Monday, December 16, 2013

Gingerbread People Bunting for Christmas

I wanted a bunting (banner) of gingerbread men/women, and so I made one. I have a small alcove where I put up my very small tree and that was the perfect place to hang it. All of the gingerbread people are cut from different browns. The pennant itself is a recycled Christmas gift bag that a friend had made and given to me. The ribbon is left over from a long ago Christmas fabric. The embellishments are all leftovers. I have a small clear container of ribbons and doo-dahs with a Christmas theme.

My gingerbread pattern was found by using Google to search for gingerbread men coloring images. I found the general shape I wanted and tweaked it to the size of the pennant I intended to use. I used pinking shears to cut the pennant pieces and then stitched the gingerbread onto them, just a straight stitch, close to the edge. You could use a Wonder Under application rather than the stitching if you like.

Then I used a satin stitch to do a the final applique stitching around the edge of the gingerbread. I sewed on a few buttons for decoration or eyes, used a snowflake embroidery stitch for some of the eyes, stitched a mouth on a few, used a red piece of ribbon for the mouth on another, and well, here they are a little closer so you can see what I did:
Green ribbon, gold rick rack, and a piece of ruffle on the left.
Buttons, Santa applique, bits of white edge trim, and a piece of leftover red satin for the mouth on the right. (My friend noticed I had sewn the red thread on the white buttons in an X shape and reminded me that this is how you know a cartoon character is dead - the X shaped eyes.)

Flocked red glitter ribbon and machine embroidery on the left.
Red Christmas lace and embroidery on the right. 

Machine embroidery for eyes and mouth, leftover pearls, scrap of Christmas fabric, and green ribbon on the left. 
Buttons for eyes, candy cane button, and some gold rick rack on the right. 

I had fun making these and could have gone on and on, but the bunting got to the length I wanted and that was where I ended it.

I think I'm done decorating for Christmas. I like the way this looks and will use it again next year and then on for as long as it lasts. It makes me smile, and that's a good thing!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas is coming. Are you ready?

I've become addicted to folded fabric and Styrofoam. I have made pine cones galore for myself and others, and I have plans to make some ball shaped folded Christmas fabric ornaments. Can't wait to start those. In the meantime, I had some piping hanging around that was screaming to be wrapped on Styrofoam. I started at one end, wrapping and using glue on pins where needed, adding a touch of glue here and there, and then added a button at each end with glue and glue on pins to match and secure. One has a single ribbon hanger and the other got some bows. It started as a hostess gift for a tacky Christmas sweater party. Here's the sweater (I'll had candy cane pants with the fabric shown below the sweater!):
 I bought the sweater used from the good folks at Great price, better than great customer service, and I highly recommend them. They even has a cheap section for sweaters, vests, and sweatshirts that might have a little flaw. I mean, really, do you need a super quality piece for one party? :)
I searched high and low for a candy cane fabric that I used to have. That's it on the left. I found one yard of that. Then I found the fabric on the right which is an awful lot like it except for spacing, and I figured I could use both to make the pants to go with my sweater. I have some red Mary Janes to go with and will probably put ribbons in my hair somehow.

Not shown is my bottle of Elmer's glue and my pins. I prefer applique pins, but sequin pins will do. They're a little harder to work with because they're so small. Dritz sells both and you can get them online or at a local fabric store. As I started the wrap, I used glue dipped pins on the top and then intermittently as I wrapped the piping. The Styrofoam egg is about 2-1/2", but you can use bigger or smaller ones. You don't need to spend top dollar on the Styrofoam and prices vary wildly, so shop carefully. The piping came as shown. It was in a goody bag I was given way back when. It spoke to me, so I put it to work.

The one on the right was my first. I learned more about how to do the ribbon by doing the one on the left. This is the top. Leave one piece of ribbon long enough to use as a hanger for your Christmas tree. 

This is a view of the bottom. The purpose of the button and pins on the bottom is to hide the piping ends and to anchor it with glue under the button. 

And here it is on the tree. I have a 2' tree and all the ornaments mean something. Now I have one that I made for myself this year. I recommend this as an easy craft to do over chit chat and coffee or with a Girl Scout Troop or an art class or just by yourself to spend some time with yourself and get out of your head for a bit. 

I think it fits in just fine!

In case I'm not back before the holiday, Merry Christmas to all of you. Keep stitching and reusing those scraps.
Psst, one more picture showing the button sewing form sculpture. She's been decorated for the holiday too!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More pine cones and looking for a pattern

I am looking for a pattern - Simplicity 8618. Long shot, but if you happen to have one or see one or know where I can get one, I'd be ever so grateful.
Update: Found it! eBay, of course. (01/31/14)

So I made this little pine cone. I instantly became addicted. Totally addicted!
I made another one! and then another and another and another. I gave 5 to friends and have 3 left. 
I hope to make more. I have enjoyed using up all my brown scraps. I like the alternating colors of dark and light. And I figured out how to cover the bottom - I use a  textured felt that I found at Joann's. I just cut it in a sort of higgledy piggledy fashion and glue it to the bottom. 

There are directions all over the internet for making these fun pine cones. I have some sphere foam pieces to try making Christmas ornaments with folded fabrics. It's a fun and inexpensive way to spend some time with your stash!

Update (09/14): Found the pattern. Made a top. It wasn't as wonderful as I remembered it. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sewing, fabric folding, and fabric covering outlet covers

I've been busy again! A custom order on Etsy for outlet covers, a Halloween lap quilt/wall hanging/doll quilt, a jacket for my high school reunion, fabric folding and styrofoam making pine cones, and more sewing. Let's start with the light switch covers.

A person who had bought one of these from me before wrote and asked for more. Then she wrote to me again and asked if I could make some for her mother! So, I rounded up the last of my M&Ms fabric and some covers, and set to covering. They're fun to do, but do take several days for drying the Mod Podge and vinyl coating between layers. 

I went to Dallas in July and needed a hand sewing project to take with me. My go-to travel project is a hexagon piece or a cathedral window.With Halloween around the corner, I started a small lap quilt which could be a wall hanging, a table runner, a large doll quilt, or whatever. I finished it with receiving blankets as the batting and a Halloween fabric for the backing, and tied each corner with variegate black and variegated orange threads combined.

Then it was time for a Halloween jacket for a child. I tried a new pattern and it came out okay, but I made a big mistake. Not on the front.
Not on the back. 
But on the pocket. I lined the jacket, which meant I took a seam allowance that wasn't accounted for with the pattern. Ooops. It's still cute!

I also made a jacket to wear to my 40th high school reunion. I washed it after I made it. Well, I had lined it with receiving blankets (I use them a lot!), and the linking shrank in the dryer while the jacket did not. Argh. Couldn't wear it, so I had to run out and buy something lickety split. The next day, I took all of my receiving blankets and washed them and ran them through the dryer. I won't let that happen again.

And I've been playing with folded fabric. I saw a picture of the pineapple made with folded fabric. I'll post pictures of the group when they are done, but here's the first one:

The second one turned out much nicer and more pine cone shaped.

Lastly, my son moved recently. He left behind the curtains on the windows. They are dark blue and aging somewhat, but perfectly usable. I have an old cutter quilt top that I've been saving and now was the time to put it to use. I cut it into four 8" strips, reinforced all seams with zig-zag stitching as they were hand stitched (rather poorly, too!), stitched them to the tops of the curtains and added ribbon to embellish and hide raw edges. The room is rather bare right now, but there is a bed, bedside table, and nice curtains for our visitor coming for Thanksgiving. 

The quilt on the bed is one I made about 10 years ago out of patriotic fabrics and denim cut in 4" squares. 

I am finishing the  hand sewing on my second twin hexagon quilt top, completing the tying on the Halloween hexagon piece, and have been making a few items of clothing. I've been searching for a vintage Simplicity 8618 pattern for a two-fer top. I found it in a size larger than I need. I will be trying to adjust the paper pattern next week. I have a really tacky knit fabric that would make for a nice, warm, casual top to wear with jeans. 

Lastly, I've collected a couple more pieces of Peter Max fabric and was fortunate to attend a Peter Max exhibit in Richmond, VA a couple weeks ago. 

I think I need more sewing to do!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Button Art Mannequin is Done -or- What I Did Over Summer Vacation

It started out simply enough. I framed a few buttons several years ago. Button art. Done. Nope, I saw a piece in a window of a Richmond gallery that caught my eye. The seed was  planted. I had to make one of these myself. My mannequin was just waiting to be buttonized.

So the summer began with this obsession with buttons and glue. 

Recently, the piece was completed. I wasn't crazy about the colors, so decided, after naming it, to give it a little destructive look to sort of represent the downturn in the number of people who sew. Okay, that's a little dramatic, but you get my drift. I did a couple squirts with the paint and liked how it looked not completely painted. And so, out came the acrylic coating and it's done. I present to you, Buttons and BBs, a collection of buttons from the early 1950s to the present along with BBs filling some of the gaps. Read into that what you will.
There's a heart shaped button over the heart of the form. Awwww.

Closeup of the concrete paint. 

Here's the front. It's about 14" tall and used to be on a stand that added a few more inches. I like it better not on the stand. 

Both arms have the large yellow buttons. 

The top has a large pink button. I believe the large buttons were my mom's. 

You can see a big button on her rear. Accidental. I swear!

I wasn't sure where I was going with this when I started it, but there you have it. I like that I was able to use up some of my really old buttons. I did buy some 1/4" buttons for the smaller holes. I just didn't have enough! My summer project is now done. Sort of a scrap stitching project, don't you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Caftan completed - Simplicity 5718

I learned a few valuable lessons sewing this pattern. The pattern was indeed what I wanted. I found it on Etsy:

It was new and uncut, dated 1982. I generally liked patterns from that era and wanted something very simple in lines and construction. The bodice is about the right size. The sleeves fit well at shoulder insertion, but man, they're full of way too much fabric. I added elastic to the cuff because I don't care for hanging sleeves. I also ran out of fabric! I pieced the sleeves. Remember, this is just something to throw on in the morning; I won't be wearing it outside the house. Whew! Lastly, the body of the caftan is huge. I will cut at least 4" from the center of the front and the back next time, and I do have another set of fabrics ready to use. I added a matching ribbon here and there, and am showing a closeup below.
The sleeves look a little funky in the picture because of the piecing, but you can see where there's way too much volume in the gathered portions. That's easily corrected. The non-checkered fabric was used for the cuffs and I used 2" elastic because the cuffs were so large. I will make them half the size next time and perhaps use 5/8" or 1/2" elastic.
I happened on the ribbon at Joann's and it matched the flowery fabric perfectly.

Overall, I'm okay with the pattern itself. The fabrics I chose are too heavy and, as mentioned, I ran out and had to do some not-so-pretty piecing. Live and learn! I have some lighter fabric that I've had for years and wouldn't use for a garment that is perfect for this type of garment. It should be a quicker sew as well. The pockets from 1982 are cut kind of funky, so I adjusted them and made them a little deeper.

This caftan will get worn a lot this winter. I can see me frumping around with this, socks, and slippers when I take the dog out in the morning.

I have a cardigan cut out and ready to go next! Plus, my package of sale knits came today, so more cardigans are in the works!

Keep sewing, even when it's ugly. You will learn something and just might get some wear out of it too.

Update (09/14): Hated this house dress. The yolk is now gone and I used the rest to make a really nice summery skirt. I have a salmon colored tee that goes well with it. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sewing and finishing stuff! (And always more to come)

I finished the button mannequin project. I'll have photos when the sun is bright enough to get a good view. I coated it with a concrete-like paint and finished it with a vinyl coating. I actually like it a lot. More to come!

I've lost a considerable amount of weight and need clothes. I don't want to buy them, so am doing a buy-a-few/sew-a-few combo. For the summer, I had bought a few pair of shorts, some solid tees, and made a number of skirts. I want to share one of the skirt sets as it's a recycle project, where I took a business suit and turned it into summer casual. More to come here too!

I've been working on tote bags too, like this one:
It has a recycled blue jean pocket in the lining and the lining itself is the large M&M fabric. All my M&M ribbon is finally gone!

I've cut out an open weave cardigan and am almost finished with a caftan that I'll throw on in the mornings. I want to make two of them. Next comes a couple pair of pants for the fall and winter. I plan on making several cardigans to go with the pants I have and use the tees from this summer underneath. I have a ton of receiving blankets that I use inside Christmas stockings and placemats, and they'd make the best liner for a woven fabric cardigan. I did buy two pair of jeans at Walmart. A girl's gotta have jeans, right? I'll be ready for the colder weather in nothing flat! More to come!

I'm sewing just about every day - how about you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Old dogs can learn new tricks and tools of my trade

I make a lot of tote bags to keep and to sell, but I never mastered the bottom of the bag corners.

For a quick tute - Sew4Home How to Box Corners.

I did not use the cut out instructions; rather, I used the basic instructions. I didn't want to try this on a big bag that I might mess up, so I did it with a mini-bag. I had some 6" squares of M&M fabric and some M&M ribbon. Here's the end result:

I think it turned out pretty good. And guess what? I'm no longer scared to make boxed corners. I can do it!

As I was ironing the seams open on another project this morning, I started thinking about what I use when I sew that I consider required tools. I started a mental list:

  1. Seam ripper. I know, that sounds like an odd must have, but it gives me the confidence that if I 'mess something up,' I can take it apart and start again.  It's my mistake fixer. I have a few around the house in all the areas where I sew. I happen to use the Clover flat seam ripper. 
  2. Good sewing needles. I buy Sullivan's for hand sewing and Schmetz for my machine. Without a sharp, proper sized needle, for hand or machine sewing, it's difficult to make a good seam. I use my sewing machine and hand sew about equal amounts of time. It took years to settle on Sullivan's, but I have never regretted it. Great needles have made all the difference for me. 
  3. My Bernina 1130 and my 3-thread Bernina serger. I purchased the 1130 about 28 years ago. I love it. I take it in religiously to have it serviced and cleaned. My guy at Nancy's Calico Patch in Newport News, VA keeps it running like a top. He's tried to interest me in newer models, but I'm still that old dog and I won't change if I don't have to. I use the serger for finishing seams and that's about it. I'm fine with that too. I know there are fancy sergers that will do just about anything. Mine was free with the purchase of the 1130. I don't have an embroidery machine. All embroidery I do is by hand.
  4. Quality thread. Guttermann makes about the best thread for my purposes, in my opinion, but I do use Coats and Clarke too. It is so annoying when a thread breaks while I'm hand sewing. That's a function of either the needle, cheap thread, or both. I'm a stickler for making sure I have the same thread in the bobbin that I have in the needle when I machine sew; I've had too many bad experiences with mix-and-match experiments. My new thing is variegated thread. I have embroidered in the past with variegated threads and I'm glad it's available for sewing now. 
  5. Amazing scissors and pinking shears. Find a brand you like and keep them sharpened. I have two pair of "don't you dare cut paper with these" scissors. They fit my hand well and cut like a dream, but only when I keep them sharpened. Again, my guy at Nancy's keeps them in good shape for me. 
  6. Ironing board and iron. I keep the board set up. A friend came by once and said, astonished, "you iron?" I press fabric, seams, fusible webbing, fusible interfacing, transfers, and who knows what else. Yep, I iron. A lot. As I sew, so shall I iron.
  7. Marking pencils and pens. Love them. Can't find the perfect one, but before my rotary cutter was ever used, I was marking and cutting with scissors. 
  8. Rotary cutter. I was late to the rotary cutter game, but I use mine often. I have two. The hard part is finding 65 mm blades. (My cutting mats tie with the cutter. I have a rotating one, a large one, and a couple small ones.)
  9. Rulers! I have a 4" wide, a 2" wide, two wedge shapes, a 4" square, and several others. I still have the first see through ruler I bought back in the stone age. 
  10. Fabric glue, fray stopping agent, bias tapes, pins (they must be long and with a beaded head for me), magnetic pin cushion, tomato pin cushion, clear plastic containers for fabric and notions, and bookshelves - these all tie. They're all super necessary for me. I have to stay organized or I lose track of what's what. The containers are clear so I can tell what I have!
  11. Oh, and let's not forget fabric. I have years' worth of fabric squirreled away. I could use more! You can never have enough. I have Sponge Bob, firetruck, Halloween, Strawberry Shortcake (both vintage and new), Christmas, Hanukkah, rainbow, fruit, Peter Max, and oodles of other theme or print fabrics. Don't forget my box of receiving blankets that I use for the center layer of placemats and my heat resistant batting for potholders. Oh yeah, I have a lot.
  12. Plans. I have thousands and thousands of projects in my head ready to come out at any time. Potholders, tote bags, placemats, kids' clothes, clothes for me, quilts, and gosh knows what else. 
  13. My dog. She's great at feedback, listening, hanging around, being supportive, and in general, giving me dog looks that reassure me that maybe I'm not a crazy fabric lady after all.
Okay, there are probably a thousand more things, but that's the start of my list. What's yours?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Loads of scrap stitching ideas

Are you hooked on Pinterest like I am? Even if you're not, take a look at this board:

Sewing Scrap Inspiration

Heather Valentine explains it as: "What to do with those pesky little bits of goodness."

Heather keeps a blog worth watching too:

The Sewing Loft Blog

I just had to share when I saw all of these great ideas. Anyone who loves to make do or sew with scraps will love some of her ideas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sewing Catch Up - Quilt, Buttons, Tote

I'm back in Virginia after being in Texas for a week. While there, I had the opportunity to take a photo of a quilt that my sister and I made. She started it for her husband before she died. He sent it to me and a couple years later, I sent it to him. He had collected beer bandannas, and here's the result of my quilt-as-you-go quilt:
It is a little smaller than queen sized. My sister's work was done by hand. Mine was primarily done by machine. Michael, who passed away last week, picked the flame fabric for the sashing and binding. The back is a mix of several types of muslin; I could not match what my sister had used, but it's okay; it looks great. They lived in Grand Prairie, Texas. Before I traveled to Texas, I cut out a quickie hexagon mini quilt. I always have to have something to sew! I'll post pictures of that later. But I digress! The quilt above was finished in 2012, and it has taken this long for me to get a picture. Somehow, I let it get away without photographing it. Here is the initial story of this quilt - Sewing a Memory

One of the things I'm working on now is a button art project. The first installment of that project is here - Button Art. I took an updated picture of the work in progress today:
I have a long way to go. I can only do a few buttons at a time and allow them to completely dry before I can shift the form and add more. I'll reattach the stand to the form when it's done.

Lastly, I've been moving my sewing room/computer desk and that has taken a lot of my time, but I did find time to make a couple of Peter Max tote bags! I have them on Etsy.
I put a Velcro closure pocket inside with my label.  

That's it for now. Well, one more thing - it's amazing how much stuff you find when you're cleaning a sewing area!

Sew well and stay cool.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Button art

I've always loved buttons. As a child, I would sit with my mother's button box and sort them by size, color, and sometimes, just loved to play with them and match them up. I spent hours doing this. I have her button box and three of my own. So, a few years back, I made this:
I made it from buttons from her button box. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I went to see my daughter finish the Monument 10K in Richmond, VA. Walking from the parking spot to the race finish line, I passed a small art gallery. In the window was this:
My brain started spinning. I could do this! I have small manikins and oodles of buttons, right? I started it the next day. I picked one of my mini dress forms, the biggest of the bunch and one with a stand. I cleaned up the felt finish and started going through buttons. I decided to keep dark colors and white out of the mix, focusing on red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple, and orange. I do a few buttons a day and stare at it a lot, trying to decide what to do next. Here's the progress since April 13, 2013:

It's taking a lot longer than I expected and I was running short on buttons. I contacted a button collector friend of mine, and she sent me a jar of colorful ones. Now, I'm looking for very tiny buttons to help fill in some spaces. 

Because I can only do a few at a time in order for the glue to dry and the button not to shift, I suspect it will be another month or so before it's done. I will finish it with acrylic to keep it together and give it a washable coating. 

Who knows what I'll do next. With my sewing machine in the shop, I have to find something related to sewing, you know!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Feeling the pain!

My poor little Bernina 1130 has gone to the shop. I was working on a skirt and it started to go 'clunk, clunk, clunk.' I changed the thread and matched the bobbin thread. I cleaned out the machine, including the bobbin and bobbin case. I turned it off and on. And lordamercy, it still clunked.

I guess it's good timing. Or is it ever good timing? She'll get a good cleaning and a tuneup, and hopefully, there isn't something majorly wrong with it.

What's a gal to do? Hand sew! I'm still working on the never-ending hexagon quilt and that's keeping me busy for now, but I have 4 skirts cut out! Argh.

Come home safely, lil Bernina. I miss you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting some summer sewing done

I finally found a skirt pattern I like. The past couple of days, I've been cutting out summer skirts. I've lost a considerable amount of weight and don't want to buy a lot of clothes. I did buy some tees in various colors and decided that it's going to be the summer of skirts. I'm lining each one so I don't have to wear a slip. It will be a loose lining that is about 2" shorter than the skirt. The pattern has a waistband, so it works out perfectly.

I haven't sewn for myself in a while. It almost feels scandalous! I have a drop waist dress in the works. I didn't think it would fit, but I do believe it will now! It's kind of fun to sew for me.

What are you making?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Binding Tracey's Quilt

I've been working on Tracey's quilt since January 2. It started with her mentioning she'd like an Aunt Donna quilt. She had me. That was all it took. I should have completed quilt pictures in a day or so. Be on the lookout!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Scrap Sewing Gift Card Holder

I happened upon this tutorial earlier today. How cute is this?
Photo from The Sewing Loft

I know I give gift cards a lot for Christmas and other occasions. Thank you to The Sewing Loft blog for doing this tute. A great way to use up scraps of trim and felt or other fabric.

Click here - The Sewing Loft

She has a great blog and free patterns. Check it out!