Friday, March 29, 2013

The next project

The next pick from the lottery has been made!

This lottery system is great. I have finished more projects since the beginning of the year than I have in years! Plus, when I get near to the end of a project-or just frustrated with the one I am working on-I know that I have to work harder and faster so I can pull the next project! It's a great motivator for me. 

Anyway, the next pick is to finish a sampler quilt I started about three years ago. Since this weekend is Easter and I have lots of cooking, Easter basket filling and hanging out with family in store for me, I probably won't be able to start until Monday.

I also have to dig it out and re-assess where I am which sometimes takes a day or two. I have to wrap my head around these things in order to move forward which is sometimes my downfall.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Feathers in the Nest: Hoppy Easter~~~~ free small sampler pattern

Feathers in the Nest: Hoppy Easter~~~~ free small sampler pattern

I came across this free Easter counted cross stitch pattern and just had to share!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Advent during Lent? And failure

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I was a little hesitant about picking the next project out of the lottery.

Luckily, I picked a project that I started maybe-oh I don't know-six or seven years ago, and it just needed to be finished. As I was looking at it I realized I was more than half way done and I had already done the most difficult part. I guess I get bored. Or distracted. Probably distracted. Actually, I get frustrated.

On to the project!

So, many years ago I started an Advent Calendar. I can't remember where I picked it up; I even called my mom to see if she was with me but she didn't know either. Somewhere in my wanderings this Advent Calendar and I met.

Basically what it is is a panel with a scene on it. You get to cut out the various people, animals, buildings, etc, glue some loops onto the different figurines, sew on some buttons, and then finish the panel however you see fit. I really like it because there are 25 figurines and you can hang a figurine each day in December. Kind of fun!

When I picked it up last week, I had already cut out all the figurines and had even used Lite Steam-A-Seam 2  (seriously people, this stuff is awesome!) to attach black felt to the back of each. This helps to stabilize them and they hang a lot nicer.

Next I cut out 25 2" pieces of black thread. The instructions said "crochet thread" but I have no idea what that is so I just used the thread (or floss) I would normally use when I do my counted cross stitch. Then I hot glued the thread on the back of each figurine, slightly burning my fingers in the process.

Did I take a picture of this part in the process? You betcha I didn't. It was late. It was dark. My fingers hurt. It wasn't happening.

The instructions said to use certain colored buttons to sew onto the panel. Part of my whole sewing philosophy (and this extends into various other parts in my life) is to use what I have. I wasn't going to go out and buy 14 aqua buttons and 11 some-other-colored buttons just for this project. I just scrounged around my sewing area and found 25 buttons that were about all the same size. I barely made it but I was happy to use up buttons that had just been sitting around with no purpose.

I sewed those bad boys on and it's pretty awesome because you sew them onto either little stars or red flowers, so you have the right placement.
I took that picture upside down on purpose

So, the figurines have been backed with felt and a loop attached, the buttons have been sewn on, let's finish this off nicely.

I cut out a piece of fabric for the back, cut out some batting, and made a nice little batting sandwich. Pinned all three pieces together like a pro-a pin every 4 inches-and started basting the edges. At this point it is after 10 PM (which is my bed time) and I wanted to get the basting done so I could make the binding the next day, attach it and be done. La-Te-Dah!

Did that happen? Not even a little. I start sewing one side, turn the corner, sew the bottom, turn the corner a second time, sew another side, turn a third corner to sew the top and finish sewing all three pieces of fabric together. About two inches from the end I realize that my bottom fabric is somehow two inches short.

I don't claim to be a sewing genius-in many ways I am self taught and still learning-but I did know enough to cut my bottom fabric bigger than my top fabric. So why is it two inches short? There might have been some mild cursing at this point in the game. I apologize. It was late. I was tired.

Again, did I take pictures of all this? No. And I do regret that I didn't because I do want to show my failures as much as my successes.

I went to bed. I didn't touch the thing for about 36 hours (hence the frustrated part). Finally, I did the smartest thing I could do: I called my mom who is a sewing genius-she's been sewing since she was in her teens! She made her own prom dress!

She told me that I didn't cut my bottom fabric big enough-it needs to be four inches bigger than the top fabric. I think I only did two.

Here is my second batting sandwich with the bottom fabric four inches bigger
Luckily I had more Christmas fabric hiding out in my stash and I was able to layer all three pieces of fabric together with no problems. Made my binding and attached it. I hung all the figures on the buttons and showed my husband. He liked it and then asked how I was going to display it.

Look at that beautiful binding!
 Machine stitched on one side, hand stitched on the other
Oops! Forgot to add the loops to the back.

Hand sewed those on during the kids' nap and then I was done!

I like it. It's cute.

But it's time to get honest.

I'm not really sure why I bought it in the first place-was I on a sewing high?- because I already have an Advent Calendar that I love. So I am not too sure what I am going to do with it. The kids will like it because they can attach all the figures--which makes me think that it would also be cool to do this with velcro instead of buttons. Maybe easier? Not that sewing buttons is difficult. But just a thought.

I won't worry about what to do with it until Advent.

By then I might have a plan for it!

If you would like to have this in your home, I did a quick Google search and found a couple of different places for you to buy it.

You can buy it here on Etsy already completed.

You can buy the panel here and do it yourself.

But shop around online and see what works best for you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fall Sampler Completed!

I had quite the time finishing this project. I stated in an earlier blog post that I have "pregnancy brain" and just couldn't wrap my mind around how to finish it. I was smart enough to keep it simple but just the smallest amount of basic math-which I love-was preventing me from even starting.

Finally this afternoon during nap time I decided that it was going to get done once and for all. I got out my handy notebook and started drawing little diagrams and doing the math but was still struggling with seam allowances and whatnot. I realized that I just couldn't look 4-5 steps ahead so I would write down a step and then complete that step.

With the cut fabric in front of me I was able to then figure out how much border fabric I needed to cut, I wrote that down and then did it. So it probably took me about an hour longer than necessary but it's all done and that's all that matters.

I began by removing the excess Aida that was around the finished cross stitch and left about a 1.25" border. I then measured the fabric and determined how long to cut the top and bottom pieces of the border.
The fabric I chose all ready to be cut. I liked it because it matched the scarecrows arms but if I had to do it again, I might have used a more "Fallish" pattern. Oh well, you live, you learn. 

 After I cut the top and bottom borders 2.25" wide I pinned them to the cross stitch and sewed the two pieces together.
 I measured the piece again, wrote that down in my handy notebook and then figured out how big to cut the side border pieces. That had to be written down as well lest I forget between the taking a picture of my progress and picking up my rotary cutter to make the next cut-which is a real possibility!

 All four pieces are sewn together! Kind of cute, right?

 This next idea really has to be credited to my friend Taylor. So the great thing about the booklet I used, Sample the Seasons Cross Stitch Designs, is that there are several really cute seasonal samplers. So I thought instead of making wall hangings or pillows that I would then have to store, why not just use one frame and change them out from season to season? Awhile back I found a couple of frames at a thrift store that were about $3.00 and they would be perfect for this idea! So here we go!
 Sorry for the side view. I'm working on my photography skills and the glare was really bad from a straight on approach. But other than that, it looks kind of awesome! My mom suggested spraying the back with some tacky stuff-we could not remember the name of that stuff-and then adding a piece of thin batting to the back to make it look a little more stable and smooth!

So another project completed! I am really loving this system. I probably would have either given up after I had completed the cross stitch or the border but knowing that I can't start a new project until I finish this one kind of makes me be creative and find ways to finish and finish quickly!

Hopefully the next pick from the lottery is an easy one; with my mushy brain there are four quilts that are all related that I don't think I have the capacity to work on just yet. They are all pretty much applique and I am not even remotely comfortable doing applique even with a brain working at 100%.

So what are you working on these days?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A cluttered desk

One of the reasons I have problems working on various projects is that some most of the time my work space is cluttered.
You can see my laundry basket of projects on the right and my stash of fabrics on the left.

I am fortunate to have a bedroom with enough room to accommodate my sewing stuff. It does get used a lot as a place to put stuff I don't want the kids to get or things I will put away later but later can be calculated in days or weeks and not hours.
A closer view of the chaos!

Last week I finally had enough and I found a home for everything on my table. In the process I found $10, six tubes of chapstick in various flavors, my daughter's Halloween costume from last year I had been looking for, as well as some tax forms I needed to finish our taxes. So, bonus!

A nice view of the backyard as I sew.

Nothing but my current project on the cutting board.

A clean and fairly organized work area. 

This should help to motivate me to finish the Fall Sampler!

What does your work space look like?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Garland

Lately my brain has been a little mushy; the second trimester will do that to a person. However, this means I can't wrap my brain around finishing my Fall Sampler I'm supposed to be working on but I do not do well without something in my hands. What do they say? Idle hands are the devil's playground?

I needed something to keep me busy and that was also a little mindless to work on while watching a movie after the kids had gone to bed.

I have no pictures of the process but it was pretty simple. I made a template out of thin plastic from a shamrock I found on the internet. I traced it out on different shades of green card stock, cut those bad boys out and then punched holes to lace the ribbon through. I found ribbon at Joann's for $.50 (yes cents!) for six yards. Awesome. I strung them up over my bay window and used a little masking tape (classy-I know) to make the little swags.

Easy Peasy.

The pictures are a little dark (I'm working on replacing that blind-it goes no higher than what you see here--a huge bummer!) but hopefully you get the essence of what I was trying to accomplish!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A little business....

I added a few tabs to the top of the blog. One is a little history of how this whole lottery system got started. Spoiler: it was my mom's idea. A lot of *my* great ideas tend to be the ones my mom has suggested.

The second tab is a complete list of all of my projects. It makes sense to no one but me but I'm the one doing the projects so.....

Lastly, you can follow me on Twitter! I am @SewingbyLottery Be the first to follow me!

I went through my stash of fabric this week and found the best fabric to use as a border for my Fall Sampler. Unfortunately, it is only about 8 square inches; not nearly enough for what I need. I am hoping to make it to the quilt store tomorrow to find something similar so I can get this project finished and move on to the next one.

Since I had nothing to work on this past week I decided to make a little garland for my bay window for St. Patrick's Day. I should have that finished in the next day or so and that will be up on the blog as well.

I don't know about where you live but here in the Pacific Northwest Spring is definitely starting to bud! My crocuses are blooming and my first narcissus bloomed just a day ago. It brings me such great joy to walk out every day and see new things starting to grow and blossom! I'll take a few pics and post those as well.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and start working on those forgotten projects!   :)