Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 2011 Crafting

May 2011

Lots of crochet, quilting and sewing going on!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sewing Machines and Timing

Up close and personal with my machine

I don't think I've ever mentioned before that I have three sewing machines. It's a long story but basically, I have my primary machine that I do all of my sewing and quilting on, a back-up, and a sort of frivolous purchase: a featherweight. Why did I buy a featherweight? I kept reading wonderful, glowing reviews of it on blogs. Everyone who had one loved how beautifully it sewed a straight stitch. I was really tired of pieces getting sucked down into the feed dogs on my regular machine (which has a larger hole for zig zag stitching). I decided it would improve my piecing and the experience if I bought one. Buying a featherweight on Ebay was educational. I had to bid in a lot of auctions and it took me a while to realize what type of machine I would actually be able to afford (nothing in perfect condition).

My New Old Friend

I bought my machine about three years ago but only recently have brought it into working order! Actually, there weren't many things wrong with it, but I had to buy a repair guide, take things apart, oil and clean them, etc. I am not mechanically inclined, so I had to work up the courage to do this. My machine was sewing too fast and when I took the foot pedal apart to adjust the speed, I discovered parts were missing. :) More time passed before I ordered the last bits I needed. They just arrived yesterday.


The timing was very good because my primary sewing machine just went into the shop, the back-up machine is lent to a friend, and I was left with nothing to sew on, which seemed to me rather ironic. I got the machine all set up with the new pedal and pieced a row of my One Block Wonder quilt. It sews really well! While there were some set backs and the passing of years, the great thing about this machine is that I feel empowered because I can actually perform minor repairs by referring to my repair manual.

Fly Wheel

So was the investment worth it? I think so! It is a bit of an adjustment to go back to not having a "needle up/down" option and I have to pay more attention to how much pressure I put on the foot pedal. I really like how smoothly it sews and the stitches are nice and even. I love having a straight stitch throat plate! It is a beautiful machine, too. I'll keep putting it through its paces as I work on some quilting and sewing projects.


Happy Sewing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let the Summer Sewing Begin!

In my last post, I mentioned that I have been hankering to do some sewing, especially sewing bags. I came across a tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew blog, Wallet to tote on the Go that looked fun and gave it a try. The project is a small tote that can fold in on itself and zip up into a wallet.

Morphing Wallet Tote

I really love this owl fabric!

I acquired some new skills while making this bag: sewing a zipper around a curve, working with nylon (the lining), and making a welt cutout for a small zipper. After I sewed the first one, I decided to leave out the wallet part and just make it a convertible tote. I assumed I could remember the steps reasonably well (hah) but I didn't and I had to resew and rip a few times. Oops!

Sew Happy Together

I think I'll be making more of these as Christmas gifts. They're a fun little project to make. Next week, I'll be sewing something new. Maybe a roll up grocery bag?

Have you run across any fun tutorials lately that you're excited to try? I really want to make the Buttercup Bag sometime soon.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's on My Couch is What's on My Mind

An intriguing title, no?

I have a tendency to get lots of ideas and projects going and they pile up on my couch! Today, I thought I would show you my (very old) couch and give you a peek into the workings of my mind.

What's on my couch is what's on my mind

Item 1.: My knitting bag which contains this lovely sweater, Cerisara.

Cerisara in progress

I have ripped and re-knit parts of this sweater so many times, I can't even say for sure--maybe 5? But I love it and I think I now know what's going on with the pattern and I am finally cooking along! So I want to make one or two button holes for the front of this sweater which leads me to...

Item 2. Knitting books. Okay, I think I've reached a point in my knitting where the average knitting book is not helpful with more advanced techniques, like how to decide how big to make your button hole and how far in to place it from the edge of the button band. Hmm. Maybe I should go consult Elizabeth Zimmerman. Somehow, I forgot about her!

Item 3. I've been bitten by the sewing bug. I think this is an annual summer occurrence. By the way, I really like this book, Stitch by Stitch, because it is thorough, walks you through a series of skill-building projects, and the author has a good sense of humor. What I really want to make is a bunch of project bags for my knitting and crochet. I think I'll be sewing lots of bags this summer.

Item 4. Reuse! I'm on a mission to make reusable produce bags. I really hate using all of those plastic bags at the grocery store and throwing them away. This one is probably 3/4 completed and sort of looks like a pretty doily right now.

Item 5. Potholders! If you've seen my flickr stream or Ravelry page, you'll have noticed a sudden output of crocheted potholders. I was really inspired by the 2011 potholder swap and decided to make more. It's been really fun and satisfying to work on projects that I can finish relatively quickly. Here's a closer look at that pile.

Star Cloth
Star Cloth

Okay, technically this is a dishcloth, but I considered using the pattern for a potholder.

Heart Potholders
Grandma's Heart Square (with modifications, as you can see, it is not square)

I was inspired by SummerMelody on Ravelry to try this after seeing her potholders for the swap.

Fanciful Flower 2

Fanciful Flower Potholder 1
Fanciful Flower

I joined the crochet along for this flower in the Good Things Together Group on Ravelry. It's been fun seeing all the different details and color choices people have been adding to their own versions.

Who Cooks for You Potholder
Who Cooks for You?

This was another one I spied in the Potholder Swap that I really wanted to make. A very fun and clever pattern!

So, that's what's on my couch and on my mind! How about you? What is filling your crafty spaces and thoughts these days?