Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Amy Butler Barcelona Skirt

I am SO SO SO pleased with this skirt! This is my first time sewing with a designer pattern (not a "big 3") and it is by FAR my favorite thing I've ever made for myself. I used the layered skirt option, the one pictured on the cover of the pattern. I even used Amy Butler Coriander, just like on the pattern, but in a different color. Apologies for the terrible, poorly lit, self-timer pictures!

I have already washed it once and I love the texture the raw edges give the skirt. I love the colors, the length, the fit. It's so comfortable but still looks a little bit dressy. I'm just so pleased with this! Yay!

Another giveaway to share!

Blue Nickel Studios is giving away a set of mystery fat quarters! Take a minute to look through this blog, there are some beautiful pictures of quilts, but also some really cool pictures of found items that would make great fabrics- hotel wallpaper, manhole covers, driveway stones... I thought I was the only one who noticed hotel fixtures! I used to travel a lot for work and sometimes I'd forget I'd stayed at a certain hotel before until I saw the carpet in the hallways and it reminded me. Blue Nickel Studios is the work of Scott Hansen, the second male quilter/blogger I've stumbled upon recently. I love the perspective guys bring to quilting, and I think I might have to do a blog post about it soon.

Tools for Tuesday

On Tuesdays I'm going to post about tools that have made sewing (or other crafts) easier for me! Today's tool is the Dritz Magnetic Seam Guide. I've seen mention of these on other blogs, and it always seemed like a neat idea but I never remembered to look for one while I'm at the store. I usually have one or both girls with me and for some reason they seem to think Joann is a torture chamber and they lose their minds within minutes of entering. But I digress... I had a rare opportunity to shop ALONE on Sunday and I finally grabbed one of these handy little things.

They are not recommended for computerized machines, but for my 1970s Kenmore, it's perfect! My machine does have the measurement markings cut into the plate, which is great, but since I'm usually sewing in the middle of the night, it sure helps to have that physical guide. It's a lot more reliable than my eyeballs and hands. I already feel like it's made a huge difference in my accuracy and my seams look so much nicer now!

If you don't want to buy one of these, or if you have a computerized machine, you can use a pad of Post-It Notes! I tried this and it worked pretty well, but they lost their stickiness pretty quickly. I bet those newfangled super-duper stick Post-Its would be perfect!

And see that Amy Butler Clay Coriander fabric on the machine? That's my fabulous new Amy Butler Barcelona Skirt! More on that later...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just had to share this!

Catherine at morecloth.com put this together, and it's incredible! There are color bars (so pretty in their own right!) that you click on and it takes you to a sampling of fabrics on Etsy in those colors! Then you can click on each sample and go right to the shop to buy it! Amazing!!!


My Favorite Books

This week's blog assignment for The Dressing Room is to list our favorite books. Listing "favorite" anything is very hard for me, because my tastes change frequently! But here's a list of books I can read over and over and never get tired of. And I'm not putting them in any special order, because that would take me a month!

The Harry Potter Series (I suppose it would be cheating to list all 7 separately?), by JK Rowling
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte & Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (I'm counting them together because each makes me appreciate the other more)
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
Anything by Toni Morrison
Anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Baby Book, by William Sears (we wouldn't have survived the first year of parenting without it!)

Can you tell I was an English major in college? Most of these (OK, not Harry Potter, but only because I'm too old!) are books I wrote papers on, so I really read them closely and had the opportunity to discuss them with classmates. I think that really helps me appreciate books and movies-- Someone willing to get nerdy with me and discuss little details and themes, and appreciate a well written phrase. I have a terrible memory, and if I read a book or watch a movie and don't discuss it afterwards, it quickly leaves my brain.

I think that's why I am not reading much these days, other than to reread old favorites. If I can't really absorb the book, it's hard for me to make the time to read it-- I'd rather be sewing! When I'm sewing, if the baby wakes up or the four year old has an urgent need for the mermaid doll she can't find, I can stop sewing for a moment and help them. If I get interrupted while reading I have a hard time settling back into it. Someday I'll have loooong blocks of time again... Someday!

Another Giveaway at The Fabric Shopper!

I love this set- It's a "Ready to Sew" Bag Kit from Flair for Fabric. It includes everything you need to make the Amy Butler Frenchie Bag in some gorgeous blue fabrics. And it really has everything, right down to the thread, interfacing, and magnetic snap! Cool! And The Fabric Shopper is giving it away! Check it out!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Is it still a quilt?

I finished a second blanket for CraftHope last night. I don't have a walking foot, and quilting scares me, so I've been cheating. I've just been putting on a piece of fabric for the back, sewing it inside out, turning and topstitching. So, basically the same way I'd make a trivet, but MUCH bigger. Then I hand tie with embroidery thread in roughly 5" segments. I assume that must be some kind of major quilting faux pas? But it gets the job done with no tears or swearing from me!

I'm really happy with how this turned out. My local quilt shop sells one pound bags of scraps for $5. It's mostly long strips of 1" to 4" or so in width. I cannot go in there without coming out with one of those bags, which is why my scrap collection looks like this:

So, I pulled out a bunch of black, white and red strips, sewed them all together end to end, cut them up and put them back together and came up with this:

I didn't have anything that matched that was big enough for a backing, so I pieced together a remnant and a couple more of those handy strips.

I'm really excited about this! It didn't take very long, and used up a bunch of scraps I would probably not have used for anything myself. Definitely planning on making one or two more!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fabric Friday

Each week on Friday I'll be talking about fabric-- Something new that's caught my eye, something I found that week, or just something from my stash that I love!

This week I had a couple of boxes of co-op fabrics come in! It was like Christmas because in some cases I'd ordered the fabric so long ago I'd forgotten exactly what was coming!

Lots of canvas in this batch. From top to bottom in the pic below:

Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dotted Leaves Porch
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Scallop Stripe Porch
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dizzy Dots Porch
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dottie Porch
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dottie Pear
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dizzy Dots Pear
Erin McMorris Park Slope Birds in Ivory

Amy Butler Clay Coriander
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Posie Raisin
Amy Butler Cherry Wallflower
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dizzy Dots Berry
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Dottie Rose Berry
Denyse Schmidt County Fair Daisy Bouquet Berry
Misc. Home Dec fabric, solid fuschia

How could anyone NOT love fabric??? I think I finally have enough Clay Coriander to make a Barcelona Skirt! I think I'll also make one with the Cherry Wallflower!

The finished shirt

Here's the YMCA shirt, trimmed down to a more manageable size. It's not perfect, but it's not as lopsided and lumpy as it looks in this picture! She wanted to try it on the second she woke up, hence the bedhead, sleepy face and PJ pants. This was my first project with knits, so I'm pretty proud!

I couldn't let today pass without mention of the loss of Michael Jackson. Whatever he may have done/been in his later years, there's no denying he was an incredible talent that influenced so many people in so many ways. While I was working on some blankets for Craft Hope tonight, I listened to HIStory, his greatest hits album, and was really touched, as always, by Man in the Mirror.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Useful Sewing

I often find myself sewing things just for fun or to use a pretty fabric, but not because I really need the item. But today I did two projects that were actually necessary! Go me! The first was a refashion of a t-shirt for my 4 year old. She is playing soccer in a YMCA league, and for some reason they give ALL of the kids a youth 14/16 t-shirt. Even the 4 and 5 year old league! Allison is on the small side anyway, so you can imagine what it looked like on her. Well, actually, you don't have to imagine. It looked like this (nevermind the crazy face, that's her "camera smile.")

After watching her try to play today in 95 degree weather in, basically, a nightgown, I decided to be brave and resize the t-shirt myself. I took the sleeves off, traced another t-shirt of hers that fits well, then sized the sleeves down and reattached them. I will report back tomorrow after she tries it on! I think it will look a little funny, since I didn't resize the neck at all, but it can't look any worse than it already did!

The other thing I did today was a small curtain to cover an open cabinet in my kitchen. There used to be doors there but after a minor renovation, the doors no longer fit and I got tired of waiting for the hubby's friend to cut them down for us- And I really wanted a curtain there anyway! No pictures of that, but I'll post another valance that I made for the kitchen. I used a tablecloth and some napkins for the Orla Keily for Target line. The curtain I made tonight is from the same print as the blue trim on the valance, except it's orange.

Lastly, I made something that I promised my sister-in-law I'd do years ago! Tooth Fairy pillows for my nephews. My oldest nephew has already lost a few teeth, but he still has a few to go so he'll still get use out of it! These are basically tiny quilts with a pocket on the front. I patterned them after the ones my Great Aunt Eunice made for me and my siblings.

Whew! Big sewing day! I looooove long naps!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A scrappy skirt

I have been an avid babywearer ever since my oldest was born- I love the variety of carriers and all the many many benefits of babywearing. I think collecting baby carriers segued nicely into collecting fabric! And sometimes those two worlds merge together for a new project. I recently bought a pack of fabric scraps from Didymos, a German company that makes gorgeous woven baby carriers. The scraps came from baby wraps as well as some of the other textiles they make.

Today I heard that they are sponsoring a contest for handmade items using Didymos scraps. So I set to work and decided that I'd make a skirt for my oldest, who rarely is worn anymore. I used this tutorial with a few tweaks and came up with this skirt. Allison is sleeping (fitfully, and I'm not happy because I'm hearing croupy coughs) so I don't have an action shot yet, but I think she'll really like it! And I like that it has so many colors that it won't much matter what shirt she wants to wear with it, it will probably match!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I finished the Quilt Top!!!

I did a lot of grumbling while I was putting these blocks together. I decided I was pretty sure I was NOT a quilter, too many straight lines. Cut straight lines, sew straight lines, press straight lines, repeat repeat repeat. And there's MATH involved? No, thank you. But then I finish and I'm so happy with the results that I want to start all over again and do another!

So here is my finished quilt top for the Old Red Barn Quilt Along- Check it out! There's a button over there ---------->

Without further ado, modeled by my lovely assistant/husband (see his fingertips there at the top?), here it is!

It's roughly twin-sized. Now I have to get backing fabric (I'll probably use a sheet) and... *gulp* actually quilt it. That part scares me.

Also, I had some pieces left over, so I made a small blanket for Craft Hope! There's a button for that over there ---------> as well! I love knowing that it will soon be keeping a newborn in an orphanage cozy and warm. Craft Hope is taking donations of handmade blankets, booties and beanies for newborns from now until July 25th.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You know what I hate about summer?

OK, this is a tough one for me! The weekly blog assignment over at The Dressing Room is:

What part of summer can you do without or maybe even HATE? Why?

I have lived in Wisconsin for almost five years now, and for the past two years we've had really long, really hard winters. So every year, when there's a 35 below zero wind chill, I promise myself I will fully enjoy the summer weather, and never ever ever complain about the heat. But then we have a week like this week. A week with 90 degree temperatures, humidity that makes a rain forest seem arid, and mosquitoes so plentiful that my four year old asks if she can keep a few as pets. All of those things I dream of in the dead of winter: the park, the farmers market, leisurely strolls around the neighborhood... all become about as appealing as... well, something really really unappealing. So I grab hold of those lovely days Wisconsinites brag about-- 80 degrees, dry, breezy, sunny... And try to ignore days like the one forecast for tomorrow. 92 degrees and 90 percent humidity. How long until winter?

A Giveaway from The Fabric Shopper!

Aren't these cool? I love the abstract baseball theme. Yup, baseball! See it now? I would love to make something for my nephews out of this fabric. And The Fabric Shopper is giving away 6-8 Fat Quarters from this collection!!! Cool!

Play ball!

A full weekend, but no sewing...

Well, this blog is called Sleepytime Sewing for a reason, and when my toddler doesn't sleep, Mama doesn't sew! The husband is out of town and we had company all weekend, so all I managed was to get a few more blocks for the quilt along sewn together. I do want to share some things that are on my to do list, however!

My niece was baptized on Saturday, and I'd like to make something for her. I have made myself a promise that I'd give as many handmade gifts as I can this year. I'm thinking about a small quilted wall hanging with her name and the date? But my brother in law and sister in law commented that she received a lot of religious wall hangings (mostly small crosses), so I don't know if another one would be welcome. Any ideas? Maybe a stuffed lamb? I'm not religious so nothing is springing to mind. She's 19 months old, if that helps.

For Father's Day I chipped in with my mom and siblings to get my dad a bike. He wants to start riding his bike to work, so I want to make him an insulated bag that will attach to his handlebars. My mom thinks that's girly, but I don't think so. What do you think?

Lastly, I need to get to work on my CraftHope blankets! You should consider making some too!

That's all for now, thank you, good night!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Dressing Room's Weekly Blog Assignment!

This week I joined a new forum called The Dressing Room. It's a fun group of moms who are crafters, photographers, bloggers, WAHMs, and more. Each week there will be a blog assignment, and here is the assignment for this week!

What is your idea of a perfect summer day? What's the weather like? What do you enjoy doing on those days? Is this the norm for summer days in your area
of the world?

My perfect summer day is sunny and 75 degrees with just a light breeze- Not strong enough to blow the picnic blanket away, but strong enough to keep the mosquitoes in check. My daughters wake up in a great mood and we head out for a hike at Devil's Lake. We'd bring a picnic lunch which we'd eat while we spread out on a warm flat rock along the trail. The bugs miraculously stay away and no one complains about applying sunblock. On the drive home, both girls fall asleep and my husband doesn't make me listen to this "awesome new band" he found on Pandora that week. We go home, grill out and the girls go to bed without a fight. I get to do some sewing, maybe watch a movie with Tim, and get to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.

All of this is possible, except for the part about the "awesome new band" and the girls going to bed without a battle-- Those are just pipe dreams!

A Summer 2008 trip to Devil's Lake

Old Red Barn Company Quilt Along

Tonight I worked on my quilt for the Old Red Barn Company Quilt Along. I have learned a few things so far- One is that I will never be a top-notch quilter, because I can't make myself care about perfectly matched corners and exact measurements. But I'm happy with my work so far anyway! I decided to do this project with fabric I had on hand, to use some of it up. So while it's not necessarily a color-combination I would have chosen, I am pretty happy with it and I think this will make a nice cozy throw quilt to have around.

Here are the fabrics I chose. The floral that is next to last on the right ended up not being used, I subbed in a plain white instead. It just wasn't quite the right pinks. The stars aren't really either, but oh well!

Here are the blocks all laid out. So far I have 3 rows put together, but no pictures of that yet!

I'm a little behind on the Quiltalong, they are already quilting, but hopefully I can get caught up while I stay inside in the air conditioning, hiding from the nasty humidity!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sew, Mama, Sew! Sewing Machine Meme

This is my first post and my first meme! I sew on older machines harvested from Craigslist. The one I use the most at the moment is my mother in law's mid-1970s Kenmore, so that's what I'll answer the questions about!

The Kenmore I'm writing about is on the table on the right. Please note the Sonic cup next to the machine. Diet Cherry Limeade is an indispensable sewing accessory. The newer looking white machine on the windowsill is a Simplicity cheapo which I can whole-heartedly recommend you NOT purchase. It did not last through a couple of months of very light sewing. The Kenmore next to it cost me $25 on Craigslist and came with bunches of feet and cams. Unfortunately it is stuck in reverse and needs a repair! Inside the table under the Kenmore on the right is a 1960s Singer that came with only a straight-stitch foot, but it makes a lovely straight stitch, and it also came with the table, all for $20!

What brand and model do you have? Mid-1970s Kenmore, model number 158-19411.

How long have you had it? My mother in law got it in 1974 or so, used it fairly heavily for a few years, and then packed it away until this past January when I dug it out of storage and put it back to work!

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? Machines like this can easily be found on Craigslist or at garage sales for anywhere from $20-$50 depending on whether there are any feet, a manual, etc.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? All of the above! I make simple skirts for myself and my two daughters, I've made a few bags, some pillow covers and am currently working on my first quilt!

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? I try to sew a few times a week. This machine has never had a tune up (*gasp!*I know, I know) and still runs beautifully. I have sewn everything from quilter's cotton to several layers of heavy canvas with no problems.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? I wish I had more accessories, but it doesn't bother me enough that I've really actively sought out any. It is finicky about switching stitches, but I have a serger so rarely use this for anything more than straight stitches. And I'm sure a tune up would help with it's grumpiness in that area. My machine does not have a name and while I am quite fond of her, I wouldn't say she's the love of my life.

What features does your machine have that work well for you? It was free!

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? There are times when it flat out refuses to switch from a straight stitch to anything else, and I wish I had a few more feet.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it! As I said, it was my mother in law's machine, and when I got it out of storage it was full of bits of navy blue lint. I mentioned it to my mother in law and she said it must be from a pair of overalls she made for my husband when he was a toddler! I like making things for my daughters on the same machine that sewed clothes for their Daddy.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? Yes, definitely, especially if you are a beginner and are not ready/willing/able to invest a lot in a machine. These older machines are workhorses and are very forgiving. They don't have a lot of bells and whistles but they definitely get the job done!

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? Think about what you REALLY need in a machine. There are tons of awesome features that would be really nice to have, but especially if you are on a tight budget, a lot of those features are fluff that you can easily live without.

Do you have a dream machine? Yep- All that talk about fancy features and living without them? Yeah, whatever-- I want the Babylock Quilter's Choice. *droooooool*