Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sewing along, summer 2019

A lot of what I sew, I sew for me. The rest of it, I sew for others, either to sell or give away. That's the way it's been so far this summer. I've been thinking of Halloween and winter holidays. I go through my stash and see what moves me. And I end up with things like this:

Baby balls hand sewn using pentagons, then filled with fluff and in the center is a noisemaker that jingles ever so slightly when it's moved. Machine washable and one of a kind. I'm not doing hand sewing right now due to recovering from a quickie hand surgery, but I'll be back at it soon.  I posted about making the balls earlier. There are also instructions here and there on the internet for sewing with pentagons.

Along with balls, I made a couple of bibs with upcycled denim and bandanna fabric. I've made these in the past, saw a picture of one, and decided to try a couple more.  I think they're too cute for words. These two are a bit small and the next ones will be a little bigger and have Velcro closure instead of tie.

Trick or Treat bags are a fun way to use Halloween fabric. I have a lot of ribbons, fabrics, and trims and put a few together. 

There are more, but you get the idea. The last one was made completely of ribbons. When I was very young and very broke, I bought assortments of ribbons and make things out of them. This bag is a throwback to an earlier time. Never say never!

And, of course, my go-to sewing - pot holders, this batch for Halloween and Hannukah. All are backed with what started as a 9-patch denim square cut to the circle shape and filled with InsulBright. The bias binding is all homemade. It's just easier and less expensive to make my own than to try and match store bought bias tape.

I've also been cutting denim squares of several sizes to use and to sell, made placemats, have done some repair work on my own and others' items needing mending, and started a Cathedral Window project made of bandannas and denim.

And sew, I sew.

How 'bout you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Summer sewing

It's getting really hot outside here in Virginia, and I'm spending a bit of time inside. Add to that the fact that I've officially retired, and you know how I'm going to spend that extra time - s e w i n g!

I think I'm done sewing baby balls for a while. I got into a potholder binge and have made several recently. Here's some of what I've been working on:

You can never make enough tote bags, right? And if you have a wedge ruler, it's fun to make a Dresden plate design. The cotton is from my stash of interesting calico type fabrics and the blue cotton edging the plate is a cotton faux denim that I also use for bias binding. 

A potholder using scraps of denim and some M&M fabric. I back my potholders with what started as a 9-patch recycled denim piece. I'm all about upcycling jeans, ya know.


 The front of these potholders is near and dear to me. I worked for years doing a hand pieced hexagon quilt top and then made another one! They came out to about twin bed sized, but we don't have a twin bed, so I made a decision to put the two together and make a larger coverlet/quilt with them. I ended up with some extra hexagon fabric, so I reinforced the pieces with zig-zag over the hand stitching, used the 9-patch denim back, and created some bias binding with the faux denim cotton. 

With all potholders I make, I use InsulBrite as the filling. It is not heat-proof, but it's about as heat-resistant as you can get. I also make the circles about 8-1/2" in diameter. The denim squares I use for the back start as 4" squares. I prefer round potholders because you can machine stitch one side of the binding and then hand stitch the other.

I also have made a doll quilt using M&M fabric triangles with denim triangles, and just yesterday, finished a lap blanket with patchwork and using fleece as the backing. I don't call it a quilt because there's no batting; the fleece serves a dual purpose of batting and backing, and it's super warm. 

Lastly, I'm working on my Cathedral Window quilt every day. I don't plan on finishing that for 5 years. 

Whew. What are y'all sewing?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Baby Balls Made with Pentagons (Tutorial in progress)

I'm newly obsessed with making balls for babies. I used to make them for my kids, but I used a sewing machine and now I'm hand sewing. The stitching is more precise with hand sewing and corners are tidier.

The method of sewing I'm using is English piecing. Basically, you have a paper pattern for the pentagon, the shape that is used for all pieces in the ball, for each piece of fabric. The fabric is basted onto the paper pattern, then the pieces are stitched together until there are 5 pentagons attached to the same central pentagon. When you have two sets of 6 total pentagons (the central one and the 5 attached to it), those two halves are attached to one another. (I'll add more about this as I construct the next one in line.) Leave open at least one seam so you can turn the ball right side out (this will make sense when I post pictures of construction), stuff it about halfway, add the sound maker (will add a photo of that too) in the center, and complete stuffing the ball. I stuff it tight, but not too tight; you want to leave enough play in the stuffing for baby's hand to be able to grab a part of it and maybe even shake it!

Color specific - brown
Black and white high contrast. 
Kid interest - Sponge Bob

I use a pentagon that I drafted. You can use pretty much any size bigger than 1". I would not go smaller than that. The side to measure is shown in the photo below. I use 2".
It's a pentagon (five sided) with each edge being 2". You can find pentagon patterns all over the internet or draw your own. There are 12 pentagons in each ball and they all have to be the same size.

I generally print off one page of templates and stack the printed page with some blank paper, then cut out a few at a time. That way I don't waste ink printing lots of pentagons. I like to cut through 4 pieces of paper at a time. Any more than that and the edges get a little off kilter. Remember, we're going to fold fabric directly on the paper pattern, so it's good to have it as precise as possible. 
After a few sessions of cutting, I have a bunch of pentagons ready to use when I'm ready to pick out some fabric and get going. 
The first step to sewing is to pin a pattern piece to a piece of fabric! I put down the paper and then cut at least 1/4" around the paper in order to have fabric to fold. Choose an interesting design to pin the paper to because that's what's going to show. 

Prepare a needle with a single thread that is in contrast to your fabric. Fold down an edge of fabric and take a couple stitches, fold down the next piece of fabric and take a stitch, and continue until you have all 5 sides basted down. I use a long basting stitch. You do not need to knot your thread. You'll be cutting the thread and taking the paper out later. For now, you want to fold all edges over the paper and baste each one down.

Here is one pentagon with the basting completed. You can see my red stitching in contrast to the white and black fabric. For each ball, baste fabric onto 12 paper pentagons.  

Here's a pretty simple tutorial on English piecing with hexagons. This one isn't mine, but I've made several hexagon projects using essentially the same instructions as I was taught them my a friend.  I'm not using hexagons, but the method of prepping the paper pattern is the same. They say it better than I can :) If for some reason you click and the site is no longer available, you can Google English piecing for several tutorials, including videos.

I'll update this post as I have photos of the steps required. It may take a while, but it'll happen!

Okay, this is what I'm working on - how about you?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sewing machine and notion ads that make you think, sorta

Pinterest and Google searches come up with so many vintage sewing ads. Some make you laugh and some make you wonder. Others make you see how far people who sew have come. Here are a few that I thought you might enjoy.

I don't read the language, but I'm sure it means something fun. 

I guess if you wanted to get any sewing done in this woman's time, you needed to tie up your distraction. 

I'm not sure how I feel about this one's message. It sort of makes being a wife not a thing you'd want to be? 

Did you see the movie "Little Shop of Horrors," the one with Steve Martin as the dentist? This ad reminds me of Audrey singing "Somewhere That's Green." 

I thought this one was cute - catching a kiss over the wall and he has to stand on the machine table to reach his sweetie. 

This is a pretty standard advertisement, but I like the smile on her face and her perfect hair. 

Elna is one of the Cadillacs of sewing machines, but who knew it had a magic brain? 

And last, but not least, the cow spool holder. 
The look on the bovine's face says it all, don't you think? 

Feel free to let us know if you run across an ad that tickles your fancy.

Elna ad 
We found no attribution available for the other photos.
If any are yours, let me know and I'll credit you immediately.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hashtag Sewing and what's what

I haven't posted #sewing gems lately, so thought I'd bring you some today.

I agree! Moving a sewing machine is full of muscle building movement. Maybe we should move them around just for grins!
I responded to this one by reminding the Twitterverse that #Sewing is my cardio.

For me, it's all about the blouse making. More on that below.

Day Dreams Sewing had asked earlier what your favorite sewing machine was. I responded and she responded back. I mean it, too. If it dies, I'm getting another just like it!

Now, about that blouse. 

I've been working on a wearable art blouse in a block style for some time now. I've made blouses and boys/mens shirts galore over the years and never hesitated to get them done. There's something about this Kwik Sew pattern that has me stymied, though. The collar instructions are a little funky and the cuffs have me scared to proceed. I've never been this way with a pattern before! I need to get over myself and just finish the damned thing; it sits there cut and half constructed, taunting me. Maybe this is the week? Have you ever had a situation like this? Hard to believe I'm letting a lil ole pattern intimidate me!

On the other hand, I've finally adjusted a pattern to make myself pants that fit. It's amazing to not have the crotch hang down and the butt be baggy, and to have the rest of the pants fit right! Store-bought pants for women just don't have enough pocket space. My pants do! I adjusted the seat of the pants by taking the pattern up a bit; that way, the crotch fits front and back. I also adjusted the length ever so slightly to make up for the part I took up in the upper part of the pattern. Lastly, I took some of the width out of the legs to create a more modern style; they're not painted on, but they're also not super wide legged. Store-bought pants also sag and bag on me due to the shape of my body (long story short, abdomen!), and it's wonderful to have a pair of pants that fits. I have to nice pieces of denim to make jeans and have made a couple pair of these already. Who cares if they're all the same style? They fit like a glove. 

Sew on. It's that time of year when it's cooler and the machine makes one feel warm. 

In progress:

Cathedral Window quilt. 
Peter Max tote bags.
Slacks galore.
Tops with pieced inserts. 
Rock painting - hey wait, that's not sewing! My rock page on Pinterest

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Traipsing back & another bag

When my children were young, I made many of their clothes - shirts, shorts, dresses, vests, overalls, you name it. We were, as most couples are, young and pinching pennies, and there was a fabric store in town that was known for selling cheap and inexpensive fabrics. Since kids grow so fast, I shopped there often, especially their remnant table. For my boys, I had a particular shirt I liked to make for warmer weather and I wondered if the pattern were still available.

I scoured my brain and the internet both, looking for just the thing, and I found it. It made me smile because I also made my older son many pair of slacks from the same pattern. I have been saving some fire and rescue fabrics and decided to go ahead and buy the pattern to make a shirt or two out of it. And so I did!

I finished this shirt today. It's 100% cotton, so it may wrinkle a bit, but I hope some young man enjoys it.

Love the band on the sleeves. 

The pattern called for piping and a band on the pocket, but not this time. 

It was a trip down memory lane making this shirt and I think I just might have to do it again.

I had energy to burn today, so I made another Peter Max bag and put it on eBay.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sewing Peter Max fabric

I've collected vintage Peter Max fabric for quite some time. I had a lightweight piece cut to make a tote bag and finally got around to putting it together today. It's so scary cutting and then putting modern thread and machine to this 1970s fabric - What if I make a mis-cut? What if I stitch it crooked? What if ... ? But sometimes, you just have to do it. (I still have a piece of silk that my mother hand when I was a child; I'm not sure I'll ever cut that!)

So, here we have it, a simple tote with Peter Max face fabric.
You can see the face in the center. Or you can ignore the face and enjoy the artsy fartsy fabric.

On the reverse side, the face is looking the other day and the colors are a bit different.

I made sure to get a signature on both sides (toward the bottom, in the center). 

This bag was lined with a mottled yellow fabric and the pocket was made out of the original PM fabric. I always attach my little tag. It doesn't show because it's on the inside of the bag when all is said and done. 

I'll put this bag on eBay. I have a giant sized bag that I use for a swim tote.  I don't sell them all. One was passed along to an art group in Richmond. Here are a couple more I've blogged about:

Pink tote bag and pieced bag and others.

Whatever your passion, don't let it intimidate you. Dive in and sew to your heart's desire!