Saturday, August 26, 2017

Guest Room: Done

As I said in my last post my in-laws are coming for a visit. I have one full weekend left to prepare for their arrival, but as of right now they could show up tomorrow and I would feel okay. I am super excited for them to get here; even more so now that the guest room actually resembles something habitable. After years of tiny apartments, I'm kind of blown away that I even have a guest room. Last night I finally finished the quilt for the bed, today I made curtains, and my super wonderful husband hung the curtain rod for me.

The curtains were totally easy. I got a three yard piece of fabric, cut it in half, did a narrow hem on one end, folded over the selvedges and then made a channel for the curtain rod at the top. Easy Peasy. I wanted to visually elongate the window by hanging the curtain higher and having it trail down further, but the cut table girl mis-measured. Oh well. She only charged for three and the window is still fully covered.I don't know if you can really tell in the picture (it's super hard to photograph curtains, what with them being in front of windows and all) but the curtains have a white on white pattern to them. So do all of the white fabrics used in the quilt, although the curtains were not one of those fabrics.

Incidentally, the quilt has 36 different fabrics. I had way too much fun picking out fat quarters. It's a basic nine patch pattern, alternating orange/white and blue/white blocks. I really love the chain pattern that it created.

It took ages to lay everything out because I was trying to avoid any repeat fabric combos. None of my 36 squares are the same. Finished, it's a queen size quilt, but laying it out took up a lot more space then the finished quilt. I didn't have a space in my house large enough to actually lay it all out at once.

I was totally and completely thrilled with the pieced top, however, I started loosing steam when I got to the actually quilting. I did learn a lot though. For example, I learned that I hate polyester batting. Cotton is, for lack of a better word "sticky" so all my previous quilts basically stayed where I put them and pin basting was totally enough.

I wanted to try poly batting because it doesn't make for such a stiff finished quilt. Never. Again. Everything shifted and bunched like crazy. The back of my quilt is horrifically ugly. I actually had to piece on extra backing because my back shifted so much I ended up with a naked edge.

In the end, the top of the quilt looks alright, so I'm happy enough with it, and my mother in law is much too polite to say anything about how ugly the back is. But yeah, totally not a polyester fan. The backing fabric was a poly cotton blend and it was noticeably harder to stitch though for the binding too. I had to break out my thimble and everything. Not my favorite.

At the end of the day I think the quilt looks great, and it even looks okay with my bed skirt. You may recognize that bed skirt because it used to be in the master bed-room but Husband and I got an adjustable base for our bed. I adore my robo bed, but it doesn't work with a bed skirt.

And bonus, I hung up this wonderful sea otter cross stitch that my mom made - probably sometime in the mid-nineties because that was peak sea otter obsession for me. After that I moved onto horses. Yep, I was totally that little girl. I only recently got that cross-stitch back from Mom and I was glad I had a place that I think it looks good in. Just ignore my reflection please and thank you.

Cloth Napkins And Anxiety

So, anxiety, it is a weird thing.

I've always been a pretty anxious person, and even when I know that there is no reason to freak out I have a hard time stopping myself. 

For example, in a couple of weeks and for the first time since my husband and I moved into our new house my in-laws are coming to visit. I adore my in-laws. Really, truly, they are wonderful people and we have a good relationship. I know that they are not going to judge me for my housekeeping, my cooking, or my hospitality. But I'm also totally freaked about them coming because I am going to judge me for my housekeeping and hospitality. Not the cooking, I am a bomb cook if I do say so myself. 

But because I'm anxious my brain is hyper focusing on totally inconsequential details. The fact that I still haven't finished the quilt for the guest room because it's been too hot to work on it? Meh, I got plenty of time. The fact that my napkins are artfully mismatched and I only have six of them? Oh my god PANIC!!!

I am literally loosing sleep over cloth napkins because of my stupid brain. 

Solution? In this case, make some cloth napkins and move on. Sometime I choose not to give in to the compulsion because if I reward my brains behavior it will do it again in the future. And yes, I kind of think of my brain as a naughty puppy that I have to train. But sometimes you just have to pick your battles. I had 2 yards of fabric from my grandmother's stash that I had been meaning to make into napkins for a while now. 

So yesterday I cut out 8 18" squares from an adorable red checked lightweight cotton and brought them to Mom's house. Napkins can be 16, 18, 20, or even 22 inch squares. I picked 18 because that is how long the ruler I could find was. If you are doing them on a sewing machine with metered corners you need to cut them larger then you want them to end up, but I wanted to do them as easily as possible. Thus, going to Mom's house. 

See, my mom has a serger. Technically I have one too but I can't actually get it to work. The neat thing about sergers is that they can do a rolled hem stitch. Mom and I learned that to set it up, you should really read the instructions because it wasn't actually as easy as just take out one of the needles and get going. There was some other 1" metal bit whose function I am totally not clear on, but which made the rolled hem totally not work. But once we got it set up right it really was super duper easy. Just line of the fabric and zoom down the edge. No folding, no pressing, no metered corners and no wasted fabric. Love it! I didn't go over there with the intention of having my mom do them for me, but it did work out that way because my mom is super rad and she loves me.

Look how pretty she made my napkins!

Note: At the time that I wrote this the guest room quilt totally wasn't done, but I forgot to actually hit publish on this post when I wrote it a week ago. Now the quilt is done and I will be blogging about it, possibly later today.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dress Catch-Up

Okay, so wow, it's been a while since I posted anything here. I've been too busy actually crafting to write about my crafting. Which isn't totally a bad thing. Also, now that I have an Instagram I kind of feel like that's a better platform for sharing my finished objects then this is anyway. The blog is starting to feel sort of redundant.

Anywho. There are three main dresses that I've made since my last update and they kind of naturally feed into each other.

Backstory on the first dress: I got to take a class from my sewing superhero Gertie Hirsch. I went to the Puyallup Sewing Expo in March and took a class on basic bodice alterations. It was awesome. For a half hour class she really packed in a lot of great info about darts and how to alter necklines and shoulders. Plus I got to meet Gertie and she is a total sweetheart. I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out and I was kind of a spaz, but she was cool about it.

So that was awesome. Then I immediately went home and altered the shoulders of her princess seam bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book and paired it with the pencil skirt for what feels like an utterly decadent silk dress. I did also take in the pencil skirt. I'm much too straight in the hips for most standard pencil skirts. The silk is from Silk Baron, it's a dupioni called black raspberry. I needed a dress to wear to my grandma's memorial dinner, but I didn't want to look to funerial so I think the color was perfect for that. 

Of course I forgot to take any pictures of the dress before dinner, so the lighting is awful in the only picture I do have because it was, like, midnight at this point. 

For a dress on totally the opposite end of the occasion spectrum my next dress was for a baby shower I hosted for a friend. I used the exact same modified princess seam bodice, but I paired it with a 4 yard gathered skirt. The cherry print fabric is from Gertie's fabric line from JoAnn's and it is slinky and cool and a dream to wear, but I'm not going to lie, it's kind of a nightmare to work with. It's slippery and doesn't want to stay on grain. I lined the dress and I've never done a facing and a lining at the same time, but I wish I had on this because the neckline doesn't have enough structure to hold itself up and it actually made the waist line hang funky too. But the print is cute enough that it successfully distracts the eye (until I tell you it's wrong. Oh well).

I hastily knit the little shrug to go with the dress so that no bra straps would make an uninvited appearance. The modified shoulder feels very flattering, but it does cut in just enough that a strapless bra would be better.

I did make an Esplanade Bra (a long line strapless bra) by Orange Lingerie to wear under the silk dress but it's black and the fit needs to be refined a bit. Honestly knitting a shrug was an easier more comfortable and cheaper fix then making another bra. Especially because the yarn I used was out of my stash anyway. 

And the last dress that I made was another gathered skirt. This time I paired it with the v-neck bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. I'm very pleased, it fit perfectly with no modification at all.

The last dress was to wear to a car show and I am a total sucker for a themed dress. What can I say, Ms. Frizzle is my fashion hero. And for those of you that aren't 90s kids, that is a Magic School Bus reference. I went to Pacific Fabrics in Bremerton with my mom and we picked out two wonderful fabrics. The bodice is blue with Route 66 images and the skirt is license plates, but each plate has a sewing or quilting reference on it.

The first car is my favorite a '67 Chevy El Camino. The bottom picture is me in front of my second favorite car a '55 Chevy Bel Air. Yes. I am a totally Chevy girl.

The best part about it was that while at the show someone walked up to me to say they loved my dress and that they saw it on Instagram. Then I got featured in Pacific Fabrics weekly newsletter. It's maybe a bit silly, but I was really excited about it.

I took a screen shot of the email. Yep. I'm a dork. It was still a total thrill.

Anyway. That gets me almost kind of sort of caught up. I think I've finished a couple of knitting projects, and I'm gotten a lot done on a cross stitch project. And of course I'm sewing another dress right now. But I will save those for another update. And hopefully it won't take me another three months to get around to it. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Random Weekend Thoughts

Of everything in my house I think my bed is my favorite. Beyond the obvious - it is comfy and sleeping is awesome - it is a perfect melding of my skills and my husbands. This weekend it is also causing me some philosophical mental ramblings.

You see, Husband made us an absolutely gorgeous headboard. He works for a company that makes custom live edge furniture. One week he had to go absolutely above and beyond to complete a project on time and as a thank you his boss gave him a piece of wood. For those of you not familiar with wood pricing, that is a much more generous gift then it seems. Neither of us really particularly cares for the aesthetics of live edge tables so he was thinking about just selling the wood, but that weekend Nick Offerman posted a live edge headboard on his Instagram and I actually liked it so I asked Husband to make me a headboard.

I love my headboard. It is beautiful and unique and suits us and our room. I adore it. I want that to be really clear.

I think I am jealous of the headboard.

Husband and I just moved so we have been giving a lot of the "grand tour" as people see our new house for the first time. Often when we have guests they ask "can I see the bedroom? I want to see the headboard." Or "Is this the headboard?" Which is great. I want Husband to get the praise and acknowledgment that he deserves because woodworking requires a great deal of knowledge and skill.

But just once I wish someone would walk in and ask "is this the wedding quilt?" Or "Did you knit this blanket?" Or even "did you make your pillows?" See, Husband made the headboard, but I made our bed skirt.

And our pillows.

And a quilt.

And a blanket.

And our curtains.

But I feel like my contributions to our household go largely ignored. Even though, hour for hour, I've got somewhere between twice to four times as much invested in our bed, that damn headboard steals the show. Today I've been thinking about why that is. I know that some of it is that most of our guy friends are also woodworkers so they are just straight up more interested in the headboard. Also, most of them are manly men who don't feel like beds need to be made pretty with pillows and blankets. However, that doesn't explain why our non-woodworker friends who like well decorated houses are more interested in the furniture then the soft goods. What might explain it is:

quilting and knitting are considered grandmotherly and apparently we no longer have respect for the skills of our grandmothers. I've been told more than once that I am too young to knit. Conversely I have also been told that it's a shame I don't want children because it's clear from my love of sewing that I would be a great mother. I don't even known how to follow the leap of logic on that one. My point is that my crafts are inextricably linked to maternity for a lot of people and being maternal isn't really highly prized. It should be, but it just isn't. Therefore the traits associated with maternity are also not highly prized. They aren't seen as real skills because being a parent isn't seen as a real skill ("any idiot can have a baby"). Never mind that sewing and parenthood are in no way actually connected skills.
Knitting and sewing are seen as a waste of time. No kidding, I got into an argument with a total stranger in a bar a couple of months ago because he told me asking for more than $20 for a hand knit hat was "Insane" I told him that a basic hat would take me a minimum of five hours and didn't I deserve to be paid for my time? He argued no, on the grounds that I "would be knitting anyway." Turns out he was a professional welder so I asked him to spend five hours welding me something because he would be welding anyway. He said no because welding was a "real skill. And beanies can be purchased for $2, so $20 was more then generous." He was an ass, but he also demonstrated two great points. Because knitting is portable and often done while multitasking it is seen as a way of wasting time. It is perceived as entertainment not work and no one is going to pay you to watch TV.
And cloth goods are cheap. The monetary value of woodworking has been driven down in recent decades by places like IKEA and other cheap sources of furniture, but not as much as cheap Chinese goods and fast fashion have driven down the perceived value of blankets, pillows, sweaters, clothes ect. When I look at the quilt on the foot of my bed I see a useable link to my grandmother, I see a continuation of skills that have been practiced for hundreds of years. I see memories from my wedding. What other people see is a pile of fabric you could buy at Sears for $60. I am often ask why I bother making anything myself when it can be so cheaply purchased.

So I shouldn't be surprised that the headboard is the show stopper of my bedroom, but every once in a while I want someone to ask me if I knitted the blanket on the bed and gasp "Wow, how many hours did that take you?" Without implying that it was a waste of all those hours because I could have just bought one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Log Cabin Quilt

My Grandmother passed away a couple of years ago now and I inherited several unfinished quilt tops from her. I am not really much of a quilter so I've been a bit afraid to do anything with the quilts. I don't want to ruin them. But having them sitting around taking up space in my craft room isn't a good use of them either, so in November I got up the gumption to actually work on one of them.

I started with my least favorite (although I still like it) of the tops, it a log cabin style made from truly awful double knit polyester. The fabric just screams 70s, but I do really like the colors. I felt like the quilt was busy enough on it's own that I didn't want to distract from it with quilting, so I decided to do a tied quilt instead.

I've never actually made a tied quilt before though so I enlisted my mother-in-law to help me out.

On our last visit to her house I brought the backing, some poly batting and the top and laid is all out and pinned it on her dining room table.

She has awesome curved safety pins that made the whole process much easier. 

And then we started tying it all together. The poly batting that I chose required tying or quilting every 5 inches and naturally I had 6 inches in between the center of each square so I decided to tie in the center of each little red square as well as the corners between each block. 

Although it didn't take anywhere near as long as quilting it would have, it was still a fairly time consuming process. But I got it done. I bound the edge using white bias binding left over from my last quilt. 

Ta-Da! It's a twin size quilt so it doesn't really fit on my bed. As I get more of these tops quilted I would like to display them on a quilt ladder or something like that. Most of them are twin sized and thus not going to work on my queen size bed, but I don't mind. It's a nice way for me to stay close to my grandmother.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Wow, it's been a while since I wrote anything. I've been super busy but not getting a lot of sewing done recently. I just finished moving and I am very happy to say that I now have an entire room for my crafting supplies. Living the dream y'all! Tomorrow I will be reveling in that craft room sewing curtains for the house. In the mean time the only thing that I have sewed in the last two months that I haven't written about yet was new pillows for the bed to go with the beautiful headboard that my husband made for us.

Isn't it a great headboard? My husband is just the most wonderfully talented person on the planet!!!

But I was going to talk about the pillows. I'm pretty happy with them. The fabric came out of my stash. I already had the pillow forms but the old cases on them did not look good with our new quilt. The white fabric came from my grandmother originally and has a wonderful white on white check pattern. I like the nice subtle visual interest. The longer middle pillow is a blue and white check that one of my knitting friends gave me when they moved. And the small pillow is the same floral cotton left over from my self drafted a-line skirt. It is also in a couple of the triangles in the quilt. I feel like it all ties together pretty nicely.

So, one of my personal preferences for pillows is that they not have visible seams. For these I did French seams on two long and one short side (because even though they will never be visible I wanted them to be neat and tidy seams). For the remaining side I hand-stitched the pillow shut using what I think is most often called a ladder stitch. 

I like it because you work from the outside but it is invisible. 

I was going to post a little photo tutorial about how I did it, but apparently my phone doesn't feel like cooperating because I can't get the photos to load. Oh well. They were not good pictures anyway. It's really hard to take a picture while also using both hands to sew. One of these days I might have to invest in a tri-pod and a video camera instead.