Depression and ambition fight back and forth in January. Cold and dark vs. the new year with new promise. I really love the winter solstice – I feel like this should be the true last day of the year – for the very reason that each day after gets a little longer and a little brighter. Until the summer, where we cycle back. I love that.
There was a lot to reflect on in 2014. What did I make with Kare this year…? Lots of little bits here and there, but mostly, well, a baby. In fact, one of the reasons this site tapered off and became neglected was carpal tunnel brought on by pregnancy. Not much sewing was done and typing was equally painful. It wasn’t until a few weeks after M was born that I was able to do those things without my hands going numb. I am so excited to finally be making some time to truly get back into it again.
So I’ve made some plans. Little goals here and there for the year. I know that raising a fairly well-adjusted human is my number one goal (while maintaining some semblance of sanity – we’re hopeful about this), but I’m trying to set some personal ones that are attainable and a few others that are lofty. Here are a few more – in no particular order.
1) Write more.
I used to love to journal. I have books upon books filled with deliberations and obsessions. Writing helps me process. I want to reflect on life and motherhood – all that is good – and all that is frustrating. So a new journal is in my purse and this blog is started up again.
2) Become more than an observer on social media.
I’m terrible at this. Commenting on facebook, blogs, and instagram intimidates me. Which is silly. And I want to get over it. So I either want to participate or get rid of it. Do you ever struggle with this? How have you engaged more with people on social media?
3) Read books.
Less reading of other peoples lives on Facebook and Twitter, more reading of wonderful books and stories. First book on my list (also in my purse) a beautiful disaster by Marlena Graves. This book has been incredibly encouraging to me so far and I highly recommend it. More reflections on the book to come. Open to suggestions- so if you’re currently reading something stellar, let me know!
4) Craft for others.
I want to create to give. Make projects to encourage people.
5) Take steps to be more healthy – soul, mind, body.
Pretty typical new years resolution-y stuff here. But I hope to take it on piece by piece and focus on motive and healthy living instead of just “weight loss”. Because there’s always more to it than that.
So here we go. 2015 is going to be quite the year. Here’s to each day, a little brighter than the one before.
On Saturday, I started and finished my first attempt at sewing in circles: Quilted coasters!
Ellen Luckett Baker has written several fantastic books and I’ve found her tutorials to be awesome and easy to follow. I received her latest 1,2,3, Quilt from my Mother in law this Christmas and dove in. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by all of the amazing projects in this book. I think sometimes I get this block in my head, like a… “You can’t do that” and it takes me a while to really get over it and just give it a try (same thing happened with zippers…fear conquered, post to follow 🙂 ) I want to do things perfectly, and I’ve realized with sewing, perfection is well… not going to happen. The love is in the quirks.
Anyways. I decided to try this project because she mentioned in her book that this could take an hour. Well, it took about two hours, with some help (thank you, love), but all in all it was a quick and satisfying project.
One of the biggest take-aways from this project was Ms. Baker’s side note advice on sewing circles – Sew fast and use small stitches. When I didn’t over think it, this method made the coasters look so much better! I just like to go slow, and that did not work as well with one of the coasters… Poor lopsided circle like coaster.
Any other advice for sewing circles?
The actual piecing and quilting to this project was great – definitely helped me feel more confident with moving on to bigger quilts. One of my next fears to conquer is new sewing “feet” and quilting in something other than a straight line. Any quilting advice for an amateur?
A friend of mine recently gifted this amazing antique glider to our family.
Her Mom had slip covered it for her and I decided I would try to do the same (leaving the red and white underneath, in case we do some redecorating in the next year or two :))
I started by laying out the cushions on the fabric and tracing around the edge – giving an extra inch or so around each cushion (for the side part of the cushion/seam allowance).
(I think the seat looks like a loaf of bread….) Don’t forget two pieces of fabric for each cushion!
I was hesitant to use this dark of fabric with our notoriously hairy cat, but there is no way she will jump on this glider – the moment it starts rocking she would freak! David suggested this color and I’m so glad we decided to go with it.
I sewed both sides together inside out, leaving the straight side at the bottom/back of each cushion open.
Then it was “fitted” and by fitted – I mean, put on the cushion inside out and deciding which areas needed to be brought in a little. I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to covers – especially with this fabric being a Kona cotton and not a heavy upholstery fabric – it was destined to show lines. You can be as picky as you like… 😉
I also wanted to put ties on the top of the back cushion (as had been done before). So I cut some two inch strips and basically made them into bias tape. Looking for a good bias tape tutorial? Head over to MADE and check out Dana’s amazing videos. I can NOT get enough of her fantastic tutorials.
Then I went singer stitch crazy, and found a fun stitch to close it up with. I took two of each strip and put them at about 10 and 2 o’clock on the rounded top part of the cushion. I chose to attach these ties as I sewed the back cushion pieces together – it worked out well!
After I was happy with the fit, I hemmed the bottom. Notice I left the bottom open.
The seamstress before me had closed the back of each cushion by hand stitching, but I really want to be able to take the covers off and wash them… So for right now, I’m leaving them open, with an intent to eventually sew on some velcro for easy on/off.
And there it is! (with one of my Koi pillows)
I also made a… cough… quick stop to my local quilt/fabric shop, Intown Quilters, and picked up a few fat quarters (as well as the Kona that I used for the slip cover). Here’s a quick Fabric Friday for you.
Top: Pretty sure that first one is Kaffe Fasset (Sadly no detailed selvage on this one!), Kona Solid
Middle: Gem Tones Color Story by Michael Miller (both)
Bottom: Grey, Fox and the Houndstooth – Andie Hanna for Robert Kaufman
I can not pick a favorite, though I am a sucker for foxes… I’m looking forward to using these for some fun new projects coming up!
What have you been working on? Any projects on your horizon?
So I met up with a new client a few weeks ago. She was looking for a few pillow covers and… A bench slipcover. So I did what any sane amateur sewist would do – I ran home and googled it.
Thank you, Señor Google.
So here’s how it went:
I got the measurements for the large rectangle that I would need and hemmed each side ahead of time.
My client wanted a ribbon to go all the way around, 1 ” from the bottom of the slip cover – so I put it on right after the hem. Save the headache it would have been later. (Note – It still ended up being a little bit of a headache later because I mismeasured and had to recut, rehem, take off ribbon, resew ribbon because one side was too long! Two hours later…) The moral of the story is – lay your fabric out on the floor, put bench cushion side down and measure how many inches you want from the edge of the bench… so wish I would have paid attention to that – for both of the slipcovers I did!)
I find that the first time I do a new sewing project it takes at least double the time it should. Maybe I’m still too much of a perfectionist, but I want it to look good, darn it! The other aspect of this project that made it difficult – the ribbon that was not on the hem, the fabric was super heavy, and I was making it for a client, which adds to the stress level and that “I want my client to love this” mentality.
Want to make a slipcover? Here were my big takeaways –
- Measure with bench face to the floor (save yourself half an hour to two hours of remeasuring, taking out stitches, etc.). Measure out 8 inches from each side (or less or more based on how long you want your cover to be). Don’t forget to account for a hem!
- Hint – If you put ribbon or some sort of border on – no hemming necessary.
- Tighten the corners with the right side of the fabric facing the bench, wrong side out. Pin and check to see if it’s tight enough before you go to sew. Then recheck after you’ve sewn.
- Go for super tight sides by tweaking (pinning & re-sewing closer), even after sewing your triangles originally. It really makes the cover look sharp.
5. But flowy sides can still look good! (With the purple slip cover I did the hem last – with the white I hemmed it first)
Have you ever made a slipcover before? Any tips? Do you hem first or hem after you’ve done the corners?
Pillows have been an easy place to start as far as sewing. So if you’re looking for an idea or just a place to begin – they’re square, easy to measure, easy to sew – Go for pillows. I have pillowed up my house…
And my parents house…
And it’s been great 🙂 Nice splashes of color, reusing old pillows that I’m tired of. So I decided it was time to try something different. Like piping… Needless to say I was a bit intimidated, so of course – I checked out youtube and found this awesome video.
There is some name dropping as far as the company/fabric/etc. but all in all it was SUPER helpful in figuring out the world of piping. I love watching expert seamstresses, especially when they inspire confidence and don’t overwhelm – and this video did that really well.
A couple of my big takeaways from this project –
- It’s ok to use a zipper foot if you don’t have a cording foot (though it’s hard to get super close to the cord/pipe.
- Making snips on the corners is super important for a nice fit, but don’t snip too much or you’ll see it when you put the pillow together.
- Pick a piping that has a nice contrast. I attempted to do another set of pillows with my own home-made piping. My piping looked great, but the two fabrics I chose did not have enough of a contrast and the pillow turned out kind of bleah. Sad day.
- Pressing is slowly becoming more important to me. When I first started sewing I would avoid the iron like the plague. I’m realizing more and more how pressing can make a project look more professional. With this project, I pressed the front piece of the pillow that has the cotton and the print on it. I was really happy with how these fabrics looked together, and pressing them ahead of time made the pillow look really nice at the end.
And I was pretty proud of how these turned out!
Have you ever tried piping before? Any advice?
I am currently in LOVE with this fabric line – Fanfare flannel by Cloud9’s Rae Hoekstra.
Rae has a wonderful blog – Made by Rae – which is full of awesome patterns, projects and pictures to get you creating too :).
What am I going to make with this AMAZING fabric? Definitely some Christmas-y plans with these. To be honest, my family doesn’t keep secrets very well. We also have this ‘bad’ habit of giving Christmas gifts super early. Here’s the back story…
When I was kid, we would travel every Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit each set of Grandparents. One set lived 8 hours away, the other 10. In opposite directions. We would leave around December 21st, so of course we would open presents before we left. Now you might be asking – Why did your parents not just pack your gifts and open them at the gparents? Because we didn’t have the space in our little dodge shadow. And secretly, I think my Dad couldn’t wait. Seriously. Dad always puts on a firm face about things, demanding we wait until Christmas. But every year I’m home, we still totally open presents up on the 22nd or 23rd… Love you, Dad.
So this year, in October, I got an email from my Mom. She had found a deal on a new sewing machine and wanted to see if it was what I was looking for. It was. SO – a new early for my family – but a wonderful surprise for me – was this fantastic Christmas in October (You might be thinking – this family is crazy. Not only can we not wait for Christmas nor keep a secret – we can NOT resist a good deal ;))
I LOVE this machine. It’s amazing and I have been using it like a fiend since I got it (cough) four weeks ago…
All that to say – I am going to use this Fanfare fabric to make some pjs for my Mom and Sister for Christmas (which they both knew before I posted this… again – bad with secrets). This will be my first adventure with pj pants, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m also thinking about making a nice wintery scarf – since it is flannel and all.
Making anything fun for Christmas? Have you ever made pjs before? Any advice?
Welcome to my new blog. As many of you know, I’ve been caught up in the new world of sewing, quilting, fabric and thread over the last year. As I begin to spend more time on this venture, I thought I would start blogging more of the journey. But before we jump in to sewing projects, crazy cat stories and such… Let me tell you about my Grandma.
Growing up, I could always count on Grandma to make cool things, whether it was piggy banks, dolls or mittens, dresses or pj pants. Her basement was filled with wonders – bolts of fabric, multiple sewing machines, a kiln, a ping pong table… (the list of wonders would continue for days). Gram would have the quilting ladies over on Mondays and make blankets for new moms. She would do craft fairs and make costumes.
She even made my 11th grade prom dress.
Blue is my favorite color, so of course – a blue quilt for graduation.
Another blue themed quilt for my wedding (Kitters not included…)
This summer, my Mom and I road tripped up to see family and I had the special opportunity to actually work with my Grandma. We spent some time going through boxes of old fabric, deciding what was good and what wasn’t. We worked on a blanket, pinning and sewing it together.
I took along pictures for her to see all of the little things I’d started and even brought along one of my quilted placemats to show her (she really liked the fabric ❤ tsuru).
As I sew and start to create my own costumes, pj pants, quilts… I think about her and how much she has made and given throughout the last 80+ years. Gram is a pretty amazing lady.
So thanks, Gram. ❤
What about you? Who inspires you? How did you get started sewing?