Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do

These pics are from the Spring.  I forgot to post them way back then. Oops!

My daughter and her best friend were "helping" me in my sewing room on this day.
I was in the throngs of bee block making for my quilt club and they asked if they could "make a quilt" too.  Anything to keep busy little girls occupied, right?

I was working with my 2.5" scrap bin, so with fabrics already cut it was easy enough to let them create.  In picking fabrics you can imagine that two 5 year old girls picked nothing but pinks and purples. :)   

They did a great job! (and were sufficiently occupied for the morning) 
My only help was with the counting of squares.  
"You need 5 squares in this row and you only have 4 of those fabrics, so chose another one."

There might have even been some bartering between them for certain fabrics that the other one wanted...
 "But you already have a sparkly square." 
 "I'll give you this one that is soft if you give me a sparkly one."
"Hey, she has more heart squares than me!"

Eventually blocks were made and two little girls were proud of their creations.  

Now I just need to find some time to finish my end of the deal, which is to turn their blocks into  blankets for their prized stuffed animals Horsey and Spotty the Dog...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting My Improv On

I will admit that I am not much of an improv/wonky thinker.  Especially in my sewing life.  
It sort of scares me a bit. Or should I  say... a LOT!  

We all grew up sewing clothing, so precision and accuracy are critical skills if you don't want your clothes to "look" homemade.   Those skills work well for quilting, too, but maybe not as much for improv/wonky type things.  You need to be a bit more "free-thinking."  I'm trying, but I'll admit it's hard to unlearn some of that.  

So I am challenging myself to some improv this week.

These are my slabs made using the technique from the Sunday Morning Quilts book.  I was going to turn them into scrap boxes as suggested, but I'm sort of hung up on another idea I have brewing... So maybe boxes, and maybe not.  We will see.  But I'm happy with how they turned out.  Quite addicting!
How do you feel about improv?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All I can say (to myself) about this project is...It is about time!

This has been my longest WIP probably ever.  After a loooooooooooooong hiatus I FINALLY got this trench finished over the weekend.  And just in time for the weather to turn a bit cool here in MN.M5060
McCall's  M5060--now out of print.
*(On a side note, why discontinue a nice basic pattern?  This would never go out of style.)

I've been "working on" this coat for about 4 years now.  Sad, sad, sad.  Actually, I started it approximately 4 years ago and then it sat for almost 2 a sack on my sewing counter, right next to my machines.  I finally got the "wild hair" last year to finish a number of projects in my sewing room, this one included.  Seriously, not sure why it took me so long because I love everything about this coat.  And it only took a couple hours to put it ALL together, ready to wear.

The only drawback was that after being so long on the backburner, I apparently didn't have the same thread as I started with and it took almost an hour to pick out and then resew 8 topstitching lines.  Then I was back in business with everything looking good.  And it sat again.  Until now.

All I had to do to finish it was sew the sleeve lining to the sleeve hem, same with the actual coat hem, make buttonholes and sew on the buttons.

Finally, I'm in business.  So so happy!

Inside lining.


  • I made View B--single breasted shorter version in HOT pink, baby! 
  • Inset pockets instead of patch ones.
  • Didn't put buttons clear up to the collar because, really, how often do you actually button up that far?  I'll just wear it with a scarf instead.

Monday, September 24, 2012

{Vintage Style} Bedroom Redo -- Curtains (a 5 minute project!)

This post is part of an ongoing series of posts about my adventures in room redecorating.  Follow along with me as I attempt to transform my girls' room into a vintage inspired beauty.

I posted awhile back about finding the elusive sheet I needed for my girls' bedroom curtains.  I failed to mention that the sheet I found was a full size, while the sheet I had was a twin size.  

Well, I'm here to say that I used them both without doing one.single.adjustment to either.  Ok, that's not exactly true... I did have to cut off the excess length (about 6-8 inches) on both of them so they they wouldn't "pool" on the floor, but after that 5 min fix I left them as is.  That means that one side is a bit fuller than the other.  But can my daughters tell the difference?  Can anyone looking from the outside tell the difference?  Maybe you all can see the difference in this picture, but I think it is hardly noticeable.  So I left it as is.  And since I used the existing folded down part (I have no idea what it's really called...) at the top of the sheet to hang them, this project took me 5 mins. Literally! 

The hardest part for me was finding matching (thrifted) sheets.  I think I searched for about a year after I decided on this particular sheet.  The other hard part was trying to get a decent picture of the curtains hanging in their room.  Let's just say that my girls don't keep their room very clean.  This photo is editing out all the mess that currently resides in there.

 Does anyone else have children that prefer to live in squalor rather than clean their rooms or is it just mine?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Glitch & Fleece Gloves


Just as things were going so well with my sewing for myself last night I hit a snag.

This is the throat plate off my serger.
It isn't supposed to be in pieces.

Luckily today was the day for my sewing machine repairman to be at my favorite store.
Went there first thing this morning and he doesn't have one in stock.


He'll order one but it will take a week.


I have projects that need a serger.  Today!

So then he suggested another sewing place.
Drove a little further than I would have liked.
However, this is when you know you're addicted to your machine.  
I can't wait a week.  
Really, I can't.

Thankfully they had one in stock and $15 later I am on my way.
My whole morning taken up, but I have a new throat plate.

So the project I was hoping to post about this morning will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime here is a little project that I made for hubby over the last week.
 These are last years hunting gloves.
Well loved, well used, and well worn.

I made them a year or two ago--based off another worn out pair of fleece gloves that he adored and couldn't find a decent replacement for.  He asked if I would make him a new pair and then he painstakingly unpicked the beat up pair so that we could have a pattern.  Oh, how he loved those gloves!

I don't know how many pairs I've made since then, but this week I've made 4 new pairs:  2 for hubby, 1 for daughter #1 for when she goes hunting with dad, and another pair for hubby's hunting buddy Eric.

Hopefully this will buy me some time so that I don't have to make another pair for awhile.
And then I went and bought the rest of this remnant fleece to put in the stash so when I do need to make more pairs I already have the fabric ready to go.

1/2 yd. fleece makes 4 pairs of gloves
$2.00 for fabric.
Putsy sewing for sure--not my favorite things to make, but hubby is happy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another Knit Top--Elastic Thread Embellished

This shirt pattern is pretty basic--but with some nice sleeve and hem options.  Lately you see lots of peasant type tops with some ruching at the waist, and then maybe also at the sleeve and neckline--usually made of a cotton.  I have trouble buying tops at the store, as they are never quite long enough--sleeves included.  So I wanted to try my hand at a little elastic thread embellishing / experiment with this top to try and replicate the current look.  I am pleased with how it turned out.  And I'm going to do another one or two of these.

 I attached the neckband per the directions and then after that I added the elastic thread topstitching.  I sewed 3 rows of stitching the width of the pressure foot apart.  I think it gathered up nicely.

  • Simplicity 1805
  • Used View D with View A/B sleeve hem option.
  • Very easy pattern and super comfy shirt
  • I think I bought this knit at Jo-Ann's, specifically for the color--knit interlock
  • Elastic thread at neck and hem

4 rows of sewing at the hem area--about the width of the pressure foot apart.
You can decide how much "flounce" you want after the ruching portion. 
You could do this right at the edge of the hem and basically have no flounce.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Funky knit top

Butterick 5495

Love this shirt. 
Bought the fabric at the thrift store for me.

I made it up it ended up not fitting and went to daughter #1.  
Good thing she loves blue and already had her eye on the fabric.

 I adjusted the pattern and then made this one.  Happy day!
I may shorten the length just a little more.
Still debating.

Detail of the gathered center front.
This fabric is slightly metallic.  I like it.

Used View C--black white version
3/4 sleeve and hem at mid-hip length--about halfway between the long and short versions.
Removed back seam by adjusting to cut on fold.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's All About Me Week--Mock Wrap Dress

Slowly I've been trying to revamp my wardrobe.  This is one of the dresses that has been on my list. Butterick 5206.  I love a good classic wrap dress--although this one is a mock wrap.  You can hardly go wrong with this style. Thank you Diane von Furstenberg!

I had the fabric for close to a year before I put this dress together.

Daughter #2 was hoping I would change my mind and somehow not want it.  My response to her: You all have other pieces that I wanted, but gave up for you, so this one is mine.  MINE!  However, it took me awhile to find a brown knit to match so that I could use it for the binding on this dress.  I was about to resort to using actual swimsuit fabric, which would've been heavier than the dress fabric itself.  Glad I found something better.

I was hoping I could have this done for Easter earlier this Spring but ended up helping daughter #2 finish making her dress on the Saturday before.  I felt that was more important than getting my own done.  I did finish it in time to wear a time or two this past Spring, but just haven't posted about it.  In fact, this same daughter asked me if this dress was new when I put it on to take pictures yesterday for this post.

  • I didn't attach the binding as directed in the instructions--which was to basically make your own bias tape.  Instead I bound all the edges (neck edge, sleeve hem, and hem) using the t-shirt neck binding method.  
  • I found that with the fabric I used (jersey knit) I didn't need the side zipper.  I just sewed up the seam and there was enough stretch to get it over my head w/o needing the zipper.
  • For me I added to the length about 6 inches.
  • Added 1" to bodice length
  • Cut off about 2" on the longer sleeve version.  I wanted my sleeves to look like 3/4 length instead of just looking like they were long sleeves that were too short for my long arms.  They hit just below the elbow now.  Perfect!
  • Super comfy!
Bonus dresses:
All these dresses were made earlier this Spring. 

I found some pretty fabric at Jo-Ann's for daughter #1 and made her one of these too.  Once again fabulous jersey knit fabric that doesn't wrinkle, stretches so that it is super comfy.

Used the same brown knit for the binding on hers that I did on mine.

And then daughter #2 decided she would like one too--so we made a pretty blue one with flutter sleeves.

I also used some heavier dark grey knit in my stash to make myself a Fall/Winter version of this dress.
Four dresses later I have reduced my fabric stash by 12 yds.  Woohoo!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's All About Me Week of Sewing

After 16 years of having kids at home I now have ALL my children in school ALL day long.  Ahhh, lovely!
Let's hear a little woo hoo!

Woo hoo! (sorry no sentimental tears here)

They were a bit concerned about me, however, and what I would do all day long without them.

Oh, trust me, I have plans.

There are so many projects to be done, both already in the process, as well as some in my head.  But one thing I've been thinking about and trying to do almost all summer long is some sewing for myself.  The patterns and the fabric are piling up.  So I've decided that I am going to dedicate one week of my sewing life to me only.  I'll post about it and the things I've accomplished or am working on--the posting may cover a two week time span depending on how fast I am.  Actually some of it is already done and I've just not posted yet.  

I don't know if I'll get it all done, but I'm aiming for one thing a day.
Just for one week starting on Sept. 17.
Then I'll move on to other things--like the rest of my slipcovers for the LR.

Anybody up for joining me in a week of "me" sewing?
Not stuff for the kids, but for me.  Me, me, me!
Round up your projects this weekend and we'll start on Monday.

How about it?
Let me know if you have a sewing list for yourself that needs to be whittled down.
We can tackle the list together.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I started working on the layout for my Amish Blocks this week.  I found that because of the layout I chose I needed to make a few more blocks to fill in the blanks.  It took me awhile to settle on color combos for those blocks since I was trying to balance all the colors out.  I'm not sure that I succeeded, but the extra blocks were made and inserted none the less.

I'm going with a 6 by 8 layout which gives the finished dimensions of 48" by 64."  I want it to end up a twin so I'm going to add some borders to round out the size.  Hopefully the vision I have in my head translates to well to reality.  Right now I'm only seeing blocks that I probably should've shuffled around and didn't... Oh well. I don't unpick.

While the blocks have been hanging out on my sewing room floor my oldest (13yr old son) has been saying things like, "Wow, that's a colorful quilt!" each time he walks by.  When I ask him if that means he likes it, he says, "Ya, it's's just that it's reeeaaally colorful."

Maybe the Amish would scoff at my interpretation, but I think it's coming along beautifully.  
Kind of reminds me of the 80's a bit, too.
It's definitely bright!


P.S. I'm loving Amber's version.  It was an idea from Quilty magazine.  If we do a 2nd round for this swap I am going in that direction for sure!  Jodi's is going true 80's style! Also, a cool one.  :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Trade Among Friends

My next door neighbor happens to be my really good friend.  
She and I are a lot alike, yet we are completely different in so many ways. 
Because of those differences (and similarities) we get along really well.
She makes me laugh. A lot.  I think every woman should have a good friend/confidant.  
It's definitely cheaper than therapy! :)

Anyway, recently we decided to do a little trade. 
See, I've been wanting a new kitchen table for a loonng time.  Mine was too small for my family.   She offered to help me build one.  But that never really panned out. Seems I like to make quilts more than I like to build tables. So after waiting for me to not make one for over a year, we decided to just trade talents. She'd make me a table, I'd make her a quilt.  Win, Win!!

This week my table was delivered! 
 (Don't mind my ugly mismatched chairs or my terrible photography skills.) 
We have been so happy to have elbow room at the table.  
Believe me when I say dinner has become more pleasant because of it.

 When it came right down to the quilt, the one she really wanted was this one.  I tried to talk her into a "new" one, but she was set on it.   Easy for me.  Now if I can just figure out a way to squeeze matching benches out of her sweat shop we'd be in business.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mama Needs a New Sewing Machine

I have lamented before about my sewing machine frustrations.  It's an ongoing problem... And I'm getting super annoyed at my lack of machine reliability. I don't ask much, just a machine that sews when I want it to.  :)

So I have decided to put some of my baby quilts up for sale in the hopes that I can earn the cost of a new machine rather than taking the money out of the family budget. 

If you are interested you can find them listed in my etsy shop.  

Any recommendations on sewing machines would be greatly appreciated as well.  I think I know what I want, but would love to here what you all are using and loving.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

In a Jam....or jelly

My neighbor Vicki came over earlier in the week to use my canner to make some jam.  Her kitchen was slightly out of commission as her husband and FIL were putting in a new back door.  She had everything ready to go except for the cooking part and putting it in jars for processing.  It took us about about 45 minutes for 13 pints.

Process 10 min. for pints in a hot water bath or steam canner.

I don't normally make cooked jam.  I'm more partial to the freezer variety, but canned jam will last longer, especially if the electricity goes out.  I know that from experience, unfortunately.

She makes this jam every summer (usually brings me a small jar) and uses the recipe off the Sure-Jell® package (yellow box) for Triple Berry Jam--raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.  (There is a no or less sugar recipe for this jam too--use the pink box.  I try to use the reduced sugar recipes for my family)  The only change Vicki makes is she prefers the triple combination with blueberries instead of blackberries.  Either way, super delicious.

She left me a pint as a "thank-you" for the equipment use.  I made homemade bread the next day--just for the jam.
 I love the deep red color of this jam.

Don't let those darker spots in the jam scare you--those are the skins of the blueberries

If you get the chance, try it.  I guarantee you'll like it.

Earlier in the summer I also made some strawberry rhubarb jam.  With Idaho roots on our mother's side you just have to have a recipe or two for rhubarb in your repertoire.

Not remembering exactly what recipe I've used in the past, I used the recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam found in the Sure-Jell® for Less or No Sugar Pectin box (pink).  Instead of using the 4 c. of crushed strawberries as the recipe indicated I used only 3 c. and then added 1 c. chopped rhubarb for a total of 4 c. crushed fruit.  Then followed the recipe as indicated on the package directions.

Daughter #2 and 3 both tried this jam and they are on board.  I might have to make more from some of my freezer rhubarb now that I'm not the only one eating it.

**The Ball Blue Book also has a recipe for cooked Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.  Or you can go to Ball's website for more recipes for jams and jellies. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Canning Green Beans

A week or so ago my friend MaryAnn let me pick some green beans from her garden as she had already picked and canned her fill for what she and her family needed.  We picked 16 quarts worth of green beans and I was so happy to have them.

For a pressure canned item, green beans ares one of the easiest and quickest foods to can.  25 min. in the pressure canner is all you need, but you definitely have to use a pressure canner, not just a hot water bath canner. Probably the most time consuming thing about green beans is trimming the ends and snapping them.  Problem solved with 5 kids, a number of bowls, and a movie.  Mine finished up the job in no time and miracle of miracle, with no complaining.  Another lesson on "many hands make light work."

I know that pressure canning scares people.  However, I almost exclusively pressure can--even those items that don't require using a pressure canner.  Really, if you can read and tell time you can CAN.   Repeat after me, "Yes, I Can."  Repeat it a number of times if you need to.

Canning instructions for green beans are found here--from the Ball Blue Book, pg. 66.
You can print off a pdf tutorial here too for green beans including pics.
Or watch a video of canning green beans.

Basically you need:
2 lbs. beans per quart jar
1 tsp. salt per quart
Process in pressure canner 25 minutes at 10# pressure.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quilt Club Ladies

An updated picture of me and my quilt club ladies. 

I can't say enough about these women! 

While it's obvious that I am a bit out of place in a group like this, I have never felt anything but complete acceptance from these lovely ladies.  They are kind, loving, and very supportive of me and "my kind" of quilting. I know for sure that my stuff isn't their taste, but they never make me feel anything less than one of them

We recognize and celebrate each others differences. We encourage and support in times of need.   They teach me and I teach them.  (One of these ladies even made 100(!) string blocks after I showed my quilt one month!)  Together we learn and improve our craft.  We laugh and eat and talk.  And each month I come away rejuvenated and happy that I was there.  
Now that's the sign of a great club!!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Baby Nine Patch

Let me start by saying that I am super pumped to have projects getting DONE at a faster rate than getting started!  This is finish # 5 of 5 on the baby quilt front.  WooHoo!  I'm Done!  Seriously, it has been so hard not to start new projects...  I hope next year I can keep my WIP list under control from the get go.  Fingers Crossed. xx 

Now onto the quilt.
Not to be confused with the big version I made back in the day, here is an equally awesome baby version of Amanda Jean's wildly popular nine patch quilt along

I got a hair brained idea to remake my original sometime around the time I was busting my way through my scrap bin on this quilt.  My enthusiasm was short-lived, though, so I only came up with enough blocks for a child size version.
But it's done. I love it!  Enough said.

 I chose this lovely grey from the Sherbert Pips line for the binding.
The backing is an equally yummy turquoise print from the DS Quilts line.  (You can see a little bit of it here and in the photo above.)

 Some of the last bits of favorite fabrics are in this quilt.
Can you ever go wrong with scraps?  I think not.

Happy Monday,

Quilt stats:
Blocks finish at 6 in. Started with 2.5 in squares.
Finished quilt measures: 46 x 54 in.
Lots of cross-hatch quilting done by the fabulous Lynn.


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