Friday, July 31, 2009

it worked! tiered sundress done.

I used my new gathering foot for the tiers on this sundress (which, it turns out, may not even be necessary if you just use your regular foot with a long stitch length and crank up your tension- urgh. Thank you for that tip also, Megan). I also knuckled under and used a pattern, a departure from my original brave 'wing it' plan. I decided if I was going to gather 3 miles of material, it had better be wearable, so I sacrificed one tier from my original vision and used the pattern.

All went well, with the usual stop to take 2 inches out of the width of the bodice. Also, I ran out of brown fabric, so I cut all the tiers an inch less deep. Then I noticed the skirt was becoming really really FULL. The last tier seemed to go on forever, and I started to get a bit worried I'd messed up. The skirt seemed to have moved out of the realm of A-line tiers and into the realm of Mama Cass. I just can't believe the blond cutey pictured on the pattern cover (above) is actually wearing a dress made from the same pattern. Look how NOT full it is. I double checked my measurements, thinking I must have cut out twice what I was supposed to. Nope.

Oh, well. Thing One actually loves the voluminous skirt, and it does look pretty cute on her. She'll need to wear leggings or shorts under it because when she does twirl it pretty much flies up to her head.

I thought it needed a little sumpm sumpm, so I made a fabric flower pin for the bodice using my flower card template, enlarged 148%. I fused 6 charm squares together, back to back with Heat N Bond Lite, giving me 3 two-sided pieces of fabric. Then I cut the flower petals out of those and used the sewing machine to pinch each layer in the middle for some depth. Then I sewed the layers together with a fabric covered button in front, and a pin on the back so I can take it off to wash the dress.

When I make this again for Thing Two, I'll be taking some fullness out of the tiers and making the bodice a bit longer. LOVING the one-step gathering, gathering foot or no. It has opened up new realms of possibility for me. I sit here and think of all the patterns I love but have avoided until now because of the hand gathering...Yay!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

seen recently in the flickr pools

Katy Kitty by LemonCadet

Baby Binky Bunny (with a tiny knitted bunny pal of her own design) by lille-ursus

Princess Fairy tooth pillow by rosalyn 119

Molly Monkey twins by Jane Little

Baby Binky Bunny by zaffrondeluxe

Katy Kitty by freelance monster

Molly Monkey by i am karin, and here's her blog post

Zombie(!) tooth pillow by Marni Molina

If you would like to see more creative endeavors, check out all three mmmcrafts flickr pools, and be sure to add your own mmmcrafts projects, I love to see them:

mmmcrafts Projects
Katy Kitty
Molly Monkey

If you are interested in the patterns for these projects, this is where you'll find them:
Baby Binky Bunny
Katy Kitty
Molly Monkey (free)
Tooth Pillow (free)

Monday, July 27, 2009

tiny happy pendants

I was looking for some fun dolly pendants for my girls on etsy, and while I ran across some really cute painted wooden peg pendants, I was completely arrested when I saw these little bead and wire cuties. (Man, look at my wrinkly fingers. Hand model I ain't.)

Of course I made them mine. What else could I do? Look at their vintagey cuteness and their tiny size (1.5 inches). I love them, and very nice seller Variation included some random beads for me to play with too. The way to a crafter's heart for sure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

some pig

We just finished reading Charlotte's Web aloud at my house. I was very excited to read it with the girls because I remember it as the highlight of my 2nd grade year. My wonderful (and pretty) redheaded teacher, Miss Baggett, read one chapter aloud to us each day. I remember being completely lost in the story, and also the frustration when the chapter ended and I had to wait until the next day to find out what happened. Do teachers still have time to read aloud to kids in school? I sure hope so.

So in honor of Charlotte and Wilbur, we had a Day-O-Crafts at our house. We made a fuzzy pom pom Charlotte. We had to make the pom poms from yarn, as we were going for authenticity and we had no grey store-bought pom poms. As we were gluing on her googly eyes, we discussed the fact that real spiders have eight eyes, and we agreed that we'd stick with two because
a) two is all I had in the craft box
b) Charlotte with eight eyes of any kind would be realistic but--fatal flaw for a nice girl spider-- scary.

Her legs are two brown pipe cleaners, snipped in half, then folded in half again, with beads stuck on the ends. We bent a tiny bit of each foot back to keep the beads on. Then we just glued the leg pairs to the the bottom of her body and bent them to look spidery. We glued a long piece of white yarn to her tuckus so she could hang. Her smile is a pink piece of yarn. Thing One suggested eyelashes of some kind, but after pondering that for a moment, we decided to skip it.

craft failure in progress

Then we made her a web. Our first attempt was definitely a CraftFail. I let Thing One choose which word she'd like to see in the web. After seeing some similar projects online, I got this bright idea that we could lay down some wax paper and make the web by soaking yarn in glue, laying it down in a web pattern, and letting it dry until it was stiff.

I mixed the glue with some water, which might have been the reason it failed so miserably. Then I had to actually force my girls to touch the gluey yarn, and chided them about being unafraid to get sticky and be brave crafters. They still handled every piece like it was radioactive and covered in boogers. Also they tried to go wash their hands every time they picked up a piece. So the construction phase was a bit tedious and I'm afraid the Spirit of Fun had definitely left the proceedings by the time we were done. It took a long time to dry, and even after I had gone back and reinforced each intersection with full-strength Elmer's, the pieces still did not stick together and the yarn was not very stiff.

Ok. So we rallied our craft mojo and switched to white pipe cleaners, yarn and Fabritac. Have I mentioned before how much I adore Fabritac? I have? Oh. This web was much quicker to construct, and most importantly, took only moments to dry. We love it.

It takes 6 white pipe cleaners (or 'chenille sticks' if you are Martha) that you combine into 3 really long pipe cleaners for the main spokes, and twist together in the middle to hold. Then you just knot a piece of white yarn close to the center, and loop it once around each spoke, pulling it snug as you go (but not too tight). Continue around and around until you have a web. Then you knot it at the end. You can also add a message to it with pipe cleaners and Fabritac like we did. And I also reinforced each loop with a dot of Fabritac so it would stand up to some handling.

On to Wilbur. I spotted this completely cool craft page while googling for Charlotte's Web crafts. The pig version had everything going for it:
a) you make it out of a paper plate (there is a never-ending supply of those at our house)
b) it is held together by a staple, no glue of any kind involved
c) it actually looks like a pig when you are done

The girls had fun coloring the plates and gluing on the buttons. I did the cutting and stapling. Incidently, did you know some crayola colored pencils are really stinky? We found that the bright pink one emits an icky smell when you color hard with it. Which is pretty appropriate for a pig, now that I think about it.

Now Thing One would like to make a Templeton of some kind. While rat crafts are scarce, there are plenty of mouse-themed craft ideas out there, so we could just do one of those only make it a lot fatter and meaner.

As the grand finale to our time with Charlotte, we have rented the cartoon from 1973 to view on movie night for the girls. I hope it is as good as I remember!

P.S. For those of you who were waiting for word on the ruffler cheat sheet, I added a late note to the original post. Thanks again for the link, Mary.

Monday, July 20, 2009

gathering foot vs. ruffler

I recently purchased the gathering foot (above right) and also the ruffler (above left) for my Kenmore machine, and as I am avoiding finishing Lori's bag, I've been testing them out. The grand total for both attachments via came to about $40 (including shipping), so it wasn't a huge investment. For me, LazyBones Holland, there is undeniable appeal in gathering a piece of fabric all in one step, as opposed to my usual laborious Stitch-Twice-Draw-The-Gathers-Up-By-Hand-Cry-When-The-Thread-Breaks-Method.

First I tried out the gathering foot, which was the cheapest and most low-tech option ($11.99). All you have to do is pop it on in place of the regular foot and adjust your tension and stitch length. Here's what I got on muslin fabric:

As advertised, it yields soft gathers. The instructions specify a stitch length longer than 3. The gathers become more pronounced as you adjust your tension. In the photo above, more gathers occur with tension set at 7, and less occur with the tension set at 3.5.

I'm really pleased with it, and I think it might be very useful on the gathered sundress I'm working on now, however, there is a dilemma: since pattern pieces are cut to certain sizes with the idea that you'll be gathering them by hand and adjusting it to fit, how in the wide, wide world am I going to know if the gathering foot will gather it to the right length? Trial and error? Math? (shudder) Anyone have one of these things?

Now for the ruffler, $21.99. This was a bit more difficult to figure out because the 'instructions' included with the part were a study in minimalism. I finally got it attached correctly to the machine and very cautiously experimented with different settings.

It works by tucking the fabric automatically under the needle as you stitch, so you get neat, regular pleats as opposed to gathers. It is mesmerizing to watch. If you set it on a frequency of 1, you get one tuck per stitch. If you set it on a frequency of 6, you get one tuck every sixth stitch, and so on. So you can vary the effect by also varying your stitch length.

Above, same frequency (1), different stitch length.
Top: Stitch length 4, Bottom: Stitch length 2

Above, same frequency (6), different stitch length.Top: Stitch length 4, Bottom: Stitch length 2

Above, same frequency (12), different stitch length.
Top: Stitch length 4, Bottom: Stitch length 2

Now that I know what I'm doing, the ruffler seems like it would be a great tool as well, but the same stinkety problem. How do you know how long to cut your fabric so that the finished product is a certain length? I think that I'm going to have to break out my math skillz for that one, since the ruffler can be counted on to make fairly consistent tucks.

For instance, the length of a test piece was 23 inches, and after it was beruffled it measured 11 inches. So if I want to produce a piece that measures 50 inches after being ruffled, I could use a proportion, yes? Watch out, art major about to do math:

Where 'x' = the number of inches of unruffled fabric. So, in theory, and if my math is done correctly, I'd need to cut a piece that is 104.5 inches long if I wanted to end up with 50 inches of ruffled fabric. (Which, as I think about it, is not the best example since that is very close to 2:1 and even an art major like me can ballpark that. But just pretend that ratio was from a sample ruffle that was not 2:1.)

Anybody have a cheat sheet for this? I think I may go troll around YouTube and see if someone has posted a helpful ruffler video. (LATE NOTE: Yes, there is a cheat sheet for this, and even better, it is free. Thanks, Mary! That is a link to a 30 page PDF file that will tell you all about your ruffler and the cool things you can do with it, plus a couple of calibration sheets that will help you know which setting to use so your patterns come out right.

A couple of helpful readers suggested that instead of messing with any of the above gadgets, I should just zig zag stitch over thin cording and pull on that to gather by hand. They say it is ever so much easier than gathering the other way. Thing is, I'd still have to do all that pesky distribution of gathers around the whole piece. It may be just me, but that drives me CRAZY trying to get it all even. However, I have never tried the zig zag method, and there is no math required, so I'll have to at least give that a go.

Friday, July 17, 2009

what are the odds?

My kids, my sweet M-I-L and I were browsing the children's section at IKEA yesterday and met the first person ever who recognized my family from my blog. Bess, her husband, and their 3.5 kids were in from out of town and shopping at IKEA after a fun day at the aquarium. We chatted happily for a few minutes while the kids all played with the toys.

It was a surreal moment. I mean, what are the odds? Teeny weeny no doubt. Bess, it was a great pleasure to meet you in Real Life, and I hope to see you here in blogville often. I forgot to ask you what your blog/username is! Thanks for introducing yourself! May God bless your family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

what I'm up to

Currently I'm in the middle of another creative crisis. Sometimes the idea for a project just comes to me in such a clear way that all I have to do is pluck the vision from my head and make it reality. I love those times.

This is not one of those times. I'm making a messenger bag for my sister Lori, and can't nail down a flap design I like. All I know is I wanted to try a strip pieced flap this time using some charm squares I have. That's where the vision gets cloudy. After a couple hours of sketching and perusing books and flickr, I've decided to just wing it and see if I like it, and if I don't I'll trash it and start over again.

I was attracted by the look of this stacked coin quilt in my Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts book, so now I'm trying a crooked version of the stacked coins for the bag flap. Sewing the random angles together is kinda fun. I'm just not sure yet how all that is going to come together on the flap.

I'm also trying to put together a sundress for my daughter, but that is stalled where it is because I saw all the gathering I'd have to do and was overcome with a wave of apathy. As an antidote, I ordered a gathering foot to try that out on my sewing machine. While I was at it, I ordered a ruffler for it too, so I'm excited to try that out. I've seen one on a friend's machine and I have to say I was struck with immediate ruffler envy. So when those new toys arrive, I'll be finishing that project.

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 13, 2009

more bibs and burps

These are for Asher, adorable boy extraordinaire born recently to my bosom friend and her husband. He is their third baby, and since they make such pretty towheaded munchkins I think they should go ahead and round it up to ten. Right, Robyn? Ha ha.

This set is backed with white chenille on both the bib and the burp cloths, and the burp cloths also have a layer of batting sandwiched in between to soak up the really juicy burps. Once again all credit for the free bib pattern goes to Chickpea Sewing Studio. Thank you! The burp cloths are just rectangles with a pieced strip of contrasting fabric at the bottom of each.

I thought I'd be smart and do snaps instead of buttons this time. I even bought some pretty pearlized snaps for the job. Then I realized I'm not smart enough to put them on properly. Much sweating, vein bulging, instruction reading, thumb whacking, tong prying and bib patching later, I did finally manage to put three functioning snaps in place. However I had to throw away at least 12 crumpled sets of snaps. I think there is a little tool available that makes this easier. I think I must get that tool.

I was delighted to have a way to use some new LizzyHouse Red Letter Day fabric. Isn't it yummy looking? But still great for a boy in these particular colorways. The ducks had me at hello. And I'd really really really love to make her Marble Champ Quilt some day.

(As an aside, have you ever had a project that was snakebitten from the start? Seemingly simple, but you can't seem to do an everlovin' stinkety thing right from the get go until the bitter end? Stupid mistake followed by stupider mistake? This was one of those projects. Besides the 12 sets of snaps there was extensive seam ripping, and I also threw away an almost-finished bib and a burp cloth that were so screwed up there was no hope of recovery. And I ran out of fabric. A true test of love for my friend. But I was victorious in the end.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

peer pressure

Had to succumb to the sale that she posted about. I mean, $4.98/yard for AB, AMH and DS? Yeah, come on. It really is a lou lou, check it out. Thanks, Bob.

So, more Katie Jump Rope and Good Folks for future projects as yet undreamed of, and also some Nigella that was backordered and will be coming later. I thought about using the blue cathedral window fabric to spruce this up with pockets or a yoke. And I'm thinking perhaps some fallish skirts or mayhaps a dress from the two fabrics on the right.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

craft equation


+ these

= these

Cheap plastic beads and recycled sparkly plastic string from recent VBS projects added up to some fun and chatty crafty time for me, my two girls, plus my sweet 12 yr old niece Raven, who has been wearing her bracelet 24 hours a day since we made them. She even discovered that one of her beads glows in the dark. And when you use plastic beads and plastic string, you can wear it while in the pool. Sa-weet!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

the view from below

Recent scenes downloaded from Thing 1's digital camera.