Sunday, December 23, 2007

Progress update....

Four scrub shirts finished! These are for some colleagues at work. The dalmation shirt is for a good friend and colleague - she used to have two dalmations, now only one. The Jeff Gordon shirt is for one of our vet techs - she's a huge Jeff Gordon fan. I think she'll light up the place every time she comes in wearing it. ;) The horse print shirt is for a fellow resident who is an equine vet, and the skulls print (a Halloween special at Wal-Mart - wish I'd gotten enough for a shirt for me!) is for our other vet tech. She seemed really into the fabric when I originally bought some to make a chemo cap for a friend, so I went back and bought more to have enough for a scrub shirt for her. (In case anyone's interested, I make my scrub shirts from McCall patterns - 9123 for sizes S-L and 2834 for XL-XXL - but I use the Simplicity pattern directions for attaching the V-neckbands.)
I pretty much followed the pattern on these, with the obvious caveat that I used contrast fabric in the dalmation shirt. And I have started lengthening the pockets so that I can incorporate the bottoms of the pockets into the hem - much easier! On these, I also used quilt basting spray to attach the pockets prior to top-stitching. I like that! I'll definitely do it in the future, but I also have to remember to allow enough time to wash the shirts before wrapping them. Otherwise people are taken aback to find that the pocket is stuck to the shirt. lol
I have made progress in the queue, but there's much more to go. My next projects (partially started) are 1 pair of adult PJ pants, 1 pair of toddler PJ pants, 2 pairs of boxers, 2 fleece chemo caps, and 1 pair of toddler fleece pants. We'll see how much I can get done today....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Still plugging away.... those darn scrub shirts! I need to have four finished by tomorrow morning (gifts for coworkers). The rest (which I have not started to sew) can wait until later. Some are Christmas gifts, but I've already resigned myself to the fact that out-of-town gifts are not going to be mailed until after Christmas - so there! Anyway, the four which are needed tomorrow are partly done. I have prepped and attached the pockets, and I have prepped the necklines to attach the neckbands. So tonight I need to attach the neckbands, sew up the sides, add the back neck facings, and do the hems. I think it can be done.

So the next post will contain pictures of finished scrub shirts! And then I'll finally have another entry for the Holiday/Gift Sewing contest over at PatternReview.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Silly me!

Who was I to think that I could get all that much done yesterday, even with a day off? I should know better! I did get a lot done - just no sewing. :( I ran some errands in the morning, including a visit to Hobby Lobby for more glass ornaments (they were 50% off this week!). And I finally made it to the crisis pregnancy center to drop off a bag of maternity clothes that have been in my trunk for at least a month. Yay!

However, what it really boiled down to is this: I needed to have a prep day before a giant sewing day. So I did get a lot accomplished in terms of pressing and cutting fabric. I have two pairs of PJ pants (and I'm still debating on washing another piece and cutting another pair), five pairs of boxers, and nine scrub shirts cut. One of the PJ pants, two or three of the boxers, and all but one of the scrub shirts will be made using black serger thread. Once I'm through all that, I'll switch to white. Hopefully I can get a good start sewing today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nothing has been happening....

at least not on the sewing front. Bummer! But all is not lost! Thing 1 helped me to create some very interesting glass ornaments last week - pictures will be forthcoming soon. (These are definitely not traditional colors!) And I am taking Friday off to sew. Yep, that's right. Taking a day off work to work on stuff at home! I'll probably take breaks through the day to clean the bathrooms, but I'm planning to get lots of stuff done. For starters, I plan to cut out ten scrub shirts. All but two can be made with black thread in the serger. (The last two can wait until a bit later.) I also have 7 pairs of boxers, 4 pairs of PJ pants, and maybe 3 pairs of sweatpants to cut - all of these can also be made with the black thread. And I have another pillowcase to cut out - I'll have to doublecheck, but I think I can use the black there, too.

No, I don't expect to get anywhere near all of this done on Friday, but I'd like to get it all cut and get a good chunk of the scrub shirts sewn. In fact, I'd really be happy to just cut all the scrub shirts and maybe even get the 8 completely sewn. But I'm not sure that's possible. However, I do have the weekend, too, since I'm not on call. Things 1&2 will be at daycare Friday, so that I can get more done, but of course they'll be home all weekend, so that will slow down the sewing. But we'll see! Realistically, the scrubs need to be finished first (and before Christmas) so that they can be given out on Friday the 21st - our last regular work day before Christmas. After that, deadlines are more relaxed. I'm not expecting to get much out in the mail before Christmas, so I can finish things up during Christmas and let people prolong the joy of the season. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New bedding for the Things!

The weather turned cold here a few weeks ago, and we've been trying to keep from turning the thermostat up too much and so keep the utility bills down. But at the same time, we don't want Things1&2 shivering at night. I still need to work on their new blankets - I'm hoping to have a lot of downtime around Christmas. In the meantime, I did get new flannel sheets and pillowcases made!
The fitted sheets don't look like much when folded up, so I figured I'd just show the matching pillowcases. The construction flannel on the left is from JAF's 2006 Black Friday sale - I'm still a little embarrassed that I didn't get the set made before now. Oops! The other two flannels are both from this year's Black Friday sale. I really like how the green mottled flannel looks as a trim. (I tried to find a contrast for the other flannel but had no luck.)

I do have fabric for two more sets, but they're on the back burner for now. I'll probably work on them after Christmas, now that the need is no longer so pressing. Instead, it's onto Christmas sewing now!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Long time with little to show....

Things have been pretty busy at work lately, so I haven't had a lot of time to sew. I did finish those two pair of knit pants for Thing 2 that I mentioned in the previous post - you can see Thing 2 wearing the orange pair in the above picture. (Those are also one of the pairs of shoes I sewed!)
I'm hoping to get some sewing done with the 4-day weekend. We'll see how that goes....I need to get started on a bunch of Christmas presents - like half a dozen scrub shirts for coworkers - yikes! But I also want to sew for Things 1&2, as well! They both need more warm blankets. Thing 2's blanket will be out of the fabrics seen below:Both flannels are from my stash - the space flannel was purchased on clearance at JAF for $1/yd this summer, and the green flannel was purchased during a sale ($2/yd, I think) for a PJ shirt, but I eventually decided that Thing 1 didn't need another too-big PJ shirt yet. I'll probably eventually make that last PJ shirt, but I'll wait until Thing 1 grows into the pattern more. In the meantime, the green flannel will make an excellent backing for this blanket. I have Warm & Natural batting to use for it, and I'll use a cheater's wrapped edge binding from the blue fleece in the corner (also stash! yippee!). It'll look like Thing 1's school blanket.
Thing 1 also needs new blankets - he's growing like a little weed, and it's getting cold out. I have two yards of fleece with a car road print on it (I'll have to take a picture eventually) and a hunter green fleece to pair with it. I think I can use the same blue fleece for the binding - hopefully I have enough. But I think that the first priority for him will be his Thomas the Tank Engine fleece hoodie. He doesn't like to take off his jacket at school, so maybe this will be a good alternative.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Next up in the queue

I decided that for my next project, I'd do something quick and easy - and preferably something I could do without changing the thread in the serger. :) So I cut out a few pairs of knit pants for Things 1&2. Thing 1 definitely needed some extras to have on hand for daycare, in case of accidents of various natures (last week, he slid down the slide to discover too late that it was wet), and it just made sense to cut matching ones out for Thing 2 at the same time. And I'm using up stash as well! Yippee!

I used my TNT patterns of knit pants from Kwik Sew Sewing for Toddlers and Sewing for Babies. The appropriate sizes fit fine with no alterations, which is great for me! I may have to start adding length for Thing 1 soon, but for right now, we're good. I still have stash of each of the fabrics I've used lately for knit pants, so it's not the end of the world if I have to make longer ones this winter. I could just add some length now, but I hate to make them too long, when he is likely to wear them shoeless in the house so much.

I made three pairs for Thing 1 and two pairs for Thing 2. Now I'm deciding what to work on next! I still have some woven pants and shorts in the queue for Thing 1 - they're only about half done, but they need white thread in the serger. And I cut out two pairs of knit pants in fall colors for Thing 2 - they will each need different serger thread. Maybe I'll do the knit pants for Thing 2 next, since they're quick to serge. And then I'll get back to the woven ones for Thing 1 and get them out of my sewing room! One of these days, I want to sew something for me again!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Penguin, anyone?

Last year was Thing 1's first exposure to Halloween. He was a dinosaur then (I made that costume, too - Simplicity 4002), and he quickly learned just why it is beneficial for a child to be willing to say "trick or treat!" This year, he was very excited about Halloween coming, and he told me all throughout October that Halloween would come at the end of October. I showed him a pattern that I'd seen of a penguin costume (Simplicity 3639 - it has all sizes from 4-5 child to XL adult), and he really liked it, so I bought the pattern and supplies. Then he started asking every day if his "penguin suit" was done yet! I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish it, but the costume was ready Wednesday morning. Here it is:

I reviewed the pattern over at PR, but the basics are that I liked it. It went together well, and my only real gripe was that there was no guidance on choosing a size for the hood. You may be able to tell from the picture that Thing one needed the hood to be either lengthened or else a size bigger. But I made it work! He loved it, and that's the important thing. :) I'm sure that this one will be a good addition to the costume box, just like last year's dinosaur suit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another baby carrier done!

This one is a baby gift for a woman at church. I asked her about it three months ago (hanging head in shame) and got her color preferences then. She likes blues and greens, so I figured I'd combine the two. The outer fabric is a mid-weight denim I found in my stash, and the lining is a green mottled cotton print from Joann Fabrics. I had bought it to make pants for Thing 1 but hadn't gotten that far yet. So instead, I used it in the carrier!

This time I used black thread, figuring that would go better with the mottling in the lining print. I think I like it, although I think that the white thread on mine popped more. Again, I used topstitching thread on the right sides. I'm glad that this is done now - I hate having these things hanging over my head, especially since the baby is almost two months old now - oops! So I'll take it to her next Sunday. It figures that I didn't finish it until after church, right?

Monday, October 15, 2007

My newest gift idea....

Okay, so it's not really a new idea. It's not even new to me! It is, however, my current addiction. I have enjoyed making bibs from washcloths and crocheting edgings on them, but I ran out of prepared ones to edge and I haven't cut new ones yet. Instead, I found some baby socks that I bought last year specifically for adding lace edgings. Instant gratification! I was watching some TV this weekend and edged two pairs of baby socks in about an hour.
Well, of course it can't stop there! I finished all the baby socks I had, so I bought a 10-pack at the store this weekend. This is the 0-6 month size, and I'm planning to get the 6-18 month size next. I just have to finish this size so that I can keep them separate.
I've also done these in "big girl" sizes before. I made a set for a friend's daughter when she was probably 8 or 10. Those socks are still around (she's now 15), and her younger sisters (8-10) are working on wearing them out. So I bought a 10-pack of "big girl" socks as well, and I'm going to make these as their Christmas presents. After conferring with my friend, I've decided to make each one a set of three pairs, but each set will be identical - to head off any problems of all three girls wanting to wear the same pair that day. The larger sock in the picture is the first of these sets. I also plan to make a pair of pink ones and a pair of purple/white variegated ones for each. In starting these the other night, I found that I can edge a pair of large socks like these in about an hour. Not bad!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Christmas is coming....

....which means that I need more tree ornaments! My friend was in town this weekend, and we love to paint ornaments, so consequently, Hobby Lobby got more of our money. (The ornaments were 40% off, too!) This time, we got some of the frosted and iridescent ones to try. The top picture (mini size - comes 20 in a box) are the iridescent finish. I wasn't sure about those, but I really like how they turned out. I do think that the more pastel or muted colors look best in these, however.

This picture shows the frosted finish (regular size). I wasn't sure about these, either, but I think they look nice. The frosted finish makes the colors look more muted. However, I'd say that this is probably my least favorite of the three. There's just something about glossy glass ornaments that seems "correct."
And then the usual - regular size, clear glass.
We tried out some shades of brown in these batches, and I have to say that I really like it. The brown seems to go well with greens and yellows/oranges. Very cool! I think that by the time we're done, we'll probably have tried out all the colors available! (Except maybe the bright pinks....I'm not big on pink, especially not on my tree...)
Thing 1 loves to "help" with these - he'll pick out the ornament to be painted next, and he'll pick out colors to try together. He gets more excited than we do about painting the ornaments! This is good, though, as I foresee sets of ornaments working well as teacher presents. Not only are these just cool in and of themselves, I think that they'll be even more special for the teachers when he says that he helped make them. Guess I'll have to find some pretty boxes or bags to package them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More shoes!

Yep, I'm on my way to obsessed. I stayed up late again last night to finish pair #2. I like these better in some ways than the first pair. Of course, there's the issue of "first try" mistakes on the first pair, and I did improve on that with this pair - mainly I just took things slowly with the sewing and made sure of keeping to a uniform seam allowance. My 1/4" presser foot was a big help. I also used jeanstitch thread this time, and I like the way it looks on the lighter leather. Very neat! This leather is thinner, so it was a little easier to sew. I'll see how well it holds up.

I'm going to be swapping more editing for patterns from Make Them Yourself, and I want to try out that leather shoe pattern. It's lined from what I can tell, so it might be better for the pair I want to make from DH's old jeans. (Nope, still haven't even started on my lunch sack from those.) I thought those would be fun. And of course I'll use jeanstitch thread on them!

I am also getting some recycled leather from Wisconsin - I put DSIL to work as a personal thrift shopper for me. I just called last night with the request, and this morning she called back to report. Woohoo! Three jackets and a purse to recycle - I can't wait! DB tells me that there is a LOT of leather there. I'll post pictures eventually.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New reasons to clean....

So I realized this weekend while vacuuming near the windows that the windowsills were full of cobwebs and desperately needed to be cleaned. But I hate cleaning and have to force myself to do it. And one good way is to find a fun gadget. I have had a Swiffer Duster in the past, but it apparently got lost during our move. And I never replaced it. (I'm awfully cheap at times.) One of my biggest pet peeves with it was constantly having to buy new refills for it (yes, I know that disposable is the point of the gadget), so when I swapped some editing for some patterns at, I jumped on the pattern for the washable duster pads!

Tada! I now have clean windowsills. :) And when the refills that came in the box are gone, I won't have to buy any more! I bought a three-pack of microfiber towels for $6 in the auto section at Meijer, and I can get 6 refills out of it, so $1 per refill! And I'll be able to wash and reuse these indefinitely. Yep, think I'll get my money's worth out of them! And Thing 1 will be able to help dust, since I won't be concerned about wasting the refill pads. Very cool! I have friends and family who will be seeing some of these at Christmas, I think.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Now I have to start this by saying that I am not a clothes horse or a shoes horse (is that the appropriate term?). Most of my wardrobe is chosen for comfort, or for hiding the stains when I inevitably get smeared with manure at work. However, I am now addicted to shoes, I think. Here's why:

Thing 2 has been wearing soft leather shoes for the last few months, at least when he wears shoes. We've used the cheap Robeez knockoffs that are sold at Target (an example - not the exact pair he's had), and they've been great. But he only had the 6-12 month size, and now of course he's outgrown them. (This would not be so much of a problem, but now that he's in the toddler room at daycare, he needs to wear shoes when they go outside.) So...I looked at Target two weekends in a row, and each time, they only had 1 pair of boy shoes in his size, and the one they had was really pathetic. I've wanted to sew him some shoes for awhile now, and I already the pattern and some leather, so necessity kicked my butt into gear.

Tada! My very first pair of leather shoes - in fact, this was my very first time working with leather at all! I thought that the pattern was quite easy to follow, and I appreciated the extra tips on working with leather, as well as extra options for modifying the pattern. I did not use any embellishment on this pair, as I wanted to make it very basic to test the pattern. (Also, I desperately needed shoes that fit!) The 12-18 month size is a little big on him, but not so big that it interferes with his walking. Yippee!
I got so many compliments on these shoes! DH was impressed - and that isn't always a given. He's usually pretty honest about what he thinks, so this was a real compliment. And Thing 2's daycare teachers commented on his "stylish new shoes" as soon as we walked into the room the next morning - without any idea that I'd made them. Another daycare teacher strongly hinted the next day that she'd love some for herself for Christmas. :)
I'd say these are a big success! I already have another pair cut out, and I intend to make plenty more. I want to try appliques on some subsequent ones. We'll see how it goes...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baby gifts...

My brother has had several friends or family members (wife's family) give birth lately, so he has needed baby gifts. Being the decisive guy that he is, when he saw my first incarnation of the Wearable Baby Blanket by SewBaby, he immediately said, "I need two!" Recently, he told me that another baby was due and asked for another blanket. Here is the result:

When I saw this fabric (at Wal-Mart - on clearance, no less!), I thought it was so cute that I bought enough for two baby blankets. And since this pattern is so easy, I just whipped up both at once. So now his gift is packaged and waiting for a trip to the post office, and the other one is going into my gift stash. Hey, there are lots of pregnant women at church, as I've mentioned before!

I like the basic pattern, but I've been using a cheater's wrapped fleece binding for the edging, instead of any of their edging ideas. (I like the idea of binding the edge with lycra binding, but fleece has been much more economical for me!)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Getting back into sewing....

So I'm still having a hard time motivating myself to sew when I'm not working, though I have plenty that I want to sew. I just don't feel like I have the energy! However, a very good friend was hospitalized Saturday, and things weren't looking too good. So I decided that she needed some humor in her hospital room, and a funny pillowcase would do the trick! I cut this out from my stash Saturday night and sewed it up Sunday morning.

I found this fabric at Hancocks awhile ago, on the $1.95/yd clearance table. I just eyeballed it through several visits, not sure what I could do with it, and then finally decided to buy it, thinking it would make a great scrub shirt for a colleague. Unfortunately, there was just over a yard left on the bolt, which is NOT enough. But I bought the rest anyway, thinking that I'd come up with something eventually. Well, here's something! I cut the main piece 27x45 inches (since the print is unidirectional, it worked well for this) and the end piece 9x45 inches. The contrast trim, a black broadcloth, is 2x45 inches. It only took a half hour to sew up, and that was with interruptions from the DVD I was watching. :) I have also made these with end pieces that differed from the main print, but I didn't have anything to coordinate to this print. I think that the contrast trim is enough.

And maybe I've been inspired enough, as I bought flannel last night for a pair of PJ pants for my friend, and the fabric is already prewashed and just waiting for me to cut out the pieces!

Monday, August 20, 2007

No sewing so far this month....

I went back to work in the middle of July, and my poor sewing machine is feeling neglected. I know that I haven't sewn anything in August, and I think that I sewed only one or two things in the latter half of July. This needs to change! However, it's not as though I'm totally slacking on crafting - I have at least been crocheting.

There are numerous pregnant women at church (I think eight at last count!), and so there will be numerous baby showers coming up in the next several months. A bib or two and a box of diaper disposal sacks make a nice present.

I make the bibs using nice thick washcloths that I get from Meijer in twelve-packs of assorted colors. (Thin washcloths will also work, but they are naturally less absorbent.) A food can works well as a template for cutting neckholes, and then I serge the cut edges. (Prior to getting a serger, I applied Fray-Block to the cut edges, which also worked well. The edges do fray over time, but it literally took 1-2 years and repeated washings for this to happen on the bibs I made for Thing 1.) I use various edging patterns to finish the bibs (some examples) and then apply a snap for a closure. I have also successfully used ties (7 inches or less to reduce risk of strangulation) or Velcro.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A compliment on my baby carrier!

I was in the public library recently with Thing 2 in the baby carrier, and someone came up and asked me if it was an Ergo carrier. What a cool compliment! She had an Ergo carrier and loved it, so I was even more flattered that she mistook mine for an Ergo. Now I feel even better about making some for gifts.

And actually, I have already talked to a mother-to-be about making one for her baby gift. (Even though it only took me 4-5 hours to make mine, I don't want to spend the time and money on supplies only to find that she doesn't like it but can't return or exchange it.) She was very interested, especially when I told her that the weight is distributed away from your back! So I got her color preferences and will hopefully get supplies and start making it this week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A really cool baby carrier!

I should start this off by saying that I've never been one to do "babywearing." I never could figure out how to use a sling - though I may try again! - and I didn't like either of the two front carriers I was given before Thing 1 was born. I used one of them sporadically in Thing 2's earlier days, just because he was a more clingy baby, but it wasn't terribly comfortable. However, when Angela of Blessed Designs asked for pattern testers for a carrier pattern she'd designed, I jumped at the opportunity. She said that the carrier would work up to about 35 lbs or 3 years, so I figured, what have I got to lose? :) There are numerous babies due in the next six months in my church, so if I didn't like the carrier, it could always become a baby shower gift for someone.

Here is the finished carrier, shown on a chair to give an idea of how it sits when in use. The pattern is based on the idea of an Mei Tai/Asian baby carrier, but it is different in that the straps are adjustable and use buckles. I do not need any more bulk on my rear end or anywhere near my waist, so I like the buckles much better! This pattern also has options for making a sleeping hood, to shield a sleeping baby from the sun or light, and a pillow insert, to make it more of a sling style for a young baby. I made the hood but haven't yet made the pillow insert (Thing 2 is too big to use it).

So maybe this one wasn't going to end up as a baby shower gift, after all! Not sure to whom I'd give a Star Wars baby carrier, except my brother, who has no children, either here on the ground or expected. :) But I had the fabric in stash and hadn't used it yet, so I figured it would work for a little boy's carrier. (I am a Star Wars fan, too.) And I love the final product! In fact, I've been using it a lot! The weight is pretty well distributed between your shoulders and your waist - actually, the weight is mostly on your waist/hips, and the shoulders/back are more for stabilization - and it is very comfortable to use. Thing 2 seems to be a fan, as well. He snuggles right up when I start to put him in it. (Pictures of the carrier in use can be seen at Blessed Designs - just look under "Other patterns.")

Oh, yeah, and this only uses 1 yard of 60-inch wide twill or denim for the outer fabric and 1 yard of 45-inch wide cotton for the lining. How cool is that? I definitely see more of these in my future, especially since I was able to sew it up in 4-5 hours. And who knows? Some might actually become baby shower gifts! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No sewing lately....

I haven't sewn anything since the backpack was finished, partly because we had company for the last couple of days. I have been thinking about it, though! I have the lining fabric for an Amy Butler swing bag (breast cancer ribbons and pink teddies - my friend's mom was just diagnosed), and I think I have denim for the outer fabric. So I need to cut that out tonight or tomorrow and try to get it sewn up before I start work next week.

I have several pairs of pants and shorts for Thing 1 cut out - mostly in greens, so I should be able to sew them up in an assembly line. (I've been promising him stuff from a shark print, so I really should follow through!) And I've been thinking about how to make some lunch bags out of old jeans. I want to make one for Thing 2 for his food for daycare (I make homemade baby food for him, so I have more to take in than most parents do), but since daycare is only 2 miles away, I might not insulate it. That'll mean less bulk taking up room in their small fridge there, too. But the one for me to use at work will definitely need to be insulated. I was inspired by the lunchbag Annie at Bramblestitches made for her DH. I had two old pairs of jeans lying around to use for "something," so I spent my time at the park wisely by ripping them apart while the Things played! I am now ready to cut out whatever exactly I decide to do for the lunch bags. Hopefully I'll have something to show later this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Backpack done!

I finished it last night! And I left it hanging from the hall closet doorknob for Thing 1 to find this morning. He was heading for the bathroom, saw the backpack, stopped and put his clothes down long enough to put the backpack on, picked up his clothes again, and marched the rest of the way to the bathroom (picture a 4-year-old wearing a pull-up, socks, and a backpack - that's it!). What a goof! At any rate, he is thrilled. And I am happy enough with my work. :)

I made some changes to the pattern - mostly minor. The most major change was to eliminate the need for bias binding on the outside and to make the lining separate. You can find a detailed review here. This is a perfect size for a young child, and the adjustable straps will make it useful for a lot longer. I think that if I make this again, I will probably change the straps to use webbing and parachute buckles, instead of D-rings. I think that would look a little more professional, and it would probably be easier for a child to learn to work themselves. But the current straps and D-rings are fine, so I'm not going to change anything on this one.

Now to go clean the bathroom and vacuum before cutting out my next project, an Amy Butler Swing Bag for a friend!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

One week to go....

...until I go back to "Work," that is. (I'm calling it "Work" because, as a fellow stay-at-home mom pointed out, all moms work - some get paychecks, some don't.) So anyway, one more week to be home with all the endless possibilities of stuff to do. I'm currently working on the backpack for Thing 1, from Butterick 6735. I am changing it so that there is a separate lining and so that there is no bias trim on the outside (mainly because I haven't yet tested my bias binder foot, I want this to be done tomorrow, and historically I'm not satisfied with both sides of my bias binding). I'm halfway through assembling both backpack and lining, so hopefully I'll have pictures to post tomorrow. I think it'll be a good size for Thing 1. Then it's off to see what will be next up in the queue!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New feet!

For my sewing machine, that is. :) I have a Singer school-model sewing machine, and I discovered about a year and a half ago that I can find a wide selection of presser feet (and pretty good prices!) for it at Nancy's Notions (NAYY). I already have a walking foot, roller foot, edgestitching foot, and darning foot (I think that was all), and I just got a bias binder foot and Teflon foot in the mail today. Yippee! There are a few more that I want, but I'll restrain myself for now. :)

In the meantime, I should get back to the dinosaur blanket I'm making for Thing 1. It has large dinosaurs that I'm free-motion stitching around, using the darning foot - a first! This will be a general purposes blanket for home, and I think I bought enough of the dinosaur fabric to make a matching pillowcase - just need to find something for a trim band.

Monday, July 2, 2007

"School" stuff done!

Things 1&2 started daycare this morning. Thing 1 was so excited - he woke me up at 6 am, saying, "Mama, I'm ready to eat breakfast and go to school now." Argh! I wasn't ready to wake up yet - oh, well! But I am really glad that he was excited and enjoyed it. Better that than the alternative, right?

I mentioned the pillowcase I made for him last month. Last night (very late, I might add!), I finished the matching blanket. This is a simple blanket - one piece of fabric for each side, a layer of batting sandwiched in between, diagonal quilting lines to hold it all together, and a fleece binding to finish it off. But it will work, it is done, and he loves it! So it's perfect. :)

I also found out that the kids get to play in the sprinkler a few days a week, so Thing 1 needs to have a towel at daycare. I wanted him to have one that is fairly easily recognizable, but I didn't want to pay a lot for something with a licensed design. Instead, I bought a plain white bath towel and proceeded to make it different. Using leftovers from the blanket, I cut out individual motifs and fused them to the ends of the towel, then satin-stitched around the edges. Now his towel has a train on each end!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The week of pillowcases...

I made the two new crib/toddler sheets for my boys and also finished the two pillowcases to match them. I went to Joann Fabrics to pick up broadcloth for the trims and also bought some clearanced sleepwear knit fabric - that should make nice PJs for at least one of my boys - and some denim to test a pattern for a baby carrier for an online friend. I'll post pictures when it's done, which will hopefully be by the end of next week.

I went back to Joanns a few days later to get the trim fabrics for a Star Wars pillow for my brother. This has been in the works for quite awhile, so I'm happy to finally have it done! (He had bought the pillow panels; then after I made the first one, he requested that the second be a regular-sized pillowcase.) Now I just need to make the baby blanket he commissioned, and then they can both go out in the mail.
When I went for the trim fabrics, thanks to a big sale on clearance fabric, I also walked out with nineteen yards of nice flannel. That should take care of Christmas PJ pants for two people on my list, as well as making a bunch of crib/pack-n-play sheets. If you're near a Joanns, all clearance fabric is 50% off this week!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Moving on to a new project....

I made another travel-sized pillowcase this morning, using leftover fabric from one of the full-sized ones. Now I have no scraps left from that - always a good feeling. I like leftovers, but I tend to accumulate them, which is not so good. I did enlarge the pieces slightly this time, so that Thing 1 will be able to take the pillowcase on/off by himself.

Now I've almost run out of cut out things to sew up! I have one final pair of shorts for Thing 1 cut out, but I'm thinking about what else I can cut and sew up while the serger is still threaded with black. I bought a couple of fabrics the other day for new sheets/pillowcases for Things 1&2, so maybe I'll at least do the sheets. I need to find some contrasting fabric for the trims on the pillowcases, though, so those might wait awhile. (Of course, if I use french seams on the pillowcases, then it won't matter about serger thread, right?) And Thing 1 could use a backpack when he starts daycare next month. I have Butterick 6735, which has a backpack pattern in it, and I have some Bob the Builder fabric that I bought on clearance two years ago - specifically for this backpack. :) I think I might even have a zipper that's the right size. I'll prewash the fabric once the dishwasher is done, and then I need to think about how best to do this, since I want to add a lining, and maybe some pockets....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The day of pillowcases

Yesterday was the day of pillowcases. Our nephews are turning 7 and 3 this weekend, and I thought that pillowcases would be fun gifts, along with a toy for each. One of those pillowcases is done, and the other one is being cut out this morning. The one that I finished is flannel - don't ever try french seams in flannel! Oops! It worked, but there were some hairy moments.

I also finally made Thing 1's daycare pillowcase. Things 1 and 2 are starting daycare in a few weeks, and Thing 1 will need a small pillow and blanket for naptime. After a long search in the spring, I found travel-sized pillows (12x16 inches) at Meijer - then a few weeks later, they mysteriously appeared in every store I'd searched through before. Go figure! At any rate, I have had the pillow and fabric for this pillowcase for nearly three months now, and an impending deadline finally motivated me to just get it over with.

Ta-da! I'm very pleased with how this turned out, with the minor caveat that I goofed and didn't make it an inch wider as I'd intended. So the pillowcase fits pretty tightly over the pillow. Oh, well! Not a big deal, since I can still get it on the pillow. I had originally intended to applique Thing 1's name along the band, using refrigerator magnets as patterns for the letters and using the dark blue of the trim band for the applique. I can still add it, but I'm not so sure now. Thoughts?
Whether I eventually add the name or not, Thing 1 found the pillow this morning and is very excited. He hasn't put it down yet! Maybe I'll have to get another small pillow and make another pillowcase to stay in the car for trips or something...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Current projects

I have a friend from high school who is pregnant with baby #4. She has cloth diapered at least #2&3, so I am assuming that she intends to do the same with this new one. As a baby present, I am crocheting her several new wool diaper covers (Tickle Turdle pattern). There are two sizes available, and I crocheted the smaller size. I used Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool yarn, as it is 100% wool and has the natural lanolin still in it. (My friend will have to relanolinize the cover after she's washed it a few times, but at least it will start off with lanolin.) I have made this pattern before and can get two to three covers out of one skein of yarn, depending on what size I make. For her last baby, I made her one of each size, and I still had enough in the skein to make about two thirds of another small cover. I think I will make two small covers and one large one. Then I will send it to her along with the pattern, so she can make more herself, if she chooses.

I am also working on a pair of PJs for DSIL's birthday....which is tomorrow. Oops! I had the hardest time motivating myself to start these. The shirt is from Simplicity 3935, and the pants are Butterick 6887. I have made several pairs of PJ pants for her from this pattern and have now adjusted a copy of the pattern to be "size Amy." This is the first time making an adult version of this shirt, however, and I don't know her measurements, so I sort of guessed at the size. I hope that it fits in the hips but isn't huge everywhere else!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Keeping track of fabric/projects

Does anyone else keep track of their yardage in/out? I started doing it informally last year - just kind of mentally judging whether I'd made parity or been off-balance each month. But after New Year's, I started keeping track for real in a spreadsheet I got from someone on PatternReview. It's an Excel file that is set up to keep track of yardage used, yardage purchased, and yardage donated/sold. The yardage used and purchased sections have space to enter the $$ involved, fabric or item description, and the pattern used or intended, as well as the date of purchase or finish. It's almost addicting to see the numbers add up! For instance, I am amazed to see that I've sewn nearly 85 yards of fabric so far this year, and I'm a little frightened to note that I've purchased 126 yards so far. (Note: I have not entered any of the fabric purchased before this year, though it is included in the yardage sewn. You just have to decide where to start keeping track and go from there.) Because I've donated 14 yards, my net fabric gain for the year is currently 27 yards. I am working on sewing that down, though! I have nine yards cut and waiting to be sewn, and I have some birthday deadlines looming on another six yards. Of course, who knows if I'll be able to keep myself from buying more before then! :)

As far as finished projects go, I keep more detailed records in simple wordprocessing files. I start a new one every year, and I just record each finished item under the month it was finished, and I make notes on the pattern and fabric used, as well as any pattern changes I made. For example, I can go back to see what length and width of elastic I used, as well as how far I turned the waist under for a casing. This has been very helpful when sewing infrequently for certain people! And I generally take pictures of my finished projects, so I can look at them again later to make sure that I don't use the same fabric again for that person.

First batch finished!

This is the first batch of new shorts/pants for Thing 1 - all using white serger thread. (There are actually two of the orange seashell shorts, just different sizes. So I didn't put both in the picture.) I really like how they turned out! Thing 1 wore both pairs of shorts this weekend, and they fit nicely. I'm hoping that with the addition of 1.5 inches to the length of the pants, they'll still be wearable this fall/winter. We'll see when the next growth spurt hits and how much he shoots up! The tan pair of pants will be especially nice for fall - it's a heavier stretch cotton, so it'll be a little more substantial. The two other pairs of pants are pretty lightweight, so nice for summer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More pants/shorts

I like the way Thing 1's new pants with pockets turned out so well that I'm turning it into an assembly line. Yesterday I cut out ten pairs of pants and shorts (two pairs of shorts are for a friend's son for his birthday), all with pockets, and today I'm starting the assembly line for stitching them up. Four pairs are on the back burner, waiting for the serger to be rethreaded, but the other six will get white serger thread, so I've already begun assembling them.

I didn't mention this before, but I've been using an idea that Debbie Cook has mentioned before for the pocket bags: a fun print. Mind you, I'm only using that on the solid-colored pants/shorts. Anything that is made from a print (especially something loud, like the "disco pants") just gets a plain fabric for the pocket bag. That brings me to another idea - cheap fabric for pocket bags. The pocket bags really will only be seen by me (doing the laundry) or the wearer (assuming that he looks inside), so it doesn't really matter what you use for the bag. I got some bedsheets from someone on freecycle last fall, and while some were very nice, others were stained or simply way past their prime. I gave the good ones to a friend and kept the others to use for nonwearable muslins or inside blankets. When I made the first pair of pocket pants, I took the nonwearable muslin from my wrap skirt and cut pocket bags out of it. THis worked so well that I did it again when I cut all the pocket bags last night. (No more nonwearable muslin! I had to dig out the rest of the sheet last night. Twenty pocket bags takes a bit of fabric!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Simplicity 4243

I made this for Thing 2 to wear to my brother's wedding last weekend. I had been so unmotivated to sew that I ended up sewing this the night before I left, and I did some handstitching to finish it in the last 30 minutes of the drive to the church! Hopefully I won't do something like that again any time soon! However, it did get done, and it fit - well enough for this wedding, anyway. Unfortunately, since Thing 2 is so tall, this size (M - 12 months) is not long enough in the torso, and once his diaper starts to get soggy, the snaps at the crotch start to bulge. But I like the way the finished product looks, so I've already bought more fabric to use for a short-leg version in the next size up. I think it'll be nice and cool for church this summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Finished items!

First up, the wedding boxers:

This print is so loud, and the flannel-backed satin just makes it even more over the top! I think that DB will love them. In fact, they might end up as the boxers to be worn under the tux - how funny would that be? :)

Next, the pants with slash pockets:

I added another picture with a fish puppet in the pocket, just to show the shape of the pocket. I love how these turned out! DH thinks that the print makes Thing 1 ready for disco night, but as I pointed out to him, these are for play pants, and I'd rather do the experiment with a cheaper fabric (in this case, a remnant) than something expensive. Thing 1 loves them, and he wore them all day after I finished them.

I've already made another pair of pants with pockets, and I have plans for lots more!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

On a roll!

I've had problems motivating myself to sew lately, but this weekend seems to have changed that! I finished my skirt, except for the buttons. I'm going to go to the store tomorrow to try to find buttons for it, and then I'll post a picture. I ended up finishing the edges by serging, then turning under once and using a single line of hemming. I used scraps to try it out that way and with a twin needle, and DH voted for the single needle. I think he was right, and it looks pretty nice.

And that motivated me to work on other projects: I'm sewing a pair of boxers for DB as a pre-wedding present. I found a really loud Hawaiian print in a flannel-backed satin that is perfect. :) I used Simplicity 9958, which is a TNT boxer pattern, and they just need hems and elastic now. I also finished the pair of play pants I cut out for Thing 1 a month or so ago - the ones with slash pockets. I'm really pleased with the results! The pockets look great, and they were really easy to do. I still need to hem them, after Thing 1 tries them on tomorrow morning. (This is a new size, so I want to see whether I need to lengthen them, or if they will be long enough to last while as is.) After I know how good the length is, I'll cut out a bunch more and get them into the lineup.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Long-Ignored UFO

I haven't been sewing at all so far this month, which is quite unlike me! But now I'm digging out a UFO from last December and trying to muster up motivation to finish it quickly. I really need to get it done - I want to wear it to my brother's wedding next weekend! I'm making New Look 6434 - view A, the asymmetrical hem without fringe - in a beautiful dark blue embroidered suede from Joann Fabrics. Originally, I was going to wear this to a classmate's wedding at the end of December, but I changed my mind when I found a nice black nursing top and realized that black and dark blue aren't supposed to go together. :)

At that point, I had cut out the pieces (just 4!), interfaced the facing, and staystitched the waist. So I tossed the pieces onto a shelf and ignored them until the calendar provided me with some desperate incentive to get back to work. Fortunately, this is supposed to be an easy pattern. I just need to sew the facing to the waist, finish all the edges, and put in the buttons/buttonholes. I'm trying to decide now if I want to do a regular double-fold hem or serge the raw edges and turn once for a single-fold hem. I usually prefer the double-fold hems, as I don't like to have raw (even serged) edges possibly showing if the hem flips up at all. But I'm thinking that it would probably look just fine, and maybe I could use a twin needle for the hem. I'm pretty sure that I have scraps left from cutting this. I should try out my options and see how they look.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Cool Ice Cubes! (no pun intended)

I have a confession to make - I grew up fifteen minutes from Woodfield Mall (Schaumburg, IL - outside Chicago), and yet I had never been to the Ikea store there until last week. Shameful, I know. :) But I've finally made it, and I have to say that it's great! I could totally spend hours and lots and lots of $$$ in there. Fortunately, I live 3 hours away and don't have lots of $$$ to spend.

However, I found the neatest things on my inaugural trip there - shape ice cube trays! And they're only $2 each! I bought the puzzle pieces, stars, and little bottles to use for Thing 1's birthday party tomorrow. Very fun! I'd never used silicone bakeware before, and that's what these seem to be (only not bakeware, of course!). The ice cubes need a little bit of coaxing to pop out, but it's pretty easy. I love these!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I finished a bunch of slippers yesterday. This photo just shows the ones in Thing 1's size. I made other sizes in both shades of blue, but really, you get the idea with these. I had some trouble with the lighter blue - my zigzag stitches kept skipping. Since the others did fine (both before and after the light blue troubles), I think that it's that particular fleece and not my machine. Fortunately, that fleece is now used up! The grey ones in the lower right are made from a sweatshirt fleece I bought on eBay about two years ago. (I got either ten or fifteen yards - don't remember which. This is great stuff!) I should have made those a size bigger, as the sweatshirt fleece doesn't have as much stretch. They fit Thing 1 great when they're on, but they are really hard to get on! We're going out of town for a few days, but I'll cut out the next size when we get back. He loves those, as they match a sweatsuit I made him a few months ago.
I've thought about putting gripper fabric on the soles but haven't gotten any yet. Our house is almost entirely carpeted, so traction isn't too much of an issue here. And since Thing 1 wears these like socks, I'd hate to add any bulk and make it difficult for him to get shoes on over them. But I think that it would work just fine to add gripper fabric, or even paint the soles with fabric paint. I love the ease of sewing this pattern - there are three pattern pieces, and it literally takes me about twenty minutes to sew a pair. The pattern does not recommend using a serger, as the serged seam can feel irritating to the skin, but I serge them anyway for Thing 1. I tried it on his first pair, and he isn't bothered by it at all. For mine, however, I just use a narrow zigzag stitch.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More Christmas in April!

I think that these turned out rather nice! The top picture shows the large ornaments, and the bottom one shows the mini ornaments. We had a lot of fun painting these, and we plan to do more the next time my friend comes to visit. (The mini ornament that is second from the right in the bottom row was Thing 1's doing - but the color combination really grew on me.) The tutorial at StacySews is very good, and I would only offer a couple of additions to it. The first is that after cleaning out the ornaments with vinegar, you can make sure that they are dry by putting them in the oven at 180 or 200 F for about 10-15 minutes before getting ready to paint. (Even after I've had them draining for a day or two, I sometimes still have a drop or so of moisture inside. This takes care of it.) The second can be inferred by the photos - use muffin tins to hold your ornaments! My mini ornaments fit great in mini muffin tins, and the large one fit great in the regular muffin tins. I set them in these to bake out the moisture as mentioned above and also when I think they're about done drying after painting (I'll leave them like this for a few days before I put the tops back on).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Christmas in April?

I have a friend in town for the weekend, and we are having fun painting Christmas ornaments. (Talk about ridiculously early, I know!) I was inspired around New Year's by StacySews, and I made these at the time:

This weekend we're having fun experimenting with more non-traditional colors, like shades of blue, purple, and yellow. But we're still having fun! And we'll display these proudly on our trees. Thing 1 enjoys helping, too - he chooses colors for each ornament and provides the proper "oohs" and "ahhs" - always important, right?

I'll post pictures of the new ornaments when they're dry.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I haven't finished any sewing projects in the last week, and I really haven't even sewn much in that time, either. I have, however, been working on cutting out a new pile of stuff. Somehow, I get motivated to sew much more if I have at least a few things cut out to sew. Thing 1 needs new play and dress pants for the summer, since he's grown and all of last summer's pants are getting short. They're okay for now, but I'm sure they won't be by the end of summer! I'm using the side-seam pants pattern from Kwik Sew's Sewing for Toddlers book, but I'm adding slash pockets a la RTW jeans. (I literally took a RTW pair of pants and laid them beside the cutting table to figure out how to do this.) I figure that I'll sew up the first pair and see how things turn out, then cut out a bunch and start an assembly line.

I've also been cutting out fleece slippers. Thing 1 loves to wear his slippers as socks (he can even wear them with shoes!), so when I saw remnants on clearance for an additional 50% off (or was it 75?) a few weeks ago at Joanns, I snatched some up. I use the Green Pepper Polar Slippers pattern, and it works great for him. I've already made him six pairs, but like I said, he wears them as socks, so....he needs more.

And Thing 2 is outgrowing his solid-colored knit pants, so I'm testing the next size in the Kwik Sew Sewing for Babies book. Have you ever noticed that it's easy to find RTW knit pants in pastel colors or in prints, but hard to find in primary or dark colors? I realized recently that I've never seen RTW knit baby pants in black, and I've only rarely seen red or green. Is it just me? Anyway, I plan to rectify this. :)

Hopefully I'll have finished projects to show soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Knit PJs

We visited DH's family for Easter, and they like to do gifts in the Easter basket. Last year, I was caught unprepared and made a last minute trip to the store for items for Thing 1's Easter basket. This year, I was ready in advance! Thing 1 loves trains, and I had a remnant of knit train fabric in my stash.
I used the Kwik Sew Sewing for Toddlers book and made a pair of PJs for him. I wanted to make a long-sleeved shirt to go with the long pants but was hampered by fabric size. It's a fairly thin knit, so probably better for summer use, anyway. I made a straight size T4 in both and used a cotton lycra ribbing for the cuffs and neckband. I love the patterns in this book and have had great success with them before. These turned out great, and Thing 1 loved them. I plan to make more knit PJs like this soon, since they turned out so well.

Simplicity 3935

I finished two PJ shirts for Thing 1. These coordinate with two of the PJ pants I finished last week. I plan to make another (in green) for the third pair of pants. I used Simplicity pattern 3935, which is for family PJs - unisex PJ tops and pants in child, teen, and adult sizes. I like the way the pattern turned out, but I wish that the child sizes were smaller. I used size XS (4-5), but these are still pretty big on my just-about four-year-old. On the plus side, they are wearable, and they should last quite awhile! And Thing 1 loves them!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Thing 1 needs some new PJs. The ones I made him two years ago are starting to look a bit short, and he's looking kind of cramped in his sleepers, too. So I decided to go through the stash and cut out some new stuff. I found two pieces of flannel that were big enough for new PJ pants, and I also bought another print at Joanns yesterday for a third pair. (I had zero intentions of getting more flannel for pants, but I was surprised to see that Snuggle flannel prints were on sale for $2/yard, and the alien print was so cute that I barely resisted buying enough for ME!)

A few hours later, voila!

These are made from Butterick 6887, which is now out of print (but still available at the moment on eBay). It's a father-son PJ pattern, with both long- and short-sleeved options. This is the second smallest size in the boys' pattern. My only change was to make the fly a real fly, as I didn't see the point of using as much effort to make a mock fly. I used the directions from Simplicity 9958 for the fly.

Next up, coordinating PJ shirts, from Simplicity 3935!

Welcome to my tiny corner of the internet....

I kept saying that I had no interest in putting myself out there on a blog, but here I am....We'll see how much I actually wind up doing with this in the end.