Monday, December 31, 2007

sewing for the New Year

I'm going to do a fun run tomorrow in approximately 20 degree weather. I've had this wicking fabric for a while and made it into a shirt today:

This was really weird fabric to sew. It stuck to itself and was really rolly. Using the self fabric for the binding wasn't a great idea, but it'll work for now.

We aren't really celebrating the New Year at our house. We got some Chinese fast food, which was mediocre. The kids watched Shrek 2 on tv. The 7-year-old is staying up, he thinks, until midnight. Last year we tricked him; we switched several clocks back an hour right after he saw the ball go down in New York--Eastern time. He still thinks he stayed up until midnight. He got up super early today, I really don't think he'll make it until midnight, but if he does, I don't know that we can pull off the deception again.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas/New Year Post

I had a cute picture of the gingerbread cookies I made with the boys but it is mysteriously missing from the camera. Oh well. We decorated them with M&Ms and Skittles and they were really pretty. The ones with M&Ms tasted the best.

We had a good Christmas, if a bit overwhelming. D was very excited when he opened the Wii and he's had fun making Miis and playing games on it. We had a turkey dinner with friends on Christmas afternoon and it was really nice. I made a turkey breast, the fabulous mashed potatoes from the Pioneer Woman Cooks blog, and Rhodes rolls (which were a dismal failure). My friend L brought green bean casserole, ham, and a jello dessert (and something else? I can't remember for sure). We made gravy together and I think we were both surprised at how well it turned out. So that was my new kitchen success.

I got the Aranzi Aronzo Cute Dolls book for Christmas and need to make something from it soon! It's my first Japanese crafting book. It is very cute, with comic book style instructions with funny side comments throughout. Also... interesting characters to make including a kidnapper (???) and a Bad Guy who is actually pretty cute. The dolls are supposed to be made with jersey knit, which is interesting to me. I'll probably make some out of knit but try making them out of wovens as well.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I should be folding laundry.

I have been thinking New Years thoughts, a little bit, and I need to come up with a new name for my blog next year! There are 3-4 other Sew Inspired sites, and I want something that's mine alone. I'd like to eventually upgrade to better blog software, and my own domain.

I haven't sewn for days. A little burned out maybe? I have a cute little purse I'm planning on making but I need to go look thru my stash for some good fabric.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

finished the quilt, now what?

I finished R's quilt yesterday in a mad rush because I wanted to send off my Utah packages. I got to the post office about 4:30 and it actually wasn't that bad. I'm feeling a bit of the overwhelmed, don't know what to work on next feeling. I have the tiny quilt I'm making for myself, there are 2 shirts cut out for my son, and I started decluttering my sewing bins yesterday. I could always clean and organize some more in the sewing room, too.

There are plenty of mistakes in this quilt but I'm not going to spell them out. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finished quilt.

I wanted to post this photo of the finished quilt. It was my first time doing binding all by machine and... I don't love the results. But I was needing quick, and it was quick. I like this design and might try something similar another time. Of course I *do* have an expecting sibling so maybe I'll do something like this for her baby quilt. I heard she's having a Noah's Ark nursery theme....

blue green baby quilt top

R quilt top
Originally uploaded by vickivictoria
Trying out the Flickr "blog this" thing. This quilt still needs outer borders; they will be from the same stripes as the sashing. I'm actually thinking of quilting this with straight lines; with squares maybe 1/4" from each square's seams. I've gotta finish this in the next day or two so it can be put in the mail.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Finally I had a productive sewing day. I finished the flannel pants for my husband. I made a bag for the megabloks. I love megabloks, but hate how they are spelled. I think they are a great toy but we had too many for the existing bag, and it was old and cracked vinyl so it had to go.

Here are the blocks all bagged up:

I ironed the fabrics for the baby quilt I'm making:

And, to help calm down a frustrated 3-year-old who wanted to go outside but only through the GARAGE door, and I said no, because he was standing there with the door wide open and letting in cold air, and he refused to go out the regular front door, and then he carried on, crying about this, loudly, for about 25 minutes, well he brought his cute webkinz Toto to me, along with a little scrap of fabric he's been carrying around for days, and asked if I'd help him make pants for Toto. So I did:

Silly, huh?

They aren't quite perfect, and I forgot the tail hole, so it was a total afterthought but still worked out ok. I would like to figure out how to post a PDF pattern of the pants pattern and my webkinz t-shirt patterns too. If anyone has any ideas on that, let me know.

Also, I went running. It was 37 degrees and after I warmed up, it felt really good. Running in the cold is much better than running in the heat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm slowly making my way down the list of things I need to sew. I finished this quilt top today:

And I made a couple little pairs of polar fleece socks for my boy and his friend. I had visions of a cute photo of 4 fleecy feet but wasn't able to pull it off, so you'll have to imagine them.

I have a couple patterns traced and cut out, as well. And I have my nephew's baby quilt planned out; need to go to the quilt shop and find fabric to coordinate with the stripe I already have for it.

And finally, who's in Mission? Just wondering. Do I know you?

Friday, November 16, 2007

What I've been working on

I've been piecing quilts for a sort of service project for a family in our homeschool community. I think this one will be getting 2 more borders. Figuring out how to do those angled segments was quite the brain exercise.

And, another scrappy log cabin project. I like squares. This quilt will have some strips of the balloon fabric, same as the blue quilt above, in between the log cabin rows and those scrappy square rows. Here are my dimensions for the 12" scrappy log cabin block: center square is 3.5" cut, 3" finished, and log strips are 2" cut, 1.5" finished. You can read more about scrappy log cabin blocks here. I've done them in 9-inch and 12-inch sizes now.

Something I've been thinking about for a day or 2 now is making a quilt (or 3) to submit to this show. I have one idea that I'm going to start on for sure. I don't feel like I do really "modern" quilting, at least not as I see on all the trendy craft blogs, but I'm going to see what I can come up with.

Also, I have another baby quilt I need to make for a nephew who was born in August. And... I have another pregnant sibling so that'll be one more baby quilt to do by the middle of next year.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Belated Halloween Shot

I got burned out on Halloween this year, which is partly why it took me so long to post about it. It makes me a little worried about Christmas, since the advertising and sales have already started. Christmas music too, although I'm not listening to it yet. We're not going to decorate until after Thanksgiving. I need to figure out the budget and gift lists and decide how much I can actually do handmade and stay sane.

So... here's the official Halloween portrait of my kiddos:

J. wore his costume from last year. I have to admit feeling like a bit of a costume snob. I love that this firefighter costume held up so well over a whole year of dress-up play and still fit him well enough to be worn a second time (Last year I made it too big on purpose.) I'm so glad it's over and that I don't have to think about it for a while.

And here are the pajama pants I finished up for the boys last week:

I now know that 2.5 yards of one kind of fabric is enough to make them each a pair of flannel pants. That might not be the case next year when J will be in a larger size. My secret is that I have a whole bunch more of the dark green flannel (it's printed with submarines and radar graphics) and I'm going to make flannel pants for my husband, too.

Other sewing news:
I've been working on quilts for a service project type thing. I may post a picture of, yep, scrappy log cabin blocks, later on today or tomorrow. Or soon.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Winner!

The winner is Lesha! Lesha, I've emailed you using your email address on your Blogger profile. Thanks so much to everyone for participating!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall, Y'All!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This giveaway is over now, thanks everyone for participating!
Just for fun, I decided to participate in the Fall, Y'All giveaway carnival hosted over at Bloggy Giveaways. I finished up my redwork Christmas ornaments (I'm going to make more, though), and I'm giving away one of them. The lucky winner can choose between the Joy, Tree, or Gift ornaments. (The snowman was embroidered by my son and isn't part of the giveaway. But isn't it cute?)

If you want to make your own, these ornaments are made from patterns in the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts magazine that is currently on newsstands.

All you have to do is leave a comment here before 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, and we'll randomly pick one lucky winner later that day. If your post doesn't link back to your blog, please include your email address in your comment.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

#1 on Google

Saw this on Jody's and Dawn's blogs--

search terms where my blog is #1.

So far, I've found one:
t-shirt neckband

Oh! and there's also:
t-shirt neckband tutorial

Not very impressive. But better than none.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pirate Costume

I finished this up for D with just a couple hours to spare before the church Halloween party on Saturday. The shirt and vest were made using Kwik Sew for Children. I altered the sleeve--adding gathers at the shoulder seam and cuff. I also attached a collar and made a slit down the front with a facing. I might post a more detailed pic of the shirt because I'm kind of proud of it. The vest was done with no hems--just a 3-step zigzag around the edges. Pants were made from the most recent jeans pattern for him, morphed on the cutting table into simple elastic waist pants. (That's how I'm going to make his pj pants too--flannel is $2/yd at JoAnn's this week.)

The hair... is a bunch of yarn braids with beads attached. I sewed them to the bandanna with the sewing machine.

I'm happy with how it turned out, and so is he!

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I made on vacation. And other stuff.

I thought I was going to do a bunch of knitting on our trip, but my wrists got sore and tingly on the first day out so I had to stop. I worked on these redwork designs instead. The patterns are from the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts magazine and I think they're super cute. I need to track down some red wool felt to finish them up. I really liked that they were to be made up using a backstitch for the outlines; other redwork I've done has been with the stem stitch and backstitching is faster. See, I like handwork but then I get tired of it quickly.

Here's the other shirt I made the other day. I forgot to mention--use ballpoint needles when sewing knit fabrics!! My 3-year-old really likes both his new shirts. The older one told me he wasn't interested when I was cutting but then he decided he wanted shirts after his brother's were finished. So. Right after I finish his Halloween costume (we have trunk-or-treat at church this Saturday) I'll get on that.

And this is the flower the older one made for me when I wasn't feeling well tonight. Sweet, huh?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Halloween Costume decision is made

Well, one is for sure. The older one is going to be a pirate and we got all the fabric from the remnant bin at JA. The cutting line was pure insanity, this is why I don't go there on Saturdays. I got some nice black crushed velvet texture velour for the pants, a matte gray fabric with a nap for a vest, and generic sort of offwhite cotton for a pirate blouse. I'm going to have to look through all my Ottobres for a vest and shirt pattern. I may end up modifying the shirt pattern from another pattern, we'll see.

The younger one has said he would be a firefighter again, and that would mean he'll just use last year's costume. He's talking like he's changing his mind though.

This morning it was raining buckets and I was so bummed that I couldn't go running. But it's cleared up and I'm going to go out in a little while.

Friday, October 12, 2007

How To Make A T-Shirt

I am getting a lot of visits from people googling "how to make a t-shirt" so I thought I'd oblige you.

First off, you need a pattern. You can trace one from an existing shirt, but I'm not covering that step in this tutorial. I'm using the size 4 t-shirt pattern from my beloved vintage Sew for Toddler. All the patterns for this book are on a large pattern sheet and you have to trace off the size you want. I usually trace my patterns onto freezer paper. If you look closely you can see I traced the wrong size first; I don't remember what happened there but it was one of two tracings I have of this pattern. My pattern has 4 pieces: front, back, sleeve, and neckband.

I have a pretty big piece of this fabric, so to waste the least amount of fabric and also be able to manage the whole thing, I cut out one pattern piece at a time. I'm starting with the front--the center front edge needs to be on placed on the fold of the fabric. I look closely at the fabric and make sure the tiny knit stitches are running straight (not at an angle) with my foldline. Also, the stretch of this fabric is going up and down in the photo, or across the body of the t-shirt front and back pattern pieces. You want to cut your knits out with the stretch going the right way.

This picture shows the front already cut out.

Then I do the same with the back. First I cut off the small amount of scrap from cutting the front and then I refold the fabric wide enough to do the back. Here you can see my cute pattern weights. I don't pin my patterns--I use pattern weights and rotary cut around the edges of my patterns. You can use scissors if you don't have a rotary cutter. I need to sharpen my scissors and get a new rotary blade--cutting this out wasn't as easy and fun as it should have been.

The sleeve. Again I refold so I have enough width to lay out the sleeve pattern. See that long straight line? It's the pattern grainline and should line up with the grain of the fabric. In other words, line up with straight up and down lines of knitted stitches in the fabric. If you've ever had a t-shirt that twisted around your body when you were wearing it, it was cut off grain. It's not hard to make sure your fabric and patterns are on grain when you're cutting.

Neckline ribbing. This fabric is laid out with the stretch going left to right. The pattern piece is laid on the fold. I used a cotton/lycra ribknit for this piece. If your main shirt fabric is ribbed or fairly stretchy, you can use the same fabric for the neckline. This shirt fabric is a jersey that's not really stretchy enough to go over my boy's head and not have stitches pop right away.

Here are all the pattern pieces cut out.

Sewing step 1: Place front and back pieces together with right sides facing. Match the pieces up at the shoulder and pin them if you want.

Here they are serged together. Before I had a serger I would sew the seam, then zigzag the edges together because I don't like unfinished edges.

Sewing step 2: Pin the top center of the sleeve to the shoulder seam.

Pin the front and back edges of the sleeve seam. This is kind of difficult to show in a photo.

Here's the shirt with both sleeves sewn on.

Sewing step 3: Fold the shirt so the front and back line up and the sleeve edges line up. Starting at the sleeve hem edge, and all at once, sew the sleeve edges together, then the front and back together at the sides. Do both sides.

Here's the shirt with sleeve/side seams sewn.

Sewing step 4: Sewing the neckband on is explained here in my T-shirt neckband tutorial.

Sewing step 5: Fold the sleeve edges and bottom edge up once and stitch in place. I have a "why you don't need a free arm to sew hems of small sleeves" tutorial that I'll share soon.

There you go!

What my 3-year-old ate today.

This kid must be growing. He's sleeping easily and well, and eating.

Today, he ate:
1/2 peanut butter sandwich
1 pancake (5" diameter)
1 bowl oatmeal
macaroni and cheese (the whole wheat was not a hit, at all)
another 1/2 peanut butter sandwich
and pizza for dinner.

He'll probably have a bedtime snack too.

Monday, October 08, 2007

back from vacation

Ok, I'm back from our annual trip to Utah to visit lots and lots of family, and I'm planning on updating here more frequently. I'm going to start with my do's and don't's for staying awake on long drives.

We'll start with the don'ts:
Don't go to bed too late the night before a long drive.
Don't drink caffeine (I cannot handle what it does to my system, and it's about time I figured that out and stopped trying it.)
Don't go too far.

Get enough sleep the night before.
Snack on lots of different things.
Get a big cold drink that isn't caffeinated.
Chew icy minty gum.
Have conversation with driving partner (my husband in my case.)
Figure out a reasonable distance to drive so everyone can stay safe and sane.

Our second day driving from Mesa, AZ to Kansas City was much better than the first. I stayed far away from caffeine and had that gum. I shared the driving yesterday about half and half with my sweetie and it went pretty well. I drive pretty slowly in the dark and felt good about that each time I saw evidence of a deer being hit by a car on the highway.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quilt Binding Tutorial

This tutorial is for binding a quilt with straight edges using binding strips cut on the straight grain from your own fabric (not purchased binding).

First of all you need to cut your binding strips. I used strips that were 1 7/8" wide but if it's your first time you should probably use 2 1/4" or 2 1/2" strips. You'll have to figure out how many strips you need to go all the way around your quilt with several inches to spare. You can use math, or cut the strips and physically lay them around the edge of the quilt until you have enough. I've done scrappy quilt bindings before using several different fabrics, and used the physically-laying-it-out method for those quilts.

Using the angle lines on your ruler or mat, cut the ends of the strips to a 45 degree angle.

Cut both ends the same way so the strips are very long parallelograms.

To get them ready to piece together, set two strips next to each other.

Then, flip one over on top of the other so the edges line up for sewing. You will sew a 1/4" seam, so they need to line up 1/4" in from the edge. Pin it.

Sew it. Sew all the strips together this way. The diagonal seam here helps spread out the bulk of the seam, since you'll be folding the binding strip over itself a couple times.

Go to the ironing board; press the binding seams. I press to one side, you can press them open if you want but that's more work.

Now press the entire binding strip in half the long way.

Next, find the end of your binding strip. If your parallelogram went the opposite way from mine, cut the corner off so it points the way mine does in this picture. Press the short edge in 1/4".

Fold it in half lengthwise and press this end again.

You can't really see it in this picture, but I'm leaving it anyway. Lay out the binding around the quilt, with the end you just fiddled with in the middle of one of the sides. Check the seams on the binding to make sure there aren't any of them on the corners of the quilt. If there are, adjust your starting position. Pin the binding in place at the starting position and go to your machine.

For the entire perimeter of the quilt, you need to match up the binding and quilt edge and sew 1/4" in from that edge. I leave the extra backing and batting until after the binding is sewn on. To begin, you will be making a little slot to put the end of the binding in when you get back to your starting place. Open up the fold of the binding and sew down just the bottom layer for about 2 inches. Stop sewing and cut your threads.

Edited 9/2012: *For another way of finishing up the beginning and end of your binding strips (with a diagonal seam) see this blog post.*

Now fold the binding back up and start sewing both layers of the binding down, about 1 3/4 inches down from the beginning.

Sew the binding down that first side. I found that it helped if I pulled the binding a bit taut while sewing. When you get to the corner, stop sewing 1/4" from the edge of the quilt top. Backstitch and cut your threads.

Now, turn the quilt 90 degrees, and fold the binding straight up. Hold that diagonal fold with your finger.

And now, fold it down. You might want to pin.

Start sewing the next side at the edge of the fabric; stop 1/4" from the edge and do the corner thing again. Repeat until you've done all 4 corners.

When you get back around to where you started, you need to trim the end of your binding strip so it will fit in the little pocket you made at the beginning. I trimmed the end of my binding strip so about 1/2" of it went into the slot area past the angled part of the beginning of the binding. You have to look closely to see it in this photo.

Now you get to trim the quilt. For the 1 7/8" binding, I needed to cut the backing and batting right up to the edge of my binding. For wider binding strips, leave a little bit of batting beyond the edge. I have had a couple quilts in quilt shows and one of my judging sheets once explained that it's better (in official quilt world, I guess) to have the binding kind of puffy and nicely filled out than to let it be saggy, limp, and empty. In other words, I got bad marks for not having puffy binding, so learn from my mistakes.

I hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. I use a ladder stitch, it's my main hand sewing stitch that my mom taught me when I was little. You can use whatever stitch you like. I try to sew the binding down far enough to cover the machine stitching that sewed it to the front of the quilt.

When you get to the corner, trim the seam allowance a bit more than you did on the straight edge.

(I'm left handed. If you aren't, this picture may not look quite right. I sew from the left to the right.) I try to fold the binding down on the top side of the corner, and sew it down past where the seam turns the corner.

Then, I fold the next side down and stitch it in place. I usually put a couple stitches in the binding where it folds on top of itself (the mitered corner), and then continue sewing down the next side of the binding.

All done! I hope this make sense. As always, comment or email me at vickivictoria at the google email service if you have questions or comments!