Happy Easter

Easter is the time to remember Christ and the resurrection and worship with others. If you sew and have a little girl, it is probably also the time to make a new dress. This dress is the UFO that has haunted me the most for the last year. 

Last year, I had the great opportunity to take the on-line serger licensing class from the Martha Pullen company. It is was a great class and I loved it and learned a lot. If you ever get the chance to take a class, I would highly recommend it. They recently announced another serger class, and I am trying to ignore all the emails I’m getting because I am too busy this summer to take a class. I would take it another time if I had the chance.

One of the projects for this class was an heirloom sewing dress. I have been reading about heirloom sewing and doing it in my head since before I had kids, but I have never bought the materials and actually tried it. French lace, entredeux, and embroidered insertion are expensive, and not common in my part of Canada. I did find a local distributor, Sew Fancy, who carries a large range of heirloom supplies. In fact, she is close enough to me that I was able to make an appointment to visit the warehouse and pick up my order in person.

In terms of heirloom sewing, these are basic techniques – joining lace, fabric and entredeux, and gathering lace. The project for my class had the option of making a Christening gown or a girl’s dress, and of course I chose the dress for G2, who was seven. The skirt has a large fancy band, with part of the band used in the bodice. I did make my own embroidered insertion to save money. I took strips of batiste and used a decorative stitch on my sewing machine. 

Everything went together smoothly and I absolutely loved the dress until I put the gathered ruffle on the bottom.  I hated the ruffle for some reason. The dress was complete except the buttons on the back, and I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. G2 loved it kept bugging me to finish it. It hung on the back of my bedroom door for almost a year.  

 Because the ruffle was serged (overlocked) I knew that unpicking it was going to b a big job and I kept putting it off. By February I knew that it was now or never. If I put it off longer, the dress would be too small, so I decided to do it for Easter. Of course, it was one of those things that was not as bad as I had imagined it was going to be, and I got the ruffle off without any major incidents.   

I put the band back on without the gathering, and I loved it again. G2 really loved it, and was happy that it was finally done after a year of asking. I decided to add ribbon to the entredeux and the sleeves and waist went very quickly. I loved the look of it, so thought I would add it to the skirt band too. How long could it take?  I thought maybe 20 minutes. Two hours later, I was almost done. At least it was a good tv project.   

Because she is a child of her generation, she had never even heard of a “slip” before, but she was very excited that I made an “under-dress” (as she called it) to go under the light fabric. You can’t tell in the picture, but there is an extreme difference of fabric between the dress and the slip. The dress is good quality batiste with French cotton lace, and the slip is cheap cotton with polyester lace. She doesn’t seem to care.

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I realized this year that it might be my last year to make a special Easter dress for a while. G2 is now eight, and is moving into “tween” style. She loves this now, but she probably won’t next year. Also, she has started sewing, so by next Easter she might want to make her own dress!

Medieval Pincushion

I recently did a deep clean of my sewing area and discovered a few UFO’s or, in this case, a USO (un-started object).    This is a needlepoint kit that I got in a museum gift shop in London during a visit a few years ago. It is made by a design company based in Wales that makes tapestry, cross stitch and embroidery kits. I don’t do a lot of tapestry, but it caught my eye as a nice souvenir. 

  

It’s a small tapestry, so it was pretty quick to finish. I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do with it at the end.  It seems a bit small to frame, especially since I only have one. A collection of a few of them would look nice, but even then, I don’t really have a place in my house that would suit it. 

G2 has been doing a unit on medieval history, and she thought that I should make a book cover out of it and then write a book about the crusades. A book cover wasn’t a bad idea, but I really don’t feel like writing a book on the crusades. I decided to make a pincushion. I used a scrap of upholstery fabric for the back and some packaged piping. 

 

I like how it turned out. B2 was wondering why I would make such a small pillow, and then when he put it against his face, asked why I would make a pillow that felt like a carpet. I know I’ll never make a tapestry cushion for him. He likes it as a pincushion. I’ll probably let him use it when he sews since he likes it a lot better than my flower pincushions.

  

It’s a boy!

 I am now at that stage of life where not many of my friends are having children. A lot of us have kids finishing high school, so we talk about things like university admissions and tuition rates. My husband’s sisters are the stage beyond that and are new grandmothers. 

One of my nephews and his wife are expecting their first child in May, so that will make me a great aunt for the seventh time.  Last weekend I went to a shower for them. I was originally going to make them a quilt, but my mother in law asked me to help her make a quilt, so I made something different. 

  

Receiving blankets are quick to make and useful to have around. These are larger than most that you buy in the store so they can be used for a long time. They might be too big for a small newborn, but I remember how fast babies grow. 
  

I just rounded off the corners and finished the edge with my serger. What a quick and easy gift. 

  

I also made this little guy. I got the pattern from youcanmakethis.com. It’s an adorable turtle by DIY Fluffies. It’s been a while since I made a stuffed animal, and I forgot how fiddly it is.  Honestly, a simple quilt would probably be faster to make.  But it was fun to do, and now two of my kids want one. We’ll see about that. 

 

I made it all with leftover pieces, so that’s a bonus. The pattern in the middle of the shell has made me think of turtles since I bought it, so I guess it was just a matter of time. I hope the new little boy likes it. 

Stitched cards tutorial 

If you want to try stitching cards, start with a simple shape.  Once you get started, there is no end to how complex your designs can be.  It is a quick project – you could make a bunch in an evening. It is also a great project for kids.  This is not an exact pattern, but guidelines to play with. Try different combinations and see what you come up with. 

Draw your design on scrap paper or card stock, and then mark your stitch holes.  I did a circle and divided it into sections to make my holes equally spaced. You could just eyeball it if you want.  Line up the design on the card. If you have trouble holding it in place with your hands, you could use paper clips to hold it.  

   

Punch holes through the pattern into the card. I used an open safety pin for this, since it gave me a handle to hold onto. I also found it easier to do with a piece of cork underneath.   

Before removing the pattern, hold it to a light to make sure you didn’t miss any holes. Here it is, ready to go. 

  

Thread a blunt needle, like those used for cross stitch. It doesn’t need to be sharp because you don’t have to poke a hole in fabric. You can use any thread or embroidery floss you want. I liked the weight of three strands of floss, but thicker and thinner get different looks. You can also play with colour and variegated threads. This would be a good project if you have an old box of floss sitting around somewhere.

When the needle is threaded, come up in a random spot. You don’t need a knot; catch the end of the thread and hold it down with tape. From the front, go across the circle and into a random hole. The closer your two points are, the more open your finished design will be. 

 

On the back (see the tail taped down?), go back to the front in the spot right beside where you came out. 
  

On the front, go across the circle to the spot right beside your last stitch. Keep going around the circle, moving over one spot at a time, remembering to go in the same direction. 
  

From the back you cand see you are not going across the circle, just over one space. 
  

When you get to the end of a thread, just tape it down and start a new one. 
  

When you are finished, each hole will have two stitches coming out of it. It reminds me of my old Spirograph (which I loved). 
  

Have fun playing with this. It’s a great way to try hand work without getting bogged down in a long term project.

Stitched Cards

I really enjoy crafts, and usually before Christmas, I spend a couple of afternoons with my kids doing Christmas crafts. Of course, I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. This year, I found an idea for something I’d never tried before – stitched cards. 

We made a bunch of cards and it was fun. It is similar to string art that is done with nails on a board. I played around with simple shapes and colours, and it was fun to see the different variations. 

These two cards are done with the same size circle and same thread, but just different spacing. 

  

These are circles with fewer strands of floss and changes in spacing again. 
  

Here’s a different look with squares and corners. 

  

And because Valentines Day is coming up, I played around with some heart designs. My 8yo daughter wants to make some of these for her friends. 

  

This is a design I drew using straight lines. 

   When I started looking online, I found a lot of great designs. This cute butterfly is from stitching cards.com. There are a bunch of other beautiful designs on that site as well. 

 

This is a great quick project that is fun for both adults and kids. 

The Lauren Quilt

Here is my latest quilt – the Lauren Quilt.  I helped my mother-in-law make it for my niece. I only had to buy the white background fabric, the rest was already in my stash.  The shoo-fly blocks are done with 30’s reproduction prints.

It is an original design based on a traditional block. The blocks are 9″ square, with partial blocks in the border. I designed it on Quiltography, a great app for designing quilts. I highly recommend it if you have an iPad or tablet. 

  

The blocks were quilted with free-motion flowers surrounded by stippling.   I quilted a chain in the chain blocks. 
  

Even the back was from my stash. I made 20″ squares and pieced the back. My kids think the back is just as good as the front. 

  

You can see the quilted flowers even better on the back. 

 

The force is with me

Just before Christmas, I was asked if I could make a Star Wars hat. The timing was right, because I was in the mood for knitting and the stores had Boxing Day sales on yarn. I found this great free pattern on ravelry and went to work.

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I find patterns like this go quickly, because I am always motivated to go to the next row to see more of the picture.  Also, it’s a hat, so it is small. Before I was finished, my sons had put in their orders since they are Star Wars fans. Here is B2 with the second hat. I made a slight modification to the pattern. 

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Now I just have to finish B1’s hat while the force is still with me.  Although I do have another quilt to be working on…