Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sewing Machines

I began sewing three years ago.  I started on an old Kenmore sewing machine that I had inherited from my aunt.  The machine was from the '70s and was that super attractive avocado green, that was so popular back then.  I used this machine to sew a few projects from the Weekend Sewing book and the machine worked well but was definitely not as easy to use as the current models.  My husband went out and bought me my first sewing machine very shortly after I took up the hobby.  He claimed that the older machine was so loud that he couldn't hear himself think no matter where he was in the house.  He went to a great, little sewing shop close to our house, Sunup drop Textiles.  The saleswomen were super helpful and directed him to the Janome 4030QDC.  My husband bought the machine and set it up and surprised me.

I love this machine.  I've never had a problem with it.  It's really user-friendly and has more functions then I have ever used.  There are 30 different stitches including button holes.  The machine came with a zipper foot as well as a special quilting accessory kit.  I've done most of my sewing with this machine and have never needed anything else.  For my last birthday, my husband decided to go back to the same sewing shop and purchased a serger.  He bought a Husqvarna Viking H/Class 200S.

To be honest, I wanted a serger but was hesitant to use it.  I was nervous about the whole knife business and I was so comfortable with my existing machine that I thought perhaps I didn't really need a serger after all.  That was until I started back into making clothing.  I began with my daughter's Halloween costume and I was able to stitch almost the entire costume with the serger.  It made things so much easier because I didn't have to zigzag stitch to finish the ends.  The more that I used this machine, the easier I found it was to use it.  The threading of the machine is very well-laid out with diagrams and colouring to aid in the threading.  The manual with the machine is also very informative and helps to answer any questions that arise.  This machine came in handy as I was preparing for Christmas.  Almost all of my Christmas gifts were sewn with this machine in some way.
I have both machines set up side-by-side in a little corner in my bedroom.  This set-up worked great for my holiday projects as I was able to alternate between the two machines as necessary.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Toiletry bag

A few years ago, my sister requested a toiletry bag to travel with.  I searched for a patten that would be good and on a friend's suggestion I chose to do a modified version of Heather Ross' overnight bag from her book,  Weekend Sewing.  

My friend had made the bag but had doubled the height to give it a bit more depth to hold taller items.  I liked the shape of the bag and it seemed pretty easy to put together.  I also chose to double the height of the bag, so that my sister could carry larger items.  Along with doubling the height, I needed to adjust the length of the zipper and the top wrap-around of the bag.  I chose a duck canvas for the outside fabric as I wanted it to be sturdy, so that the bag would be able to stand upright.  I also lined the bag with a heavy-weight interfacing.  I didn't want it to flop at all!  I attached a little strap on one side that would allow you to carry the bag easily.

On the inside, I chose to attach an elastic to the top of the pockets, so that they would hold items inside the pockets snugly.  I wasn't a fan of how the pockets were inserted into the pattern, so I cut out rectangular strips that would be the pockets.  I then sewed these onto each of the side panels.  This helped to make the pockets deeper then how they would have been in the original pattern.

I loved how this bag came together and how it looked when it was finished.  And even better, my sister also loved it.  As a little extra gift, I put together some bags (pre-snack sack era!)  These were just made with an inner and outer layer of quilting cotton.  This is being used to carry make-up and other items around with her everyday.  

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Christmas bags

In an attempt to be more environmentally friendly, I decided that I would make some more snack bags for people as Christmas gifts.  I chose to make a few that were a bit larger so you could even put a sandwich inside.  Not necessarily, a wet soggy sandwich but definitely something that wasn't too moist!
I thought that my sister and brother-in-law would be perfect recipients, as they could also put snacks including nuts or candies in them.  I chose fabric for their bags that was a little representative of their personalities or that perhaps made me think of them.  
My brother-in-law got two bags, one with spiderman fabric;

and this great Mr. Potato Head fabric.

For my sister, I chose this Lorax fabric.

The inside of the bags were lined with nylon and I included my tags to show them it was handmade.

I made another bag for my daughter, she was with me when I was selecting the fabric and she insisted that she wanted some of the Little Mermaid.  She's since put her stickers inside...not my original intention but it works for now, especially when she doesn't need snacks for school.  

I also stumbled across this fabric (All I want for Christmas from the Alexander Henry Fabric Collection).  I had to buy a ton of it because I loved it so much.  My intention was to make bags to go under the tree instead of wrapping paper, but I was too busy making actual presents that I never got around to making the bags.  I am figuring that if I make them now I will be ready for next year and won't need to worry about them.  But, this fabric was perfect for a friend of mine.  I figured she could use it for her snacks (even though it is seasonal), but she's found her own special use for it.  

All of these bags have zipper closures (which aren't that pricey), but I am thinking that I may cut down on cost if I switch to a velcro closure.  I wanted something that would seal off the whole bag so you won't be dropping snacks everywhere you go, as well as something that would be easily washable.  I may get a little adventurous and see what I come up with! 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Christmas Stocking

Everybody in my family has a knit or crocheted stocking.  My mom originally crocheted a smallish one for me, my dad and herself.  She even crocheted our names across the top.  My stocking also had a crocheted snowman.  The stitch is quite tight and the stocking holds it's shape really well when it's hanging or stuffed.  Over the years, my mom misplaced the pattern for the stocking.  I found another pattern and made a stocking for my sister and husband.  I also stitched their names into the tops and made a snowman for my sister and a train for my husband (he likely will kill me if he ever finds out that I revealed that little secret!)
The pattern that I used was ok, I wasn't ultimately happy with the end product.  The stockings were quite short and the stitching was loose so they got all stretched out and never held their shape.
Since this time, I've learned to knit and I decided that I would knit a stocking for my girls.  I knit my eldest daughter's stocking 4 years ago, using this pattern from Canadian Living.  I free-stitched the lettering on the top and we used felt to make the penguin for the front.  The penguin was stuffed with some polyfil to give him a little body.  I didn't fully stitch the beak and feet so they stick out a bit.

I love this pattern.  The stocking is a great size and can hold a lot of little gifts, it really holds it's shape and really easy to put together.  I love the detailing with around the heel and toe as well as the ribbing at the top of the stocking.  
I decided to use this pattern for my second daughter's Christmas stocking.  We chose a nice teal colour and an off-white for the contrasting colour.    

 I chose to do a reindeer for the front design.  My husband cut out my design (I added the eyelashes!)  I stitched this on as well as adding her name and the stocking was perfect.

I love these two stockings, they are so cute and I feel inspired to redo the whole set!

I think I need a bigger jar...

I find myself constantly searching for things to do with my eldest daughter, that will be interesting and enriching for her as well as a fun activity for us to do together.  I found this website, which listed 10 things to do with your kids each month.  One of the things that we decided to try for the month of January was to put a jar out to collect rainwater.  With us living in the south coast of British Columbia, we knew that we would be needing a rather large jar for our collection.  My husband gave us a rather large glass jar from Ikea and we put it out on our balcony the 1st of January.  The first few days were oddly dry (I don't believe we had rain until the 4th).  Here we are on the 7th...and our jar is about 1/3 full.  We may end up needing another jar.

While this may seem like a relatively simple activity, my daughter is super excited to check how much water she's collected every morning.  It's a great way to make the winter rainy blues seem less blah and a little more fun!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Everyone needs a pincushion!

Especially a cute hedgehog one!  I saw the pattern for this adorable hedgehog pincushion on the 2012 Handmade Holiday list.  It was too cute to pass up, so I ran out to the fabric store to grab some faux fur and some felted wool.   The pattern pieces were super easy to cut out.  It was a bit tough sewing the little pieces together.  

On the first go around, I was having some troubles lining the two sides up so that the fur would start at the same spot on either side of the head.  I also needed to be careful with the fur, it was a bit on the longer side and I didn't want to clip it while cutting or get it sewn on the inside of the pincushion.

I think on my next go around with this pattern, I may add sand or steel wool inside the hedgehog so that it sharpens pins as you use it.  The sand would also give it a nice weight for sitting on your sewing table.  I was happy with her and figured she would make the perfect Christmas gift for my friend who sews!  Of course, my eldest daughter promptly asked for her own hedgehog...I started to think about perhaps making her a larger size pillow version for her bed.  We'll have to see. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Tree of Life Blanket

Three years ago, my little sister got married.  I wanted to give her something special for her wedding that she would remember and be able to keep for a long time.  I found the tree of life pattern after doing some online searches.  It was perfect.  I loved how the trees intertwined and I loved the leaves around the edges of the blanket.  It was the perfect gift for my sister's wedding.  I chose a tan lion brand wool-ease wool, as I didn't want something that would be too bulky or scratchy.  The recommended wool was great, not too chunky and soft.  The blanket did require a bit of concentration, there was a lot of cabling, which I hadn't done before this blanket!  The edging was the most intricate work and it was frustrating trying to get everything to line up.

I really liked how this blanket turned out.  It was a bit more narrow then I actually wanted it to be, definitely a lap afghan.  But the intertwining the trees was exactly what I was looking for as a wedding gift for my sister and her hubby!