13 June 2011


I'm a bit behind (understatement) on updating the blog with my projects. I'm aiming for a post a week until I'm caught up.

I make a quilt for every new niece or nephew after they arrive. Currently there are 9 ... so it's not that many quilts.

K was born the end of July and I tried to have her quilt finished by Christmas. (I bought this fabric and started working on it for her older brother - who the ultrasound claimed was a girl. He got a yellow duck quilt and the first dragonfly quilt went to another niece. My sister loved this pattern and the fabric, so I knew if she ever had another girl, I would be making a second dragonfly quilt.)

The pattern comes from thimble-art;. I've made several of these patterns (bear and bunny, ducks, and the dragonfly) and have a couple more in the 'to-be-done' pile (airplanes, dinosaurs). They involve paper piecing. I like paper piecing because of how accurate they turn out. I'm not fond of the time spent tearing off the paper (and using tweezers to pull off all of the little pieces). These patterns also involve 'little' pieces with picky placement (lots of basting) to have them look right. They are easy, but they do take some time to get them right.

I had all of the 'pieces' sewn and spent the Christmas break sewing them together, sewing the heads down by hand, and embroidering the antennae.

My sister and I had an adventure at the fabric store looking for fabric to go between the dragonflies. After looking at what seemed to be hundreds of prints - and entertaining the clerks at Hancock Fabrics one evening - we picked a Kona cotton solid in mint. (We really do love prints ... but none of them worked.)

The quilt was put on the frames around noon on one day and finished by noon the next day. We quilted around the dragonfly squares, a heart in the solid squares, around the boarder stripes, and outlined the dragonfly head and bodies. The head and body stitching resulted in many bent needles and muttered words. In fact I think there was a bit of a discussion on who had to quilt them. It looks great from the back, but they were not easy to quilt.

K. had a great time sitting up to the quilt while it was on the frames and patting it with her hands. I think she liked the batting. :)

The quilt was finished a week after Christmas ... but I don't think K. minded.

20 April 2011

Ocean Fairy petti-skirt

Halloween of 2010 found my sister with a new baby, Halloween costumes to sew, and a kitchen demolition/remodel in progress. I offered to help with the Halloween costumes - and made a petti-skirt for an 'ocean fairy', inspired by 'Shannon the Ocean Fairy' book.

History: A few years ago, my sister and I started searching for instructions on how to make petti-skirts because they were cute and her daughter (3-ish at the time) needed one.

We found a video on Martha Stewart's web site that gave what I think are pretty bad instructions - but we were inspired and kept looking. I found yet another blog - Grosgrain that listed 3 very important things to know:
1. Use nylon chiffon. It's soft, doesn't fray ... and seems to be only sold on-line. (The best place: AFC Express. 27 different colors, very inexpensive, and fast shipping.)
2. Build from the bottom up.
3. Know how to 'shirr'. (Wind elastic thread in the bobbin, thread on the top, set the stitch to the longest setting, and sew = gathers)

With that information, my sister ordered fabric and sewed 2 incredibly cute petti-skirts for her daughter.

I was a little slower - and intimidated by the instructions - so I kept looking and pondering.

Then I found the mecca of all instructions on of a blog called 'Creative Chaos'. I wasn't even looking for petti-skirts when I found her stuff. She has long, meticulous, detailed instructions and even hand dyed fabric to make them. Wow!. (Instructions found here and here and here.) I jumped on the petti-skirt making wagon and made 3 skirts for nieces that Christmas. (without any pictures to show for it. bummer.)

Having made three petti-skirts, I understood what was involved ... and knew I had time to do it. Just in case I need to make them again, here's what I did:

1. Read the instructions from 'Creative Chaos' - at least twice. :)

2. Calculate fabric needed:
My niece is 6 years old with 16" waist to knee = 5.5" + seam allowance = 6.5" strips
middle tier - 4 strips x 6.5" x 2 layers
bottom tier - 8 strips x 6.5" x 2 layers
total: 24 strips @6.5" = 4.333 yds
fluff: 8 strips x 3 x 3" width x 2 layers = 4 yds
(I used some shiny polyester-satin like fabric I found at JoAnn's for the top tier.)

My niece picked out the colors herself and here's what it looked like when it arrived:

Aqua for the body of the skirt and pink for the bottom ruffle.

3. Cut it out. To do this you either need a long counter, several really long tables, or lay it out on the floor.
4. Sew
a. Use a ruffler to 'gather' the fluff'

Just to confirm, 48 WOF strips takes a long time to gather. :)

b. sew the bottom tier strips together .
c. sew the fluff onto the bottom tier.
d. 'shirr' the top of the bottom tier.
e. sew the middle tier strips together
f. zigzag over the elastic bobbin thread to attach bottom tier to middle tier. (and if you're really picky like me, pull out the elastic thread because 'it gathers the fabric more that I like' and 'you can see it'.)

Remember you've got 2 layers to this skirt, so go back and do all of the above for the second layer.
g. sew the top tier - the satin - into a circle, remembering to leave a 1.5" gap to thread the elastic into. Fold in half long ways. Sew 1.5" down from the top to make the elastic casing. Sew down one more inch to keep the skirt looking pretty.
h. sew gathering thread into the top of the middle tier. I like 2 gathering threads.
i. pin to the satin and sew. Repeat for 2nd layer, but sew to the inside edge of the satin. (ie, make it a reversible skirt ... because what 4-6 year old actually looks at the seams to see if it is inside out.)
j. put the elastic in. Put a bow or flower in the front.

Stand back and be proud. And watch the recipient twirl.

The skirt was delivered in time for Halloween ... and the recipient was quite happy with it - and the 'twirly-ness'. Yea!

16 January 2011

Dragons have wings.

C wanted to be a dragon for halloween. An orange dragon with purple spikes. (He's 4 and very specific.) Luckily when my sister told me about this I had just read a blog that had instructions on how to make a dragon tail. (no link because I can't find it now.) Mom was able to find an orange hooded sweatshirt at DI and my sister was able to find purple fabric at JoAnn's that looked really cool and had these shiny purple pieces on it. Mom looked at the dragon tail tutorial and decided the tail needed to 'curve' - so she took a sheet and made a 'dragon tail'. Costumes were a group project this year.

The costume turned out great. My sister did an awesome job on the tail and the dragon 'spikes' - layering the fabric with interfacing, sewing triangles, cutting them out with pinking shears, and sewing them on the sweatshirt. Unfortunately, C was quite upset when people called him a dinosaur - informing his mother, "Dragons have wings. If I had wings they wouldn't call me a dinosaur."

At Christmas, my job was to sew dragon wings for C's costume. I had bought a really cool stuffed dragon pattern on etsy - "Yoki the Dragon" and thought the wings had a great shape. My sister was able to find more of the purple shiny fabric at Jo-Ann's, so I enlarged the pattern, layered the fabric between interfacing, and sewed some wings. My sister sacrificed her hand and cut them out with the pinking shears. The next day, C and I sewed the wings onto his dragon costume - with him standing next to me the entire time so he could push the 'cutting' button.

I think they turned out great. Hopefully he'll have lots of fun wearing his 'dragon' shirt.