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Short While Storage and Sewing

We’re opening a business!  This is serious stuff ya’ll.  My dad and step mom bought 2.5 acres about a mile from a ginormous high school back in the 90’s…even before Steele HS was there in fact.  And since then, the surrounding area has grown by leaps and bounds with rooftops everywhere that used to be grazing pastures.  Dad passed in ’14 and in ’16 mom realized she couldn’t keep up with the house and land any longer by herself.  We purchased the property from her and happily she now lives about a mile from us (as the crow flies).  There is still a doublewide on the property and finally we have some good tenants in there.  Even back when I first met my husband, I told him I’d always dreamed of opening an RV and boat storage on the back of the property.  Once we bought the property, that’s exactly what we’ve done!  Welcome to Short While Storage, LLC.  🙂

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It’s not much to look at now, but that’s about $25,000 worth of 7′ high commercial grade chain link fence with a 24′ wide automatic gate.  There will eventually be 45 covered RV stalls with open storage across the back.  We’re planning to open our doors on April 1st, 2018!  Contracts are in the works for construction. Here’s what our retirement plan will look like.

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Yes, this is a sewing blog so let’s chat about sewing.  I finished the mountain man and a row of “Legendary” by Elizabeth Hartman and hope to finish the entire top this week.  All trees are complete and I just need to add the sashing and get it all together.

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I bought a coordinating backing and put a top I finished in early ’17 on the longarm.  It’s coming along nicely.

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I made a top from a Craftsy Class by Meg McElwee – Sewing with Knits, 5 Wardrobe Essentials.

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I’m making another top from the same pattern but with long sleeves.  Yesterday I saw this video from Angela Wolf on how to make thumb cuffs/hand warmers so I whipped those up from the same fabric and I’ll add those to the sleeves.  I’ll be needing them tonight at our friend’s Superbowl party.  We’re usually outside the entire time.

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I wore that light gray top to a meeting I had at the Pentagon in Washington DC last week.  It worked perfectly with the blazer.  It’s not in this photo but I think the pic is pretty cool so I wanted to show it to you.  🙂  I wanted to share my philosophy of “Now why can’t we all just get along?” with the powers-that-be at the Pentagon but they wouldn’t let me down that hallway.  LOL

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I went up a day early to sight see in our nation’s capital.  Loved every freezing windy moment of it!  The State of the Union was going to be televised that night so security was pretty tight.

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I finished a beanie for my son who lives in Colorado Springs.  We’re all cursed with larger than normal heads so I had to enlarge a pattern 140% from a Craftsy class I got for sewing with fleece.  That’s $25 a yard PolarTec 100% wind-proof something or other and I’ll sew it into a PolarTec 200 fleece shell.  Then it ‘s off in the mail.  I should get this to him next week.

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I also finished an embroidered towel for a couple in our camping crew.  I did two others last December but didn’t get pics and have already delivered them.

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I also completed one row of my brother-in-law’s t-shirt quilt and stabilized and cut out all the cornerstones from logos off the sleeves. I should be able to finish it up this month or next.  My frame isn’t large enough for a king size so my friend Lisa is going to let me quilt it on her longarm.

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That’s it for now.  I need to get out into the sweat shop and work on that long sleeved T for tonight.  Adios!

2018 Ready-to-Wear FAST #2018rtwfast

For some inexplicable reason, I signed up to refrain from purchasing any ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes in 2018.  The blog GoodbyeValentino.com, by Sarah Gunn, co-author of The Tunic Bible (have it/love it), is sponsoring this event and the rules are pretty strict:  I vow not to purchase any RTW clothing in 2018.  That’s it.  I am allowed to wear what’s already in my closet, and I can purchase undies, shoes, and bags, but otherwise…No new jeans, tops, skirts, dresses, shorts, jammies, swimsuits, etc.  That’s a pretty tall order but I’m doing this for a couple of reasons:  1.  Clean out my fabric stash and;  2.  It will force me to improve my garment sewing skills.  There are over 1,000 participants in this year’s #2018rtwfast and there will be drawings and contests with some pretty snazzy prizes throughout the year.  I’m looking forward to it.  I already whipped up a jammie top on New Year’s Day in a darling little Riley Blake knit I got from Mood Fabrics – sorry, no photo because I left it at the coast.

I joined the Vogue pattern club (annual fee of $9.99) and purchased four new patterns that are on sale for $5.99 but I got them for the club price of $4.79 each.  Now that Hancock Fabrics has closed and the nearest JoAnn’s is in another county, I’ll be doing most of my pattern shopping online.  It seems lately I do all my shopping online from fabric (fashion and quilting) to notions.  Heck, I’m even ordering groceries with my phone and doing curbside pickup.  Probably not a bad idea with flu season in full swing.  Here’s what I ordered.

Vogue 9282 – Wide-leg pants

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Vogue 9057 – Shaped Hemline Top by Marci Tilton
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Vogue 9267 – Fit and Flare Dress with Waistband and Pockets
I think this dress will be perfect for work!  I love the neckline, the princess bodice, and the skirt pleats.  I love every bit of this dress.  I’ll probably hack the pattern many times throughout the year to customize it by modifying the neckline, sleeve length, waist position, etc.  My work peeps who might be reading – get ready to get sick of seeing this dress.
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Vogue 9265 – Princess Seam Flare Dress with Poof Sleeves
I have the 2018 Texas State Daughter’s of the American Revolution conference coming up in the beginning of March and I’ve got two evenings where I need to wear a formal.  I have one already hanging in my closet and this pattern will be perfect for the other.    Poofy sleeves are in apparently which is just fine with me now that I’m getting “grandma arms”.  I’m not sure what to do for fabric.

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Now, I’m no clothes horse and I don’t believe I’ve done any serious designer shopping in a couple of decades but I do drop $300-500 a year in places like Roz & Ali (formerly Dress Barn) for work clothes or Tractor Supply for my jeans – hey don’t judge – I’ve got cows!    In fact, jeans will be my biggest challenge this year.  I have Angela Wolff’s pattern but I’m terrified to try it.  I also have Kenneth King’s class on Craftsy.  Come to think of it, I shop pretty heavily in Sisters, a darling ladies shop in Port O’Connor that carries the cutest stuff and I buy a lot of my clothes for work there.  It will be SO hard to step away from the racks and stick to knickknacks and Yellow Box.  I’m just now beginning to realize the money I’m going to save.  $$$$

This challenge will also make me get my dress form into working order.  So I’m all set!  Here we go!

Happy Campers! Sewing a Men’s Shirt, Simplicity 1544

Back in May of 2016, (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I ordered some blue cotton poplin fabric from Mood Fabrics that had campers, flamingos, and other beachy things on it.

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 The intent was to make a shirt for Keith for Christmas that he could wear to work on dress-down Fridays or to hang out at the coast.  I think I had been inspired by a blog post from another sewing blogger who had made a shirt for her spouse and thought, “Oh yeah, that’s cool! I wanna do that!”  Fabric arrived, I put it on the cutting table, then moved it to a shelf, and then it went into the fabric stash oblivion.  Fast forward to December 2017 and I bought a Craftsy class on sale with Janet Pray, “Sew Better, Sew Faster:  Shirtmaking.”

I have a couple of her classes and I really like her style and this particular class is geared toward making a men’s shirt.  A downloadable pattern comes with the class but I didn’t have the ink to print it so I pulled out Simplicity 1544.  I figured I’d use this pattern and her techniques.

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One thing I did with this pattern was to match it with a shirt that Keith wears already to make sure it would fit.  I had to add about 3 inches overall to the length on the lengthen/shorten lines and I made it with short sleeves using the measurements from said existing shirt.  Otherwise, I left the pattern as-is.

I had a lot of fun with pattern matching. In this instance, Steam-a-Seam is your friend.  I folded the edges of the pocket under, added the SAS to the pocket edges, placed it perfectly on the shirt front, and ironed it in place.  I did the back yoke the same way.  I’m giving those factory workers a run for their money.  🙂

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The collar.  Oh boy that collar.  And of course, I had to make it harder on myself by making it a contrasting band.  Why not?  Yeah, why not, I mean, how hard can it be?  Do I get credit for making a muslin if I really didn’t but I took it apart and re-sewed it more than once…or twice? Honestly, by the third time, I was a pro.  Janet’s method of making a collar burrito is ingenious and I cannot express in words the sheer joy of success when I got it right.  Really.  I did a dance around the kitchen like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky at the top of the steps.

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Keith isn’t much for modeling so this is the best I could get.  You should have seen his smile when I gave it to him Christmas morning.  He really likes things I make vs. things that are bought.  He’s such a sweetie.

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And look what was waiting for me Christmas Day!  I think my Santa thinks I’ve been a very good girl!!

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How about you?  Did Santa satisfy your stitching itch?

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase the Crafty class using the link in this blog, I will receive a small commission…and you’ll love the class!!)

Purely Gates American Eagles Machine Embroidery

Have you ever heard of machine embroidery with mylar?  Yes, that plastic iridescent stuff for gift bags.  A company called Purely Gates has an entire line of embroidery designs specifically for use with mylar.  It’s pretty cool because it spaces the stitching just far enough apart to allow the pretty sparkles to show through.

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This particular CD has a total of 20 different designs.

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I bought a Carhartt denim jacket just for this project.  I edited my design just a bit to remove the silver block from under the eagle’s feet and added the letters “USA”.

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I centered the design between the lower edge of the jacket’s yoke and the top of the bottom band.

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Here’s the finished project up close.  See the iridescence in the red and white feathers?  Pretty!

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Centering it just a bit lower on the jacket let the design show when I wear my hair down.  I’m SO wearing this to work tomorrow!

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I’m thinking about adding design #09 with just the eagle head and a collar of stars to the right front yoke of the jacket.  What do you think?

Oh, and since we actually had snow in my little South Texas town last week for the first time in like 30 years, I decided to allow snow on my blog for December!  Too fun!  Here’s some shots from my back yard.  This is my pool and the roof of my house.

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My view out back.  It was all gone by 2pm.

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Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W and Allbrands.com

As mentioned in a previous post, several years ago I purchased a Cameo Silhouette (or Silhouette Cameo…I can never get that right) from Woot.com and had no idea what to do with it.  It was a deal that was too good to pass up at the time and I figured I’d use it one day.  Actually I forgot about it and it sat in a box for almost two years before it came to me that I could use it to cut out fabric applique pieces for quilts.  Once I had that in my head I tried and tried to work with it but to be honest, the learning curve on the software for that machine was too steep.  I ended up selling it.

On a Facebook page for Machine Embroidery Help I asked the question, “What can I use to cut out fabric applique pieces from a printed pattern, and then turn those images into machine embroidery files to applique to a quilt block?” The responses were numerous but one lady said, “Use a Brother Scan-N-Cut and Brother Simply Applique software”.  The software is designed to be a companion to the cutting machine.  Bingo.  I was on a mission to figure out how that might work.

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November 7th, I purchased a Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W from Allbrands.com.  Today is Cyber Monday – check them out!  They are a major retailer of all-things-sewing here in the southern US.  They are headquartered out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and just recently bought the Creative Sewing Center in nearby San Antonio where I went to a sewing class with Angela Wolf on Nov 17.  I’ll blog that amazing experience in another post.  I called the Allbrands 800 number for sales and purchased the machine and the software over the phone. I purchased a “seminar” model so I saved quite a bit from the regular retail price.  I’ve never been too proud for a floor model.  🙂

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The machine arrived in no time and I got everything all set up.  The only thing missing was the Wireless Activation Card which is included with the 650W model but not the 350 in case you are considering a purchase.  Go big.  Anyway, I called Allbrands the next business day and they sent a new Wireless Activation Card to me right away.  The wireless card is key because it’s what connects the machine to the Brother ScanNCut Canvas cloud that allows you to upload scanned image files directly from the machine.  The Canvas cloud allows you to save those files into a format that can be read by the Simply Applique software to turn that file into a machine embroidery file.  The Canvas cloud does a ton of other creative stuff too but I haven’t explored all that yet.  Brother has all this locked down pretty tight so you can’t go around scanning in proprietary images and embroidering them for profit.  “Cloud” means that you don’t have the powerful Canvas software locally on your own computer.  You do all editing online.  Here’s how it works.  I made this graphic to show you how it all works.  At least I think this is how it works.

AutoApplique Process with SNC 650

So…as I attempted to get the Canvas cloud to recognize the machine, I was never prompted to put in the 16-digit PIN on the new wireless card to associate the machine with my account in the cloud.  I ended up having to call Brother USA to see if they could disassociate the previous PIN used in the seminar demo so I would use my own PIN.  They were very nice and sent the trouble ticket up the chain and said they’d call me back.

The very next day, I received an email from the president of Allbrands.com, Mr. John Douthat (yeah right, like HE actually sent the email to me LOL) and it contained a survey asking about my satisfaction with my purchase.  I was nearly 3 weeks into this now with no direct connectivity yet to the SNC Canvas so my patience was dwindling.  I responded to the survey and in the comment box I wrote my story.  Well you won’t BELIEVE what happened!  About two hours after I hit “Send” my phone rang and it was a nice lady from Allbrands.com.  She told me that they were sending me another machine and a return shipping label for the other one.  Wow!  And in my email Inbox was an email from none other than Mr. Douthat himself instructing this lady to send me another machine.  I was cc’d on his email to her.  Now HOW NICE IS THAT??

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The new machine arrived this weekend and it connected to the Canvas cloud lickety-split.  Allbrands.com also tossed in a couple of other accessories like a pen holder (retail $15.99), a roll of high tack fabric support sheets (retail $19.99), and a Brother Scanning Mat (retail $22.99).  I couldn’t be happier!  Honestly, in this day and age, customer service like that is hard to find.  Maybe it’s just Southern Hospitality but I’ll continue to shop from them and sing their praises.  If you are ever considering an online purchase, please think of them first.

Here’s my first go at cutting out some dinosaurs.  They turned out great.  I haven’t had time yet to play with the download part back into Simply Applique and the subsequent stitching onto the blocks in my embroidery machine.  I’ll be tackling that this week.

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My goal is to fully automate applique quilts.  I’m loving this adventure!

 

 

McCall’s 6844

In keeping with my “Creative Fraud” persona, Sarah Gunn from GoodbyeValentino.com made an amazing sweater with some yummy oatmeal boucle’ and  I HAD to have it.  Isn’t this precious? Sorry for the screenshot stuff off my phone. 🙂  If you don’t follow her blog but love to sew garments, you should check her out.

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So I immediately hopped over to StyleMaker Fabrics to get the exact same fabric.  They still had some (it’s on backorder as of the date of this post) and then I searched and searched for the pattern by looking for $1.99 sales at JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby without any luck.  I decided to buy it full price since I couldn’t find it on sale (impatient with impending cold weather) but come to find out, that stinking pattern is out of print.  So Amazon came through again but I had to pay $12.99.  (sigh)  I wanted view B which is a bit longer without the peplum.  Girls built like me ought not wear anything fluffy added to the backside or hips, ya know?

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During all my searching, I came across a couple of blogs that had made the same pattern but had not exactly followed the directions in the pattern.  Detective Houndstooth (who has allowed her blog to expire  – shame on her) made the collar using what she called “the burrito method” and I’ll explain that later.  It’s fabulous!

First I had to do an FBA.  I did some searching and chose this method because the description of the fabric says it’s a “knit” and I didn’t want a dart on knit fabric.  Lo and behold, this boucle’ isn’t a knit at all.  There’s no lengthwise or widthwise stretch to this stuff but this FBA worked just fine.  When I’m altering pattern pieces, I like to use Pellon Red Dot Pattern Tracing Cloth.  I love this stuff because it forms to your body for fitting much better than paper and it’s so easy to see movement of measurements by counting dots.  I added 1″ to the FBA since most commercial patterns are a B and I’m …not.

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I had to lay the fabric and pattern pieces out on the pool table to cut it all out.

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The beauty of the “burrito method” when attaching a collar, is that there are no exposed seams on the inside neckline when you’re finished.  Style Arc describes it here.  Basically, you create the collar (tortilla) as directed and put it face up on the table.  Then you roll up the body of the garment (burrito stuffing) and place the roll in the center of the tortilla.  Then you pull up the sides of the tortilla around the stuffing to meet each other making sure to capture the top edge of the back neckline (lettuce leaf) as you go and match all markings as you sandwich the lettuce between the edges of the collar, er…tortilla.  Pin like crazy to make sure you don’t capture any of the burrito stuffing in the seam other than that single piece of lettuce.  You with me so far?  I ended up with something like this.  That’s the lower collar on top with the interfacing pinned to the upper collar (on the bottom) with the rest of the garment rolled in between.  The back neckline is right sides together with the upper collar and is located between about 10 and 2 o’clock in this burrito roll.  What you see sticking out of the ends are the bottom edges of the front bodice pieces.

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Then sew the normal seam allowance from end-to-end and be sure to backstitch.  The hardest part of all this is the wrangling as you pull the insides out and flip it around.  Ta-da!!  Perfect!  Look at that!! Not a seam in sight!  Factory!

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My next deviation from the pattern was to sew the sleeves to the sleeve cap opening vs. a set-in sleeve as directed and then sew a long seam up the side seam and down the arm to the wrist.  Here’s the sleeve sewn to the armseye.

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I brought out the big guns with the Janome 900 Cover Stitch.  Totally professional on the inside hem and you can’t even see it on the front.

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I’m SOooo happy with how this turned out!  I ended up adding a hook & loop to the waist line so it would stay closed.  The only thing I would do different, and this was a total oversight because I was so thrilled with how the burrito turned out, is that I should have narrowed the lower collar by 1/4″ to 3/8″ so that it would naturally roll under.  I have some miniscule collar flipping going on at the back of my neck but my hair covers it.

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It totally fits!  I wore it to work today on our first cold day this year and it was so snuggly.  I don’t think my dog is impressed.  🙂  She’s watching me take pictures thinking, “Would you put me outside already and give me my treat?”

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Scrappy Travel Neck Pillow

I let my perfectionism go and just dove into my scrap bag to make a neck pillow for travel.  I’ll admit, I didn’t create this pattern…it was a freebie hand-drawn pattern I received on a shop hop years ago.   I re-created it and you can find it here.

This project is pretty simple and requires a minimal amount of thought…which can be nice and fun at times. 🙂

Cut 30 – 3″ squares.  Put them together centered like so.   A row of 4, a row of 6, two rows of 8, and another row of 4 with two blanks in the center.

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I used fusible batting for both the front and the back.  I double stitched all the seams to “quilt” the top and add a bit of strength to the seams.

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Using the pattern, cut out the top making sure the pattern lines stay within the boundary of the sewn squares.

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Find another scrap large enough for the backing.  Pin the top to it and cut out.

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Sew right sides together leaving a 3-4″ opening.  Turn, stuff and sew the opening closed.  Done!

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It has a new home in my carry on bag.