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?

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting, quilting, sewing

Old-Timey County Fair Fiber Fun

Who loves going to the fair? If today’s attendees are representative, I would say everybody! There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. Our county fair focuses on all things agriculture, but also includes some things that city folk enjoy, like growing flowers and taking photographs. Here is what I did at the fair today.

I checked out all the Fiber Providers:

Some chickens managed to get into the picture.

Oops, NOT fiber providers, just cluckers and layers.

And I got a good look at the various needle arts entries.

Sadly, there were not near as many needle arts entries as there were in past years. Achieving a couple of blue ribbons for my two was not that gratifying.

But I was very pleased to see that some of my fiber arts kids had entered items that they made during our class last year. Here is Gianna’s Blue-Ribbon strip quilt.

Going to the fair felt so nostalgic to me. It made me wonder: How many more years can the county fair tradition continue into the 21st century? Are needle arts as a craft doomed to die out? Or can they be revived in a brave new world?

Posted in recycling, sewing, weaving

Fiber Fun at the Lake House

While I and my family were soaking up the sun and splashing in the water at the Lake House, my daughter proposed that we work on a fiber project together. The family lake house, which was built in the 1950s, contains random pieces of furniture and what nots from several decades. The object of attention is a floor lamp with a silk shade that had disintegrated completely. Used in its present condition, the unshaded light got into everyone’s eyes. She thought we could solve this problem.

Of course, the Lake House Challenge is to make it work with limited materials and tools. After a bit of brainstorming, during which we rejected piecing panels together and shirring or gathering fabric, we came up with a weaving concept. We had on hand a few bed sheets and a ball of cotton blend yarn.

Yarn is left over from the Luna Moth baby dress project.

Fortunately, Daughter had brought her sewing machine.

I took on the task of warping the yarn over the lamp shade frame and she hemmed and turned the strips of white sheet. They were about 2 inches wide. We thought we would need six rounds. Here is the shade with the warp in place and the first round of weft weaving.

It took a few days because it was possible to work only while the baby was sleeping. She sewed together the two ends of each strip and trimmed up the yarn.


We agreed that it was pleasing to the eye in a bohemian kind of way.

Posted in colorwork, sewing

The Wing of a Butterfly

It’s seems as if the butterflies are everywhere this month. I have enjoyed watching swallowtails moving through the back yard on light breezes. So today’s fiber object is inspired by a butterfly wing, specifically, a Monarch butterfly. It is also a chance for me to try out a new tool I recently acquired.

This set is produced by Honeysew. The large tape maker is by Clover. I purchased both through Amazon. They can make yards and yards of bias tape from any woven fabric, with the use of a hot iron. For this project I chose 1/2 inch tape maker.

The first step is to cut 1 inch strips of fabric on the bias, and seam them together with a very narrow seam allowance. After trimming the seam allowances, the fabric is fed through the wide end of the maker and pressed as it appears out of the narrow end.

It took a little practice, but I quickly got the hang of it.

Now that I have my tape, I will need fabric………..

Including two of my painted fabrics.

And a plan. Here is a quick sketch of an abstract wing.

I made a photocopy of the sketch, cut out the major areas into pieces, and pinned and cut the fabric. Next I stuck the shapes onto my background fabric with a glue stick.

Starting at the top, I sewed the bias tape around the outside edge. When sewing down bias tape, it is important to sew the inside (convex) edge of your design first, being careful not to stretch the tape. Next, press the fabric and tape, smoothing out the outside (concave) edge. Then, stretching it as needed, stitch down the outside. I continued sewing the bias tape until all raw edges were covered. I also sewed a few bits of tape onto other major design lines. Here is the piece at the end of this step.

To emulate the lower edge of the Monarch wing, I cut a piece of dark gray fabric, drew the white spots across it, and then trimmed holes where each spot was. To make the spots white, I inserted a piece of white fabric behind the gray, gluing it in place with glue stick and fusible webbing. Here is the back side of this piece.

This was then stitched across the bottom edge of the piece and top stitched with a decorative stitch.

Finally, I used zig-zag stitch to add the small veins found throughout the wing.

Now that it’s done, I’m not quite sure how to use this particular piece. But I’m confident that the bias tape maker will come in handy for many a future appliqued design. How about stitching up a stained glass window?

Posted in quilting, sewing

Triangles – the Finale

“When we last saw our heroine, she had cut and sewn all the pieces needed for a triangular quilt sampler. Let’s check in on her now.”

Okay, folks, not quite all the pieces. In reviewing my block cut, it seemed that two more hexes would be necessary if I wanted a complete sampler of the technique. So I cut and sewed two more. Here are my pieces before beginning assembly:

Here is my preliminary layout

This quilt is made up of six rows, grouped in twos. For the middle section, I will use two triangles at each end, to fill in the gaps where my cutting tools are sitting in the photo. Assembling each row is fairly simple. I start at the left and sew the pieces together in the normal fashion. The drama begins when the grouped rows are sewn to each other. Will the white triangle points match up and the hexes join properly?

Row 1 and 2. Not quite a match. I also notice a decided curve in the top edge. Wish I had see that before I proceeded to the next step.
Rows 3 and 4. Better! The edges are straighter also.
Rows 5 and 6. Best! Everything matches and is straight.

And here is my sampler all sewn together. I did a quick trimming of the outer edges, but I don’t have a long enough cutting mat or Omnigrid ruler to properly square it up.

I’m happy with this so far. This view is of the quilt turned sideways. You can see rows one and two on the left, with the decidedly wavy edge. I will probably remove these rows and try to straighten the edges before re-attaching.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Blocks with Curves

At a quilt show I attended recently, I saw several quilts that featured circular piecing. It looked so mysterious. How did they do it? Here is an example from the show.

I am very interested in making contemporary quilts in a similar style. So it is necessary for me to learn to this technique. For today’s exercise, I will be making blocks with pie-shaped wedges sewn into the concave edge of a background fabric. I turned to U-Tube for a little help. One of the instructors is Leslie Tucker Jenison. Here is a tutorial on fitting concave and convex shapes together.

My design inspiration was the sun and planets. Because of the fabric selection I had available to me, I decided to make a piece featuring a gaseous planet.

Dark grey for the background fabric, green and pale blue for the pie shapes.

After cutting out the two types of blocks, I marked the curves with a compass. The trick is that, at the curved line, the pie shaped piece needs to be 1/2 inch wider than the background piece, to accommodate the seam allowance. I used a compass to draw the curves and cut them out with scissors. Here are the four blocks pinned and ready to sew.

It’s important to mark and pin the two centerpoints and align the block edges. Then place a pin about every inch. Stitch with the concave piece (background) up, so that you can ease the curve. Here are the blocks before pressing.

I have most the points matched up pretty well. Next is to sew the pairs of top and bottoms together and then sew the center vertical seam, matching the pie shape edges and nesting the center seam.

My planet block, sewn and pressed

I’m relatively pleased with this first attempt. Only the lower right block is slightly off. The final dimension is 18 and 1/2 inch square – a very good size for a cushion cover.

Posted in recycling, sewing

Wabi-Sabi 2

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon sewing the little wabi-sabi blouse. Getting to know the automatic button stitch on my Bernina was a bit of an eye-opener. It took four practice button holes before I was ready to attempt it on the garment. So the buttonhole is fine now, but I am having some fit issues.

Finally I called my daughter, to discuss the blouse and check her measurements. She was enthusiastic about my progress so far. Then she casually mentioned that the blouse was constructed with the buttons on the BACK. What?

After the call, I put on the blouse, switching it around so buttons were in the back. Sure enough it seemed to drift into place over my body.

A new point of view.

I will need to adjust the button locations (most of them are not centered over the button holes) and take in the band to match daughter’s measurement. Otherwise, this little turnabout is done!

Posted in recycling, sewing

Wabi Sabi

A Japanese philosophy that has been around since the 15th century, wabi-sabi is all about finding beauty in imperfection. It means keeping your old stuff, especially if you really love it. A few high quality garments are more valuable than a bunch of new, poorly constructed items of inferior fabric. Sometimes a few minor repairs will keep your treasured frock in circulation. It’s really okay if the repairs are visible.

When I was explaining this concept to my daughter a few months ago, she said that she had just the thing for a wabi-sabi treatment. What she brought me was a silk blouse, in a muted print of neutrals that had become worn and torn. She said that she wore it often, but no longer, due to rips and thin places in the silk. Could I do something with it?

I wish I had taken a photo of the blouse as she handed it to me, but alas, I did not. Here is what the garment looked like after I had cut out the damaged sections.

Three months have passed since I gained possession. This morning, I decided it was time. Last year I had purchased a largish silk blouse in similar colors at a thrift store for a few dollars. This might be a good source of fabric for the wabi-sabi blouse.

My plan is to cut this blouse lengthwise along the stripes, and use the pieces to rebuild the yoke of daughter’s blouse. Here is a sample of the fabric.

And here is a sketch of my intended alterations.

Without a pattern, I set about cutting and sewing, cutting and sewing. First I made some strips from the thrift store blouse and used them to create a band at the underarm area. This was stabilized with ultra-light weight fusible interfacing. Next I cut two triangles from the front of daughter’s blouse and trimmed the edges with black silk. These pieces were then sewn to the band. A few alterations to the back also included black silk edging.

It’s the end of the day, and here is a photograph of the wabi-sabi blouse.

Progress is good. If all goes well tomorrow, I will finish the structure, make a buttonhole, sew the buttons back on, and maybe add some decorative elements.

Posted in drawing, hand embroidery, painting, sewing

Welcome to Summer, Farewell to Gloria

It’s my desire to note each season as it arrives with a fiber project that celebrates the specialness of the season. When I learned of the passing of Gloria Vanderbilt, I decided to include a small tribute to her in today’s celebration of summer.

I remember Gloria Vanderbilt best from her television adverts, promoting her line of jeans. She promised to make jeans designed to fit women’s curves. That promise was fulfilled – those jeans did fit us! She branded her product by signing her name on the hip pocket. Soon, all the designers were catering to women’s shape and placing their logos on the pockets.

So, thank you, Gloria. You made us feel good about our bodies, at a time in our lives when we needed a boost to our self image.

Today’s fiber object shows a woman contemplating the sun while lying on a beach. In tribute to Ms. Vanderbilt, my lady is dressed in a pair of cut-off jeans. Here is the sketch I made with the design’s basic elements.

I toyed with the idea of inserting the Gloria Vanderbilt logo somewhere in the design, but ultimately decided not to. Here is the finished object.

Hello Summer, Goodbye Gloria

I’m happy with all the elements of this piece. First of all, my ability to draw is getting better. It only took me two tries to sketch this slightly stylized female body. I am also getting better control of the fabric paint while using the wash technique. And finally, both my hand and machine embroidery are improved.