Thursday, April 29, 2010

Its all about the hands

Emma is 5 months today! And let me tell you, she LOVES fabric! That's my girl.

I know its really just this age. She loves grabbing and patting and stroking everything in sight. Compared to the boys she has a very soft, gentle touch -- its amazing, I didn't have to teach her to be gentle. She just is.
At this age Andrew and I were in the throws of recovering from his milk allergy and I don't think he was doing anything but eating as he gained a ton of weight. Aaron loved grabbing things and shaking them and throwing them -- especially anything noisy.
In contrast, Emma loves to softly rub things -- especially quilts. Of course, this might be because she encounters so many quilts in her life, but I like to think she just likes feeling the soft textures.

I love little chubby baby fingers. I love watching them learn how to use them and marvelling at their own discoveries.
I can't wait to see what these little hands will get up to (and into, I'm sure) in the months and years to come.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Patch Pants

This little tutorial will show you how to patch a pair of pants. The decorative embroidery floss is not necessary -- you could use regular thread instead, but it sure is cute on little boy pants.

You will need a pair of pants with a hole, sharp scissors, thread, a sharp needle, a piece of cotton fabric, and a piece of fusible webbing. If you want to make a colourful stitch around the edge, also get embroidery floss and a bigger embroidery needle (make sure its a pointy one).

The cotton fabric can be quilting cotton or a piece of an old shirt. Make sure its not stretchy -- like t-shirt fabric. Fusible webbing can be found in any fabric store -- just ask the helpful staff. You only need about 5 or 6 inches, unless you have a lot of patching to do.

Wash the pants. Before we put the patch on, we need to mend the pants so that the fabric is strong enough to hold the patch.

Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end.

To tie a knot, make a loop and push the end of the thread through the loop. Pull it tight. You will probably need to knot the thread two or three times to get a big enough knot to stay.

Push the needle into the pants just below one side of the rip, were the fabric is still all together.
Pull it out at the edge of the rip, and then weave your needle in and out of the strings left by the rip. Make sure the needle comes out for the last time on the other end of the rip, where you are pack to undamaged fabric. Pull tight. Turn the needle around, and do the same thing, starting from the other side. Go back and forth, weaving the thread through and tightening it before each turn until you come to the end of the rip. Then tie off your thread (I explain how to do this below).

You rip will now look something like this.

Now, but a piece of fusible webbing slightly longer and wider than the size of your stitched up rip. Lay the shiny, slightly textured side down on your patching fabric. Iron in place, following the directions that come with the webbing.

If this has been done properly, it should stick to the fabric like this.

Let cool and peel off the paper. The webbing should now be shiny and tacky. Cut the patch to the size you want it.

Place the patch over your mended rip. (Do you like my funky blue nail polish?)

Iron the patch in place. Make sure the iron is not too hot, and that you put lots of pressure on it.

If you are feeling lucky, you could stop here and let the patch be. But the directions on the webbing say "gentle wash only" and that doesn't give me a lot of confidence that its going to survive a day in the life of a little boy's pants. So I'm going to stitch it in place, just to make sure.

If you want to use normal thread to stitch it down, just re-thread your needle and tie a knot at the end the same as before. If you want to use embroidery floss, take an emboidery needle and some co-ordinating embroidery floss and do the same.

You might want to put a book or some cardboard inside the pants leg so you don't accidentally sew the patch to both the front and the back of your pants, thus causing a mess and much cursing and grumbling and stitch picking. Want to know why I'm researching Montreal? I'll tell you later.

Starting from inside the pants, push your needle through the fabric about a 1/4 inch (5cm) from the edge of the patch.

Pull the needle through, and push it through the fabric so it goes in and out again.

Pull through to complete the stitch. Continue to stitch along all the edges of the patch. You might want to do this in a few sessions, as it is hard work for your fingers.

When you are done, flip your pants inside out, and push the needle through to the inside of the pants.

Now we will tie the floss off. Do a small stitch in the back, but don't quite pull it all the way through. Instead leave a little loop. Slide your needle through this loop and pull the thread through to make a knot.

Pull tight to make a knot. Trim your knots.

Congratulations, you're done! Good work.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Andrew's latest obsession

Although he can't understand the words yet, Andrew does love his books. Right now his favorites to scan independently are his Tintin comics. As well as a few anthologies we've got him (3 stories to a book) he's also read the library's collection twice.

Dave and I have read all the books two or three times to him now. He especially loves all the slapstick humour with the Thompsons and Captain Haddock.

And boy, does he love Captain Haddock. I've actually had to take them away because he spends too much time running around the house screaming "Billions of blistering barnacles! Thundering Tyhpoons!" at the top of his voice (and boy, does this boy have a voice).
He also has a new fascination with knock knock jokes. You all know the Interrupting Cow joke, right. As in "Knock, knock." "Who's there?" "Interrupring Cow." "Interrupting Cow Wh . . ." "Moo!". The point of the joke being that you INTERRUPT the person with the Moo before they get to the end. Well, he loves the joke but doesn't quite get the point of that one, so we say "Interrupting Cow Who?" and then he says, "Interrupting Cow Moo!".

Mix these two together and you get classic jokes like:

Knock, knock
Who's there
Iconoclast who?
Iconoclast moo!

Knock knock
Who's there
Thundering Typhoons
Thundering Typhoons who?
Thundering Typhoons boo!

Rinse, wash, repeat and repeat and repeat . . .


It had to happen eventually. The kids had been eyeing each other up since it got warm enough to go outside. And this year, the kids across the street are old enough to cross by themselves. It started with them biking up to our kids and chatting a bit. Then my boys started yelling across at the road at them when they were outside. Next their little boy sat in the back of his dad's truck and they yelled questions back and forth. Then on Friday, they started playing together.

It started with the neighbour kids sitting on our side of the road and waiting for our kids to approach them. Then they started walking up and down the sidewalk waving things at each other. After a little stick removal intervention I looked out and saw them all digging around in the sand in the gutter.

Soon they had moved to our yard. Then they brought a bunch of toys outside. Eventually they made their way into the living room. Yesterday they played together all day except at lunch. Half the day in our yard constructing this trap (can you tell by the bait who its supposed to catch?)

The other half over at the neighbour's house.
Now if only the baby hadn't been getting teeth, I might have been able to accomplish something.

Hello, everyone!

How are you?

As you can see, I've been really busy growing. Not only am I getting big, but I'm trying really hard to crawl.

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm not letting it stop me from trying to get into things.

Here I am sliding away from my "age appropriate" toy and towards what I really want to play with . . . my brothers' Playmobil.

And here I am helping with supper. I like to grab everything my mom picks up. Quality control, you know.

Friday, April 16, 2010

this moment . . .

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments at soulemama for all to find and see.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Psst . . .Giveaway! Giveaway!

Okay, so I can see none of you went and commented on our Clever Mamas giveaway . Lucky for you, there is still a day and a half left. Go now. Then come back and read the rest of this.

Well, if you're not interested in that, you might be more interested in the give away they're having over at a new, snazzy blog based on the terribly wonderful Quilting Bee Blocks Flikr Group. Go check it out here and if you're not already in half a dozen, you might want to join a Virtual Quilting Bee, too. They're fun. Trust me.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Originality and the Crafty Blogosphere

I've been thinking a lot about originality and what can be claimed as one's own when it comes to sewing and quilting. I often think about posting tutorials of things here, but then I think, "Yes, but its not a completely original idea, so that would be cheating someone else to write a tutorial". So I don't. Then as I drift around in blog-land, I often find multiple tutorials for the same thing. I have seen at least two or three tutorials for string blocks, and many tutorials for wonky log cabin blocks, and several for those little wonky star blocks. There are whole archives of traditional blocks, and many "new" and "modern" quilters are simply re-inventing things that have been done before in different styles or colours. Many designers even seem to be "copying" one another as colour schemes and fabric motifs suddenly emerge and multiply through different lines of fabrics.

I guess my question is, when can someone claim intellectual property over a design or pattern or motif? When is it okay for someone to sell and item based on a pattern they saw in a quilt book or on someone's blog? When is it okay to put a pattern in a magazine that is only a slight variation on a pattern that is already drifting around the internet or in the traditional cannon of quilt-making? Can someone say, "I designed and created a tutorial / pattern for a bag of a certain shape with a certain type of handle, therefore anyone else who makes one and sells it is taking my intellectual property"? What if people make changes? How many changes do they have to make before it can be considered "original"? How much do you have to change things before you can call it "mine" instead of "theirs"?

Here's an example: I'm making a blouse. The basic pattern is copied off of a blouse I bought that was imported from India 15 years ago. I'm borrowing instructions from Heather Ross' blouse instructions in Weekend Sewing to make the facing for the blouse front, and instructions from a New Look pattern I've had laying around forever to finish the neckline. Is the design for the blouse mine? Could I write a tutorial for it and sell it on etsy? Or does too much of the design information belong to other people?

And since I mentioned etsy, here's another example: Folded pot holders. I just bought a book, Patchwork Style, that had instructions for making folded over potholders. And I just saw someone selling them on etsy. Is that okay? Is it cheating? I mean, the pattern is in the book to be made. The person bought the book -- the pattern designer made their money. The person took the time to select fabrics and sew the pot holder -- it is their original work in that sense. So can they legitimately sell it? Would the answer be different if they had purchased the pattern on etsy from someone who made their living selling that item on etsy?

I'm not trying to say anyone is good or bad here. I'm just mulling over the idea of putting up some tutorials, or making some things to sell on etsy, or submitting a quilt pattern to a quilting magazine, and I'm wondering where the line is. When is something "original" and when is it "copying"? What do you think, y'all?

Giveaway Over at Clever Mamas!

Hello, all! Kris and I have been blogging at Clever Mamas for a whole year now, and we're having a giveaway to celebrate! Stop on by and leave a comment for a chance to win.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Quilt Bee Update

You want to see my last few quilt bee blocks? Of course you do!

My first Quilt Bee -- Threads Together -- is over now. It took a while for all the blocks to come in, and some are tragically lost in the mail, I'm afraid, so I'm just going to have to work with what I have when I get over the loss. I really loved that fabric and had been hoarding it for a long time, so I was a bit miffed. But I did receive 12 wonderful blocks which I will show you when I pull them all out again.

My second Quilt Bee -- International Stash Busters -- has been buzzing along wonderfully well. November was my month, and I beleive I showed you the fantastic blocks I received already here .

We took December off.

January we made warm wonky log cabins for Mimi Park. I really loved this colour combination so much that I may have to make some for me:

February we made I-spy blocks for Marlyn's new grandsons. Since I had all my I-spy stash out for Aaron's quilt already, I made two:

March was a big block for Quilting Barbie. We made these scrappy blocks. I really like this block, and may have to play around with this and my polka dot stash some day.

April is postage stamp blocks. We're supposed to do a 12" block with 1" finished squares, but I have received a new mom dispensation, and I am only going to do two smaller, 6" blocks, and another Bee member is going to spell me off by doing the other half of my block, sewing two extra 6" blocks. Thanks again, Mimi Park!

Free Motion Quilting is Easier . . .

when you stop trying to use your zipper foot . . .
and get yourself a darning foot.

Oops. I guess that's what happens when you lose your sewing manual and don't have any real life quilting friends. There's no one there to say, "You're trying to free motion quilt with THAT? You do know that one's for zippers, don't you?" Um, nope. I had forgotten, due to extreme zipper anxiety. I finally got over it when I agreed to sew a couple of sleep sacks for a friend by copying one she already had. I started to work out a way to put velcro on them and realized that it would be about 5 times more complicated that just taking a deep breath and sewing in a zipper.

For those of you who are non-sewers, the thing is that you need to be able to move the quilt around under the needle to free motion quilt. And a zipper foot, as it turns out, is made to hold the fabric in place so you can sew straight along a zipper.

Did I Ever Show You What I Did With Those Rail Fences?

No? Oh! I made this lovely little quilt for fellow Clever Mama , Kris. We have this funny habit of bearing children within months of each other. All of our kids have been born within 3 months of each other. Her little girl, Olivia, was 5 weeks premature, and she was in and out of NICU for quite a while. Since she lives so far away, I couldn't do anything to help, so I decided that what I could do was sew a baby quilt and send it as soon as possible. Sew I sewed away, sewing my prayers for Olivia's health and Kris' family's well-being into it as I went. And here was the result. I must say (I know, I almost always say this) its one of my favorite quilts so far. I'm glad I know it went to such an appreciative home.

Here it is all folded:
Here's the back, made in a moment of inspiration on a particularly dull snowy day :

The full view of the front.
Here it is all crinkled up. This is my first time free motion quilting a whole quilt -- finally worked out what why I was having so much trouble with free motion quilting (but that is for another post). I think it looks great -- just don't look too close, the stitching is a little uneven.

And the binding. It took me a long time to figure out what to bind this in, because the front and back are so different. I ended up choosing these oranges, which looked great, especially when contrasted with these brilliant purples and pinks.

This quilt also fits in with my new year's resolution. I took courage and cut into a bunch of my new fabrics that I had just bought for Christmas, along with some older fabrics I had been hoarding for a long time. And I used a simple pattern that I could finish quickly, instead of getting too complicated, trusting that it would still be loved, despite its simplicity.

So there you go. The quilt arrived at Kris' house pretty quickly, but I didn't hear about it for a few weeks (since the Thank You card, ironically, took 3 times as long to get back to me -- must have got caught in a snow storm). By the time I found out they had it, it had been so long that I never got around to blogging about it.