem to go in cycles... I will go through a period when I piece blocks like crazy - several different quilts on the go all the time and loving every minute of it. And then, I have periods like now - I putter around with other things and have set quilting aside for a spell.

Anyway - you might remember this heart quilt - I made the connector blocks and a few hearts, the rest of the hearts were made by other quilters in a heart block swap... ages ago! Last summer I finally pieced it altogether and here is a photo of the finished quilt.

Very heavily quilted - click on the photo below to enlarge some of the detail. The hearts are outlined and then filled in with swirls, hearts, flowers, etc. - the borders too. Any "bare" area was filled in with a meander. It really is beautiful except that the quilter used white bobbin thread in some areas instead of pink through-out. I am not really sure why - it almost looks like she did some areas at a different time and forgot to change the bobbin thread?! The back is a soft flannel. Not a "favorite", but I am very pleased with the finished quilt and I think it will get lots of "snuggle" use. After a wash and dry the white thread won't be so obvious. For size reference - it is on a queen bed... this quilt ends at the pink border (plus pastel green binding) - there is a tan quilt under it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Photo collages

Photo collages from 1) March, 2) January and 3) February.

March: We found a bucket full of meteorites at the beach (photo shows just a handful) which then involved lots of books from the library about comets, asteroids, the solar system, rockets, etc. Fun times playing with Thomas trains. And, both Little Boy and Momma got some good care packages in the mail from DH! We also discovered that Little Boy is highly allergic to chap stick with fragrance - ouch! Quick trip to the doctors to put my worried mind at rest, phew! Plus - lots of bike riding on the warmer days. Oh - and we got to see bunnies, puppies and chicks - surely spring is right around the corner? Actually, March was much warmer than April has been.

January since leaving Europe - the light is wonderful even if it is cold. Yes, I do shovel that driveway all by myself! I couldn't resist a photo of the empty beach parking lot... And, don't you just love a happy dog by the fire?

February - a cold month, but we had lots of fun outdoors anyway.

*Even though we don't have any of our own pets due to traveling, there are lots of family members with pets that we enjoy!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Toddler Sewing

Guess who keeps growing? A couple of weeks ago I was given some very nice blue cordoroy so I made up a pair of pants for Little Boy using Simplicity 5284. See how much longer they are than his old pants? And - the pair that was fitting him best is thread bare in the knees. I hadn't realized his old pants were soooo short until he started wearing his new pants - so I went to Joanne's and got more cordoroy for a 2nd pair. Yup - winter weight pants, because even though the stores are full of summer clothes, it still feels like winter to me! I do have fabric for summer pants too, but first things first. My boy is so long legged and thin - it is much easier to just make him pants than to try to find something that even remotely fits - I always have to take in the waist on store-bought pants, but the fit still leaves something to be desired.

This is a GREAT pattern for pants, by the way! Easy, easy! My sister makes these for her son who is several years older than mine - lots of sizes included! Wouldn't they be cute for a girl with little rounded pockets edged with lace? Both of us put the pockets up a little higher than the illustration. A few tips from my sewing whizz sister... (and if she is handing out sewing tips - it is well worth listening!)
1) zig zag the outside edges of the pockets on all 4 sides
2) don't bother with folding the top edge of the pocket back and forth - this helps eliminate bulk on thicker fabrics (your edge is zig zagged anyway now so it will be fine)
3) when you pin the pocket down - don't spread it out perfectly flat - give the kids a little bit of room in the pocket to put their little cars/toys/treasures!
4) when sewing down the waistband for the elastic - when you get to the back - stick a folded piece of ribbon into the seam - like a tag - so the kids will know front from back - it helps to keep track of the back if you mark the pieces "B" with a pen along the top when you first cut out the pattern. You can get some of the cutest ribbon too!
5) when buying elastic - look for the extra long package and you will get enough for 2 pairs of pants instead of just 1 and it is almost the same price

And some tips from me:
1) I use an old pair of pants to mark off the waistline - crotch to waist, plus how ever many inches I need to fold the top edge 1/4" - 1/2", elastic space (the pattern calls for a narrower elastic, but my sister and I both use 1"), PLUS another 1/4" to allow room for the elastic in the casing and the stitching. For some reason - patterns tend to put the waistband up around your kids armpits!
2) when stitching the casing down, I set the needle position over to the left for about a 1/8" seam
3) I mark the elastic with a pen at my son's measurement and then cut it 1" longer - then I just have to line the other end up on the actual measurement line and sew them together (add 1/4" for bulky fabric) - this method seems to give me the best fit
4) my sister and I both evenly spread the fabric around the finished waist and then sew down the side seams - this helps prevent the elastic for getting twisted
5) nothing wrong with a 2" hem allowance - I folded 1/2" up and then the hem is 1 1/2" - so there is room to let these pants down

Some handy tools: I always use that little ruler with the sliding red button to mark my hems and waistbands. And - I prefer to use a bodkin instead of a safety pin to pull the elastic through - I fold the elastic 2X to give the bodkin something to hold on to.

So - did anyone notice that there is a 4" difference between the old pants and the new ones! The brown pants are 1/4" longer than the blue pants... just in case!

I also made him this roomy bag (19"X22") with a zipper on top - Simplicity 5535. He loves it - I am not thrilled. One night when he is sleeping I will take it apart and put on a zipper placket - it is only 2 more pieces of fabric and will give the bag a much better shape. But - in the meantime - it is done! I used a nice, chunky (toddler friendly) zipper and home decor weight fabric. I have left-over fabric to make him some smaller bags to go in the bigger bag. Also - since it is a B-A-G - why is it that you cut the fabric a bit too short for standard sized zippers? Just cut the bag a bit bigger to accomodate your zipper and you will save some aggrevation - it isn't like it is a fitted garmet where every inch counts. Oh - and I didn't use the contrasting fabric on top and bottom because I didn't want to cover up the great monster truck fabric!