Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Super Mario Brothers Quilt Finish!

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I have finally completed my Super Mario Brothers quilt.   I started this quilt 3 years ago with the intentions of giving it to Husband for his birthday (in April of 2013).  Obviously, that didn't work out.  For eleven of the blocks (Mario, Goomba, cloud, question block, fire flower, star, pipe, turtle shell, Shy Guy, green mushroom and red mushroom) I followed Angela from Cut to PiecesSuper Mario Quilt-Along.  


The rest of the blocks I planned myself (Luigi jumping, Bob-omb, Spikey, Bloober, Cheep Cheep, Piranha plant, and the coins).


You can read about my progress hereherehereherehere, and here.  The last four blocks (coins, Pirahna plant, Cheep Cheep) were completed (but never blogged about) right before we started the process of moving.  

Last week I squared all the blocks and added sashing around each block.  None of the blocks were the same size so I added the blue border to each quilt block before trimming to 20.5".  

To piece all the blocks I used Pellon Stick-N-Washaway #542 as recommended in the Quilt Along.  Instead of sewing a billion squares together for one block you stick the squares to the sticky side of the interfacing and then sew rows. You can see the technique here.  The purpose of this is to save time and to increase the accuracy of the blocks.   Unfortunatlely, it wasn't as much of a time-saver for me.  This was probably the most frustrating part of the process.  Sewing the rows in one direction was fine, but sewing the rows in the second direction was a big headache.  My (old) machine could not easily sew over the numerous bulky seams.  Even after trimming all the seams it had issues.  I had to sew over most rows twice.  I made the last block with my new machine and it had no problems sewing over the bulky seams.  Go figure.  

I also had problems with the dissolveable interfacing.  It seemed to degrade a bit over the years and it became distorted and lost some of its sticky-ness.  The last 4 blocks were a bit of a challenge.  I ended up spraying basting spray on the interfacing so the squares would stick.  

I backed the quilt with sweatshirt fleece.  I did not use batting.  The quilt top was kind of heavy and I didn't want to add bulk.  Also, Husband claims he doesn't like quilt because they aren't soft enough.  I thought the sweatshirt fleece would make it softer.  The fleece I used had zero stretch and was a poly blend.  The kind that is sort-of shiny (ick).  I'm not a big fan of polyester and I'm not sure how this cut ended up in my stash.  Instead of wasting it I used it with the intention of this being a 'winter' quilt.  The polyester will be more insulating than cotton.  

To quilt I used my new machine and one of the many stitches available.  I had a hard time deciding, but ended up picking this wave pattern.  I didn't want to use straight lines because I was worried that would draw attention to the non-so-straight lines of the quilt blocks.  

Quilting went rather well and the machine didn't have too many problems sewing over the bulky seams.  I did have some problems with the spacing on the waves (wavelength, not space between rows).  I'm not sure what caused that.  

I also used a different stitch on the binding.  I'm still not sure how I feel about the results.  I had trouble with the spacing of the stitches here too.  

Contrast of spacing on binding stitch

The "side-ways" layout of the blocks is a bit of an offense to my quilting sensibilities.  It seems wrong to me.  However, this layout is the best option for our bed.  We have a sleigh bed and the foot board gets in the way of long quilts.  Quilts generally have to be placed sideways (longer across then from head-to-toe) to fit on our bed.  

This was probably the longest time I've spent on a quilt (that I completed).  The process wasn't very fun; it was rather tedious.  However, I am happy with how it turned out and am happy to be done.  

On to the next project!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My New Friend

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Recently a friend of the family decided to sell her sewing machine.  She didn't use it much and offered to sell it to me.  I was a bit hesitant at first.  Did I really need a new machine?  I wanted a new one, but did I really need it??  I've gotten this far with my basic Singer.  What is this going to do that I can't do with my basic machine?  Well, a lot.  After doing some research on the machine and the brand I ended up buying the machine.  After playing around with it, I am happy with my purchase.

My biggest worry about the machine was that it was digital.  Will it be hard to learn?  Will it be more prone to breaking?  How much more expensive will it be to fix?  Adjusting to the digital machine hasn't been a big deal. There are still a couple things (a button to raise/lower the presser foot, a button to raise the needle, a button to snip and tie-off the thread) that I find unnecessary, but I can live with them.  

The machine has a bunch of different stitches to choose from (222 to be exact) and regulates the tension based on the stitch.  I don't know that I will use all of them, or even a fraction of them, but they are fun to look at.  The machine features IDT (integrated dual feed) which means it feeds the fabric from the top and the bottom and the fabric won't shift.  It also has an automatic button-hole foot.  All you do it attach the button-hole foot, and set the length.  Amazing.  I tested this and can't wait to make a garment with button-holes.  

Look at these awesome stitches!  

I tested a different stitch for binding

The machine also has a larger throat (the space between needle and machine).  I realize this is pretty standard on machines meant for quilting, but it is such a big change for me.  I have quilted a queen-sized quilt on it already and it was very easy to feed the giant roll through.  This was one big reason I wanted a new machine.  

Originally, I thought I'd just use the new machine quilting and would still use my Singer for everything else.  I have put away my singer and am using this full-time.  I haven't sewn any garments on it, yet, but am not worried about it.  I thought I would be more sad about putting away the only machine I've ever sewn with.  After sewing with the new one I was all too happy to put the old one away.  Just looking at the tension of the stitches makes me want to never use my old one again.  

I still have some room to grow with my new machine, but so far I am happy with it.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

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For Halloween this year Little Man decided he wanted to be a ninja.  Specifically, he wanted to be a black ninja.  He decided on this sometime in November last year.  You may remember he got a red ninja outfit for Christmas two years ago.  It no longer fits, so new clothes were in order.


His costume was pretty easy.  Instead of the attached hood/cowl that was on his red costume I opted to make a balaclava instead.  It is the same pattern I used when I made Mini Man's blue ninja outfit (the kids really like ninjas).   

His pants were made using the Nightfox Pants pattern by Puperita (love this pattern).  I wanted to use cotton sweatshirt fleece or French Terry and had a really hard time finding it.  Everything I found was either the wrong color or a polyester-blend.  I'm not a big fan of polyester-blend sweatshirt fleece.  It can get so hot!  I ended splurging on this cotton French Terry from Organic Cotton Plus.  I was a bit turned off by the price, but once the fabric arrived I was incredibly happy.  It is so soft and warm, but still breathes.  I think I might buy some more and make myself a pair of pants with the fabric.  

I made his shirt using cotton jersey and my Ringer Tee pattern.  The belt was painted on using freeze paper and glow-in-the-dark fabric paint.  Unfortunately, the paint does not glow in the dark.


Mini Man decided to be a beaver.  Actually, he decided on many things and changed his mind several times.  I pulled beaver out of the mix and ran with it.  Also because the word beaver is in the name of our new neighborhood, I thought it would be appropriate.  I had a little trouble figuring out what to do for his costume.  I know an all-brown outfit would probably be ideal.  However, the thought of brown from head-to-toe made me cringe.  I also didn't want to waste my time (and fabric) sewing a brown shirt and pants that I knew would never be worn again.  I instead went for a little unconventional approach and made an outfit that he could wear his beaver accessories with and without and still look socially acceptable.  

The brown pants were made with cotton sweatshirt fleece (I was able to find brown, just not black) and I used the Aviator Pants pattern by Winter Wear Designs.  I used this pattern last March when I made the kids' star wars birthday clothes.  I really like this pattern.  I opted to not add the welt pockets in the back, just the slash pockets in the front.  I also added the cuffs on the ankles.  However, you can't see them (in the pictures) because I made the pants a size larger to allow room to grow.

His (non-brown) shirt was made using the Bimaa sweater pattern.  Love this pattern and as I was making it I had to wonder why I don't use it more.  I used the Bear Bois Mineral fabric from the Bear Camp collection by Jay-Cyn for Birch.  The fabric looks like wood grain and I thought that would be appropriate for a beaver.  I used the same brown ribbing from the pants on the cuffs and the hood lining to tie the outfit together.  I love how it turned out.  

I made his tail using brown felt.  It has an elastic loop on the top which slips onto a belt.  He loves his tail and wears it all the time.  Its looking a pretty worn by now.  


His hat was made using a pattern I drafted for Halloween hats last year.  I used this template for the eyes and mouth.  He was not very excited about the hat originally because it was, in his words, "too soft."  What a weirdo.  

Little Man was actually lucky enough to get two costumes out of me.  I convinced him to be a bat so the whole family could be animals (Also because there was a bat in our house when we moved in so I wanted to give another nod to our new house.).  Our deal was that I would make him his ninja outfit after Halloween and he could wear it whenever he wanted.  I ended up making the ninja clothes before hand so he could wear the same clothes for both costumes.  All he has to do is take off the balaclava, put on wings and bat-hat and boom, bat.  

I made his wings using black fleece and this pattern.  Basically, you just cut out scallops on giant triangle then fold the top part over to create armholes.  It is kind of like a big shrug.  I made his hat out of black fleece and used the hat pattern from our costumes last year.  I added ears, eyes, and teeth. 

For myself, I made a fox hat and wore the fox scarf I made last fall.  I altered this free pattern to make my hat.  I made Husband a Racoon hat based on the same pattern.

Here is the whole fam.

What are you dressing as for Halloween?