Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Christmas Stockings for people and dogs or whatever!

I wrote a Christmas stocking tutorial 18 years ago, and it holds up today. I share it again as it's the basis for what I'm doing now. I've learned a lot more about strip quilting and trims since then, but it's always good to have an idea of where something came from. Christmas Stocking Tutorial.  I tweak my methods often to adapt for the shape and type of materials. 

It started with a stocking for my daughter's dog, Dolly. You can't tell from this photo, but it's huge! It was the prototype. I drafted a bone pattern and then a second piece that was the bone without the top rounded parts. You can make a pattern, find one online, or purchase a commercial variety. It doesn't really matter except that it's in the shape of a bone. Do a quick Google search and you'll find plenty of patterns. 

After the initial enormous stocking, I got the fever and made three more, one for my son (who has a Beagle)

I use the shorter piece of the pattern (the front) for the strip quilted part. The back pattern piece is cut out of prequilted Christmas fabric. Cut that out and set it aside. Do not sew the two pieces together until you complete your design work on the smaller piece. 

Cut a piece of fabric (lining) and a piece of thin batting using the pattern for the top piece. Set the batting on the fabric with the batting face up.

Begin your strip quilting with 2" strips of fabrics of your choice. See the instructions for how to do that via the link above for the stocking tutorial. I used two dog print fabrics. 

When I had finished the strip quilting, I added the candy cane ribbon between the dog print fabric. 

Hem the top piece and covered the stitching with another piece of ribbon. You can finish this edge however you like. In this case, I used some of the candy cane bias tape to finish the edge. 

Remember the bigger piece of fabric, the whole bone that you cut out? Now you are going to use it. 

With the strip quilted piece face up, place it on what is now the back of your stocking. Pin the top to the back and take a quarter-inch seam to attach them. Trim off bits of ribbon, fabric, thread, etc., and now you have your stocking completed except for the bias binding.

I made my own bias tape. You can make yours using a method you like or purchase some double fold. 

I machine stitched one side of the bias tape, turned it to the back and folded it, then hand stitched the back. 

Lastly, add a hanger of your choice; I used ribbon. 

Dachshund stocking using a couple of Doxie fabric squares I had. The strip quilting in this case is horizontal and only on the bottom part of the bone. 

This one is for my son. I cut the top part of the bone out of Beagle fabric, added Christmas ribbon and rick-rack, added a "cuff" to the front piece (using a remnant of the candy cane ribbon), and bound the whole thing with dog paw bias tape.

What's fun is to do an internet search for the history of Christmas stockings. They have a legend, you know. I like these two the best:

Love to Know's history of the stocking

Pet's gotta have a holiday too, right? 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Sewing goodies other than masks again (thought not done with masks!)

I guess it's a good sign that mask sales are down! (Can't wait for the vaccine to be injected into my arm!). I did, however, donate 35 masks to a group of educators yesterday. I've been donating masks all along and this donation made me feel particularly proud. The teachers are still teaching in the classroom, even during the pandemic. We need to be safe and keep others safe. Are you sewing masks? 

Here's what I'm sewing these days:

My daughter has been asking for a stocking for her dog, who will be celebrating her first Christmas together this year. I drafted a pattern and made a prototype for her. It's a large bone shape on the back and 3/4 of a bone shape on the front. I have to revising to do to the pattern, but not bad for a first effort. I had all the fabrics on hand (the paw fabrics are from my mask making stash) and added the pre-quilted back and red/white stripe ribbon to add some Christmas flare. I like it and can't wait to try more.

I've been working on these particular placemats for a long, long time. I began making them some time ago and ran out of the corn fabric used for strips on the front. When I had some breathing room, I started searching for more of it. I finally found it at Colorado Creations Quilting. They were pretty marvelous to work with and are going to show these off in their newsletter. I sew 2" strips of denim end to end and wrap it into a roll, then it gets used in this kind of project. I love the way the denim colors flow together and add some contrast and upcycling at the same time. 

You can make strip quilted placemats with denim, corn fabric, or whatever you want using this tutorial I wrote way back when - PLACEMAT TUTORIAL

My newest thing is another baby quilt. I decided on a Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern because I wanted it to be hand sewn. I always have a hand sewing project going. It's not easy for me to watch TV without one! I found the rainbow color bandanna fabrics, had the center fabric, and the path that will be going around the flowers is a black bandanna fabric. I want the rainbow colors to stand out and I believe they will.

What are you sewing? I'll keep sewing masks until they're no longer needed. I've just about worn out my 8-1/2" ruler and rotary cutter, not to mention the cutting mat. I'll be glad to retire them all. Let's hope the vaccine does its thing. 

Merry Christmas to you all and as always, keep stitching!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Mentors and mending

Learning to sew - we all did it and are still doing it. Can you ever learn enough? My friends and I made clothing for troll dolls when we were tweens. We helped each other out. Cutting, sewing, and dressing them was fun. It was never a chore. I was even allowed to use my mother's sewing machine! Later, I took home ec in junior high school because my mother made me. That included sewing an outfit using a pattern, from cutting to wearing. Mrs. Esther Batchelder was the teacher and she was encouraging and tough. But I must have learned a little something. I can still use a pattern and make clothing.

As time went on, I turned to hand embroidery and away from traditional sewing. I would sew with DMC floss nearly every day. My sister, Patsy, was my idol and my mentor when it came to embroidery. She would tell me the name of stitches and I'd look them up, learn them, and incorporate them in my pictures. It was like painting. 

Then came children and making clothing. My SIL and a friend (Jan) both sewed. I was grateful to be able to lean on them. Jan turned me on to Home Sew and all the fun sample packages you could get from them. I learned how to do facings without using extra fabric (a shortcut where you turn the existing fabric under and stitch it directly), put in sleeves, and space out buttonholes. Another friend, Sandy, was a pretty experienced sewer. She did a lot of fancy gathering and pleating, and her work was immaculate. She was a mentor by example.

Clotilde, who sadly passed away in 2011, was a mentor from afar. She had the quintessential sewing catalog. I received hers and the one from Home Sew back before the internet was even a gleam in the ether's eye. I took a class from her locally and we talked for some time about our mutual friends and interests. She made everything seem so simple. She wasn't just a mentor, she was a celebrity in my eyes.

The fabric store where I took her seminar, Fabrics Unique, is where I bought my Bernina and often lots of fabric. Two women who worked there were more than helpful, and don't even know they were my mentors. They made sewing seem normal. Not a lot of friends of mine were sewing. I didn't meet that large community until I worked for!  Susan and Betty were able to point me in the right direction many times. I looked up to them and still do.

So many mentors, most of whom don't even know it. No one lives in a vacuum. Part of the mission of this site is to pass along any sewing information we can. That's why it says "steal this stuff" on the front page of the blog. Pass it on - show a friend how to do a button. It's a start!

Now to the mending thing. I made a blanket for my dog to hop on on our bed. Over the years, it's been through a lot and from time to time, I take it off the bed and add patches. I chose today to do that again and lawdy me, it's starting to look like a quilt made out of the patch fabric - fabric with stones all over it. My dog doesn't care, but I do. The various levels of fading of the rock fabric shows the age and how many times the quilt has been washed. Lucky dog, eh?

Go sew something. It's a gloomy day in VA and I'm going back to the machine. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Still sewing to beat the band

Masks, do I make them? Oh yes, I do. Lots of them. The good news is that this is a self-supporting endeavor, so I'm able to donate quite a few. I'm open to donation, so let me know if you need masks. 

On another note, Anna is having another baby (today, I think?) and I started her baby quilt. It's going to be made of Strawberry Shortcake printed quilt squares that are pieced together with strawberry fabric.

At the end of July, I couldn't sew a single mask. I needed to make a change. So, I got started. I have a long way to go, but I think it's going to be right cute! 

Another thing I've been doing is tie dying fabrics for mask backs. I had 30 yards of a really nice white cotton for the backings. Plus, I was buying all sorts of fabric for backs. So, with a little Rit Dye, some hot water, soap, and salt, boom! Red tie dye. I did black as well, but didn't leave the fabric in long enough, so I have a lovely gray tie dye. And yes, I use this fabric every single day.

And then there was Isias. The storm blew in with rain and wind, and we were ready. We prepped the deck, made sure we had fuel for our (not whole house) generator, and in general, did what we do before hurricanes. 
Nothing blew away and we had few limbs to pick up the next day. The plants are back on the railing now and all the furniture is back where it lives. 

The world continues to go crazy all around and still I sew. My coffee cup that says I sew to stay sane knows me well.

I hope you are remaining safe and finding your way through this pandemic, crazy behavior all over the world, and just the unprecedented weirdness of it all. Pick up needle and thread. You'll be glad you did. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The one where Ivan put on his masks in his very own way

Remember how that commercial went with the ladies and social media? The wall? That's not how it's done. That's not how any of this is done!

Well, that is what I was reminded of when I saw my buddy, Ivan, modeling his new masks. First, I laughed and then felt really warm and fuzzy about the whole thing. His parents loan him to me to try out my masks for children and I think he enjoyed receiving these. By the way, that sticker on his shirt was on the envelope in which I sent the masks.

Oh, Alicia? It looks like "Master" is still a thing! LOL

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Still sewing masks every day - you can too!

Mask making is now my job and I'm fine with that.

I have a bag for masks to be donated, a box for a large job I'm working on that will be primarily a barter situation, and have moved move of my items for sale to Etsy.  Our governor has issued a mandatory mask order as of this Friday. I'd love to give one to anyone who needs it, but can only sew but so many in a day. I've lost count of the number I've given away, but it looks like I've sewn over 600 for eBay. I'm sending my sister in Virginia Beach one in a day or so, but shhhhhh, she doesn't know it.

I encourage all of you who can sew masks to do so. As long as the fabric is breathable (preferably cotton!), you can de-stash. I've used up so much of my older fabrics. I have Strawberry Shortcake fabric from 1980 that I'm cutting as we speak. In fact, I ordered a clear ruler so I can see what I'm cutting without my handy cardboard window template.

I've been cutting an old (but pristine) Smurfs sheet using the same window template method. I think I'll get more mileage out of the older fabrics if I use the clear ruler. I can be a little more precise with the rotary cutter.

Go sew. Be safe. Stay well. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The state of fabric and notions

Have you tried to buy fabric lately? How about thread? It's almost as rare as toilet paper, but not quite. You can order from Joann and pick up curb-side, but you'll be lucky if they're not out of the fabric you want. You can go to Walmart to get thread, if they have any left.

Did any of us ever think that there would be "shortages" of our sewing items?

If you go to eBay, you'll see some fabric for amazingly inflated prices. After a couple of weeks, sellers got wise to the mask makers and started offering 1/4-yard pieces along with fat quarters that have been cut and are selling for way more than the initial yard it came from was. It's gouging and taking advantage. The fabric shouldn't be so expensive. Is it opportunistic and capitalistic to buy and then sell at high, really high prices? I have really mixed feelings about it.

I have purchased from these sellers because they have the fabric that mask buyers want. They also have the fabric that people who have masks donated to them want. I take the money made from masks and put it back into mask materials.

Even thread - thread! - is getting hard to find online, but I now have a stash of white thread and the variegated threads I like.

I've gone through most of my novelty fabrics, some of which are 30-40 years old. People love the old stuff - Smurfs, Sponge Bob, M&Ms, etc. I find they also have a hankering for dogs and other animals on their fabric. It's been interesting to see what people like.

I'm working on a large order for a local nonprofit and it's filled with not novelty fabric masks.

Anyway, get to sewing everyone! The world needs us and they need us to teach them how to do this for themselves.