Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Traditions

It's too bad it doesn't include sewing.

Yesterday I made pies all day.

3 Blueberry Pies (giving two to my mother)
1 Pumpkin Pie
1 Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 Caramel Apple Cheesecake
1 Chocolate Cream Pie

Also made the cake part of the pumpkin roll.

Today I'm making one more pie, an apple one, as well as the filling for the pumpkin roll and assembling it. Will also make apple crisp as a favor to my husband.

Tomorrow morning we celebrate our annual family tradition of eating Thanksgiving desserts at 10:30 a.m. while watching the NYC Macy's Day parade. I started this tradition about 11 years ago because we'd always be too full after the big dinner to enjoy our desserts, and now it's something my kids look forward to with gusto! You should see them lining up at the kitchen table at 10:15 in anticipation. They eagerly help out with table setup, plates, knives, and forks. And you know what the positive thing about this tradition is? Mid-morning desserts holds us over nicely until dinner around 2 or 3 p.m. Of course, we can always have seconds on desserts around 8 or 9 p.m. lol.

There is one tradition, however, I don't know if we'll be able to make during the Christmas season. Black Friday is the day we decorate our Christmas tree. In fact, I just brought the tree up last night and put it in our living room. Problem is, our kitten is still a kitten. 7 mos old to be exact and is highly active and highly curious. While big brother, Jake, loves to climb up the middle of the tree, little Riley gets great satisfaction out of playing with all things little like ponytail holders, security rings from milk jugs, running off with earrings, etc. This year I'm not sure if we're going to be able to put up any Christmas decorations. I worry about him having too much fun with the ornaments and playing with hooks. Forget the garland this year--it's out of the questions. We might just have to go with tree, lights, bows, and angel. And what if Jake teaches Riley bad habits of climbing up the middle of the tree??? Please, I'm not going there right now lol.

Here are very recent pics of our two boys sleeping together. I love how their arms are wrapped around each other :) . At the bottom is our little (but growing a lot) baby sitting on my youngest's lap.

Devon Rex and Sphynx cats are truly the dogs of the cat world. Our Sphynx even more so than our Devon though. They are truly wonderful, loving, curious animals, and I could blubber on about them all day long. Anyway...

Have a safe, wonderful, and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It was NOT "Operator Error!"

Ever since I've taken my Babylock serger out of the box, I've had this feeling that I've been missing a guide or not threading it right. My stitches looked good, but I thought they could look better.

Today I had my "How-to-use-your-machine" serger class, and the instructor noted my samples were slightly different than everyone else's. She thought it was a tension issue. The owner was kind enough to test my machine and concluded it did have an issue. He took it right back to their top-notch service guy and...It was off by one whole turn! Which, according to the owner, is a lot. Boy am I ever glad I took the class today. My schedule is very busy, and I was thinking about waiting until December.

So, no. I'm not missing any thread guides. It wasn't "operator error." It was an issue with the adjustments done at the factory. Maybe tonight I can finish two more pairs of panties that are half done.

I have to edit this post. I will admit, rather embarrassingly, that I had an on/off problem with seams coming out differently. I'd sew a seam, and it was fine. Next seam would be all wonky. Today I figured out why. I was forgetting to put my presser foot down! Can you believe it? Rarely do I lift my presser foot up on the serger, but working with the different feet I was lifting the lever up and down a lot. The foot on the serger looks like it's all the way down, but it wasn't. It's not like a sewing machine where you can easily tell if the foot is up or down. On my Babylock, it looks like it's down all the time. So there you go. There WAS an operator error. I forgot about that. Probably because it's a silly, embarrassing mistake for an experienced sewer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Panty Party

I was itching to make some panties yesterday because I HAD to use my serger elastic foot! I cut two out of some Jumbo Spandex I had in my stash, likely purchased from either Spandex House or Spandex World. Don't know where my stretch lace came from, but the plush elastic was from Sew Sassy. Here they are:

As for the cotton crotch lining, do you know what I do for that? I take an old, 100% cotton, white t-shirt, find some nice areas, and cut the crotch lining from it. It would be great to stock up on colorful, 100% cotton t-shirts from ACMoore, but my preference is a white crotch lining due to dyes. I know, I know, black would look so much better, but you just don't see that when they're on.

I love them! They're a great fit, although the green/black ones are more like Spanx lol. I cut the pattern pieces on the crosswise grain, not the lengthwise--operator error. I wasn't paying attention and was trying to watch Harry Potter while cutting out the two pairs. Also, Jumbo Spandex is not my preference for panty fabric. It runs on the thick side, but when there is so much in the stash and you want to whip up panties using an elastic foot, you just use it.

Speaking of which, the elastic foot is WONDERFUL!!! No more measuring for a 3/4 ratio of elastic length. The elastic is fed into the foot, insert the fabric underneath, and start stitching! It stretches the elastic for a snug fit. I used a flat construction method to avoid stitching in the round because I was using the serger. Panty construction takes about 1/3 the time than what it would with a conventional machine, and most of the time savings is due to that awesome elastic foot.

I can only imagine how wonderful it would be on a bra. I think the green/black panties need a matching bra, don't you think?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cheap Friday Night Thrills

How to make me happy? Give me some feet to play with it. 2 serger feet to be exact. Tonight was a cozy night in playing with my Elastic and Ruffler feet.

Let me tell you something about that Ruffler foot. What I would have given to have had this foot when my girls were toddlers! It would have made short work out of insanely cute, tiered skirts or simple ruffled layers on tops. It would have been wonderful to forget about gathering one layer, pin basting two fabric pieces, baste the seam on the machine to check things out, then do the final stitch. Really, just place the two pieces of fabric in/under the foot? How much easier can it get?!?! This foot is amazing. Here are my rough, unpressed samples:

If you have a BL Imagine and have little girls or grandaughters, this foot is a must.

On to my Elastic foot. I have a lot of swimsuit fabric from one I made last year. So this past spring I decided to use up some of that extra to make panties. The only thing that takes long to do on panties is stitching the elastic in, in the round on a conventional machine. That is why I was lusting after this foot. The Palmer/Pletsch book, Sewing with Sergers, has nice little examples of how to make quick work out of various apparel items using a serger. It includes step-by-step (common sense) instructions on panty construction order. I have a panty UFO sitting in my sewing cart begging for the elastic foot to be used so how perfect is that? Initially I was waiting to order some white picot-edge elastic to finish them, dawdled and kept putting off ordering the elastic; however, I just ordered some last night. Guess the Elastic foot sent me over the edge.

Anyway, I did numerous samples with swimsuit fabric and 1/2" elastic. Not exactly the recommended elastic width, but who cares. I wasn't about to waste the good stuff doing sample after sample. I use the 3/8" "good" stuff for the leg and waist opening. Here are my samples with the various screw adjustments for tightening the elastic fit.

So that's where I am with my serger feet. At approximately $22.50/foot, I'd say that is a cheap, Friday night thrill. I can't wait until my finishing elastic arrives so I can finish up my UFO panties. And no panties fit like my panties. It's a TNT pattern in a perfect fit. BTW, those panties are in the same blue/brown floral print shown above.

It's going to be wonderful to crank out 5-7 panties in a day with my new elastic foot. Bye bye quartering and stitching in the round. I'm NOT going to miss you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good Things Come in Small Packages!

My feet arrived yesterday! A brand new set of Babylock Imagine serger feet. See, see, see!!!

Here's the bummer for today. DD#2 has to go on a college visit so there probably won't be any time to play with them. I'm so sad about that. To get my sewing "fix", I'll just have to settle for staring at the box.

Bye Bye, UFOs!

I loathe unfinished sewing projects. They languish for months, sometimes years, just waiting to be finished. When there are so many more interesting things to do and sew, it just prolongs to project almost to neverending UFO status. However, I am happy to report that two UFOs have achieved finished status: a kitchen table cloth that was begging for a rolled edge (yes, at least I can honestly say I was waiting for my new serger and followed through with that one) and my niece's baby quilt that I started in November of 2010. She was born in October of 2010 so it really is an embarrassingly late gift. Here are pics of the front and back of the quilt. There are a couple of reasons why it was so late, the latter one blaming the Internet of which I'll explain below.
Two days ago I picked up my great niece's baby quilt. One that I started last November. We knew it was going to be a girl so I picked up some nice baby quilt fabric on sale at Hot pink cotton flannel and a super soft tie-dye Minky. When those arrived, I took a trip to my local quilting shop to look at their cottons and found a nice yellow one to match the two fabrics. Then I spent another 4 weeks mulling over designs at For a while my embroidery machine was smokin', I stitched the designs and quilting fabric together for the front of the quilt, then I stopped. Why? Because I read something on the Internet lol. (That really is the truth!) Maybe I was at PR, but talk turned to quilt backing and someone was thinking about using a knit. Of course, I was using a knit, too, as the backing for my quilt. A few quilters chimed in about how it was a bad idea to use knit fabric as a backing. So what happened? It kind of stopped me dead in my tracks. Doubts creeped in. Maybe using Minky wasn't such a good idea. After all, I'm no quilter. Truthfully, I don't like to quilt, have never really done quilting other than a few specialty projects, and don't sew traditional quilts with fat quarters or anything like that. So that's when the quilt began to languish in my sewing cart.

For many months I thought about the backing. Maybe I could do this, maybe do that, then two days ago I just got fed up. Perhaps I simply got mad that the quilt was taking up so much space in my cart, but I said to myself, "I don't care what people use for their backing. I don't care about quilting naysayers that say knit fabrics shouldn't be used for the backing. I'm going to do it my way, and it's going to turn out great!

""Internet Paralysis" be damned.

So I did it MY way. And you know what? It turned out perfect. The quilt front is made out of quilting cotton and flannel, the back is super soft Minky, and two layers of quilt batting are sandwiched between both. I was going to make my own binding but decided to buy Wrights binding instead to save me some time and finish the project.

This project is one of those kind of lessons for me. Think of what I would do pre-Internet. And that would be just about anything. No one to ever say, "You shouldn't do it that way...That is not recommended...(blah, blah, blah...)" So there you go! I put in my virtual ear plugs, did it my way, and it turned out great!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy and Bummed.

It was a GREAT day! I was very happy to spend time making some winter hats for my oldest daughter's sorority Thanksgiving dinner. The service project component is a "Mitten Tree" with the families attending bringing a food item for the dinner and a winter accessory for the tree.

So far I made two hats and a scarf. I'm hoping to make a pair of mittens tomorrow because it is, after all, called a "Mitten Tree", right?

And do you know what I used??? Yes! My new Babylock Imagine!!! It made quick work out of the hats. Well, it would have been quicker if I remembered to leave a long serger strand down the braid portions of the braid hat. It was on my mind to do it to turn the tubes quickly but I forgot. And let me tell you, it takes forever to turn a fleece tube with my fingers. I have this one Dritz gadget for turning tubes but it never works well for me. Someday the Fastturn Tube Turner set will be mine! The fleece used was 100 weight from Wazoodle. I don't know who the manufacturer is, but I love that fleece. So soft, anti-pill, and it looks great wash after wash.

I had my three machines out too--My Janome sewing and coverstitch machines, in addition to the Imagine. What a trio. It would have been a nice touch to embroider the hats but they have to be generic.

It would have been great to make a new dress with my serger for the dinner, but there is simply no time. Looking forward to squeezing in some play time during the next week.

Ohhh...I'm getting so excited to play with the accessory feet soon. I've been watching the Imagine DVD and those extra feet are amazing. It's just so quick to do on the serger. More later, I'm out of time. That's the bummer to my post. There's never enough time to play. :(