Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let the frenzy begin

Off to celebrate a long Christmas holiday... will be back with stories and photos and tons of love once the holidays have passed.

Wishing you peace and joy and lots of delicious things!
Dr. B.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My new friend - Polar Fleece

Like all you crafters out there, I have lofty dreams of giving handmade gifts to my loved ones for Christmas. And like many of you, I ended up needing to make one particular thing quickly and last-minute-ish for an 11 year-old niece. So, rather than knitting a hat, I sewed one out of my new friend, Polar Fleece.

The joke was kind of on me, though, in that it took me longer to cut and sew this (and the scarf I then decided I needed to make) than it would've taken to knit something. Aw, who cares? I made a new friend!

Pattern: Martha Stewart fleece hat. Pattern can be found here.

Fabric: Two colors of polar fleece. I bought 1/2 yard of each color, and that was enough for this child's size hat, the scarf below, and probably a whole other hat.

Crazy important thread tip: Use heavy-duty thread on the top only, and regular thread in the bobbin. Martha won't tell you to do that. But the very nice and helpful lady at the fabric store will. "If you use the heavy-duty on both," she said, "you're going to have a big mess." I used Gutermann 100% Polyester thread in color 257 - dark blue, and was grateful every step of the non-mess way for that nice lady.

Sewing needle: Size 18 for heavy-duty fabrics. The bulk of the fleece -- despite it being quite light and fluffy -- requires some heavy-duty tools apparently.


(1) I embroidered a snowflake on it. I used 3 strands of DMC embroidery floss in light blue and free-handed it. It's just some backstitching and french knots.

(2) Instead of seaming the hat so that the front is 2 panels of color next to each other, I sewed it so that the light blue panels wrap around the sides, like this:

Then I figured that a hat alone might be a lame present, and I had lots of leftover fleece. So I made a matching scarf. (It looks quite grey in the photo, but it's the same fabric. It matches in real life.)

For what it's worth, here's the info on sewing the scarf:

Two-toned scarf "pattern": my own.

Specs: Finished scarf measures approx. 42 inches x 5 inches.

If I were really adept at this sewing thing, I could've done this very quickly, cutting two long strips (each one measuring 42.5" x 5.5") then sewing them together. I am not, however, adept at this sewing thing, so I pieced the strips. Whatever.

All you should know is: embroider the snowflake first, then sew the scarf -- right sides together-- leaving about a 3-inch opening on one side to turn it right-side out again. Again, I used heavy-duty thread in the top only, and regular thread in the bobbin. No problems there!

After turning the scarf right-side out, I blind-stitched the opening closed. I knew the next step would be to top-stitch around the scarf about 1/4" away from the edge, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was so sleepy.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful experiment. Not as speedy as it could've been (or as it would be for you, probably), but good nonetheless.

Now. Let the gift-wrapping commence!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So we meet again

Last night I was watching an episode of my beloved Martha Stewart Crafts show, and I saw a polar fleece hat that I thought would be perfect as a last-minute gift. Only downside? No polar fleece in the house.

Cut to: Me at my local fabric store this morning. I was wandering around the notions section, no doubt muttering to myself, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted the owner of the LYS I broke up with recently. She was rifling through some remnants and holding them up to a piece of knitting she had with her. I thought carefully but quickly about how to proceed, given our past, and did what any ethical and righteous person would do in that situation: I turned down an aisle so she couldn't see me.

As I was choosing my thread, I thought about how I would come home to my Sidekick and be all, "I just saw the owner of my ex-LYS at the fabric store. Weird, right?"

Yeah. Well. No such luck.

After I'd gathered all the supplies I was going to need for this project, I went to get in line. And there she was again. Right in front of me. Paying for whatever nonsense she was buying.

Play it cool. Maybe she won't see you. Or maybe if she does see you, she won't recognize you.

Again. Not today's luck.

OWNER (catching my eye): Oh, hey!
ME: Hi!
OWNER: What are you making?

You should say socks. Just say socks. It would be hilarious. Do it.

ME: A hat.
ME: Just a quick gift for a little girl.
OWNER: It's that time of year.

I then, for some unknown reason, just started going on about how quick this project looks and how good ole Martha Stewart will get you out of a scrape every time. I don't know why. I'm from Texas. They teach you to be polite.

OWNER: Are you watching her new crafting show?
ME: Yeah, that's actually where I got the pattern for this hat.
OWNER: Really!
ME: Yep.

Ask her about the "For Rent" sign you saw in her store window recently. It'll make her real uncomfortable. And then she'll have to explain how being rude and condescending drove her out of business.

OWNER: Well if I don't see you beforehand, have a wonderful holiday.

She said this with a big smile. And she seemed kind of sincere and human.

ME: You too.

'Tis the season. Peace on earth and all that.

(And also, I only saw the sign once and then didn't see it again. So. It's not so much that I'm spreading peace and joy, really. In all fairness. It's more that I didn't want to start trouble. And that's ok. 'Tis the season to not start trouble. Fa la la la la, la la, la. La!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am so winning this race.

Slow and steady, people.

Slow. And steady.

Since my iron has now taken to auditioning non-stop for the part of The Shower Head in the big holiday appliance show, these placemats are crinkly -- but dry -- for the moment. Once the iron realizes it doesn't have a shot in hell of getting that part, I will soothe its broken soul by reuniting it with some spray starch, and the two of them will make my mats crisp and lovely.

Damn that holiday appliance show.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things that slow you down

(The title of this post reminds me of that 20,000-Dollar Pyramid game show from the '70s. I imagine it said as a category. FYI)

(1) An iron that is suddenly leaking out of the bottom. Imagine going to the ironing board, carefully pressing a seam, then pouring a glass of water on it. That's what it's like.

(2) Hand-quilting placemats. I know I said I was going to machine-quilt them. I chickened out. But I'll tell you, this wouldn't be so slow if I weren't compelled to be

(3) Stopping after every line of stitching to closely inspect my work. I'm a troubled individual.

(4) Caramel corn.

(5) A sewing machine that's missing the table extension. This is my secret shame. I use a borrowed sewing machine, and I lost the little table part, so all I have is a small area around the needle as the flat surface. Unless I use a stack of books. And the stack of books can only do so much. (Anyone like to recommend a sewing machine?) This foolishness is wearing thin, and slowing me way down.

(6) A literal pain in my neck from doing some sit-ups earlier. Lesson learned.

Maybe tomorrow will be speedier. It's supposed to rain like crazy tomorrow, and we'll see what that does to my productivity. Since Torrential Downpour/Drenchfest '07 has already started right here on my ironing board, I'm imagining I'm all set.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Learn something new every day

I totally sewed piping.

The details might just be too glorious, nay, too exciting for you. Reading them might cause such a state of euphoria as to render you useless in your day-to-day goings-on. And I care for you and your goings, so no details. (This is also a part of a holiday gift, so that little peek is all you're getting for now.)

However. Allow me to reiterate: I totally sewed piping.

Also, thank you SO much for all your tips and comments on the placemats. Every bit of your experience, advice, and support really helped! (It was touch and go there for a minute.) It seems only fair that you should get to see what the tops look like in the sunlight:

These are much more representative of how they look than the last set of shots.

I've purchased the backing fabric (from a dude who was so complimentary about my work that I felt like I was being grifted), and I should finish these pretty soon. I'm gonna use a different thread in the bobbin than on the top, and never having done that before, I'm looking forward to some boo-hooing about that in the process -- e..g., "Boo hoo, how come this looks like crap? Boo hoo, what was I thinking? Boo hoo. Boo hoo. Oh, boo."

Won't that be awesome?

Learning new stuff. I'm all for it!