Monday, May 31, 2010

The New Triangle Scarf Prototype!!!

From the Blue Shed has a tutorial for the cutest triangle scarf for a little girl.  It has a visor on it!  It is not only cute but practical.  I wanted one, so here is my adult version.

I love that it is reversible! 

I need a new camera.  The colors of the fabrics are so much prettier than they look here.

I didn't do the fold and buttons the original has because I didn't make it long enough on the pointy end.  Prototype 2 will have that. Another change I made was to press Wonder Under to one of  the pieces of visor fabric.  I wanted to be sure it would have enough stiffness since it would be much larger than the child-sized version.

The ties are extra long (26" in this case) as I did on my plain old triangle scarf from a few posts ago.  I like the tie on top of my head instead of in the back.  This length allows me to cross the ties in the back and bring the bow to the top.   My hair is fine and thin.  Ties stick out through my hair.  (On the positive side, my hair dries super fast so let's hear it for fine, thin hair!) Next time, though,  I'll do 20" ties.  These 26" ones require a bow.  I'd rather just knot the top. 

I cut my triangles on the fold using 11 1/4" for a total of 22 1/2" to go around the head and 13" for the length (from center of the head to the tip of the triangle).  I hope that makes sense.  I measured down 13 inches on the fold and 11 1/4" from the fold down on other end.  Then I used the rotary cutter from one point to the other.  I'll probably go with 23 x 15" for the next one.  It is sewed with a 1/2" seam.

For the visor pattern, I used a small dinner plate.  I cut the piece with 4 3/4" center height  x 8 1/4" length.   The 8 1/4" worked great, but I ended up pushing the visor in about an inch and a half because it would have stuck out too much.  Still, don't think I will use less than the 4 3/4" the next time.  I think that extra fabric provides some stability for the visor. 

A huge thank you to The Blue Shed for the idea.  She has some great jewelry in her Etsy shop, too.  Such talent!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thirty Days or So of Sock Creatures

Off topic for a minute, we bicycled from Glens Falls to Lake George and back today.  Brian rides often including centuries or 100 mile rides.  I, on the other hand, am a leisure rider more interested in the ten or fifteen mile rides.  Let's call mine decades.  Lake George village was crowded! The walkway on the lake was packed with people.

I'll share Brian's picture.  He got there looking happy and rested.  I had severe helmet hair, so you can't see that picture.  It was a perfect day for biking.

Back to the sock creatures.  I've decided that I will do a sock creature a day for thirty days.  Why?  Because I want to experiment with different designs, get better at sewing knits, have an hour or so a day to just have fun, and carry through on a totally absurd goal.

After getting home today, I created Aunty Lame.  Kiefer named this one, too.  See if you can figure out why he chose that name.

Everyone thinks he looks like an anteater!  I beg to differ.  Look at those pouty lips and those cat's eyes.

I went along with the name but insisted that it be spelled Aunty.  Since aunt is pronounced ant in my neck of the woods, Kiefer and I both win. It's kind of a plain name so I'm adding Lame--Aunty Lame.

Day three goal completed!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Much Better Way to Stuff Sock Creatures

L'ove-Lorna, of the last post, did not get a sister.  She got a brother.  I need some help coming up with a name for him.   (I really should be asking for help getting a job.  Otherwise I fear my house will soon be filled with sock creatures, and no one will have any socks to wear.)
[ UPDATE:  He has a name:  Matt.  Kiefer says that he looks like his friend, Matt.  I guess that makes him Mini-Matt actually.]

Yes, he is good looking.  He is also less lumpy and sturdier than L'ove-Lorna.  Instead of stuffing, I used rolled up batting cut to the size of the body part.  Since the socks were quite stretchy, I cut the batting to the same size as the body part it was to fill.  You stuff it in kind of like you would put a pillow into a case, just keep gently pushing and pulling.  I found the batting was actually easier than using stuffing. 

Here he is with his big sister.

L'ove-Lorna takes after the taller, Overthekneesock side of the family, while her brother takes after the Kneesock side. They do have some similarities, however,  Both  have those eyes that just scream love and both are into inter-species dating.

A special thanks to John Murphy whose book on sock creatures is so much fun. I don't know how thankful the family will be when their socks start disappearing.   

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Did It!!! My First Stupid Sock Creature

I finally decided to take the plunge and create something from John Murphy's book,  Stupid Sock Creatures:  Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks

Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks

I've been waiting because I didn't have any cast-off socks.  I like my socks, and no one was offering to donate theirs to the cause.  I felt a certain amount of guilt sacrificing a pair of perfectly good socks.  As it turned out, however, L'ove-Lorna was well worth it.  I am using the new style of naming I've seen in the papers lately which requires one to use an abundance of punctuation.

Is she not a thing of beauty?  Okay, she is cute, at least.  And, look at those eyes!

Filled with love.  And some stuffing.

Here she is in a more formal pose.  Those ears are great fun.

L'ove-Lorna can tie them in a knot but not a bow.

My first sock adventure!  I'm stoked!  I have some pink heart-shaped buttons.  She will probably have a sister by tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fabric Scraps into Simple Doll Quilts

I made my first of these doll quilts out of Keepsake Quilting's  fabric sample boxes.  Keepsake used to sell sets of tiny squares of the sample fabrics.  I loved going through them.   Even the boxes were special.  My sets came in small dark green boxes with gold lettering and gold elastic ties. They looked nice just sitting on the shelf  in my sewing room.  There was no way I could just toss them out when they were outdated.  So, this was my first doll quilt.

 This night-light doll  from a store near Lake Placid seems to enjoy them, too. 

The down side of finally using the samples is that I now know I can do something with even a two and a half inch square of scrap fabric.  When the stash of pathetically small pieces gets too out of control.  I start another doll quilt.
 The quilts also give me a chance to use up some of the children's fabrics I've bought simply because I like the design.

Who could resist this Raggedy Ann flannel I used for the backing on these two?

I was a bit disappointed to learn that Keepsake no longer sells the sample boxes.  While I really make MORE than enough scraps on my own, my collection is not nearly as diverse and exciting as the Keepsake collection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Colorful Crib Quilt

 Good quilters gather pieces that have different scales, appropriate contrast according to the color wheel, similar hues, etc.  I, on the other hand, go for the pretty pictures.  

Then, I don't want to cut it up.  Come on!  These colorful views of childhood in the late forties-early fifties are just too cute to cut into little pieces.  This quilt was my way of having my cake and eating it, too.  I did FINALLY use it for a quilt, but the squares are large enough to provide big bold pieces of the artist's picture.

This one will probably be donated since we are still in the midst of a baby drought. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

OMG! A Seventies Triangle Head Scarf

I went looking for a triangle head scarf tutorial after spending the day trying to do yard work with my hair in my eyes.  My hair is long enough to be in my face and too short to tie back.  Most of the triangle scarf patterns out there are for kids, but I finally found one at All Crafts .

Of course, I had to make changes.  I just cannot NOT make changes.  By the time I was finished, the only thing mine and the original had in common was a triangle.  Changes:
  • My triangles are 22 x 14 inches which is larger than the pattern.

  • After sewing together the two triangles and turning them right sides out, I sewed the edge all the way around a quarter of an inch in.

  • The tutorial called for a straight strip of bias tape to bind the long end and serve as ties.  I wanted to just use scrap fabric from my stash.  I also wanted the ties to be long enough to bring them back to the top so that the tie is on top of the head.  Back when women wore these things, I always hated that knot on the back of my neck.  I had enough fabric to make long ties that would serve my purpose but not enough to cover the full length of the scarf.  I folded strips of fabric for two ties and sewed them to the corners.  
 The pattern also did not have sweet Melissa to wear the finished product for pictures.  I handed it to her and said, "Here, try this on so I can get pictures."  Melissa, having never experienced the seventies, had no idea what to do with it.  "What is it?  A top?"  

She got it on the right part of the body, but not quite straight.  When you are as pretty as this, though, everything  looks great anyway!


Why Do People Buy Old Church Pews?

Because we can.  When the church I was attending remodeled, I got to buy this lovely pew.  It seemed like I great idea until I sat in it at home. What was I thinking?   Church pews are not built for comfort.  I think they are simply built to keep us awake.  With a bit of padding and a few pillows, though.  They're not bad!

There is an inch thick piece of foam on the back and 4 inches on the seat.  If churches did this, attendance would soar--especially if you could put your feet up and recline on a few pillows. Amen to that!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Cover the Sun Room Windows Without Taking Out a Loan

The original Roman shades in my sun room had been there since the dawn of time.  They were not only old, but ugly and falling apart.  I almost keeled over, though, when I found out how much it would cost to buy replacement shades. The room is about twenty feet long with sets of windows on three sides. The sizes range from 23 inches wide near the doorway to over six feet.  Even making replacements myself would have been very expensive. I spent a couple of years checking out ads and searching online before settling on this:

Yes, it is simple after all the searching, but it was also less than $300.  There are vinyl blinds underneath so that privacy is possible.  I can count on one hand the number of times we have used the shades in that room, but it is nice to have the possibility.  The valances are just rectangles of natural denim sewn in a tube and turned right side out with the ends sewn shut.  The seams are, of course, at the top where the valances are stapled to 1x4 boards mounted to the wall.

I don't like the blind cords hanging in view and was going to bundled them with rubber bands up under the valance.  There are two problems with that idea.  First, it is a royal pain to roll up all those cords.  Second, the rubber bands will rot out pretty quickly in the sun anyway.

All in all, I am happy with the end product.  It looks much better than it did!  Any ideas for dealing with the cords would be appreciated.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Putting Away the Special Quilts

Today I am repairing a quilt I made for my son, Kiefer, when he was about four years old.

He's now 19, and it is way past time to put the kiddy quilt in storage.  It is in surprisingly good shape--just needs a few seams repaired.  I made it from his baby/toddler clothes and left-over fabric from window curtains I made for his room at the time.  The curtain fabric is covered with cats--which he loved.  Some of the squares have pockets from pants and shirts.

Some have the applique designs from clothing.

The solid color squares have all kinds of button representing things that he loved.

There are  sport buttons, cat buttons, car buttons, even a Lego piece button. 

I'm hanging on to it just in case Kiefer decides to have some little ones of his own. Or, maybe I'll just keep it.  Looking over the quilt, I have wonderful memories of him wearing all those tiny shirts, overalls, and jackets.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Latest Quilt

I like to make simple quilts.  More than anything else, this is because I have the WORST time choosing fabrics that  go well together.  Sticking to just a couple of colors works best for me.  I also like to use up left-over fabric.  Since I needed a throw for the sun room and there was a good bit of blue denim left over from reupholstering the furniture (pics in another post), this quilt with blue and natural denim was born. 

Even the natural denim was left-over from making valances for the sun room.   I'll post about them later.

The quilt is machine embroidered with red work designs (or I should say blue work in this case) of the flowers for each month on 10 1/2 inch natural denim squares with three inch blue strips between.

I used off white fleece from Joann's for the backing.  With the weight of the denim and the fleece, there was no need for batting.  I sewed the front and backing inside out leaving an opening to turn it right-side out.  There is machine stitching around the inside of the squares and about 1/2 an inch in on the entire outside edge.

This was one of the easiest and quickest quilts I've ever done.  I didn't need to worry about changing thread colors on the embroidery machine, I could do other work when the machine was running, and there was no worry about batting bunching or shifting.  While it is heavier than the usual cotton quilt, it drapes well and is soft and warm.

Matching throw pillows were from happy accidents.  I accidentally made duplicates of some of the flower designs.  My embroidery machine--which I love dearly (thank you, thank you Brother)-- does have a very small window.  I thought I was choosing the next design...  The newer machines are much better in that respect.  But, my Pacesetter produces beautiful pieces.  That's all that really matters; there's no need  to upgrade.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Suburban Wildlife

I've always had resident squirrels, and I've been using hanging planter baskets with coco mats in them for at least four years.  I've had the squirrels sit in the baskets while eating and even plant nuts there in the fall.  This year, however, one of the squirrels decided to do something new.  Here is the before:

Still looking good for another year's use.  Here is the after:

As I stood wondering why the basket was swinging back and forth with no wind, I watched the squirrel return, jump in, rip out large chunks of matting, and scamper back up the tree with it.  She would leave each time with a ball of matting twice the size of her head.  I didn't have the heart to chase her away,  Nor, I suspect, would it have done any good.

This isn't the first time I have had the fortune of witnessing my wild neighbors at work.  I once made a birdbath using a three-foot high tree stump and a bowl molded from cement.  It looked so nice sitting in the middle of my yard.  In the spring the yellow tulips came up, and I watched a big rabbit daintily eat all the petals off--every single petal--leaving me with green spindles.  Each year, thereafter, the tulips heads would disappear shortly after arrival.  Then, in the summer of the third year, an amazing Pileated Woodpecker managed to decimate about a square foot patch of bark in the stump leaving three large, deep holes.  All that damage in about five minutes!

Well, I wanted to attract wildlife, and I did.  What luck to see each little beast at work!  I happened to be at the window just at the time to see the rabbit snacking that first year and the squirrel gathering nest material this year.  Catching the woodpecker at work was easier.  The noisy pounding was hard to miss.

I try to share the space with the critters when I can.  The bumble bee nest near the front porch last year was more difficult.  The nest was huge, and the females can sting.  I also don't like the carpenter ants eating my house and fence.  On the whole, though, getting to watch a little wildlife in suburbia is well worth the price.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anja's Little Ladies' "Bathing Dresses"

Anja  thoughtfully does her blog in her own language and English.  She's been doing the "Make your Kids Clothes in Seven Days" challenge from Elsie Marley.  Today she posted "bathing dresses" for her girls.  She wrote that robes don't stay on well, so she's made slip-over dresses instead.  It looks like an easy and quick idea for the summer as well--with no buttons or ties!  Makes me wish I had a little girl to sew for.  Click on either of the links above to read about it and see the photos.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Local Happiness Project Group

I just signed up to organized a local Happiness Project group based on Gretchen Rubin's book by the same title.  The book is filled with simple truths about how we sabotage happiness and daunting-yet-doable challenges to make life better.  Working at a project such as this one, though, is a long-term endeavor.  I think I might better understand issues and achieve more success through discussion and accountability.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Officially it has one member right now--me.  I want to be sure people are truly interested in taking on the challenge, so I haven't specifically asked friends or family to join.  I have found that people too often agree to join some activity because they think you'll be hurt if they don't.  However, I find it's far more uncomfortable to have people not show up or slowly stop showing up at meetings or activities they've said they would participate in than if they had just said no, thank you.   Ah, there is a good topic for discussion at some future group meeting--saying no.  It's easy to say yes and much harder to carry through on the promise. Carry-through in and of itself is another challenge many of us have.

Okay!  I've got the topics.  Now all I need are a few members.  Wish me luck.  If anyone else is already doing this, let me know how it is going.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Just Plain Fun Mother's Day

I always love my Mother's Day gifts, but this year's gifts were especially fun.  Since I have a deep and abiding love of glittery hanging things, one gift was this awesome star with iridescent rays.

It's hanging over my elliptical trainer so I have something attractive to look at while suffering exercising.

Then there is this bright, blingy stained-glass peacock mobile that matches my denim furniture.  So he's at the other end of the sun room.

I also got a new member for the rubber duck collection!

He quacks and gives off a blinding blue light! (I found out about the blinding light the hard way.)  I'm torn.  Part of me wants him with my keys and another part wants him with my collection:

This picture reminds me that, once again, the sewing room clutter is getting out of control.  And thinking about the sewing room reminds me that I got Martha's new book!

(That's my rubber duck on the cover not Martha's.  Somehow I just know she's not a rubber duck collector.)  There are tons of project ideas in the book.  The problem is deciding which I want to do first.  Check it out here.  It is an incredibly nice book for the price.

And last but not least:

Not one but two Dunkin' Donut gift cards!  I love their coffee but feel guilty spending two bucks for a cup of it.  This should keep me in guilt-free coffee for quite a while.

I hope you all had a fun and blingy Mother's Day as well.

Home-made Produce Bags

Wisdom of the Moon had a tutorial for these bags on her site in January.  Since I had an overabundance of voile from making draperies, this project had to happen. 

I so wanted to do the cute little vegetable stamps Wisdom had on her produce bags!  Unfortunately, I could not find a single veggie stamp anywhere.  I finally gave in and got an alphabet stamp set instead.  I cannot--absolutely cannot--stop experimenting.  While I wish I had just gone with the nice simple, "fruits and veggies" lettering on all the bags like this center one,  I did not.

I had to keep adding more

and more, until I just got carried away.  This one ended up looking like something Jackson Pollack would have done if he had been on crack with nothing to express himself but a set of alphabet stamps and a rainbow ink stamp pad:

Cashiers (who usually seem just a bit annoyed to be dealing with my many different sized cloth bags anyway) are beyond speech when they get this bag.  They just sort of hold it up to me as though they don't know whether they should pay attention to what is in the bag or on the outside.  I don't use it unless I really have to. 

All in all, the bags are exceptionally easy to make and work well.  I used round elastic cord for most of them and textured ribbon for one.  Both of these work fine.  I think Wisdom of the Moon used string.  Give them a try, but go easy on the stamping.