December 27, 2013

Sewing with the Ancestors

For the last few months I have been spending a lot of time with musty old photos and ancestry websites creating family trees and memories. 
TIP: To help out all future generations put names on your photos, both digital and print. I have piles of unidentified people and at my advanced age I have no elder around to give me any hint about them. I didn't even know the pictures existed until quite recently. 

 This is a quilt made by my great-grandmother, probably around 1900. It was said that she purchased the fabric especially for the quilt instead of using the usual fabric scraps and old clothing that was a common source at the time. This was her masterpiece.
Although I would have to say that the color choices would never have been mine, it is quite effective.

This is my great-grandmother on my mother's side of the family. They seemed to be the quilters in my ancestry although since I didn't know my Dad's side so well, they too were probably wielding the needle, too. It was pretty much expected that girls would sew. My grandmother on my Dad's side is the source of my favorite heirloom. See it in this previous post.

Great- Granny must have made a small error in calculation when buying her fabric because there are a few pieces that are not the same shade of green. I wonder if she agonized over it or subscribed to the Amish theory that only God could create perfection and so they always left something amiss. She was German-Catholic so I suspect her attitude was a bit stricter. But, I never knew her and it is only approaching my seventh decade that I have become curious about these people that preceded me.

Years ago I was really into quilting when I did it all by hand like this quilt. However, I never completed a full size quilt. ADHD, I suspect.

My hand quilting was never the quality of this. My grandmother could stitch with the best. Her mother must have taught her. Her quilts were all kit quilts, however and I don't have a single one of them. They were used and washed and worn out and not kept as well as this one.

Grandma Lizzie

This quilt has never been washed as far as I know. It has a few dark spots on it, but in great shape for being over 100 years old. In all of the books on quilting and patterns I have seen over the years I have never encountered this same motif. I guess you would call it a pineapple. I tried to duplicate it once and it was a complete failure.

Has anyone ever seen this design  before? Please comment and let me know.

Just for fun, I am adding a few of these great old photos I found. These are well-dressed unidentified ladies.

December 15, 2013

Fabric as Toys

Who needs a trip to the big box store at Christmas when you could just provide the kids with your fabric stash.
 The sewing/computer room became the playroom this morning. 

 I wasn't even going to write a blog post today but thought this irresistible.
Below are all the leftover hexagons from a recent project that were turned into confetti.
It's so cute when they play together...nicely. This did not deteriorate into a "It's mine!" from her.
I know, this room is a mess, but then so am I. They can play in it and it doesn't look any worse than it did before.
Yes, she is wearing the outfit I posted about previously but this time she did not try to take it off. Yeah! 

They are 6 and 2 years old. How long before I can have them sewing? She has already mastered cutting her hair (only a small strand) with blunt kiddie scissors. Luckily she has lots to spare.

December 6, 2013

Stitching by Hand

I have been remiss in my pledge to post EVERY week so I am posting before my usual Sunday this time. I have no excuses other than the lack of ideas and projects.

I spent way too much time on this pillow. I noticed a resurgence of interest in paper piecing and had done it years ago back when I actually taught some quilting classes locally. Everything was by hand then. An organization I was in produced a full size quilt to raffle out of these little hexies.
It worked well for the group as everyone could learn the process quickly. It  didn't require exceptional sewing skills. Everyone could work at home and then we could assemble them. It was all in the typical 70's shades of brown and oranges, as I recall.

I had made a few other pillows for my Etsy shop using some of the rare reds and greens in my fabric stash. I prefer this acid green and red to the more traditional Christmas green. With absolutely no plan in mind for how these would be arranged, I began cutting out paper hexies and hand basting them into the fabric hexes. If you have never done it this tutorial is very good. Mine were not nearly as neatly sewn. I just baste through the paper and tear out the stitches later.

I sewed and sewed and sewed these little buggers and my hand got achy from it. THAT never happened back in the 70's!  I would lay them out just to see how much yardage I had created and was dismayed by the measly supply. 

I had great visions of a fabulous never before seen pattern of amazement like this:
Or this:

Alas, not even close and I was only aiming for pillow size. I have 43 hexagons in this tree and I am tired, tired, tired of sewing them and looking at them and the result is questionable. I did put it on my Etsy shop, though. Why not? Maybe someone out there will love it and give it a good home.

Whether you sell your sewing or not, do you think that you should love everything you make before you offer it at a price to someone else? Please comment.

November 24, 2013

It's the Little Things

Due to extreme distractions and also lack of anything in particular to blog about, I skipped last week's   
entry.  Grandchildren overnight can be great fun and great exhaustion for us older folks.
 Here they are in a rare moment of relative quiet. 

Yes, I know! You really don't want to hear about someone else's grandchildren BUT this really is pertinent to the requisite theme of SEWING. See the pants on grand-daughter? I made them... from a t-shirt that had been hanging unworn in my closest. These are so easy to whip up on the serger.
I bought the shirt she is wearing as I didn't have any fabric to go with the print.

They think the fabric stash is a great place to come up with improvised costumes. This was an especially popular bit of yardage.

Another pair of stretchy little pants! They are not hemmed and the waist band isn't finished yet in wait for this week when I can make sure they fit. WHY don't I write down the measurements is what you are thinking. Well, I was NOT thinking.

Funny thing with this fabric. The monkey faces and the teeny hearts run in both directions. But when I cut and sewed them I found all the monkeys on the from are right side up.
And all the monkeys on the back are upside down.

Haven't decided about a top for these. If I use the same fabric they will definitely look like and BE pajamas.

Yesterday I got really fired up and decided to use a crazy flannel fabric I had ordered online from
Jo-ann Fabrics. The selection in our store was pretty lame and I found some cute ones on their online store.

I like its cozy crazy quality. I am not the biggest fan of the endless pink and purple for little girls as well as all the bows and tu-tus. This is my idea of childhood. With her dark hair and eyes, my Angela can really "carry this off" as they say in the fashion world.
Because I was in the mood to do it immediately and had no pattern I went online and found a pattern On Craftsy I could download which I have never done before. I found THIS :

Here is my fabric cut and laid out. I used the same fabric turned vertical for the bib insert and used 
turquoise rick-rack instead of the ruffle.

Things were going really well and I was whistling away and thrilled to turn this out so quickly.
THEN the old nemesis, the button-hole came up to bite me!. I have never used the button hole foot that came with my new Janome and I decided now would be the time to use it. I made several practice button holes on scraps of the same fabric and it worked great, but when I tried to do it on the garment the seams somehow fought with the button foot and it stuck. I even spent waaaay too much time trying to remove one and then the next attempt got totally misplaced because what I thought was my start mark WASN"T.  Here is my solution. I used snaps ignoring the ill-advised buttonholes.

And then I covered up the whole mess with some of this giant size jumbo rick-rack I bought back when I had no idea what I would ever use it for. 
Then I cut an interfacing for the hem and added the same rick-rack as a finish for the hem to repeat it for balance. Since my model will not be here for awhile and is has been typically two when I want to photograph her (see previous entry ) , I am using a bulletin board for display. You will see I have cut up another orange t-shirt for a coordinating pant. I had that bit of green from a previous remake. So overall this went really well except for those little button hole things!!

November 13, 2013

A N0-Sew Weekend

I love polka-dots and why not a house ?

And stripes are good, too. 

See more about the weekend at my OTHER blog.
Click HERE

November 3, 2013

Sometimes a Great Notion

Anyone with a calling to do something, and that is what my sewing is, has a penchant for acquiring all the paraphernalia to go along with their pursuits. And there are always those inventive entrepreneurial types willing to invent and purvey these items. 

Yes, I had to look up the spelling of two of those words.

This week I came upon a number of new sewing notions to make my life perfect! Do others call the stuff of their pursuits NOTIONS or do they just call them tools? Fishermen have TACKLE but that is only a small part of the stuff they use. My brother makes his own tackle, so I guess the tools to make the tackle would be his NOTIONS.
Okay, enough of that. On to the stuff. One of the challenges of sewing is organization of all of those notions and one of the most frustrating for me has been the bobbin. This is somewhat organized but it is still a tangle of unwinding threads. A casual browsing of Pinterest turned up THIS! Eureka! I couldn't get my order in fast enough (NANCY"S NOTIONS plug, plug )

Isn't it adorable? It even fits into the same drawer of my sewing table.

Its six layers all come apart and can be put back any way your little heart desires. One set holds 30 bobbins in flexible little "jaws" that prevents the thread from unwinding.

Up close its like a little Christmas tree.

Here is another great find. I have been constantly chasing the sewing machine pedal around. Every time I sit down to stitch I have to drag it back to a comfortable position. 


The pedal sits on a mat that is like a miniature chair mat with a carpeted square. Velcro strips on the back of the pedal keep it right where I want it. I guess if I spent enough time on the machine it also would protect my carpet from heel dents. This would work great on hard flooring as well (which I wish I had).

Then there are these favorites that most of you have that are truly indispensable.
Pointy pokers for corners and a turner for tubes. I always used scissors and large safety pins for these jobs. Scissors sometimes proved disastrous. The safety pin as a turner was fine if you didn't make anything really narrow to turn.

Pattern weights for cutting are great and really essential with the rotary cutter. Why did it take so long for THAT to be invented? Like luggage with wheels, duh! 
The seam ripper is not really a "favorite" because only comes out when disaster strikes, but in this pretty green the job is less of a drag. I suppose I didn't really need these weights either. Many of you use other items around the house, but they are so cute and colorful.
 The FRIXION pen is another great product that probably isn't exactly in the notion realm. It was purchased at an office supply store. It can mark fabric and then erase completely with a bit of heat.
There are those with caps and also "clickable" ones. The "clickable" completely baffled me when I first tried to use it. The clip moves up and down to move the pen point in and out. I kept trying to pouch the top end of the pen to my complete frustration. 

Just holding the iron close to the surface and not touching the fabric will accomplish the erase.

                     ALL GONE!

And then there are those Notions that don't work out as expected.
All of these were to help me create fabulous bias bound edges. The three different sized ones with handles are for making your own bias tape. I didn't find them to work all that well and as long as I keep my fingers back from the iron's steam, I do better without these. 
The top one is the foot that is supposed to allow you to sew both sides of the bias tape onto the edge with one line of stitching. I have failed to master it and have found numerous tutorials and videos that didn't do it for me. Two of them even have you loading the fabric two completely different ways!

What are your favorite notions/tools that you cannot sew without? 
Or what have you found to be a complete waste?
Please comment and let us know.

October 27, 2013

Craft Show Upgrade

Last year I wrote a post about my first craft show HERE. Yesterday was the new improved version of the same show. This time it was in a better location with better publicity and better all around organization. And I did better but it helped that my space was free due to participating in last year's debacle.

These things are fun to do and indoors is definitely less taxing on the back and the nerves due to weather concerns. I set up and took down the whole thing all by myself. Well, some nice high school boy who is required to do some community service to graduate was there in the AM to help me drag some of it in.
You can see Francine on the left wearing a recently finished item. Francine enjoyed all the attention and compliments she drew on her first venture out of the house, but unfortunately no one chose to buy her apparel and undress her so her apron will probably be showing up on Etsy real soon. I was in a hallway and couldn't get in the whole set up. I use a portable baby crib/play yard for all my loose pillows. It was on the lower right out of sight. 
I sold more of the wine gift bags here than at the last show I did at a winery. I only made them up because of that show. I cannot figure out what motivates people to part with their money...or not. Luckily, I am not dependent on them for my survival, just for feeding my creative habit.
I thought my location was good because every one entering the show had to pass by on there way in or out. However, on entering they seemed anxious to get into see it all and then on the way out they had spent all their cash.
This is one of two large
areas of displays.

One especially attractive display  was this jewelry table with little baby Francines. I am also attracted to the turquoise and chevron. Being on my own all day, I had no time to shop the show which probably helped my bottom line but not the economy of all assembled here.
Being a very talkative person who can't sit still for too long, I'm afraid I drove the nice "bow girls" next to me nuts. In return for their tolerance here is a blatant plug for their infinite variety of hair ribbons for every occasion and whim.
 As, I said, I am too antsy to sit  still at these things, therefore, I do
not sit behind a table. You can see that my space had the table pushed back to the wall so that I could use the front and sides for display. This  leaves me nowhere to stash the cash. My solution is an apron that displays my
work AND serves to hold the change and incoming money in the two pockets.

Images on apron courtesy of THE GRAPHICS FAIRY

Needless to say, by the end of a day I am a bit worn down but I count that as my weight-bearing exercise!