Sunday, June 26, 2016

Block 26: Kitchen Window

You can see my fancy ziplock
travel case! :P
The Kitchen Window block had a nice simple construction. Last Sunday I knew I would be killing time in the afternoon so I packed up the block, needle, thread and scissors to take with me.

My only miscalculation was that I finished the block before my time was up! (That was because when I was preparing the materials the night before, I couldn't resist starting on the sewing. And then sewing just one more seam...)

I was a beautiful day. Some would say too hot, but sitting in the shade after freezing in the AC--it felt wonderful to me!
On most seams, I take the time now to mark the quarter inch line. My blocks are turning out much better (and mostly the right size). It's a little more time to start, but it makes it so I can just concentrate on the sewing and the size of my stitches, and not think about the line. It's nice to simplify the process by breaking it down into separate steps.

You can see on the finished block that the blue lines on the seams are still visible,
especially through that white fabric. (Although it's a bit amusing that the blue matches one of the stripes in the fabric of the outer border so that you could almost convince yourself that it belongs there!)

But all that blue showing on the right side is easily taken care of with a rinse under some water. I let it dry, then a starch and press and I have another finished block:
What a nice view through my "kitchen window". Fruit and flowers. Lovely.

Here are all the blocks finished so far in a mock layout:
_______________________
And here is Kim's block:
Whereas I made the inner and outer borders similar in value, Kim made the inner border and the centre both light and the outer border contrasting. And you can see that we both used the same yellow flower fabric!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to Wear an Elephant

So a dear friend gave me two lovely tea towels for my birthday. She knows I have a thing for elephants and who doesn't need new tea towels?

BUT I could not bear to use them as tea towels. They were so cute. I thought, "I could make a shirt out of these." (I have obviously been reading a lot of "re-fashion" blogs! This one's my favourite.)

And that is what I did!

I started by tracing the shoulder slope from a sleeveless shirt that I liked to wear, and sewed the two towels together:
I then traced the side seam and sewed them together at the side leaving a slit at the bottom. Then I tried it on. I could barely get it on. Obviously tracing a knit shirt to a woven fabric has its pitfalls.

So I ripped out the seam, marked the armhole a little deeper and stitched the back and front together with no seam allowance at all.
I just ran the pieces through the machine with their finished edges side by side. I used a wide decorative stitch and it worked out great. It also progresses beautifully into the side slit.

Here is the back:
This towel was a little longer and had a lace trim as well as a ribbon on the one end. Perfect for a hem of a shirt.

The other towel was a little less busy with a larger motif. In other words, it was perfect for the front.
Ya, that's a pretty big smile.
I'm pretty pleased.
It has a simple ribbon edging--no lace.

I know the shirt is not well fitted and sits a little awkwardly, but I love it and it is just what I was imagining. It is comfortable (it is the perfect crispness for cotton--almost like linen) and has an easy fit. (Once I get it on; it barely fits over my head.)

Later I may cut a rounded neck in the back and redo the front. (A rounded neck? A slit tied with ribbon?) But for now I couldn't bear to cut into the towels and liked the idea of just using the two rectangles to make a shirt.

On top of loving the shirt, I serendipitously acquired two skirts recently that are the perfect shade of pinkish orange to go with it. (Before I got the tea towels. Life just works out sometimes considering this is not a colour I normally wear!) And it's a good thing because I have a wedding to go to today and obviously I was going to wear this shirt for its grand debut. It was nice to have something matching and dressy (or dressy enough for a summer afternoon wedding) to go with it.

Here is a shot of my wedding outfit:
After I had it together, I was looking for a necklace to break up the big space of white on the top. I couldn't find anything the right length and "heft" until I tried this knitted necklace I made last time I went to Squam. It was exactly what I was looking for, except I wasn't sure about the colour. Then I noticed that it is the same tone of greige of the ribbon on the bottom of the front and the lace on the hem of the back. Serendipity strikes again!

I also added some turquoise bangles to my wrist to break up all the orange that was going on. But it turns out I didn't really need to because when I got to church, this same friend had part two of my present ready to give me:
A parade of elephants on a bracelet that will match everything! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Block 25: Winter Star

This week's block was the Winter Star. Obviously we did not keep the seasons in mind as we scheduled the blocks. It's been warm and gorgeous this week.

The pattern starts by making these units:
There's a left rectangle and a right rectangle. Those are pretty easy to put together with the "flippy corner" method. But then when you sew the rectangles together, you have to match two seams to make nice points. The seams are pressed the same way so the placement is less secure while you're sewing the seam.

All this is to say that I sewed the four units like this together on a wing and a prayer and had one come out good enough to keep. The other three I had to undo half of the seam to fix one of the points. I still considered it a victory to have one of the points work out in each unit. :) With the second sewing, the rest of the points were good (enough). And I could move on.
You may have noticed that I used different orange fabrics. I didn't have enough of any one orange that I liked but I did have plenty of orange scraps from a pumpkin block that's coming up later. So I picked out eight different fabrics and placed them in matching pairs. (Their match is not the piece they're sewn to, but the one kitty-corner--the one that would be their "corner" in square dancing, if that means anything to you. You'll see why this is when the block comes together.)

The rest of the pieces were fairly straight forward and the block went together like this:
This block had more matching than some of the others. Besides the points in the units discussed above, you also had to match the diagonal lines with the red squares. As I recall, that did not require any ripping and re-sewing. Perhaps because I made sure to trim all the units to the right size before sewing them together. (I didn't trim off much at all, but it can make a real difference.)

And here are all the blocks done so far in a virtual layout:
_______________________
Here is Kim's block:
She chose a beautiful piece for the centre of the star. I find it interesting how her block reverses mine--blues and purples where I have oranges and reds and red where I have blue. It draws your eye in a completely different way. Quilting--a never ending adventure! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Block 24: Sunday Morning

The past week has been a little crazy with lots of company and big family events so this will be brief. I wasn't sure I would be able to sew this block, but I managed to get it done in a couple short sessions when I had 10-15 minutes in the morning. But not Sunday morning, even though that is the block name. :)
The fabrics in the center don't have a lot of contrast, but I think there's enough that you can see the hour glass blocks. It was a bit of a strange block in that it has three areas for background fabric--the light part of the hour glass blocks, the first border and the second border--but the design didn't call for the same fabric to be used.

Actually I think the outside border was not a background fabric in the design, but I didn't want to have a dark outline to the block. I really liked using the sampler letters fabric there. I picked up the fabric because I thought it went with the 30s time period of the rest of the fabric, but it's a really hard fabric to use in a block! These long skinny pieces were perfect! :)

Here are all of the blocks done so far:
________________________
Here is Kim's block:
A lovely blue and green combination.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ordination Stole

It was a great privilege to participate in the worship service this morning wherein our new minister was ordained. As part of that, I got to present a stole I had made for her. Here are a couple pictures I got from Facebook:
In my hand, ready to present. (I'm on the left.)
Thankfully someone from her family got pictures because I didn't dare have anyone take some during the service (although I was trying to think of some way I could get some).

Now that you've seen how the stole looks on, I'm going to get into some of the details of how it was made.

I talked about knitting the stole here and here. The summary is that I took a scarf pattern and knit two scarves side by side and then cut a steek up the middle to separate them. They were joined at the back with a 45 degree angle. (I knit them side by side to make the colours match.)
Knitted item.
Sewing along both sides of the centre stitch.
Cutting up the centre stitch. I did the centre
three stitches in a P-K-P rib so the centre
stitch would be very easy to follow.
The knitting was completed in August of 2011. I really enjoyed the process, but once it was done, I didn't think the colour change was dramatic enough to really make the triangles enough of a design element. The stole ended up in a ziplock bag in a box. I figured I would unravel it one day when I had another project I wanted to use the yarn for.

But then I found out that we were calling a new minister and she said she was interested in a stole made by me. (It's amazing how motivating a little appreciation can be!) And so I started to rethink this stole that I had knit. What if I just used it as a base? A starting point for something more...

So I thought of embroidering on top of the garter stitch scarf. More like weaving really:
I got the idea from a cowl pattern by Franklin Habit. It ends up looking woven and I thought that might be just the thing. Plus the yarn worked through the stitches would help to stabilize the fabric. (Garter stitch is very stretchy and on top of that the weight of the stole hung along the bias.)
I used a silk blend that I had in a pale gold colour. The more I did, the more perfect I thought it was.

It would have been too much if I did the whole stole and I did just the bottom portion:
Yes, there's a pale red triangle on the bottom without the embroidery. I can't remember if I decided to do that on purpose or if I just forgot at the time. But when I noticed it, I decided to keep it that way.

Next step was to work on the embroideries I wanted to apply. First I traced the triangle shapes they were going to fit on and then I drew several symbols (based on ideas from a Google image search):
I traced the symbols onto embroidery cloth with a water soluble pen:
 Yes, the lines are a little messy, but they're just a guide so it's ok.
Here you can see the first layer of embroidery. In order to make it have more body, I stitched perpendicular to the direction I wanted the final stitches to be. Then I worked over them with the same colour in the other direction. This way the stitching stands up higher and the layer underneath fills in for any gaps in the stitches so white won't show through.

Here are three finished designs:
I decided to use a red silk blend for some accents on the cross and then decided it would be good to fill in some of the gaps on the other shapes to make them easier to cut out and make into a patch to be sewn on. (The red was done in one layer only to allow the design to "pop up" and stay dominant.)

Meanwhile, I had to continue finishing the body of the stole. I decided batting (my first idea) was too thick and heavy to use to stabilize the knitting. Instead, I spray basted some flannel to the back side of the knitting, trying to make the knitting as square and "straight" as possible.
Yup, sometimes you use what you've got.
Even when it's pigs and pink roses.
Once the knit fabric was stabilized with the flannel, I cut out the correct shape from batik fabric for the backing. I put the layers together, right sides together, and sewed around all the edges. I made sure to cut the batik extra big and sewed from the knit side so that I could follow the edge. (Although stable, it still wasn't perfectly straight and square.) I left a gap along part of the edge and turned it inside right more easily than I thought I would.

Here is a view of one end:
It already looked so much better. Fabric was stable. Edges were straight and even with each other and I corrected both the length (had to come up half a triangle) and the angle at the back (had to make it steeper than 45 degrees). It sat on my shoulders really well and I was starting to think this was really going to work!

Next step was a little quilting to hold the layers together and give a little depth and texture. I started at the bottom of each side and went up to the centre back by following the zig zag path of the lines between the triangles.
I was using the walking foot to keep all the thick layers moving together, but it was catching and pulling on the silk embroidery thread, so I switched to my new clear round quilting foot. It worked wonderfully!

I did one more patch based on a celtic design to represent the Trinity.
After I had stitched the gold parts, I was thinking it would be nice to have a contrasting colour for the circle. And then I remembered I had silk in white. It's wonderful to have a stash so that whatever you wish for is already there! :)

To make it into a patch, I trimmed a wide margin of the base fabric and then turned it to the back side with the help of an iron. I basted it in place and then hand stitched muslin to the back along all the edges:
I was going to sew them onto the stole but I decided that pinning them in place would work better.

The original plan was to have the Trinity sign on one side and the three symbols of the persons of the Trinity on the other, but when I "dry fit" it, it was way too much going on. So I decided to finish the one patch and pin it on. I'll finish the other three and then they can be changed depending on the season. (They can also be easily removed when the stole needs to be laundered.)

One last view of her wearing the stole as she ends the service with a blessing:
What a great project this has turned out to be for me, especially as I had once given it up for useless!

Project Stats
Started
: 16 May '11 / Finished: 3 Jun '16
Pattern: Adapted from Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer
Materials: Evilla Artyarn 8/2, A-85 red variegated, 160 g ($35) and small amounts of silk blends for embroideries; two yards batik for backing ($25); flannel for lining.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Block 23: Kettle's On

I feel like I could do with a good cup of tea right now. But it's right before bed so I had better not.

I'm thinking about tea because this week's block was "Kettle's On."
This was made in a week that felt like I had a lot to do. I managed to get the block done except the last seam in two mornings when I had just a little time waiting for the kettle to boil for tea. (How apropos.) This is what happens when your sewing machine is out and ready to go and you have your small travel ironing board and iron set up on your desk (and you've kitted up all the blocks).

This block had a lot of tiny pieces--one inch squares, for instance. Fortunately it did not have a lot of seams that had to match. I really like the delicate pink flower and heart background fabric, but it is too thin. I don't like how much the seams show through it. I imagine this will get better when the block is sitting against a white batting instead of a black background, though.

Here's my story about tea that happened recently. A few weeks ago when it got colder after it had been nice and warm for a bit, I started making a pot of tea in the morning and bringing a cup to work. I realized I could put most of the rest of the pot into a thermos so I could enjoy two big cups of tea over the morning and one more I would make myself wait for until lunch was done.

Then my real self resurfaced and I got out of bed with barely enough time to brush my teeth, let alone make tea. And I went without for a few days. And (you're going to guess the punch line here) I was soooo sleepy all through the day and into the evening. But it wasn't like I was giving up tea and knew there would be consequences. I just didn't have time to make it. I could not figure out why I was dragging so, but after a few days I realized it was the lack of tea and wanted it back. So I mostly get out of bed on time now. (And I now understand those people who get out of bed for the sake of having a coffee.)

Here are all the blocks I have done so far:
___________________
Here is Kim's pretty kettle:
She loved that piece of pink floral fabric but it didn't seem right for any of the blocks she was cutting. Then the kettle block came along and she could use it in one solid piece and it yielded a very pretty and dainty kettle. (I think we both went kind of dainty this week.) I also like her yellow floral spout and lid. (And did you notice we both put a red knob on the lid?)

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