Archive | October 2015

Quilt Fest Week 2015!!

It’s been a crazy and fun week.  I took vacation from work on Monday & Tuesday to attend a meet & greet breakfast event on Tuesday morning in Port Lavaca with #JennyDoan from Missouri Star Quilt Company ( @MissouriQuiltCo ).  She is an amazing woman with such a positive and simple message for all quilters:  “Finished is better than perfect.”  AMEN SISTER!  During the two-hour presentation of demoing what can be done with pre-cuts and her husband Ron dutifully playing the role of human quilt-hanger for 20 or so quilts (he’s such a good sport!), she regaled stories of how the company began with her children giving her a long arm machine just to keep her busy, to where it is now (employing over 200 people and creating a world-wide Quilting Destination), and what’s in the works (Man Cave anyone?).  Missouri Star Quilt Co. is the largest distributor of pre-cut fabrics in the world…and I think most of them are in my stash!  Needless to say, I’m a MSQC groupie and thoroughly enjoyed her visit.  That boat quilt is in my queue.

I drug myself to work on Weds and Thursday and then boarded a bus bound for Houston on Friday.  A torrential downpour and nearby tornadoes couldn’t stop the 50 obsessed quilters that made their way eastbound on IH-10.  We got there just as the doors opened and loaded back up at 4:00pm.  I’m glad I got to visit with Jenny on Tuesday because I never even saw the MSQC booth in the show.  Holy moly that place was packed.  Biggest hen-fest ever!  I really wanted to get a photo from above to put in this post, but I never got it.  The convention center is under construction and it just wasn’t feasible.

Check out this multi-quilt panorama.  Wow.  Simply wow.
WP_20151030_10_09_51_ProI found a couple of my online heros:  Kim Jolly from Fat Quarter Shop (great booth BTW Kim!)
WP_20151030_10_39_37_ProAnd Lindee Goodall, my Craftsy embroidery instructor for 20 Things Every Embroiderer Should Know, who was so great to spend time with me to explain Embrilliance software.  I picked up the pattern and instructions for the Zuni quilt behind us.

I also ran into Angela Wolf, my favorite Craftsy instructor.  She’s an amazing talent with a down-to-earth style I can completely relate to.  I’m enrolled in 5 of her classes:  Creative Serging-Beyond the BasicsSewing Designer Jeans, Sew with Your Serger, Tailoring Ready to Wear, and Tailoring-Beyond the Basics.   Those last two are the inspiration for my dabbling in my own alterations business.  This photo is from last year’s fest.  Dang, I’ve put on a few pounds.  Maybe it was the camera lens.  Yeah, that’s it.
WP_20141101_12_09_20_ProI came home loaded down with bags of fabric, patterns, thread, stencils, fabric, rulers, stabilizers, and oh yeah, fabric!  But my two biggest finds at the show?  #1 The Sapporo Gravity Feed Iron.  This bad boy has a liter size reservoir that hangs from above for hours of steam and NEVER turns off.  Halleluiah!  While I love my current Rowenta, the nosey do-gooders of the safety world who insist on Auto-Off for irons really piss me off.  At least give me the option to turn that feature on if I want to – don’t force it on me.  When I’m in the sewing room for hours at a time, the LAST thing I want is to approach the ironing board to a cool iron.  Frustrating!  This iron gets rave reviews from Amazon and Lauren Taylor from Lladybird alike, so I was in for a cool show price of just $99.

I’m going to take a page from Lauren’s book and plug the iron into a power strip that also has the lamp above the ironing board on it.  When the light is on, the iron is on so I can know to turn the power strip off when I’m finished in the sewing room.  No small kiddos in the house except those with 3 or 4 paws, as applies, so it should the pretty safe.


And #2 – A new dress form!  Getting a good fit in my garments has been a huge issue for me and for years I’ve wanted a quality dress form with collapsible shoulders but the good ones are very cost prohibitive.  This was actually the first vendor I happened upon at the show and definitely wanted to come back to.  Enter the French European Dress Form.  This retails for $799 on the website but the show price was just $399.  SCORE!  While that sounds like a lot, the crappy ones from Dritz in local retail stores are $100.  My measurements were taken to order the right form for me and it should be here in 2-3 weeks.  The vendor Joe worked on Project Runway and NBC’s Fashion Week and he was an absolute hoot.  I can’t wait for my new dress form to arrive!  Of course, after it gets here, I’ll have find another excuse for crappy fit issues.
dressformWell, that’s it for Quilt Fest 2015.  I’m already looking forward to next year!  Time to start hidey-holing my cash again each week to replenish my Quilt Bank.  ha

Spa Towel Robes for Bride and Groom

This post involves machine embroidery, but these spa robes can be made without it.IMG_3413

When a guy coworker announced he was marrying his long-time girlfriend, I thought that Bride/Groom spa robes would be pretty cool gifts. I got the color choice from his mom’s suggestion and I chose a very “renaissance” style of embroidery pattern because he and she costume-up every year for the Texas Renaissance Festival. He’s a big gamer too with one of those fantasy wizard games in that time period (don’t ask me, I have no idea which one).

I chose towels in a medium weight and followed this YouTube video for how-to. These are not difficult to make, however it’s in the details of whether it’s a successful project or not. Like making sure when it’s worn that the towel’s enclosed end-seams or manufacturer’s tag are to the inside, the Velcro is placed correctly (I had a Fail here on my first attempt of the groom’s) and the right/left closures for his vs. hers are proper.

I used 12” of ¾” non-roll elastic inside a 2” casing. I made sure that the manufacturer’s tag was either inside the casing or cut off in the case of the groom’s.   From center, measure out 10 inches in each direction and pin. IMG_3378Then fold down a 2 inch casing to the inside of the towel, and sew a casing between the pins and insert the elastic. IMG_3379I used a stretch-stitch (lightning bolt looking stitch on today’s machines) to sew each end of the elastic. It may not have been truly needed for stretch purposes, but the stitch is super strong and that is needed.IMG_3368

Then stitch down the remainder of the casing from the ends of the elastic out to the ends of the towel and pivot stitch up to the top of the towel to enclose the ends. I cut his to 25” prior to creating the casing to wear around the waist.

Here’s where details come in to get this right. On hers, the front fold is right-over-left. His is left-over-right. If you’re not sure, take a look at RTW shirts and note the button placement on the front bands. I used 12” of sew-in Velcro and placed it ½” in from the end of the towel.  I used white Velcro for hers and black for his.IMG_3408For the Velcro, the trick is:  Hers: Velcro goes on the right inside upper and left outside lower of each end. His: Velcro goes on the left outside upper and right inside lower of each end.

When I cut the groom’s towel shorter, I did serge the long cut edge because of fraying. IMG_3377And the left-over towel became batting for a Halloween wall hanging and extra little hand towels for me!IMG_3410IMG_3411

And that’s it! Really, they are that simple. And then embroider any pattern to customize.IMG_3369

Dyed Lace

I’m in the middle of making a 1770’s period costume for events with my DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) chapter. I’m using Simplicity 4092 as a base pattern and I’ll be making detail embellishments to it that I’ve gleaned from my copy of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail.
Simplicity 4092

The main fabric of my dress is a soft khaki green with an embroidered floral print. Embroidery was huge back then. The center of the bodice is a tone-on-tone ivory with a pretty sheen to it.

The pattern calls for 7-inch wide lace to be used on the sleeve flounces and all I could find was white in that width when I really needed ivory. I initially sewed one of the white flounces on the cuff and didn’t realize it at first (I should have, but I didn’t) but the white looked like crap with the rest of the dress. The light in my sewing room is yellow so you can’t tell this lace is really white.


Last night a lightbulb went off to dye the lace in brewed tea. I had heard of this somewhere around the interwebs and decided to give it a try. So I brewed two family size tea bags in two cups of water and let them steep for a few minutes until I liked the color.
IMG_3404Then I soaked a second piece of lace for the other sleeve in the tea and worked it with my hands until it looked like the lace had even color throughout. I rinsed the lace in cool water to stop the dye process, rolled it in a towel to remove most of the water, and let it dry overnight hanging over a door. Side-by-side, you can see the difference from the original.
IMG_3399The tea dye gave a nice soft ivory effect to the lace and it really matched the tone-on-tone inset fabric.

I repeated the same process with the white lace that was already attached to the sleeve (totally too lazy to remove it from the dress first) and gingerly dipped the lace, holding the green fabric out of the way, and dyed it as well. Perfect!
IMG_3401I love the result. Hubs took the picture before I was ready but I’m really liking my progress.WP_20151011_17_48_15_Pro