For Me??? I Shouldn’t Have! :) and Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

I did a minuscule amount of holiday sewing, mostly for me. Why me?

1) I’m not offended getting a homemade gift 🙂
2) If I mess it up, I totally understand.
3) I, as giver, will not be hurt if I see that the givee (also me) has re-gifted the item to another person or institution.
4) I can chalk it up to experience.
5) I can chalk it up to having a bad day.
6) If it doesn’t fit, I can ask my daughter if she wants it. Also, she likes weird styles and things anyway.
7) If I’m going to spend a lot of time making something, at least I know I will appreciate that.

Star Trek fleece blanket

warm Star Trek fleece lap blanket

As you may know, I like to knit while watching TV at night. Of course I have other lap quilts and blankets, but this one, my gift to me, is special. Why special?

1) It’s fleece, very warm and fuzzy (my other usual TV-watching lap quilts aren’t fleece)
2) It has a TV show theme, ideal for…watching TV
3) I like to think it is the Original Star Trek. Actually, it obviously is the Star Trek animated series, which I like to think is based on the original Star Trek: William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, etc. I love the new actors too…but the old school series shaped me into the adult I am.
4) It fits the area of me as curled up on the loveseat upon which I perch to watch TV and knit.
5) The fabric was a remnant, so 50% off the regular price.

Marcy Tilton Vogue V8497

Remnant Marcy Tilton top

Next is the remnant top I made for myself.

Vogue pattern

pattern

top

top

The pattern shows this Marcy Tilton Wearable Art top, three views, all made in a solid-color medium-stretch knit. My expectations from the pattern photo did not lead me to the top I created from this pattern. Why?

1) I used two remnants that have greater than medium-stretch quality. And for the neck band, I used a rib-knit, not a piece of the overall fabric. The two remnants I used have the same colors, but vastly different patterns. I wanted to make the fronts and backs half of each fabric, but I couldn’t because the back pattern pieces are longer than the front, and the fabric I used for the front wasn’t long enough.
2) The picture on the front of the pattern appeared to have the z-shaped seams lapped under. According to the directions, the seams are just sewn, leaving the edges on the top piece exposed to the elements. So after wearing, washing, etc., these unfinished seams will curl up. Also, according to the instructions, the neckband is only sewn on the bottom edge to the neck of the garment, leaving the top edge to fray, curl up, whatever. I didn’t like the look of it on my rib-knit band, so I sewed the top edge of the neckband down onto the bottom edge.
3) I do like the look on the pattern envelope, so I may decide to sew a solid-color top according to the directions some other time.

Meanwhile, other quirks I noticed with this pattern:

1) The directions tell you to glue the seams together with spray-on fusible adhesive prior to sewing or top-stitching. Why? It can’t be just to affix the seams together and keep them from moving while sewing, because you’re also directed to pin them together as well. And you’re still directed to stay-stitch the neckline, and to reinforce the shoulder seams by stitching them on top of a piece of tricot interfacing. I think the idea is that the knit fabric won’t stretch during sewing and therefore pucker, if it’s glued together.
2) I didn’t enjoy using the spray-on adhesive: it’s extremely messy and irritating to the skin around my fingernails when I’m trying to position the hems, etc. But I have to admit that the hems didn’t pucker, they stayed flat as could be, and I was able to use a nice top-stitch, and not the usually-called for serger cover-stitch hems. (Good because I hate to re-thread the serger).

spray adhesive

gunky spray adhesive

Speaking of hand-made, my friend Aura is fabulous at making beaded jewelry. Here are some examples of earrings she has made recently:

beaded earrings

Aura’s beaded earrings

Hope everyone is still basking in the light and warmth of happy holidays! For more Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth ping here.

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Blankets from Very EZ to Somewhat EZ

Ahhh blankets! How great it is to cover up with a soft and fluffy one.

This one is the easiest possible: get a piece of fleece and just serge around the edge. You don’t even really have to finish a fleece blanket; it won’t ravel, but the serged edge makes it look nice and done.

Serged-edge fleece blanket

It’s possible to find a remnant of fleece that is a yard or more, which will give it to you for 1/2 price! Cheap and good!

This one is adapted from my go-to receiving blanket, see the free pattern on youcanmakethis.com. This one is made without an edging at all. I used flannel for one side and minky for the other, which made for a little uneven seaming. To compensate, I used a roller foot for the machine, and pinned the edges together prior to sewing. Sew with the minky layer on top, keeping the pinned edges aligned until you get right up to removing the pins: the roller foot will not let the fabric stretch. Once turned inside out, I like to top-stitch the edges with the flannel side on top: I like the triple-stitch in a 4.5 or longer stitch length for a nice prominent top-stitch. I added a little embroidery motif on the plain but fluffy side to go with the flannel fabric.

minky-flannel receiving blanket

This one is my second attempt at free-motion quilting, another baby quilt of a non-standard size similar to the one I made in a November Post, Epic Remnants.

embroidering a lotus on the plain block

I started with some cotton collegiate sport fabric (which caused my husband to question my allegiance. I hope another trip to genuflect before the bull gator in front of Ben Hill Griffin stadium is not on the agenda) for the backing. I wanted large blocks for the front, like my previous project, so most of them ended up 12″ square, except for a shorter row. It’s ok. It’s ok. I ended up with some pretty uneven cutting lines so a lot of it had to end up getting sheared off anyway. It’s not a standard size project. I chose a shade of yellow flannel from JoAnn’s and some Wilderness Tan flannel from fabric.com for the contrasting blocks. To embellish the plain yellow, I added a machine embroidery lotus motif, symbolizing peace as in “please go to sleep now so I can get some things done” and the baby’s name. I used a layer of Warm & Natural Needled cotton batting in between the top and backing. I love it; the fabric sort of adheres to this batting like static cling.

The difference between this project and Epic Remnants, is that I used a new free-motion foot this time.

left: spring-action foot, right: free-motion open-toed foot

The spring-action free motion foot has a spring on it and you don’t have to manually set the + and – on the machine settings to do free-motion sewing; the foot just bounces over the fabric. It made for a much less labor-intensive sewing session. Although I did find a cheap set of 8 Dritz Quilting finger grips to wear while machine-quilting. They are sticky plastic finger cots with grips on the finger pad side and holes for ventilation on the top, fingernail side, to keep your hands from getting sweaty with them on. All pinned together, I started machine quilting from the middle, rolling the side that would come in contact with the inside of the sewing machine.

Machine quilting with spring-action free motion foot

I used the stipple motif, which is just stitching around and moving the fabric sandwich here and there, pivoting and turning where you feel like it. It’s possible to find errors in this but I hope that cuteness will more than make up for them.

finished little free-mo quilt

I used extra-wide double-folded bias tape in goldenrod for the binding, and finished it with a hearty top-stitching. This blanket had a few more steps than the first one, but it wasn’t a gargantuan task like say, a Queen-size pieced quilt would be. Maybe I’ll tackle a bigger one some day…

Not too early for Football Remnants

With the temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s a bit crazy to think of making fleece blankets for football season. EXCEPT when you can get a decent-sized remnant of collegiate team logo fleece (which normally sells for $14.99 a yard) at 50% off!

Go Gators remnant!


We know someone who is a fan of two great college teams–one not in the SEC so they’re not playing each other…except when it came to basketball last year…but we’re going to stop bringing that up right now…

the OTHER team, what's it's name


So, I sewed the two remnants together using a reinforced zig-zag stitch. Then I put about 2 1/2 packages of Wright’s Extra wide Double Fold Fleece Binding all around the edges. Fleece binding is a bit pricey for a project like this, but I love the look of it. I used to make gator blankets all the time and bind them with Wright’s fleece binding in Royal Blue, which was a perfect match to the gator fleece. But alas, the company just stopped making it one day. I scavenged leftover Royal Blue fleece binding as much as I could for a few years, but I can’t find it any more. That was a real disservice to gator fans, Wright’s. Luckily I had some white fleece binding in the stash, and the common color unites the warring patterns of the two team fleeces.

Ready to warm


Just open up the binding, match the edge of the binding to the edge of the fleece, right side (fleecey side of tape) to wrong side of fleece fabric and sew along the fold line next to the edge. Then fold it over so that the top edge covers the seam and the raw edge, then sew it down. I used the reinforced zig zag, but you can use a straight stitch or any stitch.

Say what?

The WordPress prompter has suggested that one thing we can write about is Should you help the Homeless? Good question; in my mind no one would say no to this, but some people I know, say NO! Why? Because they believe that the homeless folks “got themselves into” their situation. Obvious, but who hasn’t taken a helping hand from someone? Are we not all beggars for something? Once, when I was on a committee that dreamed up service projects for our group to do, someone suggested working on a Habitat for Humanity house. “No,” said one guy. “No one helped me by giving me a free house to live in.” True, we all have the choice of acting like the ant or the grasshopper in the fable, either preparing for hard times or frittering away our time and resources. Sometimes it hurts to see the waste. But behind all the drama, he is me and she is he. I think everyone benefits from freebies. Big corporations that pay no taxes, stores and restaurants that dump unsold goods and get a tax break, tithes and offerings that are paid to church organizations and given to people in need, Medicaid for people who can’t afford insurance.

Baby Gator Booties redux

Do-over!

Since I wasn’t all that thrilled with the results of the recent project, I tried again, this time using the “overlock” stitch on my regular sewing machine, Ruby, rather than the serger, Sheila, who mysteriously stopped working yesterday in the middle of serging around the sole of one of the little booties.

Ruby did the left, Sheila did the right

As you can see here, the regular sewing machine booties on the left are a lot bigger. The serger booties had their seam allowances sheared off each time a seam was serged. Although, the directions say to use a “scant 1/8 inch” seam allowance–who can do that? I repeat, who can sew a seam with a 1/8″ seam allowance, while trying to pivot a little pile of 3 to 5 stacked pieces of thick fabric around a bunch of needles sewing 1500 stitches a minute? The serged boots are smaller, cuter, and the serged seams lie flatter and feel to be more finished. The stitched booties have a more oval-shaped sole like it’s supposed to be (my serged soles were abbreviated by so many re-do’s because the threads from the four cones kept coming unthreaded). I think the original looks better than the do-over!

Bam-bam boots!

This week’s remnant project is a very small set of baby booties made from a small piece of fabric: I found a .5-yard piece of orange fleece and of course, some leftover cotton gator fabric (I guess I’m a one-trick pony when it comes to remnants lately, nearly always gator!)

before assembling

This was another serger project (by Pamela Hastings) from the book Simple Serger Sewing. The blurb said “Line trendy cotton print [in other words, gator fabric] with fleece and finish with an overlock stitch…” Well, it could have been quick and easy. But, Sheila the serger didn’t stay for the finish. About halfway through, she started in with a horribly portentious clicking noise and some or all the threads came undone at every attempt. But I pressed on (idiot, but I tried everything to fix it). Next thing I knew there was only a stub of one needle and all the other threads wildly going everywhere. Sigh. With every pass, the cutter was working great. So the soles of the booties were getting smaller and less oval, but remained un-overlocked. I grabbed the 2nd one and went to the Ruby, and sewed using the designated overlock stitch I learned in class yesterday, and it went well. Great serge, no cutting. Which I should have attempted to do from the first, and now I know to do it next time.

Rustic-looking little boots, huh?

So, I don’t know if I feel confident enough to give these to an actual baby, because they’re rather primitive.  If I care to make another pair, the time spent isn’t much at all. But, it was a creative idea someone came up with!

 

Fleecy Remnants

I am a magnet for fleece remnants. Why? Because remnants at JoAnn’s are half the price of off-the-bolt fabric. Normally a remnant, to JoAnn personnel, is less than a yard. But for fleece and home dec fabric, a remnant can be more than a yard. A yard of fleece can make a pretty decent size little blanket. Or a number of other things! I see these on the remnant rack and somehow they follow me home.

This remnant project is a girl’s poncho, size medium (7 – 8), which calls for a yard and a half of fabric. Woo hoo! I had a blue piece that was 1.33 yards and TWO remnants of the pink fleece fabric, which has embroidered and sequinned butterfly motifs all over it, and is very soft and cuddly, but not really appropriate for a baby outfit–because of the sequins. If you wonder about the fabric amounts (required 1.5 vs 1.33); yes, I did cut the collars on the cross-grain but they seem to have adequate stretch and look ok.

embroidered and sequinned butterfly

Just so happened, I had purchased some corduroy from JoAnn in whimsical prints to make jumpers for the girls. These ponchos will coordinate beautifully (I think) with the jumpers and give them a different, warm but not confining like a snow suit, cover-up.

The pattern was Easy McCall’s M6196 and boy was it easy! It included some variations and hand warmers.

It only gets really cold here in Florida a few days a year, so we don’t need tons of heavy winter duds to wear.

These ponchos were cut and sewn in a matter of minutes, actually.  I did both of them in a day, with a lot of lollygagging around in between.

pink poncho

blue poncho

embellished with groovy felt buttons!

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