Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mending Pile success story

If you are known for your sewing skills, sooner or later someone will ask you to mend something for them.  This happened to me twice in the past week.  I could look upon these requests as potentially derailing me from *accomplishing* something in the sewing room; this could be a large distraction, preventing me from finishing a project this month.  And, in the past, this has been my attitude.  (I apologize to family who had to listen to a tirade from my selfish side when they asked me to hem their pants or sew on a button or two.)

Sweetie came back from world travels with a University of Amsterdam hoodie that needed the front facings tacked down.  (Ok, the original request was for me to cut the darn things off.)  And, Sweetie's teenage son tore a hole in the seat of his *very favorite* jeans.

Mission accomplished!  I accepted the challenge of pleasing the folks who put up with my hours of hibernation in the sewing studio.  And I did it in a timely manner: less than a week turnaround.

I used an inside patch on the jeans, much to the delight of teenage son.  (He said kids pay good money to have their pants look like that.  Abercrombie chic: go figure.)  I used Wonder Under to fuse a patch of excess jeans material under the torn area.  I then stitched around the edge of the patch, and criss-crossed stitching over the surface of the torn area.  The picture doesn't show the detail overly well, but hopefully you get the idea.  Final step was to use pinking shears around the edge of the patch on the inside.  The result is a visible tear, but the structure of the jeans is supported.

Sweetie's hoodie facings were "tacked down" using Stitch Witchery as a bonding agent.  I have a large sheet of the stuff, so I cut off 1 3/4" wide sections to cover most of the facing.  I bonded from just above the bottom ribbing to about three-fourths of the way up the zipper, leaving the facing free around the neckline.  I did this both because the neckline area wasn't such a problem for the facings coming loose, and also because I didn't completely love the increased stiffness provided by the Stitch Witchery, so I wanted the neckline to remain untouched.  The photo above shows some fancy stitching I did to the pocket area.  The pockets were not attached, except at the side seam and the bottom ribbing, leading to some unattractive droopiness and added bulk around the middle.  Ugh--who wants that?  So I used a temporary spray adhesive to flatten the pocket against the front of the hoodie, and top-stitched two rectangles to anchor the top and front edge of the pocket.  For the size of the rectangles, I used a tab insert from an index divider ('cuz I'm clever like that).  I think it turned out so cute!  And very wearable.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My love-affair with boxes

I finally got the stuff I took out for January's quilt retreat put away.  Three boxes of sewing supplies, books/patterns, partially completed projects, and fabric.  In putting some things away, I noticed empty storage that's not being used.  I have boxes and boxes stacked in closets and under beds, but drawers and shelves that are empty or under-used.  Thought I corrected that problem months ago...  Obviously, I have a love affair with the almighty box.

A review of *some* the squirreled-away boxes:
Sewing patterns (bottom box) and misc. sewing supplies (top box).  I have dresser and shelf space reserved for both of these.  And yet the boxes are still around.
The under-the-cutting-table baskets.  Sewing-related items (on left) and contents of a hastily-emptied desk (on right).  These two baskets are on my "tackle over spring break" list.  Maybe this posting will encourage me to finally dispatch them to other homes.
Three boxes of fabric-related projects.  In the guest room closet.  There may be one or two fabric-and-pattern-but-not-cut-out-yet items in there (which don't count as "projects", right?).  Is there a better way to store such things?  A better place?
The floor of same closet.  Bottom box is quilt- and craft-related books (um... bookshelf?), bin and box on right hold more project-y stuff.  It starts to look like I have too many projects, doesn't it?

And now, unused/available storage places that are *not* boxes:
 Oooh, my favorite: the rainbow organizer cart (it's on wheels!)  I have two of them.  Not holding much right now, and certainly what they do hold is not organized.  Sewing patterns?  Sewing notions?  Accoutrements of other crafts (like yarn/embroidery, or scrapbooking, or altered books, or, or...)?

IKEA storage boxes.  Nice size.  Very presentable on bookshelves or room dividers.  Have their own labels.  Yep, everything checks out: these babies are meant for storage.  And there they sit, just waiting for said storage to "happen".

Wood-and-wicker side tables in the living room.  3 drawers apiece.  Only one drawer contains anything: notepad and a pen.

*Sigh*  Too much stuff.  But I can't legitimately complain about "no place to put things"...

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Buck-a-block pattern

New month, new block pattern.  This one is called "Country Path", taken from The Farmer's Wife.  I chose to use the red stripe provided this month (it will be the background, shown as purple on the pattern), and thus supplement with pinks and blacks.

I hand colored some block mock-ups, trying to decide whether the pink or the black should be the little triangles that form a star shape.  And just how strong should my color choices be?  I got lots of good feedback from last month's block, which had less contrast and simpler fabric choices than I tend to prefer.  Subtle doesn't seem to be the direction I usually go...

pink for the triangles; two blacks

black for the triangles; two pinks
As always, I fret over the tiniest questions within each block.  I have some fancy cutting to do to get all the stripes running the same way, as I think the stripe is dominant enough that having it run all the same direction is important to the overall block not looking too busy.

Did I mention that fabric auditions are one of my favorite activities?  So much dreaming, so little doing...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

UFO/Project list

I visit a fair number of blogs, and always check in with Scraps-a-Plenty on Sundays, as that is the day Natasha updates a weekly stash report: how much fabric she has used from her stash that week.  She also links to a place where lots of quilters post their weekly stash use (on Patchwork Times).  I am inspired to keep on truckin' by the fact that there are weeks where nothing gets "used", but I read about progress being made on various projects. 

This stash reporting and tracking is supported by, as part of their UFO Challenge philosophy.  My New Year's Resolution to "have less stuff" has had me contemplating various methods to track my fabric accumulation and use.  I can't participate in the stashbuster version of the challenge, because it is all quilt-related, and most of my UFO/Projects are in the "other sewing" category.  (I have a 3-year timeframe for completing quilts - it fits me, doesn't leave me feeling rushed, and allows me to meander through a quilt project.  What would I gain by trying to complete--as in done done--a quilt project every quarter?)

So... in response to Natasha's post this week, I counted my completed projects for this year.
Well, since I was hoping to finish (as in done done) at least one project per month for the year, I seem to be on track with three completed items.  However, all of the projects listed were started in 2012.  I hadn't even conceived of the fleece blankie/wraps or the dresser scarf when the year started.  So, I have not made any inroads in my project backlog.  *Sad face*

I have to make some progress on those long-suffering PiGS (projects in grocery sacks).  Here is my new (monthly, not weekly) project report.  I am reporting it as of the end of February, so I can update it at the end of March.

Completed projects this Month:  1
Completed projects Year to Date:  3
New projects this Month:  none
New projects Year to Date: 6
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!): 1
Net Project Count for 2012: 2

Goal is to have the net count be negative.  I can do it! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grit: teaching what I ain't got

Our high school had all teachers give a lesson on "grit" - the ability to stick to tasks and persevere when the going gets tough.  In preparation for teaching this lesson, we watched a video featuring Angela Lee Duckworth, PhD.  I found it interesting, both in informing my teaching, and in reflecting on my own challenges.  (It's an 18-minute video)

As an adult with ADD, I certainly have my issues with sticking to things.  I took the same 12-item grit test that the students did, and scored a predictably low 2.66.  I have certainly managed to complete things requiring long-term focus and perseverance: a master's degree, a 1,440-piece queen-size quilt.  But I get side-tracked all the time with the new and the shiny.

One of Professor Duckworth's images is stuck in my head as I survey my sewing room today - a speedboat going really fast, but without direction.  (Okay, when it comes to most things, I don't really move as fast as a speedboat.  But I resonate with the random directionality that the speedboat implies.) 

My project "focus" has flitted hither and yon:
From piano-key borders for the 1930's reproduction quilt
to the paper-pieced daisies that will one day grow into a pillow

and several false-starts along the way: cloth napkins (how hard can it be to hem squares, really?), tightening up the waist and hemming a jumper I bought for my birthday (from January, I'd like to wear it sometime soon). 

It all feels scattered and directionless.  I am not making visible progress in any way that feels meaningful.

Argh - lack of grit strikes again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Declutter Xmas

It's early March, time to finally get to that stack of Xmas decorations and accoutrements lingering in the garage.

 Before: three bins and two Xerox boxes hold the assortment.  I had sent the excess ornaments to daughter #1, who finally returned them last month. 

I love before-and-after pictures!
After: two bins.  One bin holds ornaments and decorations, the other holds lights.  That's it!

The "go away" pile consists mainly of holiday stuffed animals (I am through decorating this way); holiday linens that I never use (the concept of a finger towel has never really taken hold in my home); and ornaments that need to be claimed by my adult children.

One "keep" box of Xmas stuff:  really, I'm no grinch when it comes to decorating for the holidays.  But I realized that these items do not give me joy and I don't even usually put them out.  I paw through them, feeling guilty because "so-and-so gave them to me" or "I've had this since my first Xmas after college".  Not reasons to hang onto things: let them go to bless other homes.

The hardest things to part with were the construction paper, tissue paper, glitter, and cotton ball creations of my children when they were in preschool.  I kept one from each child--something that I thought I might actually display (like the hand-print/footprint moose in a frame seen in the top photo; that frame makes all the difference in display-ability).

It turned out well that I waited to declutter Xmas.  I had none of the holiday-induced guilt or misplaced sentimentality that I feel during December.

Buck-a-block February complete

Finished this month's buck-a-block pattern.  It may be my favorite so far: very simple, uncluttered design, using only 3 fabrics.  Sweetie confessed that she likes it SO much more than those scrappy blocks that use lots of different (conflicting?  busy? just plain ugly?) fabrics.

The center of this block shows off the background fabric, which initially worried me--I didn't think any of the backgrounds I was working with this year were worthy of being showcased like that.  However, my fabric auditions got me thinking in a different direction, and I found this pink rose print in my fat quarter stash.  I think it's yummy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I made felt!

Christmas present from my dear daughter was to take a class together--class to be named later. We have taken several classes together over the years: beading, wire wrapping, bellydance (to name a few).  She is crafty and creative, has all the enthusiasm of youth, and is nerdy and loves to learn new things (like mother, like daughter).

Well, the delayed Christmas present happened this week at the Eugene Textile Center.  We made felt!

In a 2-hour class, with fabulous instruction, we took merino wool from roving to a finished rectangle of felt.  We got to make all the choices of color and pattern, including embellishing with yarn.  This could be a paralyzing level of choice for me, but I think I managed to come through picking a color scheme and design without too much angst.

Front side: my take on argyle
Reverse side: teal and purple ombre
The process of making felt is surprisingly not difficult.  I am still a bit sore in the upper body from the 20-minutes of rolling the wet-and-soapy mass over a pool noodle.  (Okay, also the 10-minutes of repeatedly throwing the almost-completed felt onto the table.)  Tiring, but not difficult.

What will I make with my 10" by 12" rectangle of felt?  Not sure.  Not committed yet (thus, I haven't gotten myself into project-mode; not one little bit).  Maybe a potholder/hotpad.  Maybe a case for my new, giant sunglasses.  Maybe a small bag/pouch.  (Not baby booties: i declined the free pattern offered to me by our instructor.  Don't need a project like that.)

For now, my lovely felt rectangle is hanging on the pegboard in my sewing room.  It's pretty.  And I made it!