Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Caterpillar's Cosplay

The Caterpillar has been spending more time in the sewing room lately than I have.  He's joined "the friendliest zombie-killing maniacs in your neighborhood" at the Dystopia Rising live action role playing game a couple of times now, so he needed a rough and ready costume.  He bought the basic layers and the leather vest at a thrift store, and distressed them himself, rather successfully, I think.
More impressively, he designed and made this satchel out of synthetic leather, yarn, and a few beads.  He asked me for some advice, and I helped him get started.  But he now has more fake-leather sewing experience than I do. He sewed loops of yarn into the seam allowance.  Then he cut the loops on the outside, unraveled the strands, and brushed the yarn (with my good bristle brush) to make it furry.  The bag looks good, and holds the stuff he needs during the game.  It turned out well.
He also made this hood with synthetic leather and yarn.  He made a pattern from one of his jackets, and figured out how to sew it all together.
It doesn't sound like my kind of game.  But I'm really pleased that the Caterpillar used his creativity to accomplish something cool.  Even if it left a big mess in the sewing room.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

May the joy of Christmas 
bloom in your heart 
now and throughout the new year!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have so much to be grateful for.  Enjoy counting your many blessings today!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Something Old for Someone New

A friend of a friend, expecting her first baby, asked me to convert her wedding gown into a christening gown.
It was a little bit daunting.  Look at all that lovely lace!  I didn't want to make a mess of it.  But I bravely took scissors in hand and sliced the gown up.

Being adventurous as well as practical, this new mother wanted an outfit that could be worn by either a boy or a girl.  So I started by making a romper out of the inner satin layer.  Using the satin was a bit more challenging than I expected.  First I had to find the grainlines in each section of the skirt, most of which went in surprising directions.  Also, baby pattern pieces, especially in the diaper area, are always bigger than I expect.  But I managed to fit all the pieces somewhere, and with matching grainlines. I used a McCalls pattern--my out of print copy is numbered 3063, but the same pattern is now offered as 6221.  I modified the collar and the pleats, and added the waistband.  Unexpectedly, I also had to modify the armscye.  The sleeve did not fit at all.  I hope that has been adjusted in the current printing, but be cautious if you use either version.
The covered buttons in front and on the back come from the back of the wedding gown, so they match perfectly.  I used snap tape at the bottom which doesn't match, but you can't see it.
Next I sewed a skirt, using the lace from the train and some of the original lining.  The satin band at the top includes buttonholes . . .
which attach to buttons placed under the waistband on the romper.
Thus the romper becomes a traditional length gown.  (I'm curious about the tradition.  The skirt is too long for me!)  The baby turned out to be a girl, and I'm sure she looked darling in her flowing skirt.  But I hope she has a brother someday, since I like the romper on its own, too.

As I said, this was a daunting project.  It required a lot of thought, and a good deal of redoing.  But I also think it is one of the best things I have sewn.  It was a good challenge.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Skirting the Issue 2017

It has been another busy July.  What with Scout camp, Cub camp, and family camping two weeks in a row, I didn't think I'd have time to participate in Skirting the Issue, Simple Simon's annual project collecting handmade skirts, quilts, and pillowcases for foster children.  But today, on the last day of July, birthday of one of the more famous fictional foster children in the world, Harry Potter, I made some time.  Between laundry and plum processing, I whipped out a pillowcase. 
Last time I participated, I was lucky enough to receive a prize package containing one-yard samples of Simple Simon's first fabric line, Four Corners.  So it seemed appropriate to use some of that fabric for this pillowcase.  I love the overlapping circles.
I also used them to bind this baby blanket, made of the large Southwestern focus print.  It reminds me of visiting my grandparents in New Mexico.
 I used the arrows print to make myself a shirt.  One yard of this snazzy fabric was not quite sufficient for the pattern I had in mind, so I added some white cloth that I had on hand. 
It ended up forming my initial, T, on the back.  Shall I claim it as a signature look?

It has been fun to sew with these fabrics.  I've yet to use the pattern that came with them, but I think it's going to be a Christmas present this year.  Thanks, ladies!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Family Album Quilt

Grandma O loved family history, especially old family photos, at least as much as she loved quilting.  So it's no surprise that she wanted to put the two interests together.  She collected portraits of all fourteen members of this Swedish family, had them printed on fabric, and wanted to put them together with black-and-white prints to mimic an old photo album.  She told me about her plans, and seemed pretty excited about them.  But she didn't get to finish the project.  And she didn't leave a diagram behind.
Frankly, I was relieved when Grandpa O told me he'd passed this one on to a cousin.  But he brought it to me last Christmas.  Apparently the cousin's vision of the quilt was different than what he remembered of Grandma O's plan.  The cousin added blank frames between the photos to make a large quilt; he was pretty sure it was supposed to be a smaller wall-hanging.  And some of the siblings were not in correct age order.  So he asked me to fix it.
I labeled all the people, figured out where they should be, and started ripping seams.  At first I hoped to keep the black frames, but I found that they were not consistently sized, and sometimes not securely stitched.  I ended up replacing most of the frames.  I preferred the black-and-white sashing to the black-and-tan.  I sliced the black-and-white strips in half, and had just enough to surround each photo.  With the disassembly and my own mistakes, I think I used my seam ripper more than I ever have for a single project.
With fourteen pictures in a 4x4 layout, there were still a couple of spaces to fill.  But I felt like the blank frames gave an "empty chairs at the table" feel to the composition.  All twelve of these children lived to adulthood.  They are all accounted for.  So I made a title block, using the embroidery machine to stitch the family name and some Swedish-inspired floral designs.  I'm sure these designs were meant to be more colorful, but I stuck with grays and subdued colors, to match the quilt's color scheme.  I also embroidered the family members' names beneath their photos.  The girls had three given names each, like Grandpa O's musically named grandmother, Anna Wilhelmina Albertina.  The machine has a sufficiently small font, though, and every name fit.
As I recall, Grandma O wanted to try a pretty fancy method of quilting on this project.  I'm not ready for that, so I kept it simple with straight lines around the black frames.  Then I finished it up with binding and loops for hanging.  I hope Grandpa O enjoys seeing his ancestors on his wall.  And I'm glad I could help after all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Acorn Border--Free Crochet Pattern!

I wanted something special to finish off my Totoro in the Rain Afghan, and I thought of the acorn motif in the movie.  Inspired by Moogly's Polka Dot Border and the Cupcake Celebration Granny Square by Acorn Tree Creations, I created this Acorn Border.  Would you like to try it?  You'll need a crochet hook that matches your project, and yarn in:
  • a background color (I used off-white)
  • dark brown for the acorns
  • tan for the acorn caps
I'll give you instructions with detailed pictures first, then the pattern all together.

Begin with a row or two of sc in your background color.
Row 1: Sc, *ch3, 3 dc in side of sc just made 
(point made), 
skip 2 st, sc, 
ch 1, skip 1 st, sc*.  
Repeat instructions between *s. 

If you are crocheting around a corner, adjust so that the ch 1 stitch is directly over the center sc of the corner.

If you are crocheting all the way around a project, at the end of the first row ch 1, sl st to join first sc of the row, fasten off.

 Row 2:  Join dark brown with sl st in 3rd chain (top of a point), *4 tc in ch 1 space, 

sl st in top of next point*. 

Repeat between *s.
At the end of the round, sl st in first point, fasten off.

Row 3:  Join tan with sl st in 4th tc, ch 5.  *Dc 5 together in next 4 tc and sl st, ch 5*.
 (To dc 5 together, *yo, insert hook in next st, pull up loop, yo and pull through two loops*, leave two loops on hook.  Repeat between *s until you have 6 loops on hook. 
 Yo, pull loop through all 6 loops.)
 Repeat between *s, join with sl st at end, fasten off.
At corner, increase ch before and after corner acorn to 7 ch.

 Row 4:  Join background color with sl st in top of acorn cap.    
 *4 dc in top of background point (over tan chain and dark brown sl st),
 sl st in top of acorn cap*.
 Repeat between *s.  At end of round, sl st in first acorn cap, fasten off.
 No adjustment should be necessary at corners.
The acorns should puff up from the background stitches.

End with a row of sc in background color, and another row of sc in a contrast color, if you wish.  I used dark green to finish off the Totoro in the Rain Afghan.

Acorn Border

Row 1: Sc, *ch3, 3 dc in side of sc just made, (point made), skip 2 st, sc, ch 1, skip 1 st, sc*.  Repeat instructions between *s.

Row 2:  Join dark brown with sl st in 3rd chain (top of a point), *4 tc in ch 1 space, sl st in top of next point*.  Repeat between *s.

Row 3:  Join tan with sl st in 4th tc, ch 5.  *Dc 5 together in next 4 tc and sl st, ch 5*. Repeat between *s, join with sl st at end, fasten off.

Row 4:  Join background color with sl st in top of acorn cap.  *4 dc in top of background point (over tan chain and dark brown sl st), sl st in top of acorn cap*.  Repeat between *s.  Join with sl st in first acorn cap, fasten off.

I'd love to see what you make with the Acorn Border!