Friday, March 28, 2014

I made a shower curtain.

shower curtain2

Do you ever find that when you look in your closet, it’s just rows of the same stuff?  In my closet, I probably have twenty dresses, fifteen skirts, but only four pairs of pants. Only two of which actually get worn, but that’s beside the point.  Despite this obvious pants deficit, every time I go shopping I find myself with an armful of dresses when I head to the dressing room.  

The same phenomenon applies to my crafting.  I have a pile of scarves, yet my hands are perpetually freezing because I only have one pair of gloves.  Still, I keep knitting scarves. 

I have yet to determine if it’s certain types of patterns I’m drawn to or if it’s the end product itself.

detail
Fabric: Lotta Jandsotter, Bella Poppy 

I suspect the real common denominator is the flash-factor.  Even if patterned or neon, pants just seem infinitely more utilitarian than a flouncy dress.  Am I right or am I right?

Despite my love of the fun and fancy, sometimes I try to be a responsible grown up and sew more practical things.  And a few weeks back, I sewed the most utilitarian thing of all: a shower curtain.

Now that you know about my little (lack of) pants secret, you shouldn’t be surprised that my shower curtain has been in use for over a decade now.  Twelve years to be exact.  We bought the $26 beauty (a splurge we hemmed and hawed about, but eventually pulled the trigger on because it had EMBROIDERED DRAGONFLIES, which to 2002 Kelly was a little slice of heaven that needed to be plucked from the Fenway Bed Bath and Beyond).  Fast forward to current times and that same shower curtain has been through three apartments, two states, and one house.  But shower curtains aren’t handbags or box bags or quilts or dresses or one of the things I like to sew, so it continued its slow death into a graying water-stained oblivion (gross).

So, I made a shower curtain.  And it took me no time at all and now I’m wondering why it’s taken so long.  Literally, it took me longer to think about making it than to actually sit down and sew four edges.  I’ve since sewed pillow cases for our bed and am starting to eye all sorts of seemingly mundane things in our house desperately in need of a sew-y makeover.  I’m thinking reusable paper towels are next.

INSTRUCTIONS
It’s not complicated, but I’ll share my instructions for anyone interested…

I ordered a couple yards (Note: we have a standing stall shower, for a full sized, you’ll need double the fabric and will need to seam together first) of a pretty awesome fabric that would add a nice pop of color to our black and white tiled bathroom with pale blue walls.  I’m drawn to the complementary colors, you see.

Step 1:
Fold and press one long side down one half inch, then another half inch.  Seam.  Repeat on the other long side.

Step 2:
Fold and press one short side down one half inch, then another four or five inches.  Seam.  Seam a second line right next to the first for added fancy.

Step 3:
Hold against old shower curtain to determine length.  Add an additional three inches and cut.

Step 4:
Fold and press last raw edge down one half inch, then another inch.  Seam.

Step 5:
Along your top seam (the short side with a 4/5 inch hem), mark twelve 1” vertical notches evenly spaced across the top.  Sew button holes over the lines.  Use a seam ripper to carefully cut through button holes. (These will be the holes so you can hang your shower curtain.)

shower curtain button holes

Step 6:
Hang on button holes.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Quilt for a Big Girl

According to Flickr, I bought fabric for this quilt back in July 2010.  The intention was always for a quilt for Alice’s big girl bed…. Which she moved into in (again, according to Flickr) in October 2010.  

Let me break this down.  

I thought I could sew a queen sized quilt in 3 months.  During my final weeks of pregnancy through G’s first month.  

Reality: >3 years.  I really might be delusional.  This delusion coming from the same place that told me I could knit the sweater from this post in AN AFTERNOON.  I guess there are worse things than raising the bar too high for yourself, but still!

With this project complete and now warming my favorite 5-year-old’s bed and not shoved half-finished and in pieces in a closet, I’ve realized some things.  One such discovery is that even though overwhelming to have a large-scale (for me) project in progress, I feel a little lost without a giant anchor project to give me something to go back to between smaller projects.  And there’s something to be said to that final moment when you do, in fact, complete significant after many years.  


As if I didn’t just bore you with all that background, let’s go back to July 2010...  


I bought a full fat quarter pack of Heather Ross’s new Far Far Away II collection.  I mixed and matched the fabrics.  I looked at them.  I drooled on them.  I picked favorites.  I thought about colors I wanted to focus on from the broad palette.  I was on a minimalism kick and forcing myself away from my usual standard of ALL THE COLORS AND ALL THE PATTERNS ordered some Kona Cottons I thought would complement the palette with a base of Kona Snow.  I was appalled at just how far off my monitor reflected the konas when they arrived in my mailbox way more cantaloupe than gold, way more sky blue than lake blue and cursed myself for being lazy.  I got lazy and decided I could make them work. 


I thought about quilt patterns. What would best showcase the Far Far Away II prints?  What would not make me want to pull my face off by my 50th block?  Eventually I landed on a Wonky Star pattern (I used this tutorial).  Organic enough where I didn’t have to be exact with every single cut and line sewn, but structured enough with the blocks and snow background for me to incorporate a billion colors as I’m prone to do.  All orbiting around the magic that is the print itself. 

I cut a bazillion triangles.  Then a bazillion more.  The colors that I thought I could make work bored me (I need color!), so I added more colors.  I cut some squares. 

Finally! Everything was ready to start sewing.  I sewed a couple blocks.

After a couple weeks, I had a small little stack of blocks. 

Over months, my little stack would grow, but was so so far (SO FAR!) away from what I needed – 49 blocks. 

James give it his seal of approval (aka cat fur everywhere)

Eventually, I could see the light.  


Then, I ran out of Kona Snow. 

Of course but the time my replenished supply of Kona Snow arrived, my quilting mojo was long gone.

After the mojo would appear and disapper for awhile, I finally got close. Only one more block to go!  And, then….


Wait for it…

...wait...

I ran out of Kona Snow! AGAIN.  WITH ONE BLOCK TO GO!

How does one miscalculate fabric yardages so poorly they need to reorder not just once, but TWICE?  And with only ONE block to go?  Consider this a glimpse into my world.  

So, I ordered a lifetime supply and quickly finished the block when it arrived. 

All blocks finished, I laid them on the floor in all sorts of variations to find the best.  Then, as anyone who’s in the home stretch would do, I stacked them up neatly and put them in a drawer for EIGHT MONTHS. 

Fast forward to this past Fall.  With Al’s birthday and Christmas approaching I pulled them out of the drawer and stitched them into an actual quilt top. A real live top! The end was near.  Of course, as expected, it took me forever to get around to buying a backing, but a week before Christmas this puppy was finally done!  DONE!


I washed and wrapped it and put that sucker under the tree.  And Al LOVES it.  At first she told me the sleeping beauty blocks "scared her," but I luckily forced convinced her to keep it on her bed and now she loves it! 

Fabric
 Kona Snow, Kona Woodrose, Kona Wildflower, Kona Coal, Kona Parsley, kona lake…some other Konas that probably don’t even exist anymore I ordered them so long ago 
Loads of other stash fabrics
 Some cloud 9 fabric (backing)
Some Denise Schmidt fabric (binding)
                               

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Colorblocking and, er, Fiberblocking?

(I'm just going to ignore the fact that this is my first post in nearly a year an a half...)

With just under a month past its Christmas due date, I cast off on my niece’s Christmas sweater.  After tearing up the internets for the perfect pattern, my sister send me some links to sweaters she liked, including this one.  Something about the simplicity called out to me and so I checked out my yarn stash to see what would work.  I gravitated to the little hearts, but when I remembered I had this shocking pink just itching to be used, visions of colorblocking danced in my head (sorry, it is a Christmas sweater, though, people! And I am a big, giant dork.) 


Anyway, as is the standard, I went back and forth between shocking pink and winter white and shocking pink and oatmeal...winter white… shocking pink.  I eventually decided on the pink/oatmeal combo, only to soon doubt whether or not I could pull off using two fiber types.  Surely it’s been done.  Not by me, but by more adventurous knitters. Also, the wool was of a slightly thinner gauge.  Details…

I jumped in with both feet and started knitting the 6-month size, but after knitting up several inches of stockinette I quickly realized my niece, Penelope, would be swimming in it.  So, I frogged and tried again with the 0-3 month size.  Penelope has my favorite baby physique and so although she is 7 months, I was trying for a 12 month size sweater.  (Note: this was on the way to Christmas in NJ, somehow I still thought I would finish this in time.  I really will never learn.)

The directions were clear and the sweater knit up quickly.  I changed colors after joining the arms.  To fasten the neck, I added some metal snaps.

wee metal snaps

Despite the slightly larger gauge of the cotton yarn, it was during blocking that the fiber/gauge difference was most notable.  The wool section dried in a matter of hours, but the cotton yoke took nearly two days to fully dry out and soften up. All finished, I think the use of two fibers works fine and will make for somewhat of an internal air conditioning system.  Just like with zebras. I’ll report back when I see how Penel likes it!


every little sweater needs a pop of neon, amiright?


Pattern: Buddy Sweater
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Doeskin
           Blue Sky Dyed Cotton in Lotus & a Neon Yellow/Green 
Needles: Size 8 Addis
Size: My gauge was super off, so I knit the 0-3 month size, but with 12-month length to fit a 20-lb. six month old baby. 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Wedding Quilt for Sara

When my sister got engaged almost two years ago, planning a wedding quilt was high on my list of to-dos. I thought about making her a bed-sized quilt, but somehow that seemed almost too personal. How could I pick out her bedroom set colors? I guess I could have just consulted her, but I wanted it to be a surprise and I wasn’t willing to spend HOURS (years for me and my procrastinating) slaving on something that could wind up in a linen closet all sad and alone.

quilt on railing


Also, all the ladies in my family tend to be drawn to some more outlandish designs and colors and that didn’t seem appropriate for their first set of bedding. So, I decided to go completely wild with color and pattern and make a smaller throw quilt. Of course, I went to one of the masters of quilting herself for this String Quilt Tutorial.


Timeline

I see bloggers churn out a queen-sized quilt in a weekend and I’m in perma-awe of those rockstars. I don’t know if it’s my limited attention span or what, but every quilt I’ve made (save for the girls’ quilts) has taken me in upwards of a year to complete. Most of that time, the quilt has spent tucked away somewhere in pieces. Out of sight, of mind. But not this time. This time I was going to be one of those superstars. Instead of being the flakey sewer with big ideas and last minute execution, I was planning ahead!


Before Sara’s shower, I kicked my sewing into overdrive and slowly but surely my little pile of blocks grew. I was actually starting to believe I would have a finished quilt all wrapped up and nestled in her pile of gifts. She would be surprised! She would twirl around and wrap herself up in her new, warm quilt! It was really happening!

quilt1

Fastforward a bit to when I could count the hours I had to pack myself, the girls, the dog, finish the shower prep, etc. And you didn’t actually think the only thing on my to-do list was this quilt, right? Part of the decorations included a clothes line and of course all of its adornments needed to be homemade (the bar always starts high). I sewed oven mitts and a flirty little apron (these I actually got done in advance. Like a week early. A record.). No strings were clipped, but they were finished otherwise.

I sewed eleventy billion buttons to a fabric covered canvas that formed the shape of an “E,” her new last name initial. I made my favorite carrot cake recipe from scratch. I made cake pops.

quilt-full

My dream was quickly slipping through my finger tips. Like anyone would do, I lowered the bar. I would finish the quilt without the binding. Yes, she would barely know the difference!

But, once you lower the bar it’s SO easy to just keep lowering it. The quilt without a binding quickly became just the quilt top. Patience and time were running thin. But, I was SO close. Just as I sat down to my sewing machine to seam the blocks together, a terrible thing happened. My sewing machine jammed. JAMMED. Probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you have your day allocated to the minute it’s kind of a big deal. With mental breakdown imminent, rather than taking ten (oh so critical!) minutes to pick out the lint, I gave up. My blocks were exactly that… blocks. Not even sewn together.

sara
Happy Bride-to-Be Sara with her “E” frame and Stapled Quilt top in the background

Still, I brought my little pile to New Jersey for the shower with no clear plan of attack. Wrap them up in a box with a promise to sew them together? Surely that was better than nothing. Someone, maybe me, had the idea to STAPLE them together and use the stapled quilt top as a decoration. I was desperate, so I gave it a try. Turns out… it kind of worked. And Sara loved her staple quilt top. And loved the finished quilt, which she received….nearly a year later… even more! Win!

Some commentary:

- I started with a rough palette of reds and greens and yellows and eggplants, but you’ll see I only followed that loosely at best.
- Each square had a 1 inch strip of Kona Snow running down the center
- This was my first dabble into paper piecing
- Paper piecing is sort of amazing, though I got sick of dulling needles
- Somehow mixing all sorts of colors and patterns works.
- Fabrics are pulled from my stash and other leftovers from years of projects, but are from the usual players… Kona solids, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Alexander Henry, etc.
- Squares are 11x11
-Finished Quilt is 6 blocks x 4 blocks

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prepping for the Little Chicklet

The past couple weeks, months even, I've been crafting away so that when the new baby decides to make her appearance (due date's tomorrow, yet no sign of baby) she'll be greeted into the world with a healthy bounty of handmade goodies.

Sixth Time's a Charm Quilt

chicklet quilt -  3

While I know babies don't use quilts on their cribs (Alice still doesn't use more than a muslin blanket and she's approaching two!), I can't imagine not making a quilt for the little baby chicklet.

When I made Alice's quilt, I conformed to the overall color scheme for her room. This time, I let myself loose with colors. I figure the chicklet will most often use the quilt during tummy time or any time she's on the floor and I don't want her covered in dog hair and what baby doesn't love bright, fun patterns during playtime? So, I settled on some fabrics from Michael Miller's Hedgehog and the Big E collections and some coordinating Kona Cottons.

chicklet quilt - back

In line with my recent AMH obsession, I opted for a quilt pattern in her most recent book, Handmade Beginnings. LOVE this book! Shocking, right?

chicklet quilt - 4

Love the pattern, although I have to admit my one pain point was wasting so much fabric. I'm not sure it's possible to avoid doing so, but I now have a stack of pieced fabric leftover. Of course, I could make the scraps into other smaller projects, but more likely they'll just sit collecting dust amongst the rest of my fabric stash. If I had to go back, I would still make the quilt so I guess I have no place to complain.

Fabric: A mix of Michael Miller's Hedgehog and the Big E, Kona Cotton in Lime, Ash, and Plumberry.
Pattern: Sixth Time's a Charm found in Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner.

Polka Dot Mobile

When I saw this tutorial, I knew this would be the little chicklet's mobile. I loved the unlimited possibilities for color and fabrics and the chance to incorporate some beading techniques. And of course, spraypaint. Who doesn't love spraypaint?

the chicklet's mobile - 3

I tried to keep to a somewhat limited color palette of magenta, sky blue, olive green, gold, red and cream and used fabric scraps from Heather Ross, Amy Butler, Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, and Anna Maria Horner. And the spray paint is "hot pink" although not at all what I'd consider hot pink. More of a bubble gum pink. Not only was this project a great way to use up scraps that I thought would sit in my scrap bin until I eventually pitched them in a freak cleaning spree, but it was also a fun archive of previous sewing projects. Like a look down memory lane.

polka dot closeup

the chicklet's mobile - 2

Many more baby things in progress or recently completed! Hopefully, I'll have time to blog about them before the baby arrives. Otherwise, all bets are off and I'll see you in 2011. Kidding. Sort of.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Museum Tunic

I’ve been obsessed with all things AMH these days.  Pretty much anything that pops up on her site, I have to make.  So, when I saw this dress on her website a few months back, it wasn’t long before I had some Little Folks Dobby in my cart.  I’d been eyeing this particular fabric, but didn’t pull the trigger because I couldn’t think of a pattern worthy of the fabric. 

museum tunic - 5

I did end up modifying the pattern a bit to make it more wearable for me.  I don’t own a slip and knowing me, it would take me a year before I actually bought one.  To remedy that, I lined the dress with some straw lining material.  In a perfect world, I would have lined it with some coordinating solid voile, but that’s a little rich for my budget, so I opted for some regular ol’ lining material from Joann. 

museum tunic - 2

I also shirred the waistline instead of zig-zag stitching elastic just because I thought it would be easier. 

museum tunic - inside
Lining and Shirring

I didn’t intend to wear this dress while pregnant, but surprisingly enough it fits – even at nearly 38 weeks pregnant!  I’m not sure it’s all that flattering as maternity wear, but really what’s flattering on a pregnant woman two weeks shy of her due date? 

museum tunic - 7

Of course when I was modeling it for J and informed him the dress was more for after the baby arrives, he asked a bit sheepishly “how big do you plan on being after the baby was born.”  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Like I’m hoping to staying 30 pounds heavier! I had to explain that part of the beauty of this dress is its flowy nature.

Because the dress only requires 1.5 panels of the fabric but I had to purchase all 2 panels, I used the leftover ½ panel for a little scarf (still to be photographed). 

Pattern:  Museum Tunic
Fabric: 2 panels Little Folks Dobby, Anna Maria Horner and <2 yards Generic Lining Material

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cuddly Blanket

First of all - Happy Birthday, Mom!   Hope you enjoy your special day!
It’s rare that I can receive fabric and cut into it within a day or so of receiving it.  I like to gaze it from afar, pet it, imagine all the good times we’ll have – you know, normal stuff.  Not this fabric.  I couldn’t wait to slice into it and make it into something.  It helps when you have the perfect project in mind.  In this case, Anna Maria Horner’s swaddling blankets.  My one concern about jumping in – I didn’t prewash my fabrics and I have little experience working with either flannel or voile so I’m unsure of the shrink factor.  
Little folks Voile and
Flannel Blanket
Working with the flannel and voile is like working with butter and um, melted butter?  Both so decadent, both so perfect to have cuddle your baby’s perfectly soft newborn skin.  As proof, when I opened the package Alice quickly snatched a piece of the voile and proceeded to wrap herself up in it.  It appears I’ll be making a version for older sis, too.  
flannel and voile
I followed Anna Maria’s directions on her site – my favorite kind of directions – quick and to the point.  I’ve made other similar blankets with multiple-page tutorials and they take me forever because if directions are provided, I’m compelled to follow along, step by step. 
flannel and voile
blanket
The project flew by until I suddenly stalled out on the binding.  Voile is some slippery stuff, my friends.  If I can give you any advice, pin, then pin even more, and then pin even more.  Your blanket should look like an acupuncture patient.  And then pin some more.  Seam ripping through voile is not pretty and you want to avoid it at all costs. 
The finished project – I had to use every ounce of self-restraint to fold up the blanket and not bring it to bed with me last night.  So soft, so light and airy.  It’s like mousse in blanket form.  Luckily, I bought enough fabric to make two.  I think they will be getting lots of use. 
Of course, when I showed J he had to bring up the one fact that I was trying to shove into the back of my brain. That while, yes, the blanket is lovely and soft, it will inevitably get covered in spit up, pee, etc.  Well, if my child is going to poop on something, I guess I’d prefer it to be soft? 
I also made a couple bibs, loosely following this pattern from sewshesews.wordpress.com.  I eliminated the batting and used a piece of terrycloth for the backing.  Great pattern – easy to follow and Jaime’s created so many inspiring versions!
bibs
Two projects down, manymanymany more to go!