jimmycarter!

Memory Pillows (and making memories)

September is quickly starting to get away from me and it’s still early yet!  I have been working a ton at my regular jobs (I currently have four, about to drop down to three) and have had little time for sewing.  My sister asked me to make a handful of memory pillows for her brothers and sisters in-law (10 in total) that lost their father this past year.  I was happy to do it.  Of course, like many things in sewing, I have never done this before, but found a few tutorials online to guide me.  They are actually very simple to make!  I met up with my sister three weeks ago when we drove to Georgia to “meet” President Jimmy Carter (more on that below).  At that time, she gave me the shirts for the pillows.  Seven of the shirts were button down, which was perfect and matched up with the tutorials I read.  The other three were polo shirts and created a little dilemma for me.   I had to figure out the best way to make these pillows and NOT MESS UP!!  These shirts are irreplaceable, so they have to be perfect.

First the button shirts:  Simple to make, cut out the size you need, sew right sides together all the way around and then turn right side out using the buttons.  The buttons work as your opening and closure!

         

Next the polo shirts:  I decided to make these like a regular throw pillows with an envelope back.  I used a tutorial by CrazyMomQuilts to help me with the back! 🙂

            

Finally, Jimmy Carter! I encourage everyone to make this trip to Plains, GA.  It is a beautiful little town with a bunch of personality.  Anyone is invited to attend President Carter’s church to hear him teach a Sunday School lesson.  Afterwards, he and Rosalynn allow for pictures.  I am so glad we did this.  When will someone like me ever meet a president?  President Carter was funny and engaging with the crowd, and you would never know he is almost 93!!  After church, we spent a little time in the town.  If we had more time, we would have explored further: the high school that the Carters attended (now a National Park site), as well as his boyhood home and several other sites.  I will say that we stopped long enough to enjoy the most delicious peanut butter ice cream in “downtown” Plains at a store called, Plains Peanuts 🙂

jimmycarter!

Gypsy Wife Progress

So far I have kept up with the weekly blocks for the Gypsy Wife Quilt sew a long, hosted by GnomeAngel (of course, it’s only been 3 weeks….).  I have no specific plan for this quilt at all! I am picking fabrics just based on my mood at the time I make the block.  This could be bad or it could end up being a really great quilt….time will tell, I suppose.  I am mostly using Cotton and Steel Basics (from a kit by PinkDoor Fabrics) and the new Alison Glass Chrome collection (from Oh Sew Modern Fabric Shop).

I am having a bit of trouble following the pattern, probably because of my inexperience.  The written pattern does half square triangles by cutting actual triangles and sewing them together.  This is different than how I taught myself to do them, so I am frustrated.  GnomeAngel has graciously given alternate directions using the HST method I am used to, but my brain is also having trouble with her instructions because she does not want to give too much information about what is in the original pattern, such as specific cutting measurements.  I totally understand that.  It would be inconsiderate to offer the exact measurements to someone that hasn’t purchased the original pattern.  However, I ended up cutting and re-cutting my fabric because I kept misinterpreting her instructions.  Obviously, that is my own fault, but I was so frustrated with the last block, I almost quit!  I could not understand the alternate cutting instructions completely and then I was too grumpy to try to understand the original pattern.  Time to take a break!!!  In the end, I am up to date on the blocks and I started on some filler blocks as well.  35(!!!) filler blocks will be needed in the near future, so I thought I better get ahead on those.  I probably will not be able to keep up with the weekly blocks for the next several weeks due to work requirements, so I will have a whirlwind finish at the end, I suppose!

jimmycarter!

Where did July go?

So somehow I missed July.  I actually wasn’t that busy at my job and I sewed a bunch, but it didn’t make it to the blog!  Ooops.

I was able to make several bags and wallets last month.  I won’t go into major details, but I’ll show off a few.  I made two Gingham Totes from the pattern out of Anna Graham’s book Handmade Style.  Both were made using Essex Linen.  The pitbull fabric is from Spoonflower and the sloths are Cotton and Steel that I have been hoarding for a bit.  Both of these were custom requests.

  

I also constructed a variation of her Trail Tote bag (I made a size that falls between the small and large for which she has instructions).  I actually made two of these as well.  One just because I felt compelled to use this kitty fabric and the other was a custom request.

 

 

As I head into August, I am beginning a two month stretch of very busy times at my job.  I will be travelling for work and working at least 6 days a week.  So, of course, I decided to start 2 quilts!!  One is a long term project that I mentioned last time (Elephant Abstractions).  I plan to make some headway on that one this week as I am on a short vacation before the crazy begins.  The other quilt is the #GypsyWifeQuiltSAL hosted by Gnomeangel.  I didn’t do so great at keeping up with the last sew a long with Crazy Mom Quilts (the June Quilt is sitting in pieces on my ironing board).  However, the Gypsy Wife Quilt is to be done over the next several months.  I am going to try my best to keep up.  I am hoping it will help relieve stress too.  Although….last night I began the first block and I ripped out several seams, so that’s the opposite of what I was going for…..  I finished the block, and there is one wonky area where the seams don’t line up, but I’m calling it finished.  On to Week 2!!  I hope to keep myself in check by posting my progress here on the blog.

jimmycarter!

Necessary Clutch Wallet

This week I made a Necessary Clutch Wallet.  This is probably my 7th one and they get a bit easier for me each time.  I will admit I find them a little frustrating, but I love the final product, so I guess the struggle is worth it. 🙂

 

 This time I used my favorite Cotton and Steel canvas fabric for the flap but kept the rest of the wallet pretty basic, mostly black.  This kitty makes me smile every time I see it.  I have this fabric in both colorways and I keep a small stash of it.

I find the final step in the pattern to be the hardest part (creating the accordion).  This last wallet was better at this part (no cursing!!), so maybe I have rounded the corner!

I reference this Youtube tutorial video by Janelle MacKay every time I make one of these.  She has helpful hints on ways to make things a bit easier.

This wallet is available in my Etsy shop.

 

 

I also worked a bit on my June Quilt.  I have a bunch more to sew on that, but it’s coming along.

 

jimmycarter!

WIP-June Quilt A Long

I’m joining CrazyMomQuilt’s June Quilt QAL.  I don’t have her new book yet, but I plan to put it on my Christmas list….(hint, hint Mom).  This is one of the quilts from the book, and it is actually one of my favorites from those she has shown.  I have chosen my fabrics and have my strings all ready to go!  I’m ready to start sewing, but that doesn’t happen until Week 2.  I guess I better work on all the other projects I have stacked up instead!

I also have every intention of starting Violet Craft’s Elephant Abstractions quilt very soon.  I have all the fabrics lined up, just need to copy the pattern pieces.  I’ll probably end up working on both quilts at the same time because…why not go crazy?

 

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Triangle Baby Quilt 2.0

I made another baby quilt featuring triangles this week.  I love using triangles because they are so quick to sew up!  A friend requested a baby quilt to give as a gift, and she had seen my other quilt from January.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the color scheme: neutrals.  Apparently the baby’s room will be gray and white, so my friend wanted a neutral quilt.  I may have stretched the neutrals just a bit,  so that I could stay excited about the project.

The baby is a boy, so I added in some blue triangles for interest.  I had already decided to use these colors, and then I gained further inspiration from Red Pepper Quilts with a quilt she made awhile back.  I loved how she created diamonds with the low volume fabrics, so I tried to mimic that with mine.

I am happy to say that almost all of these fabrics were pulled from stash.  I did have to buy a little Kona for the light blue, and I may have purchased the black and white chevrons during that same trip.  It felt good to use up what I already had, instead of spending more!!  My friend and I both work with animals, so I knew she would appreciate my adding a few animals into the quilt.  I had three Cotton and Steel fabrics on hand from their Black and White collections, which I think fit in perfectly.

For the back, I chose a minky dot fabric from JoAnn’s.  This is my “go-to” for baby quilts, and I always try to use a coupon when I buy it.  The binding is hard to see in the photos, but it is scrappy, made up entirely of fabrics from my scrap bin!  Yay!!

I followed the lines of the triangles for quilting, except I did not include the bases.  I like that it continues the same diamond effect on the back that I was going for with the low volume prints.

My friend was super pleased with the final product and in the end, so was I.  I have so many plans for quilts, but I still fall back on things I know how to do.  I really need to branch out a bit more.

jimmycarter!

Sunrise Saddlebag

I made a new quilt block pattern this week and then incorporated it into a brand new bag pattern!

This week, Mister Domestic released this free quilt block as part of Aurifil’s Designer of the Month series.  He is known for his fabric weaving (which I love), but this pattern is actually all pieced, so that it looks woven…hence the name: Faux Weave Block!    I was really drawn to it and made the block right away.  (Also, he commented on my Instagram post, which totally made my day!!)

 The block is not perfect and there are some wonky areas.  The strips are realllllly thin, so it was a challenge to keep things straight.  I think I would like to make a bunch of these blocks and create a quilt eventually.

This week though, I decided it needed to be the front of a bag.  Erin, from Dog Under My Desk, released a new pattern last week called the Sunrise Saddlebag.  I thought the flap on the bag would be perfect for my quilt block.  I had to enlarge the size of the bag pattern to about 120%, but it ended up exactly how I envisioned.

The exterior is Essex linen and the lining fabric is Monaluna, both from my stash.  The navy and white were scrap fabrics that I had laying around.  It seemed like it was meant to be!

  

The bag was simple to construct, with clear instructions and lots of pictures just as Erin has with all of her patterns.  Because I enlarged it, I did mess up the closure a bit.  I should have placed the snap a bit lower down on the body of the bag.  The flap sits at a weird spot when it is closed with the snap.  Right now, I am just letting the flap lay naturally over the bag.  I’ll remember in the future if I enlarge the bag.

jimmycarter!

Summer Dress

For the past few years, I have made a dress for my sister for Christmas or her birthday.  Originally she told me she wanted a retro style dress, and together we found a shirt dress that we both liked: McCalls 6891.  The first one I made was sleeveless, at her request.  After that, I decided to experiment with sleeves.  (Experiment meaning, I don’t really know how to set sleeves….)  Because I took one sewing lesson about 20 years ago and the rest of my learning has been through internet reading, I find that I try to avoid sewing things that might seem difficult.  I’ve gotten lucky a few times and had a sleeve just fit perfectly, but most of the time, it takes me a whole day.  I am sure I am doing something wrong to make it so hard for myself, but I haven’t figured out what just yet.  Regardless, I like this dress better with sleeves.  I have made it four times now for my sister, using different fabrics (polka dots, retro cats..a personal favorite).  Each time I make one, I try to make the dress look a little different and to jazz it up.

 

This year I found the Ring, Ring fabric in Navy and Green by Kim Kight of Cotton and Steel.  I thought it would make a cute retro looking dress.  As I mentioned, I wanted to try something different this year, so I added a solid border to the skirt.  I also used a solid for the collar and for the cuff on the sleeve.

For the cuff, I actually found a tutorial online (which I can’t seem to find again to link…:-( Based on the tutorial, I just cut the contrasting fabric and then after doing a mock up in my head a bunch of times, sewed and cut out the notch!  I have problems with spatial things, so I had to think about that for a long time, but it worked!

Isn’t she cute modelling the sleeve?  The only problem was…I made one cuff and sewed it right onto the sleeve….but I hadn’t cut out the second cuff yet!!  DOH!!  I had to do the whole thing again.  Why, oh why didn’t I cut them both at the same time you ask??  Well, I wasn’t sure the first one was going to work because I was making it up as I went along…then when it did…I was shocked!  Doing the second cuff wasn’t too bad but I’m not 100% sure the notches are exactly the same.  Good thing you can’t really tell when the dress is being worn.

The collar on this pattern always, always frustrates me.  I think I got it to work perfectly one time so far.  I don’t know if it’s the instructions or me (or both).  I usually end up doing something on my own to make it lay flat and so far it has worked.  At least my sister hasn’t told me otherwise, but maybe she’s holding back…

I sewed this on my Juki and it was so fun.  Straight seams and a super fast machine?  Zippity do dah!!  I did have to switch back to my Brother for the button holes, and I am happy to say he did a great job.  (In the past, he has been naughty about buttonholes…I actually avoided doing the buttons for a few days because I didn’t want to fight the Brother.)  I found the buttons on clearance at JoAnns 🙂 Yay to savings.

In the end, I like this pattern (I guess so, since I’ve done it 4 times).  Will there be another retro shirt dress in her future? Maybe, I am always looking for new patterns to try out for her, so who knows?  This particular dress is my second favorite of the ones I’ve made (sorry, I don’t have a pic of the previous ones).  I think it has a “Lucy Ricardo” feel to it and I like that!!

 

jimmycarter!

Dog Bow Tie Tutorial

 

I make bow ties (and collars) for dogs and cats.  I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it.  They look so cute when they’re finished!

Since I am new to blogging, I am also new to making tutorials, so this will be my first. I started this tutorial before I got sick awhile back but haven’t been able to post until now….hence the St Patty’s Day fabric!! I hope you enjoy it! Bear with me 🙂

Materials for a standard sized bow tie (for dogs):
9.5″ x 6.5″ piece of fabric
2.5″ x 5″ strip of matching fabric
medium weight interfacing, cut to size of fabric pieces (I use Pellon 808 or 809)
~2″ of 3/4 inch elastic (I prefer knit elastic to braided)
needle and thread for hand sewing the elastic

1)  Fuse interfacing to wrong side of the main fabric piece and the strip of matching fabric.

2) Fold the long edges of the main fabric piece right sides together. Sew using a 1/4 seam.

3) Turn the now formed tube right side out and press flat.

4) Fold short edges right sides together. Sew along short edge with 1/4 seam.  Set this piece aside.

5) Fold the small strip of fabric right sides together on the long edge.  Sew along the long edge with a 1/4 seam.

6) (my least favorite step) Turn this tiny tube inside out and press flat.

7) Go back to the main piece and fold into “an accordion” with 3 folds.  I do this best by folding the piece in half right sides together on the long edge, then turning back the top and bottom fold.

8) Wrap the strip around the middle of the accordion to get an idea of how long it needs to be to fit securely around the main tie.  Mark this length and add a seam allowance.  I usually eyeball this step.  The strip I have made is usually much longer than needed. Once I have wrapped it around the accordion, I cut off the excess to exactly how much I will need.

9) Sew the strip right sides together on the short end with a 1/4 seam. Turn this piece inside out.  You should have a small tube or circle.

10) Now, slide that tube over the accordion until it sits nicely in the center of the tie.

11) Straighten out the folds of the accordion and give the tie a good press.

12) The last thing to do is hand sew the elastic onto the back of the tie. The length needed will vary depending on your dog’s collar.  The idea is to sew on enough elastic to easily slide over the collar (remember, the hardware is a bit thicker and can be harder to slide over if the elastic is too tight).  I also eyeball this, but it ends up being about 1.5 inches or slightly more for a 1″ wide collar.  When I sew the elastic on, I turn under the raw edges to keep it looking nice and neat.

When sewing the elastic, I also try to include the main fabric piece and the center tube with each stitch.  I feel like this helps to secure the center in place and prevents it from shifting later when a puppy is wearing it.

I have seen many ties out there with Velcro on the back to attach to collars.  I personally prefer the elastic because I think it is a bit more secure.  Plus, I think Velcro gets ‘icky’ over time, especially when you factor in dog and cat hair!  **Keep in mind, I only use enough elastic to slide over the width of a collar.  I am not a fan of items that have elastic that is meant to be used around the dog (or cat’s) neck. **

Anyway, I hope this was a useful tutorial for you.  Feel free to ask me any questions as I am sure I have left out an important step somewhere.

Just a disclaimer:  I recommend that you always monitor your pet when they are wearing small items like these.  While they are supposed to be secured to the collar, dogs (and cats) can be awfully creative at getting things off and eating them.

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T-shirt Quilt

I was pretty sick for a few weeks and completely lost my ‘sewjo’.  I had a T-shirt quilt to finish for a friend and the deadline was quickly approaching.  Luckily, I got it together and finished it up within 3-4 days.  I think I spent so much time agonizing about how to make this quilt, I just didn’t want to do it.  I had never made a T-shirt quilt before and the thought of messing up someone’s memories really concerned me!

Originally, I wanted to create a cool quilt where each shirt seemed to pop up in a 3D sort of way.  Once I started cutting up the shirts, I realized this was not going to work.  That began another couple weeks of agonizing because I was completely lost on how to put the shirts together.  I read and looked at a zillion blogs and pictures of other quilts, but I still could not commit!  Finally as the deadline was only 10 days away, I made myself get to work.  In the end, I fit the shirts together almost like a puzzle, figuring out which pieces fit best and where.

I had several “helpers” during this process: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the top was put together, I spent another day or two deciding how to quilt it.  I finally decided on a simple grid, which I think worked out pretty well.  To start, I ran a piece of washi tape diagonally across the center of the quilt and then made diagonal lines out from there.  I repeated the process for the other diagonal direction, so the quilt design ends up with diamonds.  Here is a picture of how I started the process:

I just quilted following the line of the tape.  The nice thing about washi tape was that I could reuse it several times to create more grid lines.  The process was very quick and I was able to finish quilting in about 2-3 hours (including time to stop and remove/replace tape grid lines).

For the back, I purchased a $5 flat sheet at Walmart to keep it simple (and not too expensive!).

I cut the remains of Tshirts into 2.5″ strips, connected them and created a scrappy binding for the quilt.  I interfaced the strips just like the T-shirts using Pellon SF101.  I thought it was going to be too thick to sew through, but my Juki made easy work of it.  I do not have the patience for hand sewing binding!!

I will be delivering the quilt to its new owner next week and I hope she likes it.  It was stressful but hopefully the next one will be easier for me!  The good news is my sewjo has also returned so I am excited to get to work on other projects.  Any advice out there on conquering T-shirt quilts?