Friday, August 1, 2014

Pink, White and black quilt
The finished birthday quilt for my daughter.
It is queen size. The bottom of the picture
shows the zebra print backing.
At the top, you can see Ollie.
He "owns" all quilts in the house.
So much has happened since my last post. Today, I will share the birthday quilt I made for my daughter.

I definitely didn't expect to be away from my blog for so long. I have been working on a quilt for my one and only daughter. It was a UFO (UnFinished Object) that haunted me for over two years. I wanted to finish it for her 24th birthday.

I was afraid I put it down and I didn't want to blog about this quilt, so I told myself that I would not blog until I finished. With all of the family drama wearing me down and the hot Sacramento weather (it is currently 108 degrees at 3:55 in the afternoon), it just took forever.

I've had most of the blocks finished and I had the white Kona Cotton. Unfortunately, I had stolen some of the Kona Cotton for other projects and had to buy more. Would you believe that my Joann's only had two yards. I used that up and went back the following week and they were out. So, I went down the street to Hancock Fabrics and bought enough to finish setting the blocks.

Sewing together the 2 1/2" jelly roll strips.
Attaching the white strips to the horizontal and vertical blocks.
The blocks started with a sketch from a quilt I saw years ago. They were made from some jelly rolls--2 1/2 inch strips, supplemented with some fabric from my stash and from Joann's. I made the strips about 8 inches long and attempted random placements.

Random is really difficult for me. I ended up making many extra squares to avoid similar placement.

I made the blocks with four strips each. I had a hard time deciding how large the white strips between the blocks should be. I ended up making a spreadsheet to play with the numbers. I know. I'm a geek. But it really helped me determine how many blocks and the width of the white strips to create a queen size quilt that would also fit onto the Warm and White queen size batting that I bought for this.

Putting the block strips together.
I sent this out on Instagram as my surprise project.
Of course, at that point, I thought it would be done sooner.
I believe that the white strips were cut as 4 inches with 1/4" allowance on each side. The blocks were rotated vertically and horizontally. I sewed 8 inch lengths of white to each block before sewing the block and white combos into strips of eight plus an extra length of white.

Then I sewed the block strips together, being sure that the blocks were still rotated horizontally and vertically. These long strips were really hard on my hands and wrists. It is also amazing how hot it can get while sitting at a sewing machine. Using the iron to press each seam is also a bit warm.

One reason I make sure to make a quilt each year is that it makes me move the furniture and do a good floor cleaning in the family room. After a good sweeping, I follow with a really good floor scrubbing so that I can make my quilt sandwich.

The quilt backing taped face down on the very clean floor.

The batting placed on the backing.
Bugg is inspecting the batting.

The quilt top placed right side up on the quilt sandwich.
The next step will be to safety pin in the center of
each block and each white "intersection," making sure
to secure all three layers.
Bugg and Ollie are making final inspections.

The backing for this was a black and white zebra print. I had to add a strip of additional fabric because the two widths were not wide enough. I also used the same black and white zebra stripe for the binding.

To make the quilt sandwich, I put the backing (zebra fabric) face down. I used painter's tape to hold it down after getting it wrinkle free. Then, the batting, followed by the pieced quilt top. I then spent about 45 minutes getting everything smooth and wrinkle free while using safety pins to hold the layers together.

Quilting a queen size quilt on the dining table.
My original plan was to quilt using a puzzle piece design. However, as time kept whirling by, I realized I should just stitch in the ditch. Or, as I do much better, near the ditch. One of the best part of sewing for non-sewists is that they don't notice the crazy, swerving, uneven stitches--at least until they read this.

Well, after everything was quilted together, I started designing a quilt label. The first few were too big. I'm having a software issue that thinks I'm using a crazy small screen so I cannot tell how big until I print out the design.

I finally had a perfect design and it stitched out beautifully. I started trimming it so that I could put it on before attaching the binding. I ended up cutting through it, making it unusable.

I attempted to stitch it out three more times. It kept having a problem on the same part of the quote that encircled around the main information. I finally, decided to ditch the quote and just do the main information.

Once the label was hand stitched in place, I stitched the border and immediately put it into the washer on hot to shrink it up. I fell asleep before putting it into the dryer and had to re-rinse before putting it in the dryer on hot.

Sarah finally got her birthday quilt. I'm now hoping she will retire her 19 year old Pocahontas comforter that she still uses.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Repairing Shoes at Home

My favorite sandals before repairing.
Its a nice summer afternoon and you pull out you favorite sandals. You notice that they just don't feel quite right. You take them off and realize that the sole has decided to separate.

Now I know many people who would toss the offending shoe. I, however, am not made of money. I would also like to dispel the myth that our children have created about the money tree. It doesn't exist.

Now the trick I am about to show you can also be used on other shoes. In fact, I frequently use it on my sons' shoes. You know how the shoe is less than a month old and the sole is no longer attached and the kid insists that be needs new shoes? Yeah, I just fix them. I make my kids out grow their shoes.

I know. I'm a mean mom. Guess what. M.O.M. is Mean Old Mom.

Applying the gooey contact cement to between the
surfaces using a popsicle stick.

Anyway. Here is the magic trick for fixing shoes. Contact cement. Don't get it confused with rubber cement. Contact cement dries flexible, but permanent. Rubber cement does not. In fact, while it is flexible, it allows the two surfaces to be repositioned. Not a good idea when you want your shoes to stay fixed.

I start by brushing off anything loose, like dirt. I will also use an alcohol prep pad to clean the surfaces.

Using binder clips to hold the two surfaces together
while the contact cement dries.

Then, I apply the gooey mess to both surfaces. It can be messy so make sure to put on the work surface.

After waiting a few minutes, squish the two sides together. Once the sides are together find a way to hold them together. As you can see, I used some binder clips, a hair clip and even the clip for a dog leash.

Mr. Toad would use a proper  clamp. But then, he uses screw drivers when a butter knife would do just as well.  I have also used the foot of the couch to hold everything together. For the boy's shoes I've even used masking or painters tape. No duct tape. It leaves a sticky residue.

I used just about anything I could find to hold these together.
Binder clips, hair clips, alligator clip from some electronic
gadget, and even the clop from a dog leash

I usually leave the sides clamped (or taped or under the  or under the couch) over night.

I have had very good luck with this. It is water proof and flexible. I have never had to redo anything that I have fixed this way.

I know there are other uses for contact cement, but the only other thing that I have used it for was to reattach the laminate on our cabinets. Don't ask. We have four kids.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Two Pairs of Jalie 2107 Cargo Shorts

Cargo Shorts
Four shorts I made for youngest son using Jalie 2107.
I've been gone for a while, but I am back. The family drama is now a little less dramatic and taking up less of my energy and time. I'm also feeling better.

I am also working on a secret project that will be unveiled within the next month or so. It has taken up a lot of time, but oh so worth it.

I have quite a few projects to blog about, but will try to do one at a time.

Making a slant pocket
Changing the curved pocket to a slant pocket.
I ended up using the longer pencil marking
at the top and the same marking on the side
as my cut line.

I finished these two awesome pairs of Jalie 2107 Cargo shorts for my two youngest boys a few weeks ago. This is my favorite shorts and pants pattern for my boys. I think it is my favorite because they ask me to make them. Then, they wear them almost everyday.

I made my first pair of these as pants for youngest son when he he was in kindergarten. I made him four pairs for school the next August. After that, I just kept making them. 

I have made these with and without the cargo pocket, with elastic, with buttonhole elastic, as shorts and as long pants. I have also modified the front pocket. The original pocket is a curved jean pocket. Middle Son prefers a slant pocket.

New pattern markings for slant pocket
The new cut line for the slant pocket.

Since this is a Jalie pattern it has 22 sizes included--size toddler 2 through men's 50. This is definitely a pattern to trace! I have traced mine so much that it is beginning to show signs of wear. When I found out that Jalie was discontinuing the pattern a few years ago, I was more than a little upset. I even emailed them.

Jalie now has this and a few of their other discontinued patterns as downloads now! Jalie 2107 is one of these downloadable patterns. They have also now included the pattern instructions separately. They are also on the pattern, but it is a pain to have to open the huge pattern to read the directions.

The new markings for slant pocket.
I didn't cut the actual pattern pieces.
Instead, I folded the pieces.

I made some modification on Middle Son's pockets. He prefers a slant pocket to the curved pocket. To make this adjustment, I compared his favorite pants and shorts. I attempted to have him try them all on and have him tell me what he liked and disliked about each. Yeah, that didn't go well. Males do not like to try on clothes--and this one also despises discussing the details. Who would have thought??????

So, to make this modification, you will need to find all the pieces that make up the pocket and front. In this case, there is the front, the pocket facing, and the yoke. On the picture above, it shows a slashed line that I originally thought would be the cut line, but I managed to sneak in a question about the pants with that slant and he accidentally told me that he preferred a more vertical, slant. Because of this information, I used the longer penciled line along the waist and used the same line on the side.
slanted pocket
The finished slanted pocket.

After marking the front, I marked the facing. The facing is from the lining in these pants and is part of the pocket. I lined up the marks from the pattern on the front and traced the same new cut line along the pocket edge.

Youngest Son like the patterned pockets.
It also helps with identifying who's black shorts are
whose when doing laundry.

On the front yoke, which is from the fashion fabric, I used the original pattern piece and then lined it up with the new front using the pattern markings. I made sure that the new yoke extended past the new pocket edge enough to extend past the edge once sewn and another inch or so.

Belt loops made using the Cover Stich Machine & attachment

Side of Jalie 2107
Back of Jalie 2107

I was now able to continue the assembly by following the directions. Yes. I follow the directions on these pants. These are GREAT instructions. The only modifications I make are that I serge the seams, then top stitch. I also use top stitching thread in the middle and regular, all purpose thread in the bottom.

Jalie 2107-Favorite Cargo Shorts
When I use top stitching thread, I only use it in the top needle and only when top stitching. I also use a #18 Jeans needle. This keeps the tension right on my machine. If you have a needle threader on your machine, don't use it with the top stitching thread. It has bent my threader in the past. To fix the threader is a service trip. Also, it has jammed my auto cutter, but that is an easier fix.

I don't have too many pictures of these on the boys. Middle Son decided he wasn't going to stick around for photos. Youngest son immediately found dirt and got comfortable.

I can tell you that in the month since these were completed, they have been worn almost every day. They have become their favorite shorts and there is a request for more.

Jalie 2107-Cargo Shorts
Adaptations I am considering are:

  • Leaving side pocket off
  • Buttonhole elastic in the waist
  • Elastic in the waist
  • Welt pockets in the back
  • Button fly
I have also been considering doing a sew along for these pants/shorts. If I were to do a sew along, I would cover many details and variations.

Since this is a pattern for men and for boys, this may be your chance to sew for guy with some guidance.

Would you be interested in participating in a sew along for Jalie 2107? free polls 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Striped Maxi--McCall's 6559

There is nothing like a little life getting in the way of plans. A little (actually a lot) family drama and some spring cleaning put me in bed with a rheumatoid flare and a pair of worthless hands. My poor husband and kids were having to fend for themselves for dinner--not a pretty sight. I was also eating comfort food that wasn't helping me get better. 

M6559 Striped Maxi dress
McCall's  6559
Striped Maxi
I attempted to stay on track with my sewing plans, but didn't do too well. I missed a few Me-Made days while in pajamas or sweats. But worse was that I couldn't type! It isn't very easy to blog without typing. Middle Son was also becoming annoyed at being asked to take my picture everyday.

So, I'm back. I'm taking it slow and attempting to pace myself. Pacing is not easy for me. 

I did managed to get some sewing done. I also have some works in progress, but I want to get to one of my favorites. 

Our sons' elementary was having its 50th anniversary celebration. This was also Mr.Toad's elementary so I had no choice but to go. Since it was hot, I wanted something comfortable, casual and nice to wear. After my first attempt at McCall's 6559, I kept thinking of how I could make it fit better. I felt like the neck was too wide. I had an idea. Why not take the extra out of the middle of the dress? I had my fabric all washed and waiting patiently to be cut, but I decided to see how it might look. 

I grabbed my first attempt at McCall's 6559 and pinned the front and the back, taking out about 1/2 inch from the front and the back. Much, much better.

McCall's 6559
Super Quick Maxi
I went to work and folded 5/8" from the center of the pattern and cut out the front and the back. This time, I thought I would try it as a maxi dress. If I didn't like it, I could always shorten it.

Like the first time, this was a quick sew. I used the hemming attachment on my coverstich for the hem. To use it, I measured and pressed the hem. Then, I just put the fabric through the attachment and it gave an even, effortless hem. Unfortunately, I had some trouble with doing the the same on the neck and the armholes. 

Since I was having trouble using the coverstich on the armholes and neckline, I decided to just use my widest rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. This was super quick and super easy. Of course, it took me a long time to use the rolled hem foot. I'm sure that I will eventually be able to use the coverstich as easily in time.

Even with picking the wayward coverstich stitches from the neckline and armholes, this awesome $10 maxi dress took less than 45 minutes. That includes changing thread in the serger, cover stitch, sewing machine and clean up.

We had a great evening and I had a bunch of compliments. I may need to make another. I already have a grey, teal and purple chevron washed and waiting to go.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why can't Joann's carry decent fabric for men? My fabric shopping rant.

I had some extra time today and really needed a fabric fix. I was out and about and somehow did not have my ever present Joann's circular. I had a 40% and my Mystery 60% off coupons. I ran into the house, grabbed my coupons and a scrap of fabric to match some thread.

I wanted to get some fabric to make Mr. Toad the newest pattern from Thread Theory, their FREE Arrowsmith Men's Tank Top. Unfortunately, I could not find a jersey that did not have a feminine edge to it. Pink and teal is not a good color for Mr. Toad. Neither is a lacy or metallic strip or pattern. I couldn't even find a decent jersey. I finally settled, yes settled, on a blue ribbed knit. I really am not pleased with it and will probably order something from

I think I looked everywhere except for the wall of fleece and the huge section of quilting cottons, and the special occasion fabrics for some inspiration.

I was so disappointed in the fabric selection. I even told a couple employees that the fabric selection is horrible. I even asked the person cutting if there was a way to suggest stocking some plain jerseys. She didn't seem to think that Joann's would change their ways.

I did end up getting myself a couple knits that I will use to make maxi tank dresses, another for a tee, a linen print for a dress and some navy ribbing to replace the waistband on my yoga pants.

While I did get a couple of fabrics that I'm okay with, I am seriously frustrated with Joann's selection of fabrics. I do have an alternative in Hancock Fabric and may start going there more often.

Why can't Joann's carry fabric that I can use to make a decent t-shirt for my husband or boys?  I can go on and on about my disappointing trips for fabric for myself as well. I spend a lot of money in their store, mainly on fabric.

I know I can go to Hancock Fabrics two miles farther, but I always feel like I am disrupting them when I want fabric cut or want to check out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

McCall's 6559--The back up plan

McCall's 6559
One of the advantages to being able to sew is being able to whip up a dress when having one of those days that end up with most of your wardrobe thrown on the bed because you just don't want to wear anything you own.

Now, in the past, this would have resulted in a shopping trip. However, with the ready to wear fast, I only had my stash of patterns and my stash of fabric.

My version of McCall's 6559 is much looser.

For anyone who watched the national news, Sacramento is supposed to hit the first 100 day of the year this week. I believe we were in the 70's last week. I wanted something cool. No, not unique or fashionable. I wanted something comfortable when opening the door and feeling like I've stepped out into an oven, only to find that opening the car door was even hotter.

Well, this morning I decided I would make the dress that inspired a pattern and fabric purchase. I had seen Susie Homemaker, MD create. In fact, the day I saw her post, I immediately bought the fabric and then bought the pattern within days. I've been admiring the fabric, afraid to cut into it and ruin it for months.

Since I frequently don't get fit or sizing right the first time, I decided to try using a knit that I have had in my stash for 4 or 5 years. I only had one yard, but it was enough. This pattern is a front and a back. That's it. Two pieces. I looked at the bust, waist and hip measurements and decided to go with the 14 since the measurements came up with negative ease.
Inside serged shoulder seam in navy thread.
Inside of neck and arm hole hems using the cover stitch.

I used the serger to sew the shoulder and side seams. The pattern calls for hemming the neck, arm holes, and hem. So, I used Maris's from Sew Maris, tip for using the coverstitch to hem the neck, arm and hem. This was the most time consuming. I wish I knew how to use the attachments for my cover stitch machine by now, but I needed to do it in a way that I felt more comfortable until I do.

It was so exciting to see my cover stiched hems! It was like the feeling the first time I used my serger and had finished seams.
The outside of the cover stitched hem.
Yeah, I'm showing off my newest toy!

I love my new dress. However, I think it is too big. The dress is perfect for the heat. It skims the body and is not restrictive at all. I'm glad I didn't use the fabric that I wanted to. I will have to make another practice run in another fabric from may stash. The worst that happens is that I have another comfy hot weather dress.

New Brother 2340cv Cover Stitch!

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Just when I had convinced myself that I can wait to get a cover stitch machine I had an interesting conversation with Mr. Toad.

Last week Mr. Toad had taken a day off and asked me if "those underwear (the Comox Trunks) would be easier to make with that machine you want." 

I wasn't sure how to answer. I just replied, "Maybe. I don't because I haven't tried using one yet." 

He polite responded, "Let's get it for you for Mother's Day, and get those attachments so you won't need anything later."

So, I promptly ordered it. It is the Brother 2340CV Cover Stitch that I have been dreaming of having. Even though AllBrands had a much better package deal,  I ended up ordering from Amazon because it would be here sooner. I've now had it for six days, but haven't had sufficient time to play with it or master it. But, I am looking forward to just sitting down and getting to know it. Mr. Toad isn't worried that I haven't been using it--I bought him a new cabinet table saw for Valentine's Day that has yet to cut a piece of wood.

I will tell you that it was easy to thread. Like the Brother 1034D , it is labeled and numbered along the threading path. It can use one, two, or three needles. It has one stitch in one direction, but you can adjust the length. The width of the needles is determined by which needles you use.

One thing that I am disappointed with is that there isn't much in the way of instruction the way most machines will give. Luckily, there is the internet and tons of wonderful bloggers who share their experiences.

I will report on my sewing projects that I am finishing, having trouble with and am planning in the next few days. With the end of the school year approaching, my time is being pulled away from sewing and computer time. We've also had some family drama. I have been sewing, but haven't had much computer time.