Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All is not lost

The metal forked piece in the top image that was slowly scraping away parts of my sewing machine has been replaced by the actual plastic forked piece that is made to work with my model of machine (what a concept!). I am happy to report that the machine still sews with this custom made foot, and I may actually end up finishing this quilt before the end of summer. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brand matters


Well, because your walking foot probably shouldn't wear a groove into the metal parts of your sewing machine like this.

Ohhhh, so many curse words.

You see, I bought this foot several years ago (maybe 5?) when I made my first and only other quilt. Like you do, I just went to a local Joann's, bought the walking foot they had on the rack, and hooked it up to my machine. It screwed right in, and I thought nothing of it.

Fast forward to recently, and I ran into a situation that should have been a sign...but I totally missed it. I wanted to buy some more empty bobbins, and again, I just went to the local Joann's, picked up a multipack, wound one up, and immediately got frustrated when it just didn't seem to fit quite right. I compared it to one of my other bobbins, and noticed it was quite a bit taller. Huh, I thought. Ok. So I exchanged it for the other size bobbin pack at Joann's, wound THAT up, and while it fit better, it still wasn't an exact fit, and the bobbin jammed up and made a mess. I untangled it, and went back to return the second pack. This time I asked the lady working the sewing machine corner what was up. She informed me that they only sell accessories for Simplicity and Husqvarna sewing machines. I have a Brother. Still, no lightbulb moment for me.

I am finally to the quilting it all together point on my hand pieced quilt, and I was swimming along just fine with sort of straight line quilting, sort of an inch apart....when all of a sudden my walking foot just stopped walking. I was confused. The bobbin hadn't run out, the needle was threaded...what gives. I remained confused for a while, re-threaded the whole works, got through another couple inches, and again, it just stopped! This time the little arm thing fell off the screw thing it was (apparently) eating away...but I still didn't see that. I removed and reinstalled the foot, tried again, and again, the arm thing immediately fell off the screw thing.

That's when I noticed the groove that probably shouldn't be there. That's when I flashed back to the bobbin situation....and THAT'S when I figured out that, huh, that walking foot probably isn't a universal accessory.

Sure enough, they sell a specific walking foot to attach to my specific brand and model of sewing machine, and I am a moron.

I have since ordered that specific foot, and am avoiding actually trying it out because I'm afraid that I wore the screw thing away too far and that it won't work and I'll have to buy a new machine if I want to continue using a walking foot. This bums me out because first, the rest of the machine still works just fine. Regular presser feet don't rely on that screw thing, and the screw thing still holds the needle in as it's supposed to. Second, I have absolutely no idea what machine I'd want or need, and there are so many options out there that I feel overwhelmed by the variety and potential cost of replacing my otherwise functional machine.

So stupid. Use parts made for your machine. In this case....brand matters. Or at least MATCHING brands matters!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A baby shower extra

As I mentioned in this post, I went to a baby shower for a dear friend a few weekends ago. She asked me to make her some pillowcases for her nursery with some fabric she'd picked out, and I was happy to do that.

As I laid out the fabric I needed for the pillowcases, I was excited to see that I had some fabric left over. I know that she isn't much for sewing, so she wouldn't have any need for the extra fabric. I knew I'd pinned a bunch of cute baby clothes on Pinterest, and was pretty excited to actually DO one of the many things I've pinned! (I used this pattern)

I put the picture above in a previous post - I was a little afraid she would catch on to my subterfuge.

She pulled out the pillow and the extra case, and was all, oh yes, I knew about this....and then she noticed the little dress and was so surprised! I paired it up with some sweet bumblebee sheets from the registry, because I'm a big believer in getting at least one thing that the new mother or bride to be picked out.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Works in Progress

Ah spring. Tis the season for spring cleaning, yes? However, since I don't feel like PHYSICALLY tidying anything, I've focused on getting my lists cleaned up. Let's pretend that's a thing. I've updated my goodreads page and my ravelry projects, as well as the projects page here on my website. Funny, how even though it's just cataloging things I've already done (and even the list of things I just INTEND to do), it makes me feel so much more accomplished.

With that, here's a little status update of what I've got going on currently.

I'm working on some stretchy ribbed tube socks, brightly colored in hopes they will actually be worn. If not....I might be done making kid socks. I'm using the toddler tube sock recipe by the Knitmore Girls, with the change of working them toe up. I think I'll run through the color sequence one more time so that bubble gum pink lands on top. The yarn is Knitpicks Felici, snapped up the last time it was available.

Not to be outshone by a toddler, I'm also working on socks for me. As I'm starting to amass a bit of a stockpile of sock yarn, I decided that self striping yarns would be a simple stockinette pattern, while solid colors should be knit into a pattern for a little interest. This tweedy sock yarn, also from Knitpicks, may have caused me to stumble a bit though. I'm working the Uncommon Dragon chart from Lara Neel's Sock Architecture (affiliate link), again, modified to work toe up. (I think I'll just do a different kind of heel than written. This is one of the few patterns from this book written ONLY for top down, due to the pattern flowing right into the heel. I don't know if I have the brainpower to make that work upside down - working the chart upside down is enough of a head trip, especially since charts are new territory for me!) In the end, the socks will still be wonderful to have, and learning to read charts is great for developing my skills, but the pattern gets a bit lost with the texture of the yarn. I think it stands out a bit more in person, but honestly not that much. Oh well - I'm still enjoying it!

Speaking of being new to charts, well of course I would go ahead and cast on not one, but TWO charted projects! I did eventually cast on the sweater that I couldn't quite face a few months back. What, you can't tell that's a sweater? If you need a better visual, it's the Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle from her fantastic book Metropolitan Knits. (affiliate link) This one is definitely going to take a while. I've been tending to knit on it only at knitting group once a week, so it's only growing about 4 rows at a time thanks to my decision to knit it all in one piece. It's also black, in fingering weight yarn, which seems to horrify everyone....but it's something that I KNOW will get a lot of use in my wardrobe. That's the kind of knitter I am. I like to knit for the process, but I also like having the finished object and knowing it's something that will fit into my lifestyle. I try not to be seduced by pretty yarns in the skein if I can't honestly see them being something I would love to wear as much as look at. The sweater so far is pretty basic, mostly stockinette with a lace panel up the fronts. That rolled edge at the bottom (this is worked bottom up) will eventually be sewn down as a nice tidy hem, and the front has an i-cord edging that is worked as you go. Ideally it's worked starting right above the hem, but some knitters forget to read the directions fully when trying to mash together the chart, the i-cord, the two fronts and the back and may or may not have started it a few rows late, and decided that it definitely wasn't worth the trouble to rip it back after having cast the darn thing on three times. I'm not naming names, but I think you can guess who I'm talking about.

Last I've been meaning to pick away at giving the studio both some organization and some actual decorating. Way back in September, I saw a burlap covered pinboard and knew I must have one.

Another thing I apparently also must have is a stronger pair of shears. 

I feel like I've heard of a million different people using homosote for an economical way to DIY huge pinboards. Can I tell you what a pain it was to find this stuff? I looked it up on Home Depot's website, and since it autocompleted and showed me a picture of something that looked right, I assumed they had it. Yes? NO. What actually popped up in the search was MDF, but I wasn't reading carefully. There is no way I'm going to push a pushpin through MDF, so that was definitely not going to work. I was on limited shopping time and was feeling too impatient to go somewhere else, so I punted. I thought, well I could use some insulation board as the substrate, and put some of that cork roll on it to better hold the pins, and then I can just wrap the whole thing in burlap and no one will be the wiser. Who knows, this may have actually worked, but the guy at Home Depot that I grabbed a 4'x8' sheet of insulation, and asked if he could cut it into 2' strips so that I could get it into my car. So he whips out a blade and just starts slicing! I asked, well....are you going to measure that? He said, no, there are marks here that are 2'. He hands me a terribly crookedly sliced piece of foam that is definitely NOT 2' wide, which I pointed out to him with actual measuring. He shrugged and kept cutting. I said, look, I am ACTUALLY looking for 2x4 pieces, so can we just start with a new piece? He grumbled but did actually go to get a new piece, which he measured and cut....I could see that it was still a bit crooked but I tried to convince myself that it would be ok. I paid and went to put it in the car....and these pieces. They were just. Wow, so bad. I sat down and sighed and I feel like dealing with this later? The answer was no, so I just grabbed the foam and the cork and walked back inside to return them. Later on, I searched out other home improvement stores and found exactly what I was originally looking for at Menards. I'd like to say I've learned a lesson about not being impatient and just making do, but I can't be certain that is not a lie.

Speaking of being impatient, I did straighten out that fabric on the right so it's not quite as crooked. It's still a little crooked, but it's better. I need another pair of hands to help me out hanging these, so they are just leaning on the still unfinished bench for now. I think I might paint and mount a strip of pegboard between them for things like rulers and such. It's a quick turn around from the cutting table, so I think that will be handy.

Last but not least for now, I'm still chipping at that quilt. I'm getting closer! I laid out the batting again, and need about one more row of blocks on one of the short sides and one of the long sides. I've also started figuring out how I'm going to square off the edges. Not pictured yet, but I think it will work. Now my trick is to lay out the last of the flowers without getting similar patterns too close together! I think I'll have to cut a little more fabric to make that happen. I'll probably use some of the already cut scraps to piece a little bit of the backing. Next quilt.....will DEFINITELY be machine pieced!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

All progress, no follow through

Does this ever happen to you? In the middle of 15 things, and nothing quite makes it back into its home?

Ah, there we go. Space to work.

I've recently started using this new list keeping app that I LOVE. It's called TickTick. I think I found it via googling something like "shareable mobile and desktop to do list," or something very technical like that. Let me count the things I love about this app! I have a bunch of lists for things like groceries, target, honey-do....and now I can simply add my husband to them and we BOTH have the list, LIVE in our pockets. Now when I need to stop at the store, I can see what he has put on the list and vice versa, without having to remember if I actually added to my list the thing that we were out of.... I can also add alerts for when things are due, AND integrate it into my calendar. And while that's all fantastic, I have also been using it for my "neverending sewing list" and my "neverending yarn list" and my "neverending Etsy list" (yes, I will re-open someday, but I've put it on vacation mode now as my vision and my mojo aren't quite clear at the moment). All of this rambling to say that I reserved myself a sewing day one weekend, and I wasn't just sitting there what was I going to do with all this time? Watch TV and take a nap? Oh no, I was productive.

I made myself a couple of drawstring knitting project bags. I immediately put them both into use and didn't take any finished object pictures. They are just the right size for a pair of socks or a few preemie hats, and they look pretty sticking out of my purse.

I made a couple of fabric headbands upon request, which turned out really cute! I also did not take pictures of any of THESE finished objects. I did add one for myself to the list (the boring gray one - it's navy on the reverse and can be worn either way) in hopes of encouraging them to be worn for more than 5 minutes, and I'm happy to report that it's super comfortable! I have a high forehead which benefits from bangs day to day, but I do like to pull them back to exercise (haha) or when I'm doing a lot of looking down, like when I sew or sketch. Because I also wear reading glasses, I always worry about headbands causing too much pressure at the temples and giving me headaches, but this one fit really nicely!

Finally, and the ultimate reason I planned this free day for studio time, I worked on a project for a dear friend who is expecting her first little one this summer. All in all, it was a perfect excuse to set aside the time to get some stuff done, and was quite an enjoyable day!

Now, to just get around to those after pictures....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quilt update

At last update, my hand pieced quilt looked like this:

It was about 1/4 to 1/3 done. I've been trying to make this my primary project in the evenings, as it has not escaped me that I said in response to a commenter, "Hopefully it won't take me a year. It would be nice to be done by the time the snow flies!" Not only has snow flown and stopped (and started again briefly this morning, but we won't discuss THAT nonsense!) ...but we're about four months shy of that year mark! (also, if you're curious about WHY in the world I decided to hand piece a twin sized quilt, I talk about that in this post as well.)

Last night I unrolled the actual quilt batting rather than my makeshift kitchen rug template. (Night time photo = sort of wonky colors. I did my best with what the Picasa editing tools can offer - close enough!)

The pink flower in the foreground is loose, so I used it as a rough scale and counted it off around the edges. By my estimation, I have about 18-20 full flowers to go, and maybe a bunch of partials depending on how I decide to finish off the edges. I've been doing about 3-4 flowers a maybe another two months? Maybe I can sneak in the finishing before that one year mark?

I can't believe I've been picking away at this for nearly a year! It's going to look so strange when it finally lands on a bed instead of draped across a chair, half backed with a bunch of cardboard. I'm not sure if I'll be able to give up first snuggling rights. We might have to share!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A bunny for Easter

If you've never read Posie Gets Cozy, the blog by Alicia Paulson, I won't be at all insulted if you click over to her blog, get lost, and never come back here. Her life seems like the perfect weekend day I can never quite manage to have, AND they've been having dress and sweater weather in Seattle for a while now, which I'm jealous of as I contemplate between heavy spring coat and down jacket on the daily. She does beautiful sewing and embroidery projects and sells patterns and kits on her website. About 6 months or so ago, I purchased the pattern for Miss Maggie Rabbit and have been not patiently waiting to have enough time to dig in and make her up. I'd actually hoped to do it for Christmas but ran out of time. That's ok, because Easter is a perfect, if not obvious, time to gift a little bunny.

(I also finally discovered the magic of freezer paper. So much better than pinning it all out!!)

You guys, I loved making this little softie so much. Everything but her dress was sewn by hand, and it falls right into my recent love for hand stitching. I've made a few machine sewn softies in the past year with the felt you buy in sheets from Joann's, but this time I sprung for the recommended National Nonwovens wool blend felt from Prairie Point Junction, and I don't think I'll ever go back! Other than shipping, it's not that much more than the polyester stuff, and it was a joy to work with. It's much thicker and smoother than the craft store stuff, and I'm hopeful that it won't pill as much as the bunny gets loved.

I'm normally a modern, graphic print kind of gal, but the pattern pictures for this sweet bunny had me pushing myself to go for softer, more vintage looking prints like this one for the lining of the little bunny ears.

She has little boots. I mean, come on. Seriously, so cute. One addition I made was a fuzzy little pompom on her tush for a tail. Some of us are really into tushies and puffballs recently, so I had to. Of course, I didn't photograph this, but trust me, it's cute and worth it. I contemplated waiting to write up this post until I took some fancy finished object photos of Miss Maggie, but the reality is that I'll probably never get around to it. I've been finding that I'm more busy with life than with the documenting of it at the moment, and I think that's ok.

I got this one nighttime shot of Maggie all ready to go in her basket, with bunny jammies as a blanket on a bed of seriously messy paper grass. I went back and forth about knitting her cape, but I'm glad I did. The little dress looked a bit too much like jammies without it. Of course, Maggie is currently nakie other than her boots, which I intentionally sewed on because I was not about to tie and re-tie embroidery floss laces. The best news is that Miss Maggie Rabbit is currently quite loved, and that's the best part of any handmade gift. I won't even mind if she pills, because it's a sign of having been snuggled. I have the itch now to make more felt softies!!

One final Easter note. I tried the Pinterest recipes for natural dyes 2 years ago, and had a total fail. Either they did nothing at all to the eggs, or in the case of the no fail turmeric dye, they just peeled right off the shell! Last year I went traditional and got actual color from a Paas kit, which was fun and no-fail. This year, I found a crazy expensive natural dye kit ($10, for those wondering what crazy expensive in terms of egg dye is), and gave it a shot. Fortunately/unfortunately, it worked great! The dozen eggs we got were a mix of brown and white, and this kit even colored the brown eggs on the right of the carton above. It took much longer than a Paas kit, as the eggs soaked for 15-20 min rather than 3 or so, but we just did some coloring in between and set the timer to check on them. I might try this again next year....or maybe I'll try the food coloring version that's floating around Pinterest this year. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

When you don't love it

In my last post I mentioned cutting out some fabric for a dress I planned to make. I also mentioned that I've been avoiding this particular project because I wasn't sure I was going to like the pattern. Obviously, I like the look of the end product because I had decided to make it, and purchased all the trim and lace for it....but I have made another dress out of this book and I did NOT enjoy the process. The directions were ok, but I had to do a lot of adjustment on the fit. I brought the shoulders of that particular dress in, did sort of an improvised dart so they didn't gape in the back, and left an entire tier of ruffles off the dress, as it was plenty long enough for its above average height recipient.

The only reason I didn't entirely scrap my plans to make another dress by this designer is because dress number two is much less fitted, and I decided that oversized would be fine for now and it could be worn as a tunic over leggings in the future. Something grabbed me this weekend, and I decided to make the second dress.

I like the dress. But I was right. I did NOT love the pattern.

Many parts of it felt incredibly fiddly, and sometimes I would go ahead with the directions as written, hoping that it would work out but knowing that I was going to be ripping a seam and doing it again. You can see from the back image that there are ties at the waistband. I know for sure that there were directions on how to make those ties, but I am less certain that there was ever a direction to actually attach them to the dress! Luckily this is not my first dress with ties like this, so I was sure to attach them before I sewed the final side seams. I imagine I would have been quite frustrated if I hadn't noticed that, finished the dress....and ended up with spare parts!

The directions for the button band on the back were rather mystifying as well. This is one feature I haven't done much in the past, so I was really relying on the pattern instructions. The band is cut out as a single strip. All of the times I read through the directions, I really felt like it should have been two separate pieces, but I didn't want to slice it in half only to find out I was wrong. I checked and double checked the pattern piece to make SURE there wasn't another cut line, and there wasn't. I went ahead and installed it as best I down to the bottom of the band, had no idea how I was to navigate the transition between left and right side, and out of the lateness of the hour and just wanting to be done, I folded and mashed it as best I could to look decent and called it a day.

It looks fine for a toddler/kid dress I suppose, but I know it's not the proper way to do it and it bugs me. Not enough to rip out, but enough to want to research it for next time. On the other hand, how pretty are my buttonholes! Score one point for practicing it five times before doing it on the garment!

So here is my dilemma. I've now made two patterns from this book, and I disliked them both. I was surprised at many of my issues because, well, they came from a BOOK. In my mind, you should be able to trust what you get out of a book from a real live publishing house. There should have been multiple sets of eyes on it, patterns should be tested, fits should be reasonably accurate. This wasn't a freebie pattern (though, disclosure, I got this from my library so I didn't technically pay for it), so I just expected more. The dilemma name names, or just make a mental note to myself and move on?

I have no problem posting names and links and such when I have a good experience, but I somehow feel bad pointing a finger when I had a less than good experience. I know I don't have a large following, but I guess I feel like I should prevent others from having the same problems. On the other hand, I'm not the world's most experienced sewist, and I don't always read directions carefully, and I'd hate to paint someone else in a bad light if it was really just errors on my part.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hand Sewing and Making Scraps

I have so been so enjoying hand sewing this quilt top lately! All those tiny stitches are so soothing to me right now. I'd say I'm....about 1/3 of the way through. I measured out my kitchen rug, and it's roughly the size of a twin bed, so I'm using that as my reference point.

I ran out of hexagons that I'd pre-cut at the beginning of this project, so I needed to get more. (Oh, I've been informed that it wasn't actually my dad who spilled the wine, but I'm fairly certain that it was his glass, which must be why I remembered it that way.) I don't actually have any kind of color plan for this quilt! I'm mostly using stuff I have around, or leftovers from other projects so far. My only method is that each flower has a white center and some kind of print on the petals. I'm trying to spread around the colors, and find a mix of fabrics that I like and those that a toddler might like, because that's the intended recipient. The room that it will live in is orange, gray and green, so those are present, and pink is a favorite color so that's there as well.

But as I said, I ran out of cut hex's. So...what to do? Well, I made more! These are from a quilt (my first) from my bed, and the apple print was a remnant that is both a doll dress, and what was going to be a knitting project bag for me, but was quickly appropriated by the owner of the doll dress because of how it matched.

Then....I was sort of out of leftover cotton fabric. I had some more sitting around though that was earmarked for projects, so I decided to cut out those projects now so that I could scavenge my made leftovers.

The cutting table still needs trim and stain, and the drawers are wonky....but I LOVE it. It made the cutting and piecing of a pdf pattern so much easier than chasing it around on the floor, or hunching over my dining table. I'm so pleased with a large work surface at standing height that I can't even believe it. 

This crazy blue is intended to be a probably crazy toddler dress. I've made one other dress from this book (I can't recall if I blogged it) and honestly I didn't love that pattern. I had to make a lot of fit adjustments, but the end product is quite well loved. And yes, its scraps are already in the blanket. And also in this hat actually! I tend to overbuy yardage. This dress is a much less fitted design than the first one I did, so I'm hopeful that I won't have to make any adjustments.

I've also been intending to make some more project bags. This time I gave a zipper a go, using this tutorial. I made the medium size, because I'd picked up two 12" zippers. I was hoping it would be sweater sized, but it's a bit small for that. Maybe it would be good for a kids sweater or a shawl. In either case, I had a good time practicing with it. I'm not great at inserting zippers, and I did a decent job this time. Basting. Sort of key. Yep, my lazy self needs to quit skipping that step!

Such an adorable, springy little pouch! I think for my next one I'll add a little loop or something on the zipper pull side, which will be the same size as this one because as I said, I have a second 12" zipper. Then I'll have to get my hands on some bigger zippers to make larger sizes.

In the meantime, I'm putting the scraps into service already.