Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just Strings


Not much time for quilting lately (because I've been using my sewing time on clothes - thanks for all the nice comments), but this string project takes no thought so it is easy enough to grab a few pieces here and there and make a few seams. Originally, I started this project (in early June) as part of Judy's May challenge to use a piece from the stash thinking I would use that dark blue background (which so closely matches my dark gray carpet that it might be hard to see). My scrap bin was seperated into 2 piles and all the pinks, blues and purples were put near my sewing machine to be sewn into Chinese Coins (inspired by Mary's beautiful Chinese Coins!).
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You can see - here and there - strips of little squares - those are the left-over edge pieces from cutting the sewn strings down to 6" (the rows are 6" - same width as my favorite ruler). I think they add a little bit of interest.
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This photo shows what my progress looked like in early June. I must say, it has made a good dent in my scrap bin - but the big piece of dark blue background is going back into the stash... It looks so dark and dreary. I am thinking a nice bright turquoise solidish type fabric will look great with these strings as the alternating bar color with a sunny yellow inner border, turquoise outer border and scrappy pieced binding. Or bright pink. Or even bright orange. But not that dark blue, certainly not that one fabric I was intending on using! So much for meeting the challenge of using A piece of fabric from the stash, but I did make pretty good use of all those strings!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Headband & Skirt





























Last week I made this headband and skirt... We hosted a party - and while the menu was the easy part, the question of what to wear was a bit trickier. Something day-time dressy - but not too dressy, summery - but that will match a warm cover-up in case it gets cold (even though it is summer, we tended to hit only the mid-60's all this week during the warmest part of the day), and something that will match shoes that I already have in my closet... and believe me, the choices are limited unless you count sneakers! Hummmm, what to do?
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Well, sew up a skirt using the most beautiful duponi silk, that I bought at Marden's last time I was there for a mere $1 yard. I bought 2 yards of each yellow, with not a clue what I would sew, so yes - I have plenty left over. But for $1 a yard - unheard of for duponi - let's see, I can make a matching bag, a bolero jacket.... believe me, I will think of something. But next time I see duponi at such a price I will get 3 yards for more versitility.
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As luck would have it, the afternoon was beautiful! But toward the end I was reaching for my cover-up - a beautiful green pashima/silk shawl from Nepal that is feather-light, but oh so warm! All in all, I was happy that I was able to pull this outfit together.
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Anyway, the pattern is New Look 6470 (by Simplicity) and it couldn't have been easier. The skirt actually has an elastic waist. I did have to shorten the length by 3" though - and I am tall. I didn't realize it would be so long and then ended up cutting the 3" off the waist - which I just barely got away with because any more and it would have interferred with the shaping of the skirt. Still, it worked - even though I cut the pattern 1 size down from my normal size so it would be a bit more fitted and have less gathers at the waist from the elastic. I am definately going to make this skirt again, but will shorten it on the shortening line next time. I cut it out on Thursday, sewed it Friday morning and wore it on Saturday! Easy, easy! Just one thing about the pattern if you make it - cut the notches OUT so that you can find them - I usually cut notches in, but for this pattern you have to cut many little notches to ease the flounce and inward cut notches would have been impossible to find.
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I used a double needle and top stitched the side seams and the seam for the flounce using 2 different spools of sparkly thread that I love so much, but that always, always breaks on me. But guess what? It doesn't break if I use 2 strands together - 1 in each of the double needles AND if I just do one section at a time, turn off the machine and let it cool off and then do the next section. The hem is turned up 1/4" and then another 1/4" and top stitched also. I did not have any silk thread and the closest poly thread I had was cream, but I used it only for the seams so it was ok.
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From now on, when I buy fabric, I will make sure to get the matching thread! It all worked out fine, but only because I had a double needle and pretty thread, phew! I was so scared I would break that double needle before I got done, because the closest store to buy such a needle is about 6 1/2 hours away from me, round trip and that would have been out of the question. I must admit - the topstitching is really a nice touch on this skirt - well worth the extra time spent on it (the directions don't mention topstitching, but I often add it when I make clothes). Still no serger, so I pinked the seams - not sure how long that will last with duponi, but I think it should be fine (another good reason for the topstitching - it will help hold it down). Oh - and since I am a MOMMA to a slightly messy Little Boy, I pre-washed and dryed the fabric first. Yes I did! All fabric in my household has to hold up to a regular washing machine/dryer, so in it went before I even made a stitch.
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The headband pattern I got out of the summer issue of Sew Simple (by Quiltmaker). I thought it was too wide so cut it a bit thinner - I wish I had made it even thinner - oh well, next time! I used a decorative stitch to top stitch, using the sparkly thread and double needles again. The thread broke 2X doing this - probably got too hot with all the fancy stitching. On the ties I used the straight stitch (double needles/fancy thread) and had no problem. I also inserted an elastic to the underside to help hold it in place. I put my hair into a French Twist and I think it looked great with the headband, so I am happy that I made it.
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There is a very nice headband pattern at http://heatherbailey.typepad.com/heather_bailey/2006/05/hooray_for_head.html- I want to make a few of these! This pattern also uses a piece of elastic so if you look at the photos on this site you can see what I am talking about.
When top stitching pointy end corners I put a piece of sticky embroidery stablizer under the fabric - this keeps the feed dogs from eating my fabric. You could also use a sticky post-it note with the same effect. For turning long-skinny pieces like this right side out, I use a pair of surgical hemostats - much longer and a better grip than a bodkin! If you don't have either - try a pair of tweezers.


And, even though I have the menu posted over on my cooking blog at http://www.starfishyskitchen.blogspot.com/, I can't leave you without a photo of 1 of the 7 sandwich platters... the party was a huge success and helped raise some much appreciated funds for our favorite little museum.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bouquet of Love


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Don't you just love the bouquet of dandylions Little Boy picked for me? I HIGHLY encourage the picking of BEAUTIFUL dandylions in order to spare many of the other flowers. Dandylion bouquets are truly appreciated around here, we even have the perfect plastic "vase" which weathers trips to the bathtub in order to give said beautiful flowers a "sip" of water. Oh yes, my son is very sure to make sure they are well watered.
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Forget-me-nots are in abundance and my peony plants have lovely buds! The lilacs are just out too, filling the air with a beautiful scent. In the next week or so the snowball bush should bloom. Of the 3 Bleeding Hearts we planted a few weeks ago, one has lots of little bleeding hearts - already! Yes! Rhubarb is coming out of our ears and I just posted a favorite strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe over on my cooking blog at www.starfishyskitchen.blogspot.com - the next post down from that has a great recipe for cucumber salad - another favorite summer food.
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And - please do notice that the digger is being very careful not to be where the plants are. Tonka trucks and gardens are not necessarily a good mix, but so far this one has been on his best behavior, so allowed to stay!
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This week we tried our hand at planting seeds for 2 different varieties of miniature pumpkins. The information said 100 days to fruit, so I am hoping sometime in October we will have some mini pumpkins!
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Everynight when I rock my son before putting him to bed, I tell him what he smells like... always it is a combination of sunshine, love, and... then - I add something about what we did that day - dirt! Were you in the garden today? Sea air! Were you at the beach today looking for seaglass? Pie! Did you make a pie today? He delights in this game and it gives us a chance to go over the day. Of course, if the day wasn't sunny, then he smells like rain, fog, snow, storm clouds, etc., but still a little bit of sunshine in there somewhere because it takes a long time for that sunshine smell to go away! For sure, he knows that his Momma always thinks of sunshine and love when I hold him close.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sewing simple pants





I left my serger on Cape Cod, whaaa! But, you can still sew clothes on a sewing machine without a serger and here are some photos of what I did this week; pants.
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First off, I got a great length of jersey at Marden's for $3.50. It was just perfect for McCall's 4664, which I got for $1 at a Joanne's pattern sale. Using my measurements, I made a size 12 - which very obviously was too big (my sewing pattern size is usually 12 though as sewing pattern sizes vary greatly from ready to wear). Now, I could have easily taken in the leg width and pick out the back part of the waistband, chop a few inches off evenly from each side and then re-sewn the back waistband back on - stretching the waistband to fit. After all, it is a stretchy fabric and you can usually convice stretchy fabric into doing what you want it to do! BUT - I was thinking that these pants will probably fit one of my sister's perfectly - she is a little shorter than me so instead of doing all those alterations for a pair of pants for me - I shortened the legs for her. I will get another piece of fabric and make a different pair for me.
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So, McCall's 4664 is very easy, has nice lines, but runs large. I really recommend this pattern! Because the fabric used is a stretch, I will cut 2 sizes smaller for my own pair. Not having my serger, I used the "lightening bolt" (stretch stitch) stitch for the seams. I pinked the seams (yes, pinking shears are sitll a useful sewing tool - pricy, but I got mine with a 50% off coupon at Joanne's). Do not finish the raw edge of a knit hem because it will create waves. I used 2 rows of stitching at the pants hem to give a nice finish. Being used to a serger, sewing the seams seemed s-l-o-w, but it really isn't that bad!
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One more thing - keep track of the front and back pieces - mark these very clearly with chalk or your favorite method of marking - on the wrong side of the fabric - below the seams for the waist or else you will cut the markings off when you sew the seams. When attaching the waistband, insert a piece of folded ribbon (like a little loop) into the center back - that way you will know the front from back when putting them on!
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About that lightening bolt stitch - I can manage it just fine without the fabric slipping, BUT - when I asked my husband to finish off a seam for me he got the layers a bit shifted - so if you have a walking foot for your machine - use it! And yes, my husband was a good sport to sew the seam for me - I was in the middle of another project and one of the machines for that needed a bit of babysitting from me - so he finished the seam while I did the other thing.
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New Look 6307... this pattern is very high waisted. I ended up cutting off 3" from the top - I would have taken more, but that would have really distorted the side pocket. It seemed like a complete waste to use my elastic in a casing when I had just enough stretchy jersey fabric left over from making my pants to make a stretchy waistband for these pants. No-one sees the waist anyway if you wear a shirt over it. And NO - these funky vegetable print pants are not for me. I will be making these pants again - using the same stretchy waistband idea, making them a bit lower waisted, adding a tiny bit more room through the hip. I am hoping the 2nd pair will be just perfect!
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When sewing clothes, I often use very inexpensive fabrics (but still good quality) for the 1st try. It is common to make a "muslin" version first when sewing clothes (the muslin version does not have zipper, buttons, elastic, etc. - it is just to check the basic fit). For me, I prefer to actually make the entire garmet, make my adjustments, make basic notes right on the back of the envelope and then make it again using different fabrics. Of course, this is for fairly simple items - if I were making a fitted jacket, then I would do the muslin technique so I can write all my pattern changes directly onto the muslin fabric.
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So - there you have it - 2 pairs of pants.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Markers and other little things



So, you think these are markers? I thought so too when I first bought them. And, Little Boy DID actually color ONE picture with them. Then, it was discovered that they can be hooked together. Instantly, all thoughts of coloring flew out the door. These markers are now, depending upon how many are hooked together at a time...and I am sure I will probably forget a few, but here is a list... the Titantic, an iceburg (one of us will be the Titantic and the other will be the iceburg - the T has to crash into the iceburg and sink), submarines including Alvin and JJ, U-boats, Stealth fighters, 747's, pontoon planes, satellites, and the all time favorite - space rockets exploring various planets and shooting at each other. To shoot at each other (a compromise since I don't like him "shooting" at people, but I suppose space rockets shooting other space rockets is ok) - I hold one stick and he holds the other and we play a little sword fight type of game to see whose space rocket breaks apart first. Then, we re-create our rockets with different colors. We are practicing counting and color recognition too. Oh - and logs - the wrench is being used as a logging claw in the photo, plus towers, skyscrapers, silos... All those toys wrapped up in one - what a bargain!

And - SOME of my favorite little things around the place... just little things here and there that I am happy to have! There are many more little things and as I think to take a photo, I will create a new collage.

My garden continues to grow - I think the new periannials will be a nice addition - if not this year, then surely next year!

The turtle sprinkler - not only does it water the grass, but he also provides lots of entertainment for Little Boy who loves to run around and around and through it, getting all wet!

My wind chimes - these are very nice and have a beautiful tone.

My rocking lawn chair. I think just about everyone should have one of these - they tilt back just a bit and are sooo comfortable. You can get them at Campers World. If you get one, just remember to lock the side clamps before sitting down or else it will fold up on you!

The retractable clothes line - it only takes up yard space when it is being used.

And - milk clips, which I use to keep my frozen veggies sealed nicely in the freezer once I open them. In Canada, milk is often sold in plastic bags - you snip one corner of the bag and put it in a special plastic container that looks like a juice container (good idea recycling wise). The milk clip has a little razor inside to slice the bag open and then the clamp.

Bye the way - I created this collage with Collage Maker - a shareware program that I downloaded for free - I have a 30 day trial period and then I can decide if I want to purchase it.