Five years, I say. You ask, so “where’s the short cut”? They’re throughout the quilt you see. And the cumulative nature of all of the supposed short cuts made a project that could never end and that I despised working on… right down to binding the blasted thing. Here is a list of the mistakes I made and the “short cuts” thought I was taking to fix them–which resulted in more mistakes–which resulted in more shortcuts–lather rinse repeat.

  • Picked a pattern and cut pieces over several weeks as I had time–at some point I started making my cuts not from the instructions but by looking on what I cut in the last cutting session. Which evidently at some point I had screwed up on, so the blocks were no longer going to be proportional for the pattern I had wanted.
  • No biggie, right, take what I have, sew it up and see what we’ve got. But when you don’t know where you’re going, sewing up it a wee bit more challenging.
  • Stop sewing and start arranging the mismatches and decide on what I’m doing.
  • Re-sew several not comporting with my new plan. Finish sewing the rest.
  • Lay them out. Have my then four-year old insist that she wants the squares arranged a certain way. Detest the layout. Detest the red. Detest that fact that I had long ago destashed all of the fabrics that made up the pieces I was using–no extras, so use what I have. Detest the Red.
  • Sew together. In incorrect order, evidently without precision in my 1/4 inch seam. Sigh. Unpick, re-sew. Do this 3 times over the course of a year and a half while I’m in law school.
  • It’s together. Hooray. Let’s slap some borders on it. Let’s play it by ear. Let’s take my then 5-year-old to the quilt shop and as I’m looking at fabric, in innocence answer her when she asks what we are looking for. She has a decided opinion. I hated the fabrics she wanted then. One of them I’m still lukewarm on but it actually goes well with the quilt. The polka dots I originally hated–too bright! I love now.
  • Slap them on the quilt, study it and think–I don’t think that’s square.
  • Bring then 6-year-old daughter to get backing fabric–have her insist on some unplanned for flannel on the back with monkeys and other critters. See the quilt that could have lasted her until her teens now have a more childish shelf life. Buy–just enough. (See the monkeys under this other blanket??? At my old house even!)
  • Sigh. Extra sigh. Still be living in our postage stamp sized place and decide to baste it with 505 spray on an autumn afternoon on our porch. With dead leaves swirling everywhere. With dead leaves falling onto the 505’ed areas as I struggle to get the layers squared. After a particularly huge gust of wind, decide that it is “good enough”. Realize later when I go to quilt it that the backing is too small on one side. Decide we’ll cut the borders down to match later.
  • Start quilting one afternoon in our postage stamp sized house–even with my fancy new machine, the quilt is hanging over the edges of my sewing table in a way that is pulling on the needle as the fabric is going through. Try stippling though it’s been years and years since I did any. Disaster. Disgust. Roll it back up and put it in a tub.
  • Move.
  • Have phenomenal sewing room. Have unsightly tub that won’t close because the quilt is in it.
  • Decide to quilt it. Unbloody pick the bit of stipple I did and instead try Oh Franson’s loopy flowers. But on my quilt they’re “sloppy flowers”. Have my 14-year-old niece comment that it’s so cool I wasn’t fussy and making them look exactly perfect because that wouldn’t look cool. Right. I totally planned that. Go to Oh Franson’s tutorial a few times and covet her ability to make things look like she didn’t freehand. Remember to do some half flowers falling off the borders so it looks like they extend to the edges of the quilt. Get tired of making the flowers pretty fast. Do them a little too far apart.
  • Finish quilting and remember to cut the borders… by just over an inch on most sides–effectively destroying the half flowers I had made in the prior step.
  • Take purchased bias binding strips I’ve never used before (I have historically always rolled my own). Pin it on, discover that I’m roughly 30 inches too short. Since I didn’t roll my own–I don’t have any of this fabric to make more from. Sigh. Decide it will be a whimsy (which I hate) corner with interest and use a different fabric. Spend a bazillion years and unpicking time before I admit that I no longer remember how to sew down binding or mitered corners  before I get a book out say “Ooooooohhhhh!” and finish. Stay up late on a work night hand sewing it down. Throw in laundry. Have it NOT bunch up all crinkly and lovely.
  • But have the child loves it just the same.
  • Feel like a free woman out from under the weight of unfinished project.
  • Turn to baby blanket I MUST finish!

The folks over at Whipstitch are offering an online sewing class on knits beginning October 4. This is my first online class, but if you read the class description, materials, guest speakers, resources for getting questions answered, it sounds like it’s going to be a lulu of a starting class for me.

Anyone signing up before the stroke of midnight (eastern??) gets a $10 rebate! Join in and conquer your fear of knits!

I took a shirt that cost way too much money from Land’s End and spent an afternoon studying it and making a pattern from it. The bodice was fairly simple, with it being a fairly narrow swing top with a band of shirring through the middle for shape.  It had an interesting lining on the top of the bodice that I was never able to get to work well. I also got the shirring too, uh, shirred for lack of a better word. Oh, and the sleeves are well, let’s just say that in the original they don’t defy gravity so much 😉 Oh, and it wanted hemming… but frankly by then, I was over it.

And I have no idea what the heck is up with my photos lately either–not crisp at all. Clearly user error. 😉

In an effort to show you some process. Here are a few photos of my putting this together… Did I mention that I had to remove and resew the sleeves three times? And that two of those times it was because I sewed them on backward (wrong side out??).

Or how about how I ended up with little folds in the seam? Sigh. Not a total success.

The long and short of it is: it took freaking forever. I will make it again… later, much later. Like in the winter in preparation for next summer’s wardrobe. I think just lengthening the sleeves will get rid of the pippi longstocking look. And I’ve had a few tips recommending loosening my tension to get less “gathered” shirrs.

I think the other part of this project that became difficult is that the more it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, the less I wanted to work on it, and the more I felt “obligated” to finish it. So I didn’t allow myself to work on anything else. That was a mistake. I think from both creative and patience standpoints would have helped me out.  But I do feel proud to have done it even if I didn’t get it right. I branched out–and that is what really counts 😉

Oh, and I just received a late Christmas present last night that has changed the entire dynamic of my sewing room 😉 I’d be giddy with excitement if I weren’t so laid up with a summer cold (which are always worse than winter ones–or at least I’m much more whiney about them). Stay tuned to salivate on my next posting.

So Sunday didn’t end up being a skirt-making day, but it did end up being a shirt-making day and quiche completely from scratch day, and cleaning and organizing day. And boy, was I tired!

I used IndieTute’s peasant shirt instructions using some better quality but still on sale plain white muslin for this one, just in case because I have been known, especially recently to waste perfectly good, nice, expensive fabric with silly cuts that are undoable.

Poor Bunny was not thrilled with the number of times I called her away from her stuffed friends tea party, magic tree house book, and tinker bell play tree to try on the shirt as I constructed it. sans elasticWithout the elastic in, it looked wrongly large to me, but after the elastic went in, it shrank right up.

Based on a combination of Indie’s suggestions for sizing up the pattern  the pattern and Bunny’s measurements, I ended up cutting something close to what Indie’s size 5 would be, which is interesting because Bunny is in a loose fitting 6 for store bought clothes. I paid close attention to how much I cut from the length of both the sleeves and the bodice (well over 3 inches from the bodice). I had my “oops” cutting moment  after I measured the sleeves before sewing the hem and adding the elastic. The shirt should have been about 3/4 inch longer in the sleeves based on what I thought was the “best” measurement but then I went and cut the hem when it was doubled up. Sigh. I was  afraid that the length it ended up would be odd.

But I actually think it turned out fine.

february-2009-357 back view

Indie says it should take about an hour, and now that I know exaclty what she means in her instructions, I could probably crank out a few assembly line style in about an hour. Oh, and I dusted off my serger for this one which made it go extra lickety split.

Next time around, I’m going to take a crack at an A-line shape instead of the boxy shape and make the arm holes a little deeper. It fits right now, but on the tighter side of fitting… so it won’t likely last the whole summer.

After I decided that it had turned out well enough, I decided white was boring and that Bunny needed a little viny addition and a couple of kittens (viny pattern in Doodle Stitching, cats from Sublime Stitching). I think the kittens turned out OK. The little one’s whiskers are going to be redone I think. And the viny looking split stitch with lazy daisies over the hem was painful on my hands, especially since it obviously doesn’t hoop that well. Lesson learned: I will do any long hem embellishments with one of my fancy Bernina 440 sewing stitches next round 🙂

kitty close uppeasant shirt plus embroidery

*BTW–does anyone know how to post two or three pix side by side in wordpress? I can only ever get them stacked like in this post.

Mum was in town and admired my new bag, so I thought: why not? Purses all around. Ok, so I know it’s a wee-bit on the crazy early side for a trick or treat bag, but Peanut wanted a purse too and I know work is going to be on the crazy side of psycho come October.

I did a little experiment this time around. The original pattern said to use duck cloth or canvas as the interfacing, but I didn’t have any on hand. So I used some flannel as suggested in the Bend-the-Rules Sewing book for the one I did last week. However, I didn’t feel like the bag had quite enough shape to it. So this time, I used pellon fleece interfacing after reading BlueBird Baby’s suggestion to use fusible fleece. I definitely like the feel of these bags better, especially the handles.

See how it really holds it’s shape? Ok… it’s just the purses rear end that is sticking up, but you can see that it is heftier but it doesn’t feel heavier for me to hold.

This is using the same pattern that I hated before. And happily, I’ve modified it enough that it wasn’t as big of a drama this time. I omitted the sad little loop to close the bags on 2 of the 3.  It is just too flimsy and I think it looks odd on this size bag. I’d like some sort of closing mechanism, but I’m not sure which would be best.

And for my first major confession: I’m a sewing weenie=totally pattern dependent. I can make minor modifications. I can figure out pattern mistakes, but I detest trying to make stuff without a pattern. I’m the same way with cooking. It’s sad. But there it is. One of my goals is to branch out so that I can feel more comfortable trying new ideas.

I started this afghan early this summer and finished all of the lovely fringe on it this weekend. It’s for my dearest friend from law school.

It’s made from a pattern from Leisure Arts in one of their a year of afghans books. I rarely do this type of afghan anymore because it doesn’t lend itself to the instant gratification that I seem to require in the way of crafty stuff these days. Every repeat there are six rows of single crochet, which feels like it is taking forever to add any substance to your blanket. See the 2 cream rows, then 2 color rows, then 2 cream rows? They look very flat and would be boring without the color to break them up. The single crochet felt like it went quickly though because the afghan is worked along the length and not along the width (which is fairly uncommon).

And then a double and a picot row each. Lather, rinse repeat. I’ve always thought that picot stitches look a bit like popcorn.

My first textile art love is crochet, but this is the first blanket I’ve done since my first summer of law school. The best part about this particular one is that it’s done three weeks early! I’ve never been able to handle finishing stuff at the last minute. And that little neurosis of mine helped me out a lot in law school.

So I bought a bag pattern this weekend. It must be a local designer type based on the lack of internet presence and the badly home-color-printed picture. It’s called Whimsical Bag* (but I bought it anyway) by M and M designs. I would never have bought it except that the fabric store had one made and on display and it looked just perfect. Not too big, not too small, and it was made with just 3 fat quarters.

However, about 2 hours into the project, this was me:

The instructions were not clear, putting it lightly. The diagrams stunk. honestly, they created far more confusion than they helped, and in short, the purse was made with a lot of me chewing my lip and concluding: “it couldn’t possibly be this way, let’s put it here and see how that looks instead.” Which as you will come to know, is so not how I roll. Ooh, and the most irritating part is that the cover says: made from just 3 fats. Well, they make a big deal at the beginning about how you need to make sure that each piece is 18×22 exactly. The problem is that very rarely are any facts 18×22. The 18 inches part, maybe. But 22 inches? almost never because fabric simply isn’t really 44-45 inches wide anymore. It’s really closer to 40. So I had to do a little math (which you will also learn that I hate) to get everything to work out.

In any case, it is now finished. Well kind of. According to their instructions, I still need a button, which I am going to go buy today. But they also ljust let the lining free float in the purse, which I hate, so I am going to stitch it down into the seams.

I’ll probably make another now that I’ve made all of my own notations on the pattern.

* I detest the term Whimsical and generally any form of that word in the title of anything is a deal breaker for me. Ick. Here, I made an exception and bought the pattern in spite of its insipid name.