Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday Strippers - 10/23/10

Yesterday was the semi-regular monthly gathering of the Saturday Strippers... or as I affectionately call it... Strip Club.

We gather to sew projects that use pre-cut strips and/or squares of fabirc.  The projects must be interesting and easy to make in a day.  Both of these requirements were met yesterday when we tackled the Random Reflections Quilt from the Moda Bakeshop designed by KarrieLynn at Freckled Whimsey.  Check out her blog to see what else she has been up to recently.

But I digress.

Yes this project looks interesting and it is an easy sew BUT it is a boring sew.

Let me explain..

When you make a pieced quilt top it is is typical for you to take little bits of fabric and keep sewing them together until you bigger bits which eventually become a quilt top.

In ths case you sew long strips of fabric together at their short ends, cut out where they join in the middle, sew the short ends together again and cut out the middle and again and again and again  until you have used up all the fabric.  At this point you have a bunch of 10 1/2" strips of two tone fabric which get sewn together to make rows then the rows together to make the quilt top.

The pattern uses 80 strips of fabric, 40 for the background and 40 for the reflections.  Doing a bit of quick math, you end up sewing 160 little short seams, stopping 4 times to cut out the middles and them you can get into block construction.


BUT, if you are a creative soul like some of my colleagues yesterday, you will use the pattern as a starting point and end up with the following quilt tops:
 Joyce used 14 strips for her crib sized quilt that Kimora likes so much.
 Janetta used 16 strips on ths quilt top that will go to her grandson Tanner.  Alex liked it so much he started rearranging the stips!

Two other quilt tops were almost completed in the time we had but I didn't get pictures.  One was all lovely florals for the reflections and different pastels for the background, while the other used scrappy reflections and a solid beige for the background.

I, on the other hand, got a headache, went home for a nap and brought Alex and the Girls back with me to close up.  This is all I got done:

I have a ot more to do on this quilt and I know I will enjoy the results.... I'll just have to watch something exciting on the Tivo while I am doing it.  I don't want this to be the first Strip Club project I have not finished.

I hope your weekend is going well and that your projects are generating some creative excitement for you.  I'm still working on it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mabel's Turban

Making Chemo Caps is a year long project.

Every day in every chemotherapy unit someone is in need of a head covering.

Usually they need many of them as they get easily soiled with shedding skin and night sweats.

The Mainland Morning Quilt Guild of Texas City, Texas has a unique (at least to me) project providing turban style hats to their local chemotherapy units.

With their instructions in hand plus a sample of the turban I have come up with Mabel's Turban.

Materials needed:

5” of ¼” elastic for that scrunched look at the back of the Turban

13” x 22” knit fabric for the body with the long side being stretchy for going around he head.

4” x 5” knit fabric for the loop at the front.


Sewing machine with a stretch stitch, double needle capability and/or a serger.

Matching thread – Unless you are looking for a strong contrast use a matching thread as your stitches will show on the right side of the turban.

Note on Fabric: Do a test run on the chosen fabric before investing in a lot of yardage. Knits vary significantly and good results are hard to achieve if your knit fabric does not cooperate.


1. Sew together the 13” ends of the main fabric with a stretch stitch or a serged edge. Sew seam allowance to the body of the turban with a straight or stretchy stitch.

2. Sew a 1” inch hem using a double needle or stretch stitches.

3. Form the loop by sewing or serging the 5” inch sides of the loop fabric together. Turn right side out.

4. Fold the turban, right sides together, so that the hem is on the bottom and the already sewn seam is to one side. Seam the top edge from the sewn seam to about ¾” from the folded edge.

5. Thread one raw end of the loop through the ¾” opening and wrap the other end around to the inside of the turban. Sew the ends of the loop and the remaining raw edges together. This may be quite thick and need to be hand sewn.

6. Attach the 5” elastic to the inside covering the original seam from the top seam to just above the hem. Use a stretch stitch on your sewing machine for this step.

Thank you to Susie of Texas City for the well loved instructions and to Janetta and Lish for bringing it to my attention.

Try out this new Chemo Cap and let me know what you think.  The Once Upon a Time Bee will be making these at our December gathering.  

It really is quite stylish if you can ignore Mabel's drunken look.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aloe Bog Coat

The other day I was browsing the local fabric store's clearance section looking for dress fabric.  I am taking a class in dressmking and needed something a little opaque, light weight and a flattering color to use in the class.

I did not find dress fabric but I did see a light weight canvas with a black background and a light aloe leaf printed all over it.

At $4.00 per yard plus other discounts I just couldn't pass up buying three yards of it.

Heck, it might even get made into a dress some day.

I took it home, washed and dried it and then sat on the couch with it straightening the edges and realizing that it would never make it into a dress.

Consumed with guilt about buying another useless piece of fabric, I was prepared to throw it into the donation bin when inspiration struck.

I remembered that when I was in Barcelona several years ago I bought some black trim that I was going to use in making a Chanel style jacket.  I did not make that jacket but I still had the trim.

Falling back on that jacket staple, the bog coat, I made this the other evening:

It looks a little crappy on a hanger but it looks great on with black jeans and a t-shirt.  The trim gives it just a little bit if glamor.  The trim, whem I dug it out of the trim box, turned out to be a little stretchy so it went around the neck and collar areas without any fuss. 

I think I may add a closure but I haven't found anything I like in my drawer of closures.  I 'm sure there is something in there that would be perfect but I need to dig deeper.

All in all a well spent couple of hours.

BUT I still had fabric left over.

I could have tossed the rest into the donation bin but I realized that it was a great weight for a toe bag.... a really huge tote bag.  I have a need for a really huge tote bag to hold all the fabric I have on hand for the Once Upon a Time Bee. This is what I came up with:

Not very glamorous but I boxed the bottom to the size of a bolt of fabric and it is now holding six bolts of fabric and a lot of other bits ready to go to our next sew-in.  It came out at about 24" wide by 22" tall and 12" deep.

Waste from these two projects - from the fabric the little bit I cut out for the neck of the jacket and the little strips from straightening the fabric; from the trim about 2" from the frayed ends.

As I go off and feel smug about my thriftiness I hope you are enjoying the fine fall weather.  If you get a chance, do a rain dance for us here in Houston.  Between no rain for three weeks and lots of little paws running around protecting the back yard from those evil squirrels, my lovely grass is down to dust and weeds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sock Club #4

I finally finished the August Sock Club project two dys after it was due.


I have not been late with the past projects and, in fact, have been early enough that I have been able to make two pairs of socks from each pattern

This one was so different because there were a ton of cables that needed to be worked. in this project.

The kids at the Woodcreek Middle School Knitting club figured out that there are about 200 cable stitches on each leg.  I figured out that both socks included a total of precisely 846 cables.

Not that I don't like cables but working so many on such tiny needels(zeros) and such fine yarn (fingering weight) got to be a real pain.  

I think my real prejudice against this pair of socks is that I lost THREE of my precious rare wood size 0 double pointed needles.

Here's how they came out:

Not bad for something I didn't like doing?

The yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn which I think is a new line for them.

The pattern is called Two Roads, published by Nonsuch Knits and developed by Lynn Ann Banks.  There was one small error in the pattern we were given but it had little impact on the final product.  Heck, it had so little impact on me that I knitted it the correct way without even noticing the error

I am glad this knit is over and that I can now go onto a new installment.  The current pattern is knitted from the toes up, has a nifty little wrap and turn heel (my first one is pretty ugly :-() and a couple of very nice lacy inserts.

Until I get those, or any of my other WIPs, done... happy knitting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mabel Knight Hat

Every year many of us make hats for those suffering from hair loss from chemotherapy treatments.  For the past three years we have only made watch caps from knits using  a pattern from Nancy's Notions.

I have been priviledged to have given away hundreds of these caps in zip lock bags - three to a bag with a decorative pin for those that seem especialy girly.

I was proud to do it but some of the knits we had gave really variable results.  Unfortunately you don't know how bad a knit will be for this project until you actually make the hat and then its too late.  I would still distribute them hoping that someone with a big head would appreciate the ones that came out huge because of a loose weave and that children would get the ones that came out too small because of a lack of stretchiness.

This year things will be different.

We are making three style of hats - one woven, one fleece and one knit.  The knit one will only be made from a single source of fabric and we will be using a new turban style pattern.

The fleece hat will be a watch style cap as well but we are making up the pattern based on one Paul has that has ears.  (I think I  will skip the ears.)

The hat made from woven fabric is a copy of a hat sold in M. D. Anderson's Cancer Center Gift Shop that sells for $24.00(!).

What do you think?

I'm calling it the Mabel Knight hat as the vintage hat form it is on had her name inside of it.  It is a more complex sew than the other hats but a much more stylish result.  Doesn't Mabel look good in it?

And what a great project for Breast Cancer Month!

The directions and pattern are being prettied up from my scrawl by a good friend.  When they are ready I will have them available on-line for every one. 

When the fleece hat pattern is perfected I will make it available as well.

Until then, look around you sewing room for yardage you will never use and think about making some of the simple charity projects that are already available on-line.  Your handiwork could make all the difference to someone in need..

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Workshop Houston Part 1

I am now volunteering at a project called Workshop Houston.  Its located down in Houston's Third Ward - an area in transition from/to incredible poverty and incredible wealth. 

I am working in the Style Shop once a week for a couple of hours helping middle schoolers with their sewing.

The one thing this group is not lacking is equipment.  They have been donated five Bernina sewing machines, one Bernina serger and a lot of fabric.  The have even been given some wonderful hand dyed fabrics that I would love to have!

The other thing I find interesting is that they are very well organized.  Check out this shot of the book cases:

Everything has a place(surprise, surprise!) and everything is usually in its place.

I think I kind of shocked them when I started taking apart one of the sewing machines that was giving poor tension.  There was one little bit of thread caught in the tension disks so it was an easy fix but when you see an old lady with her screwdrivers, tweezers, oil cans and other accoutrements attacking one of your precious sewing machines ...well,  I think you can imagine what the staff thought!

If you are looking for a giving opportunity, the workshop could use some good quality thread and a new heavy duty iron.  The iron needs to be pretty indestructable as it is used for standard pressing duties as well as heat setting silk screen projects.

The basc assignment is to use an old Kwik Sew sewing curriculum to teach these middle schoolers... no more than thre or four at a time... how to use a sewing machine and create simple sewing projects.

I, of course, cannot leave good enough alone so I have already suggested changes to make it more creative.  After all, anyone can sew but few of us can create something original from sewing.

I'll update you as things progress but I must say that I am looking forward to my weekly visits as a way to re-engerize my own sewing.