Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stitch Sewing Machine Cover

Back when I first met Connie, we had a little situation between the two of us which led to a post titled: Connie Put Your Clothes On.

For those of you unwilling to click back and check out what the world I'm talking about, here's the gist: I was so excited to whip off the cheapo plastic dust cover on top of my new machine to show her off to some family, that I totally ripped it in the process.


It did, however, give me a perfect excuse to make her a new cover.  I thought . . . this will be brilliantly easy!  I'll just cut the already torn plastic cover apart so I can see the exact pieces used, cut out my own with some cute fabric, and VOILA!  New cover.

I was so completely excited with the results.  Here's what she's been rocking since that day:

Leaves Sewing Machine Cover

Can you tell I was double fist pumping my way through using one of the many decorative stitches on my machine?  Because I totally was.

What was NOT revealed in that post was the ugly side of the cover . . . the side that doesn't *really matter* but was hiding some really dirty secrets.  Like this:

And this:

Yeah, when I first started sewing I was just really making it up as I went along and had no clue how to finish things properly at all.  To the extent I clearly didn't even realize you could just fold something under TWICE so that you have a nice folded edge and not some raggedy garbage underneath.

So . . . big whip, right?  It's not a big deal.  It's not like anyone but me knew and it's not like it was being worn so hard that it was going to fall apart because of its shoddy construction techniques.  But since I got my sewing room all lovely and organized, I felt that it was time to give Connie a facelift as well.  After all . . . she really deserves it.  We've been through a lot together over the years.  :)

Besides, when I saw this pattern I could NOT resist.
Beyond Measure sewing machine cover pattern by Bloom

I had a moment wherein I pondered copying the idea but kind of making up the pattern, but this for me was about polishing her up and making something a bit more clean and finished so I went ahead and bought the pattern.  (Plus - - I felt unsavory just yoinking the idea.)  This was the first time I bought something in Australian dollars as well . . . not sure why that made me nervous, but it did.

I'm a dork.

So anyway, this pattern is so completely adorable, and I just love love love the patchwork panel, the sweet little ruler detail and of course those buttons.  But I also had my heart set on using my Pop Garden fabrics . . . I've had that in my mind ever since I got a little stack of them with my birthday moneys.  Those lovelies have been predestined to pretty-up my sewing room since they were first created.

You didn't realize that when you were dreaming these designs up, did you Heather?  ;)

The only problem?  In general, Pop Garden is a collection that is chock full of LARGE scale prints.  I didn't truly realize the scale of them until I had some in my hot little hand, but I felt it wouldn't do them the proper amount of justice to cut them up into those tiny squares.  So I chickened out a bit.  And I went skulking around through the hutch for some other options.

I settled on some of my Tailor Made fabrics, this very cute Japanese print I've been sitting on from ages ago waiting for the right project, and a a few coordinating pieces I pulled from here and there.

This was what I ended up with:

Don't get me wrong, I really liked it.  I did.  But as I started laying out the pieces I found myself getting really nostalgic for my original plan to use the Pop Garden, and I waffled.  I know!  After I had just cut out 60 2" squares and sewed em all up pretty like (and huzza - -  I definitely used the Quilter's Grid which made it so perfectly pointed!).  But I set it aside . . . I promise I'll figure out a different way to use it for some other project.

So I pulled the Pop Garden stack back off the shelf, put my finger on my absolutely favorite print of the bunch and without overthinking it too much (too late!) I sliced it up.  Because I only had 1 precious fat quarter of it, it really wasn't going to work to make a continuous panel all the way to the other side, so I cut up an equal piece of Swirly Buds in Yellow and sewed em together to get the right size panel piece.
Top Detail

I had found some of that adorable measuring twill tape on Etsy, and the seller (Little Red Cottage) was kindly enough to throw in some extra cute crochet trim with my order that just happened to coordinate perfectly . . . so I decided to throw that into the design as well!  Rather than going with 13 of the same exact button to finish the embellishment I elected to raid my vintage button stash and found 13 buttons that drew out all the lovely colors in the fabric.  I pondered switching up the font of the word "Stitch" on the front . . . I even thought about putting a different word on there . . . but in the end I liked the way it was, so I stuck with the original design element there.  I had to chop a bit of fabric off the bottom of the cover before I finished it as the sewing machine it was designed for seems to have been just a little bigger than my gal, Connie.  But no problem . . . that was an easy fix.
Button Trim Detail

I defiinitely learned some stuff along the way on this one as well . . . most notably, how to make and use piping.  Never done that one before.
Piping Detail

The good news . . . it is SUPER easy . . . it kinda makes me want to make some new throw pillows for my couch and pipe em out.  :)

I think the only thing I would change about this pattern, in hindsight, is a bit beefier size of piping . . . it's pretty small (at JoAnn that size was only available as cording) and delicate, but it does the job.
Bloom Stitch Sewing Machine Cover

I really love how this turned out . . . more than anything because it makes me see just how far I've come since I first started sewing.

What new skills have you picked up lately?

Partying with the best of 'em RIGHT HERE!


Friday, July 22, 2011

It's A Hoot Toddler Backpack

I think it's good once in awhile to really challenge yourself on a project.  Why make something in 15 steps that you could make in 1500?

Ok . . . I kid.  I'm exaggerating . . . mostly.  But really, this pattern kicked my butt around a few times.  It's not that the pattern is hard per se (when I did have questions, I was easily able to get a hold of the pattern designer and have her help me through it), but there is a lot that goes into it (in a good way - - the finished product is definitely not messing around).

What I'm saying is, if you want to take your handmade toddler backpack and have a rumble with the one I made for Little Miss, by all means . . . it's your bag's funeral.

Yeah . . . you read that right.

My backpack could kick your backpack's butt.  But it wouldn't.  It's way too pink and cutesy to give anyone the business:

Backpack Side View

For those of you with good memory skills, you may recall that I started this project back in April.  Ouch.  It was supposed to go hand in hand with Little Miss' birthday gift - - the one that actually made it into her hands *on time*: a Tag Reading System with a bunch of books.  And yes, I've seen the plastic case that goes with the Tag Reader.  However, since I seem to be on a quest to cover the world in fabric, the backpack felt like a natural solution.
Backpack Front View

Plus it holds more books.  For now anyway.

Come fall, my little girl will be starting preschool, and I'm sure the Tag books will get dumped in favor of a pencil case and a take home folder.
Backpack Back View

Backpack Model

Oh wait a minute . . . PENCIL CASE!

Project Notes:
Partying with the best of 'em RIGHT HERE!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gather 'Round the Cutting Counter

I'm a person who works from home. As such, there is really no daily cameraderie with colleagues . . . no hanging around the water cooler to chat about how hot it is outside (or whatever it is people talk about around a water cooler) . . . no face to face sharing of ideas. 

Is it just me, or is half the fun of going to the fabric store the inevitable chatting about sewing projects?  I mean, sure . . . I love the time to stroll around and pet all the fabrics, but I've picked up a lot from the ladies behind those cutting counters. 

Last night I drove over to the JoAnn near my house (my LQS is a little further away and doesn't have 40% off coupons - - which I had in ABUNDANCE yesterday) to pick up some bits and pieces for a few projects I have in the hopper.  I found the most lovely pattern for a new sewing machine cover which I'm quite excited to start on, and I've got a purse and a little change purse in the works for my first "customer"!  I practiced restraint with the fabric (for the most part - - I did pick up *one* half yard cut of a lovely print that I plan to make into a few pillows for my couch just to freshen things up a bit).  Mostly I was just there for facings and fusibles, velcro, cording, etc.

It gave me a bit of time with the ladies.

Ok . . . maybe not *these* ladies in particular, but pretty dern close.  Image by Cushing via Flickr.
There was a bit of gabbing about the weather ("It's not just that it's hot . . . the air is just so THICK out there."), a chat about what I was buying all this stuff for ("Bags?  Ohmygoodness . . . I thought you said 'eggs' which made NO sense at all."), and we even covered those dreaded UFOs that we all have ("My latest project?  I finally finished a winter coat that I started 6 years ago when I thought I might move to Alaska.")

I used to work at Hobby Lobby quite a few years ago in the Floral/Wedding department.  This also meant that on odd nights I covered the Fabric department when they were short.  Though I wasn't a sewer back then, and that job wasn't always a barrel of laughs (horrible boss, drama among the coworkers - - long story), I have many fond memories around that cutting table.  My favorite thing was the woman who would inevitably come up with a question that I could not answer (remember how I said I was *not* a sewer back then?) and then one or more ladies who were hanging around the area shopping or waiting for the fabric to be cut would jump in with ideas: "You know what would be *perfect*?  If you pulled that red out a bit and took some of this ribbon to tie it all together."  Gasp . . . squeal . . . and then the exclamation, "What a great idea!!"

Is it any surprise that the sewing/crafting community is such an abundant group out in the blogosphere?  We're a very social bunch.

What have you learned 'round the cutting counter?


Monday, July 18, 2011

My Latest Fabric Crush - Heirloom

Very little (as in zero) progress has been made on the master bedroom makeover, which means that my mind is still wide open to possibilities. That's either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it.

But oh bliss - - have you seen Joel Dewberry's new Heirloom collection? Is it not in just.the.right.colors?!

Joel Dewberry's Heirloom line in Citrine

Oooh . . .

Ahhh . . .

 Ohhh . . .

What will he think of next?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Practical Sewing: The Kids' Room Curtains

The other day I asked Mr. Skooks when he was planning on re-tiling the bit of back splash that was torn out when we installed our over-the-range microwave awhile back.  This led to a bit of a discussion about our endless list of "home projects" and where they fall on our mental lists in terms of priority.

Me asking him about the backsplash = high on my priority list.

Mr. Skooks revealing that he doesn't even notice those tiles missing anymore = obviously NOT high on his priority list.

This got me to thinking about the list of home projects that are more in "my realm" and therefore more on MY list . . . and helped me to see with new eyes the ones I wasn't even noticing anymore.  Projects like this:

Curtains Before

Now, because this is not your home, you are allowed to admit that YES . . . you DO see that the curtains in the kids room are:
  1. Ugly.
  2. Ridiculously too short for the windows.  (For those wondering, yes.  They were the right length for the windows at our previous residence.  Sort of.)
  3. The same color as the walls.
There were a few things going on in this space that have been bothersome since we moved in but had sat unremedied for so long that I no longer truly saw just how craptacular they really were.  For one, we bought paint for the kids' room before we even moved into the house (let's review - over a YEAR ago).  And no . . . what you see is not the color we chose.  This is the color that was painted on 95% of the walls before we bought the house and so far we've only managed to paint the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen.


So we haven't painted the walls.  Fine.  But the curtains . . . oy.  Though they are horrendously ugly, I just have not been able to get rid of them.  And no . . . it's not because I harbor crazy hoarding tendencies for ugliness.  It's because they are "blackout" curtains, and without their room darkening capabilities my kids might never go to sleep.  Especially in the summer.  (Yes, a common bedtime complaint from Little Miss these days is, "but it's not even nighttime yet!"  Thank you, Michigan in the Summertime, for your 9:30 pm sunsets.

So ok . . . blackout curtains . . . which are not cheap.  And my budget for new curtains has been . . . oh, I don't know . . .  zero.   Nothing.  Whatever the system is.

So here's where the jerry-rigging came in.  I'd love to say, "here's where the lovely handmade curtains that I whipped up for $0 came in", but I'd be lying.  These things were most definitely jerry-rigged.  And here's how I did it.  For $0.  (Well . . . $0 NOW, these items were bought by me in the past so technically at some point I paid money to own the materials . . . but you know what I'm saying.)

I had a few white curtains from Ikea . . . you know, super cheap ones that I bought around the same time I bought paint for the kids' room thinking I'd hang them up in the living/dining room.  Except I got them home and Mr. Skooks just wasn't feeling them at all.
Vivan curtains from Ikea

To be honest, I wasn't either.  Not because they're objectionable.  They're just plain white sheers.  But  I've got 2 bay windows in that space and so far I have had zero clue how to put curtains in either of them.  I've even got the special bay window rods, but I have no idea what look I'm going for at all, so no progress on that front.  And since Ikea is just about a million hours away from my house, I didn't return them.

Anyway - - their light airiness was completely wrong for the space because as I said, I like children that sleep sometimes.  I also had the curtains that originally came with the Hungry Caterpillar comforter I bought for Little Miss' bed eons ago.  Just sitting there all lonesome like.  They, too, are way too see through and way too short to accommodate the windows.

And don't forget - - I had the butt-ugly blackout curtains.

This is NOT Little Miss' bed . . . but this is what her bedding set looks like.
I spent some time picking all the stitching out of the blackout curtains to get the fabric as long as possible.  It was just barely long enough.

Dodged a bullet there.

Then I chopped the white curtains off at the bottom where I thought it looked right (how's that for no instruction at all), chopped a couple of the red curtains up to make up the difference, and sewed those 2 together.  Then I sewed the blackout curtain to the back of my white/red hybrid curtain.  And yes . . . it's a bit thick.  Whatever.

At this point, I realized how junky the tops of the white curtains looked because of the overlapped stitching I did to attach the blackout curtains.  (Remember how I said jerry-rigged?)  To "fix" this, I decided to chop a skinny strip of the red curtains, pressed it under on both sides so it was about 2" wide and sewed it over the top for a clean finish.

Well - cleanER finish.

In short, after some snip snip here, snip snip there, and a couple of tra-la-la's, the kids now have some less vile curtains:
Curtains After

I'm glad I can finally check this off my list.  Practical sewing just feels so boring when compared to pretty much every other type of sewing I do.  Wonder when Mr. Skooks will get to painting the kids' walls now . . .


P.S. A million points to whomever caught the comedic reference in this post.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Glow Happy Quilt Top - DONE!

Lest you think that I cleaned up my sewing room purely for aesthetics and was too afraid to go in and mess it up, I'm happy to report that due to my newly organized space I have been MOST productive.


Since I last posted, I have been a busy bee.  Mostly I have been working on stuff for the shop.  YES.  I said it!  I have been pushing myself a bit more than usual and have really made an effort to try out some patterns I got and just make some stuff.  It certainly helped that I had all my fabric in order and could see that I certainly had enough stash to start.  :)

In between bouts of shop sewing, I did spend time downstairs with the family and got the rest of the hand embroidery work done on my last two lantern chains so that I could finish off my Glow Happy quilt.  The fact that this is all pieced now gives me great satisfaction (and excitement) that it will indeed be finished completely and ready to enjoy this coming Christmas.

Glow Happy Quilt Top
Anyone else spend their holiday weekend (in whole or in part) behind a sewing machine?  I'd love to hear about it!  :)

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