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Snow. . . It’s to Dye for

January 21, 2014

Snow dye in process

Somewhere underneath this “snow cone” is 1/2 yard white cotton.

If I lived somewhere tropical I could subscribe to “When life gives you lemons. . .” Instead we’ve endured a few bitter blasts from the dreaded Polar Vortex (it even sounds like an evil villain).

Being perpetually curious when I heard about snow dying from members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul American Sewing Guild, I just had to try it. I’d seen (and even produced a video for Women In Networking) about the shibori dying with Sandra Brick from Textured Elements.

ASG member Lori Clark took us through some of the science and explained the prep work of mixing the dyes. While the fabric soaked in a soda ash and water solution, we arranged a “sling” to hold the fabric out of the melted snow/dye mixture that would drip into a plastic storage bin. Thoroughly wrung out fabric was artfully arranged in swirls and twists on the sling, fresh snow was heaped over the fabric. The very intense dye, squirted with some planning over the snow, looked like a crazy monster snow cone. We popped lids on the storage boxes and brought them home to sit in the stationery tub overnight.

Rinsed fabric in process.

I had to hang the fabric up to admire it after a few rinses!

This evening I took a break from my seemingly endless “gotta do this right now” list to unfurl the fabric and begin to rinse. So far, so good. There’s more rinsing to do, but that will need to wait. But for now I can ponder what I might do with this very interesting 1/2 yard of fabric.


Sleep tight little ones

March 26, 2013

Completed flannel pillowcases for Operation Slumber Party and Light Up the Night

Twelve colorful flannel pillowcases displayed on my sewing room table while additional flannel “cuts” await the right “matching” fabric to be transformed into snuggly comfort for a hospitalized child.

Every now and then I see a heart-wrenching story on the news or in a blog about a small child afflicted with a dreaded illness. Typically I cry. While my darling 8 year old daughter can sometimes frustrate and confound me – I never want to experience the pain, anxiety and helplessness that I imagine hospitalized kids and their parents go through. So when the chance to sew pillowcases for Operation Slumber Party and Light Up the Night knocked on my sewing room door  through my association with the Minneapolis-St. Paul American Sewing Guild Chapter– I set some other projects aside to work on some fuzzy, comforting flannel pillowcases to contribute to the cause. Not only is it a good cause, but as I’ve learned from my experience as a sewing teacher at Sewtropolis, pillowcases are great learn to sew projects.

If you can help – by spreading the word about this endeavor, by contributing time or materials – I’m certain the organizers would be most grateful.

National Sewing Month #9 – A Sander, A Serger and A Stapler

September 18, 2012

It’s all the rage to repurpose. I totally get that. Over the years changes in the economy have made things that were once uncool now “hip and trendy”.  Recently it’s been a real theme at our house- I’ve remade torn jeans into tote bags and neckties into roses, so why not re-do a bed?

Our daughter has been sleeping on a daybed since she “graduated” from the crib. We tried a toddler bed – but it wan’t her “thing” and so into the daybed she went. It worked great, except for the part about making the bed – that has been a big problem. Her arms simply weren’t long enough to reach across the daybed to pull the covers up.

The Newly Refinished Headboard

Using the pneumatic stapler to fasten the bookcase back into the refinished headboard.

Problem solved! A $5 bookcase headboard at a garage sale, some sanding, some gloss gel paint and a good weather weekend for the paint to dry. I kept some large fabric scraps from the Waverly Norfolk Rose and Country Fair fabric collections that has decorated her room from before birth (I’ll admit, putting the rose border up 4 weeks before she was born – I worried “what if the ultrasound was wrong?” )

I had just enough of the Country Fair to serge the edges and wrap the fabric around the back of the bookcase. So we stapled it on and the headboard was completed and installed on the bed last night.

This morning – after the alarm went off – I discovered the bed neatly made! It worked – at least for now.

And that is the story of how a sander and serger and a stapler helped me complete an unexpected project for National Sewing Month.

National Sewing Month – Say it isn’t sew

September 15, 2012

Every now and again I get to “play” on Pinterest. It’s much more environmentally sound for me to collect interesting items as bits and bytes instead of as print outs in folders somewhere or sticky notes that get misplaced.

Pinwheel wreath made of fabric

After a little experimentation – this no sew pinwheel wreath went together easily.

Somehow I got on a thread of wreaths (now there’s an unintentional pun!) – there were lots of cool ones – including a pinwheel of double-sided scrapbook paper. And so I decided I would make one of fabric. It took a little experimenting – but I’m pleased to say it came together about as I expected it to.

I used a bundle of 9 by Sanae for Moda fat quarters that I picked up several years ago on a trip to the UP. There’s a terrific quilt shop/fabric store called Jeri’s Quilt Patch in Norway, MI.

Quick instructions:
Collect a set of fat quarters that complement one another (and that you love)
A foam wreath form
Pellon- Peltex 72F Double-sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer
Buttons or Fabric Yoyos
Hot melt glue gun

Cut the Peltex into 5 inch square pieces. My wreath used 8 squares.
Cut the fabric in 5.25 inch squares. Following directions on the Peltex – fuse the fabric with your iron.
Carefully “square” fabric to neaten edges. For an interesting effect you could pink the edges or use a serger to finish the edges.
On each corner, make a 45 degree cut through all layers about 2.5 inches. Be careful not to cut all the way through the square.
Take the left corner of each cut and hot glue it to the center – this make the pinwheel “twist”. Do the same with the 3 remaining corners and then use hot glue to apply a button to the center of the pinwheel as well. At this stage I also pushed a small sewing pin through one of the holes in the button. This helped me to arrange them on the foam wreath.
When you’ve finished all the pinwheels – you may want to pin them on the wreath to determine the most pleasing arrangement. Once you have them where you want them – apply hot glue to the back (and even a bit to the pin for extra hold) and affix them to the foam wreath.
Add a hanger (hot glue a ribbon loop  or a loop of florist wire) and collect the compliments!

See – I said it wasn’t sew!

National Sewing Month #7 – A Little Something Sweet

September 14, 2012

It’s been a busy week – and not much time to head into the sewing room/office. I’m going to need to make up for that this weekend. One project on deck is a new hammock. The old canvas one gave up the ghost earlier this summer. . . but that’s another post.

This Saturday, the Minneapolis – St. Paul Sewing Guild Chapter Advisory Board (CAB) will host neighborhood sewing group leaders for an appreciation luncheon. It’s always lovely to feel appreciated and well taken care of. A dear friend of mine has a business that specializes in client appreciation  – check it out at Touch Your Client’s Heart. I love the fun and creative ideas she shares on her Facebook page daily.

Pin Cushion Cupcakes

Pin cushion cupcakes wait to be boxed for the American Sewing Guild Neighborhood Group Leader Appreciation Luncheon.

So to demonstrate my admiration for the group leaders – I decided to venture into a new realm. No – a pan of brownies would not be sufficient – not at all. I joked about making cupcakes look like thimbles – and then it hit me. Cupcakes to look like pin cushions. Most people don’t know that I’ve taken several cake decorating courses a number of years ago.  I’ve never met a buttercream that I haven’t liked!  So I baked, made frosting and fondant and . . . tah dah . . . here they are pin cushions cupcakes. I was a little disappointed that the old silver dragee decorations that I remember cracking my teeth on as a kid have been replaced with duller colored “pearls”. But it was a fun little exercise in trying something completely new and now I feel like I can tackle some of the everyday things I need to do secure in the knowledge that when a challenge comes along – I’m up to it!

Some friends think I’m a little crazy. I’m also the girl who invites company over and makes something I’ve never made before for dinner because the recipe looked interesting and feeds 6!  How do you approach the opportunity to try something new?


National Sewing Month #6 – In a Bind… Again?

September 9, 2012

Sewing Caddy

I’d long admired a sewing caddy like this. A recent request meant making one on behalf of a friend and tackling my aversion to making bias bindings.

I was asked to do something. . . to make something for someone else. In the beginning it all seemed fine. “Sure, no problem.” I really even looked forward to it and then boom. The project got a little complicated, because I seem to be geometry challenged when it comes to making bias binding.

I completely understand the concept of cutting fabric on the bias so that it has a level of stretch that allows us sewista types to do amazing things with it. But for some unknown reason the process – the squaring, cutting, stitching, folding and ironing – exhaust and frustrate me. I think it’s that I don’t do it enough and that throws me off every time, leaving me reluctant to do that again.

But I did it! I managed to do it. One mis-measured strip left me a bit short of 5 yards but provided me with enough lovely wide bias tape to conclude the project – a sewing gadget holder with inside and outside pockets. One more project completed this National Sewing Month!

National Sewing Month #5 – Boomerang!

September 9, 2012

I swung by one of my favorite independent sewing shops in the whole world – Sewtropolis – the other day.

A girl and her doll

Justine and “Jennifer” her 18 inch fashion doll are lounging this cool autumn morning in their matching white tees and Be Merry Flannel lounge pants. (A Kwik Sew pattern.)

While the shop moved closer to my neighborhood (like easy walking distance) – I need to pace myself while there because I still have UFOs to work on.

While I staffed there – I found the cutest pink flannel with snowmen (Be Merry by Riley Blake.) It whispered to me, “make something for your daughter.” A while later we needed a sample of kid sized lounge pants and so with a Kwik Sew pattern in hand – I made them. With my BabyLock Serger it was a speedy process – love that the serger takes care of the tedious chore of finishing seams for me!

The “tricky” part of pants – especially these with snowmen facing only one direction – I wound up with a lot of scraps – good sized scraps that I can make something else with! And so from scraps an 18″ fashion doll sized pair of pants appeared as well. Things got busy, life changed and I worked less and less at the shop. The sample lounge pants faded into memory. Until this week – when I saw them on the sample rack and scooped them up! Perfect fit for my growing 7 year old!

I love it when good things come back around! Isn’t that how life should be?

Now one of these weekends I need to dig into the pink fleece that is to become matching sweatshirts for her and her doll! Maybe later this month?

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