Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sow Along Catch Up May

Time for a little catch-up on my Sow Along.  Some of you like my one color blocks.  I have to say I'm liking the other blocks I've seen.  Bonnie Hunter's plaids are great.  I hope some day we can all link up at Bonnie's blog and show off our blocks to each other. 

I started with the basket I made too small.  This one has different fabrics in it, but this time it came out to the proper six and a half inches!

  You can see this one is larger by half an inch!

This one was pretty but too small!!  Oh well..

Next I worked on a block I've seen in a couple of places, called the Evening Star.  It has a dark background and light points.  I was fascinated by the 2 inch by 3 1/2 inch flying goose block.  As in, can I make one that small accurately?  I made the eight required and when I squared them up I only had to shave a little off each one.  For some reason my sewing does not provide a rectangular goose -- I seem to get one that gets a little wider where the point is in the center of the block.  I wonder if I'm stretching those bias seems a little.

I apologize for the fuzzy photo.  This is from my cell phone.

Finished size 4 1/2 inches...
I also made a Shoo Fly block.  Well, actually I made two.  Follow the directions!! I didn't and made a perfectly adorable Shoo Fly with 2 inch blocks instead of 2 inch (finished) blocks.  This little fly finishes up at just four and a half inches!  And here's her larger brother, too.

Finished size six inches!

After the fun I had with Shoo Fly, you'd think I would have stopped for the evening, but I made one more.  It's called maple leaf.  I've seen it done in glorious fall colors, and it's always so impressive.  But our maple in the back yard is full of green leaves right now, so here it is in green plaid with kind of a fussy background. 

Maple Leaf in summer

I think I have made at least 32 different blocks, but I have to count because I think I have more than 30 six inch blocks, plus some others of various sizes.  LOL!!  Hope you enjoyed looking at these blocks as much as I've enjoyed making them.

Keep on stitching!

Mrs. H's Blouse

One of my jobs in high school was to sew my own clothes.  I am from a big family, back in the days when having a big family was something you did.  I'm the oldest of eight, one of two girls.  Men who grew up with lots of sisters sometimes complain about living in a house full of women, but we had the reverse -- 30% estrogen, 70% testosterone!

NOT my actual brothers but some of these guys are dirty enough to qualify...

I started babysitting for other families when I was about 12, and I saved up my 50 cents an hour to buy garments at the thrift stores and Goodwill (see other post on the subject).  I used my mom's machine but always had to clean up to clear the table for dinner, and things took forever to finish.  Otherwise I sewed in an unfinished basement.

When I was in high school I got a job for the Christmas season at a local variety store, one that had a big fabric department.  Someone traded in a used sewing machine in a cabinet for a new portable machine.  The store manager let me purchase this beauty for $65. 

It was a couple of days before my mom could come with the station wagon to haul the machine/cabinet home.  I set up at the foot of my bed, put my sewing basket under the legs and was thrilled to be in business!!  Funny, I am trying to remember what kind it was, probably a Kenmore.  I remember it had cams for the different stitches, and a big honkin' buttonhole attachment that fastened to the back of the presser foot.  It took me months to figure that thing out.

But figure it out I did, and that led directly to Mrs. H's blouse...

Mrs. H was a lady who went to our church.  She had a daughter and two sons.  The daughter was older than me, I think she was away at school most of the time.  One son was my age and one was  younger, and my brothers were friends with them.  I think Mrs. H missed Karen because she always was so nice to me.  But then she was a VERY nice person...

This is what it looks like in my memory...
She knew I sewed, and I think she must have been impressed with my skills because she offered to actually pay me to sew some things for her.  She had her eye on some fabric for an outfit for work at her job in a doctor's office.  It was a gray a-line skirt, and for a blouse she picked out a lovely teal paisley cotton blend.

 Sewing that outfit was a challenge; I wanted it to be as close to perfect as I could make it!  I sweated those buttonholes.  I'll bet I made them a dozen times in my dreams before I dared to make a couple of samples on the scraps.

I didn't have the benefit of any sewing classes, or a mentor who knew anything about garment construction.  My school schedule was full of college-prep classes like Advanced Algebra and Chemistry.  When I think about the vast amount of stuff I didn't know, I'm appalled at my hubris in thinking what I did would be worth payment!  Mrs. H, if you're still around, I'm humbled by your faith.

The blouse was very pretty.  It had a button placket and about 7 buttons that couldn't have been bigger than 5/8 of an inch.  Plus one more on each cuff.  The skirt was easy, a centered back zipper and a metal clasp on the waistband, pretty standard stuff.  I pressed carefully as I worked.  I didn't prewash anything, I'm sure.  I can't remember seeing Mrs. H in the outfit at church, but she thanked me prodigiously for my hard work.

Instead of money, she bought me all the supplies for a personal project at an actual FABRIC STORE downtown.  Two and a half yards of white wool, interfacing, lining, and buttons, and a pattern for a dress coat for spring and fall... at the time it was a dream come true.

And THAT project was so enjoyable to complete that it should be worth its own post!

Thank you and bless you, Mrs. H, wherever you are.  I hope you know how much you influenced me!

Sew on!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Instead of Sewing...

This morning I intended to post the catch up photos of the blocks I've finished since Randy's last Sow Along post.  Key word being intended.

The famous writer said "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" or something like that.

First of all, DH is painting the second floor of our house.  Why that matters is that he decided to do it without giving me much notice, and he went at it with a vengence!!  He started hauling stuff down and stacking it in the garage before I knew what he was up to.  I wanted to go through it and make decisions about what actually goes back into the rooms, but that will have to happen in the garage, I guess!

The reason he took off with this is because I had requested that we think about taking down a wall that divides our basement in half, and expand my sewing room downstairs.  We have a gigantic laudry/storage room with a lot of junk in it, and we could make better use of that space.

HE decided that he'd rather shuffle the furniture in the three bedrooms, making the smallest room which is a den into a guest room/den, moving our furniture into the guest room, and putting my sewing stuff into the master bedroom.   Huh.  Except. My cutting table has to stay in the basement.  And probably a lot of the stash too.

Just think about it before you say no, he asked.  OK.  I knew the answer to that one.  He MUST have known it was a big no because when I said it three days later he was not really surprised.  Meanwhile he started dragging stuff down and I had to go to the paint store.

But all this moving and cleaning and inspecting has put me seriously behind schedule!  Can you imagine what it would be if I had to move all my stuff up two floors?  Well, I can't afford to lose the whole summer, can I?

I spend enough time cleaning up after I work on a project, or more accurately, cleaning up and organizing when I want to work on something because I didn't clean up after myself when I last stopped!  Last night after dinner with DH I spent a half hour re-ordering the Sow Along greens and backgrounds so I could catch up.  Two blocks were actually sewn together and pressed but I can't find the camera again.  It WAS on the desk.  Which could now be in the garage or under a dropcloth!

Well, after A's preschool graduation ceremony on Friday, and E's last school concert, there is a long weekend ahead. 

Maybe I can get caught up.

Sew on...

Monday, May 21, 2012


I'm taking a hint from Randy's blog (and others!) and I have created a tab, as a place to link up the pictures of my Phone Guy's Wife quilt blocks.  Hope you enjoy it!  It's very "green"!


The Importance of Reading Directions

On Sunday night last weekend, after all the kids had gone home and the Mother's Day cake crumbs were cleaned up, I went into my sewing studio to work on some more Sow-Along blocks. 

Randy had posted three blocks on her blog, the Barrister's Block, and I wanted to do at least two of them.  I like the Fruit Basket block, I'm really starting to like doing baskets!

I made the middle block, called Union Square, without too much difficulty.  I had made a batch of 1 inch finished HSTs a while back, and stashed them in a baggie.  It was enjoyable picking out some other greens to go with them to make the block look like Randy's.  I was using my Little Wooden Iron to make the seams go where they belonged, or at least go into a direction that made the block lay relatively flat before it was pressed.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  You can judge for yourself:

Then I got to work on the basket.  The block divides into four rows and four columns.  The basket center takes up the two center spaces in both the columns and the rows.  Sort of a block with a border kind of thing.  Dividing the 6 inch finished block by four units gets you to an inch and a half finished per unit. 

OK, so I'm so smart I can sew this block together without even thinking about it.  I proceeded to cut pieces, sew the rows, sew the columns, sew everything together.  Gosh this block is so cute!!  I'm sure you'll agree!

The only thing is, when I laid it next to the Union Squre block, it's so cute because it's smaller... When I did the cutting for the units in the 'outside' rows, I mentally added the required seam allowances to the pieces I needed, and came up with the idea that in order to finish at 1-1/2 inches,  they should be cut 1-3/4 inches, not 2 inches.  I must have thought I only needed seam allowance on one side!!  Duh...

So I guess I'll make it again, this time reading the directions...

Keep on sewing!