Saturday, August 12, 2017

Camp Projects

Another camp session will start on Monday (I'm not ready, I'm not ready) and I wanted to share some projects from the first week.

Two of my campers are sisters, 9 and 11.  The 9 year old wanted to make a quilt.  She'd made a few small patchwork pieces in the after school class, but she wanted something big enough to sleep under.  I said sure, thinking, "She's 9, she'll realize how much work it is and find something else to do."

Nope, not this kid.  It may be a little wonky-shaped, and some of her fabric choices weren't the best -- but at 9, I would have mixed fabrics with abandon, too -- but it's a quilt, it's big enough to sleep under, and she did it in a week.  I'm really proud of her!

Some of the squares got decorated with patterns from my embroidery machine, which was in use as a reward for good work.  Others have pockets, or drawings, or drawstrings from a pair of PJ pants so she can practice braiding.

We yarn-tied it, because machine quilting may be a little much yet, and with 2 (soon to be 3) other campers, there really wasn't enough space to properly lay it out to stitch.  After being shown, she did most of the yarn work herself, except when the layers were really thick and she was having trouble pulling the needle.  Then I showed her how to pin the binding, and she stitched it herself.

Her older sister, who for a year has fought the idea of hand sewing, decided she wanted to make these hand-sewn felt dolls she'd found in a book.  Because she learns best by repetition, she's now made 8 of them, and she intends to sell them at the farmer's market in a few weeks.  The third student didn't have a specific project in mind, and decided to join in on the entrepreneurial project by making clothes for the dolls.

And because they're kids, in addition to the sewing and inevitable eating, there was some goofing around.  It's not sewing until someone falls into the box of stuffing and can't get out.



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy campers

After four semesters of once-a-week after school sewing class, I decided this summer to take on a week-long sewing camp at my house.  Actually, two sessions, separated by a week so that teacher has a chance to recover.

It's been interesting.  In a mostly good way.

I don't have kids.  I've never particularly wanted them, and this week has reinforced why that was the right choice for me.  It's also made me realize that kids -- particularly smart, creative ones -- are pretty cool, so long as you can give them back at the end of the day.

There are 3 campers this session, 4 next time.  They're all from my after school class, my favorites, the ones who worked hard and actually wanted to be there.  Which doesn't make them any less than what they are, which is 9-to-11 year old girls, stewing in their own pre-adolescent hormones and with more energy than they (or I) know what to do with.

My cats took one look at them and moved upstairs for the duration.  Katie is the only one who comes downstairs, and she generally likes to supervise from the middle of the dining room table, where all the action is.

Tonight she's paying the price.  She's been out cold like this on the bookcase for over an hour, with no sign that she's moving anytime soon.

Actually, I feel pretty much the same way.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I drafted this post a few weeks ago, scheduled it, and didn't notice when it didn't appear.  So it's a little belated, but here it is.

I'm not sure if I've posted about these particular dolls before, but if I have, now there are more.

I made the first African doll for a co-worker at a former temp job.  Her granddaughter was looked after by a neighbor from Liberia who wore traditional clothing.  She wanted her granddaughter to have a doll that looked like her caregiver, and to grow up knowing that friends -- and dolls -- come in all colors and costumes.

I posted a photo of the doll when I made it, and it sold before I turned it over to my co-worker customer.  Thankfully there was more fabric, so I made her another.

After that, I made more and listed them on Etsy, and when the original fabric sold out, I found some authentic wax print fabric at the thrift store, and reached out to my sewing friends for any scraps they might have on hand.  (Being sewers, they had scraps and were happy for them to find a home that wasn't theirs).

The doll on the left isn't actually authentic fabric, but I loved the pink/gold/brown combination.  The green/white and pink/lime/black are real African textiles.

I don't always take these to craft shows because they list a little higher than the standard dolls, but when I did my a recent show in Swarthmore I took the 3 pictured here, and the green-and-white one in the center came home alone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Finished Quilt

The baby quilt is done!

Once I decided how I wanted it to look, it took far less time than I had expected.

It's a 9 block quilt, I'd call it "log cabin inspired" more than anything, since there's a central motif and the pieces around it are more or less mirroring the idea of a log cabin quilt.

But it's not exactly one, which is about what I'd expect from me.

Because not all the blocks were the same size, and because I wanted to use some of the other pieces of clothing that didn't make it into the blocks, I did strips in between each block and around the edges.  It used up a bit more fabric and added a few more prints to the mix.

I have to give props to a mom who dresses her child in such nicely coordinating colors.  There were literally only a few pieces I didn't use, and most of them would have still worked.

When I sent her a progress picture and told her I was going to back it in a neutral fabric I had on hand, she was fine with that.  We also decided on a light gray binding, which was from a gray t-shirt I had in my stash for that purpose.

All the years that I thought I didn't need a serger.  I could kick myself, except then I'd have to take my foot off the pedal of my serger.  Because every piece of fabric in this is a knit, this entire quilt was assembled with my serger.

I think my favorite bit is the central LOVE panel.  It was two sides of a jacket with a separating zipper.  I reinforced it before cutting, removed enough of the zipper top and bottom to be able to run it through the machine without hurting anything, and kept it as is.  I could have probably picked out the zipper and sewn the fabric together, but to me that would have changed the point of the piece -- it's meant to be Katy's outgrown baby clothes, and losing the zipper would, to me, lose some of that.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chicken Update

video
A little chicken video to start your day.  The girls like blueberries, particularly Frankie, who quite literally swallows them whole.

She's is still somewhat broody, but I've been messing with her schedule lately, feeding them either early or late, and the inconvenience gets her up out of her corner and pacing.  I'm hoping that if she keeps getting up, she'll forget to go back down.

In other chicken weirdness, these two, unlike their predecessors, have decided to spend warm summer nights downstairs in the coop instead of sleeping up in the roost.  They already decided to go their own way and ignore the perch, but now they sleep in the straw near the exhaust fan.

It probably feels good, but the night that a raccoon decides to come calling, those birds are going to get the fright of their lives.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Baby Clothes Baby Quilt

Center squares - images from tiny shirts and jackets
Last month, I was contacted by a mom who had purchased one of my receiving blanket bears.  She and I had talked after the bear's arrival about doing something else, but the project never happened.

When she contacted me this time, she was ready.  She had been cleaning out her baby's clothes, she said, to give to a friend who was expecting, and there was a pile of stuff she just couldn't bear to give away.  Would I be able to make a quilt out of her little one's outgrown clothing?

But of course!

The clothes arrived last week, a whole copy paper box full, in bags labeled 1, 2 and 3 (order of importance for use).  I didn't cut up everything right away, because I'll either return or donate the unused pieces, but I ended up using all the pieces in bag 1, a good bit of bag 2, and some of bag 3, because I needed some solid colors to break up all the prints.

Katie trying to tell me to take a break.
Originally I had wanted to do something a little more free-form, like the baby clothes stockings I do, but then I saw that a lot of her pieces were infant-sized and I wasn't really going to be able to get a lot of pieces out of them.  So after I found 8 shirts with writing a central motif, I embroidered a 9th piece with the baby's name, and cut everything else into 2" wide strips.

It's sort of a bastardized log cabin, but not really.  Most of the central squares were 4", but a few of them were slightly off.  I put the largest in the center and worked outwards, inserting extra strips to make things line up.  The central "Love" square still has a zipper down the center (edges removed before serging and then anchored from behind so it doesn't unzip).

It's not quite done.  I gave it a good pressing after the last photo here, and now I'm looking around for backing fabric.  She didn't send anything large enough for that, so if she doesn't have any objection, I'm going to use a section of ivory sheet that I had on my shelf for this purpose.   Not sure yet if this quilt is going to get stitched or tied; it's small enough (32x32) that I could get it through the machine with minimal swearing.

Finished photos to come, hopefully by the end of the week.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Still more blankets

The world will never run out of that striped receiving blanket.

And I'm okay with that.

This little Claire Bear headed off to Annapolis, MD, yesterday.