Goals for the New Year 2015

Sewing Goals:

1.  Finish at least two partially finished quilts. (see Instagram for photos)
2.  Make at least 5 new doll clothes sewing patterns.  I have sketches for about 20 ideas     right now.
3.  Make at least 3 knitting patterns for dolls. (3/15--one published, one in progress)
4.  Finish at least two unfinished projects. (finished napkins, pin cushion)
5.  Update previously published patterns so that all have digitized pattern pieces.
6.  Make the top for the bird quilt (tutorial found here).
7.  Make bedding and quilt for doll bed.
8.  Make and list doll clothing on a more regular basis.

General Goals:

1.  Organize recipes in a better way.
2.  Finish (strip and repaint) dressing table & mirror for daughter's room.
3.  Take better care of the flower garden.
4.  Reorganize the office closet--okay, the entire office.
5.  Keep a better cleaning schedule.
6.  Fill all nail holes in trim.
7.  Learn Photoshop.
8.  Exercise more.

Christmas Project

Whatever virus I caught ended up lasting a good six weeks and I just didn't really feel like doing much. Plus I was working a ton of extra hours at my day job which made me feel like doing even less at home.  I did complete a project that had been in my UFO pile for probably four years, finishing the day before we were set to travel home.  Usually I am sewing in the car or at our parents' homes, so actually finishing before we left home was a huge improvement! 

I bought the pattern for these angels at a quilt show in either Virginia or Pennsylvania (can't remember). I also bought a few of the painted heads at the same time.  I found more of the heads a year or two later. I made one for my mom, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, and also one for myself.

Here are all five ornaments.  Hasty, not great picture before wrapping.

Here is mine.  It looks much nicer hanging up!
Yay!  Another UFO completed!

Funny Things #8

Oops.  Ha ha.  Seen in Indiana.  We actually turned around and drove back to get the picture.

A Lost Month

I've been sick for a month.  I've gotten nothing done.

Here is my sole completed project during the last month--hemming eight napkins.  On the plus side, these have been cut out and stuck in my to-do pile forever, so at least there's one less project in the UFO pile.

Civil War Quilt Block 10

2023 update: I no longer have this pattern. It is still commercially available from the designer. Please do not ask me for the pattern; please go honor the creator and purchase a legal copy.

So, these blocks are obviously not done.  Something is wrong--I think the rhombus roof piece template is too big.  The second chimney is supposed to line up with the edge of the roof and it's about 1/4" off on both pieces.  I need to take these apart and fix them, but have been dragging my feet.  Not a fan of the Y-seam intersection on them either. 

Funny Things #7

Here's a really dedicated Hello Kitty fan!  We saw this one at the mall.

It's Been a While

I haven't been very good at getting things done for the last month or so.  We went on vacation in October, so I was busy preparing for the trip prior to that.  We got home and it took a week to catch up.  You know, the whole I-need-a-vacation-to-recover-from-my-vacation-type thing.  Throw in a few unexpected health issues, lots of extra work hours at my external job, a demanding but worthwhile online class, the kids' school and activities, and before you know it, a month or more has flown by with seemingly little to show.  Here's what I have gotten done.

A shirt for my son.
A shirt for my daughter.
These shirts were both designed by me and executed by my husband.  We used heat transfer vinyl and the Silhouette Cameo for these.  He did the pattern for the Cameo, the cutting, and the pressing.  We used an iron and I couldn't press hard enough for them to transfer.  Isn't he awesome?

Next, a few quilting projects.  First, a dog that my daughter made with some help from me.  We were working on following directions and sewing an accurate seam.  It sort of worked.  The pattern by Jo Carter was found in Issue 8 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine.

My daughter's dog.
I've been working on this mini quilt made using the Mini Northern Lights pattern by Jaybird Quilts.  I used her Mini Hex N More keychain ruler to make it.  I bought the pattern and ruler in Shipshewana this summer.  I still need to square it up and bind it.  It's around 13" x 16".  The photo really shows where I wasn't super consistent in my intersection matching.  Sigh.  It looks better in person.


Funny Things #6

May I present the banana car?  This was spotted in Michigan.  Thank you to my guest photographer for sharing this image.

What's Happening?

Not much has been happening sewing-wise.  My house is super clean, especially my basement.  We had houseguests over Labor Day, which was great motivation for getting the basement organized.  The basement is still unfinished, but at least now the remaining moving boxes are organized, all the spare boxes from construction are recycled, and the floor is fairly clean (it's still just cement and gets used as a work space for finishing things for the main floor).

We are in the seventh week of the school year.  My son has joined Cub Scouts, so we are learning the ropes of the program.  I volunteer with the Girl Scouts, both as a leader and as a Community Troop Organizer.  I am almost done with my troop organizing duties for the year and am starting to focus on my own troop.  And of course it is popcorn sales time for the boys and nuts/chocolates/magazines for the girls.

I'm still trying to get some of my UFOs done.  Sometimes it seems like I could work on my UFO pile the rest of my life and maybe I still wouldn't even get through it all.  (Hangs head in shame.)  I just read an article in the current issue of Quilty about the slow sewing movement.  Basically it's saying to slow down, enjoy the process, and not worry so much about the to-do list.  I guess I could work on this.

Funny Things #5

"I'm Mad"  At least they gave fair warning...

One from the UFO Pile

A few summers ago, my daughter saw a pack of charm squares she really liked at JoAnn.  She said she was interested in learning to sew.  The fabric was on clearance, so I said we could get it and make a doll quilt.  

What I thought would be an easy project turned into a struggle.  The only thing she did besides choosing the fabric is push down the foot pedal on the sewing machine for a few of the seams.  I finished the top, folded it up with the backing she'd chosen, and put it in a box.  

In my ongoing effort to finish partially done projects, I pulled this out and quilted it with a simple grid while dinner cooked last night.  I finished it this morning with cheater binding--you know, fold the back onto the front and make a faux binding.  My daughter has no recollection of this project even though it's only been two years.   Oh well.  It's done and out of my UFO pile.  



Detail, with better coloring

Faux Roman Shades from Mini Blinds, Part 3

I finally have both shades finished and hung.  Are they perfect?  No way.  They look okay--definitely better than the temporary paper shades that we had before.  Even though I lined them, you can still see the mini blind slats through them, which isn't ideal.

Would I recommend this project?  Maybe.  

It can be done.  It is not easy.  It is not quick.  It is not inexpensive.  Time will tell on how well they hold up.

I think it would be easier if you have separate windows instead of a very large set of windows side by side like I have.  It was really difficult to get the blinds to line up and hang somewhat similarly. You will notice in that I still have more adjusting to do in the photo above. 

Tip:  cut out the panels at the same time so that they are exactly the same.  Seriously, like put one on top of the other and cut to make sure they are exact.  Repeat with the lining if you are using it.

How did this happen?!?!?!
I really don't think the shades would hold up well if you were raising and lowering them on a daily basis. They feel really fragile right now and they are new. I'm also not wild about the strings from the blinds hanging down. It just doesn't look that nice having them there.

The cost was fairly high--I spent almost $100 between the fabrics, blinds, and notions. I had to buy custom blinds to start with because of my window size, but everything else was bought at a 40% discount and it was still expensive. However, If I had made full-blown Roman shades, it probably would have cost more and taken even more time.  

Bottom line--it is doable, but is it durable?  Time will tell.

Update 1/1/2015:  After three months, one of the slats on one of the blinds had glue failure. After five months of very light use, the blinds feel very fragile.  It is very difficult to pull them up evenly.  It feels like they are going to break every time we move them up and down.  

Civil War Quilt--Block 9

2023 update: I no longer have this pattern. It is still commercially available from the designer. Please do not ask me for the pattern; please go honor the creator and purchase a legal copy.

This block is called Old Tippecanoe & Tyler Too.  Considering the entire thing is made of half-square triangles, I can't believe how quickly it went together.  While I'm not really a fan of the colors, I like how these blocks turned out because of how easily they went together.  I was totally feeling at peace while sewing these!

Faux Roman Shades from Mini Blinds, Part 2

In my last mini blind post, I had just calculated how big to cut the fabric panels.  Luckily I waited and ran things past my husband, because he pointed out that in the tutorials I was using the people had a different type of mini blind mount than we do.  In other words, their measurements for the top were completely different than what I need.  Our blinds have brackets at the back to snap the blinds in to.  I can't have a bunch of excess fabric at the top back because then the blinds won't fit securely into the brackets.

So I remeasured my dimensions.  I figured that I only need 1/2" of fabric to wrap onto the back of the bracket.  My new calculation looks like this:  72" (length of blind) + 1-1/2" (bottom wrap) + 1/2" (top wrap) = 74".  So my decorator panels will be cut at 74" long by 30-1/2" wide.  The lining should be cut at 74" by 28-1/2".
Here is my method for taking a picture of a measurement.  Scotch tape is so useful!
Next I opened up my cardboard work surface and tried to get it flat.  That took a while.  
Finally!  It's mostly flat and lined up.
I pressed my fabric, cut it, double checked the measurements, and repeated for the lining.  I decided to serge the top and bottom edges of the fabric and lining separately because I figured they would not come out exact.  That ended up being a good decision.

Next I pressed each long edge 1/2" to the wrong side.  I used my handy dandy Dritz Ezy-Hem, which you can tell I love based on its condition.  

Then I folded the long sides over another half inch and pressed again.  I also pinned because I was working with such a long length and didn't want it to fall out or lose its alignment as I shifted the fabric on my work surface.
Like my pincushion?  It's from Etsy shop MeadowMistDesigns.  It's nice and sturdy because
it is filled with a combination of stuffing and crushed walnut shells.  No rolling off the table.  :)

After everything was pressed, I double checked the measurements again, unpinned the hems, and then placed the lining onto the wrong side of the fabric, tucking it under pressed edges.  I had to do a little adjusting, and the top and bottom serged edges did not come out exact, so I was glad they were separate and I was able to adjust as needed.

Once everything was adjusted and measurements checked yet again, I pinned everything in place and ran a hem down each of the folded edges.  Then I placed the completed panel face down on the cardboard surface and lined it up.  My cardboard had measurements up to 72", so it worked out perfectly for the length of my blind.  

We cut the ladders out of the blind and removed them.  My husband broke off most of the extra slats in the blind--we needed only seven, but we left nine on in case of mishaps while gluing.  Then we placed the blind right side down onto the fabric panel.  After much debate about how to proceed, I finally stuck pins every nine inches down the hemmed edge on both sides so that I knew where to line up the remaining blind slats.  

Then we attempted to glue the top of the blind to the fabric.  We were using an old bottle of Fabri-Tac. Apparently it can dry out, because it came out more like rubber cement.  I tried to spread it with a foam paintbrush, which DID NOT work.  We ended up pulling off the bad glue with our hands, opening a new bottle of Fabri-Tac, and trying again.  This time I just smoothed out the glue with my fingers.  We pressed down on the bar so that it would adhere, let it sit a few minutes, then applied more glue to the rolled rim at the back.  We were concerned it wouldn't hold, so we used a bunch of clips to hold it in place and let it dry for several hours before removing the clips.  

Then I applied glue to the slats, lined them up with the pins I had in place to mark each placement, and pressed them into place.  Finally, we spread glue onto the bottom piece of the blind and clipped it into place.  I ended up using the glue bottle to prop up the bottom piece so that it would dry how I wanted it to hang.  
We still have to remove the extra slats that are located between the last slat and the bottom of the blind.
Right now the blind is drying.  We will let it cure for 24 hours before moving it off the cardboard. Because my decorator fabric and lining are separate, I will probably have to go back through and either glue or hand stitch the pieces together at the top and bottom after everything is dry.  We'll see how it looks.  Stay tuned for part 3!

Funny Things #4

This is one for which I have no words.  Seen at Menard's.

Do you have a picture you want to see pictured in this series?  Feel free to submit it to me.

Faux Roman Shades from Mini Blinds, part 1

Last year I found a tutorial on Pinterest on how to make faux Roman shades using mini blinds.  I really wanted to give this a try and went right out and bought supplies.  I even wrote a post about it.  Well, as you know, I am really slow on getting projects done.  This year I have been making a greater effort to actually finish things I've started, and it is finally time to get these blinds knocked out.

Part of the reason I put off making the blinds is that I wasn't really sure the tutorial I found gave enough information for me to fully understand the process and I didn't want to ruin any of the materials I purchased. So I surfed for more tutorials and found a second one that showed more steps.  I think that between the two of them, this project should be doable.

I really want these blinds to be lined.  Neither tutorial used lining, but I really don't want the slats showing through.  I think I was originally going to try to sandwich the blinds between the fabric and lining--this was given as a suggestion in one of the tutorials' comments.  I'm really glad that I took the time this year to read through EVERY comment, because someone tried it and it did not work.  So I will be making a lined panel first and then proceeding with the steps.

When I purchased everything last year I bought lining--heavy black out lining.  Reconsidering it this year, I decided that it simply weighs too much to be attached to only a few plastic slats, so I purchased some lighter weight, non-black out lining instead.  I also got some cheap foam brushes to spread the glue and a cardboard thing that I can use to measure and glue on and not have to worry about being super neat.

Some of my supplies.
This is the type of lining I am using.

I had my husband hang the blinds and took some measurements.  Each of my blinds is 28-1/2" inches wide and 68-5/8" long.  To make the math easier on myself, I will be using 72" for my length.  I plan to have a fold every 9", so 72" divided by 9" gives me 8, which will be the number of slats I will use.  I am not overly concerned with the length being several inches longer than the window because these shades are in our office and will rarely be let out to their full length.

This is the office window with the blinds in place.
Here is my decorator fabric.

The tutorials say to give yourself 2 - 3 inches extra beyond your measurements to allow for hemming.  I am going to allow 1" extra on each side (fold under 1/2", then another 1/2"), so I will cut my fabric to a width of 30-1/2".  One of the tutorials hemmed the tops and bottoms, and one didn't.  I think I will do at least a small hem so that no raw edges are showing--maybe just serge the edge and then tuck it under, which would be a single 1/4" hem.  

My top piece will need 2" to wrap around, plus my 1/4" hem.  My bottom piece needs 1-1/4" to wrap, plus the 1/4" hem.  Sooooo....2.25 + 1.5 = 3.75" extra in length.  That means my cutting dimensions for each panel of decorator fabric is 75-3/4" length by 30-1/2" width.  My lining pieces will be slightly smaller so that they fit within the hems of the  decorator fabric.

I'm off to start ironing and cutting my fabric.  Stay tuned.

Funny Things #3

For today's funny picture, we have the hamster car with the hamster decal.  I've seen several of these, but they always make me smile.  

Queen Bee Quilt, Block 3

Block three is two little baskets done using paper piecing.  Paper piecing is really not my thing, so I was a little nervous about attempting these.  The directions were very clear so it wasn't too painful. I changed up the colors a little from the original--isn't that part of the fun of quilting?
In progress

Queen Bee Quilt Block 2

Block two in the Queen Bee Quilt involves machine appliqué using the blind hem stitch on your machine.  It also uses interfacing to make the appliqué shapes.  Here are my shapes traced onto the interfacing and ready to sew.

Here are my shapes part way through the turning process.  I ended up having to use the bodkin to turn them since my fingers are way too large to fit in those tiny shapes.

Here is the first step in the appliqué process.  Once all the shapes were turned, having the interfacing fused to the background was a nice help.  Using the blind stitch on the machine made sewing the blocks go quickly.  If I had to hand-applique each block it would probably sit there another 10 years.


I found that my red shapes were not nearly as accurate as I had thought.  I knew my "circles" wouldn't be perfect.  My machine stitch was almost invisible on the leaves, but really showed on the petals.  Maybe because it was a batik?  The original block was purple myrtle.  I chose red, so maybe mine is a hibiscus?  Anyway, the blocks are done and I learned a new technique.  

Queen Bee Quilt

I'm trying to make an effort to finish more projects from my stash.  Like I've said before, I'm better at the buying than the finishing.  Sigh.

Here is a project has been sitting around in my fabric storage area for a while.  The book was published in 1999.  I probably bought it around then. The book promises to take you from a beginner to an intermediate quilter.  I'm pretty sure I'm already at the intermediate level, but there are some techniques used in the book that I've never attempted (English paper piecing and hexagons, an unusual appliqué method) and there are some that I've tried before but still strike fear into my heart (paper piecing!  hand appliqué!).

I vaguely remember purchasing some of the fabrics when my daughter was two or three years old.  Make that 14 months old--just found this picture:

I probably made the first block in 2003 or 2004.  Ten years, three more jobs in four more locations, nine addresses, and another child later, here I am, deciding to make this quilt top.  

Here is the block (block 1 in the book) I made so long ago.  I used that green with yellow circle print in the center of the block to make my daughter a shirt many years ago.  I guess it was in 2003.  I thought she was older, but the baby picture tells otherwise.  Time sure does fly!

block 1

Funny Things #2

I saw this while driving in Indiana last summer.  The first is what I saw, the second is a zoomed view.

Strawberry Quilt

My daughter LOVES strawberries.  When I saw this cute quilt pattern, I knew I had to buy it for her.  Last week we chose fabrics for the quilt.  I am hoping to make it this summer.  We'll see...I'm better at buying than actually sewing and especially quilting my projects.

That cute strawberry print is for the back.  We'll use the pink chevron for blocks and binding.

Civil War Quilt--Block 8

2023 update: I no longer have this pattern. It is still commercially available from the designer. Please do not ask me for the pattern; please go honor the creator and purchase a legal copy.

This block is called Crown of Thorns.  It was hard to finish.  I don't care for the colors, especially the stripe.  It makes me think of bugs.  The fabrics  shrunk oddly as I was pressing, both before and after piecing.  The blocks are lumpy and not perfect and I am okay with that!