Posted in sewing

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Sewing

One of the many fiber projects on my to-do list is the replacement of my kimono.

Many years ago, my mom made matching kimono robes for Bill and me. They were sewn in an Asian cotton print of cranes (his) and cherry blossoms (mine) on a black background. We wore them frequently in hot summers, and packed them to travel all the time. Now both are threadbare. I managed to sew a replacement for Bill’s about six years ago. Mine finally gave out this year.

Last winter my mom let me browse her fabric stash. There I found a light blue textured cotton piece with enough yardage for a kimono. I snagged it and smuggled it home in a box.

Recently I found a kimono pattern offered for free on Connection Threads.

Kimono Robe Small-Medium Pattern Download |

So I chose to get this project started yesterday. To line the kimono I bought this butterfly print at Hobby Lobby. At $3.00 per yard, it was hard to resist.

Ready, set, cut!

I made two modifications to the pattern. The first was a no-brainer, I just shortened the robe to knee length. That quick change saved me two yards of fabric. The second change was the addition of a side seam pocket. This type pocket was part of my first kimono. I just loved it for carrying around a set of eyeglasses and a tissue. It was so handy and yet so invisible. I couldn’t imagine my morning routine without it. (See my earlier post Who Needs Pockets? ‹ Daily Fiber ‹ Reader — )

The only difficulty is that I had no idea how to make a side-seam pocket.

Hah!, you say – This is a job for U-Tube. And you would be right. I found the perfect tutorial. Let me introduce you to Catherine Sews:

Sew a Topstitched Side Seam Pocket – YouTube

Having got that task out of the way, I moved on to sewing the robe fronts to the back.

……..and then the lining fronts to back.

Today I spent a good hour or so zig-zagging all the seam allowances to minimize the problem of fraying. Then I attached the neck band. It is sandwiched in between the outer fabric and the lining, which very neatly gets the lining sewn in to place.

Here is how the kimono looks at the end of today’s efforts.

I like how it looks so far. With any luck I will have the kimono finished by Friday.

Posted in sewing

Making a Paintbrush Wrap

My collection of water color brushes has been growing. Every time I take a new class on line, I end up purchasing new brushes. Storing them stuffed into my water jar just doesn’t work too well anymore. So I decided to make a roll-up brush holder from my quilting left overs.

You see in the picture my fabric selections. The log cabin square was made to practice free motion quilt stitches for Under the Sea quilt. The funny tape measure fabric was left over from the journal covers I made as gifts.

Let’s get started.

First, measure your brushes. The roll needs to be long enough to hold them all and tall enough to cover up the tallest brush. I cut the backing fabric 13 inches wide and 11 inches tall. The inner piece holds the brushes. I cut this fabric 13 inches by 12 inches and folded it in half, which gave 13 inches wide by 6 inches tall.

Fabric trimmed up and ready for sewing.

Sew them together around the outside edges. Next, mark the points where you want to make dividers. This was easy and fun with the tape measure fabric!

All my stitch lines came out straight. Yay!

Make a standard quilt binding strip and apply it around the four sides.

This fabric was left over from the Arches quilt border.

That’s pretty much it!. You will want to add a cord to tie the roll shut.

For now, I just grabbed a piece of ribbon, wrapped it around the roll and tied a bow. Eventually I will get a nice cord or strap. Or maybe I will add a toggle and loop.

But for now, I am ready to paint en plein air at a moment’s notice.

Posted in sewing

Stash-busting: Open Wide Zip Pouch

Okay, so I’m making this zip pouch because Chris at Chrisknits can’t stop making them! They are just so darn quick and useful. You can check out her blog here:

Do I have what I need? Let’s see. The project requires about 1/4 yard of fabric each for the outer shell and lining as well as a zipper. This one is about ten inches long.

I also required the better part of a cup of coffee to get started.

The gold cotton damask on the left is left over from a bedspread I made about 15 years ago. This scrap has been used in an experiment with Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint. I applied the paint to the back side of the fabric, to see if the color would seep through the woven vines but not through the shiny gold parts. It sort of did that. Now I have a use for it.

I also have this scrap, printed with shiny gold dillweed stems. I’ll use it for the bottom section of the bag.

Instructions for this project come courtesy of Anna Graham, at Noodle-head. com. You can get the details here:

open wide zippered pouch: DIY tutorial

My first attempt took about an hour or so to complete, with only one rip-it-out moment.

This is very girly looking, with the pairing of flowery and metallic prints.

Here’s a peek at the inside. It does indeed open wide.

This will be a nice item for gift-giving. I think I will make the next one with a wrist strap.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Springtime and Sorting

It’s been heart-breakingly beautiful outside over the past several days. The weather forecast for today predicts extreme thunderstorms. So I thought I would memorialize some of the garden’s spring perennials. They are so lovely, and their day in the sun is so short every year. Here are a select few.

Yesterday I finished sewing the last of three quilted buckets. This project is meant to yield a system for organizing and storing fabrics. While my stash is not large, it is somewhat unweildy for its size.

Three buckets holding fat quarter to one yard sized pieces.

That leaves the scraps. After a year of working with fiber, I have a much better idea of how I tend to use fabric in my projects. I particularly like using scraps in little strips to make small art quilts. Consequently I have become very reluctant to throw any of them away. Resulting in this:

Sorted by color family, they are even more beautiful and precious to me. Like the colorful spring growth only more enduring.

So I still don’t have a useable system for keeping this hoard in order, under control, and yet easily accessible. Reluctantly, I will be putting these gems back into the shoeboxes. Suggestions are encouraged. How do you keep your stash sorted?

Posted in crochet, knitting, sewing

OMG: UFOooooooossss!

Did you ever decide to organize your yarn closet, and in the process discover an overwhelming number of Unfinished Objects: I have!

I have clearly been in denial about the quantitiy of UFOs piling up on my watch. To be honest, I knew about a few of them. Some are over five years old. They were slumbering quite peacefully until disturbed today in my zeal to clear out the yarn cabinet. They are the dirty dozen, plus one. Here is a brief run down.

From the top, left to right:

  • Cabled gloves in dark green yarn. Pattern by Brooklyn Tweed, from Vogue Knitting magazine Winter 2009. I started with great enthusiasm, but lost steam when I fully understood the complexity of making cables up Each Finger. Tossed the pattern about six months ago.
  • Sparkly and beaded water bottle purse. I was making it for a former boss as a gift about six years ago. I couldn’t decide how to make the closure and strap.
  • Granny Square whimsical bird house. This was an experiment to see what Else could be done with granny squares.
  • Ladies’ woolen slacks. Frustrated with my inability to buy wool trousers that fit I decided to re-fashion a pair of men’s wool trousers. Purchased the pants at Goodwill, the pattern for $1.00 at Hobby Lobby.
  • Made the mistake of buying extra fine alpaca lace weight yarn. Tried to knit it held two strands together into a shawl. It’s not going well.
  • This is almost done. It is a serape-style poncho knit in a Northern Woods colorway yarn. Today I blocked it and expect to finish it soon.
  • This collection of yarn is set aside to make fingerless gloves. Still working on a design.
  • This is the pattern and fabric for making quilted baskets. I’ve made two so far. Eventually I will have enough little baskets to organize and store all my fabric.
  • This is a piece that I knit from Icelandic wool received from my daughter. I intend to felt it into a little purse – at some point in the future.
  • This shawl kit, designed by Laura Nelkins, includes beads. Someday it will be done.
  • Here is the 8 by 10 inch weaving that I made as an example for my fiber arts students. It’s nearly finished. But I ask – what do I do with it when it is?
  • And finally, I recently started a triangular cardi-vest designed by Melody Johnson. I thought it would be a good way to use up the odd balls of yarn.

Oh yes, I did say a dozen plus one. The last UFO is a felt coat.

It needs to be altered. I removed the first sleeve and then hid it in the back of my closet. It will likely stay there until next winter.

So, my fellow fiber artist – which UFO looks the most appealing to you?

Posted in knitting, sewing, weaving

Back Home

Yesterday we arrived home after spending a week in Wisconsin. The trip was undertaken to help our daughter and her family prepare for a move. It was a weird and wonderful trip. With constant changes implemented by the authorities in the states we traveled through, we never knew what to expect from day to day. Thankfully, many businesses on the interstate highways remained open to provide for the necessities of travelers. All the staff we encountered along the way were both kind and helpful.

The trip was a success. While we stayed with the kids, daughter and son-in-law found and put an offer in on a suitable house in Madison. That’s a big hurdle accomplished.

I discovered a new travel craft – weaving on the little 8 by 10 artists’ canvas loom. All the materials fit into an average size project bag, and the motions of the fiber artist do not ever distract the driver. You see in the photo above my attempt to create an S-curve out of two colors of yarn.

I received two items from daughter that will inspire future fiber objects:

The Vogue Knitting book is a delightful compilation of the best of the Vogue Knitting magazine, from the 1980s through to 2011. Lots of inspiration is here. I have my eye on a couple of patterns found within. Of most value to me are the charts of various lace stitches.

This little book is called omiyage, by Kumiko Sudo. It was purchased by my mom, who passed it to daughter, who gave it to me. The Japanese have a thousand-year-old practice of making and giving small gifts. Back then there were strict rules and a great deal of formality surrounding this ritual. The author re-interprets omiyage for modern times, using fabrics both traditional and modern. As she is a quilter, she pulls fabrics from her stash of quilting cotton, and incorporates bits of silk and wool as well. I plan to try making some Good Luck dolls.

Traditionally these dolls were the focal point for a festival called Girl’s Day. I think they would be wonderful made from some of my hand-painted fabrics. Because they are small, making one should be a fun, inexpensive and quick project.

Well, I am keen to resume my making. The Just Trees mini quilt is still unfinished and I would like to get that weaving off the loom soon.

Until next time, keeping making and be well.

Posted in sewing

Stitch Bible

No, friends, this is not a publication by a religious group. This is an exercise in making a reference guide for your own sewing machine.

Yesterday I took a few hours to document all the stitches that are programmed into my Bernina 1080 Special. I would have done this sooner but for my own impatience to get on with my making.

Basically, you just make a column of stitches, move to the next button and repeat until you have a sample of each stitch. In addition, I changed length and width as I stitched along, making notes in permanent marker along the way.

It wasn’t as boring as I had imagined, mostly because I listened to podcasts while I stitched.

Even though my Bernina only has 28 different stitches, I worked my way through several bobbins of thread. The payout of this exercise is getting to play with different combinations of the stitches that I discovered. My favorite setting is the mirror-image button. This allows me to highlight nice sections of my fiber objects with mirrored embroidery stitches.

I also learned how to couch cord, ribbons and yarn.

If you haven’t made a stitch bible for your sewing machine, I suggest that you give it a go. It may spark in you some creative ideas for future fiber play.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, knitting, sewing

108 Contemporary Gallery

During a shopping excursion to Tulsa, we stopped by the 108 Contemporary Gallery to catch a new show – State of Craft. Works in various media, including fiber, were on display. I thought it would be good to check it out.

There were some large works such as this one by Whitney Fortsyth.

All Things New – Ceramic with oil patina

Interesting wood items like this one by Rusty Johnson.

If you could see the Wind, driftwood and colored pencil

And then there were fiber objects, mostly smaller but exquisite.

Let it Flow, Sheryl Landis, dyed silk, embroidery, paint and beads.

A large work with a fish-eye mirror in the center. White linen with beads.

I particularly like these bags by Rhonda Steiner, hand dyed, painted, and screen printed.

And finally, there were some yarn objects, felted, crocheted and knitted.

Here is a link to the gallery, in case you would like to see more.

Posted in sewing

Baby needs a new pair of Shoes

My granddaughter has spent her whole life barefooted. And now, just as she is learning to walk, winter weather has arrived. How is a beginning walker going to gain confidence in her stride if the ground is cold, wet, and slippery? This situation has been weighting on my mind so I decided to do something about it. Hence the quest to make baby boots. I have some yardage of fake suede lined in fleece. It looks really warm. Perhaps it can be fashioned into footwear?

I found the following pattern on Stitches and Sunflowers and began to answer this question. The maker professes that these really will stay on the baby’s feet.

After downloading the pattern pieces, I cut them out of the fake suede.

It’s important to flip the heel pattern piece over before cutting the second one.

Begin by sewing the heel piece to the sole. I changed my machine needle to a larger number to deal with the thick fabric before sewing.

Those quilting clips really came in handy today!

After attaching the heels, a piece of elastic is sewn at the upper edges. I then turned the top edge over to conceal the elastic.

Notice that I trimmed away the fleece from the seam allowances.

Next comes the toe piece. I again sheared back the fleece from the seam allowances on both pieces before stitching.

After turning right side out I have a pair of cute suede boots.

All that remains to be done is to sew in some fasteners. I’m thinking of going with Velcro, since it can be adjusted for fat or thin baby ankles.

Yes! Soft AND warm. My little friends approve.
Posted in quilting, recycling, sewing

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

This past summer has been a wonderful time of learning for the fiber artist in me. I have viewed dozens of tutorials, focused primarily on quilting. “Don’t ever throw away your scraps,” is advice that I heard from an art quilter, early in my training. Well, I took her advice, and look where it has got me. I desperately need a system for managing these fabric pieces!

By nature I am not a messy person. I like to make my bed and wash the dishes. When I began my journey with fiber, I organized a space which I believed possessed ample work room and plenty of storage for tools and materials. It was great, as long as I stuck to yarn crafts. But once I ventured into fabric work, things went wonky. (FYI “wonky” is a technical term used by quilters.)

I share my closet with the family’s camping equipment. It also houses the ironing board, a small set of drawers and shelves for my yarn stash. The stash is relatively modest, but it now fills the shelves. My bookcases contain paint, books, tools, my fabric stash and sewing machine. But the scraps have proven recalcitrant. If left tossed in a basket, they are impossible to work with.

So this is my plea: Who of you has solved the Scraps Dilemma, and will you share your solution with me, a frustrated fiber artist?