Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

First, let me wish you all a much belated Happy New Year. Yeah, I know I’m over a month late, but the wishes are still genuine. Hope your 2008 got off to a grand start and has continued on whatever path you’ve set for it. Mine started in an all too familiar and unwelcome way. For the third year in a row, I started the new year off by getting sick. I had a nasty head cold that hung around for nearly two weeks and made me miserable and cranky. Needless to say, this is not a tradition that I wish to continue. The good news is that I’m over it and have spent the last couple of weeks making up for lost crafting time.

Now, where should I start… Oh, I know! How about a look at my new sewing machine? I was in Target one day and came across several sewing machines that were marked down for clearance. I’d been wanting an electronic machine for some time, and they had this one marked down 50% from $300.00 to $150.00. It had most of the features that made me want an electronic machine to start with: needle up/down button, multiple needle positions, mirror image function, one-step buttonholes, and 400 stitch patterns including 3 styles of lettering. I had heard the Shark/Euro-Pro name before, but had no clue about it’s reputation, so I decided to wait until I’d done some investigating. I spent the next few days thinking about it and looking up reviews on-line. As expected, the reviews were mixed and didn’t really help all that much in my decision. On the fourth day, I made up my mind to go back to the store and if the machine was still there, I would buy it. I checked with customer service on Target’s return policy on clearance items without the original packaging (they told me they don’t keep the packaging on demo items) and was reassured that I had 90 days to return the machine if I wasn’t satisfied. That was enough to squash any lingering doubts, so I bought the machine and brought her home.

Shark Euro-Pro 9110 electronic sewing machine   Knitting project bags    

I just have to say that this is one of the most satisfying purchases I’ve ever made. The machine runs great and I’ve already put some of the above mentioned features to good use. I also love the fact that I don’t even have to use the foot pedal if I don’t want to, because it has a start/stop button. It also has a variable speed slide that lets me go as fast or as slow as I prefer and the ability to program multiple stitch patterns into memory. I’ve made a couple of fabric bags for small knitting projects from the instructions found here, as well as satisfied an itch to do some patchwork.

Russet 'Album' quilt block   Russt 'Chrun Dash' quilt block

These two blocks were made from some fat quarters I picked up last time I was at JoAnn’s. My ability to choose coordinating/complementary colors is marginal at best (and that’s being VERY generous), so I usually agonize and stress over it to the point that most of the time I walk out of the store without buying anything at all. This last time, I made up my mind that I was not even going to think about it; I was just going to grab four different prints that I really liked in a similar color family and take them home with me. So that’s what I did, and boy am I pleased with how they turned out! I couldn’t have done a better job of choosing a mix of light, medium and dark fabrics, not to mention the color harmony, if I’d spent hours browsing the fabric aisles. The piecing is not perfect and the photography is horrible as usual (the ‘Album’ block on top is much truer to the real colors), but I’m proud as punch anyway. I have to go back to JoAnn’s and pick up another fat quarter of each of these three fabrics to make two more matching blocks. I plan on setting them into an alternating four-block wall quilt using the fourth fabric I grabbed as sashing strips. I’ll post of photo of the mini-quilt as soon as I finish it.

7 inch garter stitch blanket squares   Seed stitch washcloth in Bernat Handicrafter cotton   Hidden In My Shoe socklets from SSK

Wool bed socks for hubby   Cables watchcap for DIL   Cables Tee

Lest you think that I’ve abandoned knitting for the sewing machine, here are some pictures of a few things I’ve been working on. After seeing some knitted blankets/throws/afghans on several blogs, I decided it would be a good way to use up some of the various skeins of acrylic yarn I have hanging around the house. I’m knitting 7” squares in garter stitch out of whatever worsted weight yarn strikes my fancy, which I will then attempt to arrange into a pleasing color pattern. There’s no rush to this stash busting project and it will probably not be completed for several months. I’m also working on some cotton washcloths using a beautiful variegated brown shade of Bernat’s Handicrafter Cotton. The color makes me think of both chocolate and coffee; I think they would make wonderful gifts when paired with chocolate and/or coffee scented handmade soaps. Very manly gifts for the gentlemen on my gift list next Christmas.

The brown ‘socklets’ are the Dec./Jan. pattern from the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo! group. The pattern is called Hidden In My Shoe and they were knit from some vintage Columbia-Minerva Featherweight 100% wool. They would have worked up super quick had not the aforementioned head cold sidetracked me. As is was, I finished the first sock in less than 2 days and completed the second sock a week later. This is the first time I have ever knit socks toe-up and I had a little trouble grasping the instructions (some of it I’m sure was due to being ill), but I just trusted that the pattern designer knew what she was doing and I came out the other side with these cute little socks! This pattern is a definite keeper for those quick last minute gifts. The gray sock is #1 of a pair of bed socks for my hubby; he wore out the last pair I made him. These are made from some wool I recycled from a thrift store sweater and worked up very quickly on size 4 DPNs, which is a good thing seeing we only have a few more weeks of cold weather this season. Finally, the little cable project is a hat for my daughter-in-law Kim. I made one of my sons a cabled hat for Christmas 2006; she really liked it and let me know that she would love one like it. I’m just now getting around to making her one. Oh well, better late than never.

The final picture is a mid-assembly photo of a project that I began in 2004! I used to be a member of the now-defunct Ample Knitters list and this Cabled Tee was their final knitalong project. I finished knitting the pieces in a couple of months, but was so inexperienced in assembling knitted garments that I succumbed to my very bad habit of procrastination and put it in a drawer where I promptly forgot about it. I’ve thought about it over the last few years, but not enough to make me pull it out. Last week I decided that it had languished long enough. After several less than satisfactory attempts to sew in the sleeve, I finally managed to complete the job with a barely passable seam. The garment was knit from a medium weight cotton/acrylic blend yarn and is very heavy, i.e. bulky seams. It’s also very baggy as I have lost some weight since it was originally knit. I’m hoping that a nice warm wash and a turn in the dryer will help to shape it up. If not, I’ll chalk it up to experience and donate it to a local charity.

There’s lots of other stuff going on in my life that has kept me from blogging, but I am going to try to make time to update at least weekly from now on. I can’t always promise you that there will be something new on the needles or an exciting sewing/quilting project to share, but I hope you will continue to stop by and see what I’ve been up to. There’s just no telling what might capture my imagination next. Till next time, God bless you and yours.


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DIY Anniversary

Our 30th anniversary was Sunday Sept. 16th and I wanted a new dress to wear to church. I could live with the fact that we didn’t get to take that trip to Montana for this milestone. I could live with the fact that there would be no special get-together with family and friends to celebrate 30 years of love and commitment. Truth be told, I’ve always considered wedding anniversaries kind of private, just the two of us; our special day. But I really wanted a new dress because, even after 30 years, I wanted to look extra pretty for my fella’, so I went shopping and found…. nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. There was nothing in the stores that interested me one bit. So, being the resourceful person I am and having enough fabric hoarded away to open my own fabric store (don’t ask), I decided to make myself a dress. Nothing too fancy, just a nice simple pull-over dress out of a lovely print. I happened to have a pretty floral with just the right amount of yardage to make this:

30th anniversary dress

A few hours of cutting and sewing and I had the makings of a new outfit. As you can see, it’s sleeveless and there’s no way I’m taking my saggy bare arms out in public, so it’s another trip to the store to find some kind of jacket to go over the dress. What I had in mind was a cute little short sleeve sweater in this pretty caramel brown, as I thought it would be a really nice complement to the navy background of the dress fabric. I just love khaki and blue together.

Floral print in anniversary dress

Being in a crunch, I did not have time to do much shopping. On Saturday evening, I went to a couple of stores to see what I could come up with. No cute little caramel colored short sleeve sweaters to be found. However, I did come across something that I thought would work with the dress. It’s not what I had originally pictured and wasn’t my first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers and I really wanted to wear the new dress to church, so I settled. The winter white is a perfect match to the white in the floral print and it has navy blue trim to boot. It was on the clearance rack at 70% off and was missing a button, but that wasn’t a problem as I have a pretty substantial button collection. After a little deliberation, I decided to go ahead and buy it and wound up paying a whopping $4.14 after tax! Now that’s something I can live with. I sewed on a rhinestone button to match the rhinestones next to the blue trim and took myself off to church Sunday morning with a smart new outfit that did in fact please my sweetheart, and me too. Turns out necessity is the mother of invention just like my Mama said.

30th anniversary outfit

   Navy trim on jacket













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Living With Love

I don’t have much needlework content to share with you today because I’ve been busy with something much more important, and here she is:


In my last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned my best friend Mel and her new baby girl. Well, I’d like you all to meet Slinkey. That’s her nickname, of course; unfortunately, there are too many crazy people in the world for me to put her at risk by publishing her real name, but I think Slinkey fits her, don’t you? It reminds me of the old Slinky toy commercial: “Slinky, Slinky, what a wonderful toy! Slinky, Slinky, fun for a girl and a boy.” And she is lots of fun for everyone blessed enough to know her. Let me tell you a little about the miracle of Slinkey:

Her Mom, Mel, and I have been friends for over 20 years. Almost 19 years ago, she fell in love with ‘CD’ who had custody of his two children from his first marriage. His daughter ‘AL’ was seven years old, has Cerebral Palsy and is profoundly handicapped (can’t talk, walk, feed herself, is in a wheelchair), and his son ‘NA’ was four years old. At the age of 21, Mel and CD married and she committed her life to being a wife to CD and a mother to his kids. As the years passed and we raised our children together, we grew closer and became more like sisters than friends. We all just naturally assumed that one day, Mel and CD would have a child of their own, but it never happened. About 5 years into their marriage, they tried fertility treatments and Mel did become pregnant, but the baby never developed and she miscarried. After that, she contented herself with being Mom to AL and NA.

Last fall, as Mel was nearing the end of her 30’s, she and CD decided that they would give fertility treatments one more shot. Mel made an appointment with a fertility doctor, but decided to go see her regular GYN first to make sure there were no issues that might interfere with the fertility treatments. Per routine, they did a pregnancy test and it came back positive. Oh, the excitement and joy! The third person in our BFF trio, Vickie, and I permanently attached ourselves to Mel and reveled in every moment of her pregnancy. Mel generously allowed us to throw her a huge shower and even let us decorate the nursery. It was so much fun preparing for the arrival of her miracle.

Because of Mel’s age, the doctor’s decided to do some tests to check for genetic anomalies in the baby. That’s when we found out Slinkey has Down Syndrome. It was hard to accept at first, but we soon realized that God doesn’t make mistakes and if we trust Him, things will always work out for our good and His glory. For the next few months we prayed, believed, waited and hoped that the tests were wrong and she was ‘normal’ (whatever that is?). When she was born on July 2, 2007 we knew two things right away: she does have Down’s and that we love her madly and completely just like she is! She truly is a miracle and a gi-normous blessing in our lives.

Thankfully, Slinkey has a ‘light’ case of Down’s. She has great muscle tone and no heart and digestive problems that so often plague Down’s children. Unfortunately, she does have Hydrocephalus, more commonly known as “water on the brain” and had to have a shunt put in yesterday to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure in her head. She came through with flying colors and is doing well. I am headed up to the hospital shortly to see her and hold her and tell her for the 4 billionth time how beautiful she is and how much I love her. If you believe in prayer, please take a moment and whisper a prayer of blessing and healing for our little miracle. Just call her Slinkey; God will know who you’re talking about.

Our little star!

Just to help retain the theme of this blog (Needleworx, remember?), here is a picture of the crib set I made for the nursery. A little sewing content is better than nothing. Happy stitching to you all.
















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Sew much fun!

This weekend is my daughter-in-law’s birthday, so we get to keep the grandkids while my son takes her on a getaway. GP is 6 and MJ is 4, so as soon as they got in the door yesterday they went straight for the GameCube.  I let them play for about an hour, but then I had something fun planned: they got to sew their own pillows! I had some Scooby-Doo print fat quarters that I had bought a while back; I let each of them pick out two for their pillow front and back. This kind of exercise will tell you a lot about a kid’s personality. GP picked out the same two for his pillow (he insisted the front and back had to match) while MJ picked out two very different prints. Anyway, I worked with MJ on his pillow first while GP played video games. We did not cut anything, just layed the twoMJ and pillow fat quarters right sides facing and I showed him how to pin them together. It’s been a long time since my boys were little, so I had forgotten how underdeveloped a 4 year old’s fine motor skills can be. I was patient though and he finally managed to get the pins in with a little help from Grandmama. Then it was off to the sewing machine.

I let him help me pick out the right color of thread, showed him how to thread the machine, and let him turn the wheel to bring up the bobbin thread. We put the fabric under the presser foot, and I showed him how to lower and raise the foot. Since seam width didn’t really matter, I let him choose which guideline he wanted the edge of the pillow to follow and we were off and sewing. He sat in my lap while I used the foot control and we guided the fabric together. Every time we got to a pin, I let him take it out and stick it into the cork wall behind my sewing desk. He got to lift and lower the presser foot when we turned corners and hold the reverse button at the beginning and end. 15 minutes later, whe had a pillow!

We then went to the breakfast bar and I showed him how to put his hand inside the opening we had left and grab the corners and pull them out. Once we got it turned, I did a quick press while he ran back to the video game. No amount of prodding could pull him away from “Dora and the Purple Planet”, so I let him playGP and pillow and began to help GP with his pillow. We followed the same steps, but since he was older I let him do a little more, like thread the machine himself (with a little help from GM) and guide the fabric on his own. Once we turned the pillow right side out, he couldn’t wait to stuff it. I showed him how to take handfulls of stuffing and poke them into the corners and then just keep putting stuffing in so it was fat as a Thanksgiving turkey.  To close the opening I threaded a HUGE doll sculpting needle (so it would be easier for his small hand to grasp), and showed him how tho do a whipstitch to close the opening. I held the edges together while he very competantly sewed the pillow closed. Viola, one pretty good looking pillow and one extremely proud 6 year old!

I tried several times to get MJ to abandon Dora to stuff his pillow, but no go. GP kept volunteering, so I figured why not? I let him stuff his brother’s pillow and I helped him sew it closed. Mission accomplished: two little boys with two cute pillows they helped make themselves. What could be better I ask you? Fun for them and Grandmama to boot!

I have a couple of more adult sewing projects planned in the next few weeks. I recently picked up 2 yards of this green twill at Jo-Ann’s and then came across this remnant of brown print at our local Wal-Mart which has not yet begun to eliminate their fabric department, thank goodness. I have very different skirts planned for both these pieces. The green twill will become a long straight skirt with big pockets and a drawstirng waist, while the brown print is destined to morph into a flared elastic-waist dress sirt. I have a couple of brown jackets and tops that will look awesome with this skirt come fall. I also picked up this NewLook pattern (shhhh, don’t tell hubby). I love wide legged pants! I will also use the skirt pattern and probably the gaucho length pants, too. Three different looks from one pattern: that’s a winner I tell ya’.

Green twillBrown printNewLook patten

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