10 December, 2017

Guinea Pig Presents

A guinea pig tunnel.

For a cousin in frigid North Dakota who recently embraced guinea pigs.

 I did a quick internet search one morning before another 11-hour work day and found that there is a thriving pet market for polar fleece hand-sewn cozies. Who knew?

And PDF sewing patterns for really simple toys for mucho dineros.
I didn't buy a pattern for a tunnel - I just winged it with some remnants from Fabric Depot that matched.
If you're interested in making your own, I added some dimensions at the end of this post.

Image may contain: food
His name is Fluffy Nocturnal

These tunnels come un-done - held together with velcro. You can use it as a lap mat to hold little Fluffy or you can connect it and let Fluffy run through. Some sites sew together one end to create a Cuddle Sack.

Apparently guinea pigs like to be cocooned. And cozy.
 I rolled back the ends to add structure to my tunnel.

 I used this super cute turtle remnant. I was in Fabric Depot for some pearl cotton for  some hand-stitching in the photo below. I didn't have much time -- so finding small remnants that matched meant I didn't have to spend an hour looking at all of the Polar Fleece available.

This is a sneak peak at a Christmas present that I've been working on since October. I decided to do a sashiko stitch to quilt the layers together. Sashiko is just a fancy-schmancy word for a running stitch.

Guinea Pig Tunnel Tutorial

About 8" in diameter.

You'll need two pieces of matching or coordinating polar fleece and one piece of batting. I used a thin batting and my tunnel collapses unless you roll the end out. You might need two layers of batting to make this stiff enough to stay up.
10" velcro or longer if you make the tunnel longer.

Polar Fleece x 2. Cut each 26" x 13". If you want your tunnel longer, then cut 26" x 16".
Batting: cut to same measurement.

1.   Layer two polar fleece pieces rights sides together (RST), place batting on top.

2.  Sew around edges with a 3/8" seam leaving a 5 inch gap for turning. Turn right sides out and poke out corners with chopstick. Don't poke through - just enough to get corners rectangular.

3. The velcro goes at the short ends. Sew hook tape to Solid polar fleece and loop tape at opposite end to Print fleece. (I used a Print and a Solid). I double stitch at ends to reinforce.

4. Stitch parallel rows (to the velcro) about every 1 1/2". If you need to mark a straight line, use a disappearing ink pen. This quilts the sandwich together and adds structure.

5. Stitch around entire edge about 1/2" in, making sure loose fabric at gap (for turning) is tucked in.

That's it. If you want to make the Cuddle Sack, connect into roll and then sew one end flat.

I  liked the idea of it being a lap mat for holding Fluffy and that it did double duty as a tunnel.

19 November, 2017

Elvis No Sew Blankets Mini Tutorial

 My favorite neighbor girl needed help making some christmas gifts.
Polar fleece blankets. No-Sew Fleece Blankets.

Do you want to make your own? They are easy-peasy.
They even sell kits at Joann's Fabric Stores.

There are a couple of ways to tie them. We chose a low knot version.

 You will need two pieces of polar fleece in coordinating colors. Most fleece comes 60" wide. If you want a square throw, then buy 60" cut (aka 1 2/3 yard).

Neighbor Girl wanted them rectangular. She bought two yard lengths of two coordinating fleeces.
Her cut measurements are 60" wide by 72" long.

You can do this on your dining room table to save your back or sit down and lay them out on a clean floor.

Lay your two fabrics together and smooth out the wrinkles until all sides mostly match. On the 60" edges, you're going to cut off about an inch width which is the selvedge. These edges are rougher where the machinery that made the fabric gripped it.

I free-hand  cut the selvedges off. Because polar fleece hides all flaws. You're going to end up cutting fringe all around anyway. Even if you can't eyeball an inch to cut away, it won't matter in the end product.(but if you want to measure or lay out masking tape as a guide, you can).

We laid masking tape (painters tape) down 4 inches from the edge (Parallel to the edge). This was to assist in cutting the fringe. Each fringe (fringette?) is about 1 1/4" wide. I have a chalk marker that worked quite well to guide Neighbor Girl in cutting straight fringe.

She had limited confidence on the first side but by the 4th, she wanted to cut the fringe free-hand.

The trick to the fringe is to cut mostly 4" in on all four sides and evenly. So you might have to curb that enthusiasm of wanting to do freehand as your fringe starts to get wider and wilder.

Anyway, I gave her a masking tape line to cut to and chalk lines to cut straight. We didn't need these on the second blanket because of the elvis stage light design giving us fabric guidelines.

You will also need to cut out 4" squares on the corners as the fringe will fill in the corner and look seamless. I always forget the 4" squares at the corners until I cut the first fringettes. You'll figure it out, because polar fleece hides all flaws.

 Once the fringe is cut, you flip the fringette forward and snip a 1/2" cut in the middle of the four layers. My scissors aren't sharp enough to cut thru four layers with the tips, so my tip is to bring the scissors in and use the middle and/or back of the scissors to give you some power to cut through.

Neighbor Girl quickly grasped how much of a snip to make. Remember, polar fleece hides all flaws. Even if you snip too wide, it will be okay.

Then you bring the end of the fringette through the hole. Tug gently. Thus making a soft half hitch knot.

The other method has you tie the fringettes together in a double knot making the edges of these blankets more lumpy bumpy. This snip in the middle and push the end through method is a much softer knot that doesn't annoy you as much when you snuggle under the throw, but is just as secure.

 This right side has been done. Look at that red line. It's the opposite side as it comes through the slit forming that cool braided border.

One last tip: the fleeces don't shift because of the friction of the material holding them secure. But the weight of the blanket will slide over the table, possibly causing you to cut crookedly. Just roll up the other side to keep the weight of the material from shifting.

See that corner above? It had a 4" square cut out and you would never know.

 It took about an hour to make the first. AND stretch frequently for your lower back if you are bending over. The second blanket was only 60" square and took just over 30 minutes.

I have some video but no time to go through the laborious process in order to post here. You can catch them in my IG feed.

Photo Credit: DD; Cape Kiwanda

 I'm busy making notecards for my kids (who write letters just like their mama and their grandma!).
I'm using their awesome photography from the year from their various travels.

29 October, 2017

Sewing, Sewing

 I finally finished these QAYG (quilt as you go) bags.

 I added a pocket specifically for essential oil storage. I have been on a scrap clean-up in my sewing room. I was guilted into sorting my scraps by color by two very OCD sewing friends and it came in handy when I needed four clothesline bowls in a hurry for gifting.

I figured I would sew together these turquoise and purple scraps too and enter Elm Street Quilt's Bag It   competition. Like, maybe, try to win some awesome prizes....

This project used up (not enough) scraps, one thread spool and one bobbin. 

 Last Saturday, I was able to hook up with Pencil Girl and I made her one of these super quick Pyramid Pouches. They are the size of a coin purse or a small  special pouch to hide some candy. (or a check for the 1/4 beef she lugged over for me)

We met up at Fabric Depot. They were running their warehouse sale. Pencil Girl was looking for fabric for Simplicity 1108. She almost suckered me into buying these two fabrics for the same cardigan. The floral would be the very drapey cardigan with the aqua blue being the bands.

Except I have little time to sew and this cardigan would force me to go buy a black/white tshirt and black jeans. Or something.  She is such an enabler.

I had a hankering for my Apple Cider Caramels. Recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.  ( I might come back and laboriously cut & paste all the hyperlinks in, or not)
 These are THE BEST caramels. They always turn out. They have that apple cider flavor from boiling down a quart of fresh northwest apple cider for 45 minutes to a thick syrup. The recipe is awesome.

 We were at Fabric Depot to buy materials to make this gingham flannel throw.

It's gonna be 70 inches square and we found the fabrics very quickly. But then, I remember WHY I DON"T QUILT. It took nearly an hour to pick out the binding. Not to mention the backing.
Good golly.

I washed all the flannel when I got home. Hung it to dry and started cutting my big 10.5" squares right away. No problem on the 'white' which is actually a textured light gray. 

 Then I started on the black and realized it had shrunk widthwise. Instead of 44" wide material, I had 40" wide material. Grrrr,... The "white' had shrunk lengthwise (which is typical!!!)

Screaming texts to Pencil Girl found a solution. Piece the squares. No one will notice - it's flannel.

And the Gray - the medium gray - did the same thing.

I spent most of today sewing all 49 squares together - see - that was the appeal of this throw. Only 49 squares. What could possibly go wrong?

Let's just say my seam ripper and I had a bit of closeness today.

And did you know that flannel stretches when you rip a seam out? And also when ironing? grrr.
Note to self: No more quilts.That's when I found this:

Yes, a gray gingham Pendleton throw. At the church rummage sale.
Alas, when I got home and shook it out, it had wool bugs. With some minuscule munched holes.

It did not save me from making this throw.
However some interesting texts back and forth put the thought of felting it into my brain for an unknown at present project. Felting it would take care of any lingering bugs. It's sitting in the garage while I catch my breath from all this sewing inspiration.

 Anyway, my quilt top is finished. All seams sewn, and pressed open.

Leaving you with some more stunning photos from the kids.

Photo credit: DS, Donner Lake, Nevada 2017

Photo credit: DS, Lake Tahoe 2017

Photo credit: DD's friend. Cloud's Rest, Yosemite, California

19 October, 2017

Knit Knotted Scarves

 Pencil Girl sent this photo to me this morning from her 4-H sewing group.
They made these awesome scarves made from old tshirts.

 I immediately replied with "Off with their heads!"
I try not to show faces - especially if I didn't ask permission beforehand. I also rarely post photos of me. Nor do I name people when I post faces. All part of my internet confusion game.

Anyway - aren't these nifty? They cut one inch strips from the bottom of tshirts and knotted them together with a pattern from Linda Lee. Kind of like a big macrame project.

 I also finished this week my (stupid*%$#@&##) hedgehog bags. They have a front zippered pocket with vinyl so you can see inside. I sell them as Lipsense bags in my RunningWithHandmade etsy shop.

I was chatting with another sewing blogger about how someone should make (and photograph) all the ways you can make zipper ends for toiletry pouches for a quick look at BEFORE you sew.

I picked the wrong way - which worked on the first bag. However, the next ones rebelled.
Which started to  make me very grumpy until I sat down with my seam ripper and made them right. 

So, there!

 Hubs is dorking around in the hangar. Making everything onto rolling stock (if it didn't roll before), re-painting walls, generally being crazy. But, both planes do fit inside.

That J-5 (orange) is so almost ready to start it's engine and take it's maiden voyage.

 I made four rope bowls for gifts this last two weeks. Two sewing peoples guilted me into sorting my scrap bin(s) and afterwards, it was a quick grab of the ziploc bag to utilize small scraps in the color I wanted.

 One went to Finland, Two to the UK (with second winging it's way to Ireland), and the final one to my CreativeGirl friend.  I discovered, I had been remiss in making her an orange one (her favorite color). I have one more to make (later, much later) as a gift to another sewing friend. We'll maybe call her MarineGirl.

 We had some 34' nights recently - a little early, so I made haste and cleaned off my back patio, throwing the houseplants into the garage. That frost was a little too close for comfort.

This frog is a particularly ugly lumpy brownish green color - not the cute spring green of my other frogs.

My dear daughter, is on a fall camping trip from Seattle down Highway 101 to Yosimite. She stopped off for a very quick 21 minute visit, hauling our Christmas Present!

 How perfect it is. Got the mountains, the fly fisherman, the river, the floatplane. All etched on ceramic tile and then hand-glazed. One of a kind perfectness. Might be the best gift ever.

This from my daughter who lives in Alaska.
This photo was taken recently on the way to Seward. I just love this picture of the mountains with their dusting of fresh snow and the reflection in the water.

I'm planning to make note cards from this image.

Linking to the 2017 Elm Street Quilts BAG IT event.

01 October, 2017

M and M Bags

 I've made several of these lately. All scrap except for the zipper. I've made them with straight sides and a logo (bottom panel) stitched to the lining. I've boxed the corners for a softer, rounder, coin purse shape. This time, I kept my bag intact at the middle and did some fiddly zipper sewing. These lie flatter. Overall, I'm liking the resulting shape.

The candy people have encased their M&M's in plastic. I suppose it keeps the candy fresher - longer. I saw a tutorial about re-purposing these bags years ago but it involved iron-on vinyl to give strength to the paper/plastic bag. The plastic nowadays is pretty tough - especially for a novelty purse. Who wants to deal with possible melted plastic on their iron - glad to have skipped straight past a vinyl overlay.

That's my cut basil as a backdrop. We won't get a freeze until November so I'll probably get one more cutting in before the basil dissolves into mush.

 I am supposed to be finishing these lipsense bags with the cute hedgehog. But I hit a zipper end roadblock. I don't like how they appear, how they came together - at all. I think I have figured out what to do to make them work, but it involves seam ripping and a few choice words.

This is my first end. It disappears into the side seam, but could flip up raw if you were, somehow, to push up into that corner.

 My second end - I sewed a fabric tab onto the end of the zipper. It's all bulky and bunches up there.
Don't like that one neither.

 I'm gonna try my third thing to remove some fabric bulk and then just get on with my life.

These bags are for Lipsense Lipsticks and will be sold in my etsy shop. That's why I'm making my sewing life miserable. I want these to look awesome - like the first one I sold. I'm over-thinking these zipper ends - that's for sure. Why I derailed for sewing candy bags.

Some fall garden photos.

Volunteer Putunia

 My exciting still life of fresh tomatoes and purple grapes nestled on a bed of basil. yep.

Ice Cream sundae Hydrangea

Cosmo plus some awesome raspberries

We've had some recent rains which helps to throw everything onto the ground.
Most of the sunflowers are in resistance.  This dahlia is so much fun. It has been my favorite this year.

  I had a chance to attend my local library book sale and really hit the jackpot. This is my first haul. Some are destined to be Christmas presents, Some will wing their way over to Japan. Some will be read. And one will be sold on Amazon to pay for the lot.

I actually went back when I had to return to work in the afternoon and got a second (and much bigger) haul. It was a really good sale.

Linking up with Elm Street Quilts - 2017 bag competition.