Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crocheted Creche

I picked up this magazine at the store a couple days ago.
"Crochet World, December 2010"

I love it!

Creche all closed up

Closeup of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Aren't they cute?
Sadly, I don't think I'll have time to make it for this Christmas. I have too much to do already. I'll try to start earlier next year to make it in time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm done!

I'm all done. Woohoo!!!

What a day. I woke up bright and early and immediately remembered that when I put my sewing things by the door, I'd forgotten my shirt! Grabbed that first thing, then went off to school. I got there around 8:30 and sewed like mad until 12:20 when I finished the shirt. I ran down 3 flights of stairs for a sandwich, then back up and scarfed it down before going back to practice for the sewing test.

Sewing machine adventure #1
My sewing machine had been acting up all morning. It would randomly skip stitches, and would not catch any at all when backstitching. I managed to make it through my top but realized that I could NOT do my sewing test on that machine.

It is almost the end of the semester so all of the students in other classes have a lot of projects to work on. My teacher doesn't mind if they work during our class, as long as they are quiet and don't use the machines that we need. She had them leave during the test, but said they could leave their things.

There are 3 different models of sewing machines. The REALLY old ones are at the back of the class, the sort of old ones are in the middle, and the best and newest are at the front. My machine is in the front. Unfortunately, all of the best machines were taken. A few by people not in my class. >:(

Sewing machine #2
So I sat down at a machine that is sort of old. There's no speed control, no computer to make the needle stop down every time (very helpful when trying to pivot in place), and it did not automatically cut the thread. I very quickly realized that I could not do my test using a machine that I had zero experience with.

Sewing machine #3
I decided to move up to one of the newer ones and had to move aside the stuff of whoever was NOT in my class that had been using that machine. I felt bad about touching their things but hey, I don't come in during their class and use their machine. I paid to take this class so during my class time, I need proper equipment and they are not in my class and do not have the right to be there and prevent me from using the machine. Anyways...

This machine was the same model as mine, but I couldn't figure out some things. The speed control felt different, the needle would not stop in the down position (my machine stopped with the needle down every time I stopped sewing, until I cut the thread.) and the knee lever for raising the presser foot was about a foot away from my knee! I ended up having to walk it (turn the dial on the side by hand) the whole time because I couldn't control the speed or where the needle would end up. Very frustrating but I got it done and got 10/10 on it!

This is what we had to sew:

Back of skirt

Shirt front. (The white bits is from the camera flash shining off the hardwood through the shirt)

Darts in front

Keyhole closure in back (still needs the closure but didn't count against my mark).

Side slits

The shirt is a bit see-through so it will need an undershirt. I may try to take the sides in a bit, it has no shaping there so it looks "like a potato sack" as my husband says.

I won't know what score I got on my written test until after Christmas when they post grades online but I added up the rest of my scores. I also got 5 bonus marks for having my binder of samples neat and organized. So my total score is between 102 and 103% (depending how I did on the written test.) Not bad eh? Ultimately, I didn't do it for the mark, I did it to learn how to sew better, but the grade feels good too. :o)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Almost done

I'm almost done my course! Tomorrow is my last class. I'm a little sad, but also very relieved. It's taken A LOT more work than I thought it would be, however, I'm very satisfied. It was well worth the time and effort.

Tomorrow the sewing lab opens at 8am. I plan to be there as soon as possible, hopefully I can be there close to 8 - barring mommy emergencies. Then I'll have 4 hours to finish the shirt. I think I'll be cutting it a bit close, especially if I factor in time for life necessities like bathroom breaks and eating, pesky things those are when I'm trying to get something urgent done ;)

Between finishing the last 3 samples for my class, practicing for the sewing test, studying for the written test, going to my parent's for dinner and for the kids to decorate their tree, and doing laundry, I managed to start sewing some Christmas gifts. Well okay, I only sewed one, but I have some more cut out and ready to sew. Sorry, no pics until after Christmas.

Well okay, just one.
That's all you get! :D

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Present

I bought my Christmas present to myself early this year. My old camera has been broken for a few months. It works but is a PITB to change the batteries or access the memory stick. It's also 6 years old. Today, I bought the same kind of camera (Sony Cybershot) for a third of the cost and it has almost 3 times the megapixels, plus image stabilization and some other stuff. I'm really excited. The old one takes so long to take pictures that often I miss the moment - the kids turned away or blinked by the time it takes the picture. The pictures are also often blurry. I'm hoping this one is a lot clearer, I already know it's faster. Unfortunately, it didn't come with a memory stick and it takes a different format than the old camera so I have to go back to the store to buy a stick. I don't really mind though - I'm happy to have a stick for the old camera as I plan to let Five have it. I bought him a kids' camera a few months back and it was complete junk. He's careful enough with it that I'm okay with him using it with supervision.

There's one more feature I love about this camera. It's HOT PINK! How cool is that? It actually matches the case perfectly so think of a pink somewhere between the two pinks you see below and that's what it looks like. I had a black case for my old camera and it made it disappear into the bottomless pit that is my purse. I'm hoping that a hot pink case will be easier to find.

What does this have to do with crafts? I'm not sure... but I take pictures of my crafts with it so I guess it counts. Maybe. I had crocheted a little baby bootie and attached it to the wrist strap for my old camera because I bought it when I was pregnant with Five. My brother and sister-in-law had the same camera so I had to attach something to tell them apart. So maybe I'll craft some little thing to hang off of the wrist strap for this camera too because I think, although I may be mistaken, that my sister-in-law got this same camera to replace theirs a few months ago. (I think hers is light pink though, not hot pink).

I'm not waiting for Christmas to use it because I want to get good with it in the meantime so that I can get some good pictures and video at Christmastime. I'll probably wrap the box and put it under the tree :)

I just gave Five the old camera and he's having fun with it already, taking pictures of his transformers. This totally makes my day :D

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Skirt is done!

Skirt is finished and marked and I got 20/20! Woohoo! She said she tried to pick on it, to find something wrong and couldn't. I'm so happy. I put SO much work into it.

 She was really impressed with the name tag I'd put on it. It's an iron-on label from Fabricland.

Muslin shirt is finished. It's very plain and, as I'd thought, too big. There are some pleats in the sleeve, which isn't good. It's supposed to be totally smooth. So instead of using the no-thread method (described in the previous post) of sewing the sleeve to the armhole, I'll use gathering stitches for the real shirt. It allows for better control of exactly where the fabric goes, and helps to prevent unwanted folds. It does take more time which is why I prefer the other way, but I think it's necessary for this project.

Darts in the front

Back with a keyhole slit
 Below is the shirt I will hand in. So far I have completed:
  • cut out everything
  • fused neckline facing
  • sewn darts
  • serged all edges except where the necklines are sewn together
  • sewn back centre seam
  • sewn front to back at shoulders and sides
  • sewn neckline facing pieces together

 I still need to:
  • attach neckline facing
  • sew sleeves on 
  • attach a hook at the top of the keyhole opening
  • sew the bottom hem
Close-up of fabric
I also handed in several samples (neckline facing, set in sleeve, released darts, and pleats - all of which I got perfect scores on) and was assigned two more (round pockets and square pockets). She lets us do the samples over again until we are satisfied with our mark so, thanks to persistence, I have pretty good marks on all of them. There's one I got back yesterday that I got 7/10 so I'll be redoing that one. I know why - I rushed it, trying to get it done inside of class time. I'll take my time and do it right (hopefully).

I tried to stay late last night but they closed the sewing lab at 5pm. I need to finish the rest of the shirt before 1pm next Saturday and it has to be done on the school's sewing machines. So I need to figure out when I can go in to get that done. For now, I'm kinda burned out on sewing so I probably won't sew at all today. Tomorrow, while Five is at school and One is napping, I'll try to get the samples done.

Oh, and I found my camera :D It was in the bottom of my purse the whole time!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Shirt Project

So sorry for no pictures! Still searching for my camera.

I have 2 classes left: tomorrow and then next week is the last one. So next week the shirt will be due, which means that if I need any guidance for it, I need to get it tomorrow. My plan is to finish the muslin shirt tonight and try it on and hopefully it will fit. I'm not sure if I'll have time to modify it even if it doesn't fit.

This is the pattern: Simplicity 8523, size 14, view A (centre bottom view).

So far, I've completed:
  • front darts
  • back seam
  • sewn front to back at shoulders and sides
  • neckline facing
  • one sleeve

Still have to do:
  • second sleeve
  • hem
  • closure at top back
I find this to be somewhat complicated. I've never done a back slit at the top of a shirt before. Figuring out how to attach the lining was tricky and I'm still not sure I did it right. Attaching the sleeve was tricky, as always. I was able to use some of my teacher's suggestions for making the sleeve fit the armhole. The sleeve has to be slightly gathered in order to fit. This can be done by using gathering stitches or with the following method:
  • remove thread from needle
  • place sleeve under the fabric as though you're going to sew in gathering stitches
  • lower the presser foot
  • set stitch length to 2.5
  • place your finger behind the presser foot, tight against the foot and the plate. It should be directly in the way of the fabric coming out.
  • sew (without thread in needle)
  • fabric will gather into tiny folds against your finger. keep you finger there until you've "sewn" the whole curve of the sleeve.
  • remove fabric from the machine and check the folds. If you feel it needs some more folds or, as often happens to me, there seems to be some areas that didn't crease as well, you can just go over those areas again.
  • it will look like it's been crimped. This slightly gathers the fabric, allowing you to easily fit it to the sleeve opening in the top. It's also a lot faster and uses less materials than using gathering stitches.
  • with top right side out and sleeve wrong side out, slide the the sleeve opening into the sleeve (right sides together and matching notches, dots, and seams). It's much easier if the sleeve is on the outside since it is the larger... piece of fabric and the one you are reducing in order to match it to the sleeve opening on the top. Pin, sew, (don't clip!) and serge all the way around.
The neckline is very high, it almost feels like it is choking me. I'm wishing I'd chosen view D (top left in first photo). I don't have time to trace and cut out a new pattern so A it must be for my project. I can make view D after.

I'm right in between size 12 and 14. (Note: Pattern sizes do NOT correspond to clothing sizes in stores!) Unfortunately, one pattern envelope has sizes 8, 10, and 12 and the one I had has sizes 14, 16, and 18. If 12 and 14 were on the same paper, I'd just cut out the pattern right in the middle.

With my skirt, I'm also between size 12 and 14 and got size 12 and had to enlarge it. Which was difficult - I pretty much had to draft my own pattern based loosely on the one I bought. This is why I decided to go to the larger size this time. I'd rather have it too large - it's much easier to shrink than to enlarge, and it's not strictly necessary to shrink it in order to be able to wear it. If the shirt's too small, I can't wear it - period. If it's too big, it might not look perfect but at least it's wearable. I can always use another laundry-day shirt ;) (and eventually I hope I'll get it right and it will fit AND look good :D )

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lost camera

I seem to have misplaced my camera, hence the lack of posts. I don't know how long it will take for me to find it, so I'll just post anyways.

I currently have lots of projects in process, none of which have changed much recently. I've made almost no progress on my cross stitch.

I bought a pattern for a crocheted creche. I'm excited about that. We used to have a tiny wooden creche when we were kids. We eventually lost the baby Jesus so we'd put the lamb in the manger instead since Jesus was the sacrificial lamb. I don't know whether I'll have time to make it before Christmas this year. Right now our house looks like a bomb went off as we box up the Halloween/autumn decorations and put up the Christmas ones. As soon as I find my camera, I'll take pictures of some of our homemade ornaments.

I hate posting without any photos so here's a photo of one of my cutest creations (okay, one of God's cutest creations ;) )

Oh, and you can kind of see one of my sewing creations in the background - the Cars backpack.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Bibs for One!

Bib under construction.

I can't get enough of those blue eyes!

One getting into my sewing supplies. Those two thread bobbins entertained him for about 1/2 hour!

I debated between making 1 red bib and 1 green bib but decided instead to make 2 bibs that are red on one side and green on the other. That way I never have to hunt for the red bib or green bib, I can just turn it around to match or contrast with his outfit. I still have some fabric left over. Enough for 2 more bibs or something else... I'm not sure yet what I'll do with it.

Skirt is nearly done

Well, so much for posting every day. Oh well, the skirt is almost done. I literally have to do one stitch on the machine at school (one dart is 1/8" shorter than the opposite one) and it will be finished.

Front. Not much to see here. 4 darts and an invisible hem.

Back. You can see a tiny bit of an inseam pocket on the left, the zipper, back slit, 4 darts, and an invisible hem.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bib and Shirt for One

This picture was taken in August I think. Shirt is a size 2. It's a bit big, but it's the smallest t-shirt pattern that I have. I LOVE the fabric. It is so vibrant.
Bib is also made by me. A simple lightweight jean that goes with everything and makes his eyes POP. There's cotton flannel on the back, but I have a few different jean bibs for him so I'm not sure which fabric is on the back of this particular bib.

One's costume (more pics)

These were so cute that I had to share them. (You can see pattern details here.)

I have a secret. I forgot to remove one of the pins, in the armpit section of the costume. So every time I picked him up to reposition him, I was poking him with the pin. And I thought he was just crying because he was tired. *Mommy Fail*. I'm so sorry One. It is a testiment to your sweet disposition that we STILL got some amazing pictures.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Skirt progress

(the sides don't actually bulge out like that, it's just the chair pushing on it.
There's a gentle flare at the hips)

(There's an inseam pocket there, it's just hard to see... which it's supposed to be.)


I still need to finish the waistband, attach a button, finish the back slit, and hem the skirt.

Anna Q

Friday, November 12, 2010

Final Skirt Project

I have all of the pieces cut out for my final skirt project. On the left is the front panel (folded in half) and the 4 pocket bags. On the right are the two back pieces and 3 waistband pieces (with interfacing laid on top.) I have to put it together at school, on their machines. They have a really cool machine for fusing the interfacing, I'm looking forward to trying that out.

Closeup of the fabric.

Anna Q

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No-Sew Fleece Baby blanket

This is really easy. I had a piece of orange fleece leftover from the diaper covers I'd made when I was pregnant with One. It's roughly 1 metre (or yard) square. I cut 3" squares from each corner and then fringed the edges into approximately 1x3" strips (DO NOT cut the strips off of the blanket. It should be attached at one 1" end).

Then use sharp, small scissors to cut a tiny slit in the middle of each fringe, where it connects to the blanket. Pull the fringe through the hole, all going through the hole the same direction. That's it! It is small, so it works up in a few evenings of working while watching tv.

I've made knotted fleece blankets before, but I like this better. It's faster, easier on my hands, and I find the knots uncomfortable when they get under my body when I'm lying down. The pull-through fringe leaves a much smaller lump which is barely noticeable.

This blanket is so soft and washes well. It's great folded in half as a lap blanket in the stroller, wrapped around him in the baby carrier, or placed over him in the crib.

I picked up these fabrics yesterday. I'm not sure what I'll use them for. Any ideas? I only got 1 metre of each since I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet. I was thinking maybe some bibs for One but I'd like to make something more fun... I could get about 3 bibs out of each I think. I might do 1 of each, or 2 bibs that are each red on one side and green on the other, and then do something else with the rest of the material.

Do you see the frayed edge on the green and the other, serged, edges on the green and red?

My teacher was telling us how she stores her fabric. The first thing she does is serge the cut edges, then she washes the fabric. (If it's dry clean or hand wash only, you can take it to a dry cleaner that has a Hoffman - a really big iron basically - and pay them a few bucks to iron it for you, this will effectively "prewash" it.) Jean needs to be prewashed several times, as many as 4-5 before it stops shrinking.

Serging it has two purposes. First, it prevents the edges from fraying in the wash. This saves you fabric and saves wear and tear on your washing machine. Secondly, it lets you know which fabrics have been prewashed, so when you pull it out of your fabric stash years later (at least, if you're anything like me hehe), you know by the serged edge if it's been washed.

These were the first ones I've washed since getting that little tip and what a difference it made! I didn't have to pick loose threads out of the machine, or out of the sink drain. I did miss one edge (on the green fabric) and it was very clear that serging made a difference. I had a big knot of loose threads from that one unserged edge.

I then immediately take it to my ironing board, iron it, and fold it right sides together. I usually cut out 2 layers at a time, and transfer the pattern to the wrong side so by folding it with the right sides together, the wrong side is already up and layered for me to transfer and cut it out. When I get an idea, I like to immediately go and start cutting it out and sewing. I don't like to wait to prewash, iron, and fold. Since it's all done already, I can just go and right away start on my project. I love it! It also prevents wrinkles from getting set in. If I don't iron it very soon after removing it from the dryer, it's hard to get the wrinkles out.