Monday, November 30, 2009
I finished my polka-dotted dress this weekend, though of course, it's a lightweight rayon dress and we just had a cold front come through. I can wear it with tights and a sweater and it will look okay, but it's still a bit chilly for that here. So photos of that will be forthcoming.
Here are a couple of blocks completed for a quilt block swap in the last couple of months.
My woven ribbon star.
Monday, October 26, 2009
My oldest nephew wanted to reuse the costume I purchased for my dad last year. My dad, my now 57 year old father, laughingly wore the Woopie Cushion costume I bought for him last year. All the people at the Fall Fest at the community center in teen-einsy town, TX loved it. My nephew decided that he didn't want to be just a Woopie Cushion, but an evil one.
So we took the store bought costume and added cut outs of bats and jack-o-lanterns and tombstones.
All you get are action shots of this one because he's 8. One of the jack-o-lanterns has what he called "hippie teeth." He meant "hillbilly" which made for a fun conversation.
The younger nephew went for Vampire Bat.
A hooded sweatshirt, some cheap satin and fuzzy material, some bias tape, dowels and Peltex. Voila! Vampire bats have very big ears.
The 6 year old is only slightly more compliant about having his photo taken.
Except when there are Hulk hands.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Anyway, I had a couple of yards of this amazing fabric and wasn't sure what to do with it. One day, browsing through some other websites, it hit me. A giant bag!
I was inspired by some Amy Butler patterns for giant tote bags, namely the Betty Shopper. But I've heard about Amy Butler patterns and was a little afraid. That, and I read some reviews that had issues with the fact that such a giant bag had such a small opening. I decided that I would take some of the things I loved about that bag and find another shape.
I browsed through patterns from the Big 4 and came upon one of Vogue's that I liked. I blew the pattern up, changed the height to width proportions a bit, added in some piping and some grommets, and voila!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I finished the 7 year old upholstery project, I've done some minor organization, I've made a commitment to keeping things cleaner. I've done a lot of purging.
One big project that I've been wanting to tackle for awhile was making my sewing area less of a mess.
This was the before. You can see my issues. Those blue bins are great--tough and stackable and they were free. But, they were big and cumbersome and not terribly attractive. I was bad about putting things away and even purging, because it was such a hassle to get into them. Trust me that not even having them on a shelf helped. I tried that for awhile.
I've also been expanding my fabric collection a lot lately and was tapped out of space--hence the cardboard boxes and bags stuffed with stuff.
Living in a small apartment really made all this worse too, it's not like I have a separate sewing room. This is right in front of my front door. It's my living/dining/crafting/reading room, with a view into the kitchen.
So it became a big thing for me to undertake a project to not only organize the stuff more efficiently, but also make it more attractive.
I got Heather roped into helping me and we spent several hours on the project one day--assessing the situation, spending a bunch of money at IKEA and then assembling and organizing. My dad came over this weekend and helped me hang some wall shelves and get the whole thing finished.
I'm totally in love with the result.
Look at the big expanse of empty flat surfaces!
Ignore the messy kitchen in the background--I've got to work on keeping those counters cleared. My apartment is, well, not minimally decorated. It's busy. It's cozy and charming and I like it. But it gets overwhelming sometimes and this re-do helped immensely to calm down this little corner of my world.
Plus, it's nice and functional. The red drawer unit holds smaller cross-stitch and embroidery supplies and smaller sewing supplies and notions. The orange bins hold the larger cuts of fabric. So far, I've been good about putting everything back where it goes too. Who knew? Judging by the saucepan on the bar, I've still got to practice. I don't know why that got put there. I'm better with my sewing equipment, I promise.
The smaller white bins on the wall hold ribbons and other notions. The medium bins hold smaller cuts of fabrics and the big white bins on top of the bookcase hold bigger cross-stitch supplies and some fabrics dedicated to a couple of specific quilting projects.
I haven't had a chance to sit down and sew since the shelves got finished, though I hope to finish up my giant piped tote bag this evening. There's a teaser for you!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The bodice of my polka-dot shirt dress. The fabric, as predicted, is a pain in the butt. It's very slippery and it doesn't care that it's supposed to have a grain. There are lots of imperfections in the construction. But, it's also very forgiving, and I'll be the only one that knows what those are! I love how it's turning out!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
After sewing down all the triangles.
You can't see it in this view, but I left one edge of the cube open, for stuffing and for ease of manuevering with the hand-sewing.
This is what it looked like once I started pinning and stitching down the window panes.
Ready for stuffing!
Stuffed and ready for stitching.
I closed up that opening with a running stitch and then put the last window pane in. Through the process, I realized that it might have not been too difficult to have done all the initial machine joins but one, stuffed the cube, and then machine-stitched the last opening closed. Doing the hand stitching on the stuffed cube wouldn't have been quite as easy as on the unstuffed cube, but it wouldn't have been that much extra effort.
The finished product!
So it's actually quite big for a pincushion. And I do worry that going through so many layers of fabric will dull the straight pins. I might end up using it as a 'thing' purely for decoration rather than as a pincushion, but we'll see. Mainly, I wanted to see how a cathedral window cube would go. I like it. Sometimes success is easy!
Monday, September 28, 2009
This past weekend, I had joked that for the first time, I would not only accept pay without arguing, but that I would request it in quarters, for laundry. As it turns out, I took my pay in fat quarters. Ha! I just thought of that just now and am exceedingly proud of the corny joke. I'll share it with my dad later as he's the one that taught me the art of the corny joke.
In any case, Dad took a look around after we got all the plants arranged and came back telling me about a booth that had quilting stuff for sale. He actually described it as, "You know, material, like this folded (hand gesture of size), you know, uh, fabric. Fabric!" I surmised that he meant fat quarters from his hand gestures, but assumed that the fabric wouldn't be anything much interesting--there is occasionally someone selling fabric alongside their crafts at these things and it's generally cheap cotton of non-interesting designs. I said I'd go look but wasn't too hopeful.
So, imagine my surprise when I did walk over later and noticed quite a few Aunt Grace patterns laying on the table. When the woman behind the table told me that the fat quarters were only $1 each, I told her I'd be right back. I also told Dad that $20 would be more than enough money when I asked for some cash. Only one of those statements was true. I could have spent $40.
So much pretty!
(And yes, excuse the cat butt, Sissie was intent on 'helping' me sew yesterday. She makes a great paperweight.)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
So, after washing dishes and doing some vacuuming and sweeping last night, I threw this together.
It's not done yet, I hope you realize that. When it is done, it will be a block/pin cushion made out of cathedral window squares. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out--the window panes, in a dark brown, will wrap the edges of the squares, which I think would seem unexpected to most people.
Monday, September 21, 2009
When I first moved to Atlanta in August of 2002, I had a very post-college hodge-podge of furniture. I had two chairs in the living room, one of which was something I inherited from a friend who got it in her post-college years from another friend. I wanted a sofa but needed something cheap and flexible for small apartments. I felt lucky when I found this cute little rattan set.
Except that the cushions were covered in an ugly 1960s print barkcloth. I don't have a photo--it wasn't even worth documenting. There wasn't even a bit of kitchsy cuteness, they were just ugly. I thought to myself, oh, I can make new cushions, no problem! Foam and nice fabric are expensive of course, so I figured I would just cover the ugly cushions in something cheap until I could afford to do the real project. So I bought some clearance sheets.
The sofas sat in this state for 6 years, including through a move from Atlanta to Austin. 6 years. I could never decide on fabric, I was too intimidated by the whole thing, etc.
Finally, I told myself I just needed to do it. I did the bottom cushion about a year ago. I discovered that, since I cut out things like piping (which would be nice but perhaps a bigger challenge than necessary on a $60 sofa), it was really pretty easy and didn't take much time at all to do. But it still took me a year to get around to doing the back cushions.
I finally finished those this weekend, along with new throw pillows*, and even hand repair work to my vintage throw pillows!
*The throw pillows are a garage sale find velvet on one side and the same satin finish home dec polyester on the reverse. I only had enough velvet to do one side for each of 4 pillows. Sewing together velvet and a heavy satin finish fabric is not fun, let me tell you that. Pain in the rear. But it's great to have the project finally done. Now I can move onto another of those things that I've been procrastinating on.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
It was interesting that in a fairly short period of time after moving back to Austin, I got asked to do two projects that involved cutting apart a wedding dress. I admit it, there's something satisfying in that for the perpetually single gal. But they were great challenges too.
The wedding dress dated to the early 1980s and wasn't made out of the nicest of polyester satins. We worked up a plan that consisted of purchasing new silk satin for the base fabric of the pillow, and layering that with the sheer overlay fabric from the dress and artfully arranging lace details from the train.
The lace, of course, was all hand-stitched down, with the addition of the decorative ribbons to make the tie ribbons not stick out quite so much.
This lace was the edging off the train and incorporated just into the holder of the pillow. I was pretty touched to be asked to work on this project and was very pleased with the outcome.
Sometime after that, one of my college roommates asked me about making a Christening Gown for her using her wedding dress. This gown was another with a satin base under a lace overlayer. The idea behind the basic design was to have a satin dress that wasn't too frilly, with a lace coat that could be worn over it. Their first child is a girl, but anticipating possible future boys in the family, she wanted something that could be used for all the children without being overly gender-oriented either way.
It was a challenge. As big as a wedding dress skirt may seem, it's not that big when you're trying to make a long, very full skirt for a Christening gown. I went through a very experimental muslin process to ensure that I had enough satin to get some fullness. I opted for the pleats rather than the gathering to meet that gender-neutral feel, but also because the satin was thick and wouldn't have cooperated that well with gathering.
I added the small touch of lace, sans beading to the dress to make it tie together nicely. The edging on the lace jacket was from the lace overlay of the dress, but had to be all reattached by hand as part of the process.
The buttons on the jacket were from the dress as well. Rather than sew in buttonholes on the lace, I used ribbon for loops. The back of the dress buttons as well, but with new, flat buttons, for comfort.
The horizontal tucking was a detail straight from a ready-made dress that my friend liked. It didn't turn out as neat as I wished it had, but that fabric was a pain, and I'm the only one who notices the flaws, I'm sure. It doesn't show up that well in the photo, but there are vertical inserts of the lace to either side of the tucks for another little touch.
This was another project that I was very proud to have accomplished. It's not as fine as many handmade Christening gowns, but it's a lot more special than something store bought. And it gave me the opportunity to try some things that I'd never attempted before.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
There are something like 140 French knots in this thing--the coals, the flowers, all the upholstery details. I hate French knots, but I have a good technique going now. I just need to work on my camera settings for better shots of my projects...
This is from a crewel work kit dating to 1981. I bought off the used books/supplies table at the Waco Quilt Guild's quilt show. I believe I paid all of a dime. It was untouched and took me only a few weeks of work to stitch it up. I don't do a lot of embroidery of this type, but now am a total convert--big thread and big stitches means that the project goes quick, quick, quick!
I have been on a bit of a rampage buying vintage kits on ebay and etsy. I probably have enough now to last me til 2011. But I might still buy more.
Here's the next one that I'm tackling:
It came in its original box, with a frame complete with glass and matboard and all. It was missing one color of floss, but that's easily fixed. All that for $10 on ebay.
My next sewing project! A crazy polka-dot shirt dress (knee length, short sleeves). The fabric is a rayon that I got from Fashion Fabric Club. It's not a nice smooth soft rayon, but it's still got a wonderful drape to it and should make for a fun dress. I've done this pattern once before and had the dress pretty much finished in a weekend, so it will be a quick project once I get around to cutting it out.
Monday, July 27, 2009
However, one of the plights of the single seamtress is being able to take photos to show off new work.
Hence, my stop-light photo in the puddingmobile this morning.
Behold the hot-pink woodgrain skirt in all of its glory!
It's a simple a-line, with center front and back seams and pockets. Cause a modern gal needs pockets. It's the woodgrain print from Joel Dewberry, purchased on etsy a few weeks ago because I never bought it when it first came out.
I didn't take any photos during the process--I should start that--so you'll have to listen to get the goods. The fabric is a nice lightweight quilting cotton. I like light and flowy skirts sometimes, but I think prefer them to have a bit of weight to them, for structure. So I underlined this one with plain Kona cotton muslin. I should really share a photo of the back because I managed to throw in an invisible zipper on the first try with no problems through the two layers of fabric. I'm pretty damn proud of myself for that one (tip for other sewists--I actually think that invisible zippers are a LOT easier to put in than a regular zipper).
So that's the wacky hot-pink woodgrain skirt that I've been dreaming about for months.
I'll try to capture the pretty minty green skirt next. That one is even better because it has pockets and NO zipper!
Friday, June 26, 2009
These are my first two "quilts," made for each of my nephews when they were born. I actually realized that I had never really documented either of these anywhere and really wanted to do that for posterity's sake. I call them "quilts" because the quilting techniques here are minimal.
I've been a cross-stitcher since elementary school and that has been my primary means of gift-giving for a long time. I started to look for something for my older nephew, Reece, well, before he was actually born. I found the pattern book for Winnie the Pooh themed cross-stitch and it led to the idea of making a quilt out of the cross-stitched blocks.
You can see what I mean by minimal quilting techniques--solid blocks pieced together, sewn right-sides together and turned, and then tied. But all that cross-stitching sure took awhile.
So when I began to work on Mitchell's quilt, I had problems finding some cross-stitch patterns that really excited me. I finally happened upon this lovely boat themed book, but I felt bad because I wasn't going to be doing as much actual cross-stitching on his as on Mitchell's. But I loved the alphabet boat sail SO much.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In any case, Erin at Dress a Day posted a link one day to this gorgeous vintage number on Ebay.
Out of my price range, and too small anyway.
But it brings to mind this Vogue pattern:
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
There's nothing quite like adopting a cat and joining a quilt guild to make a single 30 year old feel so spinstery, but here I am. And even better, I decided I'd combine the two and make my first ever machine quilted project for my cat.
This was done following the basic pattern that our (fabulous) teacher gave us. It's interesting actually to see how different such a basic piecing pattern can turn out based on the use of fabrics. 15 quilts in the same class, made following the same directions and they're all totally different.
My inspiration for the birds came from the IKEA fabric that I used for the back. I bought this fabric to hang on a canvas on the wall in my apartment--a project that has yet to be completed--and had enough leftovers for the quilt. On my trip through the local quilting shop, I got a little bird happy, but I was pleased with the composition on the front.
The actual quilting was another story. I was using my new-to-me Morse machine for pretty much the first time without really giving it much of a test run. Tension problems galore! Oh, and the presser foot pressure issues, even with the walking foot... notice how some of my squares turned into diamonds, rhombuses (rhombi?)? The stitching in the ditch was an exercise in frusteration. I need to work more on that and figure out the quirks of the machine.
Monday, June 15, 2009
So we spent Saturday honing our woodworking skills.
Or really, V honed her woodworking skills, while I honed my wood holding skills. I'm afraid of power saws.
So what you see on the left, is the end table, with a hole cut in it for the stainless steel bowl 'sink', fabric circles glued down for the 'burners', cabinet handles for the 'knobs', and some 1/4" plywood for the 'oven' door. The feet are wall/shelf brackets and all that is attached to the thicker plywood backing with a dishdrainer for a shelf.
The 'fridge' is a toy chest that we painted, put some hinges on and put on brackets of its own. There are a couple of shelves inside as well, just more thin plywood on glued on wood cleats.
We decided we were done with woodworking when it got to the decision about making a door for the under-sink cabinet. I offered to whip-up a quick curtain.
I had already decided to make an apron for my individual contribution for the birthday girl. I started that with pieces from a Moda charm pack that I picked up a quilt show a few weeks ago.