Category Archives: Sewing

this and that

While I was waiting for quilt batting to show up, I made a quick drawstring bag for Isla.  The pattern is here.  I made a mistake and ended up with an ugly seam on the bottom, but since it’s on the bottom, it’s really not noticeable.

It reminds me a lot of the drawstring purse I used to carry in college.  I’d forgotten about that little purse.  It was just like this – fabric, with a drawstring.  I’ve half a mind to make another for myself.  The methodology was very similar to the previous bag I made, and without the interfacing mistake I made on the last one, it was quick and easy.


My batting came, and I did a couple practice runs this morning.  I want to quilt the quilt using a spiral pattern like this: (Click image to go to the Etsy store of the woman who created the pillow.)

However, my initial attempts have not been terribly successful.  My lines are very wavy instead of smooth, and I’m prone to random excursions every time I start or stop.

I guess I’m going to do several more practice runs, and then I’ll just go for it.  I won’t get any better without practice, right?  I remember the first thing I knit, this rectangle that I called a shawl.  I started with 80 stitches and unintentionally ended up with 120.  But I learned so much hacking my way through that thing.  Hopefully it’s similar with quilting.

We lost power for a spell last night.  I wasn’t thrilled given I rely on power for entertainment during my middle of the night wake-ups, and I’m still feeling sick.  However, it came back on shortly and did give us a chance to test our preparedness.  Our yard was filled with leaves from the wind this morning.

back to sewing

Since moving into our new house, I have a space for sewing and no longer have to haul my sewing machine out from a difficult-to-reach cabinet and get everything set up to sew for 20 minutes on the kitchen table, then spend 10 minutes at the end getting everything packed up again.  It’s great!  Also, since not being pregnant, I again have energy and interest in sewing.  Not coincidentally, it’s been just over nine months (ten or so) since I last worked on a sewing project – Christmas stockings.  I don’t think I ever blogged about it, since I didn’t really finish them.

The first one was for Isla:

I appliqued on the letters and then hand-stitched around them.  I’m not wild about how it turned out, but it’s OK:

In addition, I used the project as an opportunity to work on free-motion stitching.  The top of the stocking is quilted:

Overall, I’m moderately pleased with how this stocking turned out.  The second one I attempted, I got even less close to finishing.  I’m undecided whether to finish it or not.

After my nine month hiatus, I decided I needed a warm-up project.  I picked a Halloween treat bag, because really the standards for this are quite low.  It must hold candy.  Beyond that, anything else is gravy.  I picked this project:

In some ways, the project was a disaster from start to finish, but really, it holds candy, and it helped me remember how to sew.  My biggest error was buying fusible adhesive instead of fusible interfacing.  I used it anyway, figuring it would add some structure to the fabric, but it also made the fabric incredibly difficult to sew with, not to mention that if I used an iron on it, it would adhere to whatever it was touching.  It made everything harder, but I persevered.  I actually think the end result turned out fairly well.




baby knits

I have been knitting like a fiend lately.  A significant portion of my knitting occurs while nursing between 12 and 5 am.

The first thing I made for Briony was a little baby hat out of a wool / cashmere blend (mostly wool):

It wasn’t long before Briony arrived and was able to wear it:

Then, I knit a blanket for her.  I used the same wool I used to knit a blanket for Daniel’s Henry and for Isla, though in gray.  I absolutely love this wool, Debbie Bliss Luxury Aran Tweed.  I love the colors, the weight, the smell – pretty much everything about it.  Once again, it wasn’t long before Briony was ready to enjoy her knitted item.


Next up was a cute little sheep sweater.  I will probably give this one away, though I haven’t decided for sure yet.  I have three friends having babies late this year, two girls and a little boy, so one of the girls will likely be a recipient.  But we’ll see.

My fondest for sheep was unabated, so I set about making another sheep sweater, this one for Briony and sleeveless.  It was a quick easy knit, and I love the result.


The sheep is made mostly out of French knots.  I do French knots about once a year, and I always have to look up how to do them.  I think the sheep turned out reasonably well, all things considered.

Most of these patterns are free or nearly free, so let me know if you’d like a link to where you can find or purchase them.

Last but not least, I knitted a quick sweater for Isla.  She is such a good model:


Next up will be a pair of baby mittens for Briony.  Cold weather is fast approaching.  They should be a quick easy knit.  Maybe I’ll even do a couple pairs.

I’ve also started picking out fabric for a second quilt project.  I love the quilts here:

I’m going to try to do something vaguely resembling them, though I’m guessing the resemblance will be slight.

We didn’t have room in our old house to leave the sewing machine out, and while I was pregnant, I was too tired to sew, and I also literally didn’t have the strength or ambition to haul out the machine from it’s very awkward and hard-to-reach storage location.  It’s been about a year since I tried sewing last, so I’m excited to do it again.





advent calendar

I’ve been trying to work up the ambition to make L an Advent calendar for a while.  Finally, on the last possible day, I got my act together.  I plan to fill the pockets with stickers and hairclips.  It was relatively easy to make and good practice sewing.  Naturally, we have glitter from one end of our house to the other.

sewing . . .

does not always go well:

Working on this quilt, my first sewing project in over a decade, has been quite an adventure.  I’ve learned a lot – but a lot of it has been at the expense of my quilt.  From the silliest things, like forgetting to pick up the bobbin thread, to learning how to change feet on my sewing machine and attempting to stitch free-form.  The latter in particular has been quite an adventure, and it’s one that’s only just beginning.  I’m currently washing the backing of my quilt.  After that I’ll pin or glue it together (haven’t decided which yet), and I’ll attempt to quilt it together.

sewing machine

I’ve been contemplating taking up quilting for a long time.  I’ve also generally been wanting to branch out from knitting and try some new things.  However, especially since L was born, a couple things have been holding me back.  First, time.  Do I have time to take up quilting?  Of course not.  Second, space.  The only place in the house I can really set up a sewing machine is our very small kitchen table.  This means I’ll have to set everything up and then take it all down every time I want to sew.  Despite these issues, I finally took the plunge.  Over the last few weeks, I purchased a sewing machine, rotary cutter, pad and ruler and a few other gidgets and gadgets as well as fabric for my first project.  Total start-up costs were probably around $250, which is really not too bad, I think.  Recurring costs should be fairly low.

I didn’t really do much research into buying a sewing machine.  I just bought one of the first ones that popped up on Amazon.  It’s a Singer, and my Mom always used a Singer, so I had some sentimental attachment to the brand.  (Silly, I know.)  Also, it’s the #1 most popular sewing machine on Amazon, had 4.5 stars, and was in the middle of the price range for “starter” sewing machines.  I didn’t really investigate what features it has.  I figure if I get sufficiently into sewing that I need fancy features, I can always invest in a new machine.  I don’t expect that I’ll need anything fancy for now.

I used to sew in high school on my Mom’s machine.  It was a big green metal sewing machine built into its own sewing table.  Since it kept working for 30 years, I guess it was fairly good quality.  Anyway, I used to mainly make clothing from those horrible Simplicity and Butterick patterns.  Anybody remember them?  Line drawings of women and girls on the front with Barbie-like physiques?  I made several skirts and one dress.  They came out sufficiently well that I used to wear them to school and church, but they were nothing to write home about.  They always had a bit of a home-made look and they didn’t hold up all that well.  I was pretty proud of my handiwork at the time, but after I went to college, I never really missed sewing, and I honestly have no desire to ever sew another Simplicity dress or skirt pattern again.

However, quilts and quilted objects are another thing entirely.  I’ve been inspired by lots of quilts – the ones friends, like Sarah, have made, quilts I’ve seen on the internet, the stunning quilt on display in Denali.  I particularly like baby quilts.  I’m very hopeful that making a baby quilt will be quicker than knitting a baby blanket.  Knitting a baby blanket is a long slog if you use standard size needles.  It can easily take several months of regular knitting.  I love knitting, but it’s hard on my hands, and I’d like to find a craft that’s a little quicker.

I’ve had the sewing machine for a couple weeks, but between B being out of town, my MIL visiting before that and trying to wrap up a couple of knitting projects, I haven’t had time to look at it until this weekend.  I finally dug it out yesterday.  My goal for the day was to sew a single seam.  If you sew, you know this is harder than it sounds because it entailed winding the bobbin, threading the bobbin and threading the needle.  It’s complicated to load thread on a sewing machine because there is a bunch of tensioning.  It’s no big deal once you figure out how to do it, but I hadn’t done it in more than 15 years.  Anyway, I managed to achieve my objective and even start sewing a few of my quilt pieces together.

Laying out the pieces for the quilt:

My first seam: