12.31.2014

Husband's comfy pants #2 - and a lesson learned

My last make for 2014 was squeaked in right before Christmas.
Our plans changed a few days before Christmas, to spend Christmas away from home.  Not a big deal, except I'd planned to 'whip up' another pair of comfy pants for my husband during the time I thought I'd be at home, and as these would be his Christmas gift, and as he'd taken off from work the week leading up to Christmas..... all meant sewing time had to be spent in secret - which meant sewing mostly late at night - which all leads up to..... the story about these pants.

Thought the plaid flannel matched nicely in the front (photo below).... and the back.  Didn't worry about the sides, these will only be worn at home.
Used Simplicity A2116 for the second time...
...applying all the modifications and alterations from the first pair I'd made him last month.  Also took the time to make copious notes on my pattern about how I put the pocket in.  Thought the top-stitching and bar tacks on the front turned out well.
Thought the serging turned out well.  This pocket was put in like the last one, following a rtw pair he already had.  
Machine-embroidered a little tag for the back....
....top-stitched a 1" twin-needled hem and was getting ready for the final press with the iron.... to find I'd made the pants... BACKWARDS!!!!!  Which, in an elastic-waist pair of pants wouldn't be a problem, except for the pockets all neatly stitched, serged and top-stitched in.  Aaarrrggghhhhh!  I was so upset with myself, I couldn't help but come out of my closed-door sewing room to share the awful news because these were heading to the trash can.  My sweet husband insisted on trying them on and deemed them wearable and comfortable.  ????   Really???!!!  So they were gifted as a 'surprise' (ha!) on Christmas and he's been wearing them ever since.  

I was in such a hurry to 'whip' these up that I failed to double-check/triple-check something as rudimentary as the front/back.  Lesson learned.

I'm also thinking they are so baggy in their comfortableness that that helps them work being worn backwards... but I really think I have a very sweet, considerate husband. 

12.23.2014

Wishing you and yours, a Merry Christmas!

Sending Christmas Greetings to all my friends... new and old, far and wide..... hoping you and your families have a wonderful Christmas season!

12.17.2014

"...and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...."

Welllll, we have a chimney... that is attached to our wood-burning fireplace..... that we use a LOT.....  so these stockings are hung by the china cabinet near the Christmas tree so our house might not burn down.  :)
Our family has never been stocking stuffers at Christmas..... until this year.  As my husband and I were out completing our Christmas shopping a few weeks ago, he was adding this little thing and that little thing to the cart.  Let me pause here to explain.... my husband is a 'gift-giver'.  He loves to give gifts.  It's such fun to see HIS face and HIS excitement when someone is opening a gift he's given.  Many times he's been so excited over a gift, that he's just gone ahead and given it because HE can't wait for the appointed special day to arrive!  So back to the little things going into the cart...... turns out he was planning for them to go into Christmas stockings.... Christmas stockings we do not have.  Melissa had one left over from one of my crafty days when she was little when I painted her name on a quickly purchased red felt stocking with metallic Tulip fabric paint, and that was pretty much it.  So, if we're getting stocking stuffers for Melissa and Tom's mom (aka Granny - she'll be spending Christmas with us), then not only do both of them need adequate stockings, but Tom and I do too.
Thinking this would an oh-so-quick and speedy project, I checked my pinterest board and saw a link I'd pinned showing a stocking laid out for stitching, put the image in my head, traced the stocking I had on hand for my pattern, adding enough for a 'cuff' and went to town making a muslin to check the construction.  Muslin turned out oh-so-cute (photo above) so now I needed to chose the 'real' fabric(s).  Over the years I've been moving our home decor into the more 'natural' fibers and wanted to continue that in our Christmas decorating.  Our tree this year is simple with white twinkly lights, little white silk poinsettia flowers poked in here and there, along with Melissa's beaded candy canes she's made through the years. Those simple candy canes hold so many special memories it just would not be right to not see those on our Christmas tree!
Knowing I had plenty of burlap in the stash, I thought that would suit.  Simple, Organic, Natural.  That's what I wanted.  For the cuff/lining went with a piece of creamy stretch velour, also from the stash.  Thought the texture of the velour would be striking against the burlap.
With this pattern, it is a truly lined stocking whose top is simply turned down for the 'cuff'.  But what I did not realize until EVERYTHING was cut out and ready to be stitched.... is there's no place to sew in a hanging loop.  My little oh-so-quick-n-easy project screeched to a halt at this point as I pondered the loop problem.  Pinned a few other Christmas stocking tutorials after finding out that I could've cut the cuff separately and when stitching it to the top in the last step of construction, you can sew in a loop then.  Well, well, well.  Seeing as it's now a mere 8 days away from Christmas Eve and my little stocking holders have been sitting empty waiting to hold their appointed stockings, I just moved forward sewing the stockings together as I'd originally planned and figured I'd worry about the loop later.
Wanting the stockings to have a 'natural', 'organic' feel, none of my trims and ribbons felt right.  Thinking of some jute twine I had on hand... played with that for a few minutes and came up with my own 'twisted' loop.  I'd taken a fiber arts class a few years ago where we took strands of fiber and twisted them together to make a strand of yarn, and that's what I did with 2-21.5" of jute twine. After letting it back-twist to create the strand, fooled around with a knot under a loop and hand-stitched it to the outside back of each stocking with a double strand of Button Craft Thread.  Love that stuff.  It is so strong.
And now it's beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas around here!
Hoping you and your family are enjoying this Christmas season!

12.12.2014

a new top for winter - NewLook pattern 6735

I have finished a new Alabama Chanin inspired top.  It may have been started late last winter season, but is finished just in time for this year's Southern winter.  So am I ahead, or behind?!  :)
NEWLOOK 6735 was used again, machine sewing (serging) the construction seams, lengthening the 3/4 sleeves to a long sleeve and this time raising the neckline.  Perfect!  When turning this pattern into an Alabama Chanin inspired look, you don't add the neckline band, so an already kinda low neckline becomes too low for me.  This pattern has a nice little gathering around the bustline side seams to enhance the fit.  My other Alabama Chanin inspired top can be seen here.
The neckline and sleeve seams/hems were constructed just like my previous AC inspired top by adding a strip of knit fabric cut from the NL6735 neckline band pattern piece, overlapping the front 1/2" leaving the extra length to the inside.  The extra length inside is cut off after the hand-stitching is done.  This time I wanted a little contrast, so the 'wrong' side of the fabric was made into the 'right' for these added pieces.  Also, this time I used a double strand of Coats & Clark Button Craft Thread, which is the thread Natalie Chanin recommends in her Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  I own this book now and it is a fantastic resource  All hand-stitches are the herringbone stitch.
Charcoal gray knit photographs terribly, but I hope you can see some of the detail in the photo below.  I did not add a 'band' to the bottom hem, just turned the fabric under, marked the depth of my stitching and hand-stitched herringbone stitches all 'round, then cut the excess inside fabric off.  This small, seemingly insignificant addition, finishes the little top off nicely to me.
I like that the hand-stitched detail is muted, yet makes this top unique.
A previous day's photos, below, showing the little top all tucked into my leopard linen skirt, worn with tights and boots.  Tucked in, the top looks like a bodysuit.
This is a great way to sort of dip one's toes into elements from an Alabama Chanin garment, without feeling overwhelmed with the thought of an entire hand-stitched project.  One day I will make an authentic Alabama Chanin garment, but for now, this satisfies.

12.08.2014

Quilt for Alabama Children's Home 2014 - Done!

Please, oh please remind me to NOT start a quilt during the holidays!  Talk about STRESS!
But I can say, this quilt is now complete, and it's a good thing because it needs to be in the mail to get to Gene Black, who is heading the Quilt Angel Project again this year for an Alabama children's home, before the Dec. 15 deadline.
In the last post about this quilt,  the top was pieced after using my new iphone's panoramic photo feature to take a couple of different shots of the fabrics, to determine color placement.

Then the frustration(s) began.  Having already prepped and pieced together cream-colored flannel from the stash for the backing, I noticed a small stain.... on the flannel.... the flannel I had pre-washed.  I knew the stain would not come out.  What to do..... what to do.  Aha!  The quilt label could be stitched over the stain (in the middle of the back) and become a 'design element'.  Yes! I quickly made a perfect 'heart' label using the embroidery feature on my machine for the wording.  The label on the left, photo below, turned out perfect and was immediately satin-stitched to the flannel, where I now began to worry about the integrity of the flannel fabric.  With every needle stitch, there was a hole.  It reminded me of a flannel pair of pajama pants I made for my daughter last year where, within a few washings, the flannel ripped.  Not the seams... not even at the seams..... but within the flannel itself.  Certainly not wanting that to happen here... trashed the flannel and started over.... which meant I could not use the perfect label either.  Thinking that while I had the label mojo going I'd go ahead and make another label, which turned out terrible - photo below, top right.  Third time being the charm, and an hour later, the next one turned out fine... photo below, bottom.  Some of my frustrations this day were shared on Instagram.
Now I needed a new back for this quilt, so a cream colored twin-size flat sheet was purchased from Wal-Mart for $4.97.  You can't beat the price, even though I so did not want to use a sheet with its 60% cotton/40% polyester content - but at this point I needed to be moving forward and there's plenty of fabric in the sheet so there's no worry about piecing the back.  There is enough sheet material left over to back another small quilt, so I made a note on the label for a reminder.
Then I realized I did not have enough Warm & Natural 100% cotton batting that I have used in every quilt I've made to date, and thought I'd purchased enough for this one.  I love that stuff!  But 'beggars can't be choosers', so to speak, so Fairfield's Soft & Toasty it is for this quilt as that's all my little local Wal-Mart carries.  I do not like it anywhere near as much as the Warm & Natural.  It seems flimsier and thinner.  But it is 100% cotton, and that's a good thing.
Now I had the supplies to cut the back and batting out......
...sandwich, using painter's green 'Frog Tape' to keep everything stable, and safety pin baste to prep for quilting.... all in one morning.  My knees were killing me.  Luckily, at 45" x 60", this is not a large quilt.  
The Bernina walking foot my husband gave me for an early Christmas surprise arrived just in time to use for quilting this quilt.  I have a 1230 Bernina and luckily Tom remembered my telling him a walking foot for my machine was $200 ordered through the local Bernina store, as he found they were selling for $300 online.
 An action shot below!  This walking foot set includes 3 different sole feet.  This one I'm using below, is for stitching in the ditch and has an edge-stitch attachment, which makes it oh-so-easy to stitch-in-the ditch.
The entire quilt was quilted with the wavy running stitch I used for the Bugs! Baby Boy's Quilt.  I felt no drag, nor pull, as the walking foot was stitching, and also found I did not need to stop and readjust the presser foot so much.
I am satisfied with the quilting results.
 Always have to include a photo of the binding!
With all the changes associated with the backing material and label, in the end blanket-stitched the label to one of the front corners.
Remember, this quilt will be going to a children's home in Alabama, so this is the handwritten note I'm including again this year.  It reads:  "I hope you like your new quilt.  It was made with love, especially for you, because you are special.  The top is 100% cotton, the batting (the middle part) is also 100% cotton and the back is 60% cotton/40% polyester.  It can be machine washed and dried.  If you look carefully, in one of the corners, you will see the stitched-in label created for your quilt, for you.  Merry Christmas! Love, (Mrs.) Lisa Spivey / South Carolina"
One last look....
....and it just came out of the washer and dryer!  It will be in tomorrow morning's mail to hopefully warm a little boy or girl who needs to feel a little 'special' this Christmas.  Now to finish that Alabama Chanin inspired top!
2013's Alabama quilt with all the links

11.24.2014

Treats for my Mother-in-Law

The other day's post about the mug rug I made for my mother-in-law's upcoming 81st birthday also spoke about what she enjoys most in a 'gift' from me....  that comes in the form of homemade goodies full of chocolate and sugar goodness frozen in single size servings that make it easy for her to pull out of her freezer to enjoy when she wants.  I thought I'd share with you a few of the goodies I've made so far. 

We begin with white chocolate covered pretzels, (so easy to do with your microwave!), Philly 3-step Cheesecake, Pecan Tassies and 'Easy' Chocolate Fudge.  All freeze well.  The 3 cheesecakes did not make it through the weekend though, we're down to 2 today!  What can I say!  We love cheesecake here!  The remaining two will be cut into slices and frozen this afternoon.  With the pecan tassies and fudge, I used different size muffin papers to keep the goodies separate, and look nice too, before bagging them in a small freezer bag.  The smaller freezer bags are then put into a larger freezer bag and the double-bagging helps keep the goodies fresher in the freezer longer.  The cheesecake slices will be wrapped in wax paper before individually bagging, then bagging as a group.
Tomorrow will be baking her birthday cake - Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake iced with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Icing, then on to the Lowcountry for the birthday girl to blow out her candles and see her face light up as she checks each goody with delight before placing them in her freezer!  Like watching a kid in a candy store!  Such fun! 

11.20.2014

Quilt for Alabama Children's Home 2014
& my next Alabama Chanin inspired top

It was such a blessing to participate in Gene Black's Quilt Angels Project last year, that I immediately jumped at the chance to participate again this year.  Gene asks for volunteers to make quilts that he takes to a children's home in Alabama for kids who need a safe place to stay.  For those who read my blog, you know I was born and raised in Alabama and hold the people dear to my heart.  This particular children's home is in an Alabama city I spent many pleasant summer days on its resident lake as a teenager.  You can read more about my 2013 quilt here.

This is where I'm at on the 2014 quilt today, below.
My plans were to begin this quilt this past summer.  Do you think I did?  Nooooo.  So here it is a week before Thanksgiving and I am just now getting started.  With this being my 4th quilt to-date, I feel like a pro (Ha!).... not really, just had the good sense to chose something that would go together quickly.... or rather more quickly than slowly.... if that makes sense.  Thought a strip quilt would do the trick and used Film in the Fridge's strip quilt mini tutorial to get started. 

Finally figured out the panoramic feature on my new iPhone which was most helpful in deciding which colors should go where.  Colors are a weak area of mine and seeing the placement via a photo image was a great determining factor in their order. This quilt should be pleasing for a boy or a girl, I'm thinking. 
After color order was decided, all the fabrics were cut to size and numbers pinned on to keep them in order.  And it was a good thing too, because the next day I brushed up against them and half landed on the floor!
With strip quilting you sew 2 strips together at a time.... then sew that set of 2, to the next set of 2 then cut to size as you sew the sets of 4 together.  Film in the Fridge explains all that pretty well..... but even then I got 'confused' as you can see below.  9 & 10 should've been sewn to 11 & 12.  Gee whiz.  At least this was easy to correct and no seams had to ripped out. 
When all my strips were sewn together, it was short of the 45" minimum width Gene asks the quilts to be.  So I added a 2 1/2" border in brown.  Hard to see on my floor in the photo below, but the top is done today and measures @45" x 60" - the minimum size Gene needs.
Changing subjects - I really want to share with you my next Alabama Chanin inspired top I've been working on.  Using NEWLOOK 6735 as the basic pattern I have been hand stitching the neckline and sleeve hem bands with double strand button thread using the herringbone stitch....
..... and it has taken me hours.... and hours.... I am such a turtle with my hand-stitching.  But to be fair I am taking my time on this one to use as a skill-builder and painstakingly making sure the thread is sewn just right and my stitches are nice and even.  Still need to cut the excess fabric off the inside  and hand-stitch the hem.  After pouring all this work into this little shirt, machine stitching the hem just didn't seem right.  All the construction seams are machine stitched.
So, things are moving along.  Hope to have the quilt sandwiched this weekend and my sweet husband ordered a walking foot for my Bernina so will wait until that comes in to do the quilting.  Meanwhile, hoping to complete this little top so I can be wearing it soon.  Hope all is having a good week!
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