Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How to Make an Astronaut Costume

I was in a mad rush to get things finished last week.  When you rush, you make mistakes.  I dropped the bobbin case to my long arm and apparently bent it.  The bobbin itself fits in, but the thread will not pull through.  No more quilting for me.

I ordered a new case and also one of Jamie Wallen's dewarpers, which my husband informs me is called a swedge in the machining world.  I have received and used the dewarper.  There is something else going on with the case since the thread still won't pull.  I have not yet received the new bobbin case.  Still no quilting for me.

I also had to prepare my son's astronaut costume for his grade's wax museum project.  We ordered a white paint coverall on Amazon since the local stores did not sell one small enough.  I still had to trim quite a bit from the legs and a decent amount from the arms.  I ran a channel on the sleeves for elastic since the sleeves were quite wide without it.  I just hemmed the legs.  The fabric will not fray, so need to worry about overcasting or otherwise finishing the edges.  The Amazon suit had a collar.  I just rolled it to the inside to cover up the factory seam, stitched it down, and trimmed off the excess.  Again, no need to worry about fraying.

Since the suit we were trying to replicate was from the 60s, we just did our best.  I ordered a NASA meatball patch from the NASA store in Texas.  They were out of the smaller size, so I got the large. And it was quite large!  I got the mission patch from our somewhat local Gus Grissom museum, but you can find replicas by Googling.  The flag patch on the sleeve was quite big on the actual spacesuit.  We used a cloth flag on a stick, removing the stick, of course.  That left the name badge.  I embroidered out "V. I. GRISSOM" on some black Kona cotton and then just ironed under the edges.  I sewed on all the patches we used.  The real patches are iron-on, but I was worried that either the suit would melt or the patches would fall off at school.  And it's very easy to stitch down patches.  Plus you can reuse them if you want.  :)

We also made the yellow harness belt with nylon webbing and a buckle from JoAnn.  Even though I measured it on my son, it somehow ended up really huge.  Oh well.  Did you know that you can use a lighter to melt the cut edges of the webbing so that it doesn't fray?  This works on ribbon as well.

There were also some ports on the actual space suit.  We used plumbing pieces and just pinched the fabric between them.  This helped with the bagginess on the front of the coverall too.

My son really wanted the metal piece that is where the helmet would attach.  We ended up buying a 9" wooden embroidery hoop, spray painting it silver, and then just pinching the costume into it. Since the yellow straps were drooping, we pinched those in between the hoops to keep it in place too.  We left off the bottom zipper per my son's request. The costume was a big hit amongst the adults and my son was really pleased too.

Image courtesy of NASA.  You can easily find this on Google.

In other news, I did finish a cross stitch piece.  My first Christmas gift for this year is now complete!  The pattern is Deck the Halls by JBW Designs.  I bought a kit that contained the fabric and embellishments at the local cross stitch store.  It's hard to tell, but there are seed beads here and there.  Its finished size is 3-3/4" x 4-1/2".

We seemed to have only about a week and a half of spring and have now moved right into summer. It's been in the 90s for almost a week now.  The vegetables are doing great except for the lettuce. Probably a bit too hot too fast for it.  My irises are going crazy!  My favorite Crater Lake Blues have started to open.  My son and I watched a Caesar's Brother Siberian iris unfurl right before us yesterday morning.  I've never seen a flower blossoming before my eyes in real life before.  Totally amazing!

Crater Lake Blue iris
I am participating in a Polaroid Greeting Swap again this year.  Here's part of my stack of fabrics (I had to order a few I did not have for specific requests).  This is such a fun, easy swap.  If anyone ever wants to trade a few blocks with me, shoot me an email.  The contact button is to the right.  Or you can message me on Instagram too.
Have a great week!
P.S.--I'm super excited that we ordered a replacement lens for my camera.  I can't wait till it arrives!
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Quilts & Flowers

Our gardens are coming along nicely.  All the hard work is now done, so it's a matter of sitting back and enjoying them for a bit.  I can't wait for nice, fresh lettuce to be ready to harvest!  And it's almost time for my favorite iris, Crater Lake Blue, to bloom.  My daffodils are now all finished and the first of the irises has bloomed.    The white 'Immortality' irises are just starting to bloomThis one is 'Batik' and is particularly pretty this year.
I was really happy to see that the tulips I planted in my future sewing room window well made it (no pests like rabbits or deer eating them).  Oddly, none of the daffodils we planted in there came up.  But it still looks nice.  It's a moist and almost totally shady location, so we put in a few hostas, a small Columbine, and a Heuchera.
Our vegetable garden is growing (or attempting to grow) lettuce, beets, broccoli rabe, green beans, cabbage, jalapeño, potatoes, cucumber, and strawberries this year.  It looks like I might get some pears from one of the trees we planted last year.  I was trying to Google information about what pears look like while growing.  If you just type "pear" instead of "pear tree" you get a whole lot of images of body shapes instead of fruit!!  Anyway, I'm pretty certain that those little globes in the center of the picture are baby pears.

In sewing news, I finished up my Paradiso #1 quilt this morning.  The backing print I used is one of my favorites ever.  And I love the hot pink prints in this line too.  The fabrics are all Kate Spain's Paradiso.  The pattern is by Cluck, Cluck, Sew.  The quilt measures 55" x 63". I originally intended this to match my living room furniture, but it doesn't, so if you would like to purchase this lovely quilt, please inquire.  :)

This week is check-in on our guild UFO challenge, so I'm scrambling to try to get some things finished.  I have one of two Bubblegum Kisses mini quilts ready to bind.  I tried some different continuous line/curve designs.   I'm pretty happy with how it turned out even though my orange peel segments are still pretty inconsistent.  The overall effect is decent.  The fabrics on this one are all Lori Holt Bee Basics and Bee Backgrounds.  The pattern is slightly modified from the one that came in the Sew Sampler box.  My finished size on this is going to be around 22" x 24".

I'm trying to determine how to quilt the second version and am hoping to have it done by Friday evening as well, since I listed them as one total item on my UFO list.  I also decided to finish off one of my partially complete cross stitch projects.  It's a Christmas ornament and I just had to sew on the beads and then do all the finish work on it.  I did the beads yesterday and washed it, so now it's just a matter of mounting it and finishing the ornament.  I haven't done the finishing technique before, but it seems pretty straight-forward.

I'm also creating a replica Gus Grissom space outfit for my son since he needs a costume for his famous Hoosier wax museum school project on Friday.  It involves a disposable painting coverall, a bunch of patches, some webbing, and some plumbing parts.  We didn't have school yesterday due to it being an election day, so we got a good portion done.  Still a ways to go though.  Hopefully tonight it will be totally done.

What are you working on this week?
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Spring Has Sprung

The weather seems to finally have decided upon staying in spring.  Indiana is pretty for about two weeks in the spring when everything is coming back to life and greening up.    All my vegetables have come up.  Things are starting to flower.  I've been spending a good bit of time outside, buying and planting flowers and trees.  

This is my transplanted lilac.  It seems to be doing well.  We  planted a few creeping phlox around it and transplanted a few lamb's ears from the lawn, but only one made it.  We added in a few rocks from our basement too.  Totally need to wash the siding.

We added a standard pine and a few more perennials.  Those scraggly messes are knock out roses, which will be removed/transplanted elsewhere next year.

I have at least two hummingbirds coming in to the feeders, both male.  We also saw a Baltimore oriole at the hummingbird feeder this week.  We have an oriole feeder, but it doesn't attract any birds.  My mom lives five hours north of me and she mentioned that she had rose-breasted grosbeaks come in to her feeders yesterday.  I said I hadn't seen any yet.  No sooner did I hang up the phone with her than I saw a handful of them on my feeders!

I really enjoyed my guild retreat on Saturday.  Time flew by and I actually got a good bit of progress in on my Aviatrix quilt.  I quilted one of my UFOs last week and attached the binding to the front of the quilt yesterday.  Just a quick (ha ha ha) sew down on the back and it will be finished.  Side note on this one:  I tried out the Juki glide (or cup) foot on this one and it worked so well!  Of course the directions weren't the greatest.  You really need to change the needle before the foot is on.  I dropped a needle down inside the machine attempting to do it while the foot was installed.  Also, you need to take the screw all the way out of the shank in order to attach this foot.  It is a much longer screw than you would think...  The effort was worth it though.  Great foot.
I also sewed rows together on one of my Bee Basics Bubblegum Kisses quilts.  I still need to press it. Then I need to add borders to both and get them quilted.  This was a project that came in the Sew Sampler box (which most of my quilt friends subscribe to).  I borrowed the pattern from one of my friends and bought the fabric--with careful cutting and some extra background fabric I was able to make two.  
I have just over a week to finish up more UFOs before my next guild meeting.  I also have to create a Gus Grissom costume for my son to wear at a school function next week.  I'm just waiting (apparently until the last second) on a coverall to come in and then I need to sew patches to it.

We got rid of cable Monday and went with only streaming services.  I'm getting the hang of it, but it's an adjustment.  I think we all miss the clocks on the cable boxes the most!  I have one clock on order and I'm going to go buy a second one this morning.  

Random things I've been thinking about:  I don't get the whole "promposal" thing.  It's been on the news, my daughter has talked about it, and it was even on The Middle last night.  I would like to know where it originated.  I think at that age I would have appreciated the effort, but as an introvert, I would also have been mortified by the whole thing as well.  Have you ever seen a sage grouse male calling?  It's really weird and entertaining.  You can find all sorts of videos to watch, definitely with sound.  I really need to come up with a business name so that I can officially quilt for others.  I also have some things I need to destash.  Need to locate boxes and determine shipping.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018


After my flurry of finishes in the last two weeks, I pretty much have't accomplished a single thing since.  I can't seem to make a decision on what to work on.  I pulled out a bunch of tops and/or backs to consider for quilting.  They're in a heap while I decide which to do first.  I'm at that nothing quite seems right stage.  Do you ever look at social media and blogs and feel like everybody does a lot better projects and pictures than you?  Yeah.  😔

I stopped into the local sewing machine repair shop last week with my pile of mini quilt samples. The owner and the repair man were stumped.  He told me to work my walking foot by hand to make sure everything was moving.  I'd already done that.  He also said to check that the feed dogs were coming up high enough--that the lowest part of the feed dog is all the way out when at the highest point.  If those looked okay, then I will need to bring it in.  I'm going to need to bring it in for service.  Sigh.  Last time was a year and a half ago, so it's close to service time anyway. However, since I have guild retreat this weekend, I'm waiting until next week to make the appointment.

Speaking of the retreat,  I only go for one day since it's close by and I'd rather sleep in my own bed.  Plus, many of my guild mates have full time jobs and so it's a treat for them to sew for an uninterrupted time.  I can sew whenever I want, so it's just another day for me.  I do like spending time with them though.  Guild is pretty much the only social interaction I have outside of my family, and I always have fun with my guild mates.  Anyway, what I was going for here is that I need to decide what to bring and work on.  I'm planning to work on my Aviatrix top.  I pretty much only work on it while at guild events, so it's been in progress for a few years now.  I suppose I could throw in the EPP project I haven't started yet too.

In the meantime, I've been working on my Devil's Tower souvenir cross stitch in the evenings and have made a bit of progress.
I think I'm going to tackle these two projects this week.  I need to seam the back for the Kate Spain quilt and sew down the leash on the mini.  Then both are ready for quilting.
I've been practicing drawing quilting designs on our Magnadoodle.  I just can't seem to get spirals/swirls at all.  My son sketched this out in about two minutes this morning.  He could have a future in long arm quilting if he wished.  He's probably a lot better than I am already.
We had really nice weather over the weekend, so the kids and I finished the last bit of clean-up in the flower gardens.  We even planted a few more perennials that I felt could handle the ups and downs of spring weather.  I was happy to see that both the hydrangea and the lilac we moved are doing well in their new spots.  I do need to get some shrubs to replace those in the upper front garden, but I need to order some and others aren't available for local purchase until it's warmer. Then it's just a layer of mulch and we will be good for the season.  

My husband refreshed our vegetable garden tubs with upgraded plumbing on a few and some soil refresh on them all.  We planted potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli rabe, and beets.  We'll do beans and a cucumber plant when it gets warmer, probably about a month from now.  

I was really surprised to find that I have two tulips that survived the deer.  I don't even remember planting tulips that look like the yellow one!  I usually plant pinks and reds.  My alliums are looking pretty good this year--they are right above the tulips at the top of the picture and you might be able to see all the buds.  I usually have about three blossoms total on those.
And in the biggest surprise of all, I looked out the window yesterday and saw a hummingbird!  So out  went the feeders.  I'm not sure what they could find to eat right now otherwise.  Almost nothing is blooming, just a few late daffodils and the pear and redbud trees.  And my random tulips.  Do they eat any of those?  The picture is pretty lousy since I was a long way from the window and had zoomed in as far as I could, plus I took it through the screen too.  I was worried it would fly away before I got close to the window.  And it did.

Our basement project has been stalled out while my husband took two classes this term along with his regular work and work travel schedule.  His plan is to hang all the trim then fill the nail holes and then paint it in place.  After that I would be able to paint the walls.  I don't love the idea because it makes it a lot harder for me to paint, but I see the appeal of having the nail holes all filled before painting.  However, I'm tired of not having the bathroom available down there.  The tile is done--I shared that quite a while back--and we have everything to finish the bathroom minus the trim and a shower curtain rod.  I've started asking if maybe I could paint and then he could put the toilet back and install the sink and do the trim later.  At least then it would be functional and I'd feel like I was doing something to move the project forward.  I dunno.  We'll see, I guess. Otherwise nothing will happen until summer when he's between classes again.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Drumroll Please....Finished Postcard from Sweden

I'm so excited to share my finished Postcard from Sweden quilt!  I'm linking up with MMMQuilts for her Postcard from Sweden QAL.  I finished on time!
I agonized and debated for a week or two on just how to quilt it.  Then I decided to try combining ruler and free motion work, based on a picture of Angela Walters' work that I saw.  I was worried it would be too busy, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  My thread is nearly invisible on the back, so it looks really good.  The front is good as long as you don't look too closely!  I swear, every time I had a big mess-up it was always in a really high-contrast area.  Oh well, I tried something new and learned quite a bit--and I did get more consistent as I went on.  I used eight bobbins on this.  I usually use 3-5 bobbins on similar sized quilts for comparison.  My fabrics are all Kona cottons for the solids and Carolyn Friedlander Widescreen for the back and Crosshatch for the binding.  Pattern is by Jeli Quilts, available as a free download on Craftsy.

I had really hoped to have the mini version done too, but I don't.  I thought I could do it on the long arm, but wasn't happy with how my lines were coming out.  So I ripped it all out and figured I'd do it with the walking foot on the regular machine.  It looks even worse.  The fabric is pulling every which way and the stitch size is very uneven.  I've tried reducing the foot pressure and making tension adjustments and it is just a mess.  More ripping in the future for me.
I thought at first my walking foot had gone bad because I'd had similar problems with it not feeding well and having really uneven stitch sizes on the last mini I tried to quilt, which I've ripped out twice.  Same issues, pulling the fabric out of square and very uneven stitch length.
Before I went in to the repair shop, I figured I'd try quilting this mini mini quilt.  It looks really good. I made zero adjustments to pressure or tension.  So it's not the foot.  Can anyone shed light on why I am having so many problems with these other two minis?  I have a Bernina 440QE if it makes any difference.
Tutorial for this block is available here.
Everything I used to quilt with the foot always came out like this.  I am so frustrated.  Please help me!
I have a few other finishes from last week.
This is Tasha Noel's Winter Wonderland quilt pattern done with her Pixie Noel fabrics.
Ugliest quilt I've ever made.  Planning to donate to a good cause.
Cross stitch pattern by Pop Goes the Needle on Etsy.
These will all be added to the 2018 finishes tab as well.

Until next week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Cross Stitch and Cornmeal Cookies

I'm still working on binding my Pixie Noel quilt.  I'm 5/8 done.  Fingers crossed I can get it finished before Friday's guild meeting.

I have 3/4 of the cross stitches framed/finished.  I still have to finish off my Harry Potter one, which was a good lesson on why you should always unhoop your project when not working on it, especially when you are using linen.  Anyway, these three are done and I'm quite happy with how they turned out.  The patterns are all from SewingSeed on Etsy.  The wooden hoops I purchased from CraftyWoolFelt on Etsy and they arrived super fast.  I was quite impressed with the speed of delivery--I ordered late Monday afternoon and had them Wednesday.  The white frame is from Stars & Sunshine on Etsy.
I decided to quilt another UFO for Friday.  This is, perhaps, the ugliest quilt I've ever made.  I bought the fabrics in 2001 and probably finished the top in that time frame as well.  I didn't buy binding at the time (why???) and I needed backing so I went to Jo-Ann.  The people in front of me in line and the lady at the cutting counter were all math-challenged.  Always so sad.  The customers didn't know how to change feet into yards or tell how wide the fabric was from reading the bolt.  The cutting counter lady didn't know the decimal equivalents of yardage fractions or how to double them.   Anyway, I'm not sure if she completely mismeasured the six yards of backing fabric I requested or if it truly shrunk that much in the wash, but I only had 5-2/3 yard when I went to cut it into two yard chunks.  Luckily I could make it work with some creative seaming, but still.  Hmm.

I have it all quilted and I am going to machine bind it and then probably donate it since it is no longer to our tastes.  I do have to wonder what we were thinking when we put these colors together though.  The green polka dot is the backing.
My son has to do a report on a famous Hoosier and he chose Virgil Grissom.  We took him to the Virgil Grissom memorial museum over the weekend.  It was really interesting and also really depressing.  What a horrible way to die.

We also went to a pioneer village and got some freshly ground cornmeal (which I store in the freezer along with my flour and butter).  My husband made cornmeal cookies with some.  If you like corn muffins and sugar cookies, you will probably enjoy these cookies.  He made 42 cookies with 64 calories each.

Cornmeal Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups flour

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and flour.  Add the creamed mixture.  
  • Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. We used parchment paper instead of greasing.  
  • Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Snow Globe Quilt and Flowers

It's been a pretty quiet week.  I've been plotting which projects I can realistically finish before check-in at guild next week.  I figured I could for sure get two items off my list completed, thus earning two entries in our contest.

I decided to finish off my Pixie Noel Winter Wonderland (aka snow globe) quilt since I had everything needed and knew which pattern I wanted to quilt on it.  The quilt pattern and fabric is all by Tasha Noel.  I quilted it with the Easy Orange Peel pantograph.  I have the binding attached to the front and just need to sew it down.

I think I can also get four finished cross stitches framed.  I have the hoop for one, ordered hoops for two more, and am going to repurpose a frame for the fourth.  Today I will probably wash the fabrics to get them ready for framing.

I'm still struggling with how to quilt a variety of other quilt tops.  Why does it have to be so hard?  I most definitely need to get my Postcard tops quilted since the final due date on those is in two weeks.

In garden news, my daffodils look really good this year despite the crazy weather.  Yesterday we had violent thunderstorms, flood warnings, and a tornado watch.  It was in the 70s.  Today it is 30 degrees, super windy, and we are even having snow flurries.  I was worried the rain would ruin the blossoms, but I worried for naught since they still look good today.  I took a few pictures just in case though.  (I had a few others, but they turned out blurry since it was windy while I was taking pictures.)

And this is how all my tulips and day lilies look right now.  Darn deer.  Nothing deters them anymore.

Hopefully next week I'll have more finishes to share.  What are you working on?