Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sister #2 Quilt Finished

A few summers ago I made a quilt for Daughter #1's twin-sized bed.  It was made of a random pattern of charm squares and blocks the size of 2 or 4 charm squares, made mostly of Sweetwater's Sunkissed line, but with a bit of Kate Spain and Amy Butler as well.  That same summer, I made blocks using the same fabrics for a quilt for Daughter #2.

This time I randomly (meaning I didn't use a pattern or anything) made blocks that are square in square, except sometimes rectangle in square.  Obviously I didn't make up this idea, it's all over.  My mom asked me last week how I made them if I measured or just cut to size or what... and I had to say that I have no idea.  It was a while ago, I was pregnant... lots of excuses, but I don't really know how these blocks got made exactly.  But they did get made, I liked them, and this past summer I finished everything but the binding. And then it sat in my closet for 5 months.

But I love doing the hand sewing on bindings when we have house guests because 1) I can still do some sewing even though they're staying in the sewing room 2) it gives my hands something to do while we're chatting in the evening and 3) I have people around to entertain me while I am hand sewing!

So, after we were safely over the stomach flu this Christmas break, I did the hand sewing on the binding and finished it up! 

I probably wouldn't have finished it as quickly as I did, except Daughter #2 (who is three and a half) kept begging me every night to let her sleep under her quilt!  I couldn't let her because then it never would have been finished since I did most of the sewing once she's asleep, but I worked on it as much as I could find the time and finished before the end of winter break.

She absolutely loves the quilt! I tried to add another blanket on top of it tonight because it's going to be extra cold, but she wouldn't let me because she said she wanted to look at her quilt.

It is nice to make something for someone who really likes it!

Here are a few photos of two sister quilts.  Now, I just have to plan a quilt for Daughter #3... (I have a few years though before she needs one)

The quilt by itself.

It works as a playmat, too.

The happy quilt owner.

The big sister's quilt (with the baby sister, too)

Another view.

Both quilts together in a semi-clean room!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Little gift

My girls helped me pick out fabrics so I could make a little purse or bag for their cousin who's two and a half.  I used the April bag pattern found on Sew Mama Sew by Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson!  Except I changed the size because I wanted it to be small, for a little girl.  This is roughly 3/4 of the size of the smaller April bag.  I've made this pattern before three or four times and really like it - especially for quick gifts because there's no notions needed and only a bit of interfacing. 

Here's a few pictures of the finished product, including it being modeled by eager models.

The recipient liked it and her new plastic dinosaur fit in it perfectly, with the head and tail able to stick out the sides, so it was a big success!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas in July?

Colorado block

I finished my RTQA Colorado block!  I cut out all the pieces and sewing the half-square triangles in August... and trimmed the pieces Sunday and sewing everything together today.  Whew. 

I was hoping my blog wouldn't completely go dead outside of the summer months, but I guess I did name it correctly after all.

Though there are still more RTQA blocks left, I am finished with mine!  Not sure how I'll put them together or what I'll do.  I was going to try to mess around and think about layouts this afternoon when I finished... but this is how that turned out:

RTQA blocks... and baby

So, I'll put them away until I have some free minutes or a design wall so the baby can't crawl on the blocks.

Perhaps I'll have more to share in the next two weeks... I can hope!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

RTQA - blocks so far

I don't have the Colorado block finished, or even started, and it could be a while. However, I hadn't posted a picture of all my blocks together for a while, and since I remembered to do that the other night - here they are!  I did two of one of the blocks, can you find the two that are the same block?

I like the way they look - now, hopefully I'll finish the other blocks before next summer!

Monday, August 13, 2012

RTQA - Montana


The Montana block!  I also have good memories of Montana - I took a great trip to Bozeman for a college cross country bonding trip, and also had a good time at an undergrad research conference in Missoula the same year or the year after.  I like Missoula a lot more than Bozeman though, Em! :)

I liked this block a lot, too!  I was happy with how I was able to make the block what I envisioned, which I wanted to be slightly different than the given fabric numbers/designs. And without really any problems it really came together.  No complaints (except with the quality of the picture - I took this late at night)!

Three (or was it four?) blocks in three days! I am totally a streaky quilter/seamstress!  I'll get in the groove and sew a lot, and then I'll go a week without touching my machine.  (or, in the school year - I'll sew non-stop for a weekend, and then not go into my sewing room for 3 or 4 months!)  I'm trying to get better at this and this summer I've been trying to do just 10-15 min of sewing even when I'm not really 'in the mood' but still I'm pretty streaky, and it will probably get worse in the school year.

Anyone else a streaky quilter/seamstress or is it just me?  Can you identify what starts or ends your streaks?  I have my theories on this for myself, but mostly it's a complex issue, I think!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

RTQA - Wyoming

I like this block, though I'm not certain I like the fabrics I chose for it.  I was slightly constrained since I told my 5-yr-old that I would use her 'favorite' flower print in this block because it had only been used in one block before this one. I'm not sure that it turned out exactly like I wanted, oh well. I did make a conscious decision to make the four corner squares white instead of another color like in the RTQA tutorial.  I like the very outsides of my blocks to be as plain/background as possible, I think that will mostly help how I try to put them together.

I did this all today, so perhaps there is hope I'll finish these more or less on time.  I will finish them though, even if I have to during Fall Break.  And I have no idea when they'll make it into a finished quilt... I have lots of WIPS... oh yes, I was going to blog some more of them, maybe soon.

Anyone else regret choosing a fabric they used? Or wish they would have switched around fabric location?  Or perhaps allowed your kid to help you plan a block?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

RTQA - South Dakota


I wasn't sure how I was going to like this one - I've noticed I've tended to like the stars the most out of this quilt along and blocks that have a lot of background (like normal quilt blocks, ha) of other colors (besides white) aren't as much my favorites.  (I'm beginning to think about how I'm going to put these together and I think they'll all work, though.  More on this later...)

Getting back to South Dakota, I think the orange/pink fabric here pops enough that I like it.  Though the blue print seems a bit brighter in real life.

I didn't have any real problems making it.  Though I would like to point out that the bottom pinwheel isn't as terrible as it looks - one of the orange-pink triangles just happens to have a bit of white in the print that makes that part of the pinwheel look terribly bent. Anyway, it bothers me a little, though obviously not enough to redo it!

I think I'm only 1 block behind now... oops, nope. Just looked back at Sewing by Moonlight's RTQA page (nicely updated!) and I'm actually two behind.  Need to do Wyoming and Montana... hope to catch up soon!

RTQA - Minnesota Block

Minnesota quilt block

I started this block so long ago but only finished it today. My machine was getting a tune-up, and then there was an issue getting the knee pedal screwed back into the desk after having to take it out to get it to the shop.  After some drilling with my husband to help while I held the pedal in the exact right place, finally I was back to sewing.

Side note:  Also, if you haven't noticed your calendar recently, summer is getting close to being over! I have only a week before going back to work again full-time. While I won't say I'll never post on this blog during the semesters, it probably won't be very often at all.

Back to Minnesota... I liked making this block. Pretty easy, and the paper piecing was fine for me since I just made multiple templates. And overall, I like the way it turned out, too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My sewing machine - family Pfaff 130


I love my sewing machine.

It is a Pfaff 130, sews wonderfully, straight stitch and zig-zag, and forward and backward!  I can lower the feed dogs to do free-motion machine quilting, which it does with no thread tension problems or anything.

Basically, this machine does everything I really need it to do, and does it really well. And it came with tons of original accessories (as you'll see in dome follow up posts!)

But another reason I love my machine is because it was purchased new in 1953 by my Great-Grandfather Dean (my dad's dad's dad), for my Great-Grandmother Nina to use.  I never met this Great-Grandmother.  I'm not sure when she died, but it was definitely before I was born. I do remember my Great-grandpa Dean, but not very well and my only memories are of him as a very old man.

They must have thought hard about what machine to buy.  Here's a picture of a couple pages of the advertising/informational booklet about the machines:


Later in the book, there are pictures of all the types of machines/cabinets and my great-grandpa (my grandpa thought probably his dad would have done this) wrote in the price by each machine in pencil.  Here's the one they ended up buying:


$ 314 dollars in 1953 equates to roughly $ 2500 in today's money (according to here). I have no idea what their finances were like, but I remember my Great-grandpa's house in Alton, IL and it was pretty tiny, so I'm guessing they weren't millionaires or anything!
And here's the machine today (in my sewing room with some boxes - not sewing supplies! - yet to be unpacked nine months after our move):

The machine also hides completely in the desk and the extended tables fold over it, so it ends up looking just like the picture in the advertisement book.  I forgot to take a picture of the actual machine like that, but I bet you can imagine it.

I love family history and the machine works great, so it makes me very happy when I use it!  I don't think I'll ever get another sewing machine... (well, except maybe a small, lightweight cheaper one that my girls could first learn on - the knee pedal on this is too high for them to use easily, and also I could take it with me to a class or something - this thing is super-heavy!!) 

So maybe I should say that I don't think I'll ever use another sewing machine regularly! I don't need bells and whistles and I think this machine will last perfectly to probably be used by my great-grandchildren someday!

I have a million pictures of accessories and everything else that goes with it.  If anyone reads this blog and is interested in this, leave a comment about what you're most interested in seeing (feet, old thread/accessories, random stuff I can't identify, instruction booklet and other papers, or questions about it too) and I'll do posts on that.  If no one reads this or cares about old sewing machines, I'll just keep randomly posting stuff I feel like!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New baby flannel blanket

These are so easy and yet so practical and soft and nice for new babies, it's definitely my go-to gift.  A great friend I met years ago in Spain just had her second baby.  (well, maybe a month ago!)  I found this flannel with pink animals with brown details on a cream background, and then some brown and cream flannel for the back that I loved.  And that was probably the most time-consuming part.  Someone gave my oldest a flannel blanket like this and it was great for swaddling her when she outgrew her bigger blankets but still wanted to be swaddled, and later it was a great blanket to have a day care as a special blanket from home. 

Fabric details:

Final product:  Of course no baby gift is complete without a 'big sister' (or big brother!) gift to go with it! 

It's supposed to be a kitty...  hopefully the 3 year-old likes it!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Iowa - RTQA

Home sweet home - Iowa.  Well, unfortunately the block wasn't quite as friendly to me.  This was expected since I had so many problems with the paper piecing in that earlier RTQA block, but I used to do a lot of paper piecing back in my first quilting life - so it was a little frustrating!

(Quick backstory:  I did a fair amount of sewing and quilting when I was in high school for 4-H, mostly. Then I went to college, then grad school. I think I made one wall-hanging quilt and one baby outfit in 10 years and that was it. A few years ago (2 or 3?), a friend posted a link to Fabricworm on Facebook and I clicked on it... somehow that led to getting completely hooked again - my 'second' quilting/sewing life has already been so much more productive than my first and more fun, too - not making things to be 'judged,' but that's another story.)

Anyway, this is a wall-hanging I made back in 1996 (when I was in high school... so, on my mom's sewing machine, with my mom's fabric, probably with my mom's guidance on block layout, etc.)

I assume I made it for 4-H and showed it at the County Fair that year, but I don't really remember that part, so maybe I just made it for fun.  I do remember that all the little blocks (it's a small wall hanging, don't know exact dimensions) are paper pieced.  Here's a closer look:


But all of that paper piecing in my first life didn't help me much trying to make this Iowa block in my second quilting life using the freezer paper method.  I made one quarter that way and had to give up, make new templates on plain paper and go back to my old sewing through the paper way of doing things.  Ahh... that felt much better and went much smoother! Though I can't really tell which of the quarters I did the other way, so I guess I didn't end up messing it up too badly.


And here are all the blocks so far (including the extra one of the first block):

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Illinois - RTQA block

Finally!  My sewing machine is back, quieter than ever, and I am sewing again.

This was a pretty nice way to come back to these blocks. Pretty straightforward, I mostly remembered how to do the flying geese (though I double-checked), and I like the way it turned out:


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Two bird hoopla

While my sewing machine is in the shop (thought it was broken, but it fixed itself by the time I arrived there, however since it's 61 years old and I've owned it 10 years without having it tuned up, I just left it for a good cleaning and tune-up anyway), I'll share a couple of hand projects I'm working on or recently finished.

I finished this yesterday - just in time for my friend's bridal shower.  Yes, she is getting married on July 28, 2012.  (My daughter really wanted to hold the hoop for me!)
I think it turned out pretty nice.  I appliqued the birds, based on a pattern I drew (more on that in a second), and then embroidered the wing shapes and the lines.  haven't really done much (any?) embroidery before, so it's certainly not perfect and I don't think I'd really even know what perfect looked like since I'm definitely not an expert!
I got the idea to cover the outside of the hoop with torn fabric from here, and learned about how to finish the back so it looks nice here (though I didn't use felt, just yellow fabric.)


What makes it a nicer gift (in my opinion!) is that I drew the design based off of their invitation:
(excuse the bad picture):


Here's a close up of the birds (you might be able to still see a bit of the grid I drew over the design so I could enlarge the birds onto freezer paper to make the templates):

And here's the final product again:

I decided not to put their names on it partly because it would have taken longer (did I mention I finished it a couple hours before the shower?) but mostly because I sort of envisioned them hanging it somewhere in their house, and I don't know, I guess I just figured they know their own names!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Work in Progress ... Friday?

Most of the blog world seems to do their 'Work in Progress' posts on Wednesdays ... W, W = nice.  Well, I have so many work in progresses, one of which is older than the internet (seriously!) so I probably shouldn't limit myself to just talking about WIPs on Wednesday.  If I happen to work on something AND remember to take out the camera and get a picture of it - it's going on the blog, whether it's a Wednesday or not!

Today's WIP is a picture of part of a quilt for my middle daughter's bed.  It's a generous twin size, and made without a pattern, just a completely improv square (or rectangle) within a square idea that I certainly did not invent.  As you maybe can see here, I'm doing just random free-motion machine quilting on it. (I love doodling, so this is my favorite machine quilting, though I've only really done it on one other large quilt - my oldest daughter's twin bed quilt - similar fabrics as this one, I'll share it sometime.)


I love having lots of projects going, because I get bored just working on one thing from start to finish.  Hopefully I'll share more of these as I get them out and work on them the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Indiana Puzzle - Block #4


This was a nice block for a holiday week, and I liked the way it turned out!

Here are all my blocks together so far:

Still having a hard time taking the picture of all of them straight on.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Matching dresses for the girls

I made matching dresses a couple years for my two older girls (at the time, the only two I had!)  They were cute, but were outgrown of course.  The oldest had been begging me for a while to make her another dress, and I happened to have enough fabric that I thought they'd like to make a few little girl dresses, which was good, because as soon as the middle sister saw what her older sister was getting, she begged for one, too.  Then, I used a few of the scraps to make a skirt for the baby, so she wouldn't feel left out!

I used this pattern from Sew Mama Sew made by JCasa, with modifications. I had made this pattern before and it took me forever to figure out how to get the smocking (with elastic thread in the bobbin) to work on my old machine.

I did figure it out 2 years ago... now, would I actually remember how to make it work again? 

I didn't at first (if I had had a blog that long ago, I could have looked it up), but after a little bit of trying a few things it came back to me.  The secret for my machine is - sew very, very slowly. 

It about kills me, because I love zipping down the seams and it's difficult to keep only the slightest pressure with my knee on the pedal, but *sigh* I had agreed to make them, and I didn't want to disappoint (or go to the store for more fabric, or re-cut out pieces to change patterns.) 

So, I put on some Science Friday podcasts and got to work.

Anyway, the smocking worked great, once I resigned myself to the boredom, and the dresses, though not by any means perfect, went together quickly.  They were super-excited about them, which is even more important, I suppose.  Here are a few pictures (note that the middle sister's dress is not really that crooked, the straps just weren't tied straight and I didn't notice until later.)


I just put 5-6 rows of smocking at the top of the dress, none for a waist like the pattern suggests. I think I'd like them better with smocking at the waist too, but I was getting too bored of sewing slowly, so I decided to drop that part.



The baby's skirt just has a bit of elastic at the waist.  It probably should be wider, but she's not crawling yet, so it'll work just fine for sitting or rolloing over.
How about that? The dress is still cute even when the model is throwing a minor tantrum!

Before I became a parent, I used to see kids (girls especially) dressed all alike and pity them slightly for having their parent make them dress alike.  Now that I'm a parent of girls who want to dress alike all the time, I have a totally different perspective!!  Hopefully they won't always wear their dresses at the same time, but they are so excited to have matching dresses that who knows?!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ohio Star - Block #4


I'm happy with how this block of the Road Trip Quilt Along turned out, though I was a little unsure whether I was going to include any orange/pink in it or not.  I think having more in this block will be balanced with other blocks that have less (like the last one that had none).

Here they are all together, though I had a difficult time taking a picture of them, for some reason, so ignore the crooked picture and the toe in the picture:


Monday, June 25, 2012

Pennsylvania Parade - RTQA Block #3

Since I somehow neglected to take a solo picture of the Pennsylvania Parade block, this group photo will have to do. Penn is in the lower right corner:

I liked the way it turned out, and it definitely was easier than the last block! I don't know how many ways I messed up the last one, but for this one my 5-year-old was not around me much, so that really helped keep my mind in the game! :)

Part of the reason I was late to make this block, I think, was that I wasn't super-excited about it.  I like the cleaner look of more white space around the blocks, so I wasn't so sure how this would look because it didn't have that.  But I think it turned out really neat! I wasn't expecting the white star in the center:
(detail shot)

I like how it echos some of the other star blocks.  I made it all blue and white, since I'm mostly using the orange/pink for accents.

Since this one went together pretty quickly and the next block is even easier, I already have that one done, too - but it may take a day or two to blog it.

Drafting and Sewing

Instead of doing quilting last week, I got sidetracked by a book I had gotten from the library.  Normally I've avoided all thoughts of drafting my own sewing patterns.  Actually, I long ago (after many tears and frustrations and even disliking most finished 4-H sewing projects) that I was better off just buying clothes for myself.  What changed my mind?  I'm not sure, but for whatever reason, this book caught by eye and actually looked approachable, unlike any other pattern drafting book I had picked up.

I recently read somewhere on the web that you should spend a large percentage of your garment sewing time 'fitting' a pattern to you, which I had never done all those years ago... was that why I almost never liked what I made? Or do I just have an inability to imagine what a picture of the article of clothing and the fabric into will look like and feel like on me?  In any case, though I hadn't made an article of clothing for me in at least 12 years, I decided to draft some patterns.

The book recommends going in order, so I drafted a skirt pattern, and then made a muslin of it out of some really 'nice' strawberry fabric inherited when my grandma died years ago.  No pictures of this. And I haven't gotten around to making one out of fabric I like, but I think this one might work (if I can figure out the invisible zipper...)

Next up was a basic T-shirt.  Here is my first attempt:


(well, my first attempt later modified to have a slightly larger neck opening). You're not seeing it on me because, well, I bought some knit fabrics to use for the T-shirt from the sale rack, and this one was thin and stretchy, with a really nice feel to it. It's white, with a really faint light green design. What I didn't notice in the store: thin and white = see through. Completely. Oh well, I'll just wear it as an undershirt when my building is freezing next fall.

There was also a weird thing with the shoulders - they felt a little too 'pointy,' but I thought I could fix that, so I modified the pattern and tried again:

I had bought this thinking I would try a tank-top version of a T-shirt, but after my sleeves were a little weird in the first shirt, I wanted to try again.  This time the pointy thing was fixed a bit more... but overall the top part of the sleeves are a little too tight.  It does fit okay, I'll wear it around the house, so mostly you're not seeing a picture of me in it because I'm lazy and a little bit shy to show it when it's not that great.  I think I know how to fix it, though I'm not sure.

So, that's my drafting story.  The skirt was good, the shirt... a little tougher.  Will I go on and make a dress or a button-down shirt that is next??? I don't know... I think I need to fix my T-shirt sleeve first.  I'm not completely hooked on drafting, but for some reason I like the idea of drafting my own pattern instead of buying one.  We'll see... but for the moment, this current sewing room obsession has been set aside to go on to other things (back to the quilt a long - I'm behind!)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maryland - Block #2


This block caused be lots of problems, for some reason.  The paper-piecing didn't work with 3 inch long rectangles, so I cut 3.5 inch instead...  strange! Am I the only one who couldn't make that work? The quarter triangles ended up slightly different sizes, but for this I'm sure it was because of poor sewing or cutting or something (incessant talking by a 5-yr-old while cutting and sewing??)- but I was able to make them work with only using my seam ripper a couple times.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to moving WEST (not east as I first wrote... oops) to Pennsylvania... hopefully I'll be focused enough to make that block go together a bit easier!  I did two of the first block, but didn't feel like revisiting this one twice.

So here are my blocks so far: