It seems like I have lots of friend with birthdays in the next few weeks. I’m having fun sewing up some new things and each friend will receive something different. It’s a great way for me to try new things and fun to think of something each friend might use. I really hate the idea of giving a gift that is not useful in some way. Then it’s just clutter and something to pass along as a white elephant gift. Well, I guess the holidays are coming if they want to get rid of these things… Today I’ve created a dishtowel with some decoration at the bottom. I had some Huck towelling yardage and that works great for towels. It’s soft and absorbent and you can bleach it when it becomes dingy. I also made a rice bag that can either be frozen or heated. This friend is having a knee replacement the day before her birthday so I was trying to think of something she might find useful in the next few weeks. This surgery event also made it difficult to choose a birthday card. Was kind of hard to pick on that said to have a great day or some such thought. It will soon be a good day but I suspect that may not be her happiest birthday in recent years. She will be happy with the end result however and that is good.
Middle daughter was home this weekend to celebrate her birthday. The actual date was almost a month ago but with her work travel schedule she wasn’t able to come home until this weekend. It’s always good to have her home and the other kids came and joined us for dinner. We had great conversations about jobs, activities and QR codes. If you don’t know what a QR code is, it’s the little box with squares that you find on advertising that can be read with a smart phone. This link will give you more information about a product or take you to a web site with more information. After a yummy dinner she opened her gifts. I had to do some sewing of course so she got this little snap pouch and a covered pillow for her bed. After looking at the pictures I wish I had thought about design placement on the fabric before I cut it but I only had a small piece and not much flexibility as to where the pattern was on the fabric. It is cute however and because she is a transportation planner it seemed appropriate. She also lives in a studio apartment so her bed is a focal point and she has started a pillow collection on her bed. This one I used some really soft cuddle fabric and made a slip cover for it so she could use it as a decorative element or it could be used for guests and still look not so bed like when it’s not being used for sleeping. All in all, another successful weekend.
Yesterday I went to Tacoma to celebrate with a good friend who had an 80th birthday. This “young” man lives in a nursing home and doesn’t have much space so I’ve been thinking about what to bring to celebrate the big birthday. When I was in Joann Fabrics a couple of weeks ago I found a piece of flannel in the remnant bin (I always check out the remnants) and knew this would be perfect for a pillow case for Don. He loves Snoopy and Charlie Brown and whenever I find something Snoopy related I buy it and save it so I can send it off to a new home. I also had some Snoopy post it notes, magnets and some pens. The next thought of course was what to put them in. A bag certainly was the answer and I found this really cute Peanuts fabric so I made a bag. It’s light weight and rolls up so it can be stored in a small space or tucked in a pocket or the basket of the walker and it will be ready when he needs it. Very compact and easy to take when he goes to the store the bookmobile or on a short visit to friends or relatives. Happy Birthday Mr. B!
One project I always keep material on hand for is oilcloth bags. I love sewing with oilcloth. The bright colors, the pliability of the fabric and it never ravels. I have learned a few tricks when I sew with it however. I always use a walking foot and I like to use painters tape for holding things in place. I also use big vinyl coated paperclips. One of my current favorites is making market bags. This pattern is the same size as a paper grocery bag and is perfect for so many things. I use it at the library, at the store and just for carrying stuff. They fold easily when I’m done with them and make a satisfying pile when I have finished making them. I think I’m going to make a bunch up and sell them. I have both laminated fabric and oilcloth. Maybe that will be my next project.
Well, the wedding quilt is done. Not without some angst however. It’s not perfect but I doubt anyone but me will care and probably will not notice. The real challenge came when I washed the quilt after taking some lovely pictures. Into the wash it went and along with the quilt I tossed in some of the Shout Color Catchers. I know that the batik has such bold colors that there was a possibility of bleeding but I didn’t know how many times they really needed to be washed before the color wouldn’t bleed. After the first wash and tossing in the dryer I thought it was fine. The color catchers really did catch some color. It was not until I pulled it out of the dryer however that I realized the many of the dark purple squares had bled all over the white. It made me feel sick to think that maybe this fabric hadn’t been washed and now ruined all my work. After thinking about it for a while I decided that I wasn’t out anything if I tried to remove the purple from the white. I used stain stick and Clorox2 and washed it three more times. I ended up adding 3 color catchers each time as well. After the third wash I put the quilt in the dryer. When I pulled it out it was warm and dry and for the most part the purple was all gone and the colors were still bright. If you look closely and you know it’s there on a few of the squares you can still see a bit of duskiness but it really looked ok. What a relief! I’m not sure if that purple fabric never got washed or if the color was so dark that there was more color to bleed out. I guess I’ll know that next time I use such a dark batik that I need to be more careful.
The next challenge was how to wrap it and send it. Now these are young California professionals and transplants from Washington so they believe in a “green” lifestyle. This was a soft and squishy quilt and it was going in a box so I decided to pack it in a market bag and add a bow and now they will have two gifts. It’s in the mail and I’m on to different projects.
I’ve made it this far. It’s in the machine being quilted. It’s a bit bulky to fit through the machine but so far so good and I think (hope) it will go quickly and without too many problems. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok if it’s not perfect. I’m not entering it in a contest to be judged, it’s just going to be used to cuddle on the couch with and that will be fine!
My friend the seam ripper (unfortunately) has been used several times in the last few days. First it was the iron spitting brown stuff on one of the sashing strips. I was able to sponge most of it off but after a good night sleep, I decided it really did need to be replaced. First thing this morning that’s what I did. I also started some clothes washing, washed the sheet that I am going to use for the backing, cut all the sashing strips for the rows and cut all of the binding strips. That is after I checked my measurements many times. I’ve now started to sew all the rows together and guess what I discovered. I sewed the nine patch square to the wrong side. In other words upside down which meant that I ended up with two squares of the same fabric together. I was going to start ripping off the sashing and flip it around when I realized that if I chose a different seam, I would only have to rip or unsew as some say, one seam rather than two. So I’m sitting here ripping seams and ripping a book CD to my computer so I can put it on my iPod and listen to a story while I sew. I do have a tv in my sewing room and do watch that but when I’m sewing it’s really more about listening rather than watching. So hard to watch the seams and the TV. Now I’ve finished the seam and ready to head back to the machine before I have to go and help my mother. She’s then going to come here for dinner. Ribs and corn on the cob. Should be yummy!
I’m on to another project before I finish my own lap quilt. I have another wedding gift to make. I almost have the top pieced and then I can add the batting and quilt. I think it will look fine once I have the sashing on and the binding but as with all projects… time will tell.
The daughter of a good friend has just gotten married. She and the gentleman have both had their own homes and also lived together for several years which always creates the dilemma of how to recognize this new union and give them something that they might have a use for. I hate to spend money on something that’s just going to be clutter. I know that they have outdoor activities that they enjoy and go to sporting events and such so maybe a “picnic sports blanket” would be a suitable addition to their household. This pattern by Nancy Zieman of Sewing with Nancy fame was a project that turned out well. As with any new pattern, when I’m in the middle I wonder if this is really going to work or if it’s going to be recycled into something else. The biggest challenge was with the velcro closure strap that ended up being too short. The pattern instructions said how far in to place the handle straps but they did not tell you how far from the top of the blanket they needed to be. I must have put them lower than was intended because the closure strap was too short. It did work ok but I was not pleased with the appearance so I removed the strap, recut a new one and sewed it into place. I’m so pleased I made that decision because now it does look good and I will feel good about giving it as a gift. I do have several other large pieces of fleece in my stash from projects that were planned but not executed so this one will probably get made again. All in all, a success!
Well this round of gifts is done. I’m just heading to the post office to mail the graduation card and gifts to my niece. I’m actually quite pleased. The little purse/bag is cute and I think she will find very functional and useful as she travels. The shoe bags will help keep the wedding attire that she is also packing clean and who can’t use a cute little snap pouch. This is one that you use the carpenter ruler in the top. It was fast and easy to put together. It probably took more time to cut out the pieces and the interfacing and fleece that it did to sew it all together. There are a couple of things I will do differently next time such as where I start the quilting and how I do the bottom but really for the first time, it was a success.