Category Archives: Sewing

My Latest Project

A couple weeks ago I stumbled onto a website called Shiny Happy World that offers patterns and tutorials for embroidery, appliqué, stuffed critters, and a few other things as well as a small [reasonably priced] shop to purchase supplies. I fell in love with just about everything on her site, and found myself obsessing over a few of her patterns. After several days of pining I decided I really wanted to try my hand at making a couple of her patterns for embroidered felt birds. To make my life easy, and to support the person that offered these cool free patterns and tutorials, I ordered most of the supplies from the site and then waited eagerly for them to arrive in my mailbox. It didn’t take long for the package to arrive, as it turns out the lady lives in the NC mountains!

I decided to make Daisy and Petal. Follow the links to see them. For Daisy I picked up the embroidery floss locally and ordered the felt and some needles from Shiny Happy World; for Petal I just ordered the convenient kit that contained everything except the stuffing. But I already had a bag of poly fill, so that was easy!

In the past I have done some counted cross stitch, which I always loved at a first and then quickly became bored with when I inevitably miscounted something and had to fix my mistakes. So I already was a bit familiar with some of the stitches used, even though it had been years since I last used them. This was so much more fun than cross stitching ever was! First, these birds were small so I was easily able to carry them and all the tools needed (needle, thread, scissors) in a tiny wristlet bag so that I could stitch on it when I found time… like riding in the car, while at lunch, etc. Secondly, I didn’t have to count things and keep referencing a separate pattern since the pattern was transferred to the felt itself. And lastly, since the projects were small they were quick to make which makes my ADD happy. Not to mention they are pretty cute!

I had so much fun making Daisy, that I immediately started on Petal once Daisy was done. Petal went much faster than Daisy just because I was able to work on her over the weekend without silly things like work getting in the way. I had thought I would finish Petal today, but once I cut out the two halves of the body I realized they were both facing the same direction. Oops! I just wrote Shiny Happy to let her know. I am not overly worried about it, she has excellent customer service. And the worst case scenario is that I will have to spend $4 on some more felt and will end up with two Petals and plenty of spare felt to use in future projects.

Here is a somewhat crappy picture of my Daisy. Once Petal is completed I will get a better picture of her and maybe even start a new felt section of the site to post them in. I am really enjoying the felt thing, so I think I will be making more!

Update: A reply from Shiny Happy was waiting for me the next morning (this morning). She is sending me another kit so I will end up with two Petal birdies. She shipped it right away, so I guess I will get it Wednesday (today is Monday). So now I am back to watching the mailbox. It is kind of the same annoying feeling as being interrupted in the middle of a good book. Not that I am angry, it was an easy mistake and this was the first batch of Petal kits. It sounds like something I would do!


In The Hoop

A couple weeks ago I finally broke out my Piece in the Hoop book that Sean gave me for Christmas, and decided to try making a few things “in the hoop” (ITH) of my embroidery machine. ITH basically means that you make an item using your embroidery machine rather than your sewing machine, letting the machine do most of the work for you.

I started out with a pressing pad from the book, using scraps of material I had laying around. I wasn’t going for anything pretty, I just wanted to learn the technique while creating something that would be useful for other ITH projects. This pressing pad is meant to slide under the hooped fabric in the embroidery machine, so that you can iron things without removing the hoop. This is useful since a lot of projects have you laying down a piece of fabric, stitching, flipping it over, ironing it, repeat… which means taking your hoop on and off repeatedly gets old really fast and also adds to the wear and tear. The back of the pressing pad is covered in a teflon material to protect the sewing machine from the heat of the iron. You can see a few places where I forgot to remove the pressing pad and ended up stitching over it. I think having a baby kills about 70% of your brain cells. You would think that after the second time I might have remembered, but no.

The next project was a pin cushion, also from the Piece in the Hoop book. The book had it embroidered with an image of a needle and thread that I did not like, so I put an “M” on it instead. Again I used scraps I had laying around; these are leftovers from that Flower Patch quilt I still haven’t finished. I think the blue fabric on the corner stands out too much, but oh well.  The pin cushion isn’t stuffed yet in the photo. I could just stuff it with fiber fill, but I think I will pick up some emery sand instead so that it will keep my pins sharp.

And, lastly… tonight I decided to try making a little wristlet bag in the hoop. The digital file for it was only $1, so I didn’t expect much out of it. There are better options out there that say they don’t have exposed seams, but for my first try at it I decided to go the cheap route. I guess if you don’t look too closely, it looks okay from the outside. However… The tension wasn’t right at first, so some of the stitches aren’t pretty if you inspect them closely. The seams are also exposed, so you see the raw edges of the fabric and the batting. And to make it even uglier inside, the stabilizer (material you put under fabric to aid in stitching in the hoop) is still in it because I really didn’t feel like spending an hour or two picking it out of the million little spaces between the quilting… even if I did, you would still see the ugly backside of the quilting. You can see pictures of it below… the strap on the bag is just a cell phone strap I have had laying around in the closet for about six years so I decided to clip it on for the heck of it. If I make a better wristlet later, it might end up on that instead.

I think I like this ITH thing… I will have to add a new page to the site to showcase ITH projects if I make any more, which I am sure I will. Hopefully whatever I do next will look better on the inside than this wristlet does.

Test Post

I enabled the WordPress feature that automatically shares posts on Facebook, so I am testing it out. There really isn’t much exciting to post about right now…

The only new thing with Anna is that she is starting to wave back when we are waving “goodbye” to her. It is more like waving an arm at us, but it is adorable. However, she has also started doing something that isn’t so adorable… screaming. Loudly. I have no idea why, but last night she suddenly decided it was great fun to randomly and incessantly scream at the top of her lungs.

At first I thought she would do it a few times and get over it, but after 15 minutes or so of it I began to lose hope of that as a terrible headache set in. Hopefully we can teach her not to do this… but the only thing I could think to do was to put my hand gently over her mouth and tell her ‘no’ or ‘shh.’ This morning she was shrieking again. So if anyone has suggestions…

Nothing else new for Anna aside from her standing on her own a few seconds longer before plopping butt-first to the floor. She still isn’t really showing much interest in walking independently, but she is starting to cruise (walking while holding on to things) a bit more towards things she would drop down and crawl for just a week ago.

And since I haven’t posted any craft-related updates in a while… not much exciting there either. I am finding myself floating between projects a lot recently, ADD-like…

  • Over the weekend I finally got around to making a couple things from the Piece in the Hoop book I got for Christmas: a pin cushion and a pressing pad. I will have to post pictures of those soon.
  • I have also been slowly working on piecing the four May blocks for the Elegance quilt (pain in the ass!), which I did post a picture of already. I need to hurry up and finish the last couple blocks because the next class is 10 days away and I don’t want to get behind.
  • And in the past couple days I picked up that Yellow Brick Road quilt again because I am tired of it sitting around unfinished. I think I am nearing the halfway point with the quilting.
  • I have put the scrap quilt aside because I have grown tired of working on it, and am not sure I like the direction I was going with it anyway… so I will let it sit for a while until I decide to either rip it all apart or continue on with that design.
  • And that just leaves the Thangles quilt. Apparently people were getting bored with doing one block a month with the Thangles, so they offered the option to just buy all the blocks at once. I took them up on that, but now I wish I hadn’t… because now I actually have to figure out what colors to use for the blocks! When they were done individually the fabric was planned out for me. Now that I have all the blocks for the year, the fabric is all just in one pile and I have to decide which ones to use for what. Ugh, now I have to actually put effort into it. Sigh. But, on the bright side, I got some software for Mother’s Day that will help me plan out what to use… once I find time to get around to tracing the block patterns and scanning the fabric.

Another Full Weekend

"Elegance" Block of the Month for April 2014
“Elegance” Block of the Month for April 2014

We had another full weekend, but luckily this time it was all good things… no doggie emergencies. Eddie seems to be doing well, although he is still a bit squinty. He has been tolerating his eye drops (3x a day) surprisingly well, and he has been gobbling up his pain killer and steroid laced pupperoni without issue.

Since this was the first Saturday of the month, I had my sewing class for the “Elegance” Block of the Month, and Sean had his Animazement meeting. Of course these things overlap in time, so it means finding a babysitter. It is worth it though! Three hours of uninterrupted sewing before the baby’s bedtime is a rare luxury. Heck, lately any sewing time has been rare.

I think this month’s block is my favorite for the whole quilt. The class was more about guided sewing than learning as usual, but I did pick up a helpful tip for getting my patchwork squares to line up. There wasn’t as much chatting this time, most people were heads down this week. Although some of the conversations pointed out exactly how much of an age gap there is for me and the majority of the others that attend that class. During one of the quiet spells when 7 or so sewing machines were running, one of the ladies remarked that it reminded her of “the war” when all the girls were making things for the soldiers. And another spoke about her husband (I assume) and how in school he had to knit squares that were joined to become throws (blankets) for the troops. Sigh. I think I am about the only one south of 60, although there was one lady that came this time who appeared to be in her 40’s.

Sunday we got another sitter and went to see the Captain America sequel. I think this was only the second movie I have seen in about a year. When I was pregnant I didn’t really feel up to it most of the time, and these days the opportunity is harder to come by. Plus there haven’t been too many movies that looked worth the hassle.

Overall it was pretty good, although I am trying not to think about it too much. If you think about it, you may fall into a hole. Like, I guess their buddy Iron Man was busy? The Bugs Bunny escape holes were a little too much for me. And I am so tired of catwalk fights and last second-of-the-countdown saves.

New Toys

Today was a busy day, preceded by a long night. Yesterday I had an awful headache, and by Anna’s bed time I was miserable. I got her to sleep fairly quickly, and then laid down in her room because my head hurt too much to even think about doing anything that required my eyes to be open. I chose her room over mine because I knew she would wake up a few times, since she hasn’t been sleeping well lately. Sure enough she woke up two or three times within the first few hours, but I only had to stumble over to her crib and pat her back to get her back to sleep.

Around 11ish though, she woke up screaming and it took me a little while to get her back to sleep. Then she woke up again a little while later and was wide awake, so we let her play a little before trying to get her settled down again. I think it was sometime after 1:00 when I finally got her to go to sleep… for about two minutes. Then she was wide awake again. I tried leaving her on her own in her crib a while with no success, and then close to 2am I threw in the towel. I told Sean to give the kid a bottle, my head was still splitting and I had to go to sleep. I think it was around 3am before he got her to sleep, but I was sound asleep and don’t even remember him coming to bed.

Luckily after that she slept until around 8:30, so I managed to get enough sleep to not feel wrecked. Even though my head still hurt a bit when I woke up. Despite grand plans of getting out and starting our day early, we didn’t make it out of the house until 11:45. I had a hair cut scheduled for noon, so Sean dropped me off there while he took Anna shopping. Then it was lunch, clothes shopping for Sean, a quilt show at the fairgrounds, a walk through the flea market, dinner, shopping at Buy Buy Baby & Target, and then finally getting back home around 7:30.

Anna did great for being on the go so long, I was really proud of her. She did “talk” really loudly a lot, but no one really seemed bothered by her. It seems like we will have to stick to noisy places for the next few months! She took two naps on the go, and only got a little cranky a couple times. For the most part she was happy all day. And of course while we were at the quilt show we were stopped by some coo’ing old lady about every 10 feet. For some reason a lot of people thought she was a boy today… I don’t get it. She had on pink socks and a pink top, and jeans with pink stitching.

I was also happy that somehow we managed to go the whole day without formula, despite being out of the house for nearly 8 hours. I was able to feed her in the parking lot at the fairgrounds, and in the mother’s room at Buy Buy Baby. We also gave her some solid food while we ate lunch, which was the first time we did that outside of the house.

So it was a really good day. The quilt show was pretty awesome, and Sean was a trooper. He pushed the stroller, weaving through the crowd of old ladies and being patient with all the people that wanted to talk to the baby. He also didn’t complain too much about me buying some things that I don’t really need, considering all the un-started projects I already have waiting for me.

There were tons of cool quilts on display, which I hurried through because I didn’t want Sean or Anna to run out of patience. I just stopped at the really cool ones. Most of my time was spent at the vendor booths, since there were several shops there that I was unfamiliar with or are too far away for me to frequent. Plus lots of the vendors had project kits put together, which I like because it saves me time.

I picked up a couple things to make for Anna, and a couple things for myself as well. Of course, Sean rolls his eyes when I say I am buying stuff like this for Anna. But it really is for her… and me. I get the fun of making it and then watching her play with it.

For Anna, I picked up a kit to make a little taggie blanket for her. It is a small “blanket” of about 12″ square with one soft, fuzzy side (made of a fabric called minkee) and one cotton side; and all around there are little “tags” of folded ribbon sticking out. She LOVES tags, so I know she will really like this. It shouldn’t take me long to make at all since it is really just sewing two squares together, so maybe I can whip it up tomorrow. I will of course post a photo in the Sewing Projects section when I get it finished.

The other thing I got for Anna is a panel of fabric that is printed with pieces for an owl pillow. This is another thing that shouldn’t take too long to do, but I will probably put it off until I finish the Yellow Brick Road quilt… or until I just need a break from it at least.

For me, I picked up a kit to make a little wallet. It is a bifold that closes with a button, and holds a couple credit cards and has a zippered pouch. Honestly I don’t need this, but I liked the fabric and it looked like a fun learning experience. Aside from that, I also got a quilt pattern and ruler – yet another addition to my “to do” list of quilts.

So those were my new toys, and Anna got a new toy as well. Since she is pulling up on things, we decided to get her a toy she could play with while standing. The one we ended up with is called the “Ball-cano” … you can see why Sean chose this one. (click the link for a photo) The box claims it is for 6+ months, but I think she is a little young for it. She does like playing with it, but she is too young to grasp putting the balls in the top piece, or the cause and effect of it. Right now she is still refining the motor skills to pick the balls up, which is super cute to watch. It takes both of her hands, and a fair amount of concentration. Mostly I think she likes the sounds and flashing lights it makes, and she likes that she can stand up with it. For now it seems like it will take both of us helping her to play with it. One person to make sure it doesn’t flip over, one person to make sure she doesn’t face plant into the hard plastic, and both of us to keep feeding the balls through. The mechanism that pushes the balls out of the “ballcano” is triggered by a rolling piece up top, which she can do on her own even if she doesn’t quite connect that cause with the effect of the balls being pushed out and the lights and music starting.

Quilting Class

Today I had my first ever quilting class, and now I feel much more confident in my abilities. The class today was very informal, as it was just a “block of the month” class. A block of the month (BoM) is a common thing in the quilting world, it is a quilt that is broken up into smaller monthly projects. They are typically year-long affairs, but there are various lengths from six months to two years. It really just depends on the intricacy of the quilt being made.

These projects are hosted by quilt shops, and the participants pay a monthly fee. Again it varies by BoM, but typically the way it works is that each month you get fabric and instructions for that month’s block, and there is an optional class that you can attend where they walk you through making the block. I have signed up for two BoMs this year. One has a class each month, the other does not. You can see more about those quilts on the project pages I made for them… Elegance BoM and Thangles BoM.

I have never really socialized with other quilters before this, except for brief conversations while in stores. As I said, the format of the class today was very informal. The owner of the shop gave some brief instruction and then people just sewed and asked for help or tips as needed, and chatted with one another. Everyone in there was old enough to be my mother. Or maybe grandmother in some cases. There were about seven ladies in there aside from myself; they all seemed friendly and were of various skill levels. The lady that sat behind me was very experienced and even made some show quilts, while the lady opposite me seemed very new at sewing. Possibly even newer than myself, as she was having quite a bit of difficulty.

Whenever it takes me a bit to figure some new thing out, I always just assume it is because I am inexperienced and/or an idiot. But hearing these ladies that have been quilting for years stumble on the same things made me feel a lot better. I really enjoyed the class, although I hesitate to really call it a class. It was more like a workshop, or supervised sewing time – Uninterrupted sewing time!

That was the best part. Three hours of sewing without having to feel too guilty about not taking care of something at home, having to stop to do baby things, having to wait until the baby was asleep, etc. It was three hours of time set aside and approved for me to get out and have me-time doing something I enjoy. It was one of the few times I have been able to focus completely on sewing since the baby was born, and one of the first times in quite a while I was able to sew without being tired since I normally don’t get to have time to myself until the baby goes to sleep and I take care of things around the house… which means I only get to sew in the time I can steal after about 9pm.

Of course I still felt a little guilt that I was away from the baby, but I guess that is just part of being a mommy. Every time you aren’t giving all of your attention to the baby, you feel like a bad parent. Especially if you are breastfeeding, and know you are voluntarily away from her when she should be nursing… even though the people taking care of her are perfectly capable and she can drink from a bottle just fine.

Anyhow… I have now completed all 5 of my January blocks, 1 of the 4 February blocks, and one of the four March blocks. It shouldn’t take me too much longer to finish up the remaining blocks, as I made a lot of progress on them. I will try to get those knocked out soon, as well as my March Thangle block (Thangle quilt is one single block each month). Then I will update those pages with some more photos. I am saving the Thangle for once I am done with the Elegance blocks though, as seeing how the Thangle turns out is pretty fun. It will be my reward for getting the Elegance stuff out of the way.

I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed with my backlog of projects, so I am sure Sean will be happy to hear I am not allowing myself to take anything else on for a while… no matter how many times I see something and think “OMG I have to make that!” I will still pick up patterns if I see something I really like, but no more fabric for a while. When I see stuff that I get super excited about, I just remind myself that there will always be something that I will be excited about and that I should just let it go and wait until I have finished what I already have… or at least until I finish most of what I already have.

That Yellow Brick Road quilt is still sitting here waiting to be quilted; I am swimming in BoM blocks; there are some appliqué patterns someone was kind enough to digitize for me (so I can use my embroidery machine) two weeks ago that I haven’t had time to test out; the Flower Patch quilt is still only half pieced; I have most of what I need to make a tote bag sitting here on the table; I have a book of “in the hoop” projects Sean gave me for Christmas I haven’t even had time to play with yet; and fabric for at least four quilts waiting on me in the closet. Not to mention I have really been wanting to try making some baby shoes and plushy toys! So many things, so little time. And I am pretty sure I have missed some things in there.

Baby, Pets, Quilts, etc

The past week has gone by very quickly, which is surprising considering how slow work is right now. This was mom’s first week as nanny, and she seemed to enjoy the job. Anna has been happy too, but it is getting harder to leave her these days. Anna is now at a point where she is getting excited to see me come home, which means she must miss me when I am gone. At work I find myself wishing I was home, and constantly contemplating asking if I can work from home until she is at least eating food… but I know I need to be in the office too. And I am afraid of asking, since I spent pretty much all of last year working from home half the day, and then a few weeks working from home full time before taking three months’ leave. And these days I get in at 10am all too often just because it is difficult to get out of the house when Anna needs me… she is usually hungry about the time I should be walking out the door.

There were a couple eventful days this week, and this weekend is going to be pretty busy as well. I can’t remember if it was Monday or Tuesday, but somehow Jack managed to rip his leg open. Mom sent us a photo of his wound around noon, but it was pretty blurry so I couldn’t tell how bad it was. I thought it was just a quarter sized raw spot. I made a vet appointment for him anyway, and Sean took him in at 4pm. The poor dog ended up with four staples… apparently what I took for a raw spot in the photo was actually a gaping wound. If I had known it was that bad I would have made his appointment earlier in the day! Jack is doing well with his staples so far, hopefully he will continue to leave them alone for the next couple weeks.

We also had Anna’s 4 month check-up and shots today. The doctor seems happy with her, and she is a little over 13 pounds now! She is still on the small side, falling in the 25th to 50th percentiles for height and weight… but I did too when I was a child. She is still charming strangers too. I swear that at least four people have commented on her “mohawk” in the past week alone. Today one of the people at the pediatricians office asked if it was a haircut or natural… ugh, yes, like I would give my baby girl a mohawk.

The only other notable stranger stories lately are: 1) on New Years Eve we were standing in line at Boston Market, Sean was holding her in her carrier. I noticed the man standing behind Sean was bent over paddling his hands at her and making faces. 2) We were eating at Chili’s. A couple waitresses had to coo over her, but one walked past and asked to hold her. I use the phrase “ask” lightly. It was more like she held her hands out and expected us to just hand her over.

This weekend is going to be pretty full too. In addition to the usual weekend errands, and the serious need to clean our house, Saturday Eddie has an appointment for shots and I have a hair cut. Seems like there is some other stuff going on too. And Sunday I want to go check out a quilting guild and see what it is all about. They have a two hour meeting at Spoonflower in Durham, which coincidentally is in the same location Motricity occupied on Meridian Parkway… so in addition the checking out the guild and getting to see Spoonflower’s headquarters, it will be interesting to see the space again.

I will have to post photos of Baby Quilt #2 soon… it is nearly done. I just have to finish hand-stitching the binding.