Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Buy Some Drano!

As I showered this morning I thought to myself - do these legs need the annual spring dehairing? Then I looked out the window and realized I had lots of time. Lots and lots and lots. However, can't you just imagine the clogged drains when we again catch sight of earth? Can't wait!

Meanwhile the search for the perfect pants continues. I picked up the Wallis pants pattern from Style Arc. I liked the style lines and thought the stretch might be 'fit forgiving'. First let's just say those are leggings, not pants. The fit is leggings for sure. I love them, but they aren't pants.

The muslins were not promising. DH pointed out the problem areas and made the serious mistake of wondering if there was an issue in the belly area. I've allowed him to live for now - but it was touch and go there for a bit.

I percolated on this thought for a day or two. I studied the muslins, the telltale folds and also (alas!) my belly. It seemed I did need a FBA. The dreaded Front Belly Adjustment! I had vertical folds from the crotch are up to the waist. The belly was talking more fabric to cover it and dragging all the pants with it. Extra fabric gathered at the crotch. After I added a little roundness to the pattern pieces at the belly bulge the wrinkles were gone. Now, I do have other fitting problems to solve. The front and back crotch curves fit but aren't distributed correctly. I had DH trace my outline onto paper so I could study my bumps and lumps. Next I will go back to my Wild Ginger software and draft some pants. I can make very fine fitting adjustments with that program and then they apply to everything else I draft. Handy! After the diet takes hold I can make changes as required (please, please, please).

Here are one of the 2 pairs of Wallis pants made so far. The other pair is gray and don't show up well. The Great P is waited with bated breath for me to wear these out in public. She has no sense of whimsy! It seems I do.

I've also finished all the embroidered blocks for my pup quilt. See those paw prints? There are 96 of them - 24 sets of 4. LD showed me a great trick for stitching 6 sets in one hooping. She is so smart!

Also, giving serious thought to a permanent kitchen couch. It leaves about 6 square inches of vacant floor space - but you stretch out with your tea, oatmeal and the paper. True comfort!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Kitchen Couch

It snowed. Lots and lots. I won't show you pics of how impressive it looks. Just check FB or whatever. It's quite the event! I am truly blessed. I have a great truck with excellent tires and 4WD. I have a warm house with lots of fabric and thread. I have DH who has a snowblower and knows how to use it. He looks so handsome when his eyebrows ice over. Truly!

I'm more concerned with how to locate and excavate the garbage and green bins. Bins are filling up in here, and I'm becoming concerned. The future may be smelly.

OK. One pic. This is a sight we saw last week while shopping for the furniture. The sun and warm had been making some headway. I'm wondering what it looks like now!

We have a couch in the kitchen now. We ordered furniture for the adjoining family room, and that led to new paint, and that led to drywall repairs, insulation, drywall replacement and much sanding. Then there was painting (and that ceiling need a freshening too). The floor hasn't been refinished and wouldn't that be nice. We are really looking forward to that furniture!

Meanwhile I can see why people would put a couch in the kitchen. If you read any novel with a Newfoundland setting (try Michael Crummy, he's excellent!) they always have a couch. It's comfy, great for chats and perfect when you can't be bothered to move. It's also really close to the fridge. Very handy. I think in Newfoundland it's meant for those who have had a bit too much rum and can't make it home. Ooooo! I'd like to try that! And now I can!

Now I'm going back to my sewing. Next post will be on pants and the FBA for pants. I didn't know I needed one down there! It was a rude awakening. The diet begins.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Smile! It will help to melt the ice.

Yes, we have had lots of snow. Yep, it then condensed into a black hole of ice dams, driveway glaciers and snowbanks that will not finish melting until....maybe June.

But the snow as it falls has been beautiful! The cold has been sharp and clear! We have more sun time in our day and this too will pass! May as well be happy and enjoy the pleasure hacking at ice with a pick can bring.

DH is putting finishing touches on his workshop. The hockey table is set up and I am learning to play. It's exhausting! All that yelling at the goalie takes everything I've got! I keep forgetting I have to move him myself. You'd think he'd just know!

It's good weather for quilts. Here is my latest. I think it looks better in real life. I made it extra long so the top can tuck under and over the pillows. Just a whim! The top looked a bit blah until the Great P chose a wild variegated thread and a lovely loopy quilting pattern. She is truly one with the long arm quilter now! She did an amazing job and I love it!

The strip on the back was an experiment. Next time I won't centre it and I will have it go all the way to both ends. The strip was actually part of the quilt top, but it then wouldn't fit on the quilting frame. I did get a bit carried away.


So now I'm working on another embroidered appliqué quilt. This one is called Mixed Mutts. It's just fun!

So now I am working on pants - also known as "the impossible fit' challenge. Tonight's discovery is that perhaps I need to add fabric at the crotch to make it smaller and less wrinkly. I seem to have a frowny front crotch (note, the pants!). This 3D visualization is very difficult. My head hurts a little.

The pants are a Style Arc pattern (Wallis) I downloaded from Etsy. Easy, cheap and fit together perfectly! I had tried out the Barb free download and could not get them to fit me. They were huuuuge! This time, on a whim I measured that little square they tell you to measure for accuracy's sake. I almost always do - and I tell people to check it. The Wallis pattern had to be scaled down to 86% to get it accurate! Wow! I take back all those bad thoughts I had about Barb's pants. I personally know the Barb those pants were designed for, and felt terrible I couldn't get them to fit. I may just pop back and give them another go - if I can get that fitting frown to disappear, and not transition into the dreaded smiley alteration.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

I Feel Much Sewing Coming On

JMN, take that! I have completed my January Block of the Month for Craftsy! How are you doing on your BOTM? I've seen nothing on your blog yet. What's up? Yes, I realize we are well into February and I'm only on January. I really do need to be a bit more prompt or I see disaster around the corner. Did you know we have TWO blocks due for February? I feel a bit panicky!

I decided to follow Jenny Beyers' directions. This meant hand sewing, template cutting and pressing after everything is sewn. I popped everything in a baggie and got some of it done on a recent trip to Montreal. I found the hand sewing relaxing and the corner matching was much easier! I can see why this is attractive to many people. I think I will follow her directions on assembly as it seems I will be trying lots of new things that way. Her videos are really well done and quite watchable!

I am not following her colour requirements. I just cut pieces from the half meters of batik I bought for this project. I don't have a background fabric designated and I don't include as many colour changes in a block as she requires. I will just cut as I feel and hope with fingers crossed that it all works out. She has you plop the block on the pressing mat and press from the right side, letting the seams fall where they may. I have never done THAT before, but it did seem to work beautifully. I wonder if this is only for hand piecing?

Now I am also working on a BOTM for Nancy Zeiman. She will also be introducing techniques and tools each month and the new block will be coming out on the 3rd. Saturday, so my homework will be staggered. Yah!

This month we did a Dresden plate block with strip piecing and alternating strip panels. The top of the panels were seamed to make a point and then the completed plate section was appliquéd with invisible thread. I got way too strippy on the panels. Perhaps if I measured before I sewed? She was working with 3 strips. I ended up with 5 to get the width I needed. If I had measured I could have made 3 work. Just wasn't thinking. 

Not too sure I like the invisible thread for the appliqué. It works, but I don't really like the look. Nancy hasn't shown us the whole quilt as Craftsy does, so I'm not sure how it finishes up. She does give you lots of ideas for using just that one block in many ways and advised pulling from scraps  of 3 colours (mine are red, beige and blue). I am using a colour for the background block - but I don't have that much of it and I don't know what I'll need - so this could get interesting. Looking forward to it! I made 2 blocks so I have options on completed quilt size.

I got the purse handles I have been waiting for in the mail today, so I will hopefully finish up my January purse this week and start my February purse too. This purse club is excellent, but I am going to need more days in the month. Many, many more days.

And I promised my SIN group I would sew clothing for me this month. We have dinner next Tuesday. 

If you're looking for me, I'll be in my sewing room.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Great P is Wise, So Wise, Again

Seen outside a local children's store - "Tutus for sale, locally made". Nothing brings a community closer than locally made tutus. Remember when 'imports' were a sign of prestige and quality? I like the way this pendulum is swinging. I still like the idea of on line shopping, but I love to buy local whenever I can. I also like the idea of celebrating our ability to produce quality products in our own backyard, and be proud of them. Yah us!

I finished a quilt today. It's lovely and I'm pleased with it. Pictures next time as I'm exhausted! It took about 1 1/2 hours to apply the binding! I like to use a blanket stitch to sew down the second side. It looks lovely and perhaps adds a bit of strength. However it took over one full bobbin of #50 thread and a very very long time to work my way around a small size quilt. It's still worth it, but I am amazed!

I machine quilted it at home and I'm getting much more comfortable with free motion quilting. On one square I tried little tiny wiggles in the centre square and then careful flower tracing in the border. Took longer, but it looked good.

Until I turned it over. Another lesson from the Great P greeted me on the other side. Always floss your top thread into the tension disk or it may not settle in nicely. When you free motion you don't need to raise the pressure foot to move around. However, if you don't raise the foot when you rethread, the tension disks are not open and ready to receive. The bottom was a sweet intense trail of little loopy stitches. Now the good part of loopy stitches is that they do pull out. That is a good thing, as there were a million of them.

Now, what do you do at the beginning and end of your free motion stitch line? Do you tack a few stitches on top of each other to fix the thread, or do you just sew? I tried both. When I tacked I then just cut the thread. When I just stitched away I went back and pulled all the threads to the backside and then pulled them into the quilt batting with a self threading needle.

And then the whole question of cotton vs poly thread. And thread weight. So many decisions!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Purses, Of Course.

Yesterday it was really cold, but sunny. When you looked out my kitchen window, in just the right way - you could see little sparkles of ice floating in the air. It looked like Jack Frost glitter! Beautiful!

It's raining purse patterns! I'm like a squirrel in a ripe oak tree. I signed up for the Bag of the Month Club.  My first pattern has arrived and I have it roughly together. I'm waiting for the purse frame to come from China. I need to get this finished before the February bag arrives in my email. Ahhh!!!!

Pellon is a great site for free patterns and they have added a new bag by Swoon, the Mabel! Look at that handle. It reminds me of the plastic handles that come in peach baskets. As I have a collection of those, I'll let you know if it works. If you 'Like' Swoon on Facebook you will see this bag in a variety of great versions.

Pellon also just added the Laney bag. It has classic good looks. I've seen it done in many versions (an actual use for Facebook) and would be good for spotlighting something neat on that centre panel.

Sew Sweetness has just posted the Baker Street bag. Her instructions are clear and you always learn something new. Love that Sara!

I did just finish a new Swoon bag. I used silk decorator samples, so each panel is a different colour way. I think it adds to the charm. There is a centre zipped pocket that pulls in the ends to make a fold and give the bag shape. I like it. The zipped section is only supposed to be attached at the end panels for about an inch. Talk about honesty in instructions! You are to 'wrangle' the whole business under the presser foot and try your best. Perfection is not guaranteed! Thank you! I can trust a designer like that!

I did put a few hand stitches in the bottom of the zipped section to tack it to the bag centre bottom seam. I'm not sure that was needed. Or maybe it would be better to sew both bottom seams together? I'll try it for a bit and reevaluate. However, the designer may be right in leaving it alone. When will I learn to trust?

This bag pattern was not free, but worth every penny of its bargain price. I will make it again. Although it may not look as if it will keep it's nice shape I think it will. It seems to get better every time I pick it up. I used a suit weight fusible interfacing on every piece of fabric and it seems to suit the silk without overpowering it. The handle tucks inside easily when you want to go 'clutch'.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Be a Blessing!

What a great weekend! I had my second curling night and had several rocks stay in play! Very exciting. Although it isn't nice to threaten the other team ("Don't touch that rock!") they were quite nice and apologetic when their play destroyed my efforts. My new curling shoes are just the ticket. They SLIIIIIDE.... beautifully. Need to practice more push in my slide.

Saturday DH and I were a checkpoint at a car rally. This means you sit in your car for 5 hours on a lonely, isolated dirt road in the total dark and wait for strange cars you don't know to drive up and stick their heads in your window. We had a lovely time! I brought a picnic and crocheted a washcloth using hemp. It makes for a nice exfoliation in the shower. 17 teams came through our checkpoint 3 times, and checked on my progress. DH remembered checkpoints from his youth where other crazy ladies sat with knitting. Ah, how the world turns! He never thought he'd marry that!

I'm trying to finish a quilt and further a second quilt along. I'm off to Montreal at the end of the month and want to finish one (OhLaLa!) for a niece. I have 13 nieces and nephews. Lots of quilts required! You should see a picture of this one soon.

Actually that's not true about the nieces and nephews. They don't require anything, dear sweeties. They are, however a great excuse for quilt making. They provide excellent justification. Some are actually having children of their own now. More excuse for sewing!

The second quilt is Jacobean Journey. It's embroidered and quilted 'in the hoop' on my embroidery machine. We are doing this at work as a group and I want to get half the blocks together so people can see what they are working towards. I'm getting the hang of it, but your eyes do cross occasionally as you have to match seams fairly precisely if you want it to lay flat and look good. It's a good place to use forked pins.

I think of myself as a somewhat spiritual person. I am not a church goer, nor am I anti church. We all need different things, I figure. However, when I pick up The Great P for work I get to read the local church signboard. I evaluate the message each time and discussion may follow. This week was excellent. The boys were right on. 'Be the blessing in 2015.' Think that through for a bit. What a positive and active message! Are you being a blessing? You'll know when you are. Take pleasure in it!

It also gives me the opportunity to inform people when they are NOT being a blessing! Keep that information to friends only. The non blessings don't understand or appreciate. Makes sense, eh?