Monday, June 28, 2010

Slow Shakespear Progress

June 1 seems like such a very long time ago... that is when I posted that I was going to once again make a favorite quilt pattern of mine; Shakespear in the Park, by Judy Martin.  So, how is it going?
Well, I decided I needed more colors than my original selection.  I've always made this pattern in just 2 colors, but I think I am going to like this multi-colored version too.  Then I decided I better just use 1 background fabric to help tie it all together.  Good thinking - because it is much faster to cut just 1 fabric instead of 100s of different fabrics.  So, I cut out all the background fabric pieces.  And then... well, I was a bit stuck so I had to trace/color my plan.

The first plan I really colored in, but I changed my mind about some of the color placement so made a 2nd plan but much rougher.  Anyway - here are the 2 plans side by side.  Handy to have something to refer to when making those Snail's Trails.
And that is as far as I've gotten and now I won't touch it for several months.  My son and I are on our traveling rounds now - we left Austria, have been to Cape Cod and now are in Canada.  We couldn't leave until he had his all-important 7th birthday party and sadly, he was very ill on that day - spent it in the hospital.  But he recovered and had his party and 2 days later - off we went.  Yes, I took him out of school a little early, but school goes all the way until July 9th over there - doesn't seem right to still be in school the beginning of July. 
Shakespear will have to wait a few months.  So - if you are thinking of making a Shakespear - you have time to catch up with me!  Actually, I brought the pattern with me - you all know I still want to make it in pinks & browns, right?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stranded... For a Bit

Well, can't blame me for trying.  The weather has been brutally hot - our home was 35C inside (that would be 95F) and that seemed cool compared to outside.  When the phone rang with an invitation to come visit - even though that meant I would have to figure out the trains all by myself... of course, I said yes!  Besides the fact that we had to cancel 2 family visits for various reasons.  So, I packed the suitcase, the little cooler with snacks, water bottles, the computer (the modern day photo album)... and my son and I headed out the door.  We made it there just fine.  Had a great visit with my brother/sister-in-law and Omi.  Boy are they ever thrilled at how well my son speaks German in such a short period of time, especially Omi - it is hard for grandparents when their grandchildren don't speak "their" language.  And then headed home the next day - at the little train station we departed from there isn't an office - just a machine that you enter your information, put money into - and out spits a ticket. Usually I double check direcitons with the ticket agent, but that wasn't an option this time around.  So - off we go - and got off at the SAME train station we switched trains at going - our ticket even said the exact same stations, just in reverse order.  But, oops!  We were supposed to stay on the train.  Even in different languages I am very good at reading schedules, but this particular train had NO schedules on board.  And it didn't even have anyone working on the train, that I could see.  Usually someone comes along to check your ticket and you can ask just to double check, but some of the trains use the "honor" system and every once in a great while someone will board and check everyone's ticket - you better have one or there is a big fine!  So I just read the ticket and really thought we had to get off.  Well, no harm done - we had a chance to call DH on Skype and chat for a bit while sitting outside in the nice, cool mountain air and enjoy a mere 1 hour delay, enjoying our little picnic from our cooler bag.  Never leave home without snacks and water!

I've got 2 things to note:  First off - if you are going to get off at the wrong train station , it is much, much better to get off at a central point of transfer with many trains coming and going instead of a little tiny train station.  We got off at a central point of transfer, which is why I really thought I was correct to get off.  The other thing - it helps to have a destination to a large city.  Because many trains by-pass all the small stops anyway.  So, double check - got off at a big station and headed to a big station.  The good news - with that winning formula we only had to wait 1 hour for another train - and the 2nd train was much more comfortable than the 1st train, so I was happy enough to spend the last leg of our trip (1 hour) in a comfy seat.
The other thing - always good to have some spare change on hand - because the 1st train didn't have bathrooms - we decided we better use them at the train station before getting on the next train (the 2nd train did have bathrooms though).  And guess what - you have to pay 50 cents to get the doors to open.  I put my 50 cents in and the doors - did NOT open.  Nothing we did would open those doors.  Well, along comes another person - puts 50 cents in and the doors open - and stay open for a bit of time so my son and I went right in after her.  Boy was she giving me dirty looks, but really - I didn't want to pay 50 cents twice!

So, all's well that ends well, I guess is the saying.  Of course I have one hundred and one other things to blog about, but thought I would at least write about our little weekend adventure in getting home!  And even better - it has cooled off since we were away and the weather forecast is supposed to be livable this coming week - great news indeed because a special someone is having a 7th birthday party this week - an outdoor one at the park.  So, a good weather forcast is happy news indeed!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The PJ crises

Here is a little photo collage of 7 different pairs of PJ's I've made through the years for my son - I am sure I have more photos, but on a different computer.  Look - there is even a photo from when he still slept in a sleep sack bag (which I also made).   I've always used the same pattern - Simplicity 8493, just tracing out a bigger size each time he grew.  I even made the robe 2X.  PJ pattern  I have to say - in the smaller sizes the pants needed to be trimmed down so they would hit his waist instead of armpit but that wasn't an issue with the larger sizes so I am not sure if it was something that I did wrong while sewing with a toddler underfoot or if it was just the pattern.  He loves, loves, loves his PJ's - always so fun to go to the store and pick out new novelty flannel for the next pair.  I made some pairs from Joanne's flannel and after about a month the shoulder and crotch seams shredded.  Shredded I tell you!  So, I spend not that much more and buy a good quality flannel that is going to hold up to almost daily wear.  Generally he has 2-3 pairs at a time that fit and 1 pair that is slightly too short (I like to have a back-up in case he is sick, you know?)
But we have an issue with the PJ's right now.  First off - I JUST made him his "pirate" PJ's this winter (bottom middle photo).  Actually, I started them in Canada so I could do all the main seams on my serger.  While I was on Cape Cod I bought the buttons and elastic.  And then brought the project over here to Austria to finish.  International sewing - you have to be organized!  He really likes the extra soft elastic that I bought.  But he has grown and needs new PJ's - ASAP as could be.  Except 1 problem, well 2 really.  First off, novelty flannel is not to be had in Austria that I can find.  So I figure - OK, I will order it off the internet, have it shipped to my sister and will pick it up at her house in a few weeks when I am there.  I don't have my pattern here so I look it up on-line and, and, and.... it only goes up to size 6.  And with his long legs -surely he has to be in a size 7 now.  Gasp!  What?  No, don't tell me!  Surely Simplicity has a 2nd envelope with the next group of sizes up?  Nope.  Since it is just one size I can easily just add the length to the legs/arms and be good for the next few pairs, but any bigger than that and I will have to start redrafting.  For the pants - I will just wait until Simplicity has a $1 sale and get PJ pants pattern that is his size because sooner or later you can't just keep adding length to the legs - the entire crotch curve needs to change!
The closest pattern is Simplicity 2823.  #2823 It still has the same style shirt with plenty of ease across the front created by the deep placket (I think that is the right word) created when you fold the fabric to add the buttons.  Except it has a V-neck instead of the rounded neck.  Who wants V-neck when it is cold out?  The kid hardly keeps a blanket on so a V-neck is out.  I guess I could just redraft the neck part to match what he has always liked.  But here is the 2nd issue - it isn't cold in Austria right now!  Really!  We turned the heat OFF in March and all this past week it has been in the low 30's - expected to hit 34 on Saturday (that is just over 100F).  So, I need to make him a few pairs out of seersucker!  Who knew?  It is still 10C (50F) in the mornings in Canada.  He is used to cold weather.  Then again - flannel is a good thing because when we do get back to Canada - I just know that he is going to freeze!
And with the warmer weather - he is complaining about his t-shirts.  Complaining, I tell you.  He says they are hot.  Yes, they are hot - I tell him they are made out of jersey and jersey is hot.  Shoot, anything is hot when you are walking down the street and you know it is over 100 degrees out!  We cross the street to walk on the shady side.  So I tell him "You need to wear a nice cotton shirting fabric, seersucker or linen to have a cooler shirt".  So he wants some.  And he wants me to make them.  He has such complete faith in me.  So, I have to find a new "favorite" pattern for a simple shirt.  Any recommendations?  Why is it that the stores only have t-shirts for boys anyway?  It is too hot for t-shirts! 
So that is part of my summer sewing mission - solving this PJ pattern issue, finding a shirt pattern that is acceptable, plus getting started on all his winter pants.  I just love sewing for my son because right now - he loves everything I make for him.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Shakespeare In The Park Quilt X4

OK - here is a photo of 2 of my Shakespeares (purple is #2 and blue is #3)... the 1st one I made - well it looks alot like the blue one, but the photo isn't as clear and besides - that photo is on another computer.  So, just imagine 3 ok?  And now... I am cutting out my 4th Shakespeare.  Pattern by Judy Martin, by the way.

Here are my fabrics.  I had a plan for these fabrics, but the ruler I need isn't here.  And honestly, this is probably enough fabric for 2-3 quilts.  So, I'm cutting into it and whatever is left over can be used for my original plan.  This quilt won't have as much contrast as my others, but with careful cutting, I think the pattern will work.
Here's what I do... Use the fabrics with the MOST contrast (the darkest and lightest) for the biggest pieces and usually the smallest pieces.  I especially like the snails trail pattern to show up so I try to make sure I use strong contrast for those big outside triangle pieces.The medium contrast colors - you usually can get away with for the medium pieces.  By the 3rd quilt I learned to use a little bit of zinger fabrics - they are fun for the smaller pieces.  I used some ugly fabrics for the small pieces too - the ugliness gets lost in the design and that fabric is out of my stash and somehow transformed into a beautiful quilt!

OK - here we go!  To stay organized I label a bunch of freezer bags A-K and line them all up.  As I cut - I put the pieces in the correct bag.  To get a good variety from each fabric without cutting it all up, I start with a bigger size piece (you don't need as many large pieces as small pieces), cut the big piece and then move on down to a smaller piece and cut those with what is left-over from the strip after cutting the big piece.  Usually you can cut a few different sized pieces from 1 strip.
I use the pattern in my Quilter's Newsletter Magazine Jan/Feb 2001 (No. 329), but never fear - if you don't have this issue the pattern is also in one of Judy Martin's books.  It is not a hard pattern to make, trust me!  It just takes a bit of time to cut out and yes, some of the pieces are small, but it all goes together perfectly and if you save the big parts of the snails trails for last... well toward the end you will think that this quilt just flew together!  Because those snail trails go together fairly quickly.  Just cut it all out and then chain piece away.
So, that's what I am working on.  I am interested to see how these fabrics will work out.  Not shown is white - I can always use white fabric if I have to... as the saying goes...  nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Edited to add:  I have had so many e-mails about my Shakespeare quilts that I thought I would add this information.  I now know that you can find the pattern in Judy's book, The Creative Pattern Book.  If you want to make this quilt, I would recommend a rotary cutter (if you already have a cutter - put in a new blade!), cutting mat and a variety of rulers to make the project easier - all of which you can click on in my links below!  It is not a difficult pattern, you just have to keep track of all the pieces and go step-by-step!

If you are buying something from Amazon, I would really appreciate it if you used my links. Thank you so much!