Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rescued from a haywire buttonhole

My plan for my recent Kwik Sew project, absolutely included button holes at the neckline. It made the difference between a t-shirt and a cute top. Since I don't know the girl I was sewing for, and because she's the kind of girl that doesn't get a new outfit very often, I wanted it to be well, more than just a t-shirt. 

So I practiced and I got one done pretty well, but the second one was a disaster. A huge bird's nest on the inside of the neckline would have been itchy and unsightly. Fortunately, I didn't cut the first one before trying the second one. After carefully pulling it out, almost one thread at a time, I knew I couldn't try again.

Plan B. I sewed the buttons on where the buttonholes should have been - and one still is! Then I sewed plastic snaps behind the buttons. Depending on how fast she likes to get dressed, the top might just pullover her head and she may never know the snaps are there!

Turned out to be a pretty good save and the outfit is ready to be worn! I'll say a prayer for her when I turn the outfit in. There are so many children who get by with so little. I hope this little girl feels the love sewn in.

Get Going ... Economy! Sewing was, for a very long time, kind of a solitary endeavor. The Internet, blogs, forums and other things cyber have provided some community that was a little harder to find years ago. But technology isn't the only thing driving a growing sewing sector. The recession, a desire to "go green" and the need to find a creative outlet are all combining to get sewing going.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How many tools does it take to.... ???

I approached a recent project - the Kwik Sew children's outfit - with a little more care than might be guessed. 

It wasn't a difficult project, but the top was sewn in a stretch terry knit and I'd followed the directions for a Front Placket and Faced Neckline. It's instructions like these that make the pattern book such a treasure. Step-by-step instructions to create unlimited variations on very simple styles.

Good. The instructions are excellent and I took great care to make a sample before I started the buttonholes. Once I was ready to do the real buttonholes (3 of them), I started with the one in the middle and waited to cut it until I'd done the one at the neckline. Good thing. 

Between the neckline and the placket edge, the buttonholer lost it's mind and I had a massive bird's nest. So, the question. How many tools does it take to rip out a buttonhole? A buttonhole made with white thread on white stretch terry?

5, evidently:
  1. scissors
  2. stiletto (amazing tool)
  3. snippers
  4. tweezers
  5. seam ripper
Each one, indispensable and kept within arm's reach of my sewing machine. Just goes to show you that a good set of tools is critical - each one played it's own special role. And the top was saved - more on the recovery in a couple of days.

Sew... what tools do you keep in arm's reach? 

Get Going ... Smiling! The Royals of the United Kingdom are a little bit of a mystery to this American, but they have always held a certain charm for me. Representatives of a life more civilized, perhaps. News of Prince Philip's recent health scare certainly hit our airwaves and I was happy to hear that he'd been able to return home to Her Majesty so quickly and with a big smile on his face. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Little Girl Sewing, the Kwik Sew Way

Several years ago, I bought several Kwik Sew books, including Sewing For Children. I think it's entirely possible to outfit your kids with these books alone - not other patterns needed. There's flexibility and so much inspiration packed inside this book. I wanted to sew for a little girl and I got my inspiration from this picture in the book:

I still need to get the buttons sewn on and I had a terrible fit with the buttonholes, but other than that, the outfit is complete. I don't know who will be the recipient of this little top and skirt, but I hope she enjoys it and feels the love and joy of the Christmas Spirit when she receives it. I know I did as I was making it. 

And, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Christmas blessings and peace to all.

Get Going ... Decorating: Never ones to let a holiday or important anniversary go by without comment, Google is decked out for the season again this year. Be sure to click around to see the animation and hear the music. You can also check out the Christmas Google Doodles from years gone by.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Already? My 2nd FNSI!

Handmade by HeidiSeems like I just participated in my first Friday Night Sew-in and now, I'm signed up for another one! Sponsored by Heidi and her cousin Bobbi, my first FNSI was successful - it helped me get my DD's Dorothy costume ready in time.

So, I'm signed up for the second one to be held in December. I think they are typically once a month, but double up in December because the average quilter/sewist/crafter has such a long to-do list this time of year. I'm no exception to that rule!

Tonight, I'm going to work on the header for the master berth. That's boat-speak for   the headboard on the bed in the boat's master bedroom.

Hoping to get "after" pics posted to the Flickr board tomorrow, they'll be fun to compare to the "before":

I don't have a "before" photo of the berth header installed, but these pics give an idea of the sections and the colors that I'm replacing. 

Most of the project is fabric cutting and stapling in place, but I'm sewing the finishing touches, so I think it counts for a FNSI. Whether it counts or not doesn't matter so much to me. I'll just be happy to have it done! The plan: 

 Plan ahead – plan's in place.

 Cut fabrics ahead of time. Done!

 Use plastic bins or boxes to separate your projects. Done!

 Quick dinner - pick-up during after work Costco run!

 Bribes.. No need for bribes - DH wants these headers done as much as I do!

 Work? Come home, get comfy and … Get Going Sewing!

UPDATE 12/23/2011: A couple of quick "after" shots... A huge improvement and a very satisfying project, indeed!

Get Going ... Surfing? The Beach Boys brought the sport of surfing into every American teenager's home during the 60's - no matter how far they lived from the sea. Their music is still played on radio stations and their sound evokes a feeling of a simpler time. They announced today that they'll be touring! Whether you remember or you're among a new generation of fans - Everybody's learning how, come on and safari with me...!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My first FNSI!

Well, I participated in my first Friday Night Sew-In, sponsored hosted by Heidi and her cousin Bobbi. I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped, and I didn't get photos posted to Flickr, but I got off the sofa and I sewed!

Dinner was quickly made and served on paper plates. We were on the boat, so I can take a picture of the sewing space all set-up and ready to go - all in a single shot!

I worked on Simplicity 4136, a collection of Wizard of Oz costumes. My DD needed a Dorothy dress for a holiday office party. She had a blouse already, so the request was just for the apron.


I got the bodice done and the skirt - here's a progress shot:

Saturday, she came home and we worked on it together - she used my serger for the first time! Tomorrow is the party, so I should have a picture of the completed costume. 

Get Going ... Voting! You knew there'd be an app for that! Both Android and iPhone users can select an app to help inform them and track results from the 2012 Presidential election here in the US. Like they can't get enough information without going mobile! Ah well, I guess it's a sign of the times. Don't look for me in the download statistics - I'm already on overload!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A stitch in time

On a vintage machine, that is. I've never had much interest in vintage machines until recently. I'm setting up to work on my DH's boat canvas and everything I've read said that an all metal, gear-driven machine is what I need.

So, to CraigsList I went and in a single day, I found two machines, for sale by two different sellers. Both mounted in cabinets. Both really, really cool looking. Both appeared to work and both were right priced for me - $25 a piece. I visited both sellers and DH was cheerful and willing to go get both of them. He didn't even question why I'd buy two machines. He's a very good husband!

That was several weeks ago and I've been on a mechanical journey trying to get these machines to do what I want them to. It's very, very easy to fall in love with sewing machines that are my age or older (much!). I've put one of them aside for a bit because I got stuck. The Kenmore 158.54 will get my attention later - this machine has great potential, particularly for buttonholes.

Kenmore 158.54

This beauty does everything I want it to, but I can't change the stitch length. It uses cams to make zigzag and other decorative stitches and weighs about 1,000 pounds. It's belt-driven, though, so once I discovered the stitch length problem, I decided the other machine was worth working on for a while.

Kenmore 117.36
This machine weighs almost as much as the other one and is completely gear driven. It's a long shuttle model - with a bobbin like I've never seen.

Long shuttle bobbin Bobbin winder

It's cleaned and oiled and sounds like it will run well. Next up - thread it and see how it stitches!

It might be a good thing that I wasn't drawn to these machines earlier. There are so many of them out there with many, many groups of loyal followers. Who knows how many I might have acquired had I known how much fun they can be?

Get Going ... Giving! This is the time of year that many want to give to others, to share, spread the joy of the Christmas season and to try to make someone's lift a little brighter. Charity Navigator is a great resource when you're trying to figure how a charitable organization might use your donation. Search by location, charity name or by the need they serve. There's a lot of good going on out there - go get inspired!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

Well. In addition to the sparkly attraction of a new project, I love to join in the fun. I may be slow to join in, waddling around in the dark for a bit longer than others, but once awareness has set in - I'm there!

This week, I'll participate in my first Friday Night Sew-In (FNSI), hosted by Heidi and her cousin Bobbi.

Handmade by Heidi

I never lack for things to do in my sewing room and that's never more true than during this time of year. Heidi offers some advice for a successful FNSI that will help me decide how I'll dedicate the time. Her advice, paraphrased for my life will be my action plan for the remainder of the week:
Plan ahead – have a plan in place.

Cut fabrics ahead of time.

Use plastic bins or boxes to separate your projects. This I already do!

Dinner - make a quick meal use paper plates for easy clean up, give DH a kiss, then ... get busy.

Bribes.. No need for bribes - DH is super supportive and has enough stuff on my "honey-do" list that he won't resist. He wouldn't anyway!

Work? Come home, get comfy and … Get Going Sewing!
This is going to be fun!

Get Going ... Screaming? Seems like, in addition to having many, many things to do, this time of year also tends to bring us into more frequent contact with the tantrum. Like most things, this behavior has fallen under the scrutiny of science. Can you imagine hoping your workday has some good tantrums in it? (If that's your reality, I sincerely sympathize!) If you'd like to know more about how to interpret the tantrum - here's a piece for you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Get going stitchin'!

Nothing gets me going like something new. There's some valuable insight there... Helps explain why I often have trouble finishing projects. I'm working on that, but I'm honest to say that a new project always holds a delightful threat of distraction for me.

That said, I'm looking forward to 2012 with a new project in mind. Actually, it's a challenge more than a project. In any case, it will definitely test my ability to stick with something. The risk of public humiliation aside, I've signed up for Take A Stitch Tuesday (TAST) with Sharon Boggon. Sharon is one of the most creative, talented and generous people I've met in the web or any where else.

Trust me, the best way to get to know her is to grab a cuppa (Sharon's expression) and peruse her website, Pintangle ( You might not find her interests to match yours, but you can't help but admire her work.

Anyway, TAST is a year long exercise in embroidery, learning and sharing and I'm psyched! Please visit often to see how I'm doing and to pick up the hoop again, if I get distracted. Join me, encourage me or just follow along as Sharon inspires me to new heights with a needle!

Related links:

Get Going ... Cooking! Dinner on the boat tonight. A little meatloaf, a little portobello and Swiss cheese dip and the best creamed spinach ever! Super simple to make, delicious and perfect for low-carb appetites! Yum!