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Monday, March 28, 2011


WARNING: The following images area little icky and perhaps not suitable for the faint of heart.

What do you do... when you are sewing and you sustain a minor yet grotesque sewing related injury?
Well, after after yelping in pain followed by immediate panic that there may be blood on your lovely lovely ivory easter dress... you survey the damage, and then blog about it!
Let me set the scene for today's story. Here I am sewing along, while jamming out to some Linkin Park [I'm not a robot- I'm not a monkey-I will not dance even if the beat is funky--] (don't judge me). I am overcasting the edges of my lining like a good little seamstress. Necessary but monotonous. I am humming along with my music and my machine is humming along with me, and we are all having a pleasant time, the BAM. 
And the little pain sensors in my brain start zapping me... and before even looking at my finger I grab it and squeeze it tight in the palm of my other hand. I'm pretty sure I glimpsed blood and after a momentary freak out while I ensure none of that drippy red stuff made it's way onto my garment I check out the damage. I knew the needle had made it into my finger at least once at high speed and so I was preparing myself for what was most certainly going to be a crude amputation.
And though my finger was most certainly pulsing dramatically it was also most definitely still intact, and not at all the bloody mess I was expecting. Rather, I looked down to discover a rather impressive blood blister quickly forming:
Yikes. This is what it looks like when the needle goes about 90% through your finger... 
In the second picture you can beside my [chipped] nail where the needle actually entered my finger. It's kinda cool in a super gross kinda way. Just thought I would bring the EW factor up on my blog a little... Anyway. I put a bandaid on it. Even though it's not actually bleeding I am not taking any chances with the lovely ivory fabric ALSO featured in this post (it's in the background of the gross finger shot... all blurred and whatnot like I am a photographer skilled with my depth of field and whatnot... except I'm not. How come the only time I have gotten that to work nicely is a gross blood blister finger shot? That seems ironically unfair.)
Okay... back to sewing. Now that I have thrown myself a sufficient blog pity party for my injury.

Should you feel so inclined you can send your sympathies along with flowers, chocolates, or sewing notions to Valerie's Finger, c/o The Sassy Housewife.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby Blanket

A couple weeks ago I gave you a sneak peek of 2 quilts i was working on. You already saw the Tractor Quilt, and here is the second one.
This quilt was made for a very special little girl. My friend of 25 years (yes, do the math-- since we were born) just had her very first baby girl on March 7. When she first told me she was pregnant I was shocked (She had only been married 2 weeks-- who does that?!?!) but then I got pretty excited. I knew i had to get the wheels turning for a special gift for this baby. I really wanted to make a quilt like my grandma used to... but I didn't know if I wanted to make one JUST like grandma made hers... 
Right about that time I stumbled across THIS tutorial and also THIS one showing the same technique for how t make a faux chenille effect... i was intrigued. So I decided to try it. I asked my friend what kinds of colors she was going with and she said green... Uh... for her baby girl? I didn't want green. But I went on a search for something girly with green... sigh.

Then when shopping with a friend I found this GORGEOUS Alexander Henry Fabric (2D Zoo in Nude) and fell in love... the peachy pink animals and pretty celery and mint green colors... I'm in. The more I worked with the fabric the more I loved it. Those little animals just kill me! So charming.

Anyway, I chose a peachy pink, white, and green flannel for the back, and went to work quilting. Not particularly hard, but time consuming. If I had a walking foot it would have been easier working with 4 layers of fabric. I spread it out over a couple of days, but it took me about 4 hrs to do all the quilting.

Then I start cutting (and I didn't take any pics of this part of the process, sorry...) also not really hard, but time consuming. If I had purchased one of THESE it could have gone much faster. After the cutting I trimmed the edges and put it in the washer. This is after just one wash it frayed quite a bit and was nice and fluffy and textury. I hear it only gets softer the more you wash it... which only means good things for baby S.
I bound the blanket with white satin binding... nice a simple, and I was pretty darn proud of the mitered corners... those things are just a beast for me.

I am very happy with the way it turned out. I took it to see my friend and Baby S in the hospital the day after she was born and Mama and baby approved. :) It really was a lovely quilt. I had fun making it too. I think there will be more.

Actually, my mom just loved it. When she saw it she gasped and said-- when I finally get grand babies someday (she gives me a stern look) you are going to make one of these for me too, right?
Wait-- I have to supply the grandchild and the blanket? That hardly seems fair.

Dilemma and delay

Ugh. Ever working on a project but you don't have a 7 inch zipper?
So you go rummaging through your stuff a second time... nothing.
Then you rummage through your goodwill bag to see if there is a zipper you can pull out of something... and you come up empty handed.
So (and even though you are not proud of it) then you rummage through your husbands close to find something with a zipper that 'needs' to be sent to the goodwill pile...
Still nothing.
So now you assess your state. It's 11:00 on a Saturday morning and you haven't showered yet because you have been sewing all morning while your husband is gone. the husband will be home in about 1 hr and you are trying to figure out if you shower, get yourself dressed and to the store and back with an 7 inch zipper will you have time to complete your project before he comes home and ruins the one person sewing party thing you've had blissfully going all morning.
Okay. You could probably make it. If you go now.
But you are blogging about your dilemma instead of going...
Go go! Go now! Stop Blogging!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Magic School Bus Sweater

I had this sweater that i get at an Ann Taylor outlet a couple years ago.
I really liked it and wore it often... but it was white and after a couple years became kinda dingy and frumpy. It even had a few stains.
but i really liked the style and fit and was not willing to give up on it.
So I got a big plastic tub and a box of Golden Yellow Rit Dye.
Mixed according to instructions and let it stew in my bathtub for a while. When it came out it was the color of... The Magic School Bus.
It was BRIGHT my friends. I am talking Ms. Frizzle would say it was a bit loud for her tastes.
Anywho... I had to tone it down. So I stole about 10 teabags from y husbands stash (shhhh... don't tell him, the man loves his tea)
made a really strong hot tea, and put the whole things back in my tub to brew for another half hour. then rinsed and dried and...
Well, it looks a lot better. It does. I know you can't tell from my fantastic photography done on my lumpy bed in lovely incandescent light probably all while I was yelling at stupid little white dogs bouncing across the furniture... Anyway, it worked.
And I don't really have any pictures of me wearing it-- but trust me I wear it all the time. It's my favorite sweater. It brought new life to my wardrobe and just makes me happy.
But makes me wonder how many other pieces in my wardrobe i could breath new life into with a box of dye... hmmm...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Little Boy Bow Ties: Part 2

Yay! More bow ties! I tell you, friends, these things just make me happy! So in Little Boy Bow Ties: Part 1 I showed you how to make the bow part, and promised we would discuss the tie part later. Well it's later. Aren't we excited?
There are several ways you can make the neck strap for your bow-tie. Today I am going to show you how to make an adjustable strap using bow tie hardware. The hardware is not really easy to find. I searched my fabric stores and came up empty... searched online and didn't find much, but I finally found what i was looking for HERE, and I thought it was pretty reasonably priced. Shipping was fast and I am pleased with the product... so there you go!
Anyway, if your fabric store is better than mine or you happen to get your hands on some bow tie hardware, this is my fav method. easy on and off and adjustable for a good fit. Each hardware set has three pieces, a hook and eye, and a slide. You'll see how it works...

The hardware I have allows a 3/4" width for you fabric band. So I cut a piece of fabric 15x2.5 inches
(don't be like me, trim your selvage, please.)
Fold it in half length wise, right side together and sew (.5 inch seam allowance)

(again... don't be like me. Measure, pin, all that stuff my mom taught me how to do that I ignore forget sometimes.)
I like to iron my seam open before turning it right side out.
Turn your long skinny tube right side out (I used a safety pin attached to one side, fed through the tube, and then pulled out the other side) Press.

I didn't put my seam right on the edge... though I would recommend right on the edge, or in the middle. This will be on the back side of the band... it probably doesn't matter, do what you like!
At this point your bow is made... but you haven't tacked down the center of the bow tie... so you can just feed this piece through the back.
Don't tack that in place yet! Okay... get your little hook...
You'll want to fold that raw edge under and... (um, please ignore my lovely crunchy dry cuticles.)
Sew in place. Your sewing machine may be lazy like me! like mine is, and yell at you about sewing through that many layers of fabric, but you can tell it to suck it up and do it's job. That's what I told mine, at least. I kinda almost helped. Next you are going to put the slide on the other end... (see the arrow?)
(note that we are looking at the back side of that strap, and you can see 1 bar of the slide. On the front side you can see two of the bars) And then load the 'eye' piece on after that.
And then you will loop the strap around and go under the one bar of the slide a second time. (not really difficult to do, just difficult to photograph...) See the arrow pointing to the slide?
That short piece sticking up you are going to tuck the raw edge under and then sew it down... (again, awkward to photograph.)
Do you see the slide in there still? Note that you are just sewing the loop to itself, not through the rest of the band... you should be able to more the slide along the band to adjust the band size when you are done.
And then... you tack the bow to the band (a little off center closer to the hook side so you have plenty of adjusting room.) and...
Admire your lovely finished product: A fully adjustable, fully adorable bow tie for your favorite little man. YAY!
They are just so fun. Oh... and... try not to squeal out loud when you realize that cute black and white print bow tie is... what is that print??? Is that text? What th--
It's totally a MOO bow tie. Fabric remnant compliments of my MIL. I die. Serious cuteness and hilarity and genius all going on here in one tie. LOVE.
Anywho... hope you will give this bow tie method a try, it makes for a very nice, professional look. Let me know how yours turns out! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Made With Love

My grandma was the sweetest, most loving, giving, and funny old lady you will ever meet. She is my hero. This picture was taken of us just a few weeks before she died. It's the last picture I have of me and my sweet Granny.
Granny is my hero. If I can be half the woman she is... sigh I miss her more than I can say.
Anyway, Grandma was a quilter. She made (literally) thousands of blankets in her life time for her family and friends, but mostly she made baby quilts that she donated to an organization called Warm Hearts, Warm Babies who gave baby blankets to shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, and foster children. Especially in her later years when she was not working, she sewed baby blankets all day long turning out several a week. She loved the work, but did it also as a service of love. Also, Granny was completely blind the last several years she was alive. It didn't slow her down one bit. Think of the thousands of babies wrapped in the blankets she lovingly made... what a legacy.
When Grandma was in the hospital before she passed away she kept talking about getting home, because she had two quilts to finish and get sent off. Grandma never finished those two quilts, but when we were cleaning out her house after she passed, we found the incomplete quilts.
My dad picked up one of those baby quilts that had tractors on it. He loved it. He started pointing out the different kinds of tractors he had as a kid. He loved it. Grandma had the front pieced together and the batting and backing pinned to it, ready to go. It just needed to be tied (Granny tied all her quilts with yarn. She technically didn't do any 'quilting' so some might argue they are not technically 'quilts' but whatever...) and needed the binding sewn on.
I made sure the unfinished quilts came home from CO with me.
It took me almost a year before I could bring myself to pull them out, but I decided my dad needed to have this last quilt-- the Tractor quilt that his mom started and didn't get a chance to finish.
I started the project, and I have to be honest-- more than once I had to put it down for a few days to compose myself. I couldn't exactly remember the stitch she did to hand sew the binding on. I was devastated. I knew I could figure it out, but I wanted to do it exactly like Granny did it.
The quilt turned out beautiful. If you are looking closely at her work... in that first picture you may notice that her rows were off-- sometimes by about 1/4 inch. And in the second photo... around the middle there are two blocks out of place that don't fit the pattern. Granny was very sick and very blind when she stitched this last blanket together... but I think these little 'errors' are just a trademark of her dedication to her mission to love and serve. She wasn't going to let anything stand in her way.
Not that I doubted my dad would know the origins of this very special blanket, but I wanted to up the 'keepsake value' of the quilt and so I hand embroidered a patch that I attached to the back bottom corner.
It said: made with Love by MOM, January 2010 (when grandma passed)
And 'Made with Love' is more than just a cute tag-- but the truth. Everything Grandma did she did with love. Love for God, love for her family, and love for babies she would never meet but would be blessed by one of her beautiful quilts.
This special quilt, once completed was a birthday gift for my dad. He opened the box and immediately knew what he was gazing upon. "My tractor quilt!" he said. He loved it. He snuggled it all evening. It sits on the back of his recliner at home.
It's nice to see it when i go to my parents house. It's a lovely keepsake and reminder of my Grandma, and how much she Loved.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Felt Food!

Sooo... remember THIS post where I told you about the felt food I made for my little friend Dawson? Well, I was over at his house the other day and decided to get those pics I never took before of the rest of it...
We searched through the toy bins to see what we could find, but... this picture is missing a piece of bacon, a cookie, and two strawberries. Which is actually kinda a shame because the strawberries were precious.

I hand-sewed all the 'sprinkles' on those cookies... my husband just watched shaking his head (You're making WHAT?) But the broccoli was most definitely my favorite. Fun and cute and healthy. Woot. Maybe I'll make tutorials for more of these things someday... you never know! :) 
Anyway... just thought I'd share!