Saturday, June 12, 2021

Still sewing, still here.

I am still around, still sewing, just not blogging much these days.  I have gone off in a different direction in my sewing which is fun and I hope will be somewhat lucrative in the future.   I am making doll clothes in addition to human clothes.

I love dolls, all kinds of dolls, and miniatures. As a child, I loved to dress and undress my dolls, feed them and put them to bed.  I had some great kitchen toys, a toy iron and ironing board — all kinds of fun things.  I would love to get into making dolls as well, but for now, I am making 18” doll clothes with an eye to making fashion doll and baby doll clothes.  I pick up old dolls from thrift stores and garage sales with plans to restore them.  It has been a lot of fun so far and I hope to keep busy because the empty nester days are coming faster than I would like.

As with most people, this past year has been stressful, chaotic and often lonely.  Having a daughter with multiple medical, educational and other needs meant that I was virtual school aide for the Diva while still trying to manage our day-to-day routine.  DH lost his job early in the pandemic and had an anxious time until he found another one.  The new job had a more rigid schedule and a lot of overtime so we had to adjust to that.  

I didn’t make many pieces for humans at that point.  I made a lot of masks, some diapers for a new great niece and a dress for Sprite.  I also made new zip sleeve jackets for the Diva (an item that I have never blogged about despite making several) and several simple elastic waste skirts.  I will blog the dress and the jackets, but the skirts are pretty basic lightweight denim skirts and not worthy of blogging.  I am also making t-shirts, but again, they are pretty basic and not worth the time to blog as I use the same pattern over and over.

This coming school year will be the last year of high school for both girls. Sprite will be a senior and we are hoping that we will be able to do all the normal things this year as so much was cancelled last year.  The Diva will turn 20 on her next birthday and can only attend school until she is 21.  She will go through extended school year next summer and then she will be home with me. While we do have an aide who comes in on Saturday, and we may be able to get more help once she is home full time, the bulk of her care falls to me during the day.  

When we made the plans for the house addition, we didn’t really think ahead to the time when she would be home full time and didn’t plan for a main floor sewing room for me.  I planned to use the smallest bed room (it is 9’ by 10’) and convert it to a guest room when our son comes to visit.  Unfortunately, all of the Diva’s medical issues in the last three years have made it clear that she needs someone with her or at least on the same floor when she is awake. Clearly, the upstairs sewing room is not going to work during the day.

I have moved my sewing machines (or rather, my sweet, patient husband did) all over the house in search of the perfect sewing space.  I have been in the dining room three times, two different corners of the living room, our bedroom once and upstairs at least four times.  I currently now have two sewing spaces.  The upstairs bedroom is my sewing-for-humans space.  As that clothing rarely needs more than straight stitch, zig-zag, blind hem and button holes, my Singer 401 can handle the sewing and my Brother serger and cover-stitcher can manage the serging, hemming and binding.  I have an ironing Big Board sitting on the Murphy cabinet bed.  I have the cutting mat for the Big Board and can cut most things on that set-up.  If I need wider items cut out, I can cut them downstairs on a folding cutting table.

My dining room is now my sewing-for-dolls space.  My two Baby locks and my pFabulous Pfaff live there now along with my embroidery machine and my new Cricut Maker.  I cut on the dining room table, turn and sew.  I have a little cart for storage. I cut down a piece of plywood over from construction to fit the top and covered it with a piece of fulled wool and some quilting cotton to make a little pressing board.  The Diva loves to sit nearby and play with her toys and listen to music (she is an Elvis fanatic).  The sounds of the machines make her giggle. 

I am working through making my own patterns using Wild Ginger and Livingsoft’s Doll Shop software.  I can’t sell the patterns, but I can sell the items I make from the patterns.  I have a basic tee pattern completed and will start a shorts pattern next.  My goal for this year is to have enough items to sign up for one or two craft shows locally and have an online shop.  I have one year to get as much done as I can before our whole routine changes.  

Thanks for coming back to read my tale. I know it is a long one.  I would like to return to regular blogging again as I miss it and I think it would be a good way to document my progress into this new adventure.  I am not going to pretend to be an expert and you undoubtedly see many mistakes.  I am not an influencer, so you wont see affiliate links here if that is what you are looking for.  You may see links to items I am selling (if I get to that point), but that is all.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Log Cabin Quilt Finished

I am not a quilter. I love quilts -- I think they are beautiful and I have seen some incredible quilts.  I admire quilters for their creativity and patience and beautiful quilting and mostly anyone who can make a quilt in under a year.  I've tried, but it seems that I like to wear my creations more than sleep under them.  I enjoy piecing but just don't enjoy the process of quilting as much as I do making clothes.  To give you an example, my last quilt, a simple nine block quilt, took 5 1/2 years to complete.  It just wasn't a priority for me.

Twenty year old quilt made by my sweet and patient mother-in-law
That said, the quilt we had been using for many years (pictured above) needs to be replaced.  It was made by my very sweet and talented mother-in-law.  She started quilting after she retired from banking and has made many quilts over the years. Most have been given to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She pieces both by hand and machine, but prefers to hand quilt and does beautiful work. She made the quilt that has graced our bed for the past twenty years and gave it to us just before the birth of our first child.  We snuggled all three babies under it, moved it to several homes and enjoyed it so much it actually hurts a little to retire it.  It is starting to shred, however, so with a little sadness, I have washed and line-dried it for the last time and will put it away.

Starting the squares
After we moved to the old house, I needed a project and knew we needed a new quilt.  Most of my sewing things were packed away, but I had kept out some things and a sewing machine. So sometime in August or September 2018, we made the 90 mile trip to the nearest JoAnns to buy fabric.  

I chose the log cabin pattern due to the ease of sewing and over the course of the next year, made 42 14" squares.  I prefer to use the Quilt-as-you-go technique as I also like machine quilting, but hate wrangling a large quilt under my machine.  

Quilt as you go

Each seam line was quilted using one of the quilting stitches on my Pfaff machines.  This got me into trouble later when I went to join the squares into the quilt.

As you can see in the above picture, I stitched all the way to the end of the seam.  Because I didn't want to use sashing (narrow strips used to join the blocks), which is standard with quilt-as-you-go quilting, I had to unpick a 1/2" or so of each of the seams that came right to the edge so I had enough seam allowance to join the blocks.  A 1/4" of unpicking wasn't enough to give the presser foot enough room to slide through.  While most of my seams matched, there are a few that didn't quite line up.  
Machine embroidered corner and boarders
Joining the squares wasn't always fun and took quite a while, but it got done.  Each square is 14" square and there are 36 total squares (6 x 6).  I sewed the extra squares to make pillow shams, but no idea when that project will get done. The boarder is 6" wide and quilted with my embroidery machine.  The designs are from Embroidery Library.  I discovered that I love quilting via embroidery machine and want to do that again. I did use red sashing to join the boarder to the quilt and the same fabric for the binding.

Completed quilt
I learned a lot.  Mostly, I learned I never want to make a quilt that large again.  If I need another queen or larger quilt, I will piece it and take it somewhere to be quilted.  I also learned that there is a reason most people use sashing between blocks on QAYG quilts, especially if you want quilting to go all the way to the end.  I may make smaller quilts in the future, but they will either be quilted on the embroidery machine or have sashing between the blocks.  

Completed quilt
I started the project in September 2018 and finished in March 2020, so I have improved on my speed a bit.  In my defense, we also had construction going on as well as all of the Diva's medical issues, so sewing has not been a priority for the past year.  It feels really good to have this project done.  It is not my best work, but it is warm and pretty and brightens up my room.  
Face mask, almost finished
My current project is making face masks for our family and local hospital in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I want to supply each family member with at least two and donate the rest to the local community.  Then, finally, I will start sewing for myself.   I need tops badly as most of my tops are over a decade old (yea for slow fashion!) and acceptable only for gardening.  Sprite is hoping I can fit in some new jeans for her and the Diva is in need of new jackets, tops and skirts.  I will have plenty to keep me busy as we stay at home during this crises.

Please take care of your selves and your loved ones during this time.  

Friday, February 14, 2020

Old House - March 2018

**  I updated several of my old posts to turn off commenting (to prevent spammers from commenting) and Blogger decided to publish this old post as if it were brand new, so I updated the title with the year originally written.  This was from the March before we moved into the old house.

Thanks to the weather, we haven’t been able to do a lot to the old house.  DH has been up a couple of times, mostly to visit his parents.  He and I did get away the first weekend of February sans kids for a weekend which was wonderful.

For that weekend, we rented a U-Haul trailer and loaded it with stuff from closets and under the basement steps that we aren’t using at our current home.  We figure the more small things we can move now, the less we will have to do for the big move this summer.  We moved our bookshelves and books also.  Most of these books are old favorites we’ve all read over and over as well as sewing books, computer programming and networking books and lots of books left over from various Bible studies.

I did a little more painting as well.  This is DH’s office where the trim was all painted white.  I used the same Wild Bosenberry paint that I used for the downstairs trim.

There is still some trim to be installed.

And we still need the door coming into the office.

I decided that I want to repaint the trim in the upstairs hallway and the wall side of the staircase all the way down to the main floor.  The trim has been painted before and is very chipped and dirty.  I also want to repaint the upstairs bathroom trim using a marine type paint to  help prevent damage from moisture.  This will be particularly important with the window in the shower.. 

We would prefer to not have to replace that window due to rot.  

I still have to paint the Scout’s room and that should be the last of the painting.  I was going to wait with all of it until the last of the trim was installed, but Dear Husband would like to set up at least part of his office so he can work while he is there for weekends.

The only other thing that we have done is to clear out the smoke house and move the good wood to another shed.  The smoke house is coming down to make way for the addition.  We also have to take down a small tree and move the clothes line.  DH has been on the phone with contractors to discuss estimates and time lines and we are now on the list for the foundation work to begin in late March or early April.  I am hoping to be completely done and settled by the first day of school. Earlier would be awesome but I am trying to be realistic.  Things happen.  We just have to roll with it.

I am still trying to find the best way to blog with the iPad.  Google’s only suggestion to use Chrome and request the desktop version of the page, but the screen still bounces to the top of the page with every other letter and I can’t edit the size of any picture other than the first one.  The BlogPad Plus app works the best for just typing text, but doesn’t like adding pictures from anything other than the camera roll and I prefer to store them in Google Pnotos. I tried a browser called Puffin which looks promising, but didn’t allow me to select text and weirdly overlays new text over old text, like the old dot matrix printers that would just print the same line over and over.  It’s frustrating.  I just hope it is not a sign that blogging in general is dying. 

We don’t have a lot planned for March — just cleaning and packing and maybe taking down the smoke house.  April should be when things get really exciting for the old house as we start the construction for the addition. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Old House/New Addition: Final Walkthrough

The old house and its new addition were fully completed in August, 2019, and we have actually been living in it since June. I didn't get back to the blog as the Diva had several health issues including several weeks in the hospital and 6 surgeries in the last year. She seems to be healthy and stable now and we are all adjusting to our new normal.

So, welcome to our "new" house.

New front door
I will do a quick walk-through of the original first floor and the new addition. The bedrooms haven't changed much since I last blogged about them and they are most definitely lived in (and a bit messy).

Dear Husband and I had many conversations last winter about the wood floors on the first floor. While they were not original, they are oak and we know they dated back to 1922 from the newspapers we found under some of the flooring we had to replace. However, they were in dire need of refinishing and repairing. We didn't have time to refinish them before we moved into the house with all the other repairs that need to be done and refinishing them after we moved just wasn't possible.  

Last winter's mud and gravel was hard on the floors. The Diva's wheelchair picks up a lot of both coming in from the bus and while the rest of us can remove our shoes or boots upon entering the house, we can't really wipe down the tires as we bring her in. I've tried.

After a lot of debate, we finally opted to cover the floors with a luxury vinyl plank. The new floor is floated over the old one so the old one is still there, safely waiting for the day when it can be uncovered and renewed if someone wants to do that. Meanwhile the new floors look great and are easily kept clean.

 We tried to match the color to the original wood steps. It isn't a perfect match, but comes close enough.

Entrance Hall/Office/Music area
Looking into the living room (with a side of Diva).
I love the living room.  During the day, it is bright even when it is cloudy and in the evenings feels warm and cozy.  It's a little crowded with furniture, but we can easily seat six and more with additional chairs from the dining room.

Living room, east side

Dining room
Dining room
It was really nice to get the Diva out of the dining room and into her own room.  The whole family was overjoyed to be able to eat a meal at the table again.  There is enough room to maneuver the wheelchair around the table without hitting anything.

Kitchen cabinets
The hidden window was opened up and became a lovely and incredibly useful pass through to the laundry room.  Our contractor built that little oak shelf  to match the oak cabinets.  It is very handy to prop a recipe book or iPad while cooking.  The rest of the kitchen hasn't changed since we moved in except reorganizing to fit the way we cook.

Kitchen stove
Laundry area
I have wanted a real laundry room my entire marriage and this ticks most of the boxes:  Main floor, space for folding and storage, second sink.  I still need to get some shelving up over the washer for storing supplies, but that will come.

Second sink and dishwasher
 I love the pantry/laundry room.   Having the second sink and dishwasher separate from food preparation means that one person can be cooking while a second one washes up.  It was really useful while we were canning tomatoes last fall to have Sprite washing and cutting up tomatoes while I canned. After a year of hand-washing dishes, Sprite has decided she will never take having a dishwasher for granted again.
Pantry shelves
It's nice to have my small appliances down where I can reach them without a ladder.  I now use the upper cabinets in the kitchen for long-term storage of things like canning jars and my mother's cookie press that gets used once a year for Christmas cookies.
Second Door to the Diva's room
We probably should have used the space left of the door and part of the Diva's closet for a linen closet.  I am not sure why we didn't think of that.

Diva's room
I've already mentioned how happy we are to have the Diva in her own room again.  This room is wonderful.  The track lift in the ceiling is so wonderful and we are no longer tripping over the portable track.  We have a desk for the nurse (when we have one) to keep her notes and supplies and all the Diva's equipment supplies are close and easily accessible.  Finally, enough storage space!  (who am I kidding--there is never enough storage space, but this comes close!)  The wheelchair gets parked by the dresser close to the lift.

Closet.  The black thing at the top left is a security camera so I can watch her if she is in bed and I need to be in another part of the house.  It is secured with multiple layers of passwords.
Main floor bath
It is hard to get good pictures of a bathroom.  The pedestal sink was originally planned to go into the upstairs bathroom, but due to a mix-up in communication, we had a vanity sink installed there instead.  We saved the sink and used it here and I like it.  Other people may find the lack of counter space a problem but it works for me and DH.

Roll in shower
This roll-in shower was the other big piece we were waiting for.  It is big enough for the Diva and a caregiver to take care of her needs with ease.  It will also be nice for DH and I as we age.  I didn't add a picture of the shower heads, but there is both regular and handheld shower head with adjustable height.  It has been amazing and the Diva loves her showers (most of the time.)

Master bedroom/sewing room
After moving all my sewing things up to the guest bedroom and getting settled, we realized that the Diva really needed me downstairs and close to her.  I tried sewing in the dining room, but didn't like the clutter and having to clear off the table for meals.  So we moved everything to the master bedroom instead.  So far it seems to be working.  The room is very bright during the day and I have easy access to my notions now stored in the master closet.  The fabric and backup machines are still up in the guest room and that is okay.

It is still a little cramped but I do have some privacy and DH doesn't care about the mess since we can close the door if we have company.  If the Diva needs me, I can be in her room in a heartbeat and I can bring her in with me if we want to spend some time together.

Notions stash.  Our clothes racks are to the left, but wasn't something I wanted to share.
Reproduction trim
One of the many things I appreciated about our contractor was his attention to detail.  He reproduced the trim detail found on the main floor throughout the addition so there was a cohesive look.  Since we had repainted most of the trim in the old part of the house, it was easy to match using the same color paint.

Original trim
Original four panel door
We tried as much as possible to match the look of the old house, but some things don't quite match, like these four panel doors.
Modern four panel sliding door
I really wanted a pocket door between the dining room and the Diva's room, but our contractor suggested we reconsider that.  He'd had trouble with some of the modern hardware failing and in at least one home, he had to rip out a wall to get to the bad hardware and rebuild the wall, He suggested this sliding door instead.

Sliding door from dining room to the Diva's room
 I definitely did not want a trendy barn door, but I think the door he installed for us looks elegant and fits fairly well with the rest of the house.

Finally, the back deck.  This was built using composite decking so we should never have to paint it.  A ramp goes to the north where we hope to build a garage soon (waiting on the weather to clear up long enough to pour concrete.)   A set of steps goes south to the yard and clothes line.

Back deck steps
You can see the mini split fans along the side of the house.  There is one for each bedroom and DH's office.  They are nice because we can adjust the temperature for each person's needs, like keeping the Diva's room a little warmer and our room a little cooler.  

We still have some things to do. There are things that need to be repainted and landscaping that needs to be done and gardens to be planted.  You may have noticed we have very little on the walls.  I feel like I need to live in a place a while before I commit to poking holes in the walls for art and family pictures.   

We've lived in the house for over a year and had the addition for over six months and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  It is very livable.  I wanted a house that had character but was also easy to live in and I got that.  My only regret is not planning a main floor sewing space, but we didn't know when we made the plans how sick the Diva would get this year.  Now we understand there will probably always be times when she needs someone close at hand and we will continue making adjustments.

This is the last Old House post.  It's been fun and I am glad to have this record of the process of updating our home.  However, I plan to go back to blogging my more interesting sewing projects and I have become very interested in sewing fashion doll clothes.  I have a crazy idea to make 1920's style clothing for 11" and 18" dolls and probably will study other eras as well.  I hope you still stay along for the journey.  It could be fun.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Old House Update: July 2019 Sewing Room/Guest Room

Once again, I find myself realizing just how long it has been since my last blog post.  When I last posted, the addition was just starting to shape up and now it is nearly complete.  It lacks only a few final finishing touches and I plan to post the final pictures in the next month or so.  In my defense, the Diva has had a number of medical issues that has consumed most of my time since fall, but she seems to be healthy and stable now and I have some time for other projects.

The first project was to arrange my new sewing room.  Dear Husband and I had been sleeping in the smallest bedroom upstairs with plans to make it a combination of sewing room and guest room once we moved to our new master bedroom.  The room is only 9’ x 10.5’, so for it to double as both guest room and sewing room was going to take some thought.  

Last September, DH and I purchased a Murphy cabinet bed, which I mentioned in this post  I considered a wall bed, but the ceilings are barely 7’ tall and I was concerned about putting holes into old plaster.  We used the cabinet bed as our bed until our new addition was complete and we bought a new bed for us.  Once we moved into the new room, I could convert the room into my sewing room.  

Sewing machine in Gidget II table.  I love my view from this window which looks into a lovely maple tree.  

I am using Gidget tables to hold my sewing machines.  The serger and coverstitch machine swap places as needed during sewing.

Cabinet bed which doubles as my cutting/pressing station.  The bed is topped by a Big Board which is big enough to cut and press most projects..  The pole holds the gallon water bottle for the gravity feed iron.  The Big Board cutting mat slides under the bed when not in use so it will stay flat.  

Corner.  The sewing cabinet in the corner was a gift from my niece and her husband and holds his grandmother’s 1949 Singer 15-91.  The art cart next to it is very handy and holds the most used sewing notions.

Sewing books, pattern magazines and notions.  

Right side of sewing closet.  I take the sliding doors off when the room is in sewing mode as the doors annoy me.  The shelves hold fabric and a few more notions.

Left side of closet.  I need to organize the space better, but am not sure yet how.  The embroidery machine sits on the shelves here.

I used the room for sewing for about a month when our son came home for the weekend.  It took less than an hour to convert the sewing room to sleeping room.

The serger and overlock machines were placed on the shelves on the left side and the sewing machine was set on the art cart.  Everything else fit around the machines.

The top of the cabinet bed was cleared and the iron pole removed.  The red ribbon peeking out from under the bed is tied to the cutting mat so I can pull it out easily.  The two plastic sets of drawers hold sewing machine accessories and pressing tools.

The Big Board tables are folded and placed so they will end up under the bed when it is folded out.  The top of the cabinet is on the left.  The cabinet is big enough that I can store bedding on top of the folded mattress.

The bed completely folded out and ready for our son to visit.

The little cabinet in the corner can now be used as a desk if needed.  The 401 found a home in the closet.  I rearranged it again after I took the pictures above.

I organized the top of this shelf a little more to fit the thread cabinet .  I think it looks nicer.

The closet with doors.  I ought to paint those doors. Originally, I planned to keep them off and substitute curtains, so I didn’t paint the doors when I painted the rest of the room.  But I think I prefer the doors, so I guess I ought to paint them to match the rest of the woodwork.  Or maybe not.  

I have made a couple of shirts for me in this room and so far, I think it works out pretty well.  I am sure that I will continue to make adjustments in the layout as my needs change, but overall, the concept works and allows me to have both guest room for weekend stays.  Now if Dear Son wants to come home and stay longer than a week, we may have to make some other arrangements.

As nice as this room is, and I do enjoy it, it is not always possible to sew upstairs away from the Diva.  Due to her particular medical issues, she needs to have someone fairly close to her at all times.  To remain close, but still allow me to enjoy my hobby, I set up a second sewing station in the living room.  

This is my nice oak cabinet that can bet completely closed up if needed.  It is too heavy to try to get up the stairs, so it lives downstairs.  I use the bookcase colonnade for additional storage and there is another tall cabinet in the dining room with my quilting stash and scraps too small for clothing that I may use for sewing doll clothes.

Quilting station.  My current project is a king sized quilt for our new bed and I am using the quilt-as-you-go technique.  The little chest of drawers to the right was my night stand as a child.  

So far, I like my new sewing spaces a lot and am grateful to have a little space of my own again. I may one day take over Sprite’s room as my sewing room as it is bigger with more natural light.  As she is only a high school sophomore, I have quite a few years before she is in a home of her own.  Until then, these two spaces will serve me well and I hope to spend many hours planning and creating there.