I started stitching my Geranium Baskets table topper, only to discover that Primitive Gatherings had left out one of the threads I needed. I contacted them, and they shipped the missing thread to me… it arrived today, so maybe I can get back to that soon. In the meantime, I needed another project to keep my hands busy when I couldn’t be sitting at my sewing machine. So, I grabbed this little guy from my “to do” shelf. He has a little lion buddy, but the lion will probably wait until the next time I need some quick little filler project. Sometime soon I will get around to framing this guy in a hoop. My satin-stitching definitely needs work, but a few of my circles actually came out as circles. Maybe no one will know they are supposed to be round… shhh.
The other project I had on my table this past week was a bag to make carrying all my crap to sewing classes a little easier. This was a kit I picked up during the shop hop last month, so I didn’t choose the fabric. At first I didn’t really like the fabric in the kit, and was considering this a practice run for making the bag in my own tastes, but it has really grown on me. I think I will keep it.
This is definitely the most complicated thing I have made. It came out pretty well, but there are things that could have been done better. For one… zippers. I hate sewing zippers, mostly because I suck at it. Maybe I just need more practice, or maybe I am just doing it wrong. And this bag has four of them, ugh. My binding could have also been better, we will just ignore the visible stitching. For the binding along the outside zipper though, I ended up finishing it off by hand so that it would look better. The one thing that I am unhappy enough to change though, is the stitching that attaches the outer zipper to the bottom of the bag to make “handles”… it was a pain, and I ended up whip stitching it in place. I dislike it and am considering adding some snaps instead; hopefully the whip stitching hasn’t marred the fabric too much.
I am looking forward to taking it to my next class, but hoping no one in the class looks at it too closely. It should be super handy with the three zipper pockets, the pockets between the zippers, the needle landing, and pin cushion. Right now I put all my sewing things in little pockets inside my sewing machine travel bag. This works fine, it just takes time to pull everything out and to pack it away again at the end of class. With this bag though, I will be able to pull everything out in one go, and have it all organized and at hand during class.
The next thing on my work table is Anna’s Halloween costume. I am not sure how I landed on this idea, but she is going to be Little Red Riding Hood. Mainly it is because I think she will be adorable in a little hooded cloak, and that shouldn’t be too difficult to make despite my lack of garment experience. I have Googled various ways to make cloaks, and I have a plan. Wednesday I used my lunch hour to duck out to Hancock for fabric, and picked up a pattern as well. The cloak is going to be red (of course) with a white lining that has little red polka dots. The pattern isn’t for a lined cloak, but I think it will be helpful just to get the shape and sizing right when I cut the material. We will see if I can pull it off!
We had a very busy weekend, but a good one. I kind of feel like I need a day off now! We were all on the go all weekend long, with hardly a moment to rest. Saturday usually starts with us taking Anna to Tumble Gym for her weekly 9:00 Tumble Babies class. Well, “class” is a loose term. It is mostly a bunch of under-two year olds running around in various directions while one instructor with far too much energy bounces around trying to lead the activities. Since there is no monthly fee until she turns two, it is totally worth it. Every week we see her confidence improve and it is pretty fun running around with her and all the other kids.
This weekend though, the first Under the Veranda block of the month class was at 10:00 Saturday at Wish Upon a Quilt. Since I wasn’t sure how the timing would go, I skipped Tumble Gym for the first time since she started (August 30), and let her grandma go with her and Sean instead. I was pretty sad about missing Tumble Gym, so maybe in the future I will just drive separately so I can leave a tad early and head straight to my class.
Class was interesting. It was just a lecture, so I felt really weird going to a sewing class without a machine. I got there right on time, sat through my lecture, did a little shopping, and then ran an errand and had lunch before rushing to pack up and head to another sewing class at the same place. That sewing class was pretty fun, although I can’t say I learned much. I did leave with a new pair of pajama pants though.
Then it was back to the house to collect Sean and Anna for some clothes shopping and dinner at Crabtree. Anna scored several adorable new outfits, and a new pair of shoes since she had outgrown all of hers. Man that happens fast. I swear we just bought her shoes with “room to grow” less than two months ago. I know for a fact she got a pair of size 3 sandals the day before her birthday, so that has only been like 5 weeks. Now she is in a size 4 shoe, although we got a size 4.5 so she doesn’t grow out of them by next week.
The new clothes are mostly 18-24 months, which she isn’t quite ready for. But sales were good, and she will fit them soon enough. She can get away with wearing the larger size in dresses, but the shirts and pants are definitely too big. For now anyway. Like I said, give her a week and we might find she has suddenly grown another three inches. I would much rather buy stuff ahead of time so we don’t end up scrambling the next time she suddenly can’t fit any of her clothes.
We stayed out far too late though, an hour past Anna’s 8:00 bed time. She was getting a bit cranky by the time we left, but in all we were proud of her for doing so well and putting up with us keeping her out so late. We normally try to keep her on schedule, but I guess staying up late occasionally shouldn’t be too detrimental. Being out late did not translate into a later morning on Sunday though, so the next morning everything started again at 7:00 as usual. After getting her to bed I was exhausted and was asleep by 10:30… so at least I got a decent night’s sleep.
Sunday was another full, but great, day. Sean had stayed up late the night before, so I let him sleep in a bit while I played with Anna. When he woke up we went out for a family breakfast at First Watch, a new breakfast/brunch/lunch place that opened where the Boston Market on Glenwood Ave use to be. It was awesome! The food was great, and the whole menu looked so good that it was hard to choose. At times the service could have been a little faster, but they were busy and new so we can forgive them that.
Anna especially enjoyed it; she had crayons to play with while we waited and lots of yummy food. It was only the second time she got to play with crayons, and this time she actually figured out how to make marks on the paper. She seemed to really love the melon in the fruit bowl we ordered for her, and she liked the food we shared from our plates as well. From my plate she had quinoa, chicken, and butternut squash. From Sean’s she had egg, potato, avocado, a little bacon, and maybe some other things I didn’t see. We could tell she enjoyed it, because hardly anything hit the floor! Sean and I enjoyed our meals as well, and we will definitely go back. It may just have to be our new breakfast stop post-Tumble Gym on Saturdays, since Brueggers Caribou Coffee has been unsatisfactory lately.
After that it was a trip to Target for some needed things, plus some crayons for Anna. Then back to the house for Anna’s nap, although she fought that and ended up not having much of one. We were supposed to meet friends at a pumpkin patch at 2, but thanks to Anna’s lack of napping and super cranky awakening, it was more like 2:30 when we got there. That was a lot of fun, and Anna seemed to enjoy it. That kid definitely loves being outdoors, and the weather was perfect. Anna got to see her buddy Logan, play with hay, pick cotton, see goats, go on a hay ride, and walk around the fields. She was great the whole time, with lots of smiles and not a single fussy moment.
After a couple hours of wandering around the pumpkin patch she was exhausted. Once we got in the car I gave her a little snack, and then she was out cold. Our next stop was the grocery store. The poor kid was so tuckered out she barely stirred when I took her out of her car seat, and then she slept on my shoulder most of the time we were shopping. I swear that kid weighs fifty pounds when she is asleep! So precious though.
As part of the shop hop I did a couple weeks ago, I was entered in drawings for door prizes at each of the shops I visited. On Tuesday (9/23), Bernina called to let me know I had won their prize. Wow! I hardly ever win anything. Maybe I had good karma that day or something. The prize was a project bag full of little things like fabric, patterns, batting, needles, and a quilt pin.
It is always great to add fabric to my stash, so I am happy just to have won that. I like the little project tote as well, and it looks like it will be useful. The batting is polyester, which I have never used since I have always bought cotton; it will be good to have that on hand to try out as well. The pin is pretty neat, but not sure what I will do with it. I am not one to wear lapel pins, but maybe I can find something to pin it to. Can’t say I care much for the patterns, but maybe I can find a use for them one day if no one else wants them. The bag also had some “Pump Gloves” in it, which apparently are really made with the intention of using them to pump gas. Since they are in this bag of sewing stuff though, I have to assume they are meant to be used to help grip a quilt while free motion quilting. Or maybe to help you grip a ruler? I don’t know. I haven’t opened them yet, but they have little dots on them that look like grippy stuff. I have always just used Machingers gloves for quilting, but I will give these a shot. (if anyone is interested in the patterns, pin, books, or measuring tape… just give me a shout, I will gladly share)
In other news… I get a whole room to myself for sewing! Maybe. I asked Sean if I could move his computer to the bedroom (he actually had this idea a while ago) and take over the computer room completely… he agreed. I don’t really want the computer in the bedroom though. And I don’t really want to be sequestered to a lonely room for hours to work on my hobbies. So, I am going to try to arrange things so we can still fit the computers and all my sewing crap in the same small room. Could be interesting.
That project starts this weekend, and is going to take a long time to complete I fear. The first step is to get rid of the elliptical machine that is hogging what feels like half the room. I called Pro Source and they are coming to get it Monday! Yay! Which means this weekend we will be busy clearing a path to the machine… which means getting Sean’s desk out of the way. So really the first step is moving Sean’s computer to the bedroom I guess, which will hopefully be only temporary… but it will probably end up staying there a while. So, this weekend is going to be a busy one with rearranging the bedroom and computer room. Then, after we get rid of the elliptical Monday, I can start moving my sewing crap in and doing some more rearranging and purging of junk that is cluttering up the closet space.
At first it is going to be pretty cobbled together. I plan to bring in a folding table from the garage and make use of other things we already have around the house. As time goes on I am going to figure out what furniture will work best in there as I get a feel for how I use the space. This probably means a few Ikea trips are in my future, as the sewing tables I really want are stupid expensive.
Once I get settled in, the first thing I will do is construct a cutting table for myself. This is basically a counter-height table to cut fabric on, so I don’t kill my back. I saw lots of great ideas for this while Googling and wandering Pinterest. While exploring one of those ideas I stumbled on a wood working forum where a nice (and presumably not a serial killer) man offered to give me a laminate table top to use in the endeavor. We will be going up to Franklinton to get that Sunday. I have no idea what it looks like, but it is free! I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth by asking for a picture, but I am told it is a workstation top that is about 30″ x 42″ or so. No clue on the color or condition, but the price is right. Once I know the dimensions for sure, I will figure out what I want to use as a base for it… most likely a couple small book cases or something that would give me storage underneath.
So, if anyone comes across good deals on things that you think will help in the organization of my shiny new sewing room, let me know! That includes used stuff, clearance stuff, whatever. This has to be done on the cheap since it is all coming out of my craft budget. I will be on the lookout for a small computer desk to put my iMac on, probably some bookcases or storage cubes, boxes, bins, and things of that nature. And if anyone goes to Ikea and is willing to pick up a few things, definitely give me a shout! I have a growing Ikea wish list right now, everything from small storage bins to furniture.
Every year there is a “shop hop” at local shops, Quilt! Carolina. Apparently it use to just be the shops in the Triangle area, but it has expanded to include the Triad and Fayetteville and a few other places. Since I am relatively new to the sewing thing, last year was my first experience with it. Last year I was pretty excited about going to check out all the shops I had never known about, get all the free patterns (even though most turned out to be lame) and try to collect enough stamps for the grand prize drawing. Even though we had a 3 week old baby at the time, I managed to make it to enough shops to get into the grand prize drawing. The grand prize last time was a really nice sewing machine, which was motivation enough for me to try for all the stamps since I only had a little entry level machine then. I also didn’t have a huge backlog of projects at the time.
This year… not so excited. The grand prizes were lame; I already knew most of the shops; there was no way I was driving to the new out-of-town shops (one in Boone!) just for a stamp; I need more projects on my to do list like I need a hole in my head… so yeah. However, I still bought a passport and decided to just go to the four shops in the immediate area that I frequent anyway: Bernina, My Sewing Shoppe, and Wish Upon a Quilt here in Raleigh, and Cary Quilting Company. By going to those shops I was able to take advantages of sales, enter drawings at their shops, support the shops, get coupons for future visits, and even get a few freebies.
So, Saturday (after Tumble Gym and a nap) we got a baby sitter so Sean could go to his Japanese class and I could go shop hop. We had a late lunch together before going our separate ways. The last thing Sean said to me was, “Don’t buy a lot of stuff.” and I said, “I don’t intend to.” … and I didn’t. I really didn’t. As stated… too many projects in the backlog already. Sigh. I have a problem. I really do.
My first stop was Bernina, where I bought a handful of things I needed (interfacing, thimbles, needles) and a neat magnetic wrist pin holder that caught my eye. It is like the “slap bracelets” that were so popular back in the day, but it has a magnetic cup on it to grab pins. I love love love this thing and am so glad I spotted it. Sean is always getting on me about putting pins in my mouth, and I know I shouldn’t do it… but the other wrist pin cushions are so uncomfortable and annoying. It is always easier to just hold a pin in my mouth than to always keep the pin cushion in reach. I used it last night while finishing up my latest project; it was so handy and was completely comfortable. They also gave out a nifty (free) ballpoint pen that doubles as a stylus for touch devices. Score!
From there I hopped over to My Sewing Shoppe, where I was again pretty good at self control. I only picked up a yard of fusible web and some really cool tape that only sticks to itself. The tape has already proved really useful at keeping spools of thread from unraveling. The thought of taming all the loose threads in my thread box has me excited, as soon as I have the time I am going to sit down and wrap them all.
The next stop was Wish Upon a Quilt, where that whole self-control thing went out the window. There I picked up a new quilt pattern, a kit for a bag to put sewing stuff in, joined a new block of the month program, and got two cute hand embroidery kits (on clearance! a giraffe and lion) as well as another type of fusible web that I haven’t tried before. So much for no more new projects. The new block of the month is going to be another good learning experience though, and unlike the Elegance quilt (that I am still way behind on) I actually like this one. It starts October 4th, so stay tuned… I will add a page for that one in a few weeks.
My last stop was Cary Quilting. On the way there I was thinking, “I guess I will just get a stamp and turn in the passport, don’t really need anything else.” Yeah, right. The first misstep was looking in a basket of “tootsie rolls” (rolled up fat 1/8yd pre cut fabric) which are only 75 cent each. Which is great, until you realize you have a pile of 17 of them. There were so many cute fabrics though! They will be great for appliqué and other little things. A few other example projects and kits caught my eye, but I managed to tell myself (rightly) that I didn’t need them. So I was doing good. Really. But then I saw the most adorablest piggie sitting up on a shelf. Luckily that turned out to be a free pattern, but it was all downhill from there. While I was leaving the front room (the shop is an old converted house) my eye caught a pile of fabric on the cutting table. I was immediately drawn to the colors in the kit, and asked about it.
As it turned out, it was the kit for the (free) Koi Garden pattern they had made for the shop hop. When I saw the pattern in the passport kit, I had originally dismissed it. But when I saw the fabrics in the kit, and then saw the actual quilt, I really liked it. So now I have yet another quilt sitting on my shelf, waiting. Then I saw the mug rug example, which was another free pattern for the shop hop. I like small projects and the kit was only $5, so what the heck. One more thing for the to do list. Next I saw a little elephant that was even more adorable than the piggie. Add yet one more pattern to my list of things to make. Behind the elephant, I spotted a little soft book that I thought Anna might like… so, I grabbed the fabric for that as well. There was also a bag hanging up that I absolutely loved, but luckily they were out of those patterns… otherwise I would have another bag to make as well.
In all, I really did have a good shop hop experience and got lots of good stuff. If I had tried to make it to all the other shops though, I think it would have been miserable. I got the feeling I wasn’t the only one that was less than excited about this year’s tour though. Last year the shops were all packed, this year they didn’t really seem that much busier than usual. In fact, while I was at Wish one of the shop girls went home early because they didn’t need her.
Other than that, the only sewing updates are that I finished the little needle book I was working on. I will have to make a page for that under the “hand stitched” section. I also managed to get most of the August’s blocks for the Elegance quilt. I still have to finish July’s blocks too, and haven’t even started on September’s. Sigh. I need to get cracking on that though, there are only four weeks left before the next class. So four weeks to finish three months of blocks and cut everything for October’s block… I can do this! But only three weeks until my first class for the new block of the month. So, maybe I should rethink my deadline. Okay, three weeks to get caught up. I can do this… I can. Really. Right?
Here are several photos related to this post. Some are the needle book, some are pictures I took as notes for things I picked up to make.
I just added a “Hand Sewn” page to the site, and am working on rearranging things a bit. I think the “Felt & Wool” page will go away… so things are a bit in flux right now. I have already added three of my hand sewn projects to the page, but still need to move my hand made felt stuff over.
This hand sewing thing has proved to be a lot of fun; I am really enjoying it. I think Sean is annoyed though, since he got me a really nice sewing machine for Christmas. I really do still use the sewing machine though, I am just… broadening my skill sets. Yeah, that’s it. There are plenty of things to make that combine sewing machines and hand stitching, like the Totoro I made, and the Summer Love quilt. Admittedly though, my projects are leaning more heavily towards the hand-stitched currently.
The last project I completed was a cross stitched Geisha portrait. This was made from a cross stitch kit that has been sitting in my closet for years. I think I got it when we lived in Cary back in 2005? Or maybe I have even had it since Greenville. Cross stitch was always one of those things that I liked doing, but lost interest in quickly once I actually started a project. It just takes too long to complete anything! So between that and the fact that I didn’t really like the pattern, it got shoved in a closet and nearly forgotten.
However, I finished all my hand sewing projects and was hankering for another… so I dug this one out and decided to make it. As usual I was pretty bored with it halfway through, but I powered on and completed it. Now I am once again wanting for a hand sewn project, but not for lack of trying.
I ordered everything I needed for some other projects, but when I went to pull the threads out for one of the projects I discovered they hadn’t sent one of the pearl cottons I ordered. Blarg! At least they shipped it out fast enough when I told them about it, but it won’t be here until Tuesday. I also have been trying to get the thread kit for my Geranium Baskets since early August… it finally shipped a few days ago. While I love Primitive Gatherings’ products, I decidedly do not love ordering from them.
Although, I guess it is good that I have to wait on those threads though. It forces me to work on my Elegance quilt, which I am way behind on. There are some updates on that page as well, including pictures of July and August’s blocks. Normally I don’t add photos of the blocks to that page until I have completed all of them for that month, but since I was updating the site I decided to go ahead and update that page.
I am really enjoying this felt thing, but I am in need of more good felt (cough… um, Aug 6…cough… just saying). I got that stack of six-inch squares at the sewing expo, but I need to build out my stash with larger pieces and a variety of color groups. The squares were mostly darker colors, I really need some bright and pastel colors as well.
My latest creation was a stuffed Totoro. Someone shared a tutorial for it (Aimee I think) months ago on Facebook, I can’t even remember when. At the time I bought some cheapo felt to make it, but it got put aside and I nearly forgot about it. After making my little felt birdies though, Totoro was on my mind… so I pulled out the felt and made him over the long weekend when I decided I needed a break halfway through piecing my mini quilt.
Totoro came out okay, but he could have been better. I might have to make another one with his trademark open mouth grin using good felt.. and if I do I will definitely make a leaf to put on his head. Maybe I will even see if I can give him some little buddies too. And whiskers!
Next, I think I want to make this Yeti Monster! Or maybe this owl garland. But alas, I lack the right felt colors. See?? I need to build a felt stash! Although the next thing I am truly itching to work on is my Geranium Basket table topper, for which Sean has promised me Valdani threads as a birthday gift!
The lessons learned when making this guy include:
actually read the directions (should have left a seam allowance when I cut some parts, so ended up trimming other parts to compensate)
cheap felt sheds and just doesn’t feel nice like the wool/rayon blend felts
when using poly pellets as a filler, be prepared to vacuum immediately afterwards and work over a large bowl
needle nose tweezers are hugely helpful in stuffing tiny pieces like ears (tweezers were a relic of my model-making days)
I dislike rayon embroidery thread
look at a picture when making a stuffed critter because Totoro’s nose should be higher up and it is going to bother me forever
Today we went to the annual Sewing Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center. I know I have been sewing for a year now, because last time the Expo was in town I was picking up material for my first quilt (the one with the owl and hedgehog). Since I was just getting into sewing last year, I didn’t go. Although this year I was looking forward to it, and had even thought about taking some of the workshops and classes offered at the Expo. It turned out that all the classes I was interested in were during work hours though, so oh well. I didn’t want to do any of them badly enough to use up vacation days for them. I would rather use my vacation days to spend time with Anna during the holidays.
The atmosphere at the RCC was definitely different than the last time I was there, visiting Sean while he worked at Animazement last month. Last month the place was so packed you could barely walk for all the people, and there were protestors out front telling everyone they were going to hell. Today it seemed deserted in comparison.
Sean was awesome enough to go with me, even though he really didn’t want to. He took care of the baby for me while I walked around for a couple hours looking at all the different vendors’ offerings. Sean hates shopping, dislikes crowds, dislikes being bored, and has very little interest in sewing… yet he came anyway, that is how great he is. And not only did he have to deal with all of that, but when you get a baby around a bunch of [mostly old] women you are constantly stopped by people wanting to coo over them.
There were so many cool things! It was hard not to buy everything that caught my eye. I did end up with some good loot though, and some notes of things I want to look for online later. I was happy to see several booths that offered felt stuff, which is my latest interest. There were several things that were very difficult to leave behind, but I keep telling myself there will be more opportunities in the future and I really need to curb my growing back log of projects.
Anna was pretty good for most of it, although she was getting tired and grumpy and hungry by the end. Sean had dressed her in the little dress I made for her last week; I am not sure if it was intentionally because we were going to a sewing expo, but of course everyone there can spot a handmade item and it got several compliments. As usual she charmed everyone she met with her smiles, waves, and her baby talk.
There was one old lady at a booth that lit up the moment she saw Anna, and reached up immediately like she wanted to take her before she realized she shouldn’t and dropped her hands looking a little abashed. Other people working the booth saw, and told her she had to stop trying to touch strangers’ babies, so I guess it is a running thing LOL.
The lady proudly told me all about her seven grandkids and one great grand baby while Sean took Anna off to find a changing table. Upon his return he reported there was no table in the mens room, so I went to try the ladies room while he paid for the appliqué files I was purchasing from them. I didn’t find a changing table either, so when I got back the lady quickly cleared a place on the table and said to change her right there. Of course Anna immediately started trying to grab everything within reach, so the lady gave her a small stuffed snowball with an embroidered face to play with while one of the other ladies was telling Sean tales about diapers she had to change when no table was available. As thanks for letting us change her on their table, we let the lady hold Anna. When we asked to purchase the snowball Anna was so enamored with, she said the cost was holding one baby. So Anna scored a dry diaper and a new toy! Later, Anna played with the snowball the whole way home.
In all, I left with a pack of 65 six inch squares of felt in various colors to jump start my felt stash; a white marking pen to use on felt; some needles made specifically for wool appliqué; 32 new cute appliqué files (these, these, and these) along with a starter pack of some pearlescent mylar to use in a new appliqué technique they were demonstrating; a couple patterns for mini wall quilts; a kit for another mini quilt; a kit for a felt ornament; a kit for a wool table topper; and a kit for yet another mini wall quilt that also has some wool appliqué in it. I have no shortage of things to keep busy with!
After the expo, we walked around downtown until we found a place to eat. We ended up at The Oxford, which was surprisingly good for a pub. I definitely recommend it! After that though, things went a bit downhill. We were walking back to the car when I grabbed my phone to check the time. Or at least I tried to grab my phone. I fumbled, tried to catch it, and just ended up prettying much throwing it on the sidewalk, where it landed flat on its back. The screen shattered. Thankfully we have Apple Care that covers this, so I was more annoyed than upset. I scooped the phone up and had an appointment at the Genius Bar before we made it out of downtown.
Unfortunately, as soon as I got to the Apple Store I discovered my iCloud backup was somehow disabled. I assume this happened at the same time all my other iCloud stuff was mysteriously turned off a month or so ago, but I hadn’t noticed. So my phone hadn’t been backed up in 5 weeks! Ugh. So no new phone for me today, since I wasn’t willing to loose 5 weeks of data. It is backing up right now, but right now our internet connection is lagging so badly for some reason so it says 15 hours remain. Hopefully it will finish before my appointment, otherwise I guess I will be kicking it old school and syncing to the computer with a cable.
Despite the phone thing, it was a great day. And to top it off Sean went out and brought me ice cream and cookies after the baby went to sleep. So I have some fresh baked cookies waiting for me right now!
Here are some pics I snapped mostly to just take notes, so they aren’t that great… but it will give ideas of the nifty kits and patterns I got.