Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last week's colloquium knitting

Last week was the first week of school, and so last Thursday afternoon was the first colloquium of the semester.  I started the second of my embossed leaf socks.  I didn't get very far because I had to start over after I'd done a few rounds.  I forgot that the instructions for the cast-on and the first few rows don't work out quite right.  Basically, you have to do a "purl 1 knit 1" cable cast on instead of "knit 1 purl 1," which is the standard way of doing it.  It was pretty frustrating - and the fact that I didn't write it down when I did the first sock makes me worry that I'll forget some of the other modifications I made on the first sock to normalize this strangely written pattern.

In other news, I've let my living room be taken over by a new quilt - there are a few babies due to arrive in my extended family in the next several months, and I'm making this very adorable baby boy quilt for one of them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fabric prep for the Little Swoon

 Inspired by my success on Friday night, I spent a good chunk of Saturday afternoon pre-washing fabric for my Little Swoon quilt.  Here's my Good Fortune fat eighth bundle as it started.  The bamboo fabric will be the backing, and the blue wave print is for binding. 

I threw it all in the wash (along with the backing fabric for my fickle nickel quilt), and when it was done this is what came out:
 It took me at least an hour to cut all of the little fat eighths apart.  Here's the humongous pile of little threads I cut off:
I decided to starch the fabric in the hopes that it will make precision piecing easier.  My next step is to choose the 32 (of 36 fabrics in the bundle) prints to use in the quilt top and pair them up.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

FNSI Results - a little swoon

It seems like every quilter on the internet has made a Swoon quilt, and I wanted one, too.  Never mind that I've never done piecing this complicated, that I struggle to match seams on even the simplest patchwork, and that the fabric I'm planning to do it in is a fat eighth bundle (Kate Spain Good Fortune) so I drafted the pattern for a 12-inch finished block instead of 24 inches.  It sounded like a recipe for disaster, so for Friday Night Sew-in last night, I decided to do a test block with some leftover fabric from other projects. 

It actually turned out really well!  My flying geese and half-square triangles were pretty close to perfect (close enough that I decided to be lazy and not square up the HSTs), and although not all of the seams and points are matched perfectly, they're pretty good - certainly better than I expected, and better than I usually manage.  I actually think it's easier to match seams on a small scale than with larger pieces, although if I pinned at least every inch on larger-scale patchwork, I probably wouldn't have as much of a problem.  The points aren't perfect, but almost all of them are floating rather than cut off, which in my subjective opinion (I have no idea what the quilt-world consensus is on this issue) is the better option.  The block unfinished block measures 12 5/8 to 12 3/4" square, and I think if I had bothered to square up the HSTs it would have been right on! 

My confidence is bolstered!  I realized, though, that when I start it with the intended fabric, this quilt is probably going to take me a year to piece.  I don't think I'll even be able to do a block a week.  By the end of this block, I was pretty tired of focusing on it.  Probably it is a better idea to cut out all the  pieces and make the flying geese and HSTs, then finish squaring them up and sewing the block together another (maybe two other) day (s).

I'm linking up for Friday Night Sew-In at Crafty Vegas Mom.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A serger, a vacation, and a new skirt!

 Robert and I got back on Sunday from three weeks of vacation - a week with his grandparents and two weeks with my family in Denmark.  We had a lovely time, including a little backpacking trip with one of my cousins that was just lovely.  Before we left, I needed a bag to carry my sweater project in, and it was the perfect opportunity to use my new serger for the first time!  I'd had these two fat quarters of 30's-type fabric sitting around for quite a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use them:
 I especially love the little dogs on the green background.  I used the serger for everything except sewing the casing down for the ribbon drawstring.  I'm happy with the result, but I couldn't quite figure out how to get the raw edges at the drawstring to be finished.  Next time, I'll use this tutorial, which I found yesterday.  I think it looks really clever, and not too much extra work.

Sometime my senior year of high school, my mom bought me this skirt.  It was my favorite skirt all through college, until my first year of grad school, when I decided it was just too worn out to be worn anymore.  There were some holes in the outer skirt near the zipper, and all the years of washing and wearing had stretched the yoke out a bit, so that when I lost the weight I had gained in college the summer after graduation, I started having to use a safety pin to hold it up.  So when I saw some similar fabric at JoAnn about a year ago, I snatched up way too much of it, with the intention of making a replica.
 This being my favorite skirt, I was pretty nervous about messing up the replica, so I let it sit around for months and months, until this summer when I decided that what I really needed to do was sew myself some new clothes, and this was next in line.  So I cut out all the pieces and took it with me on vacation, and convinced Robert's Grandma (who is a sewing EXPERT) to help me with it.  It was so much fun to get to sew on her super-fancy Pfaff sewing machine, see how an expert uses the serger to make things more professional, and pick up some little tips and tricks.  The skirt turned out WONDERFULLY!  In one afternoon, we got everything finished except tacking the inner skirt down at the zipper and hemming the inner and outer skirts. 

Yesterday I sat down and finished it.  I just did a rolled hem for the outer skirt, and then I cut off the ruffle from the lining of the old skirt, trimmed the inner skirt to the right length, serged the inner skirt, and attached the ruffle.  Here's the new skirt.  It's very close to how the old skirt was, with the improvement of pockets!