Thursday, September 30, 2010

UFO: Slice Twice Sorbet Quilt

This one has been in progress in my studio for ages, and was meant to be bound and done last spring, but summer happened and I have been slip-stitching sporadically all these months.  It's the Slice Twice -- Isn't That Nice pattern that I picked up at Olde City Quilts with a Moda Sorbet layer cake. Something like Two. Years. Ago.  I sewed about 3/4 of the top together, let it sit for a year, and then came back to it when the guilt hit me like a ton of bricks.  I finished the top, made the sandwich, did some machine quilting and put a tie or two in each block for good measure, and sewed the binding on the front.  All in record time.

In the next few days I will be diverting as much creative energy as possible to stitching the rest of the binding onto this quilt I have come to love; then I will finally get to show you the finished product!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's about the process

The project started because I had been in the hospital and a nurse, who was expecting a baby before long, had been extra kind to me.  Before I even got home I knew that I wanted to make the super-soft patchwork-bound blanket from Weekend Sewing for Baby C.  As soon as I was feeling up to it, I headed down to the fabric store and bought a length of beautifully soft wool/cashmere blend, and fearlessly tossed it in the washing machine to felt it.  The results were amazing, dense and plush and warm, exactly what I'd had in mind.

I cut the two pieces, but not carefully, and the blanket ended up being an inch short on all four sides because of it.  The blanket-construction and decorative zig-zagging went well -- a pleasant surprise for me because the other times I've made this blanket I've botched those.  Then I sat down with my bins of fabric to start creating the patchwork binding strips.

It was so hard to decide!  I wanted to use all of my favorites -- it took a long time to narrow it down.  Finally I worked out my patchwork panel.


I really like this method of making binding -- it leaves so much room for interpretation and creativity.  Here are the finished strips, ready to sew on the blanket:

Here is the bound blanket -- it doesn't look too bad, although the binding is not sewn on perfectly and there was some difficulty sewing through the thicker parts where the binding overlapped (this was done before my Kenmore came home.)

Had I left well enough alone, I think the blanket would have been gift-able.  But because I knew the baby's name, I wanted to personalize it.  This is where I ran into trouble.  

Because I bought the wrong kind of interfacing (Wonder Under instead of single-sided fusible) I had to cut out the 'C' three times before I accepted the fact that I was going to have to fuse the thing on in one layer and machine-applique instead of stitching the letter to the fusible, turning the thing inside-out, ironing it on the blanket and doing a decorative stitch by hand.  Enter the dreaded zig-zag stitch.  Although I tested it on a scrap and thought I had it right, I accidentally set it too wide and too short, making for a very sloppy stitching line around the 'C.'  Hoping to disguise my messy work, I satin-stitched an edging around the letter with an embroidery needle and pearl cotton.  You can see the result below:

So I'm not at all sure what to do about this.  Give it away?  Cut it up for scraps?  Make another one with the fabric I have left over?  The truth is that I don't like it very much.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Just Make It ... Sew

When I was picking up my "new" sewing machine the other day there happened to be a reporter from the Burlington County Times interviewing the shop owner, so I had to wait a minute or two while she talked to him.  JoAnn and I chit-chatted while she rang me up, and the reporter noticed and asked me for a quote, which -- liberally paraphrased -- appears in this article.  Look for more about JoAnn and her shop (including photographs, I hope) in the future...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Up and running

Just a quick post to let you know that my Sears Kenmore 1430 Zig Zag is back in my possession, and after some fiddling and studying I have it humming nicely on some scrap fabric.  K is home "sick" (read: needing Mama time) today so I haven't been able to do any real sewing, but I will post when I get a chance to zip through a quick test project.

The word, through the fabric store owner, from the repairman, is that I have a good sturdy machine with a pretty stitch that, if I take care of it, will last me a lifetime.  Cost:  $50 for the machine at the thrift store; $84 for repairs.  Score!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vintage Kenmore

Earlier in the week, I found this at my favorite thrift store:

I noted the model number and did a little research on the thing.

There's not a huge amount of information readily available, but apparently the Kenmore 1430 Zig Zag was a pretty popular model somewhere in the vicinity of 1972 and is an all-metal workhorse that can sew easily through several layers of denim and even leather (demonstrated here on YouTube) and has "6 quarters" of room underneath the presser foot -- great for quilting. 

Just the same, the machine I found was not in working condition and cost a fair amount of money, so I passed on it.  But it stuck in my mind, and I visit that thrift store several times a week.  Yesterday when I was paying for my latest finds, I looked up at the marquee where they advertise the day's sale tag color -- blue.  Of course, nothing I was buying had a blue tag.  But.  The vintage Kenmore sported a blue sticker.  I asked the saleslady if that counted, and she gave me the nod.  Half of a fair amount of money seemed reasonable to me -- if the thing could not be fixed I could sell it for parts -- so I nodded and she rang it up.

Now I am totally beside myself.  I rushed the machine to my favorite fabric store in downtown Burlington -- they have a man there who comes in to do repairs, and he'll be in on Tuesday.  I can't wait to hear from him!  In the meantime, I have joined the Kenmore Vintage Sewing Machine group on Yahoo Groups (yes, of course there is one -- search for "vintagekenmoressew" if you are so inclined) and am combing Ebay for parts and accessories.  What fun!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

K's duvet cover: a taste of independence

In the interest of putting K in charge of making her own bed, I bought her a twin-sized duvet some time ago.  Not wanting to spend $39.95 or more on a cover for it, however, I let it sit in the linen closet and rot.  Despite the fabulous collection of vintage bedsheets toppling the bookcase in my studio next door.  Somehow flower power just doesn't fit the image I have of my girl.

Not long ago, however, I happened upon a complete set of twin-sized rosebud-print sheets from Target's Simply Shabby Chic collection in the Salvation Army store -- a guilty (because I have more than once paid full price for this line) favorite of mine.  I snapped them up and set them aside, waiting, waiting.   And lo and behold, the other week, it happened!  A different sheet from the same line popped up in the Linens section and made its way into my hot little hands.  Woo-hoo!

I used the tutorial at the "Decorating: a journal"  blog that I have used before -- it is straightforward and simple and requires no fasteners, which has worked well with the first duvet cover I made.

This will suit Miss K well and be comfy and cozy to boot.  I'm looking forward to many a toasty morning snuggled up with her, planning for the day to come and maybe goofing off a bit?  And she will be so proud to pull up the covers and have a neat and tidy bed in no time!  I think it was worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Questions from the Tooth Fairy

K lost her first tooth last night in her sleep (is she really that grown up?), and with her sharp little six-year-old eyes managed to find it nestled in her white chenille bedspread (thank goodness!) -- leaving us with an important task:  Finishing the Tooth Fairy Pillow today so that it will be ready for tonight's hijinks and hullabaloo.  Originally we had cut the pieces out of wool felt with the idea that K would sew the pillow herself, but she assured me that she would not be offended if I assembled the thing while she was at school, so I set to work.

I tried to keep the stitching neat and sturdy but still childlike, as though K had had a hand in it -- not hard since my hand-sewing skills leave a bit to be desired.  I wanted to stuff it with wool batting but chose K's favorite bamboo since she's the one who has to sleep on it.  I do hope she likes it.

Now.  Questions. 

  1. What is the going rate for baby teeth these days?  K said something like "maybe a dollar?" but my fairy is just not sure.
  2. Would a little present be appropriate along with the small amount of money the fairy is likely to leave?  Like a new toothbrush, perhaps?
  3. How on Earth does my fairy get the teensy little tooth out of the pocket without waking the excited child?

Garden State Goodies

Last weekend was the Garden State Sheep Breeders' Sheep and Fiber Festival.  I drove out on Sunday all by myself! It was fun to pet the angora rabbits and talk to the baby llamas, and I ran my fingers through tons of raw fleece -- but much to D's relief came home with neither fleece nor llama nor bunny.  (Though I will be looking into raising angora rabbits.  How much trouble can they be?  And how totally worth it would it be to grow my own fiber?  Really!)

I did bring home some beautiful alpaca worsted to knit into Katie Himmelberg's Best-Fit Jumper from Simple Style, which I have been drooling over for a while now.  (The pattern calls for an alpaca-merino blend and my yarn is just alpaca, but I am going to knit the ribbing with a smaller needle in the hope that it will retain its memory -- I'm testing it out on the swatch.  If it doesn't work I have no doubt but that I can find some other use for this delicious yarn!

While you're admiring the yarn, take a gander at my new swift!  Life has recently become significantly less arduous for the wool-winders in the Martin household.  I think D agreed on my purchase (special sale at Knit Picks!) because it freed him from his bondage to the almighty skein -- possibly more so than as a reward for my hard labor driving K to camp in the Pinelands and schlepping her to the beach all summer.  In any case, I am loving it!

(Stay tuned to see the other goodies I brought home from the festival, as well as progress on the Wonky Blocks quilt...)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wonky Blocks

I'm sorry for disappearing these last few months; it has been a crazy summer, with trips to visit aunties and Alma Maters, a lovely vacation at the beach and many weeks of driving long distance to (totally worth it!) day camp in the Pinelands.  Thankfully, school starts up again tomorrow and things are settling down again.  I have many projects to show you! Let me start with my latest passion, the "mystery quilt," to which I will give the working title "Wonky Blocks."  (An appropriate homemade gift will go to the person who can guess the actual name of the quilt before it is finished -- I will be dropping hints along the way!)

I am working entirely with pieces from my scrap box and from pre-cut (homemade) charm squares and jelly roll strips so far -- I will need to purchase fabric for a border, backing, and possibly for binding as well.  The process of making the blocks has been quite liberating -- I started making geometrically precise little blocks with the pre-cuts, and finished by sewing the tiniest scraps together in any way they would go and cutting the results into squares.  I'm loving the results!

Putting the quilt-block puzzle together is exciting and hurts my head, and is taking up the living room where D will want to set up with his computer as he is working from home today, and I am not half done yet.  There may be turf wars to come.

Still to do:  piece quilt; determine a size for the quilt (how wide do they make quilt batting, anyway, and can you sew two lengths of batting together to make a larger one?); determine type of border to use and amount(s) of fabric to buy; and so on, and so on.