Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to School Sewing

I got to do a little bit of sewing for each of the boys at the end of August. I'm really happy to send a little bit of handmade to school with the boys, so I enjoyed doing a few quick projects.

Andrew starts studying in English and French this year, and his school supply list included two waterproof drawstring bags to hold his books for each language seperate.  I thought this would be a fun opportunity to sew for him, and I had already picked up some star wars and superhero fabrics that were supposed to be used for shorts this summer (whoops!).
I was originally going to line these bags with PUL to make them waterproof, but when I was at Fabricville I found this iron-on vinyl that I thought would work better. It was actually a great choice, because it makes them look (as Andrew put it) "real" instead of handmade.

They are pretty basic, lined drawstring bags. The inside is some solid cotton I had laying around (this yellow is all the way from when Andrew was little - its the same fabric as they boys' superhero capes). I originally used gross grain ribbon for the handles, but I quickly realized they would not be strong enough to hold up through the year.
Instead I switched to some handles made from the endless organic duck cotton, et voila! Two very cool and handy bags.

Aaron needed a smock for Kindergarten, and he wanted to make sure he got a piece of the superhero fabric before it was gone. So he got a quick smock made from the pattern in the Sew Liberated  book.
This project took a lot less creativity, as I just followed the pattern to the letter. I made the bias binding out of the same yellow fabric (it never ceases to amaze me how far 2m of something can go) as Andrew's bag lining, and whipped this up in a night. It s a little big right now, but I figure he'll grow into it.
This was a really quick and easy sew - it took me a few hours one night. I felt a little odd when I was dropping off his school supplies the day before he went to school, because all the other kids just had old dad shirts cut short. But Aaron is not the kind of kid to care about that kind of thing, so I think he will enjoy it anyway. And if he doesn't, I can always bring it home and cut up one of Dave's shirts so he "matches" all his friends. Sigh.

So, now both my big boys are off to school all day, 5 days a week. So far we're enjoying the quiet, but we're glad to see them by the end of the day. Here's a parting shot of Aaron's first day on the bus, including our awesome bus drivier:

A Crafternoon and A Kitty Shirt

I had a lovely crafternoon with my friend Valerie , who is a knitter, yesterday. She gave me a knitting lesson and I gave her some advice on a lovely fall quilt she is putting together.  She taught me how to make a skien of wool into a ball.

This is the lovely, chunky wool I'm using for hats for Aaron and Owen:
Valerie also taught me how to make an i-cord and knit on the front and back of a stitch, so I can knit this little hat .
I'm almost done Emma's little kitty hat. I have about 2 inches left to knit, then I just need to stitch the top together. Emma loves it and she's super excited to get it. I have had some trouble with this hat - it is supposed to have a regular seed-ish type pattern, but I've had trouble keeping track of the rows all the time, so its not quite perfect. I may have also added or lost some stitches here and there. Such is learning to knit with small kids around.
I also discovered that Emma is at that age where I can no longer keep her on my lap while I'm reading blogs without consequences. I was reading wee wonderfuls and Emma saw the kitty shirt Hilary made for her daughter.

Emma immediately wanted a kitty shirt, too. I had just picked up some fabric pastels, so I could actually make her a kitty shirt.
 Its not pink and sparkly, but it is pink - with brown and red spots, as requested by my customer.
Its not perfect, but Emma loves it. You can tell, because it was in the laundry about 2 hours after I finished it. Fun times, these days at home.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Progress Report: Fab Little Quilt Swap and UFO

When we last saw this quilt, it was just a few green blocks and a bunch of blue fabric. But I have been chipping away bit by bit, cutting and pinning and pressing and cutting some more here and there throughout my days until I ended up with this:
After a few adjustments, I pieced it all together to get this lovely little quilt-let. I know, the hills don't match up as well as they did before it was stitched together, but I've decided that is part of the quilt's charm. It has finished up at about 12 x 18.

I went to baste it so I could quilt it, only to realize that I couldn't find any safety pins.

 That was when I remembered that I had used them all to baste the Threads Together UFO (UnFinishedObject) that has been rolled up, stuffed between my sewing desk and shelves for a good two or three months now. So, it is being quickly quilted in my very tight sewing space in order to harvest the pins. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I go to quilt a big or heavy quilt. I suspect I'm going to have to set up at the kitchen table. In any case, this quilt is going to be quilted with my walking foot in organic lines.

Since I have aquired a new quilting helper who likes to randomly lunge forward and grab at the quilt, despite having neither the balance nor core muscles to catch himself,  they are going to be VERY organic lines.

The Fab Little Quilt will be free motion quilted in cloud-ish and sky-ish and grass-ish patterns. And yes, I'm sure those are technical quilting descriptions somewhere. Really.

There is much back-to-schooling around here, but as back-to-schooling takes a lot of energy I shall save that for another night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Study in Identity

So, I ordered my first ever complete fat quarter bundle. "Field Study" by Anna Maria Horner. I usually order a few half yards from a line I really like, or a smaller bundle of one colourway of a fabric collection. But I decided this was my birthday present - never mind that my birthday is at the end of October. We all know that in two months this fabric will be long gone unless you have a local quilt shop that stocks it. So I bought it now.
As soon as it came I pulled apart the stack of fabrics and re-folded them and checked them out. Then I laid them out on the bathroom floor, all ready to pre-wash. I really like this collection - the colours have a lot of depth and complexity, the patterns will cut up really nicely into smaller patchwork or stand alone as bigger pieces, and the way the shades and tones of colour work together on the various fabrics is really original. Once again, Anna Maria Horner's creative genius at work.
Now that my bookshelves are in the hallway right outside of my bathroom (also the laundry room - our house is very compact), I fold fabric and set it on my bookshelf, ready to be moved to my craft area. I was laughing at these bright, luminescent fabrics sitting in front of "No Exit" by Sartre and "Beckett: The complete plays" and assorted Shakespeareian Tragedies. I studied English and Theater in university, and I was fascinated with Modernist and early Post-Modern theatre and poetry.

At first I thought the two things - the new fabric and the old books - were juxtaposed. But then I realized that they actually, in a way, represent something similar. The thing I loved about those works of art was the strange moodiness and drama inherent in 20th century despair and disconnection. I love the surprising way images and metaphors and symbols were stacked and layered to create meaning that you interpret using your unconcious as much as you do using your logic and reasoning.  And really, except for the existential despair, I think the rest of that is all present in these fabrics, isn't it? Moody colours, dream-like images, bits of surprising patterns and symbols to sort and re-arrange to create all kinds of meaning and mood. Ah, I knew the poet in me would re-emerge one day. I just didn't know she's use fabric instead of words.