Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another shirt

I completed another one in my cut-and-ready-to-be-sewn pile on the floor. It is a sleeveless top from Vogue pattern V2634 (View E).

This is actually the second time I've sewn this pattern. The first time I made it, back in 2005, I had some fit issues. The full-bust allowance (FBA) I added wasn't quite full enough (had to be held closed with strategically placed safety pins). The side slits were slit way too high on me. And, worst of all, it looked like a tent. I'm not proud, but I'm modeling it here so that I can show off how improved it is in the new version.

V2634, Version 1
The pink arrow indicates the tent-like way it hangs from my ample bosom. The green arrow is pointing to the gaposis in front (if you look close, you can see that the front is lifting up a lot... thank goodness for safety pins!).

Despite the issues, I actually like this shirt and even wear it on occasion. I figured that with a few adjustments, it could become a summer favorite. So, I tried it again.

V2634, version 2

Though it still isn't perfect, I am much happier with the result this time around. And here's a picture for comparison to the previous version:

V2634, version 2, side view
It is so much less tent-like.

You can read more details on construction and the adjustments I made in my review at

Now if it would only warm up again outside so that I can wear it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: J-4

Dear Jane block J-4Block number/name: J-4 “Adelaine’s Apron Strings”

Date completed: August 25, 2008

Number of pieces: 7

Notes on block: This is the simplest block we’ve done in quite some time. All the pieces seemed positively huge! And it came together very quickly. It took me about 30-40 minutes (about 1 ½ episodes of My Name is Earl) (I love tv on dvd!). In the original block, Jane Stickle used a stripe very effectively, and so I wanted to do something similar. I don’t have many stripes to choose from in my pile o’ green, but I think this one works pretty well. Maybe I need to go get some more stripey greens? Or maybe I just need an excuse to visit the quilt store?

The Boy has a summer cold. It’s not any fun at all. He’s snotty, coughing, and generally cranky. And his diaper rash is acting up again. Ouch! Thankfully, he’s taking a nap right now. Hopefully that will help refresh him some.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New top!

I've been making my way through the pile of cut patterns on my floor. Last week I made myself a shirt from New Look 6735. I did view B with the 3/4-length sleeves.

New Look 6735
I love how this one came out. Even better, I love that it came out so well without having to make any adjustments to the pattern! Woo hoo! My only complaint is not with the pattern, but rather with my own skills. I just couldn't get my coverstitch machine to do the hem without the fabric kind of bunching up between the stitching lines. So the sleeve and bottom hems have a funky ribbed look going on. But at least it's consistent. So maybe I can just call it a "detail" and leave it at that.

I already have plans for another top from this pattern. I'm not sure when I'll get around to making it, but it is definitely near the top of the sewing queue. Of course, there are also quilting and crafty queues that need to be contended with as well.

In the nearly completed pile is another shirt, but I haven't managed to do the buttonholes/buttons. It's already been sitting for a week, so hopefully I'll get it done soon.

ETA: My review at

Saturday, August 23, 2008


In February 1999 I started a project. It was a Robert Callaham project from McCall's Quilting called Grandma's Country Album II. Over the course of a year, I managed to complete 6 of the 13 blocks. Then I must have decided to move on to other things, because that's all I ever managed to do. I didn't even consider it as a UFO because it was that far off my radar.

Anyway, last week while on a completely unrelated search I found my stash of blocks. I took a look and was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the blocks really weren't that bad (somehow, I was remembering them as turning out horribly). What with my new found enjoyment of applique, I decided that I wanted to finish the quilt. Lo and behold, I even had a block completely prepped and waiting. Over the course of the last week, between Dear Jane blocks, I stitched it together.

Grandma's Country Album II block Patchwork Pineapple
It's fun to have an old project suddenly become fresh again. And now I have another block to add to the pile!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: H-8

Block number/name: H-8 “Eaton’s Crossroads”

Date completed: August 22, 2008

Number of pieces: 39

Notes on block: This one was a serious doozie! It took a long time, but it came together well. I decided to piece the inner square frame to look more like the original (that, and to make lining up pieces a little easier). I pieced the center section, pieced the frame, reverse appliquéd the frame onto the center, trimmed everything to size, and then pieced all the outer corners and attached them. Phew! And somehow, by the end everything ended up square. (Not that you can tell by my horrible picture... but it is square. Really.)

As I stitched I watched more Olympics coverage, but I also watched a couple of Bravo shows, including the latest episode Shear Genius and the premiere episode of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. Guilty pleasures.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: L-3

Dear Jane block L-3Block number/name: L-3 “Reflections Abound”

Date completed: August 20, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: This one looks much prettier in person. I’ve been trying to find ways to integrate two greens into some blocks. I maybe wish the solidish one was a little lighter, but it is what I had on hand. I think it will work well enough. This one was a nice straightforward block to piece. After two easy ones in a row, I have a feeling the next one will be a doozie.

I started work on this one two nights ago during the Olympics and finished it today while watching the latest BBC production of Sense and Sensibility as the boy napped. It was a very nice and relaxing afternoon. I love Jane Austen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: K-12

Dear Jane block K-12Block number/name: K-12 “Doris’s Dilemma”

Date completed: August 18, 2008

Number of pieces: 11

Notes on block: Anina was very kind. To get us all back in the swing of things after the break, she picked out an easy block for us. Stitched as I watched the Olympics, this one took a lot longer than it normally would have. I continually had to pause during my stitching to look up and check out the goings-on (gymnastics and diving are particularly diverting). Despite the distractions, I think the block turned out really well. The green flower fabric was from the recent Dear Baby Jane green swap. I love how many tones and shades of green it has.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I've been busy the last week or so. Remember, a few weeks ago, I cut out all those patterns? I've actually started in on putting them together! I figured I really need to get some of the stuff laying on my floor complete (before I run out of floor).

First up: Pajamas

Pajama pic
The top is Simplicity 9330, view B. This was a disappointment. The fit is so not good. Really, I had my suspicions that it would be a bomb, as I wasn't thrilled with the pajama pants I made from this pattern a couple of years ago. But I had the fabric, it was a simple pattern, and I figured even if it didn't turn out, it wasn't too big a deal since it was for bedtime anyway. I think the main issue is that this is a unisex pattern, and I'm just too curvy for it to work for me.

The pants are from McCall's 5010, view D. I used a super-cute kitty flannel from Hancock Fabrics. The drawstring is a little weird, and I'm still not sure I like it, but the fit of the pants (other than being a size too big) is great. I'll definitely be making these again.

If you're curious, you can read more about these in my reviews at
Now that I've been working on these, it just makes me want to do more sewing. The coming of fall always makes me want new clothes. Conditioning after years of back-to-school shopping, I suspect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: H-6

Dear Jane block H-6Block number/name: H-6 “Pie Sale”

Date completed: August 10, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: I’ve been on a Dear Jane break the last couple of weeks as Anina is on vacation and hasn’t been posting new blocks. So I kind of took my time on this one and stitched it over the course of a few days, a little bit here, a little there. I reverse appliquéd all of the pies, and then stitched all of them together. Nice and simple. I picked the fabric because I liked the little circles all through it and how they kind of resonate with the curves of the block.

I’ve been obsessed with the Olympics the last few days. I watched the opening ceremonies and was in awe of the scale and precision involved with all of the various aspects of the production (and that field-sized LCD screen was crazy!). Then over the last two nights, we’ve been following the swimming, diving, and gymnastics. It’s really hard to stitch while watching events like these, because I really want to watch and focus on the details of each performance. So I pretty much stitch during commercial breaks. Kind of slow going, but so worth it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mail fun!

Yesterday was an excellent mail day!

Mail item #1: Last week I used the last of a birthday gift certificate and ordered some stuff from Big Horn Quilts.

Bighornquilts mail
Included were a pack of machine quilting designs, a yard of a pretty Alexander Henry print, and a yard of beautiful Oriental dragons. The dragon fabric is going to be a fun fall shirt for the boy (or, at least, that’s the plan).

Mail item #2: I received my registration info for the Houston International Quilt Festival! Yes, it’s true! I’m going to Houston! My Austin friend sent me a mail at the beginning of July insisting that I join her and a couple friends in their Quilt Festival adventure. They’ve got hotel rooms already booked and everything. My wonderful husband pretty much insisted that I go. There’s definitely some mama-guilt, but I bought my tickets, they are non-refundable, and I’m going. Bonus: I even got into my first choice classes! I’ll be taking Advanced Machine Quilting from Linda M. Fiedler, and Hand Quilting for Beginners from Jan Svatek.

Mail item #3: A few weeks ago, I won a contest that Gayla held celebrating her 250th post on her blog, flibbertigibbet bunny. And as a final super mail surprise yesterday, I received my prize:

Fabulous bunny mail
In addition to some fun fabric, she included two handmade items. One was a darling pincushion she made from leftover Dear Jane blocks. The other was a fabulous knitted hat (how did she know I’ve been yearning for just such a hat?).

Fabulous bunny hat
Thank you so much, Gayla!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Star Quilt Along Top!

Yay! I finally managed to get my butt in gear and attach the borders on my Star Quilt Along top:

Star Quilt Along top
Next up: prairie points!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ironing Board Cover

This was my ironing board this morning:

ironing board cover before
Ick. I know. So I decided it was time to do something about it. Of course, I could have followed one of the many tutorials out there (like this, this, or this). But why would I do something simple and smart like that? Sigh... Yes. I decided to wing it. So, what really ought to have taken less than an hour took me at least 2 (plus a trip to the fabric store for some cording, because nothing I had was working well).

On the bright side, this is my ironing board now:

ironing board anew
Really, what I decided to do was to make a cover for my cover. Despite the wear and nasty burnage, I really liked how the original was padded and how it fit so snugly. So I created a cover to go over that one with a couple additional layers of batting for some fresh cushion.

It took time (and no small amount of angst), but now that I've tried and failed a couple of times, I've got a method that will work for me in the future and come together much, much faster. It should look a lot prettier next time around too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some reading

Eek! I only just realized that it's been a week since I've posted. I guess I was hoping that my next post would be a completed Star Quilt Along top. Alas, I'm not quite there yet (still working on borders). I have been busy doing stuff, but really there isn't much in the way of excitement to share. I've been working on my hexagon flowers (keeping my hands busy during the Dear Baby Jane break). I've finished cutting out the Prairie Pinwheels fabrics (that took way too long... ugh). Last night I started on the last posted Dear Jane block, H-6. And I've been thinking about quilt tops.

I have a pile of quilt tops in my closet. Most of them have been there for at least 3 years... waiting. One still needs a final border, but the rest are just waiting for quilting. My main reason for not having quilted them is that I spent so long putting these tops together that I was afraid of messing them up in the quilting. I'm finally feeling like I'm confident enough to tackle at least a couple of them. To help myself along, I've been doing some reading.

Machine Quilting by Sue Nickels

In 2005, I took a class from Sue Nickels at the Houston International Quilt Festival. It was eye-opening and really boosted my machine quilting skills and confidence. This book offers much of the same information that she provided in the class, as well as similar practice sampler projects. It's almost like having her with you. She addresses everything from needles and thread to deciding what quilting designs to use on your project. I also appreciate that it includes not just free-motion info, but also valuable wisdom on stitching in the ditch which is often completely glossed over in many machine quilting books (though it sounds so simple, it can in actuality be very challenging). This book is a great resource for anyone interested in growing or enhancing their machine quilting skills

Mastering Quilt Marking by Pepper Cory

A number of the tops I have in the closet are large... I think there are three queen-size, and one king in there right now, and the Star Quilt Along quilt is not small either. Though I like stippling and free-motion meanderings, I also really enjoy traditional patterns like feathers and wreaths. One of the keys to doing those well is getting them marked on the quilt. I bought this book years ago, but only last week picked it up and really looked at it. In fact, I read the whole thing cover-to-cover over the course of a morning. The book focuses on the art of marking the quilt in preparation for quilting. The author discusses the tools, a variety of techniques, when to mark what (before basting or after basting?), and how important marking is. The book does NOT discuss how to quilt a quilt. But it does offer advice on how various styles of quilting have different effects and can serve different purposes.

After spending some time with these books, I'm feeling much less intimidated now, and am anxious to start in on one of my tops. I even have one in mind... now I just have to find somewhere to baste it!