Friday, November 14, 2014

Notes from a novice quilter

Last month, I finished up my first twin-sized quilt! Here it is in all its wonky glory:

Scrap quilt

This is a scrap quilt in the truest sense of the word. Honest-to-goodness scraps, recycled -- some old shirts of Douglas' and my dad's, an old pillowcase, sewing project scraps, etc. It was backed with an old sheet. The only thing I paid for was the batting, which I think was about six bucks at Walmart.

This was a "learn by experience" project for me, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I'm quite comfortable in the realm of garment sewing, but quilting is a whole different world. I had to Google a lot of things as I went along. :) I'm writing down some things I learned, for any other complete novices out there reading this. (And if you are more experienced and see a correction or addition that needs to be made to my list, please let me know in the comments!)
  • Use a rotary cutter as much as possible. Don't cut out your squares or shapes by hand if you can use a rotary cutter instead!
  • When you are piecing your quilt top, set your stitch length a little smaller. I set mine at 2.
  • Utilize chain piecing.
  • No need to press seams open. Press them to one side or the other.
  • I hand-basted this quilt together using a plain ol' needle and thread, because I was using what I had, but it was fairly time-consuming and cumbersome. Next time I would probably spring for some basting spray -- I haven't used any before, but I'm guessing it would be easier and faster.
  • When quilting with my walking foot, I set my stitch length a bit longer, at 3.
  • I decided to "stitch in the ditch" because I thought that it would be easy. Nope. It's actually pretty tricky!
  • I used this method to machine bind my quilt. It was adequate, but there were some spots on the back that didn't get "caught" by the stitching. Perhaps I should have pinned more. I wonder if using basting tape would help? I just couldn't face all that hand-stitching!
  • Last but not least... quilting takes a long time. It is a big project. Only embark on a quilt if you love the fabrics and design (even though I usually love scrap quilts, I am pretty "meh" about this one).
Right now, the quilt is on Edmund's bed, as he really needed a warm quilt! It's serving its purpose. I told the kids they can drag it around, make tents with it, etc. I don't mind if it gets dirty and well-used. Now that I've got a little experience under my belt, I have some more ideas and plan to make two more twin-sized quilts for the big kids. Looking forward to learning more as I go along!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A flatcap for Edmund

I recently ordered Sew Liberated's "Huck Finn" Cap pattern and had a chance to make it up for Edmund with some wool left over from an early sewing project. I've long had a penchant for flatcaps, but I've never made one myself or even examined a store-bought one closely, so I had no idea how they were put together. It was interesting to learn!

Flatcap!

Have I mentioned how much I love sewing with wool? It is by far my favorite fabric. It does exactly what I want when I'm pressing and pinning! I love the look and feel, too. The fabric that I used is very, very soft; not scratchy at all. The weave is a mixture of brown and gray, so the look of the fabric is nicely neutral. I used coordinating left over polyester lining fabric for the lining.

Flatcap!

The pattern went together fairly well, although I had a few head-scratching moments. I'm still a little puzzled about the sweatband -- the pattern calls for it to be cut on the bias, presumably so that it can be eased around the circular hat, but then the interfacing applied to the sweatband effectively prevents any "easing" from happening. I looked at the interior of a vintage 1920s flatcap that belonged to my great-great uncle and the sweatband does look more tidy. The vintage cap also had a stabilizer under the sweatband, but it looked almost more like a stretchy buckram. I'm sure there's something better than modern fusible interfacing that I could use next time, but I don't know what that would be. :) Ah well, as the problem is mostly just aesthetic, and is hidden whenever the cap is worn, I won't worry about it too much.

Flatcap!

I wasn't sure if Edmund would like the cap or want to wear it very much, but so far he's been wearing it pretty much nonstop! It helps that he likes to pretend to be "Luther" (flatcap-wearing mouse from the "Theo" series). He's been very careful not to lose the hat and at bedtime, he put it on his bed so that he will know right where it is tomorrow morning. I love that he loves it!

Flatcap!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mason & Hamlin


Mason & Hamlin

Our piano-less home now has a piano again... Douglas has a beautiful black Kawai grand piano that he bought in his single days, but it resides at his studio. I've missed hearing him play when he's at home. We found this FREE 1922 Mason & Hamlin upright piano on Craigslist in a town nearby, just the brand and year that Douglas wanted (he was looking for pre-1929, when the company merged with Aeolian and subsequently went down in quality). Isn't God good? We're getting it tuned later this week. I can't wait to start up the home concerts again!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And we're off!


homeschool
[first day of school]

Just like that, we started our "official" homeschooling at the beginning of the month. I'm doing three subjects with Edmund right now -- Bible, reading/phonics, and math/numbers. For Bible, we read a chapter each day, work on memorizing one verse each week, and learn a new hymn or psalm each month (Lavinia does this with us and enjoys it, too). For reading, I am using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and reading various books aloud, as time permits (right now we are on "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, having already finished the first two books in the series earlier in the year). I haven't quite gotten my act together for math yet (planning to order a workbook at some point), but I've had him do some counting and sorting activities and practice writing numbers.

He thinks it is all simply wonderful.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Purple bunting

Purple bunting

I made this bunting out of purple fabric scraps as a decoration for Lavinia's birthday last May. I just now got around to hanging it up in her bedroom (we switched rooms with her and Rosie this summer), along with a few other wall decorations. Her toddler reaction when she saw her room: "This is amazing!!" A good reminder to me, don't waste time feeling bad that my kids' bedrooms aren't Pinterest-perfect... just decorate them with a mother's love and they will be so happy.

To make the bunting, I cut out fourteen triangles (two of each fabric that I had) and backed them with a similar color. Sewed right sides together, clipped and turned right side out, then edge-stitched. I centered the triangles, tucked the raw edges up inside the (pre-made) bias tape and sewed it shut -- easy peasy!

That lavender eyelet in the foreground of the picture is left over from the birthday dress my mom made for me when I turned six.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Day at the Museum


A Day at the Museum

There's something for everyone at the museum.

A Day at the Museum

A cozy, old-fashioned quilt on an iron bed...

A Day at the Museum

I always notice a pretty teapot....

A Day at the Museum

Lavinia loves the little playhouse. Here she is enjoying some "grapes" at table...

A Day at the Museum

...and tucking the dolly into bed after reading her a story.

A Day at the Museum

A Day at the Museum

An apple tree for Edmund to climb, and outdoor swings and games to "give him energy," as he says.

A Day at the Museum

Even Rosie enjoyed the outing.

A Day at the Museum

Next time, we'll come back with a picnic.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Around the house


bookshelves

Is summer the universal time to work on house projects? We've been more productive since the weather has turned warmer. Douglas recently finished up building two handsome wooden bookcases for our living room. When we were first married, we bought some cheap shelves from Target, but they basically fell apart after five years of use and three moves. I'm so happy to have space for all our books now! With these bookcases, plus the built-in bookcases in our mantel, there's room for everything, and it helps give the living room a library-ish atmosphere.

When I visit other people's houses, I like to (not-so-surreptitiously) check out their books, if they're in a public area, that is. :) It's fun to see if we've read any of the same books or share the same loves. Anyone else do that?

Douglas and I spent the afternoon of my birthday prepping our bedroom to move into later that night. We've been working on fixing up that room -- priming, painting, pulling up carpet, new cellular blinds, installing quarter round. It's looking SO much better, although it still needs some decorative touches before it really becomes our sanctuary.

Now the girls will eventually end up in the bedroom that Douglas and I just evacuated. It has a built-in wooden vanity with lots of drawers and two cupboards, which works well for their small wardrobes. The first thing I did to beautify their room was to line their drawers with Crabtree & Evelyn drawer liners left over from my unmarried days... a rose print for Rosamund's drawers and a lavender print for Lavinia's drawers. Perfectly serendipitous! I'm still working on sorting through clothes, organizing and purging, and the girls' room has been my base of operations for all this. It's been a huge job, but oh, how I'm looking forward to having that off my mind!

drawer liners

drawer liners