Wednesday, November 26, 2014

French Hen pattern is in zee shop!


At last! French Hen patterns are available and just waiting to be made for your Christmas tree. This is the third pattern in my Twelve Days pattern series. (Here are the first two patterns: Partridge & Pear, Turtle Dove.) I'll continue to release patterns until the entire series is available. This is the last one for this year, and hopefully still in time for some holiday hand making fun.


This pattern utilizes the magical and amazing time-saving properties of Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, a very long name for a stabilizer that makes quick work of these ornaments. There is no tracing or transferring of embroidery designs. Just sew right on top of the printed lines:


If you can do basic hand embroidery stitches then you can do this project. There are helpful tips for whipstitch, backstitch and French knots in the Resources section of the pattern. And of course, lots of step by step diagrams. I'll be using the same stabilizer method for each of the ornaments in the series.

You can find all three currently available patterns in this Twelve Days series in both my Etsy and my Craftsy shops.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

quickie gadget cozy


I took some time out of my manic hen sewing to whip up this gadget cozy for my sister-in-law, Tiffany. She just got a new birthday purse and her old cozy did not match. Shocking! So I had to do something about that.


It's fun to revisit a pattern that I put together a while ago. Completely fresh eyes to look it over. And reading my own instructions keeps me from making the doofus mistakes I would make when I'm trying to get a project done in a hurry.


Start to finish took about an hour. It's a very quick project and a handy thing to have in your purse for kleenex or gadgets or anything that needs an anchor. I keep mine hanging from the strap inside my purse so I don't have to fish around for my phone in the bottom of my bag with all the bobby pins and cough drop wrappers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

say bonjour to my leetle friend


Zees is my new French Hen ornament design, numbare three in zee series (here is numbare one and numbare two). I sink she is très bon. Ok, ok, je suis désolé, Juju, I'll stop it now.


I'm still writing the pattern (whilst wearing a jaunty beret and of course seeping a café au lait) but I'm determined to get it done and released soon! This one will be made in the same time-saving method as the first two patterns, utilizing the fantastic Sulky stabilizer to quickly do the embroidery and with no pattern tracing or transferring of embroidery designs. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

this foot was made for walkin'


Haha, get it? Walking foot. The first few lines of machine quilting have been sewn on my throw quilt. I spent a long, knee popping time over the weekend crawling around on the floor and baste stitching my pinned quilt sandwich together. Can't say I enjoyed that part. I also can't say I'm exactly enjoying the machine quilting part just yet.


I've wonkified my straight lines so far and am now regretting my choice of off-white thread. It's just so very visible on my dark, solid backing. At first I thought the contrast would be great but now it is merely spotlighting my ineptitude. LOL. This throw will have a lot of handmade charm.

And oh yeah, I changed my mind again about the block design since I last posted. I do super love how the new quilt top arrangement came out, and also love my wonky hugemongous double cross on the back...but I am going to force myself to wait and show you the finished quilt soon. That will help motivate me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

what I'm up to


Through some misguided vote of confidence I've been put in charge of planning my extended family's Christmas gathering this year. So naturally I've decided to make it as heinously complex as possible with a progressive dinner! And caroling! And a trivia contest! And Secret Santa gifts! And no football watching, gadget staring or napping whatsoever! We will have old fashioned fun if it kills us.


Also I'm attempting to finish this simple-turned-soul-sucking throw quilt I planned to whip out, oh, nine months ago. I'm so tired of seeing the stack of fabric that I intentionally put right in my way on a crucial corner of the work table. Every day an inner dialog like this:

Oh. There's that stack of quilt fabric. Again.
(stab of guilt)
I should really finish that because it would be nice to be able to use this end of the table.
And I totally will.
Later.
(Places coffee cup on top of stack)

So even though there are many things I'd love to be making right now, like Liberty tops and French Hen ornaments, I'm forcing myself to work on this stinkety quilt project. Which I'm having to do the hard way now because in my novice quilting fervor I started right away to whack it all apart and sew it together nine months ago to create a random, rectangular pieced throw. No design needed! Sewn randomly together! It'll be quick! I'm gonna love it!

After staring at it for months and not loving it, I've decided I can't possibly continue with that idea, I simply must make one that looks more like this:


I'm learning through this process that perhaps I'm not cut out to be a habitual quilter. Because cutting squares is BORING. Especially when you have to cut each one individually from your fabric because you are a doofus and have already cut it once and now have to turn it just so in order to squeak two squares out of each piece. GAH. At least with the white fabric I've been able to cut several squares at a time.

Another reason I'm not cut out to be a quilter is I freak out over small inaccuracies of cutting and sewing. How do you people make everything come out so neatly matched? I sweat over everything because I know my mistakes are going to snowball as I go along. Which requires tedious pauses to square up each square. It drives me insane.

Wish me luck. I'm plodding on with it, casting longing glances at my felt and shirt patterns.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nani IRO Wiksten blah blah blah


Yes, it's another Wiksten tank (also here, here and here). I'm building quite a collection of them. I've worn them a lot in the summer and now they'll make great layering pieces for fall. I purchased this beautiful Nani IRO double gauze a few months back but only just got around to making this because we took a family trip to the Bahamas.

As I stood over my work table I puzzled for some time about the best way to cut out the tank and still have the most interesting pieces of the large abstract print located in the best spots. I was also trying to save enough fabric to eke out something else in future so that doubled the quandary. There was no perfect solution in the end so I just closed my eyes and cut.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: One Minute Paper Airplanes


My youngest adores making paper airplanes. She researches designs on the internet, has conferences about paper aerodynamics with her Dad, and if you come to my house you may accidentally sit on one of the many test models that litter our living room floor, couches and ceiling fans. So when Tuttle Publishing asked me if I'd like to review their book/kit, One Minute Paper Airplanes, it was a good match.

 

The book comes in a glossy box that includes the stack of pre-punched planes and a catapult launcher. Written by a man who has a true passion for paper airplanes, the book has great tips on construction, troubleshooting and flying, plus a lot of smart people stuff about camber and dihedral and lift. There's a built-in science lesson in there for the kiddos.


The tools you need are pretty minimal - a craft knife, scissors, ruler (I recommend a bone folder too) and a stapler. You can use glue in place of a stapler, but a stapler is much faster. A preview of the 12 airplane designs that come with the kit:



I gave Thing 2 the choice of which plane to try first and she chose the Archaeopteryx:


The book recommends you use a craft knife instead of popping the plane parts from the template. That's a good idea because some of the parts are pretty small and you want to avoid ripping the paper. We used a bone folder to score the fold lines, which made it a cinch to get accurate, straight folds. Despite the book title, it took us more like, um, 15 minutes to assemble our plane. We should make better time on the next one, but I'm not sure we'd ever be able to do one in a minute flat!


Archaeopteryx ready to fly! There's great information about test flight and trouble shooting and how to make small adjustments so you get the longest flight.


Our first launch went way higher than we anticipated into the top of a crape myrtle, but luckily most of the leaves were gone and it drifted down on its own.


The included catapult launcher is really fun. (Do not launch inside the house!) The planes can go quite a ways. I tried several times to get action shots but the launches were always too fast to catch with my camera. My thanks to Tuttle Publishing for letting us review this book and kit! We had a lot of fun and look forward to assembling and flying the other planes.