Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nothing getting done.

The sewing room is in disarray. I did not get to sew up one Christmas gift this year, I was pretty sad about this at first and then decided that it really was not worth beating myself up over.

What I did get done was to go through the 2 tons of scrapbooking items that Melissa and I had and found a home for quite a bit of it. Actually was able to pass about 64lbs worth of scrapbooking items on to one of my husbands cousins daughters. She is in high school and over Thanksgiving we just happened to find out about her wanting to do more scrapbooking but not having any stuff. Well I had stuff and tons of stuff to spare. 

So off went to big boxes out to Washington state for all my stuff to be enjoyed by another :)

Somehow, this got me into the phase of let's go through and clean out the sewing room. Maybe if I find new homes for some things I will be able to move around a bit and not worry about having my mountainous piles of stuff fall over and bury me alive in my room. LOL!!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Quilting Progress

I finally made some time for my sewing room this weekend. I needed it!! It was either get some 'me' time or go insane. I rather thought that the 'me' time was a better choice.

I am still working on the quilting part of my project and rather think that it may take me quite a few more sessions. I am having fun with it, not rushing and doing more detailed work than I have generally done before. I am finding this very rewarding on one level yet another part of me keeps thinking that I should be doing more and getting other stuff done. Must be this crazy American female mentality to be a super woman and do everything!  I man surely I could be making awesome Christmas gifts for my entire family... guess they are just going to have to wait.

Work has been busy, busy, busy and I am doing my very best not to complain one bit about it. I am very grateful to be employed and not one of the 10.5% out of work.

That is all I have to update. I am off to San Diego for work this Wednesday and will be there for 8 days. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

I miss my sewing room

So many ideas, so many fabrics and so little time!

Much of my time lately has been taken up by my return to work and my rehabilitation efforts. Unfortunately my sewing room has sadly been unoccupied.

On the good news front, my leg is getting better. I have to have another surgery done on it over the winter but I was assured that it will be nothing compared to what I went through before.

I am back to travel for work and that has simple been exhausting for the first several weeks. I literally felt like all I could do was work, sleep and try to fit in my rehab exercises and a couple quick barn trips. Slowly but surely that too is getting better as my stamina increases.

I am continually amazed as to how much my entire life was affected by breaking a leg! ugh...

As life gets back to normal things will surely settle back into a routine and I will get my time back for the sewing room.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fabric Bowls = a great gift!

I whipped up these 2 fabric bowls this afternoon as a birthday gift for a friend of mine. Due to my broken leg we missed her birthday outing back in August. So tonight we are making up for it by having a small dinner party.

While my husband was busy in the kitchen all afternoon cooking... I was busy in the sewing room whipping up this set of bowls.

My first intention was to make one for me and one for her but I later decided that they looked so cute together that they needed to be given as a set! They are made from cotton quilting fabric from my stash and the 2 sides are fused to a layer of timtex for stiff support. The nice thing is that they are reversible and washable as well.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Quilt Sandwich

I was able to get my quilt sandwich built and even had some time to start the quilting on my 'fractured' quilt this weekend.

I set my ironing board next to my cutting table, adjusted it to the same height and I had just enough space to spread out the quilt backing to make my sandwich. I was happy about this... otherwise the quilt top and back would have had to be put into the UFO pile until I can get down onto the floor. And we all know what happens once I put something in the UFO pile, it just sits there forever and ever.

I ironed the backing and the topper, layed the backing right side down, then placed the batting and then my quilt top. I smoothed everything best I could and then started pinning it all in place. I decided to use a low loft 80/20 cotton/polyester batting.

I use curved quilting safety pins for my quilt sandwiches. They are on of the best quilting notions that I have, they make the pinning so much easier.Once I had it all pinned, I had to redo one area due to a wrinkle in the backing, I hung it up to view while I cleaned up my work area. I pondered and studied the quilt while cutting my scraps up into 2 inch squares for my scrap bag, I needed to let the quilt talk to me to decide how I was going to quilt it.

Quilt sandwich
I consulted a book or 2, though about what I wanted to do, tested out a couple ideas in chalk. I finally decided to stitch in the ditch along the sashing and outlines of the blocks, stitch in the  ditch on all the nine patch blocks, on the 'fractured' blocks I am doing a triangle repeat, and have not quite decided on what to do on the long strip pieced block. I am using a smoke mono filament thread and may switch to something else for the outer sashing.

The machine quilting takes a bit of time to do. About an hour per block, partly because of the detail, partly because I am a bit of a perfectionist and partly because I am trying to push myself outside of my normal quilting 'box'.

I will probably start on another sewing project while I am doing the quilting, just because it is brain intensive during the actual quilting and it gives me some breaks :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The quilt top and backing are done!

Now I just need to quilt it...

I have had plenty of time the last couple of days to work on my quilt. Sunday I put in a couple of longer sessions, I even rigged up a special Lycra sleeve to hold an ice pack on my knee while I sew. That gave me plenty of extra sewing time :)

Yesterday and today I have had some lengthy programs running on my laptop for work so that left me several large blocks of time and I guess I was just on that creative roll!

These pictures are not quite the best, I would have liked to have gotten up on a stool to get them at a better angle, but my leg, a cane and a camera trying to get up on a stool probably would have been a bad idea. LOL! 

The quilt is a lap/couch cuddle quilt. For reference the bed it is lying on in the pictures is queen size. When finished it will measure approx 50"X56" and the colors match my front room perfectly. So I guess, I am keeping this one :)

I still need to figure out how I am going to sandwich and pin the quilt. It is to big for any tables and will need to be spread on the floor but I am not so mobile yet as to be getting down on the floor to pin a quilt sandwich for machine quilting. I am sure I'll think of something.

The full quilt top
7 'fractured' blocks
4 of these variation on nine patch blocks 
1- 4 patch block
1 long strip pieced then cut apart with green strips inserted block
The backing... also pieced together. Currently about 5 inches larger then the top and will get trimmed before binding.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My dressform has died!

As I was happily sewing away yesterday afternoon I heard this mysterious 'sproing!" noise. Uh-oh... What was that?

I looked over towards where the noise came from and my eyes fell upon my dressform, EVERLAST. Named after the 1980's one piece exercise jumper with the big bold letters EVERLAST across the chest that I had her covered in. Sure enough, she looked a little wonky, I peeled off the cover and along with it my strategically placed padded areas and she was broken.

Oh bummer... the springs finally gave out. I suppose that I can't complain. I got her for free from a friend about 10 years ago and she has been most helpful. I have been wanting to get a nice dress form for several years now but could not really justify the expense while EVERLAST was happily standing in the corner. 

Now, I have to figure out what to replace her with! There are many options as well as many price ranges. I do know that I want to upgrade my model to something better, possibly something that is semi-custom. I would love a custom made dressform but the cost is prohibitive for me and I am not into wrapping myself up in duct tape to make my own. At least not without the guidance of either a professional or someone that has experience making them. I think it could be a massive waste of time, money and duct tape if I were to try it on my own.

The dead dress form... you can see how wonky the waist is and one of the springs in the bottom has also sprung... really is time for an upgrade.
Time to do some research. If anyone has any recommendations on dressforms I would love to hear it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More quilt work and my fancy cane

I have been getting more 'work' done in my sewing room. Playing with the quilt blocks and designing my own quilt has been a lot of fun and also quite refreshing. It has let my creative mojo start flowing again and I have had inspiration after inspiration running through my head.

I have decided to just give you a couple more sneak peaks at part of the quilt and save the rest as a surprise.

Since I have been home recuperating my constant companions have not left my side! They are going to be so sad when I start traveling again. Part of me wishes to win the lottery... I really like this staying home thing :) The other part of me can't wait to get back on a plane and get moving!

The girls are happy about about the crutches being gone. Chloe was especially fearful of them, I think they fell over on top of her one too many times. I am now the proud owner of a fancy, schmancy, super stylish cane. Go me!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Long time... no post

I have been getting some things done in the sewing room, it's just that it has been moving at a snails pace!

a teaser photo, a portion of one of the blocks of new 'fractured' quilt I am working on.
Part of it is that I am just now getting to the point where I can stand at my cutting table without crutches so cutting out any new projects has had to be put on hold! Hopefully I will feel confident enough on my own 2 feet and with a rotary cutter soon! After all I did get in the car and drive today :) Yippee!!
The other thing keeping me out of the sewing room is the sheer amount of rehabilitation that I am doing. I must spend a solid 5 hours a day doing rehab exercises and stretches and electrical stimulation... etc... It can be a bit exhausting some days.

So, what I have been working on or maybe more like playing with is a quilt with the rest of my 2 1/2 inch bali strips. This only required a small amount of cutting with not much reaching that I could do on a stool. 
The leftover strips from the Bali collection I had used in the bargello quilt earlier this year.

I say 'playing' because that is exactly what I am doing! I am sewing things together and then cutting them up in new ways and then cutting again and sewing again. trying out a bunch of different techniques and ideas that I have had in mind. I am going to call the finished project Fractured. I figure it is a good name after my broken leg as well as some of the design elements. I am not thinking of it as an art quilt, just more of a lets have fun and see what happens quilt. :)
New toys :)  A new ruler and hand grip. I had a 3 x 24 inch ruler that somehow got snapped in half a long time ago, so I thought it was time to replace it. I got both items for 40% off!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saving scraps...

I love my fabric and used to save every last itsy bitsy teeny tiny scrap! Only problem was that I was only sporadically using my scraps and becoming overrun with crates and bags of scraps.

I don't have the biggest of sewing rooms and have every inch carefully packed with my treasures! So sometime early 2009 I decided to de-scrap my stash and devise a more productive way of saving scraps. I was sitting in my sewing room, seemingly staring into space, pondering what to do with my scraps.

My answer was hanging right in front of me! About 10+ years ago I attended a hands on Watercolor Quilt class at an expo. The small wall hanging was comprised of 2 inch squares of fabric. Not just quilting cottons but all types of fabrics. 

The inspiration for my scrap saving system!

Since I sew anything from clothes, to handbags, to equine creations and quilts I have all types of fabric scraps. I decided that from that point on all my scraps would be cut down to 2" squares and anything that did not fit this bill gets thrown out. (Well 95% of the other scraps get thrown out... sometimes I just cannot part with some things!)

I sewed up a drawstring sack that hangs from a hook on my wall and now after every project or two I cut the scraps up into 2" squares and deposit them into the sack.  Someday, when I have enough squares I plan on making one awesome queen size charm quilt for my bed. Until then I have a nice orderly way of saving my scraps and keeping my sewing room neater without bins full of wasted material scraps!
 From a pile of scraps (above) 
to a pile of squares (below)

The only rule I have is to keep the scraps on my cutting table until they are cut up, this way I am not tempted to tuck them away until later. Cause I know they would just then accumulate into one giant scrap heap!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Bibs completed and a Wonderful gift!

The baby bibs are completed, I did 2 separate sessions in the sewing room yesterday. Some time in the morning and then again before dinner. They turned out quite cute and I gave the first set of 4 tied with ribbon to a gift card to one of the mothers-to-be at her baby shower today. She loved the colors and the fact that they are reversible. :)

 Baby Bibs: all done, edge stitched and snaps applied.

 Bibs tied up with ribbon to the card.

I received a wonderful gift from my daughter and her boyfriend when they returned from their NYC trip.

She knows I love fashion and love sewing and can spend hours at the costume areas in any museum. There are 2 current co-exhibits at the MET in NYC (American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity) and The Brooklyn Museum (American High Style). This book, High Style, is the accompanying comprehensive publication to the collections. It is absolutely wonderful! Made a superb gift, the photos are amazing, the details are amazing, the history behind the fashion is great and some of those dresses are so beautiful that one could just weep! It truly is the next best thing to actually going and seeing the collections yourself.

If you are in the NYC area the 2 exhibits are only until mid august so catch one or both if you can! If you cant and are into High Style and couture fashion then I would highly recommend this book!

 I have been dreaming of all the wonderful creations that I can create in my sewing room with inspiration from this book!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baby Bibs galore

I have been working on baby bibs in the sewing room. (Not for me!)

A good friend of mine is having her baby shower this Sunday, she is expecting her first and it's a boy. I wanted to make something to go along with the gift card I had Melissa pick up for me. Another friend of ours is going to pick me up Sunday to take me to the shower. It will be nice to get out and spend some time with the girls!

The other set of bibs is for another new baby on the way, my co-workers twin sister is pregnant with her first and I wanted to give them a little gift to welcome the new baby.

Piles of bibs... 
finished ones on the left, unfinished on the right. 
(almost finished, I still need to set the snaps)
I used 8 different fat quarters, on several of them I sewed rick-rack from my stash on the front. 

The pattern was a free download I got off the internet. I altered the directions to use interfacing.

I used a woven fusible interfacing for one half of the bib and the other half I only interfaced the area of the snaps.
I did not fully interface both halves because I felt it would make the bibs too stiff.

Normally, this bib project would have been a quick one spending just a couple hours in the sewing room from start to finish. However... with crutches and using one leg and a limited time frame per sewing room visit... it has taken me a but longer to get them done. Oh well, :) at least I am back in the sewing room again!!

 The knitting continues and this time I am making a striped scarf. I am having fun with it and it will end up in a lucky Christmas package.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Artist in my house

Actually... there are more than just one! SO maybe I should say the 
'featured' artist in the house.
My daughters boyfriend, Dorian, has been staying with us this summer. (Mostly to help me out while I am recovering but I suspect that it is just a good excuse for them to not be apart!)

He recently spent some time painting. Both of these were gifts that they wanted to give while going on vacation to NYC this week.

Dorian in deep concentration

 My dining room turned into a temporary art studio.

 Lighthouse painting, acrylics, a birthday present for Melissa's grandmother. (not the best picture, a little angled, but you get the idea!)

 A thank you gift for Melissa's Uncle Willie, my brother, for letting them crash at his apartment in NYC for the week.
This is from a photo taken on Assateague Island, MD. In it is Melissa with her Uncle Willie and a wild pony. 

It was very thoughtful of him to paint for my family. The nice thing is my family will truly appreciate them, after all there are quite a few artists that have come down the line!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finished the second Amy Butler Handbag

I finished the second Amy Butler purse today, this one is for me! I have found that I can last about and hour to an hour and half max in the sewing room before I need to get the leg up and put some ice on the knee. This was all the time I needed to get the purse finished. Although, I will have to wait a bit to use it since it is not quite conducive to crutches!

 Sewing with my healing leg. I still am not aloud to place any weight on the leg but got the OK to use the sewing machine.

I did remember to bring my camera into the sewing room so I could document the last steps in finishing this project. (only took me 4 months to complete!!) 

The lining over the outside of the bag.

An opening left in the lining bottom to turn the bag right side out. Needed to be almost the entire length of the bottom since this bag has so much structure.

Pulled the bag right side out through the opening in the lining.

edgestiched the opening closed. I thought about doing this by hand as I would have with a garment. But with so many layers (6) to go through this option was the best and seeing that it is the inside bottom of the purse it is not likely to be noticed by anyone!

Holes for the handle insertion were left unstitched. I pressed them under by a half inch then inserted the handles.

Close up of handles pinned in place.

Prior to stitching the handles in place and edgestitching along the entire top of the purse I use pliers to squish down any bulky areas. This really helps to make the sewing machine run smoother over these areas. 

The final product!!

And of course I needed to make a tissue holder to match. Tissues are a staple in my purses... allergies!

So in a final review of this Amy Butler pattern and fabrics... I LOVE it. There is also a larger tote version that I plan on making for my daughter. It was fun to make this in Amy Butler's signature fabrics. The patterns and colors are bright and happy and of very good quality. I could also see myself making this purse in more traditional fabrics.

There are a lot of pieces, and the cutting and prep work is long and tedious. However, well worth the work! The final product is beautiful. I just need to decide on whether or not to spray it with scotch guard. Any thoughts on the scotch guarding?

Monday, July 19, 2010

I made it into the sewing room!


Saturday I ventured into my sewing room! I had an Amy Butler purse to finish for my mom's birthday gift and it was leaving with my daughter on a 7am flight to NYC on Sunday morning.

In retrospect, I may have over done it a bit on Saturday... Sunday was exhausting and no fun. With this in mind, when I ventured back into the sewing room this morning I gave myself a time limit and stuck to it. I set my ipod on a playlist of 15 songs and once it was done then so was I. 

I think that was a much wiser move on my part.

Back to Saturday... I played on a few scraps to get the feel of sewing with my broken, now healing, leg. It took a few minutes to get the feel but then I was off and sewing. The hardest part is that my quadriceps muscle on my right leg is still not functioning very well. So I had to really concentrate on controlling the pedal. Probably good therapy as long as I keep it in limited doses!

One of the purses is done and from the phone call I get from my Mom yesterday, she LOVED it! Yay!

The finished purse 
and a matching tissue holder to go in it.