Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Official

UPDATE: We got the call. Recruit Cook has made it to MCRD Parris Island.

* * * * *

He's now on his way and has actually probably already arrived at Parris Island. I'm hoping we get his 20-second scripted call tonight that lets us know he made it.

I'm not going to sugar-coat — it's been a rough couple of days for me. I'm not usually a weepy mom. Heck, I was dancing a jig, not crying like the other moms, when my sons went off to kindergarten one-by-one. LOL! But whew … I hardly slept at all last night and I am crying at the drop of a hat today. Even dad teared up giving DS the "final" hug before he was really on his way this afternoon and he NEVER cries.

I *really* appreciate everyone's kind comments and support. I know I'll get through this and I'm not sad at all that he joined the Marines. Just sad that he's no longer my "baby" and because I'll miss him so much. We've always been really close. Peter, a special thank-you to you for your early morning shout-out on your blog today. I think I love you. :-) And whenever you're ready to ship out those two cutie-pie chihuahuas, I'll be waiting.

Meanwhile, while I keep dabbing at my eyes, I'll leave you with a link to the UCreate Create-With-Me August gallery of table runners, which includes my two that I showed you earlier this month. Lots of really pretty stuff. Even if you're not a quilter at all, you should think about trying one. Seriously. They go fast, are fun, and I think will make great gifts! Have a look here.

Now I think I'll put in the laundry that DS left me to remember him by. ;-) And his brother is already making plans to move into his bigger and more private room. What a stinker! But does that mean I now get TWO sewing rooms?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Semper Fi

I'm in a bit of shock this morning as my older son just received the unexpected word that he's shipping off to USMC boot camp TOMORROW! He was expecting a ship date of April 2011!

We have a million and one things to tie up today, and tomorrow we'll be watching him swear in before he leaves. I'm sure I'll go through an entire box of tissues between now and then. I've already bawled my eyes out at least three times in the last hour.

I'm so very proud of him, but quite sad that he's really leaving the nest. I thought we had a bit more time. Oh … there go those tears again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No More Squooshed Bread

(Cue Billy Mays voice)
Does your white bread often look like this after you've gotten it home from the grocery store?

Mine too. And it has ticked me off forEVER. Ask my sons, *every* time I'm in the store I wonder aloud why bread manufacturers don't use something more sturdy to package bread. Drives me nuts.

Well, no more — I have solved my problem (and maybe yours too?).

Presenting, the Bread Safe:

Inexpensive, sturdy, lightweight and re-usable.

But strong enough to protect that bread from shopping cart and drive-home mishaps.

But wait! There's more! It can also be folded up compact and portable so it's easy to stick in your purse on your way to the store on grocery day. And it's washable.

Now all I need to do is make another because we always buy at least 2 loaves at a time. And I'm thinking these will also make unique but useful Christmas presents.

Anyone interested in the directions to make one for yourself? Stay tuned!

* * * * *

It's been a slow sewing week here. I was sick with a stomach flu mid-week (ugh!).

And then with the day-after-day rain we've been having, trees have been soaking up all the water and dropping branches left and right. About 3 AM Friday night/Saturday morning, one of our neighbor's trees fell on our power lines, creating a loud electrical explosion and then pitch darkness immediately after. And we have water on a well so our pump was dead without power too.

It took until 2 PM Saturday for the electric company to get here and fix it. And then "all" they did was string new cable. The old power lines the tree landed on are still holding up the tree and are about 6 feet off the ground, and I'm *assuming* not live anymore. I hope the job isn't quite finished and the power company is just waiting until they don't have to pay doubletime to a weekend crew. I'll be calling tomorrow to be sure.

But we stayed out of the fridge and freezer and the food was fine. And the rainy weather meant the house stayed cool too, without sun beating down on it. So, the only thing I lost was sewing time. It could've been worse.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clean Underwear

Yes, clean underwear. Not that I've been wearing anything else, but at least now my washer is fixed, my wet clothes have been rescued and laundered, and I can wear my *favorite* clean underwear again. It was a bad pump, and let me tell you — water sitting in the washer for 3+ days STINKS. A lot. Worse than dirty underwear. Ewwww. ;-) After the repairman left, I ran that load through 3 times and it finally passed the sniff test.

Now that the important news of the day has been relayed, in sewing/quilting news … I finished the second runner for the Ucreate August Create-With-Me Sewalong. This is the runner I'll be giving my sister for Christmas. Let's hope come December, I remember that I made it and where I put it. I might hang the Rainbow Runner in my sewing room instead of using it as a table topper. Still thinking on that though.

The backing is an old Mary Engelbreit bumblebee print from stash. So another length of old stuff out. Yay!

After hand-sewing the binding for my rainbow runner, I didn't feel right about not hand-sewing the binding for the giftie so I sucked it up and got out the hand needle again. (I even bought a pack of new needles today for next time. Yes, I know.) I made better time on this binding because I decided I only needed to pull the thread tight every 4-5 stitches all at once instead of between each stitch. Machine sewing bindings is tons faster, but the handstitched bindings really do look nice. I may end up a convert yet.

I'm still not ready to sew clothes yet, mostly because I have a couple of non-clothing project ideas that have been percolating. But I think I'm almost there because I did start looking at some patterns for tops last night.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

End of the Rainbow

The stripe for the binding fabric arrived on Thursday. During Project Runway, I made the binding and attached one side to the quilt by machine. Those are two of my little piggies standing guard. I collect pigs and have a ton of them around.

Yesterday (Friday), I pinned the binding around to the back and started attaching it by machine. I must have ripped out the stitches about 300 times. OK, slight exaggeration, but it just was NOT going well. I gave up and had some dinner. (Here's the back print, by the way. I've had this in the stash for over 8 years and am glad to be using it up!)

After dinner, I ripped stitches again and then threw in the towel, loaded up a movie on the DVR, threaded a hand needle and ladder-stitched the binding to the back by hand. For TWO HOURS. OMG. But it's done, and looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself. I'm not sure if I have the patience to ever hand-stitch a binding onto a bed-size quilt, or even another table runner. I'd rather perfect my machine binding skills, I think. This quilting stuff is harder than it looks. ;-)

I was planning to throw this into the washer and dryer to crinkle it up, but when I went to move the current load from washer to dryer, the washer was flashing an error code and the door was locked. WITH ALL MY FAVORITE CLOTHES INSIDE. Arghhh. Seriously, I can't get any of my clothes out of the washer. Yes, I've tried everything but the machine is making a grinding noise and is obviously broken, so I made a call into service this morning and an appointment is set for Monday. But in the meantime I have to wear UNfavorite clothes and glare at the washer which is holding all my good stuff hostage.

On a bright note, I'm alone for the weekend. The menfolk headed up to my stepson's in Jacksonville yesterday to send him off on his (SS's) new life adventure in North Carolina. I'm here on dog duty. And it's raining. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere because I don't have ANYTHING to wear. Sigh. Maybe I'll just wear my nightie all day. Hmprf.

Or, maybe I should go make a new top. But then what would happen to this quilting blog? Hahaha.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainbow Runner

I finished the straight-line quilting on this tonight and am now waiting on my binding fabric to arrive. I tried to use all stash fabrics but I really wanted a stripe that picks up the color spectrum in the runner and I didn't have anything that worked for that. Which means I was "forced" to buy more fabric. Ahem. But only 1/2 yard. Of course, I had to throw in other stuff into the shopping cart to make it worth the shipping, right? But I think I found the fabrics I want to use for a window topper, so fingers crossed that the colors are what I'm expecting.

I have one more of these easy scrappy runners in mind and I haven't decided yet if this one or the one still to be done is what I'll put away for my sister for Christmas. It depends on if the second one turns out like I see it in my imagination. If it does, then I think that one will go to my sister.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Flowers in the Field

It's done! Now all I have to do is hang it on the wall. I was calling this "my scrappy triangle flowery wallhanging thing," but then I thought I'd go a bit more hoity-toity, so "Summer Flowers in the Field" it is. I crack myself up.

I finished it last night, putting on the binding while watching Top Chef. Gawd, that show makes me want to EAT so I was glad to have something else to keep my hands busy. I'm not a hand sewer of bindings. Gimme my machine all the way, baby! ;-) I tossed it in the washer last night and the dryer this morning so I could have that puckery goodness. I love a puckery quilt. It looks less puckery in these photos than IRL but I think that's because shrinking the pics to more web-friendly size lost some of the contrast/definition. Trust me. It's plenty puckered.

This binding is one of my most successful to date, I think. Usually, I will wuss out and just use a small ZZ on the front so I'm sure the back of the binding is caught. I match thread to binding and you really can't even tell unless you're looking for it. I'm not entering quilt shows or anything.

But I decided I want to master binding a quilt by machine so I forced myself to do it the right way with no shortcuts. My tips: Lots of pins and a walking foot. And this YouTube video. Notice how she's constantly pushing the seam allowance more open as she stitches in the ditch? Do that.

I still had a couple of spots where I missed the back but that's because I joined some of the binding pieces straight instead of using bias seams and they made the binding more lumpy. But I was seriously eeking out the last scraps of these stripes and a bias seam would've eaten up too much of my smaller pieces. I know better, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It wasn't a big deal to do a second pass where I missed. It's going on the wall. Even I'll never see it.

The quilting itself is nothing special. Mostly just in the ditch, but I did echo the flowers and greenery. Also on my list to master is free motion. I'm OK. But I need more practice.

And, speaking of my sewing room … Oh? We weren't? Well, now we are. ;-) Here's yet ANOTHER photo of my IKEA shelves. I found some bins that work for me. They look basket-y but they're really plastic. I'll need to put labels on them or draw myself a map because with all this reorganization, I CAN'T FIND A THING! But I'm slowly getting used to where my stuff is. Oh, and those 4 bins on the bottom? Those are the ones that used to have blue/yellow lids. Krylon Fusion for plastic rocks!

I also got these smaller rattan baskets. There are 4 of them but you can't see the last one since it's blocked by my cutting table. I'm going to make liners for these — first, because the baskets are kind of rough and second, to keep the green thing going for the lower half of this unit.

While I'm still in quilt-mode, I'm going to try to knock out a quick table runner for my sister for Christmas. Yes, I'm in shock too. I usually never even think about Christmas until December. But I still have scraps I'm determined to use up and this will go fast. I might even make one for myself. I'm going to join in the August Create-With-Me sew-along on UCreate, here. UCreate is a great blog, BTW. Lots and LOTS of crafty ideas. Fill up your coffee cup before you click on that link. I'm just sayin'…

Monday, August 9, 2010

We Interrupt This Garment Sewing Blog

… to bring you a quilting-crafty blog. Or so it seems, lately. ;-0

That's OK. That's one of the things I love about sewing — there are SO MANY different things to sew that it's hard even for someone with the attention span of a gnat (me!) to get bored.

So, I didn't get the quilt top finished, but it's nearly so. (Do you know how long it takes to arrange all the blocks so that there are no repeats of prints in the rows or columns and the color depth is evenly distributed? Hah!) I still need to machine appliqué the flowers and leaves and then I'm going to straight-line machine quilt this little wall hanging so the finish shouldn't be that far away. Hopefully, I'll get it done by the weekend since it's a slower work week. Fingers crossed.

If I do say so myself, I like it. It's very cheery and the unexpected pop of orange and yellow in the corner makes me smile. And makes it less matchy-matchy, I think. If I were a "real" quilter, I would have a stash of quilting fabrics and this wallhanging wouldn't have been made with every same fabric I've been using for the last few weeks. But I did manage to dig up a few that haven't been used in the room re-do yet.

Speaking of "real" quilters — it's no wonder quilting is so popular. The finished pieces I've been seeing on quilting blogs are so pleasant to look at, the fabrics are adorable with such a big choice, and the shops know how to do it right.

Case in point, Fat Quarter Shop (NAYY):

Each magazine was packaged in its own protective zippy bag, the charm packs in their own wrapper with cute FQS stickers for closures and decoration. Yes, I bought charm packs. Does this mean I'm starting a quilting stash? Hmmm. Even the pretty invoice (yes, pretty!) came inside a nice Thank You envelope. Contrast this with Fabric.com, Fabric Mart, and others who toss wadded-up fabric in a bag inside a box and throw in advertising. Hmmm. (OK, EOS has better packaging, but even that could be improved at those prices. Sorry, just my 2 cents.)

So, what's with the quilty magazines? Well, I've taken a liking to them and also crafty magazines for eye-candy and entertainment reads since Threads, et al. has been boring me for quite a while. Deep down, I still like the garment sewing magazines (what few there are!), but it seems like everything is a re-hash and there's not much new and fresh within the pages.

Which is completely different from the quilting and crafting magazines. On and in those, the colors are bright, the projects look fun and imaginative, the writing is entertaining, and the whole vibe is just more inviting. Even though I could do most of the crafty projects in my sleep. But I'm an experienced sewer/crafter and not the typical target audience, so I understand that most of the projects are not going to be for advanced skills. But how attractive these magazines and projects must be for new and/or young sewers. (Or … ahem! … "old" sewers like me with the gnat's attention span!) If you were a 20-something beginner sewer/crafter, would you pick up a magazine with a fuddy-duddy boucle Chanel jacket on the cover or would you pick up the one with Fun! Bright! Cheerful! projects with articles that are written the way you talk? I may be nearing mid-century but I'm far from ready to be a Lady Who Lunches. Pfffft. :-)

So where am I going with all of this? I don't really know. LOL! I just know that I like having choices. Vive la différence!

And do stick around. There will be garment sewing again eventually. That gnat thing, remember? ;-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last Night

This is what I worked on last night while Project Runway was on. Piecing on my Featherweight means I can face the TV. I used the scraps from the bins and binder covers. You're all probably getting a little sick of seeing these fabrics all the time. I promise — once this is done, these prints will be used up. Well, mostly. I'm not using any pattern. I just measured out a triangle that would fit on the triangle-shaped scraps from the bins. I'm going to add some more blocks from the fabrics you can see at the left for variety — even I'm getting a bit tired of those same ol' fabrics — but I won't make the finished quilt much bigger than what you see here. I'm going to hang it on the wall in the sewing room and hope to get it done this weekend while my garment sewing mojo is on hiatus.

Speaking of sick of looking at, here's yet ANOTHER photo of my shelves and bins, but what I'm really showing is the cool little blue dress form up top. I was out still looking for ready-made bins yesterday afternoon. I didn't find any bins that I wanted but I did find this instead at HomeGoods. Isn't it cute? I wanted something tall and sewing-related for the top of the shelves to off-set the straight row of machines and this is perfect.

Have a great weekend — I'm starting mine NOW! :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tutorial: IKEA Expedit DIY Bins

Pattern: Download HERE You will need Adobe Reader/Acrobat to open the PDF. Assembly instructions and the supply list are on the last page of the pattern.


Per Bin:

8 Fat Quarters or Equivalent (2 yds)
Only 2 FQ will be visible so the remainder of the fabric can be scrap yardage, old/new sheets, muslin, etc.

Corrugated cardboard cut into five (5) 12.75" squares
Must be w/o creases or folds. I bought the Expedit shelves above and had enough cardboard from the packing boxes for all 8 bins.

15" Steam-A-Seam or other fusible web strip

1 Freezer baggie or 1 small piece of clear plastic/vinyl - cut to approximately 2" x 2.5".

1 Piece of scrap paper for label

Tape to hold baggie/plastic in place while sewing

Other sewing/cutting supplies:
Thread, scissors/rotary cutter & mat, ruler, sewing machine, iron & ironing board/mat

Note: If you are planning on these covers to be washable, you will need to pre-wash your fabrics before cutting, and then finish the seam allowances during construction so they don't fray in the laundry. I recommend pinking shears. You can use a serger/overlocker, but read through the instructions and visualize the entire process first so you'll know when/where to overlock.

1. Assemble pattern and lay out on fabric.

In the photo below, the green fabric on top is an actual Fat Quarter (18"x22"), the print underneath is a generous FQ and the plaid is just scrap yardage folded into 2 layers. 4 layers of fabric total. Each of these layers will be one side of the outside of the bin.

2. Cut the fabric. Be sure to save those strips as shown below to use for the cuff and the handle.

3. You'll have other scraps left and if you're a quilter, I'm sure you can find a use for them.

4. Using the same "house" pattern piece, cut out 4 lining pieces. I was doing assembly-line sewing for 4 bins, so I've got 12 lining pieces here from an unloved king-sized sheet, with plenty of leftover.

5. Next up is cutting out the cuff pieces (below left). The pattern is divided into 2 sections. If you're doing this on the cheap like me, you will use the shorter section for the "public" side of the bin and the longer piece for the sides that don't show, joining them up to form a 51" x 4.5" band.

If you're spendy :-), don't divide the cuff pattern and use it whole.

From my sheet used above for the lining pieces, I just cut random length 4.5" strips, joined the "public" cuff piece and trimmed them to 52" (52" includes 2 half-inch seam allowances. The finished tube will be 51" as noted above.)

6. Next up are the handles. From the strips used to cut the "public" cuff, you should have enough left to squeak out a 7"-7.5" x 2.5" strip. (See photo above.)

7. Fold the long edges toward the center, using the pattern markings as a guide. Apply Steam-A-Seam to each long raw edge and seal your handle closed.

8. Edgestitch along the long edges of the strip. Press the short raw ends under about 3/4"-1". If you're making more than one bin, note your finished handle length and use the same length for all handles if you want them all to match.

9. Pin your handle 5" - 5.5" inches down from the top edge of the front piece, leaving about 1" of "give" in the length so the handle is not flush against the front (see photo below). Stitch folded-under ends down in a square pattern to attach the handle to the front.

10. Using Scotch tape or whatever tape is handy, tape the baggie/plastic centered about 1/2" below the handle. Edgestitch the bottom and sides, as shown below, stitching through the tape. When finished, remove the tape.

Note: You will have to be careful when pressing once this plastic is in place so you may want to save this step for right before you insert the cardboard sides.

11. Press under the top edge of your cuff tube 1/2" and topstitch 3/8" down from the fold to create a finished hem. The short piece is my "public" cuff. The plaid is scrap. Remember, I was assembly-line sewing - the king sheet strips you saw in the above photos were used on other bins.

Set cuff aside for the moment.

12. As per the pattern, mark dots as shown below on the wrong sides of your 4 cover and 4 lining pieces.

13. Sew 2 of the 4 cover pieces right sides together, as shown. Pivot at the side dot and be sure to stop 1/2" from the bottom point on the dot mark. Be careful to not sew over any of the other pieces' points/seam allowances when you are at the point. You can feel them through the fabric, so just move them out of the path of the needle if necessary. It's OK to stop a little short of the point — it won't show. ;-) Also, remember that the points are on the bias and take care not to stretch the bias edges.

14. Repeat so that all 4 cover pieces are joined right sides together. You will end up with a cover that looks like this on the bottom, where the 4 points come together to form an X.

15. Repeat steps 13 & 14 for the 4 lining pieces.

16. Clip up to but NOT INTO the stitching at all corners on both cover and lining. See photo and drawing below. Do not clip the bottom point.

17. Press all seams open. Press the intersections at the point as flat as possible.

18. On the cover only, press the top raw edge under 1/2". Topstitch 3/8" in from the top to close the hem.

19. Back to the cuff tube you set aside earlier. Match the raw edge of the cuff tube to the top raw edge of the lining, right sides together. Center the "public" cuff section, if you have one, across one of the lining panels. You are trying to avoid a seam-to-seam match up at the corners for less bulk when assembling the bin later.

20. Press the joined cuff and lining flat, with the seam allowance pressed toward the lining.

21. This next part is tricky to describe and almost impossible to show intelligible photos through all the steps so follow along carefully and exactly.

a. Turn the cover right side out.

b. Turn the lining wrong side out.

c. Place lining inside the cover so that wrong sides face each other and each piece's side seam allowances are roughly matched up across from each other. (The cuff will extend at the top.)

Be sure to match your "public" cuff lining section with the "public" front face fabric of the cover.

d. Reach in between the cover and lining pieces and pick one pair of seam allowances (1 from the cover, 1 from the lining) and pin them together from the snip at the corner to the hem at the top of the cover. Sew the seam allowances together outside the existing seam in the existing seam allowance. Your new stitching should be 1/16" to 1/8" outside of the previous sideseam stitching.

In the photo below, the blue line is the existing stitching and the red line is the stitching you are doing in this step. Stitch starting about 3/4" below the cover's hem and stitch to the snips in the corner, keeping the seam allowance raw edges aligned and flat.

e. DO NOT pin more than one pair of seam allowances together at a time or you will end up with a twisted bunch of fabric you can't turn. Trust me. It is a lot easier to rearrange the cover and lining between each step of joining them together. So, when you have finished joining one pair of seam allowances, start from step 21(a) above for the next pair. Continue until all four seam allowances are joined and turn everything so the right sides are out on both cover and lining.

22. At this point, your bin cover should resemble this:

23. If you haven't cut your cardboard squares, do that now. I use my 60 mm rotary cutter and it's a breeze! Plus my sons think it sounds pretty cool, and I haven't noticed the cardboard dulling the blade at all.

(Add your plastic label holder now if you deferred this step from above.)

Slide 1 cardboard square into each of the 4 pockets between cover and lining you created in step 21. Go slow — the pockets will be snug and if you force the cardboard, you'll bend it.

24. With 4 cardboard panels in place, your bin is starting to take shape and will resemble this:

25. Fold the cuff over the cardboard edge and cover, to resemble this:

26. Almost there!

Right now, the bottom of your bin is still floppy fabric, like this:

27. If you're industrious and care about unseen details, you can cover the last cardboard square with some fabric and stitching or even glue, but I know no one will ever see the bottom of these bins but me, so I just …

28. … pushed the uncovered square inside as-is.

Start with the square on edge against one side of the bin and then lower it like a drawbridge until it's flat across the bottom.

Ta Dah!

This is the back view of the above bin. You can see how easily they can be turnable-reversible with a different print on each cover panel. These fabrics may not look like scraps, but trust me — they've all been used a lot and are definitely leftovers.

These bins use more "traditional" scraps and old sheets. Really bad cutting on that plaid - no way that side will ever see the light of day again. ;-)

If you use this tutorial to make your own bins, I'd love to see a photo!