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 16, 2015

April 2015 day in the life

 Every so often, I see other bloggers doing Day in the Life posts. Sometimes I read them, and sometimes I skip them. It sort of depends on my mood at the time I'm flipping through my feedly. From time to time I consider doing one, but honestly most of my days are quite boring. And while this one isn't actually all that interesting either, I decided to give it a shot this time around, as the blogger running the roundup now is one I've read for years, Julia at My Life in Transition. This very well may be a one time thing for me, but here we go.

As most of my days are nothing but work and probably not much I could photograph, I chose one of my Mondays off. Proving how long it takes me to get around to posting, these photos were taken on Monday, April 6. I was lucky enough to sleep in a bit, and woke to a typical midwestern spring day.

I like to listen to podcasts throughout the day, and this one started off with one I look forward to every month, Never Not Knitting.

A recent re-discovery of late is one of my favorite guilty pleasure breakfasts from my youth. I remember stacks of toast never coming up quickly enough for my family of five. We loved dipping them in the still warm pudding. I'm sure this is practically devoid of nutritional value with the exception of the milk....but I mostly don't care!

While I don't hold out much hope for this to actually grow, I was seduced by the adorable tiny terra cotta pot in the dollar section at Target.

I set up a little table in front of the window in the upstairs bathroom, which is one of the only sunny windows in our house which can actually accommodate something in front of it. (The others which face south are in the stairwell, are right where the refrigerator doors open, or are in the cat's normal resting place which I feel does not bode well for plants.) This bathroom is so strange - it's stacked directly on top of an identically sized and laid out bathroom on the first floor, however there is a shower downstairs where upstairs there is simply a space where it seems like a shower should be. We've considered putting one in many times, especially because the bedrooms are on the second floor, but between that and a facelift to the other bathroom, we're looking at about $10,000. We're getting to the point where we are probably over-improving our house for the neighborhood, so we've been giving some thought to the 5-10 year plan before deciding whether or not to go ahead with a big renovation.

Because I'm so woefully late posting this, I'm surprised to report that there are about half a dozen little daisy sprouts popping up!

For lunch, apparently everything in semi-circles and previously served. Leftover veggie and beef quesedillas topped with sour cream, followed by leftover super sprinkled cookies. Even that milk was taken home from lunch out the day before!

Stickers in our house are a multiple use toy, and these foam ones hold up better than most to repeated stickings. It's quite a feat given the amount of cat and dog hair living on every surface, and these pants are no exception!

Laundry, always laundry.

Apart from getting to spend time at home on Mondays, knit night also makes for a nice and easy start to my weeks. We got a new car a while back, and I love that I can listen to my stories through the stereo. I was accompanied by the fabulous Knitmore Girls on this particular trip. They were one of my very first podcasts a few years back, and I've since fallen down a deep but enjoyable rabbit hole of a ton of other podcasts. Yes, they ARE heavy on knitting content, but there are definitely a few that talk about other things. I try to save those for when I'm not alone in the car. :)

I finished my third pair of socks for my #operationsockdrawer, and I had quite a bit leftover so I made up a little preemie hat from the remaining ball while we were traveling for Easter the weekend before. I tend to get a bit motion sick in the car, so I didn't have anything else with me that didn't require reading a pattern or a chart, which made this little flour sack hat the perfect thing to whip up.

I'd planned to hang out a bit with my husband, but it was the final game of March madness this particular evening, which is just something I can't even pretend to be interested in. I retreated to my studio downstairs with a little hand sewing on the still-in-progress hex quilt. I watched an episode or two of House on Netflix. Is that show still on? I just started watching it about a month ago, and I really like it though I didn't expect to.

So yes, my day probably IS as boring as I expected it to be, but to be honest it was actually pretty ideal in my opinion. I'm definitely a homebody these days, so a day spent puttering around the house is a luxury that I'm happy to have.

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.