Archive for the 'Sewing' Category

a good showing

We made a good showing this week with quilt progress but alas, the wedding was last night and the quilt is still sitting rolled up on my kitchen table with only basting stitches. Seeing as how we didnt make the date anyway Im going to go where Ive never been before– Im going to machine quilt the thing together. Im planning to do vertical lines with uneven spacing between them rather than echoing the pattern. I had that pattern in mind and then I saw this quilt on flickr and it reinforced my decision.

quilt top

quilt back

basting it together

and a matching card

I find it somewhat surprising that n wanted to embark on this project in the first place and even more surprising that he seemed to enjoy the process. Im hoping that he will want to work with me on a quilt for his brother’s wedding because it sure does go faster with two people! Look at me, Im not even finished with this one yet and Im already planning the next one… To be honest Ive had that plan in my head since they got engaged but now it seems more do-able. Im thinking something like this:

What do you think? Any suggestions of other great modern-ish style quilts?

Oh the Insanity

N’s friends are getting married this weekend. While marriage and weddings in general may be standard fare for folks of my age in the population at large (at least in this country) it was not what I expected from these particular friends. Even less expected were the formal wedding invitations and the location of the event at a fancy B&B in Marin. Granted, we just got the invitation last friday (8 days of official notice!) but it was a fancy printed formal invitation none the less. I see parents at work. Anyway, the point of this is that we had to come up with a wedding gift idea. I know you dont have to show up with present in hand, but the event is fresh on our minds and the motivation is here now. We determined that this couple more than most needed a gift that was either vintage or handmade. N’s idea? Sew them a quilt. In one week (this was Saturday). At least he promised to do half the work.

I sat him down with the Denyse Schmidt Quilts book and made him pick a design (but out ruled the truly complicated ones) and then colors. We picked “what a bunch of squares” and the colors below.

We went to the fabric store, which Im fairly sure is a form of punishment to him, and I made him pick fabrics. I ran to the laundromat to wash them and set him the task of ironing everything. Sunday morning we set to work cutting and sewing and cutting and sewing…

Block centers finally started to come together.

Assembly has continued late into the night several times already.

And now we have the blocks all sewn (but not trimmed yet) yet there is still so much to do. We still need to make a back and buy batting and decide how to tie it together… I dont think we will finish in time. But I have had the priceless experience of seeing n in full sewing and ironing swing.

Simple Flannel Baby Blankets

I made some baby blankets about a year ago for a friend’s shower and I debated with myself over what parameters make a good baby blanket. Having no personal experience with this I was somewhat out of luck so I did what I usually do in these situations, I called my Mom. With some basic guidelines I made up this simple blanket approach. These blankets are quick to make and seem to get a lot of use by the recipients. One little girl in particular poses with them in many photos! Her dad suggested that the key characteristic of the blankets is their size and stiffness. I guess there is an important role in baby accessories for structural wrapping items useful for containing limbs. If you have even minimal sewing skills you can tackle this project and wow your expecting friends (or yourself) with handmade gifts.

This is my entry to the June Whiplash “competition” – Introduce Yourself. Its my first post to Whiplash!

This will describe the steps to make one blanket even though two are pictured.
You will need:
One yard each of two flannel fabrics
Fabric cutting devices (scissors, rotary cutter)
round object like a bowl
sewing machine
thread etc.

Step 1: Purchase and Wash
Acquire 2 yards of flannel fabric, one yard in each print. I purchased mine from a fabric store (amazing!). I was particularly enamored with the Sock Monkey print. Im also a fan of non-pastel baby items so I go for dark, rich colors. I usually choose a patterned fabric for one side and a solid for the other. For the Sock Monkeys I chose a matching “Sock” print for the solid. Its all personal preference though! The solid colors are often double sided (i.e. fuzzy on both sides) while the printed flannels are usually single sided. The double sided stuff will make a stiffer and slightly heavier blanket.

Now wash the fabric (just in the washer with your clothes) and iron it flat.

Step 2: Square the Edges
You need to make your fabric into matching sized rectangles. Inevitably the edges will be un-square when they cut the fabric at the store so you will have to fix it. I use my gridded ruler and rotary cutter but you can do it with scissors too. I square one of the pieces first and then with *right sides together* I make the second piece match the first. I use scissors for trimming the second piece.

Step 3: Round the Edges
One of my favorite touches on this blanket is the rounded corners. I did this by taking a round object (the pictured bowl) and simply cutting away some fabric in a round shape. I just traced around the bowl, then cut away the excess.

Step 4: Sew, right sides together.
Now, with your rectangles right sides together sew around the perimeter with a 5/8ths inch seam allowance. Stop sewing when you get about 6 inches from where you started, i.e. leave a gap (you can see the gap in the spotted blanket in the background).
Trim the corners like this:

Step 5: Turn right side out and press
This one is fairly self explanatory. Turn the blanket right side out through the gap you left in the stitching. Using an iron on cotton setting press around the edge. Use your fingers to help the fabric expand all the way out. The notches you cut at the corner should help in the curves.

Step 6: Top Stitch
Pick a thread color that goes with each of your fabrics. It can be matching or contrasting, the same on top and bottom or different–you choose. Now using a 1/4th inch seam allowance sew around the entire edge of the blanket. You may wish to pin the section where the gap is but I find I dont need to since the flannel is adheres pretty well to itself.

Press the blanket one more time if you like and you are done!

Here they are in the sunlight:

And some I made a year ago:

Quick Baby Bibs

I was in need of a quick baby gift I could make from things I had around the house. Since they came out so cute I thought I would share a little about how I made them.

I happen to have a stash of blank baby bibs (from Ikea) in my sewing box that had been waiting for just this occasion. My favorite baby gifts so far are the flannel blankets I made for Tillie but I didnt have time to shop for fabric and run it through the washer for this project. Perfect time to bust out the bibs.

First I gathered the necessary materials:

Blank Baby bibs, cute fabric for applique, stiff card (from my recycling bin), ruler, pencil and cutting devices for card and fabric.

I did a few different designs but these photos will show how I made the star.

I drew a star and added a seam allowance using my ruler for guidance:

Then I cut out the stencil using an exacto knife and a ruler.

I transfered the shape to the applique fabric using a pencil and then the shape of the fabric:

To tuck the seam allowance under I had to cut slits to the inner corners:

At this point you could use the iron to press the seam allowance under but I was too lazy, so i just pinned it to the bib. I did press the seam allowance for the circle because it was too difficult otherwise.

I sewed the star to the bib by hand using an invisible stitch (maybe called an applique stitch? im not sure). Since I was going to zig-zag around the edges I probably could have gotten away with basting but it didnt take very long to sew it properly and then I didnt have to remove any stitches.

I used the zig-zag attachment for my Singer 301 to make a reinforced (and decorative) edging around the applique.

I also made a circle and a patch of a VW pop-top camper bus.

Hopefully the little guy will like them!

Seeing Spots

Another pleated bag.

But seriously, I am seeing spots, or rather, a spot. So far neither the doctor or the optometrist has come up with a believable explanation… At least my eyeball isnt falling out or anything.

rainbow canvas part three?

I made another bag from rainbow canvas last week. This comes in a long (well, a few years) tradition of bags made from my gigantic stash of rainbow canvas. The first was a bookbag for me, the second, a camp tote for Hugo and now this pleated number as the third. I was quite attached to it but I gave it to the Cal Sailing Team for thier spring auction. It wasnt quite as lucrative as the 6-pack of beer cozies from last year but still picked up a few bucks. Now I just need to make another one for me…

View from my sick bed

I had the stomach flu last week. Eyuck.. Anyway in the moments when i wasnt feeling like death I was actually enjoying the view from my bed.

You know those people who live in glass houses? Well that’s us. And it can be damn sunny. Most of the time the sun is really wonderful but occasionally, like when you need to lie in bed all day, its a little too intense.

A while back I tried to fix the direct-sunlight-in-my-eyes-while-lying-in-bed problem by sewing a canopy for the bed. Its a little like if we had a four poster except without the four posts…

I bought 5 yards of fabric on sale at Ikea for $0.50/yd and used the hemming foot on my sewing machine to finish all the edges. Then I sewed “walls” on a few sides of the “ceiling” where the sun can potentially infiltrate the sleeping region. I mounted hooks on the wall above the bed and sewed loops in each corner to make the canopy removable. So far we enjoy it too much to take it down but it is always an option and takes no time. The third corner is tied to a nail on the wall with an adjustable line (truckers hitch anyone?) and the fourth corner is held up by a lamp which is in turn stabilized by the programs from the 2005 and 2004 AGU meetings. Those damn books had to be good for something!

Someday maybe ill make a more permanent corner-holder-upper but for now its doing a great job helping me sleep a little longer…


I made this skirt in middle school from some fabric my mom had lying around. Needless to say it no longer fits me but I love the fabric so much that I need to find some appropriate use for it. I was thinking about piecing it together with some plain colored fabric to make the top of a blanket but im not sure how much I like that idea. Anyone have a good suggestion of what I should make?

Jeans, resurrected

DSCN2508.JPG, originally uploaded by abmatic.

I get very attached to my jeans but there comes a time when wearing them out of the house is a dangerous enterprise (for the jeans). Since I dont want my beloved pants to actually die I have been stratigically re-inforcing all the weak points I can find to prevent tears and gaping holes from forming. I have two pairs I have been working to save and so far its been pretty sucessfull. Above you can see the patches I’ve added to pair #1. They are right-side out below.

There are 4 main weak points that seem to deveolp in all my pairs.
1. Left side pocket area develops a hole in the corner from my cell phone
2. Back center belt loop is badly worn and sometimes tears all the way off. It must chafe on something, maybe my backpack. Have you ever tried to wear pants with a belt when the back belt loop is missing? It’s rather disastrous if you actually need the belt.
3. Right hand pocket area sometimes develops hole from my chapstick
4. Knee area cloth wears thin and tears

weak point 2 with repair:

weak point 4 with repair:

I have broken down and bouthgt a new pair but I love the old ones so much that I’m determined to keep them going…. at least for now.

Homeade Belt

DSCN2507.JPG, originally uploaded by abmatic.

On a trip this summer a friend of mine had some problems with descending pants and was dreadfully in need of a belt. I dont want to name names here but since the lady in question is vegan i thought a homeade belt would be a good solution (no leather involved). I dont think she reads this page (does anyone?) but i do risk ruining the surprise.

Its been done before and it is in no way ingenious but here Ive gone and done it again. The belt is plain canvas on one side and printed fabrics on the other. I used a variety of scraps to get the full length and put colored fabrics on both sides at the end where the belt folds back after the buckle. If i did it again i might consider using some iron on adhesive to add more stiffness and keep the layers tidy during sewing. Other than that it was quite simple to do, its quick and I like the finished result very much.

Now I only need to get over my procrastination of going to the post office….

From the side:

Several people have commented on the cat appearing in lots of photos. In realitiy its far more difficult to frame a photo in my apartment without the cat in it. What can I say, he is a total ham.

Stage 1: Apollo comes in to investigate what is so captivating to me

Stage 2: where Apollo usually sits on top of the item of interest

Stage 3: he usually begins rolling in, clawing or trying to play with the item as in the photos of the Clapotis