Apologies from a bad blogger

I’m sorry to all my friends and relatives who have wondered what is going on.  In short, I have been doing a lot of sewing, just not a lot of blogging.  I do have a big backlog of projects to share, but I’ll start with the most significant.

drumroll, please …..

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Yes, it’s a good portion of the Dutch Quilt.  It is about 4 ft square.  All that is left is the outer border that is three hourglass blocks wide, and then another border fabric.  The blocks are complete, I just have to join them.  Now that it is getting bigger, it is not as portable, so I am working on it more at home.

I decided that I am going to stitch in the ditch along the diagonal lines, so that shouldn’t take long (relatively speaking).  People keep asking how long it’s taking me to do this.  I don’t have an exact number, since I haven’t kept track, and most of it has been done during things like the kids’ swimming and music lessons or times when I’m waiting for appointments.  My best estimate is that I’m about 150 hours in.  I have probably another 25-30 hours to finish piecing the top.  Quilting will take 10 – 20 hours depending on how densely I go.  The end is in sight, but my anniversary is in five months, so I’m really going to have to focus to get it done.  My husband thinks I’m crazy, since his motto is efficiency.  He cannot comprehend working by hand when I have state of the art, computerized machine that will do it for me.  Just to bug him, I added a “special” block.  He hasn’t noticed it yet, so if you see it, don’t tell him.  It is driving G1 crazy, and she wants to rip it out.

As a side note, all my points match perfectly working by hand.  If I did this by machine, there is no way that all points would match on blocks this small.  It would be very difficult.

I will update on my other projects over the next few weeks, but for now, I have to get back to work.

Happy Autumn

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To celebrate fall, I made a quick little jumper for G2.  It is a very simple, basic pattern – only a front piece and a back piece.  I finished the neck and arm holes with bias tape, so there’s not even a facing.  It is made out of corduroy which I had kicking around from years ago.  It is the machine embroidery and applique that sets it off.  She picked out the girl scarecrow with corn from my fall embroidery designs.  This is from the Scarecrows Applique collection from Designs by JuJu, my first choice for super-cute machine applique.  I had originally planned on having leaves come down from the shoulder and across the front, but they didn’t really go with the scarecrow, so I went with the flower spiral in matching colours.

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There’s even a little surprise on the back to see when she’s running away.

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She likes it, and it is a very quick pattern.  I think I’ll make another jumper with some blue floral fabric I have.  I’m just trying to decide on what embroidery to use.  The fabric would look great with blue, white and grey snowflakes, but I’m not ready for that yet!

 

Kitchen Quilt

 

I have a spot on the wall in my kitchen where I like to hang a little quilt.  I have three that hang there – my autumn quilt, my Christmas quilt, and my spring quilt.  I needed a generic quilt to hang between seasons.   This summer, I did the class Big Techniques from Small Scraps on craftsy.  I have taken a number of classes on Craftsy, and I love it.  The classes are videos, so you can watch them whenever you want, but you can also ask questions from the instructor and interact with others taking the class.  It has no time-constraints, so you can watch it a year later again if you forget things.

Big Techniques was taught by Sarah Fielke who is from Australia, so I also loved hearing her accent.  One of her projects was step-down piecing.  If you want to try it, you should take the class yourself, but you can see that the quilt is not made in rows like a traditional quilt.  I made this bigger than her sample, and it was easy to enlarge.  I thought the fabric was appropriate for a kitchen.

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I quilted straight lines with my walking foot.  I don’t know if I’ll be in a hurry to try this again, since piecing in rows is much easier and straightforward, but it was fun to try and I like the finished result.  There are also a few more projects from Sarah’s class that I am looking forward to trying when I have the time.

 

First Day of School

 

It’s that time of year again, and time for a new outfit for back to school.  I only made a new outfit for G2, since the others are getting too old for that kind of thing.  Here she is, already to go – Look out, Kindergarten!

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The skirt is a basic ruffle skirt with some coordinating fabrics.  I might make her another one.  It’s quick and easy and she really likes it.

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The accents on her shirt are made with a new toy – the Whimsy Pinwheel from Kari Mecca.  It is a fun little tool, and has a few different applications.  I know I will use it again.

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The shirt pattern is Portrait Peasant  Top by the Scientific Seamstress.  I have made a few patterns from this line, and they are always easy with clear directions.  The only problem I had with this one was the fit.  I don’t know if it’s me, since there are many, many reviews on youcanmakethis.com, and no one else mentioned the fit, but it does seem very snug in the chest.  The first shirt I made to the size I measured was so tight that I couldn’t get it over G2’s head.  I ended up just gathering it a lot in the neck, and giving it to her as a doll dress.  The second I made in a bigger size, and it’s okay, but she can’t get it on without help.  I will probably make this pattern again, but add a few inches in width so it has more ease.  I think it would make an adorable nightgown, and the pattern has lots of options  – four sleeve lengths, ruffles, gathered waist.  The possible variations are almost endless.  It is very fast to make up, so I wasn’t too upset with the doll dress.  The fabric was given to me by someone who doesn’t really sew anymore, so the top was almost free.

IMG_2263I know all the babies like their new dress.

 

B2’s shorts

B2 has been asking about sewing for a while, and I’m certainly not going to discourage him.  Last week we bought fabric to make pj pants, but I forgot to pre-wash it.  So this morning the opportunity came up for him to have some sewing time and it wasn’t ready.  Have no fear, I dug through my stash and found some fabric that he loved.  We used this pattern from the Scientific Seamstress.  The pants have no side seams, and are made with two identical pieces, so there’s not a front and back side.  It’s just  perfect for a skinny eight-year-old boy to make himself.  I highly recommend this pattern, even for beginners.  It has clear directions with lots of pictures.  My son did about 75% of it himself, and I’m sure that when he makes another pair, he could do 95% independently.  The pattern I bought goes from sizes 6 months to 10, and there is a companion adult pattern.  My younger daughter and older son now want matching shorts, so I’m sure I will use this pattern again and again.

Here he is preparing the pattern.

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Cutting them out.

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Doing preliminary pressing.

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Sewing.  (He got a big surprise.  I sew at a small table in the corner of my bedroom.  Usually when I sew with the kids, I get my small machine out and bring it to the kitchen.  Since it was only him, I offered to let him use the big machine.  He was thrilled, and now might not want to go back.)

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TA DA!
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While we were sewing, G2 was using my retractable measuring tape as a bungee cord for her small dolls.

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Dutch Quilt Update

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I am still plugging away on my Dutch quilt.  This is the quilt kit that I bought at Den Haan & Wagenmakers in Amsterdam.  My goal is to make the entire quilt by hand, and it is a three year project.  I just passed the two-year mark (which also happens to be my nineteenth wedding anniversary.)  According to my schedule, I was supposed to have finished all 508 blocks by then so that I could start joining them into the quilt top.  How did I do, you ask?  Well, I finished 405.  That is certainly a big number, but as I have mathematicians in my family, I could figure out that I was still 103 blocks short.  This leaves me with four options:

1.  Extend the deadline.  I won’t be going with this, because I know having a deadline will make me get it done.  I will probably be putting on binding the day before my anniversary next year, but I’m keeping the deadline.

2.  Work by machine.  This far in, I’m not going to do that (although next year on the day before my anniversary I might change my mind.)

3.  Keep going, but shorten the times for top assembly and quilting.  I allowed six months for assembling the top and six months for quilting and binding, so I could shorten those times.

4.  Leave off the outer row of blocks and make a smaller quilt.  When I checked, the outer row has 92 blocks in it.  If I leave off that row, I am only 11 short – a much more manageable number.

I decided to go with a combination of option 3 and option 4.  I am going ahead with my schedule and starting to join the blocks together to assemble the quilt top.  At the same time, I am still making blocks in down time, like during my kids’ swimming lessons.  I need to get the centre section done by the end of September, the outer section on by the end of November and the outer border in December.  As I go, I will re-evaluate if I have time to do the outer row.  I want to start quilting it in January.

Here’s what 405 blocks look like:  (the blocks are about 4″ square)

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Roll-up Jewelry Case

Back in August, I went to Alabama and became a Martha Pullen Licensed Beginning Sewing Teacher.  This means that I took classes for a week and got lessons on teaching sewing as well as patterns and instructions for over thirty projects that I can use.  I’m excited to say that I’ve started teaching a class.  Last week was the first class, and it went really well.  All the students completed their projects, and were happy with them.  Since I’m teaching, I thought I should finish my sample projects. I got a lot done during my week of sewing last summer, but I still brought home some kits that I didn’t have time to get to.  One of my students is interested in practicing zippers, and this roll-up jewelry case is perfect for that, so I made up my sample.

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The case rolls up and is tied with a ribbon.

IMG_0209When untied, it can be unrolled, revealing pockets made with soft flannel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It has three zippered pockets, using three different techniques of zippers – covered, exposed and fully exposed.  There is also a ring band held by a snap.  It’s a fun little project and good practice for zippers.