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Sewing Gift

"Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

I needed a gift for a friend who sews - actually my friend who started *me* sewing. So, I felt like it had to be a good sewing kind of gift, and since I really enjoy making gifts, I made this pincushion

side 1

side 2

following this tutorial . It was actually pretty easy. I made a couple of them, and lo and behold decided I liked this first one I made. Why did I make a couple you might ask? Well first of all after I finished the first I learned how to do invisible stitches. Since the first one had my own version of a closing stitch and I wasn't real happy with it, I felt I needed to make another. Also, the first version was pink (her favorite color) and white on one side and green and white on the other
so I thought I'd try to make an all pink and white one. Ultimately though, I liked the contrast of the pink and green, so I decided to fix the closing stitch, and give the first one.

Finally, I made shrinky dink pins from this tutorial using the graphic of Gwen's designer label to put in the pin cushion. For the pins I used inkjet shrinky dink plastic.

This is the final product.

Monday Oddities

The shrewd guess, the fertile hypothesis, the courageous leap to a tentative conclusion - these are the most valuable coins of the thinker at work. But in most schools guessing is heavily penalized and is associated somehow with laziness.
Jerome Bruner

When I went to Joann's to buy the lace ruffle for the second st of pjs I had NO idea how much to buy. So I decided to just estimate to keep from having to go back. I estimated 2 yards, though I was worried it might be a little under. This is what I had left.


These strokes of luck are going to give me a false sense of competence at guessing. Which is bad, I think.

What about you? Do you have a pretty good handle on estimation techniques for knowing how much fabric or trim to buy?

Pajama set two - through

I finished the second set of pjs. For this one I added a pre-made ruffle and I think it looks very nice. A little more "professional" than the hand-made ruffle in my opinion. Again, I think I like the second better that the first. But you can decide for yourself.

set 2

set 1

I'm thinking when I make something for myself I'll have to make 2, a practice one and then a real one. :)

Upcoming Projects

Last night I went to Joann's to buy some fabric and patterns for my next projects. I spent almost 2 hours browsing the patterns and fabric and walked away with nothing. Mostly because I still have a few decisions to make and so I'll wait to buy anything until I decide. Even still it was a very productive trip if for nothing else than to give me a few ideas.

So the first "next" project will be costumes for my nieces for halloween. I was thinking penguins. In particular Simplicity 3639:

I thought it would be fun to make one for the entire family, but I'm pretty sure my sister and her husband won't dress up, so I decided to just stick to making them for Abby and Suzy. The only problem is that the pattern only goes down to a size extra small, which is for a 23" chest, but the girls have a 20" inch chest, so I'm afraid it's going to be too big on them. One of the things I did at Joann's was to open up the pattern to look to see if it could be cut down to a smaller size, and it looks that way but I'm not real sure that that's the case. I'll have to get a second (expert) opinion on it.

Next, my sister requested Christmas pjs for the entire family. I found the holiday fabric and I combed it over. There were a few Christmas prints on flannel that I liked. But I couldn't quite find a family pj pattern that I like. Also I couldn't decide if I should make them all with different fabric but the same pattern, or different patterns for the adults and kids, or a combination of same and different, so I bought nothing. Also I'm sort of leaning towards having my sister pick out a pattern she likes, and perhaps the fabric she likes, and possibly even letting Abby and Suzy pick from a few fabric samples what they like. The trick there, is figuring out where she/they can look in Alabama but I can buy it in Florida. Perhaps online, but I haven't found any place just yet. We shall see.

What a lucky coincidence!

Serendipity is putting a quarter in the gumball machine and having three pieces come rattling out instead of one—all red.
- Peter H. Reynolds

I've started on the elephant pajamas now. I've got everything on the top done except adding the ruffle. While I was working on it, I realized that through pure coincidence, the elephant is lined up almost perfectly at one side seam! I don't think I could've planned this any better. As a matter of fact, I feel fairly confident that if I had tried to line it up this way it wouldn't have come out this perfect. I truly am amazed with this coincidence in the sewing Universe. Of course the other side is completely mismatched but this side....

From sewing album


Sewing Distraction

Last week's sewing progress (and posting progress was a little light). It's because I was a little distracted by these:

Hugh and Grace

These are my new kittens Hugh (the black and white one) and Grace (the gray and white one).
We rescued them at 4 weeks old last week, and they are quite a handful! In the past week that we've had them they've gotten much stronger and more playful. It's so fun to watch them wrestle and play with one another, so sewing has kind of taken a back seat to my new favorite activity of watching and playing with the kittens. I'm starting to balance my time a little better though, so I should catch back up and be back on track with my sewing and blogging now, though. Here's a few pics.



Figaro meets the kittens

He's mostly uninterested and/or scared by them.

Sorry for the un-sewing related post - they'll be rare here. But I thought an explanation was necessary, and a good opportunity to post cute kitten pictures.

Pajama set one - done.

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
~Douglas Adams

I got the first set of Pjs for my nieces done.

I had a few issues with these. First, the ruffle gave me grief. Because the material is flannel, although lightweight, it was thick enough to keep it from ruffling easily. After the ruffle on the top, though, I got the hang of it and was able to make the ruffles for the pants with much more ease. I only used 2 rows of basting stitches, but I've been told that 3 rows of basting stitches makes the ruffle much more manageable. I will definitely be trying that on the elephant pjs.

Secondly, I put WAY too much elastic in. I put in 29 inches of elastic for what is supposed to fit a 20 inch waist! :) Oops. This was sort of a stupid error on my part. The directions told me to base the size of the elastic on a fitting, but since the girls live in Alabama (and I in Florida) this was not feasible. So I decided I would just put in the "recommended" amount. Turns out the 7/8 yard that was recommended was just telling me how much I needed to be sure I had enough to fit all sizes, but I was making the smallest size. If I'd thought this through better I would have realized this and not made this silly error, but I didn't, so I did. :) Oh well live n' learn.

I had to open up the elastic casing, pull out the elastic, cut it, remove 17 inches, sew back together the elastic ends, and sew up the hole I made in the casing. It looks much more like I would expect an elastic band to look now. :) Now the pjs look like bellbottoms with a very small waist and HUGE elephant-sized legs. I think they'll be cute on the girls anyways though. Unfortunately, it appears that, even with the new smaller waist, this size is WAY too big right now, so it might be a whole year until they can actually wear them.

A christmas craft finished

"Christmas, in its final essence, is for grown people who have forgotten what children know. Christmas is for whoever is old enough to have denied the unquenchable spirit of man."
~ Margaret Cousins

One of my other hobbies (besides sewing) is counted cross-stitching. I've been cross stitching since I was a teen. I typically take on huge intricate projects and since my time and motivation for it comes in spurts, it usually takes years and years for a project to finally be finished.

I started a Christmas stocking for myself around 8 years ago. I finally finished the cross-stitching on it this past spring and I got around to sewing it all together tonight. Here's the finished product.

By the way, I don't usually like making things for myself. It gives me more joy to make things for others, and this is one of the only things I've ever made for myself.

How about you? Do you prefer to make things for others, for yourself, or a mix?

Ruffled by ruffles

“It is the character of a brave and resolute man not to be ruffled by adversity and not to desert his post”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

I'm having a difficult time making the ruffles for the pjs. At first I couldn't even get it to gather even though I used the longest stitch my machine could make and I was gently pulling on the threads. Finally I realized I was being a little too gentle and that I actually needed to pull harder until I finally got the hang of it. Then once I got the hang of it I got too cocky, ended up pulling too hard and snapped the threads. Sigh. Now I have to pull out the old stitches and put in new basting stitches and start the ruffle all over again. :(

Sew is life I guess.

Also I was looking ahead at the directions and I've realized I'm not exactly sure how to attach the ruffle. The picture does not match the text that's provided, at least as far as I can tell. I'll have to figure that one out too.

I'll work on it again tomorrow when I'm not quite so tired and frustrated. I will not, however, be ruffled by adversity (read: ruffles) and I will not abandon my post (read: project).

And in other news I have my first sewing related blister! :)