Monday, October 14, 2013

My First Sew Along: Make a Garment a Month

Inspired by seeing the cute green button over at the right, which I've seen on several sewing friends' blogs, I've decided to join in my first sew along. It's a personal challenge to make one garment each month. From Sarah Liz, who is hosting this sew along, "I think being in a group is motivating, and is a great way to "show and tell" to other people who also share a love of sewing." Here are the rules:
  1. The garment must be for you and not for someone else - this challenge is also about personal sewing space and your sewing needs. This is special sewing-for-you time.
  2. Choose a garment at the beginning of the month that you want to make up as your garment of the month. It can be from a pattern, an idea, a picture from a magazine, snoop shopping - whatever you like. Post this choice for the month on your blog and tell everyone what pattern you are using or what choice you are making.
  3. Blog about the garment when you have finished it (and in between if you want to). Please take a photo of yourself wearing the garment - and if you feel that you would like to, style the garment as well.  Clearly label the post "Make a Garment a Month" - my garment for "month".
  4. If you want to link back to my blog, you are welcome to do so.
Wish me luck! Off to ponder... what shall I make?
Blessings and peace...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Atticus Is a Very Special Kitty

UPDATE Wednesday, October 16: Today is the last day that I am offering matching funds. So far, $375 has been raised, and with my matching funds, it's at $445 toward the goal of $526. Keep reading to learn all about Atticus and this fundraiser to pay for his recent surgery. Thanks!

My daughter, Emily, was living in an apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, when these photos were taken. Several feral (and lost and abandoned) kitties found their way to her second floor apartment at dinnertime every day. Emily provided food, water, and kindness. She was able to capture a few and have them examined by a vet and spayed/neutered. Oh, and that's when she started getting allergy shots because she is allergic to cats!
Limpy Kitty (whose name is now Atticus) was my favorite of them all. He didn't let his disabilities (a significant limp and very poor eyesight) keep him from being open to Emily's kindness; in fact, he was a friend to all the other kitties (and quite the handsome suitor to some, according to the appearance of some kittens, if you know what I mean). We learned that some time before Emily lived there, Atticus fell (or was dropped) from a third floor balcony; he somehow survived despite his injuries and getting no care.

It wasn't just Atticus. There were Vivid Kitty, Li'l Black Sleekster, Marmalade, Mittens, Baby Kitty, and Tenor Kitty. Oh and Darla and Gateway. Emily cared for them all.
Atticus and Baby Kitty

Li'l Black Sleekster

Vivid Kitty and Tenor Kitty

They mostly lived in the wooded area next to the complex, and one or more would arrive at Emily's just in time for dinner.

When the apartment complex changed their policy about outdoor kitties (Do Not Feed The Outdoor Cats!), Emily was able to relocate a few through, including Atticus who went to live with Kelley, where he has been for several years. Emily and Kelley (and Betsy, who brought Emily and Kelley together) have become good friends through it all. BTW, these were only a few of the kitties that Emily helped. Some were camera shy. >^-^<

Kelley is one of those people who has such a heart for special-needs cats and dogs. She has several of each living with her, and she gives them all a safe, loving place to live out their days. Atticus is blind, but as far as I know, other than his limp, for which there is no longer any treatment, has been doing well.
Kelley and Atticus
Atticus recently needed surgery to remove one of his eyes because of inflammation and pain. Kelley lives on a fixed income, and she needs help with the cost of the surgery, which was $576. More than half of it has already been raised.

In appreciation for Emily, who cared for him for more than a year, and Kelley, who has cared for him for several years, (and in honor of our Maxwell, who has made a few appearances here and has eye problems of his own), I just made a donation. And I will also match every donation that you, my blog readers, make (by this Wednesday, October 16, and mention me or my blog in the comments of the donation page (rather than here). This link will take you right to the page to help pay for Atticus' surgery: You Caring. I checked out the organization and it is 100% legitimate.

When someone thanks me for something or other, I usually say, "We help each other!" This is one of those times that—togetherwe can help Kelley and Atticus.

Sewing content on my next post, I promise!
Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Not Just Another Apron, to Me Anyway

When last we talked, I showed you the remaining fabric from the 3.5 yards of "autumn leaves" quilting cotton fabric, which I've been using to make table top items (placemats, table runners), shown here and here.  

My plan was to make an apron. Good news: I did it!

Better news: I also used some darker blue/teal linen, part of it was repurposing some linen pants I made (ahem) some time ago and a little bit of it was from my "resource center" (AKA stash).

I decided on a chef's apron style because that is such an easy style of apron to make. Except that I would be piecing fabrics. And I've been learning that when using quilting cotton, I prefer my aprons to be two layers (yes, I am messy in the kitchen), so I decided to make it reversible. And I prefer the neckband to be one piece (not ties) that is large enough to go over my head—while I have my glasses on—but high enough in front when I'm wearing it, so I decided to insert some elastic in the one-piece neckband. Oh, and I like a pocket and a towel on each apron (so, reversible = 2 pockets and 2 towels). It wasn't so much mathy, like some sewing projects are, but it was definitely a thinking-several-steps-ahead kind of sewing project. I thought, "I'm making it, so I might as well make it just the way I want it." Isn't that one of the reasons we sew?

I was going to create a tutorial but decided against it because, really, who wants to make a chef's reversible apron with a stretchy neckband and a pocket and towel on each side? So I'll just show you a few highlights and lowlights.

I used almost all of the fabric. Here's what's left (and the brown fabric was not part of the original group):

I have an apron that a) fits me, b) I will use a lot, and 3) is reversible so I won't have to launder it every time I wear it (I already shared that I am messy), and d) is pretty.

I figured almost everything out enough ahead of time, so my brain cells were on high activity, part of my brain-maintenance program. Examples: I gathered the towel at the top. I pinned the towel toward the inside so it wouldn't be stitched into the side seams. I stitched both waistbands (one for each side of the apron) on at the same time to minimize the likelihood of some very crooked stitching. I positioned the pockets, which I made to fit the iPhone I will buy one of these days, and the towels for my lefthanded self.

My corners are inconsistent. I know that this is just an apron, so it's okay for this project. However, I really want to improve my corners. Here's what I do: I stitch, turn the fabric 90 degrees, continue stitching. (Sometimes I stop 1 stitch short of the corner, turn the fabric 45 degrees, take 1 or 2 stitches, turn the fabric 45 degrees, and continue. I see no difference in the resulting corner.) Press the stitched fabric flat. Trim the corner (maybe not close enough?). Press the seams open, if possible. Turn, using a large knitting needle (so, blunt tip) to push out the corner. Sometimes the result is excellent and other times, it's mediocre. I want consistently excellent corners! I welcome your thoughts, links to tutorials/instructions.
See? The 2 top corners are good, the 2 bottom corners are not.

I thought I was finished, so I put it on and asked my personal photographer to take some photos. The camera does not lie. It confirmed a thought that was floating in my mind: the top front sides seem weird (click on the photo to see what I'm referring to):
reverse side of apron
I know how this happened. Because my fabric wasn't wide enough, I thought that this would work:
Um, no, actually, it created sort of flaps. No chef's apron has flaps. If I wanted flaps, I'd have kept them. But I could see how they would get in my way. So I did a bit of trimming and restitching and topstitching.

For the next one, I would reshape the pattern piece for the bodice and also make the bodice a bit shorter. I think I'll go draw a new bodice piece right now, before I forget. Because I will happily make more aprons like this one!

And now, what to do with that last piece of autumn leaves print?
It's only the print fabric I am determined to use up; the others can be incorporated into other projects. Here are my ideas:
  • Make 3 dark blue/teal linen towels trimmed with the print border, similar to others I've made, shown (with a tutorial) here
  • Make 9 coasters, the idea of which makes me wonder whether they'd keep dampness from the table surface, plus I don't have a use for them
  • Make another table mat by cutting the strip into three sections and piecing them so that it might look (remotely) like a 9-patch quilt block
Any other ideas?

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Giveaway Results and Update on Autumn Leaves Fabric

Good morning! Here's the result (of using, which generates random numbers from the range you submit) for my orange print fat quarter fabric giveaway contest. I disregarded all the even numbers (my comments) and Joy, who requested to not be entered. Here are the winners:
Betsy B, I hope you will make this little project. If you do, will you please let me know? And maybe send me a photo or two of the process and/or result? Actually, I'd like it if you would videotape it and put the video up on YouTube; it would be an instant hit, I am sure!

Quilting Tangent, who liked two of the fabrics in particular. I'll do my best to select one of those for you, QT.

Angie, I am positive that your crafty 11 year old could do this -- and with some help from younger ones, too.

Emily, you have some (not quite so little) little helpers that you can include in this project.

Congratulations! I hope you will use the free tutorial to make this easy project. If you do, will you please let me know? And maybe send me a photo or two of the process and/or result?

Thanks; this was fun! And even if you didn't win a fat quarter, you can still use the free tutorial to make one (or more) of these pumpkins.

Update about my autumn leaves fabrics
I completed another table mat. It's for a friend who has a birthday next month, and her table is quite a bit larger than mine. I had that in mind when I made this one.

And I'm now making a reversible apron with these remaining pieces (and adding in some leftover linen fabric from another sewing project):

What are you sewing this weekend?

Blessings and peace...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fabric Pumpkins: Easy No-Sew Craft Project and a Giveaway

A couple of years ago, I hosted a little Craft Day for a friend, her two daughters, and their four little children. I'm not really used to doing this; most of my sewing are solo projects. However, when I saw this tutorial over at the Sew Thankful blog, I just had to invite them over so we could make these together! I knew it would be fun. (I was right.) The one I made is shown in this photo from my most recent sewing project: It's the pumpkin on the table runner. 

The small pumpkin (the size I made) uses a fat quarter of fabric, and the large pumpkin uses 1 yard of fabric. 

Here I am demonstrating  the fabric-tucking technique.

Two cute little girls selecting "leaves" from my collection of fabric swatches.

That was easy!

And, exhausting!

Photos used with permission, of course.

Giveaway: Would you like to make one of the small pumpkins but don't have any suitable orange (or green or purple) fabric? Let me know in the comments by Thursday, October 3; I'll select a couple of names and send a fat quarter to each person selected. You see that I have more than enough! Or just leave a comment, even if you have fabric and/or if you aren't going to make one of these. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise! :) 'cuz you know how we bloggers love comments!

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Progress Report About Those Quilting Fabrics

I am happy to report that I have used the majority of the quilting fabrics that I blogged about here. And I used at least a yard of another quilting fabric as well as a yard of flannel, which I used instead of batting. For tabletop things such as placemats and table runners, I prefer a thinner, flatter finish rather than a puffy, quilt-like finish, so I use flannel fabric instead of batting. Oh, plus I came across a few (?) yards of flannel before I looked for batting.

So far I've made one short table runner and four placemats. Here are a couple of photos:
Four placemats

Two placemats and a table runner
And here is how we usually use placemats: on top of a tablecloth. (It's easier to launder placemats than tablecloths, plus as the weather cools, the tablecloth adds a bit of warmth.)
All ready for today
I'm including a few construction details for you and also to help me remember for next time.
Press and then pin the completed placemat top to flannel. Notice that the corner pins are parallel to the edge rather than at a 45 degree angle, which makes the stitching easier. Machine baste about 1/8 in. in from the edge of the placemat top.
Optional: Trim to remove flannel.
Press the pieced top, which has been basted to the flannel, to the backing fabric (brown), which is placed wrong side up. Trim. Then move the backing fabric to on top of the the pieced top and pin, marking (with two pins or a clip) the place to stop stitching, which will create the opening for turning.
From the back, you can see the 1/4 in. stitching all around, except for about 4 in. at the center of the bottom, which is the opening for turning. Clip the corners. Turn. Press. Machine quilt.
One placemat, completed. 
One table runner, completed.

I am planning to make another table runner, narrower so that it can be used with four placemats. And it looks like I will make some coasters. And maybe some trim and pockets for an apron.

I welcome any other ideas. I'm really glad I decided to use this fabric now rather than know that it will be next fall before I am motivated to use it again. It's so autumnal! 

Blessings and peace...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Must Use These Quilting Fabrics

In organizing my fabricssomething I've been wanting to do for a few months years—I came across these coordinated cotton fabrics that I bought at a very nice little quilt shop. 
1/2 yard panel
1 yard striped print (a little more than half is shown)
Top left: panel. Bottom left: striped print. Right: 1 yard each gold and green "mottled" solid.

I am not a quilter, but once in a while I go to a quilt shop with a friend who is a quilter. Of course I want these independent shops to stay in business, and I did like the look of these fabrics, but here we are at least a year later, and I still haven't done anything with them. If I don't sew them up now, it will be at least another year before I look at them againbecause of the seasonal nature of the prints.

I found a free project sheet at Fabric Depot; here's the cover:
Project sheet
As you can see from the project sheet, I don't have all the fabrics in the collection (whew!).  The project sheet is 9 pages and includes instructions for making everything you see here.

I plan to make a reversible table runner and a small (approximately 12-in. square) table topper. But I don't need any more placemats. 

Do you have any ideas or suggestions or links to easyremember easy, please—for using up this fabric? I'd like to make some gifts that people would really like and use. Maybe a set of coasters from the smaller print? Maybe an easy apron? Any other ideas?

Bonus points / extra credit for any ideas that use these fabrics in something I could wear without looking like I'm wearing a quilt.

I'm making myself use this fabric to burn it into my brain to stop buying fabrics for quilting projects! Maybe it's not my responsibility to keep quilt shops in business.

Thanks for any and all suggestions. I will post updates. Achi dachi!

Blessings and peace...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sewing Contest You Can Vote On

Oh me oh my. There's another sewing contest, and everybody can vote. It's sponsored by Fabric Mart, a great online fabric shop. You can read all about the contest here. The contest started with ten contestants, and now there are nine. Too bad I didn't post this a few days ago, or you would have been able to vote for one of the entries in the first challenge: 

"The theme for this week's challenge was using recycled materials to create a look. We let the door wide open on this challenge to see what our designers could really do! We told them they could use materials that would otherwise be thrown away, such as scraps from their sewing room. Or reinvent old pieces of clothing to create a new fashion forward look."

Kathy, who won the first challenge, made a cute peachy-salmon color party dress from her wedding gown! One contestant was eliminated, so now there are nine. Stay tuned for the next challenge. I know I will. 

I really want to tell you who I voted for. But instead, go take a look at all ten entries for the first challenge, read their stories, and let me know what you think. 

Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fellow Blogger Gentleman Jim Tailor Extraordinaire

This is just a quick note to introduce you to a fairly new blogger. New to blogging, but not new to fine sewing and tailoring and patternmaking. Go right on over to Fine Tailoring by Jim and read all about this wonderful now-southern gentleman. He is posting great tutorials, and it's obvious that he is a master at his craft. He is having a giveaway of his DVD set, Alterations. I think it ends pretty soon, so hop on over. I'm going to add him to my blog roll so that I don't miss a thing. 

Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Giveaway Result and More Zippered Cases

Good morning! Here's the result of using, which generates random numbers from the range you submit, for my little zippered case giveaway contest. 
My plan was that if I selected a number that represented Theresa, who requested to not be entered, or me, who replies to lots of comments, that I would repeat the process. However, that wasn't necessary. Congratulations to Martha, who said, " of our younger granddaughters hair ornaments - pony tail holders, baretts and such!" Please contact me, Martha, and let me know which of the three little zippered cases you'd like.

I made three more from the road and cars fabric. I plan to make two or three more, from different fabric, then I'm going to move on to other projects.

Because the zipper pulls are small, I thread a strand of the cut-off part of the zipper through the tiny hole in the zipper pull, then tie it. Here's a close up of one:
Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Will You Help Me Decide -- and a Reminder About My Giveaway

Update: Please read the update at the bottom of this post. Thanks!

Okay, so I really need to hear from you. I'm thinking of "unretiring" from my career as a technical editor so that I can edit sewing pattern instructions, and you can help me make my decision. Here's what I'd like to know:
  1. Do you buy downloadable sewing patterns (and instructions and tutorials, so I'll just use "patterns" in this post to mean all three) from individuals or small companies (rather than the "Big Four", and I'll add in Burda, too)?
  2. For what kind of projects do you buy patterns (garments, purses, upcycling, baby and children's clothing and accessories, home dec, other [please mention])?
  3. Do you print the patterns or read and use them from your computer? Ereader? Other mobile device? Or both print and use from computer/mobile device?
  4. Do you notice errors and omissions?
  5. Do you notice inconsistencies?
  6. Are you aware of confusing instructions and/or instructions that are out of order?
  7. Do you care?
  8. Why? In other words, how does this affect your 1) ability to use the pattern and 2) your pleasure and enjoyment of the pattern?
  9. If you notice these problems, how does it affect your decision about a subsequent pattern from that person or small company? (Are you more likely to buy it or less likely to buy it?)
  10. What bugs you about patterns?
  11. How would you like them to be different?
  12. Do you have different satisfaction standards for patterns that are free compared to those you purchase?
  13. What else would you like to say about this topic? 
I welcome your answers to any/all of these questions. Short and sweet or long and detailed: all are welcome. However, please do not mention specific individuals or companies by name or innuendo; I feel so strongly about this that I promise to delete your comment if you do. This post is not about bashing; it's honestly and only about helping me to make this decision.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who reads this and replies. This time, it's you who's helping me! "We help each other!"

And a reminder: The giveaway for a little zippered case with a see-through front ends tonight (Tuesday, Sept 4) at 11:59 pm EDT. That post is here.

Update: I think I am asking way too many questions here. How about if you choose one or two questions and answer those. Would that be better?

Blessings and peace...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Invitation to Be Generous: Pillowcases

My Internet sewing friend, Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life, has undertaken an enormous project: making 900 pillowcases for... I don't think she'll mind if I copy and paste from her most recent post:

The pillowcases are for the Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. Each child that is admitted to the hospital is given a special pillowcase. They find that a simple pillowcase helps to lift spirits and brings color into an all to white and scary environment. If you think that you might like to contribute to the project, here is a link to the simplified instructions I did to make the pillowcases. I believe in the motto of "there is strength in numbers," so if you feel that you can do just one pillowcase, it will be greatly appreciated.

Oh how I wish I knew how to indent a paragraph here. Anyway, I have made six so far and plan to make at least a few more. They are one of the easiest-peasiest sewing projects ever, thanks to Rhonda's great tutorial. Here are the first four I made:
My first four pillowcases, details follow, from left to right
Bumble bees and ladybugs
Seashells and triple zigzag stitching at edge of main fabric
Row of pink flowers stitched at edge of main fabric
Serpentine stitch (I think) at edge of main fabric
Inside view of the lower edge/side seam
What do you think? Can you make one (or maybe a few)? Each pillowcase takes only 3/4 yard of the main fabric plus smaller amounts for the accent and trim. Rhonda posted today that she now has 640 pillowcases! Only 240 to go (well, 230 after I send her the six I've completed and a few more).

In addition to the pillowcases she's making, Rhonda hangs the pillowcases she receives in the mail on a clothesline and takes photos for us. Thanks, Rhonda, for inviting us all to be generous. I'm just extending it a bit to any of my readers who haven't been following this lovely journey with you.

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pattern Mini-Review and a Giveaway

 This is the fifth one of these I've just made:
I saw this pattern a few times, and I had to have it. 
(The clickable link takes you to a page where you can order it. Because I don't know how to make a clickable link from an image. Anyone? Anyone?) It's possible that some of you could figure it out by looking at the pictures, but not me. I need instructions, and the more detailed, the better. And lots of close-up photos. So I ordered the pattern (the first time I've purchased a downloadable pattern) for this little zippered pouch made out of quilted fabric that has a clear vinyl front. The photos are so clear and helpful. And the instructions are quite good. I'm glad I purchased the pattern. Tracy, the designer, includes a lot of tips for sewing vinyl. I followed the instructions to a T. And I made one. Then another, and another. Then I got the idea of changing the size. My first attempt came out a little odd, but maybe in an endearing way.
See how the vinyl "wraps around" the bottom? That's what I mean. Endearing?

Then I wondered what would be the biggest size I could make with a fat quarter*. The photo at the top is one I made last night, and it's close.

And these were all made with one fabric each. Imagine how cute they'd be made up with multiple prints. Which I will get to. These are so much fun to make, and a pleasant break from garment sewing.

Okay, so let's have a giveaway. Would you like to win one of these? 
Post a comment by Tuesday, September 3 at 11:59 pm EDT. Try to give me some ideas about the size(s) that would be most useful to you and/or what you would use it/them for. I'll announce a winner (anywhere! Not limited to the United States!) by Thursday, September 5.

I've been using fabrics and zippers and vinyl that I have on hand. The vinyl has ladybugs in a random pattern all over it. I have no memory of what I thought I would make with it when I bought it (ahem) some time ago. And I'm not sure how much of it I have left. But now I'm going to use it all up on these. Unless you have some other ideas for easy sewing projects that use vinyl (with ladybugs sprinkled randomly all over it).

* A fat quarter is a term used in quilting. It means 1/4 yd of fabric, but instead of it being the full width of the fabric (usually 42 to 44 in. wide) and 9 in. long (1/4 of 36 in. [36 in. = 1 yd]), it's 1/2 the width and 1/2 the length. So a fat quarter is still 1/4 yd, but it's about 22 in. wide by 18 in. long.

Update: This next one (just completed) is off the top of the cuteness scale (in my opinion). Wouldn't it make a great case for a summertime first aid kit? The size, as you can probably tell, is about 9 in. wide by 5.5 in. high. I added a little loop to this one, too, so that a key ring (for example) can be added.
I made it from fabric left over from this purse project:

Blessings and peace...