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Petals, Pillows, and Presents

February 19, 2014

pillow1

Well, when I finally found the time between the feedings and the burpings and the changings and the sleepings to turn on my sewing machine, I didn’t use it to make something fun and exciting and new for me or even something cute for the little one.  Instead, I used it to make a pillow.  

A pillow!  

For someone else, no less.

I think it’s a pretty awesome pillow though.

The petals that run down the length of the pillow, simple circles cut out of silk organza, were the motivation behind the project.  They once belonged on the skirt of a beautiful wedding dress of a close friend from college.

dress

During said friend’s wedding reception reverie, I noticed a petal here and a petal there on the floor. I guess all the dancing was too much for some of them! Thankfully, there were so many on the skirt that it would have taken weeks of dancing before their disappearance would have been noticeable. It occurred to me that something could be made from the fallen petals, a little wedding keepsake if you will, so I started collecting them.  I tried to be subtle about picking them up, but others noticed nonetheless.  I expected them to give me crazy looks, but instead they joined in.  It became a game of sorts – who could get to the dropped petal first, who could find the most.

pillow2

The thing is, at the time I had no idea what I was going to do with them.  Should I add them to a garment, something reminiscent of the wedding dress? Should I add them to a bag, something she could carry and use?  Or, should I add them to something for the house, something she would see on a daily basis?

When I came across this pin, I knew my search for what to do with these petals was over. I knew the petals would eventually become a ruffle border on a pillow.  Only now I had to find the perfect fabric for the pillow itself.

When I made my husband’s recent ivory button-up shirt, I had way more of the striped accent fabric than I needed for the shirt. Mood‘s minimal order is a half a yard, and after the shirt was complete, it felt like I still had a whole half a yard left!  Not enough for a garment of its own, but plenty for a pillow!  I got to thinking that the neutral gray-and-ivory stripes might look pretty good with the petals.  And, the stripes would help me make sure my ruffle border was perfectly straight.

To begin, I cut out two 18″ by 18″ squares of fabric from the striped fabric.  Next, I identified an ivory stripe about a third of the way across one of the squares and marked it with a pin.  I then hand sewed 40 or so of the petals down that entire ivory stripe, spacing them approximately a half an inch apart.  I also hand sewed 40 or so additional petals to the right and left of the first row in order to give the ruffle border the same random, petals-everywhere feeling that the dress had.

pillow3

After the petals were all sewn in place, I machine sewed the two squares of fabric together, being careful not to catch any of the petals while doing so.  I also tried to match the stripes along the seams.  As you can see above, I did okay, particularly when I was further away from the petals. I left a small hole on one side so I could turn the pillow right sides out and stuff it full of polyfill.  A final bit of hand sewing closed it up and finished it off.

pillow4

Now I just have to find the time to make the trip to the post office. I hope she likes it!

babygirl

Before I disappear again into the land of new-mom, I figured I’d share another photo of my baby girl.  I know I’m biased, but I think she’s pretty cute.

Big hugs!

It’s a Girl! // Resewlution: Keep Sewing with a Little One

January 27, 2014

BabyGirl

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that my husband and I welcomed a darling daughter into the world last week.  Yes, despite the fact that the vote was for a boy by a small majority, 14 to 11, she turned out to be a little girl!  I guess I’ll be needing to finish that quilt sooner rather than later after all!

Our little family is doing well. Our daughter is super healthy, and labor and delivery went pretty much as well as I could have hoped.  That’s not to say labor wasn’t hard, but I felt well prepared and well cared for thanks to a fabulous set of midwives and nurses and a wonderful eight-week baby class that my husband and I took leading up to the birth.  And, likely thanks to the power of hormones, by the end of the day she was born, I’d pretty much already forgotten how hard labor truly was.

Now that she’s here, I get to start testing the waters around my first resewlution:  keep sewing once the little one arrives.

resewlution

  1. Keep sewing once the little one arrives.
  2. Be more conscious of sewing with fabrics and patterns that flatter and fit my lifestyle.
  3. Move to my own dot com.
  4. Get better connected with the Seattle sewing community.

I can’t imagine any sewing will be going on for the next little bit, but I am hoping I might be able to follow Nicole of Nicole at Home‘s advice about getting the little one used to the whirr of the sewing machine sooner rather than later.  I think the Ziggi Sew-Along being co-hosted Sew Maris and Stacy Sews might be the perfect make-sure-I’m-back-to-sewing-by-then goal.  The end of February sounds attainable, and I already have the pattern and fabric ready to go since the StyleARC Ziggi jacket was on my Spring to-sew list thanks to Shams of Communing with Fabric (see her version here).  We’ll see how things go, but it’s nice to at least have a goal.

Okay, well, back to doting on my newborn!  Happy sewing to the rest of you!

Dragons

January 23, 2014

Sew Well - Dragon Baby Blanket

It seems like ever since I started sewing, I’ve had a ton of friends having babies.  And, because I was introduced very early on in my sewing career to the Cotton Ginny’s Animal Blankets and Ball pattern through the sewing classes that came with the purchase of my machine, nearly every single one of those friends got one of these blankets.  I started with the pattern’s bear, elephant, and hippo blankets, making many, many multiples of those, and then I ventured out into cats, giraffes, unicorns, and dogs.  One year I counted eleven blankets made.  But, it’s been awhile since I made one of these baby blankets – well over a year, in fact.  My friends kept having babies, but the focus of my sewing changed to almost exclusive garment sewing (with a small craft binge here or there) after joining MSN.  Yet, these blankets take almost no time to make, so I’ve really had no excuse!

I figured it was time to break out the minky again and make one for my impending arrival.  The animal of choice this time around was a dragon.  A green dragon.  Green felt neutral, and whether I have a boy or a girl, I hope they’ll grow up to think dragons are pretty cool.

Sew Well - Dragon Baby Blanket

I mean, look at that face!

I used the same head and ear pattern pieces for the dragon as I used for the giraffes, only I added a seam down the center of the back head piece.  I also added a seam down the center of the back blanket piece.  Those extra seams allowed me to easily add dragon ridges and wings, all drafted on the fly.  And, I can tell you that that wooden point turner that came with the quilting kit I bought for $6 for the July Block of the Month Dresden plate class came in super handy as I turned ridge spike after ridge spike.  Also, would you believe these wings are my first ever scallops?  Somehow I got by without making anything with a scallop a few years ago when it felt like scalloped hems and necklines were all the rage in the sewing blogging world.

Sew Well - Dragon Baby Blanket

Sew Well - Dragon Baby Blanket

The tail was also drafted on the fly and was mostly based on the yardage of minky I had on hand.

Sew Well - Dragon Baby Blanket

Now all that is needed is a bit of patience.  The dragon’s happily waiting, and I’m trying…  But, seriously, come on, baby!

Resewlution: Connect with the Seattle Sewing Community

January 20, 2014

Last week I introduced my desire to get started on my new year’s sewing resolutions, or “resewlutions” if you will, right away before I’d lost that new year, clean slate feeling (and before the impending arrival of the little one, which I’m sure is going to slow things down around here!).  I was so impressed how many of you commented on that post saying you had also already made progress on your own sewing resolutions.  Bravo!

Sew Well - New Year's Resewlutions

So, how am I doing one more week into the new year?  Again, my resewlutions were to…

  1. Keep sewing once the little one arrives.
  2. Be more conscious of sewing with fabrics and patterns that flatter and fit my lifestyle.
  3. Move to my own dot com.
  4. Get better connected with the Seattle sewing community.

My post last week crossed number 3 off the list:  move to my own dot com.  Thanks to those of you who commented to say everything was working just the same in your blog readers.  I ended up contacting Bloglovin’ about it anyway just to be safe, and of course that’s when things got messy.  Sorry if a whole slew of my old posts popped back into your reader over there!

Anyway, today I want to talk about my efforts towards number 4:  get better connected with the Seattle sewing community.

I got a lot out of taking advantage of the wonderful Bay Area Sewing community (see all my Bay Area sewists meet up posts here), and I want to do the same here in Seattle.  This past summer I got started on the right foot with two fitting meet ups (mentioned here and here), but then a doctor’s appointment prevented me from making it to a museum meet up, and things slowed way down from there.  Honestly, my good intentions to try to keep the momentum from the summer going in somewhat monthly meet ups were over taken by my ever expanding belly.  I did manage to make it out to District Fabric with Maris of Sew Maris and to meet up with the Seattle Sewing Guild Meet Up group one weekend in the fall.

To get things started on the right foot this year, I’ve now created a whole page dedicated to sewing in Seattle.  I’ve included the blogs, sewing and knitting groups, sewing conferences, sewing classes, and fabric and knitting shops that I’ve heard of in the area.  I’m sure it’s no where near exhaustive since I’m really only just getting to know my way around here, but I actually can’t believe how long the list is already:  twenty-three blogs, five crafty meet-up groups, nine fabric stores, and more…  If you’re familiar with the area and see things I’ve missed, I’d love your input as well.  Send me an email or leave a comment on that page.

Or, if you’re also proud to be sewing in Seattle, what about showing it off with a button on your blog?  I made one for all of us, though I’m not sure whether the slogan I’ve chosen, “Home of the world’s largest needle”, is in fact true.  But, I saw something similar in an art shop near my house, and I couldn’t help but think it was pretty clever and adopt it for our little community!

Sewing in Seattle

<a href="http://sew-well.com/seattle/"><img alt="Sewing in Seattle" src="http://sewwell.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/seattle.jpg" width="300" height="300" /></a>

Hopefully the html text above will post as text that you can copy and use.  If not, you can always right click and download the image to your own computer, and then when you upload it to your own blog, link the image to http://sew-well.com/seattle/.  You can adjust the size of the button as needed by simply changing the pixel values in between the quotation marks after width and height, like I’ve done below. (UPDATE:  I’m not sure all of the quotation marks are coming through…  I need to learn more WordPress.com-approved html! I finally got the html code working correctly!)

Sewing in Seattle

<a href="http://sew-well.com/seattle/"><img alt="Sewing in Seattle" src="http://sewwell.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/seattle.jpg" width="250" height="250" /></a>

Sewing in Seattle

<a href="http://sew-well.com/seattle/"><img alt="Sewing in Seattle" src="http://sewwell.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/seattle.jpg" width="200" height="200" /></a>

Sewing in Seattle

<a href="http://sew-well.com/seattle/"><img alt="Sewing in Seattle" src="http://sewwell.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/seattle.jpg" width="150" height="150" /></a>

I personally enjoy knowing where bloggers are from, and I also like the idea of the world knowing that the Seattle sewing blogging community is a force to be reckoned with!

Another way that I’m getting involved is by going to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo this year in Puyallup.  Since the little one will be so young, I only signed up to go one day, but I’m hoping to make the most of it.  I’ve registered for a full day of classes on Sunday since my husband can also join me that day if I need help with the baby.  It’s the last day, so that might mean the vendors are all tired and ready to go home, but I’m still excited to see what a sewing conference is all about and to learn what I can from the classes.  If you also plan to be there on Sunday, let me know!

I’d also love to head down to Puyallup Saturday night for the American Sewing Guild After-Expo Banquet, but I don’t want to over extend myself.  I’ve heard from some of you that you might also be going, but I imagine I’ll have to wait a little bit to figure out whether two big events are possible that weekend.  I’ll let you know if my maybe becomes a definite yes.

Now, who else has made even the tiniest bit more progress on their resewlutions?!  I’m especially curious to hear more from those of you who’ve also made exploring your personal style a goal for the year (pretty much my number 2 listed above, which I’m thinking a lot about even if I’m not currently making any actual progress on it). It seems like a common theme this year, and I’ve been excited to see some of the big sewing bloggers announce things like The Wardrobe Architect and The Twelve Pattern Challenge.  I think 2014 is going to be a fun year to watch the sewing blogging community grow into its own!

Learning to Knit: The Completed Pixy Newborn Hat

January 17, 2014

Sew Well - Knit Newborn Hat

Well, the newborn hat is finished! The funny thing is that I could have finished it ages ago. I’m such a beginner at knitting that I read, “use a 3 needle bind off to close the top of the hat with right sides together,” in the instructions for the Pixy Newborn Hat and thought it meant I needed to use a size 3 needle. And, with everything that’s going on right now in preparation for the little one’s impending arrival, I just wasn’t making the time to go out and buy size 3 knitting needles.  Finally, I thought I’d just google “3 needle bind off” to at least see what the method was in the hopes that I might finally get motivated enough to finish the hat.  And, of course, I found out that the three-needle bind off is the name of a technique that uses three needles, not size 3 needles.  So, this whole time I’ve had everything I’ve needed to finish this little hat, only I didn’t realize it!

Here’s the video I watched to learn the three-needle bind off technique:


.
All that was left was to weave in the loose end, and I’ll admit I just made up how to do it at the time.  In the future I promise to look up how to properly weave in the end!

Finally, I used a crochet needle to add a few extra long strands at the top corners, which I braided to approximately the same length and tied off with a few extra pieces of yarn for tassels.  One thing I was wondering – instead of weaving in the loose end from the body of knitting, could I have just worked the end into one of the braided tassels?

And, with that, I can proudly show off my first finished knitting project!  This little hat is also my first finished project of 2014.  Who would have thought my first finished project of 2014 would be knitting?!

Now if only I had a little head to put in that hat…

Block of the Month: August, September, and October

January 15, 2014

This year I’m sewing along with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock. A bunch of other talented seamsters and I have joined up to make a quilt using Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month class. Here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to say I’ve completed all of the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month squares before the little one’s arrival.  Now, there’s still lots to do to finish the quilt.  The November and December class lessons are devoted to “The Big Finish”:  assembling, basting, quilting, squaring up, and binding.  I don’t think I have the energy to tackle those steps right now (though who’s to say how my “nesting urge” will present itself?!).  But, I also decided I’d like this quilt to belong to any daughter I might have, and you guys have voted for this baby to be a boy, so perhaps I have a lot more time before the quilt needs to be finished anyway?!  (That said, the girl vote has made a big comeback recently, so you never know!)

Regardless, let’s get on to the new quilt squares!

In the August class we pieced together stars.  First, we made an Ohio star block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a double star block.

Sew Well - BOM class

In the September class we tackled curved piecing.  Though curved piecing in quilting sounded complicated to me, I actually enjoyed seeing how the pieces fit together to make neat little squares.  First we made a chain block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a Cleopatra’s puzzle block.

Sew Well - BOM class

Finally, in October it was time to learn paper piecing.  Now, I will admit that I put this lesson off for a very long time.  Up through the September blocks, I was alternating between sewing blocks and sewing garments, as I explained in my last Block of the Month post.  But, paper piecing made me nervous.  I imagined cutting tons of crazy shapes out of paper, then carefully cutting those same shapes again out of fabric, and then finally having to sew all the little bits together.  Boy, was I wrong!  I did have to cut more paper than in any other class, but it was only eight 6+” by 6+” squares for the two blocks.  The fabric pieces could be cut willy nilly – no precision needed!  It was all very easy, and I can see how the technique could make for endless designs.  I’m now totally sold on paper piecing!  Anyway, in this particular class we made a friendship circle block…

Sew Well - BOM class

…and then we made a circle of geese block.

Sew Well - BOM class

And, that’s it!  All twenty blocks are now finished!  The other fourteen are below in the order that they were made. I wrote about making them here, here, and here.

IMG_6519 copy IMG_6520 copy IMG_6338 copy IMG_6339 copy
BOM-March1 BOM-March2 BOM-April1 BOM-April2
BOM-May1 BOM-May2 BOM-June1 BOM-June2
BOM-July1 BOM-July2

Now I just need to work on the layout.  My initial idea is something like this one:

IMG_6519 copy Sew Well - BOM class Sew Well - BOM class BOM-June2
BOM-July2 BOM-March1 BOM-April1 Sew Well - BOM class
BOM-May2 BOM-June1 Sew Well - BOM class IMG_6339 copy
Sew Well - BOM class BOM-April2 Sew Well - BOM class BOM-July1
IMG_6520 copy BOM-March2 IMG_6338 copy BOM-May1

I was going for a semi-diagonal-rainbow-order layout with no two squares from the same class sharing a side with each other.  I like it, but we shall see if things change once I start working with the actual squares.  As with the paper piecing and many of the other squares I’ve made for this class, I hope the next steps also prove to be easier than I currently imagine them to be!

Also, Craftsy recently announced their 2014 Craftsy Block Of The Month class.  It’s free, just like the 2012 class and 2013 class, so I signed up.  I won’t have time to start on it just yet (or likely any time this year, honestly, since I already have two other quilts in mind that I want to make first!), but if any of you have been bit by the quilting bug, getting started now means you’ll actually be sewing along with a whole slew of other quilters.  I think that sounds like fun!

Resewlutions

January 13, 2014

Okay, so we’re just about two weeks into 2014.  How’s everyone doing getting started on their new year’s sewing resolutions?  Or, should I say, “resewlutions”?!

resewlution

Getting a good first tackle on those resewlutions is something I want to focus on this month.  I’m throwing it into the Science of Sewing thing I started last year since I figure our sewing goals are hugely important to how we manage and maintain our sewing – and how we keep it fun!  And, that’s a big part of the science of sewing, right?  By writing about how I’m getting a jump start on my resewlutions this month, I’m hoping that those of you who’ve also already started on yours will share and help keep me motivated, and I’m hoping to spur those of you on who haven’t even begun to think about yours (though, hopefully that’s none of you!).

I kept my resewlutions pretty minimal this year since life is getting ready to change pretty drastically, what with the impending arrival of the little one.  I wrote out four simple resewlutions at the end of my 2013 reflections post.  They were…

  1. Keep sewing once the little one arrives.
  2. Be more conscious of sewing with fabrics and patterns that flatter and fit my lifestyle.
  3. Move to my own dot com.
  4. Get better connected with the Seattle sewing community.

So, how am I doing?  I’m off to a good start, I’d say!  I’ve actually already checked one off the list.  If you look up, you might notice that the domain now says sew-well.com.  Crazy, right?!  I checked number three off the list.  Now, I know when I wrote about number three, I said it would follow number one and two.  But, number one requires the little one to be present, and he or she is still enjoying kicking my ribs from the inside.  Number two requires I really plan out the clothes I want to sew next, and though I’m definitely dreaming about my post-pregnancy sewing, it still feels a bit presumptuous to start thinking about what it means for something to truly “flatter and fit my lifestyle” since I have no idea what’s in store for me as a new mom!

So, I figured I’d at least look into number three.  You know, for later.  When I did, I quickly realized that it was actually pretty easy to stick with WordPress.com and just take advantage of the dot com that my husband had surprised me with a couple years ago (after I complained about someone being crazy enough to sit on the unhyphenated version).

And, I rashly pulled the trigger.

I have to figure out what it means if I ever wanted to drop the dot com and move back to sewwell.wordpress.com, but I figure it is likely easier with the way I’ve done it now than if I were to move everything to WordPress.org.  I bring that up because I once had a conversation with a popular and prolific blogger who mentioned how important it was to her that everything about her blog be free so it could continue as is indefinitely.  Her sentiments have stuck with me, and I think about them whenever I get crazy grandiose ideas about this blog.

I also need to figure out whether it changes things for those of you following through readers like Bloglovin’ and Feedly.  Does anyone already know?  Everything seems to still be coming through just fine on my end…

Anyway, enough about me.  How are you doing on your resewlutions?  Let me know in the comments!  Or, if Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest are more your style, what about using the hash tag #resewlution to share a sewing resolution that you’ve already started working on?!  Let’s motivate each other to get this year off to a great start!

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