October 31, 2012

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

...when Caitlyn gets to wear her tiger ears.
Caitlyn and tiger ears
Do not confuse the ears with a Halloween costume. It's just Silly Hat Day at school.

Halloween costume photos later!

October 25, 2012

Writing to "Ten"

Yesterday was a rough day in Caitlyn-land. I don't know all the details but apparently her school day was frustrating, her playdate didn't go quite as planned, and dinner wasn't her favorite.

Lately, she's been exploring note-writing as a way of expressing her feelings. It helps her put her feelings into words in a less-pressured circumstance than a conversation and it allows her a way of getting the feelings out that's more constructive than acting out or breaking things.

It's kinda weird, though, to be asked how to spell "really", "there", "smoke", "head", and "patience" and then to find a note at my space at the dining room table using all those words.

I thought about posting her note, but that seems potentially invasive to Caitlyn. So I'll just say that she used lined paper (but wrote on it sideways), spelled everything correctly, used a capital letter to start, remembered her apostrophes and commas, and included the period at the end.

I'm ridiculously pleased.

Upon finding the note (taped to my placemat with roughly three feet of tape), I found Caitlyn and gave her a hug. Of course, I then ruined things by suggesting we talk about the note, which brought the pressure of actual conversation and polite behavior back into things.

Maybe next time (because I'm sure there will be a Next Time) I should write a note in response. Perhaps our more heated conversations could be more productive if we filtered them through a pen.

October 24, 2012

Bloggers' BOM Blocks Done!

It's not the 25th yet and all my Bloggers' BOM blocks are done!

Here's Block 12...
Bloggers BOM Block 12

And here's Block 13.
Bloggers BOM Block 13

Time to figure out how to arrange them!
Bloggers BOM Blocks
(Sorry about the questionable photo. It's October in Seattle... and I'm not waiting until the next sunny day to take pictures!)

I'm liking this layout at the moment. I definitely want to put something between the blocks but haven't yet decided between sashing (and if so, how wide should the sashing be?) or putting squares between all these blocks (although that would probably make the final quilt too white?). I've got some leftover fabrics from these blocks; I wonder if there's enough to use for the triangles on the edges and corners?

October 23, 2012

Under-supervised Seven Year Olds...

... sometimes end up well-glittered.
Caitlyn with glitter
I don't know if this was meant for faces/skin or if Caitlyn's friends applied glitter glue to her eyelids. It took my dwindling supply of Mary Kay eye make up remover to get most of it off. And yes, it got in her eyes and made her cry.

But it looked really cool first!

October 17, 2012

Bloggers' BOM Blocks

I abandoned most of my Block of the Month projects back in June. Solstice, a birthday, the end of school, the start of summer and swimming lessons. Now that summer's done, Caitlyn's back in school, and harvest season is over, it's time to get caught up. Christmas sewing must start soon!

First up, the Bloggers' BOM. June's block was number 10:
Bloggers' BOM block 10
And July's block:
Bloggers' BOM block 11
Two more blocks to go and I'm all caught up on this one. I wonder if Jackie is going to do a putting-it-all-together post or collective show-and-tell post on the 25th (which is when the next block - if there was one - would be posted)? I wonder if I can make it?

October 15, 2012

A Tale of Two Shirts

Part way through KCWC last week, I had a sudden insight: Right now, Caitlyn doesn't actually need any new dresses or skirts. She'll disagree with this assessment, of course. But I folded up those two floral prints and put them away for future sewing and focused on the knits. And the serger.

First up, Figgy's Tee for Two in the leftover teal floral.
Tee for Two for Caitlyn
Kid-sized clothes sometimes look weird on full-size hangers.

I made the sleeves as long as I could with the fabric I had, thus the three-quarters-ness of them, but otherwise, I think this came together pretty well for a using-up-leftovers kind of project.
inside view of Tee for Two for Caitlyn
I used my neighbor's serger for most of this project. Fun stuff, serging. In hindsight, I don't think I had the tension quite right but all-in-all, it's not bad for a first time out with a new-to-me machine. I'd read so many things about how difficult sergers are to thread and was pleased to discover that while it's more complicated than a regular machine, I didn't think it was all that difficult.

Of course, I had to push my luck. I found a manual online that suggested the serger I was using could do a kind of overlocked hem/finishing stitch and I thought I'd try it. I made the adjustments as the manual instructed, but the results weren't anything I'd want readily visible. I reversed the instructions, restored everything to how it was at the beginning, and that was it. The serger didn't want to make any nice and tidy seams any more. I think the looper timing is off.

The hem and cuffs of the teal shirt are zigzagged with my regular, reliable Bernina. As is all the construction and details on this pink top, McCall's 6157:
pink knit top for Caitlyn
I think I need either more practice or a reference book for knits. I added strips of fusible interfacing (something I'd seen recommended over at 3 Hours Past) to the shoulder seams and to the neckline to keep the knit from stretching. It may have worked for the shoulder seams, but the neckline stretched. It's wearable only because I thought to have Caitlyn put it on to get the cross-over part right. If I'd relied on pattern markings, it'd be all gappy up front. I'm going to blame the presser foot for this; when I finally switched to my walking foot for the hem, the stretching became less of a problem.
pink knit top for Caitlyn
I do like how these gathered sleeves came out. Caitlyn was pretty excited about the sleeves as well, although not the gathered part. "Mama, you made a long-sleeved shirt!" Followed by a big hug. Points for Mama!
inside view pink knit top for Caitlyn
Doing two back-to-back knits, one on a serger and one on my regular machine, has provided a fine chance to compare the two. I double stitched a lot of the seams in the pink top to provide extra strength, but otherwise things are unfinished. And knits may not ravel like wovens, but the serger finish just seems so much more polished. I like the durability of the two-needle seam, the decreased bulk from trimmed seams, the general inner tidiness.

So, I need a serger. My general inclination is to find a serger with the bare minimum. I think what I said when I was in the market for a sewing machine was that I needed it to go forward and backward and that was it. I've got a solid machine that's held up well to garments, sewing, random mending, and two international moves. But I do find myself thinking now that more than two decorative stitches might be nice. So I'm wondering if perhaps settling for the bare minimum is really the smartest move now. If I'm wanting to expand my tool chest, as it were, maybe I should go whole hog.

If anyone has any serger-shopping wisdom, please share!

October 11, 2012

If only I was this excited at 8am

Caitlyn in the morning
These photos were taken this morning, before the school bus came.

I don't know that I can remember ever being this excited about anything before, oh, say, noon.

Maybe if I had a new top and - surprise! - got to wear it unexpectedly? Possibly, if I was wearing said new top at a reasonable hour. School buses do not come at a reasonable hour.

Where was I?

So, this is my first KCWC finish for the week. It came out well enough and Caitlyn seems to love it, but I'm not super thrilled.
Caitlyn in the morning
I don't think it's the pattern (McCall's 6530), exactly. No strange construction surprises.

Except that the gathering for the waist and the sleeves was supposed to be done as shirring, with elastic thread in the bobbin. And that turned out to be something I just couldn't get my sewing machine to do. The elastic wouldn't retract and gather up the fabric. I looked things up, I re(hand)wound the bobbin, I messed with the tension, I unpicked a lot of non-stretchy seams.

And finally gave up, putting regular 1/4 inch elastic directly in the sleeves and making a casing for 1/4 inch elastic for the waist.
Caitlyn in the morning
The other disappointments are all my fault. I misread the fabric requirements when I bought the polka dots from Stash and ended up with fabric only for the body. We took the dots to Pacific Fabrics and got the purple for the sleeves, but forgot the fabric requirements (again!). Or maybe I bought fabric enough for short sleeves but then decided that long sleeves would be better? Either way, we've ended up with 3/4 sleeves.

The body isn't as long as I would like. In hindsight, I should have got purple enough for long sleeves and the ruffle at the bottom, using all the dot fabric to lengthen the whole thing. And I think I would have preferred the bottom ruffle more like that on the red tunic. Although maybe my ruffle objections are more a factor of the final length of the tunic; if it came to Caitlyn's knees, maybe it wouldn't feel so weird?
Caitlyn in the morning
Oh well. Notes for how to do it better next time. In the meantime, Caitlyn gets a new tunic to wear for her last day as "Student of the Week". She's getting a kick this year out of informing everyone that her mama makes her clothes. And I'm enjoying that while it lasts!

October 10, 2012

The Envelope, Please

It's getting late on a Wednesday. The market run is done (more onions! apples! carrots!), Caitlyn's off to bed, the kitchen is cleaned up, and we've opened up a pint of cider for the evening.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on the Charming Travelers giveaway. And thanks for all your kind thoughts about my 500th post!

I've asked Random.org to select our winner.

a random number from Random.org
Congratulations to Commenter Number 3, Charlotte! I'm sending you an email shortly.

And after KCWC, I'll share what I made with the Travelers I chose from the pack!

October 09, 2012

October Bee Blocks

October blocks for Sew.Quilt.Give.
For Sew.Quilt.Give. this month, Maria asked for string blocks a la this tutorial in greens and yellows with a touch of gray. String blocks! Yay!

(It's been weirdly sunny for weeks here in Seattle. I totally should have filtered the sunlight somehow for this picture!)

I'm feeling a bit more confident about my colors mixing well with everyone else's this time. It doesn't hurt that greens were some of the colors I picked up when I added some fat quarters to the stash for the August blocks.

Really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out!

(Don't forget! The giveaway for the Charming Travelers closes on Wednesday evening!)

October 08, 2012

KCWC Fall 2012

It's that time again, when elsie marley hosts the Kids Clothing Week Challenge. Commit to sewing clothes for your kid (or any other kid in your life, I expect) for a minimum of one hour a day for a week.

Therefore, it's also that time when, unlike any other time of the year, I over-commit and over-extend, planning to accomplish way more than I should reasonably expect of myself.

I know this, and I still do it.

KCWC ambitions
I'm less organized than last time, when I had a bunch of things cut out by the time KCWC got started. This time, all I've got is good intentions.

Starting from the left:
  • McCalls 6530 in purple polka dots. This was something I didn't get to in the spring, and it's been sitting on my sewing table ever since. It's the only one cut out already.
  • McCalls' 6157, with plans to make the shorter top view in both a solid yellow and a solid pink. The fabric is leftover from the spring, clearly, and I may decide to embellish them somewhat when KCWC is over.

    The significant thing with these two, though, is the knit fabric. Despite my previous adventures in knits, I still feel less than confident about working with them. This time, I've borrowed my neighbor's Singer Simplicity serger (thanks Erin!) so I can compare the serging experience with the zig-zagging with my regular Bernina experience. If it turns out to be life-changing, do you suppose Santa might bring me a serger of my own?
  • Some blue and green knit (leftover from this project) which I've saved thinking there might be enough to make a shirt for Caitlyn. If there is, I'll either do a graded-up version of Figgy's Tee for Two or rub off one of the shirts in her closet.
  • Nearly 4 yards of teal floral (birds of paradise?) and nearly 3 yards of red floral (hibiscus?). I think these came from a neighbor's yard sale destashing a few years back. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. Current candidates include McCalls' 6389,McCalls' 5694, McCalls' 6062, McCalls' 4817, or Simplicity 2918 (the dress). Recommendations appreciated!

Clearly, I'm not going to actually get all of this done by next Saturday. Anyone want to start a pool for how much I'll actually get done?

(Don't forget! The giveaway for the Charming Travelers closes on Wednesday evening!)

October 04, 2012

Practical Hexies

I will not fall into the hexy/English paper piecing craze. Nope. Takes too long, all that handwork.
hexies on my jeans
Well, except for maybe once in while. For useful things.

Like hiding the split seam on my jeans.

Really, these hexies (on both sides, for balance) have nothing to do with adding stealth quilting references to my clothes.

(By the way, the giveaway for the latest version of the Charming Travelers is open until Wednesday, Oct. 10. Leave me a comment on this post if you want to play!)

October 01, 2012

Milestones and Giveaways

This is my 500th post. It's not very exciting when I think that I've been blogging since 2000, earlier if you count our Germany Journal, but milestones deserve to be celebrated, yes?

Also, I recently won a giveaway! Wasn't I just saying that I never win anything? And now, twice in 3 months!

So: Diane at From Blank Pages launched this clever thing a while back. Charming Travelers!
Charming Travelers as they arrived
It's a charm pack (56 5x5 fabric squares) that she gave away on her site. The rules state that if you win the Travelers, you get to pick out whatever squares you like from the pack, add in new fabrics to replace those you took out, and then you give the updated collection away again. Diane's got a map going on her site tracking where the Travelers go, and I'm stop #10, winning the pack from Skook's Playground.

(If you're new here, hi there. I'm Christina. Mom to Caitlyn; quilter and seamstress; occasional web designer; gardener, food preserver, and baker of desserts; holder of artistic ambitions, with an oversize frivolous reading habit (which doesn't really show up in this space). Stick around and talk crafts or food or big picture thinking with me.)

Here's what I chose from the pack:
my travelers come home

So, since the Travelers are now ready to move on, and since this is post number 500, I'm hosting my very first giveaway.

The Rules, as written by Diane:
  • winners must be active bloggers
  • you must reside in the US
  • before sending the charm pack off to the next winner, there must be 56 - 5" x 5" squares of fabric inside - please no yucky fabrics
  • to help keep Diane's map updated, winners must fill out the quick and easy form to let her know where you are!
  • if the charm pack arrives full of unwanted charms, let Diane know and she'll clear it out and fill it back up with more beautiful fabrics!

Charming Travelers ready to roam
If you're interested in having the Charming Travelers maybe come visit you, please leave me a comment below. Be sure your comment profile includes your email address (or include it in your comment) so I can contact you. I'll ask random.org to pick a winner on Wednesday, October 10th. Good luck!