Thursday, March 21, 2013


I feel like I should be saying "What is a sewing machine, and what can it do for me?"

I took my kayak (I'm more adventurous than my body likes me to be) out for it's first float and first two capsizes last Saturday. The air was warm enough, but the water could definitely have used a bit more sunshine!

Since then, I've lounged on the sofa, done a month's worth of grocery shopping for the full household, and lounged on the sofa some more. I've managed to get a quilt off the frame upstairs (I did half of what I want to do, but it's done over the entire quilt). I've managed to re-start the quilting on a soon-to-be-for-sale quilt. And I've managed to start the quilting on a couple of rag quilts.

I haven't done a stitch of machine piecing in so long. It's hard to work like this.....

But, speaking of work, I start a new job on Monday! I get to have a fairly flexible schedule, but this means my weeks will be more full than I would have otherwise expected.

So again....What is a sewing machine, and what can it do for me????

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bows and Ruffles!

Today, I was given a project. My friend needed a bag (it could be super simple) for the weekend, as she's going to a few shows and wants to be able to dance without worrying that someone's ravaging her purse while it sits on the sidelines, and she doesn't want to have something ugly or super-heavy over one shoulder (the way her purse works) while she tries to dance.

I had her choose a fabric for a bag a few days ago that I planned to make for her before she moves to Florida soon, and I decided to dig in. This is the bag I came up with, and she already is in love with it!

I put two very full ruffles near the bottom of the front, then put layers of the same bias-cut fabric above them. It gives the flouncy, ruffly feel without the weight of the extra fabric.

I used button holes at the top to help it create the drawstring effect. Placement was important, as it let me create the pleated effect at the top. When this bag lays completely flat, it looks like a little girl's skirt! The shoulder straps come out of the drawstring of the bag (all same piece) so that way when my friend wears it, it closes automatically.

The drawstring is double-thickness bias-cut, and is so very sturdy. I've tied it into a bow in the front, which just adds to the cuteness factor.

One of the other cool features (other than the fact that this bag is fully lined on the inside) is that there is a "hidden" zipper pocket inside near the bottom. When you look at it during the day, it won't seem hidden, but try looking at black-&-white plaid in a dimly lit club, and it blends in really well.
I even had to put something in the pocket to make sure you could see the pocket and zipper because they blend into the bag THAT well! 

She is very excited about the bag and was shocked that I'd had the time to make it (it only took me about 3 hours to make), and it has a zipper pocket to boot! After she's had people steal out of her bags at shows (how sad that people go through your stuff just because you're busy), I figured the hidden pocket might be a deterrent if she "happens" to set the bag down somewhere. With as cute and functional as it is, I don't see that happening much, though!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What a Week!

Where do I start?

I got a device quilt for an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism: to read more) member done. Quilts aren't typically represented because many modern techniques (such as, um, sewing machines) weren't available at the time. I haven't done a full research regarding the previous statement, but I haven't seen anyone carrying around anything that matched their outfits or encampment materials that would match a "quilt" as we know it today. Anyway, I got it done for her to take to a tournament over the course of last weekend and this week. She's there right now with it (how cool is that?)!

While I'll have to wait until she gets back with it to take photos (yes, we CAN say it was an 11th hour finish), I'm posting up the photo of the top before I made the quilt sandwich and quilted/bound it.

I also had several rough days working on this thing. From running out of fabric (I knew I would be) to ending up with the wrong fabric (wrong shade of blue), I was working on this thing pretty solidly from Wednesday through the end of Friday (11:59 p.m., to be exact). I think I got about 8 hours of sleep total. This is coming from someone who tries to get 8-10 hours each night.

Add in replacing two tires, having ANOTHER dog-escaping escapade, track meet, and a couple of overall rough days....I think that sums up my week.

On another note, I will be offering embroidered organza scarves on Etsy soon. I'm working on the additional designs and putting together a color palette, but I have one that is a cream/beige with ruby crystals. Yes, you read that correctly. Crystals and embroidery on a fine, sheer, organza scarf. These are great for that special event or wedding! I'm getting some better shots done this upcoming weekend, but here's a preview shot: 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dogs and Children

Sunday, yeah, I'm almost certain it was Sunday....two days ago? yeah....okay....

Anyway, Sunday, the dogs got out. Not just one of them. ALL THREE OF THEM! The mischievous one decided to finish punching a hole in the already weak boards on the fence. We didn't see him. We don't have to. We didn't have escapes until we got him. There. It WAS him!

Well, the boys (the mischievous one is a black lab, the other is a Siberian husky) made it about 4 miles street distance away before anyone got them stopped. We found on our journeys to find the girl (hang on, almost there), that all three stopped about one street over to sniff one neighbor's yard pretty thoroughly before the boys continued on their journey. A very nice gentleman saw them, recognized that they weren't the typical ones he sees in that area of the neighborhood and stopped them. He said that they were very happy to have had human attention and came right up to him. Yep, my babies have never NOT been friendly. Sometimes overly so, but they are definitely friendly. After playing phone tag for a little while (oops, forgot to update tags with current numbers), we got the message that the dogs not only were out, but two of them were safely being held for us to pick up.

That means there's one missing, right? Yep. With NO identification on her. She's never escaped past one neighbor over. She's part coon hound, part yellow lab. The hound in her wants to smell everything. ... EVERYTHING ....

After about an hour of frantic driving around the neighborhood, stopping neighbors to ask about her, and enlisting others to drive around to look for her...we got her back. Two very ingenious kids grabbed a leash when all three stopped near their friend's yard, and managed to catch Sally (aka Baby Girl, Sweet Miss). They were diligently walking her, hoping she'd lead them back to her house. They were only about 1/2 a mile away. Just took us an hour to find that out.

Now that they're all safe and home, I spent yesterday tending to making them identification that they can't lose, and that we'll notice to change if my cell number ever changes. They each now have new collars (reused old collar hardware, used new webbing that didn't smell). Each collar is color-coded either pink, green, or blue. Each has the dog's name and the phone number embroidered directly onto it. I took some iron-on vinyl and affixed that to strips of cotton in a color befitting each dog. I embroidered the piece then affixed it to the webbing and crafted the collar in a one-size format that would fit properly for each.

Now, if the dogs get out, then they'll have my cell number with them no matter where they go! Faster response time!

As for the "Children" part of the posting... I've been busily dealing with medical issues for one child, and mentally preparing myself to watch another compete in track and field in a few days. Watching one of my kids compete in something I never could have dreamed of for myself back in the day gives me the chills and reminds me how awesome it is. I'll post track results, provided I can and don't forget. I'll also post when some of the medical issues have been resolved for the other. Oh crap....there's also another birthday to work into all of this. Off I go again!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Flower and Spirals

I can't believe that it took as long as it did to add the finishing touches, but I'm very pleased with the results!

This wallhanging is for a friend who just got her first steady job after a long period of being a stay-at-home mom. Her favorite colors are pink and orange, and her favorite things are daisies and butterflies. I hope I captured that with this one! 

The pink fabric has daisies on it, then I stitched an embroidered daisy in the spiral section. The green "fabric" is actually two fabrics that form 1/2" strips each. One is mottled green, the other is green with butterflies. 

To add dimension to the piece, the center square of pink and orange that makes the swirl has a layer of fusible batting. The daisy flower also has its own layer, as does its stem. (Yep, at the center of the flower, there are three layers of batting!)

I added a frame of bugle beads in pastel colors to help reinforce the break between the bold colors and the subdued greens. I hand-sewed these beads in place, taking between 3-4 beads per stitch. To reinforce, I ran another thread through the entirety of the bead frame to secure the beads to each other and help them line up.

The binding is a triple binding. The lightest pink forms a visual catch-all to help the viewer with the transition. It is simply a "pleat" in the binding. The pink daisy fabric actually has a cord running through it. Although it is a baby-fine cord, it adds just a touch of dimension. The two pink binding accents were added all the way around, starting with the bottom, then the sides, then the top. This gives it the layered effect you see at the corners. The orange binding was sewn with mitered corners to the front, then hand-stitched to the back. I wanted just the one row of stitching for the orange to show up. 

To hang this wall hanging, I bought her a pack of Command hooks, and she or I will go get an inexpensive dowel and cut to length. I put three of these hanging tabs on the back as I was sewing down the binding. They are stitched down their sides 3/4 of the way, and stitched across the bottom so they will raise outward, but not just pull upward on the binding. 

I used part of an upholstery sample for the backing. It actually gives the whole piece a rigidity and stabilization I would have had to add otherwise. I think for other wall hanging pieces in the future, I may have to do the same. It really works well for it.