Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Quilt for Baby S



I made Made by Rae's Storytime Squares Quilt for baby S.  It was really hard to choose a pattern for a baby quilt.  I'm not really a quilter.  I dislike tiny pieces and shy away from triangles and appliques.  I tend to gravitate towards simple, more modern quilt designs.  Sometimes I wonder why we take perfectly good fabric, cut it up into shreds and spend hours stitching it back together.  If I pick an easy pattern and fabric I love, it doesn't seem like that.

I absolutely love florals and leaves, so yeah, this quilt is very reflective of my personal taste!  The nice thing about having a little one is they are too small to have an opinion so they wear whatever you fancy!

I chose an Art Gallery fabric as my 'mommy fabric' from which I coordinated the other fabrics.  


I snatched up this new pink Joel Dewberry print.  Love!



This orange leafy print from Cloud 9 is one of my favorites:



I cut approximately 6 squares each of 8 different fabrics.  The quilt pattern calls for 54" fabric for the backing.  It's much easier for me to use a standard 42-44" quilting cotton, so I scaled down the pattern so I did not have to piece the backing together.  I cut 5" squares instead of 5.5" squares.

The piecing was pretty easy, especially because I'm used to making larger quilts.  The batting I used is a low-loft cotton blend from Joann's.  I used my fabric weights to lay out the three layers, then basted it together using some quilting safety pins.



I've tied quilts many times, but this is the first time I quilted on my sewing machine.  I didn't free motion quilt - I simply used my walking foot and a straight stitch to quilt the layers together.  I was surprised how easy it was!

Then came the machine stitched binding.  I first trimmed the edges of the quilt using a 4-thread overlock stitch on my serger:



This tutorial, explaining how to do a machine binding, was really helpful.  I followed it with one exception: I like joining binding pieces diagonally because there is less bulk when you are sewing the binding to the quilt.

This is a view of the BACK of the quilt...the messy side of the stitching and it looks pretty good!



If this girl doesn't end up being a flower and leaf lover like her mom, grandma and great-grandma, I shall be very put out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If Thy Waistband Offendeth Thee, Cut it Off!

I work in a medical office and we wear scrubs.  It's like wearing pajamas to work every day! I got through my second trimester by purchasing one maternity top, and another regular top in a larger size, and wearing regular scrub bottoms.

Well, the third trimester has arrived.  On Monday, my scrub bottoms were so tight they felt like they were cutting me in front.  I took matters into my own hands!

The offending scrubs:


The solution:


I found an ill-fitting pair of maternity pants and cut off the stretchy panel.  I made sure to mark center front, center back, and the left and right side.  I measured how much the bottom edge of the front belly panel dipped below center back, then cut my scrub bottoms accordingly.

I ended up with an acceptable-looking pair of maternity scrubs:



My 28.5 week belly is very pleased!  My pregnant brain forgot to hide the photo clicker, and a couple other things...but you get the gist of my sewing win.  I didn't have to go shopping for new clothes, or spend a dime.  It only took a few minutes and now my scrub bottoms are as comfy as pajamas, yet again!

If you have need of converting pants to maternity, I suggest perusing the maternity bottoms at Goodwill.  For a few dollars, you can reuse a belly panel from an ugly pair of pants.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Simplicity 1469 - Maternity/Nursing Dress

Pictured here at 28 weeks

What could be better than sewing maternity with a Megan Nielsen pattern?  Paying a big 4 pattern company price, of course!  Recently, Megan licensed two of her maternity patterns with Simplicity, and this one is my favorite.  I'm not sure why it's lacking reviews on PatternReview.com...this pattern is awesome!

I purchased an Art Gallery Knit for this project.  I bought it from Five Eighths Seams but it can be found online at Fabric.com.  It's called Gossamer Cotton Jersey Knit Wire Flowers Foil.  It is a medium weight knit with 50% stretch and was a perfect choice for this dress.  You can trust the sizing for this garment.  I was worried size small would not be big enough, but the fit is great.



Changes I made:
I brought the neckline in at the shoulder, and tapered out to the center, for more coverage.
I shortened the skirt by 1", then folded the edge over 1"and coverstitched a 3/4" hem.
That's it!  I can't believe it....these are the only two changes I made!  No adjustments to the bust were needed this time around.  I can't tell you how grateful I am.  Not having to do a small bust adjustment during pregnancy is a huge relief!

What I'd do different next time:
The only thing I would change is to shorten the bodice by 1/2" or so.  I am naturally petite from the shoulder to the apex of the bust, so shortening the bodice would help bring the waistband closer to the bottom of my bust for a better fit.

Okay...maybe one other little change:  I would shorten the sleeves by 1/2".  It gets really hot in Charleston, okay?


Serging/Coverstitching
I constructed this garment almost completely on my new Huskylock 21 serger/coverstitch machine.  Considering this is my first completed project on this machine, I am really happy with it.  I learned a few things about my machine in the process, especially in using the narrow coverstitch.  This project proved to me how useful this machine is.  It's much quicker to serge with this machine vs. my old Janome serger.  (Perhaps it's partially because I took classes on how to use my machine...more on that later.)



I really enjoyed this project and was surprised how quickly it came together.  These days only an easy project is going to get done.  I am sooo tired all the time and don't feel like I'm functioning on all cylinders.  

Can't wait to make another...maybe it will be a shirt next time!




Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Most Ridiculous Thing I've Ever Made

 We got a dog last week!  Her name is Dede and she is a 14 month old English Bulldog.  She is house trained, good with people and dogs, and just about the chillest dog I've ever met.  We got Dede from an awesome breeder in Charlotte when she didn't quite work out as a show dog.  We were hoping to get her fixed before she went into heat......but I found blood spots on the carpet last night.  I have no experience with dogs in heat.  I learned that she could be spotting for up to 2 weeks.  I couldn't find a diaper cover in her size at the pet store, so I made one.


She makes for a wiggly model.


I used this free pattern and modified it for Dede's 25" waist.  I don't have big squares of velcro in my stash so I secure it with some safety pins.  She has a tiny little corkscrew-shaped tail, and therefore, doesn't need a tail hole.  Dede couldn't care less that she is wearing a diaper.  


I added some elastic around the butt area.  Next time I'll make the elastic tighter and continue it around the front of her legs.  There is an extra long maxi pad inside to catch drips.


This is Dede's favorite spot.  She will sit here for hours if you touch her.  She likes nothing more than to be loved on.  My super sensitive pregnant nose + the smell of Dede's 'that time of the month' = angry, annoyed, cranky Stephanie.  I have been mad at her all day.  But now that it's all covered up, how can I not love that face? 


She's perfect!



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kwik Sew 3513 | I Love Yoga Waistbands!


I've had Kwik Sew 3513 in my stash for about a year and decided it was time to make a black staple skirt.  I used a rayon/cotton knit from Five Eighths Seams.  I almost fainted when I saw the price ($17 per yard) but I only needed 1.5 yards, and this knit was so soft and drapey, I gladly forked out the plastic.  This four seasons skirt will get tons of wear.

This pattern comes together stupid fast and is basically fool-proof.  The front and back are the same pattern piece and then you cut out two waistbands and you're set!  Only five seams to finish and I didn't even have to hem the skirt edge.


My only advice is you may want to cut your waistband a bit larger (at first) just to be safe - I learned this the hard way one time.  Every knit is different!

I used my sewing machine and walking foot with a twin needle on the lightning bolt stitch.  My Janome serger was out of commission.  I just barely got it back after being in the shop for 2 months!


Sorry for the sucky picture.  Sometimes black is difficult to photograph and I didn't have the time (or desire) to fix it.  There are plenty of more photos on patternreview.com.

I highly recommend this pattern!  It's a great wardrobe builder, is perfect for people new to sewing with knits, and I definitely plan to use this pattern again.  Oh - no, this isn't a maternity pattern and yes, it totally fits around my growing belly.  I love yoga waistbands for that reason.  I made this skirt when I was about 8 weeks along and at 22 weeks it still fits great.


Happy sewing!



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Organizing The Sewing Room

Over Christmas I came to the sudden realization that my house was a big, huge, unorganized mess.  Some would call it nesting, I think it was more of a, "Holy crap, this total wreck is driving me nuts!!  Make it stop!"  I went on a rampage, detailing to my husband everything in the house that I wanted changed (including a long list of honey do's).  We made a list of organization projects and repairs I wanted done and we've been working on it ever since.

One of the big organizing projects was the sewing room, which also doubles as our office.  The goal for this project was to use everything we had and spend as little money as possible.  It's still a WIP but is a thousand times better than the tornado pic I posted last time.  Scott moved my sewing table to the outside wall and I love having a window to look out of while I work.  



He pushed the fabric hutch up into the corner.  I thought it would look dumb, but it makes my fabric really accessible to me while I'm working on a project.  With the space we created in the middle of the room, we're able to put down a queen mattress when family comes into town.


I used to shove my cutting mats in the far corner of the room.  Now they are neatly hung on the door.  I mounted a couple of command strips and hung the mats from hangers.  My Olfa mat stays put on the hanger, but the light green mat (today it rested on the sewing table) requires some shelf liner to keep it from slipping.  I put ribbon loops on my rulers and hung them from a command strip on the wall.  It's nice to have everything out of sight, but easy to access.


I've been meaning to hang this serger thread organizer since we moved in 2013.  I'm sure this has never happened to you: you see something for 70% off that is slightly damaged (2 pegs were broken off) and think to yourself, "I can fix that!"  It goes into a box of forgotten projects.  When you finally get around to fixing it, it takes like 2 hours to fix (that you could have spent sewing) and you wish you'd just bought one on sale or used a coupon.

Oh well, at least I got to use my drill.  As you can see in the picture above, the top left peg and the bottom leg peg had broken off.  I bought a dowel at Lowe's roughly the same size as the the others.  



I hollowed out the holes until they were wide and deep enough to hold new dowels.  I cut the dowels with a big pair of branch loppers because a saw would have eaten the poor dowel to pieces.  I sanded the dowel until it fit in the hole nice and snug.  I put some wood glue in the hole, popped the new dowel in, waited for it to dry, and my cone thread organizer was as good as new!


Mounting my thread organizers was a little trickier.  They are advertised as being able to be hung on the wall but no hardware is provided.  I used to hang my spools from the red ribbon on the right, but it wasn't very stable on a nail.  I wanted something more permanent, so I screwed them to the wall.  

First, I drilled holes on either side of the racks.  Then, I held the racks up to the wall and measured where the holes in the wall would be. I drilled holes in the wall and popped my plastic anchors in the wall.  Finally, I inserted the screws through the racks first, then used a screwdriver to screw them to the wall.



I am very pleased with the result!  


My husband installed my new Ikea shelf above the thread organizers.  I bought the shelf a year ago and realized I forgot to buy the brackets that come with it.  Booo!!!  We live HOURS away from an Ikea so I finally went to Lowe's and just bought a couple of brackets.  I couldn't drill into the shelf to secure it to the brackets, so we took some command strip adhesive and applied it to the side of the bookshelf that butts up against the wall.  This should keep it from toppling off the brackets.



I love my new bookshelf and having the thread on the wall.  The DIY art piece and the philodendron plant added a nice touch.

The total cost for this project was only $20 (bookshelf mounts, command strips, mounting screw kit, and a dowel for the thread organizer).

It's not Pinterest-worthy but I am loving it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here's The Scoop...

Hey guys, it's been a while!  I took a nice long break from blogging and here's the scoop:  I am pregnant!

13 weeks - Thanksgiving 2014 Bahama Cruise
This is funny because during my Lane Raglan photoshoot I remember being confused as to why my belly was pooching out and it was strange that I had suddenly put on a few pounds.  The white bamboo cotton clung to my tummy and just accented what I wanted to hide, so I sucked in my gut as much as I could and hoped it would disappear.  I was just barely pregnant in those photos, and soon I started putting on a bit of weight everywhere.


We've wanted children almost as long as we've been married but it just didn't happen for us like it did for many of our friends.  That was really tough.  The pain of infertility, the sting of wondering if you will ever be parents is a feeling you just cannot comprehend unless you've experienced it yourself.  During that first year, I visited my doctor in Colorado after being convinced that my progesterone was low.  She ran some tests and insisted I was fine.  I did not feel fine.  I had symptoms I could not explain, like sensitivity to cold and hot flashes that left people wondering if I was menopausal.  

When we moved to South Carolina, we visited a fertility specialist.  There was more testing and not a lot of answers.  They couldn't definitively tell us what was wrong, but said that IVF might give us the best chance at a family.  I wasn't ready to put myself through that.  There were some more tests that had to be run before we made any decisions and I drug myself the lab in early January 2014 to get it over with.  A few days later they told me my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was high, and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I started taking Synthroid and noticed a difference in just five days.  I had more energy in the weeks following than I had had in years, my cycles were much less painful, and the depression that had hung over me finally disappeared.

I have a love hate relationship with medications.  This one has changed my life for the better and is most likely the reason I am able to be pregnant now.  I am so grateful that this trial, for us, has ended!

I still think pregnant women are smug - see this video here.  FYI: this song is hilarious but a little vulgar.  Us pregnant gals are sometimes in our own little world and sometimes we think we are just so awesomely important.  If you've ever thought that we are annoying, you will enjoy the video.

.     .     .     .     .

WARNING - this section contains pregnancy symptoms - skip below for more sewing related rambling.

The first trimester was a little rough.  I was just so darn TIRED all of the time, it was all I could do to show up to work and shove food in my mouth during the day, despite the nausea and food aversions.   My poor husband tried to make me food I would eat but I was a really picky eater.  I couldn't concentrate long enough to do anything sewing related.  I think I made like one yoga band skirt - that was IT - for 3 months.  Totally unlike me!  (Still unblogged.)

The second trimester has been much better.  Those pesky first trimester symptoms have disappeared and now I'm just normal pregnant tired by midday and conk out on the couch at home, or I'm at work, forego the nap, and sleep really well at night.  Also, my TMJ symptoms disappeared and I no longer have to eat soft foods to avoid headaches.  The one exception to loving this stage of pregnancy has been that my gallbladder up and quit on me.  How rude!!  I didn't know just how important the gallbladder is for digesting fats until mine suddenly stopped working and said, 'See-ya!' (Apparently this is a common pregnancy problem.)

So now, my diet is completely saturated fat free (well, almost) and I'm able to live sans-gallbladder pain.  Adjusting my diet was hard at first, but I'm pretty used to it now and just so happy not to have horrible gallbladder pain, bloating, gas and other gross symptoms that you most certainly would rather me leave out of this post.  When I look back, I realize that I'm a lot more healthy since the switch...I eat more fruits and veggies and basically can't eat fast food.  I'm not worried anymore that I'm packing on pounds that won't come off easily postpartum.

I'm have more energy and motivation lately and want to work on projects that have been sitting for months.  I know the clock is ticking and it will be just another 2 months or so before I'm as big as an elephant and am unmotivated for that reason.


Here's me this week, at 18 weeks pregnant.  This picture makes me look bigger than normal because the fabric doesn't cling to my back.  Let's be honest though...I'm a shorty and there's no place for this kid to grow but out.

So, as far as my sewing life goes...

1. I bought the beautiful Huskylock s21 serger (made by Viking) in December.  My basic Janome serger has been in the shop most of the year and I'm sick of it!  They can't figure out why it's not cutting right and keep insisting it's just a dull knife, then keep my machine for 2 months while they wait on parts.  I've gone thru this several times and I decided to cast it away like a bad boyfriend.  I will say, most people love their Janomes - don't let me deter you -but this one just hasn't been the same since our move.  
The Huskylock will allow me to do more awesome stuff like a coverstitch.  I decided if I was going to bite a bullet and buy an expensive machine, it had better have a coverstitch.  Also, this big guy creates just the most beautiful stitching.  I'm still waiting for my serger to ship.  Maybe I shoulda just taken the floor model, oops.  I'm looking forward to learning how to use it.

2.  My sewing room is a disaster!  There has been some talk lately in the crafty-blogging world about how we don't show people how our rooms actually look.  Instead we paint the picture of the perfectly organized room and fool everyone into thinking we are Martha Stewarts 24-7.  This room was not in great shape before my pregnancy but it got so much worse in the last few months.  Right before we got on a plane on Christmas day, my ironing board fell over and I just left it there.  Here's the before picture...don't judge!


My husband helped me organize this mess and change the layout over the weekend.  Soon I will have some much improved after pictures to post here.  When a room gets to this level of messiness I go bonkers trying to organize it.  Seriously, it turns into a case of adult ADD and I don't get anything accomplished.

3.  I have handful of pregnancy patterns I want to try out - it's just a matter of finding time and motivation to follow through.

4.  Once we find out the gender, I will begin sewing sewing for this kiddo.  I've thought about making stuff before the gender ultrasound, but I want to actually use the stuff I make, not just give it away.  I want to make a little blanket, burp cloths, some clothes and softies and some little shoes.  

I've been much more interested in house projects lately than sewing, so maybe I'll talk about those, too.  I love painting walls and furniture.  It is so relaxing!  I know I won't have any time for that in a few months so we are trying to get projects done now.

Thanks for reading!