Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Skirting the Issue with Dolls

Last week's item for the Skirting the Issue charity drive was dolls....another first for me.  Here's my contribution:
The pattern came from a post on Pin and Paper.  There was also a call for little car holders for boys (much more up my alley) but I'm caught in the midst of embroidery projects and haven't made one, at least not yet.  I may go back and try one latter.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three Cheers for Baby Lock

Earlier this year I wrote a post about my Baby Lock sewing machine.  This past Christmas my husband bought me an Elegante machine.  This is one of their higher end machines with most of the bells and whistles including an embroidery module.  When I wrote the post it was early in our relationship and I hadn't had a chance to try out all the features.  (To be honest, there are still features I haven't tried!) We were getting along fine and I was slowly adding to my knowledge and skill on the machine embroidery front when I hit a snag.

I was working on a machine embroidered quilt in a Craftsy class and sailing along fine when suddenly (or so it seemed to me) my machine would no longer read embroidery files off of a memory stick.  Without that function I could only embroider the patterns that came with the machine and of course the files to complete this quilt were separate from that collection.

The fix was not straight forward and stumped the tech at my local store.  But problems usually show the true worth of a company and for me, Baby Lock and my local store came through with flying colors.  The local store replaced the part that was thought to be defective, but that did not fix the problem.  So after several calls by the manager to Baby Lock support I received a call directly from the company tech.  She asked me some more questions and walked me through a procedure that resulted in a complete fix.  She didn't rush me through the call, was personable, answered all my questions and provided me with a phone number where she could be reached if additional problems arose.  Even my husband who deals often with computer support people for several large manufacturers for his job was impressed with the level or support that I received.

So now, despite this problem, I'm happier than ever with my machine.

Thanks, Baby Lock!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sock Monkeys!

I had a new request from my great-niece (the same one who requested a zippered pouch a few weeks ago).  She now loves monkeys.  Since she's been corresponding with me via letters and texts she has loved owls, butterflies, mustaches (?!?!), and now monkeys.  I showed her a picture of a sock monkey and it was love at first sight.  One of her two brothers jumped on the monkey bandwagon and placed his request also.  And, of course you can't make for two and leave one out.  So these three are now traveling to the west coast:
They are each dressed for their owner and are holding one of my "hand knitted dishcloths".  The kids have chores for the summer to help keep them out of trouble so I sent along dishcloths and a letter of "adoption" explaining that the dishcloths are to help with their chores.  Not so sure how that one will go over.

Here's my sock monkey hint....  If you want to make more than one of these, you can buy red heel socks by the pound at this website.  They are seconds, but are fine for monkeys.  They come in several sizes and colors and there is no promise about what is in the package except that you order by color, so all the socks in the pound will be the same color.  So for the price of one pair of new socks I got enough socks to make seven monkeys.  Here's the whole gang (I stopped at six...I was monkey-ed out by then!)  The instructions are also on the same website here as well as kits and already made monkey.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Quilt Contest

Remember this quilt from last year?

Well, I decided to enter it in a weekly contest that happens over at The Quilting Gallery.  Each week there is a different theme and this weeks is scrap quilts.  This is truly a scrap quilt.  The winner is chosen by a combination of points from visitors and from some judges.  The voting starts today and ends Sunday night and you can only vote one time.  Hop on over, see some quilty goodness and pick your favs.  I'm hoping that it's mine, but truly, just pick your favorite.  Oh, and there's a prize drawing for voters!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Easiest Blanket Ever!

This week the project for Skirting the Issue is blankets.  These can be quilts or fleece blankets or anything in-between.  The tutorial provided be Simple Simon and Company (the organizers of this drive) can be found here.  Using just two pieces of fabric - one 30 inches square and one 40 inches square these instructions make a self binding blanket with mitered corners.  There is no batting involved so the result is light weight.  I used flannel on the back and cotton on the front and since I wanted to use this animal print and didn't have a 30 inch square of it I added the green print:
It was super easy to put together although I admit that at first I did the corners wrong and had a "box" instead of a flat blanket...but still, it was really easy.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Your Toys Don't Work

Part of the frustration and busyness of the past week has been the result of technology failures.  We've had a series of problems with different items in the house.  And I just get so frustrated when my toys don't work.

First was our TV.  Our old one died so we replaced it.  I was amazed at how much better the picture was and for several days we just stared in amazement at the TV, weather it was showing a commercial, a news show or a National Geographic special, commenting on the great picture.  The TV also has some "smart" features including the ability to be operated by voice or by hand movements.  I went through the tutorials to "introduce" myself to "TV".  I never could get it to understand my hand gestures (tempting me to make another hand gesture that nice girls don't use). But we did seem to come to an understanding on the voice control.  It turned out to be a feature that has a lot of cool factor and little practicality so it went unused.  I guess Mr. T.V. was feeling left out because every so often in the middle of a show with no hands on any remote it would go into voice mode, mute the TV sound and demand that we use one of the voice commands.  A call to the store finally resulting in disabling that feature on the options menu.  So for now it seems that problem is solved.  Although it makes me wonder why we have features that we can't use....but there IS that GREAT picture.  That counts for a lot.

Then the embroidery function on my sewing machine had a hiccup.  The machine works great but it doesn't want to read any files from a USB stick or from a laptop.  This isn't something that I do often, but I had decided to work on the Craftsy class on Machine Embroidered Quilting and was actually making some progress when the machine decided that it didn't want to play nice with outside technologies. Finally after trying a variety of things for about an hour I called my local store who called tech support who said that it sounds like a loose connection but it needs to be checked by a technician.  So it's at the sewing machine doctor getting fixed.

And then....what really made me lose my blogging mojo was Blogger itself.  I wrote this nice post about my neighborhood and pets and social media but Blogger coughed somewhere in the middle of my composing and the entire post was lost in cyberspace somewhere.  The only part saved as a draft was a first sentence.  It was one of those posts that is difficult to recapture once you've put the thoughts down initially.  Maybe one day I'll try those thoughts again, but not just now.

So, to balance out the techy failures and provide a bit of eye candy - here are some successes of nature from our yard:


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Few Small Projects

Here are a few other small projects from the past week or so.

I have a niece who requested a pouch with very exact specifications.  I had been wanting to try to make zippered pouches for some time so this was just the additional push that I needed.  I didn't take a picture of the first ones that I made, but I went on to make quite a few more experimenting with different materials and construction techniques.  Here are a few that I did get a picture of:

Then I got inspired to make this wall-hanging.  This has always been a favorite saying of mine and it seemed that making it totally out of scraps in a sort of primitive style with a "missing block" was the perfect fit:

Next on my list are a few sock monkeys.  The same niece requested a sock monkey and she has two brothers who also would like one.  I'm not entirely sure if the brothers really like monkeys also or if they just don't want to miss out on something that their sister is getting.  But either way, I hope to make up an entire sock monkey family if all goes well.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Skirting The Issue

The busyness of this month has sort of cut into my blogging time, but hopefully I have a chance for a day or two to catch up.  Today and tomorrow we have carpet installers in the house installing new carpet upstairs and down our steps.  The main motivation for this has been our 12 year old Golden Retriever who was having difficulty going down the bare hardwood steps.  And just in case you think that we are going overboard carpeting for the dog, the steps were at a point where we needed to either refinish them or cover them and Seamus just made the decision easier.  Although, honestly, I WOULD carpet the steps just for the dog.

Anyway, I want to start my catch up by telling you about a project that caught my attention: Skirting the Issue.  This group makes skirts and other items for donation to foster children and other groups.  For the month of July there is a drive going that you can read about here.  Each week is dedicated to a particular type of item to make for donation.  You can either donate to a local group near you or you can mail your items to the organizers and they will do the donating.  There are suggestions on the web site for places that will take each type of item.  There is a flicker group here to upload photos of items you make and as an added incentive there are prizes that you can read about here including a new Singer sewing machine and fabric from several online stores.

So, the first week was skirts for young girls.  I haven't done any garment sewing in years, but this idea really appealed to me.  I found a great basic skirt pattern here.  And the results were:
It was fun to be doing something a bit different from my usual.  I also discovered the overcast stitch and foot on my new machine and I just love it.  It will really come in handy when I make curtains for son #1.  I was able to use some decorative stitching on the polka dot skirt and some elastic stitches for the waistband.

Week #2 was pillowcases.  They're a simple and satisfying little project that I've made before.  I used the "burrito" pattern.  There are a lot of tutorials on this pattern online and one can be found here. I like this pattern because it hides all the seams and it's pretty easy to add some special trim or stitching.  I thought I'd make a "boy" pillowcase and a "girl" pillowcase.
This week is blankets and once I read the particulars on that one I'll decide what my contribution will be.  I think the month finishes out with crayon holders and bereavement gowns.  I'm not sure what those are particularly for (well, besides bereaving), but the site in the link above promises to provide tutorials each week to help with construction. 


Friday, July 5, 2013

Country Threads Block of the Month: July

Another month down for my traditional sampler block of the month from Country Threads:

Now THESE are spools.  I finally realized after looking at the pictures why they look bigger on one side....that's the side that hasn't been sewn onto the next block.  If you took that 1/4 inch away they would look even (well, more even....I'm not sure I'm capable of totally even).

Here's the whole lot so far:


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Craftsy Block of the Month: July

This month's block was a tumbling blocks pattern.  The construction was in rows which avoided any Y seams.  I spent a lot of time deciding on the fabrics for the blocks since color value is such a big part of making the blocks look right.  I also decided to leave yellow out of this one to concentrate on the blocks.  So, in the end, I'm happy with the pattern, but (as usual) wonder how it will all look together in the end. 
And the whole collection: