Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flurry of activity

To say farewell to 2013, I managed to discipline myself into finishing quite a bit of long-languishing mending.  Was hard to do this, when all I have wanted to do lately is dream about my next projects to start and design...

Mended: olive green skirt hem (last seen in a post in January), corduroy jeans hem, button placket reinforcements on 2 dress shirts, new elastic in pajama bottoms.  (yay for small finishes)

Also complete: a cozy for the Kitchen-Aid

This was meant to be a Christmas surprise for Sweetie, but didn't get done in time.  The pattern is self-drafted, with a few adjustments along the way.  (See the horizontal dart on the front?)

Where did the Kitchen-aid go? It's hiding!
I got ideas for how to measure the mixer, as well as the cute topper (which doubles as a handle for removing the cover) from Sewn Up by TeresaDownUnder.  Her tutorial is for a teapot cozy, but I started my basic design from her measurement technique.

Shark fins? Cute!

I haven't kept track of my completed sewing projects in quite some time.  I have different goals for 2014--use up yardage!--so counting finishes doesn't seem as applicable right now.  Nevertheless, put a check mark in the finished column for this little item.

Monday, December 30, 2013


The Barnyard play quilt was coming along, month by month.  Was.  Stalled out last spring, but I'm back to giving it some love and attention.  This month's small pieces are the three little pigs--or rather, two little piggies and their parent-figure.

My gosh, it was such a pain to sew and turn and stuff such tiny shapes!  I was much happier with the very last shape I finished--the hedgehog--fewer tiny curves and minute details to deal with.  I can see the appeal of making small pieces out of felt that doesn't need to get turned.

Piggies for the Barnyard

The little pigs just sat around for the longest time, waiting for me to sew their tiny stuffing-holes closed.  (They were briefly glimpsed back when I sewed the hedgehog in April.)  Sometimes I am surprised at how long any hand sewing task sits around--no matter how brief it would be to complete it.

More animals to cut and sew...

Up next:  black cat.  Can you say "small pieces to turn and stuff"?  Should I just make this one out of felt?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I love my stash

I figure I need to ask myself what it is I love about having a giant stash of random fabrics.  After all, if I purge without acknowledging the secret reasons I have certain items, I am sure to just replace them over time with duplicate items.  (This is a lesson I hear from the Hoarders tv show.  It kinda sticks with you.)

So, clearly I love dreaming about fabric projects.  The dreaming stage is very appealing to me.  Lots of fabrics means lots of opportunities to dream and imagine different possibilities. (Thus the many blog posts about fabric auditions, often for a single quilting block.)  And the possible may be more satisfying to me than the actual.  (Not 100% sure, but they run close to 50-50 in my book.)

I also like to be a resource person.  I like it when my children (or a colleague) can call me up and say, "I need some fake fur", and I can ask them which of my seventeen different fake fur choices they would most like to have.  I give items freely from my stash.  It makes me feel useful, and I love being able to share my passion instantaneously.

I have trouble making choices.  Could be why I end up with similar things.  And why I buy five fabrics, when I clearly told myself my maximum on this particular trip was TWO.

Recent choice example:  Looking at upcoming sewing challenges, I found Jungle January 2 - Style Safari, a sew-along for the month of January.  Sew anything you want, using jungle-themed fabric.  Wait, don't I already have some animal-print fabric?

3 Choices: silky poly-blend, quilter's cotton, and textured double-knit
See what I mean?  Choices!!! Three fabrics here, plus a bit of fake fur stashed away somewhere (orange, black, or leopard-print?).  Aww, too bad I used all of the teal zebra print to back a quilt this past year...

Okay, I think I have enough psychology of my stash for now. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fabriholics Anonymous - UFO list

Already started getting rid of and consolidating my fabric, in preparation for the Fabric Fast of 2014 (buy no new fabric for the first six months of the year).  This seems to be in stark contrast to some others, who are stocking up on fabric, so they won't run out this coming year.  Are you kidding me?  Run out?  I have enough fabric to last lifetimes.  It just may be that I have to get creative to use up what I have, instead of always chasing the newest idea bouncing around in my head.

While skipping thru fabric-land, I went pawing over some "projects" aka UFOs; tried to determine if I am still interested in finishing each item as I came across it.  Some things have gone away.  I feel lighter already.

So, the folks hosting the Fabriholics Anonymous challenge for 2014 are having us brave participants list our UFOs.  I'm not convinced that listing my projects is going to help me use up parts of my fabric stash, but it can't hurt to be reminded of fabulous sewing opportunities that lie buried in my closets.  (Mayhaps the pain of not buying new fabric can be assuaged by acknowledging that I am not wanting for things to work on.)

So, here is a list of what I've got goin' on.  I already know I am not committed to finishing all these items this year.  (The question I have to keep asking myself is: if I don't want to even work on it this year, when will I want to work on it?  How long does a UFO get to hang around taking up space?)

Category I:  Plans to work on these in 2014

Quilts (or pieced)
1.  Rainbow t-shirt quilt (needs borders, then to be sent off for quilting)

  2.  Drama t-shirt quilt for youngest daughter (retreat project in January)

3.  Barnyard play quilt

4.  Blue baby quilt (so close: just a tiny bit of quilting left, then a binding)

5.  Wordy wallhanging

6.  Grandma's bedspread

7.  Wool coat
8.  Red sheath dress
9.  Felted sweater hoodie
10.  Recipe apron (for me, this time)
11.  Gray pajama/lounge dress

Other sewing
12.  Mystery Cube/Block puzzle

Category II: Just hanging around

Quilts (or pieced)
13.  Red baby quilt
14.  Daisy paper-pieced pillow
15.  Buck-a-block 2013 (4 unfinished blocks, and no overall plan)
16.  Math/nerdy t-shirt quilt
17.  Flannel crazy quilt (started by youngest daughter)
18.  Around the world duvet cover

19.  Apron from a man's shirt
20.  Bellydance hip scarf

Other sewing
21.  Pillow (from my old wedding dress)
22.  Hurry Up, Pizza Man (children's quiet book)
23.  Baby hats (3 of them, bah)
24.  Tea towel embroidery
25.  Quiet book (Spanish vocab)
26.  Rag rug (technically not sewing, but it does use fabric "yarn")
27.  Rustic Santa outfit

Honestly, this isn't too bad of a list.  I think the last time I made a full accounting of the PIGS (projects in grocery sacks), there were over 80 items.  I have really cut down and gotten rid of things that no longer held my interest--even if I had put tons of work into them already.

Head on over to the linky party and see what others have to contend with.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reasons to Rid

Putting away the scraps and remains of fabrics I pulled out for sewing aprons.  I have a couple candidates for fabrics to go away.
Maybe the reverse side?

But what I found myself doing instead was casting about for reasons to hold onto these fabrics:  "Maybe if I use the wrong side of the fabric" or "Well, this can be used for making a muslin" or even "Gosh, there must be something that can be done with this!  I should consult so-and-so for ideas."

Egads!  I noticed that I was starting to sound like one of the poor souls on the Hoarders TV show.  Seriously.  I was watching a Hoarders marathon on tv while doing this fabric organizing, and they said the exact words that I have either said out loud or thought to myself while trying to part with my excess.  It is so eye-opening when a person with an obvious addiction issue speaks directly to my inner-hoarder.  I could go there; I could live that life, if I let my hoarding tendencies get out of control.

None of my justifications are reasons to hold onto a fabric.  I have too much.  If I don't love it, why do I clamp so tightly onto it?

Well, I managed to open my heart to sending some fabric away to the universe.

Total for this post:  11 yards

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Abandon ship

Well, really, Abandon Plan A!  Go with Plan B (or C, at this rate)

Apron for the final nephew.  Did not get any feedback about his preferences, but he has competed in the Highland Games for many years, wore a kilt to his high school graduation, and makes hand-tooled leather shields and Clan insignia.  I always think of Celtic knots when I think of him.  So this was my inspiration:

Okay, it's a little complicated.  I decided to do only the central portions.  In cross stitch.

Cross Stitch: a sinking ship at this point

This is as far as I got, before I determined that the progress was going too slowly, and I was torturing myself with the color changes trying to show the shadows and highlights in the knot.  I could not bring myself to finish it.

Bah, humbug!

Sweetie suggested I somehow cut out the cross portion, since that was complete.  Maybe I could choose another medium for the Celtic knot portion?  (Sharpie and fabric paint were both considered, briefly.)

Couching to the rescue!  This took me a grand total of 1 hour.  I used embroidery floss to couch down a length of rattail cording.  Now to marry up the two pieces into some sort of cohesive look.

Done is Beautiful (where have I heard that before?)

Despite my waning enthusiasm for this design, I am satisfied with the result.  Got it sewed onto the upper pocket of the final nephew's apron.

Just in time: less than 1 week to Christmas, and one of my trusty children will be delivering packages to all the cousins before the big day.  (Yay, way to save on postage!)

Post-note: if you are scratching your head about the bright fabric on the lower pocket in the finished apron, you are not alone.
Sweetie told me it was out-of-place on this apron.  I agree.  And yet I kept it there.  My rebellious streak, I guess.  I'll have to find a better way to showcase that print in the future.  For now, there it stays...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Talented Twentysomething

Had a sewing date with my youngest daughter last night, and she finished her Xmas sewing project.  I'm a proud momma, so I want to brag.

The inspiration: circa 1978
This is a stocking from my childhood.  Lovingly hand-stitched by my mother, when my brother and I were teens.  We each had our own stockings, personalized with our initial, in one of two basic designs: partridge (see the pears?) or "Merry Christmas" with a tree and bells.  When we grew up, got married and had our own families, Mom made more stockings; every one of the spouses and grandchildren has their own.

I have grown less fond of my stocking over time.  However, my children absolutely love their stockings.  They are a part of their childhood, a loving gesture from their grandmother, a family heirloom.  And many of their friends--who don't perhaps have crafters or sewists among their relatives--are totally jealous and covetous of these marvelous handmade beauties.

So it came to pass that my youngest daughter decided to make matching stockings for her roommates.  What to put on the new stockings?  Apparently, "partridge in a pear tree" is not personalized enough.  So we cast about for design ideas.  Thank goodness for the Internet.

A rocking-horse for Rachel, who was on the equestrian team in high school.  And a train for Adam (because a race-car seemed too modern).  The design is made with counted cross-stitch on burlap, done with simple acrylic worsted yarn.  Could be only the second cross-stitch project the daughter has done.

The finished product.  I just think they are so cute.  Personalized with the initials of the recipients.

For comparison purposes, the older stocking joins its new cousins.  We did increase the width (but not the length) of the new stocking pattern, as that is one difficulty of trying to stuff our stockings with an obscene abundance of tiny trinkets each year.

And, lest I take all this mom-gushing too seriously, the Talented Twentysomething in question wanted to make it perfectly clear that she is still young and full of fun.

Thanks for letting me show off my kid!  She is pretty awesome.

Monday, December 16, 2013

De-stash, baby steps

Fabriholics Anonymous, step 1:  Buy no new fabric in 2014

Step 2:  Use up fabrics that I have on hand.
Made cloth napkins as a Christmas gift with a pink handkerchief print that I have had since my oldest child (now almost 25) was about 12 years old.  Yep, that counts as deep stash.

Step 3:  Find new homes for fabrics that you are not going to use anytime soon.

The first fabrics are out the door.  Gone.  Made excellent use of a medium-size mailing box: how much can I stuff in there?  The raspberry fake fur took up a lot of that box!

 My nieces who do cosplay will be receiving this bounty: the fake fur; pink camo fleece (leftover from the fleece pants I made this year); metallic stretch denim; black pleather; and blaze orange canvas.  Let's hope they can think of things to do with this collection of randomness!  I have seen some of their costumes, so have confidence in their creative craftiness.

I'd like to somehow keep track of what I use up or give away, at least in terms of yardage.
Total for this post:  9 1/4 yards (wow! good start)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bling it On

A tale of fabric mixing.  On an apron.  And I am pretty proud of myself.

It all started with the base fabric: a denim print with pink paisleys.  (I have a hunk of it with turquoise paisleys, too.)

But it's a border print.  Cute pink paisley border.  And this is the pattern I wanted to make with it.

Simplicity vintage reprint: I want the ruffled version

How to make the border go around a circle?  Piecing.  Wedges, like cake slices.  Only had enough border to make that happen on the lower skirt of the apron.  So I decided to leave out the "middle tier" of the skirt, so that the border print could show up better.

And now for the bling: metallic stretch denim.  Vintage: I've had it since the 80's. 

I made a box-pleat ruffle to go along the lower edge of the apron.

Decided to add it as some embellishment on the apron's bib.  (Oh, and the waistband, too.)

And then cast about for a way to tie the denim and the zing-denim together.  Lo and behold!  Another stashed fabric: Y2K "2000" print in silver glitter on white background.

When Sweetie saw the combination I was putting together, she chimed in with, "If only you had some more pink in there."  Oh, yes!  More bling: pink fabric with black cats and silver glitter.  Just a touch, mind you.

This fabric mixture is getting to be a bit much, even for me.  And how did it turn out, you ask?  (So glad you asked.)

I think it's FABULOUS.  My favorite apron so far.  (Not that I am biased by its extreme cuteness, mind you.)  Vintage pattern styling with modern fabric mixing.

Surprisingly, the metallic denim was a dream to sew with.  Made the tedious box-pleating process rather delightful.

And all this cuteness?  Destined for my young niece.  An adventurous and whimsical soul.
Who doesn't love a rainbow tail?  I think she will like all the bling in her new apron.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snow Lessons

Our snowstorm from Friday has been most unusual for this area--still snow here days later, still blistering cold, and sunny.  Crazy.

Went for a walk in our frozen wonderland, and marveled at the drivers unaccustomed to such conditions.  Here are the lessons I distilled from watching the  pickup trucks:
  • Yes, 4-wheel drive gives you traction and you can drive on packed snow
  • You don't have as much traction as you think (so slow down!)
  • Other drivers (of small cars, for example) don't have the traction you do, and will make you slow down, if only to avoid them.

And, upon thawing out at home, I looked over the Xmas apron bounty and was able to correlate each snow lesson with a corresponding Sewing for Xmas lesson:

  • Yes, starting to sew in September means you have better traction towards finishing gifts before December 24th
  • You don't have as many days left until Xmas as you think (so don't slow down!)
  • Other events will pop up to derail your sewing plans; December is a busy month.

Cute, huh?  My analytic brain never stops working...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Let it snow

This photo was taken in August.  Sums it up, this time of year...

Just over 2 weeks of school until winter break.  We don't live in a snow zone, but are carefully watching the weather reports.  A 40% chance of precipitation on Friday, and it's supposed to be cold enough all week.

Doubtful, at best.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Done is beautiful

I have seven of the Christmas gift aprons finished!  I'm talking "I can wrap this up and ship it in the mail today" finished.  What the Stashbuster folk would call done done.  I tend to fudge a bit when I'm asked about meeting my sewing deadlines: 7 aprons finished, except for the final pocket, or except for the hand finishing details.  No fudging required this time.

The Troops lined up for Inspection

As I was working over Thanksgiving weekend on the minutiae, I kept thinking of a phrase from Ms. Loran Watkins, an amazing sewist I followed on the Sew Weekly

Done is Beautiful

I needed that motivational boost: finishing details tend to bore me.  I'm wanting to start the next apron.  I wanna cut into more fabric, or audition the wacky fabric combinations for the adventurous niece. (I always love to see visible progress, something that is sorely lacking when snipping threads, tacking down facings, or hemming.)

I had to let go of a few perfectionist desires.  (After all, done is beautiful.)  Some advice from a Sew Weekly blogger was super helpful here...

THIS IS MEANT TO BE FUN - YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR YOU, NO-ONE ELSE.  (Well okay, technically I am making gifts for others.  But the expectation of what those gifts will look like is entirely mine.  I am choosing to complicate or simplify)...

NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE PERFECT.  Boy, do I need to keep repeating this as a mantra.  No one is going to judge my work for perfection.  As a comparison, I peeked at some behind-the-seams details of a hand-sewn gift made for a child I happen to know.  I was horrified; but the child adores this item and the relative who made it for her.
Imperfect, but DONE IS BEAUTIFUL

Gotta keep that in mind as I struggle to finish the last five aprons with time to spare.