Tuesday, April 11, 2017

First 100 Days





Not the 100 days you're thinking of. I am referring to the first 100 days of my retirement from a fantastic, dream career in medicine. This blog has never been about my medical career, but you know that. I've written in this blog about sewing, quilting, creating, and a few random comments about my family. Since nobody that I know of actually reads this blog, I am really just journaling, so excuse me for not journaling for an entire year and then just dropping in as if nothing has changed. So much has changed!!!
I had the luxury of finding a fantastic replacement for myself at work, and then working with her for five months while she became familiar with our work and our people. I was able to do some long term projects that had been on my wishlist for years, and I left knowing that the patients, the staff, the partners and the hospital were all in the excellent hands of Dr. Kira Wendorf. In all ways, she has made my promises come true, (I'd promised that she'd be better than I was at everything.)

Then, I left. I quilted, I sewed, I played my cello, and I exercised. I went on long-postponed trips with friends, I had lunch with friends, I listened to my daughters, I took classes, I went to a conference at my alma mater about pushing boundaries, and I entertained very small job options. I undertook a remodeling project in my sewing studio that I'd put off for years. It's not done, but it's really looking close.

I can happily and enthusiastically say that I'm only getting started. My "to do" lists are sometimes shorter than they were before retirement, but they're still full of things that are important to me. The difference is, I no longer see them as stressful near-impossibilities, rather a full menu of choices that all look good, and can all be mine.

What got me back to my blog was something completely unrelated and very minor, which at this point seems silly to mention, so I'll do it anyway, while I think more about how I want to fill in the gap of a year and a quarter.
These are my three examples of a block called the Brasstown Star, which are this month's block for Quilts of Valor Stars, a FB group I just joined. Instead of the old fashioned way of doing the "square in square," I used Anita Grossman Solomon's method, with the paper pattern which guides cutting of pieces. I had to draw my own pattern since the size I needed, (4" finished) differs from the two provided on her Craftsy class.
What I learned was that she tells you to use a full quarter inch seam allowance because the square otherwise ends up a little large, and the points are therefore a little endangered when piecing the block together. I was able to cheat my way into sharp corners, but, lesson learned. I don't think it saved me time, since making the pattern, scanning it, scanning it again with the settings on "actual size," printing, and annotating, took longer than the old fashioned way would have. Mrs. Chang would be proud that there was virtually no fabric waste with AGS's method. Time waste? Well, that's not as obvious since it doesn't have to be swept into the trash bin like fabric waste for all to see.

Big picture though: I spent a lot of time and saved some fabric. What do I have more than enough of? Fabric. What's in short supply? Time. So, though it was a fun exercise, I have to limit how I allow myself to go down these rabbit holes!

Next up? My new toy...an Innova Longarm Quilting machine, and the work it's been doing to get through my backlog of unfinished quilts.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Vedeler Mash-Up (Transformations, Take Me Everywhere Padfolio, and Krafttex Style)

In December, I attended the Once Upon a Quilt retreat in Fort Lauderdale, for the second year in a row. I love this retreat because the proprietor, Lisa, really knows how to organize an event. She hires three well-known quilt artists to teach us a day-long class, each, and walking into the room is like being in grade school again, entering the art room. I love seeing the materials in a kit, and entering to beautiful machines, ready for our use, or tables lain with mysterious items. Each day, we created a different project, and each of them was terrific in its own way. I learned from each teacher quite a bit, and was delighted to incorporate a new spin on this hobby I love so much. A delicious salad lunch is provided, and there's ample opportunity to shop, as well.

My favorite project was Sarah Vedeler's machine embroidery quilting project, the "Take Me Everywhere" padfolio, which speaks to my love for both textile art and office supplies. In this class, the delightful Sarah Vedeler taught how to quilt using the embroidery machine. I didn't understand how one puts a quilt in the hoop, and now I see; you don't! You pin it to stabilizer which you have hooped. Aha!!! The tricky part is re-positioning it each time you need to move to the next place, but with a little practice, and some errors along with my trials, I am now competent at it.

I've been hoarding Kraft tex, a paper product that can be sewn, washed, dried, and incorporated into bags, wallets, and other art projects, and have made a few items I wanted very much to make a folder for the paperwork associated with my finances and bills. I needed three separate full-size pockets, and (it goes without saying,) it must be beautiful.

Combining what I learned in Sarah's class, her new Transformations quilt embroidery designs, and a pattern in the book krafttex Style, I made this folder for my bills and statements:
Front



Opened

Open Cover
Back

Well, I'm delighted with it, and I've since embroidered another cover for Kelly, who I discovered admiring my Padfolio. The fabric I used is a Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton (lichen,) with the binding in a Connecting Threads basic (Swirls in Mustard, which appears to be discontinued.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finishing Projects

Garments are a lot easier to finish, and I really enjoy a finished sewing project!
Palazzo pants by Patterns for Pirates

Peg Legs. Also P4P


Stride Athletic Tights by Greenstyle 
Creations

Hooded Raglan, P4P



Raglan, Peg Legs

Bethiuoa Raglan by Elle Puls and Brassie Joggers, Greenstyle

Mash-up Hooded Raglan, Free Spirit Tank, P4P

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Day of Solitude

Constantine is on a bike trip in Provence, enjoying beautiful weather, great food, and excellent company. It's also a vacation of sorts for me, since the nest is now truly empty. I spent the weekend with the kids, doing some lovely things, but Monday was all for me. I didn't even exercise, though probably should have. I went up to the sewing room with my breakfast and came down only for food! I finished my Sallie maxi dress, and like the pattern enough to do it again, but with better fabric choices.

My ironing board cover finally pushed me over the edge into action. It was too short, having shrunk with the copious steam and heat. I covered it with a fabric that I recently got from "fashionfabricclub" that is very pleasing to my eye and will likely be very durable. I used a linen from my stash, wrong side out, to make the drawstring casing, and "Bob's yer uncle," got that thing done in no time flat. Very satisfying to gaze upon, though not particularly pretty. My water has a lot of iron, and so there is an eventual rust look to the board, despite filtration. This informed my choice of cover fabric.

Then I did something I've been wanting to do for a while. I took out my embroidery module and stitched out a few designs. Lisa had asked me for a case for her beloved Nook, and I didn't get it done in time for her trip to Aruba, but here it is, and I love it. I would not have preferred to do the quilting stitches on the monogrammed flap, but I forgot to put the Velcro on the back of the flap before construction, so it was going to have stitching showing. Live and learn, maybe.




Then, there was the new embroidery design pack I bought because it was on sale and had at least 2 designs I love. Fairy Frost must be a "last year's model," but Christmas designs really should transcend trend. I stitched out this design and even got the courage to put gold thread in there. It worked without a hitch, though I did slow the stitch speed to about half for that part. I'm going to try the applique Santa for a pillow for Sophia if I get the time and nerve. The hardest part of embroidery is the preparation of the substrate, as the rest happens almost automatically. I have to remember that and prepare many at once. Walking out onto the front porch to spray the adhesive is the hardest part!

Flat Lock Seams for the Stride Athletic Tights

I have a new favorite leggings pattern, the Stride Athletic Tights by Greenstyle.

http://greenstylecreations.com/products/stride-athletic-tights

I like the styling on this, and thought I'd try to do the flat lock seams that my serger features. The seams are strong and the seam allowance is flattened into it. I used the web tutorial below  to learn the intricacies of this stitch, and learned the hard way that I need a really good tail of thread before and after each seam. I also learned that I have to tie the thread tail into a knot or the seam will unravel in a flash.

Unfortunately, after making a beautiful, strong, flat seam, I used the cutter on the serger in sewing the pieces together, which sliced that thread and the careful knot off, so the seams started unraveling as soon as I tried that puppy on. OK, lesson learned. I also tried a different way to make flat seams, which takes a little longer, but not when you consider how long it took me to make leggings that I won't trust.

So....you know that stretch stitch on your sewing machine that looks like a lighting bolt? I never liked using it because it's slow and I'm impatient, and why use that when I have a serger? Well, it's actually a really good (almost) straight looking stitch, and I suffered through it to make the seam between that side piece and the back piece.  I pressed the seam allowance to the side piece. Then, I used the cover stitch machine to go over the seam allowance, top-stitching on the right side of the garment to make a nice parallel stitch, holding the SA flat. If you don't have a cover stitch machine, a double needle will do this very nicely.

UPDATE, 10/7/15: I reverted back to simply serging that curved seam, and it worked fine but does leave a noticeable ridge of seam allowance on tight leggings. Next time, I'll either flatlock and then remove the blade for the construction part of the garment, or maybe cover stitch over the serged seam allowance, though I suspect that's going to make too much bulk. If I flatlock and then reinforce with some sort of strong stitch at the ends, I'll feel less worried that my seams will split at an inopportune time. As another modification, I think that the waistband construction on this pattern is a little more fussy than it needs to be. I seem to do fine with the Peg Leg waistband, and it's so much faster and easier! I might do this that way in the future.

The best thing about this pattern, besides its pretty lines and great fit? I needed less than a yard of fabric to make it, (mind you I'm only 5'1") and so I had enough left over to make another one with the alternate seaming technique. This is what a "wearable muslin" is all about!! Which brings me to the next thing I want to mention...in sewing garments, I have historically purchased a pattern, some fabric, and set to work making the garment out of the fabric. Seems logical, yes? Well, this is why I stopped sewing garments a few decades ago. By the time I was done with a garment, I often had a piece of clothing that wasn't great. Either the fit wasn't right, or the construction looked sloppy, or something made me regret it. If it's something that I would have tried on and rejected in a store, I was very frustrated to think I'd spent my time and money on it and was stuck with it.

Sewing clothing is a process. It takes at least one, sometimes many, trial runs to get a pattern just the way I want it. Then and only then, should I cut into the fabric I envisioned as the final destination. I have found many times that the wearable muslins made of less precious fabric end up being my favorites!

Here's the flat lock seam tutorial that was so helpful:

http://gotosew.com/2013/11/guide-to-flatlocking-on-your-serger/


Sunday, September 13, 2015

A 14 Yard Weekend

I made 5 Vanessa Market Totes for carrying groceries. I really like this pattern by ithinksew.com. 

And that's not all...

Brassie Joggers by Greenstyle patterns. I love this pattern, and now that it's proven excellent on my $2/yard bargain fabric from Girl Charlee, it's time to use something much better.

Front and Back of my new raglan shirt pattern, from Elle Puls: Bethioua. Somebody please tell me how that's pronounced! I love this pattern. 


This is the Mississippi Avenue dress by Sew House Seven. It also went together really easily and is very comfortable.



Monday, September 7, 2015

Amish With a Twist II

INancy Rink designs some truly spectacular quilts, mostly with solid colors. I fell in love with this one on the Craftsy website, and bought the kit. I'll post my meager progress as I make it, but this is the final product as interpreted by one quilt artist:






So, as expected this project is a "slow and steady" affair. Here's progress: this block, today. 
These, a few weeks ago:
10/6/15:

10/25/15: