Today's post is all about Ella. She's my SIL's 7 year old granddaughter and the one I make the doll clothes for. I've got the new dress to share and a couple of photos from a visit with her yesterday.
First up is the dress. This was one epic dress to make. The pattern is called Opening Night and it has something like 36 steps. But it's so incredibly well written. I'd say that it's better than many patterns from the big pattern companies. I know that the AG McCalls pattern that I have is full of errors, including mis-labeled pattern pieces and spelling errors. This Opening Night dress pattern is incredibly detailed and very accurate. So it was hard and easy at the same time. It's hard because there are lots of pieces and some sewing gymnastics required but easy because the directions are clear and as long as you take it one step at a time and accept that hand sewing is sometimes faster than machine sewing, it will come together without too much of a headache.
The fabric is silk shantung and was donated by my friend, Kim. The company we worked for has a lovely annual holiday event that was a great opportunity to make some beautiful evening wear. Kim loved full skirted dresses and this fabric was from the skirt from one of her party dresses. Silk shantung sews like a dream and has great body for a dress like this. She also gave me a pink silk that I'll use for another outfit at some point.
Hand sewing was critical for this dress. I tried, for example, to do the edge stitching on the sheer fabric on the machine but this dress just didn't need to have that much profanity sewn into it. The story was the same with the invisible zipper. After 2 tries on the machine I sewed it in by hand and was done in 20 minutes. The dress is fully lined and it's hand sewn at the waist and around the inside of the zipper. The lining was some I had leftover from when I used to make my own suits for work.
Ella's grandmother and I have decided to save this dress for her birthday in July. She's even getting some shoes to go with.
Ella was staying with them for a couple of days this week while she's on Spring break so we went to visit yesterday and had a blast.
Apparently Ella was excited for me to come because she had made me a thank you gift and card for making the outfits for her. She was so cute. We had a fashion show with each outfit and combination that I had made and then she gave me this potholder and thank you note. She definitely knows how to work me because she made a point of telling me that my clothes were special and that she kept them is a separate place so that nothing would happen to them. Soooooo cute.
I love the potholder because it brought back so many memories of when I used to make these things by the dozen when I was a kid. I loved getting a new bag of loops whenever we went to the store. I didn't even know that this was still a thing!
We did not go for our visit empty handed. The last time I ordered yarn I found this loop yarn from Lion Brand. The loops are all worked out so that as you "knit" them together you get an image. She loved making it and has decided to use it as a doll blanket. This type of yarn is available in big skeins and adult colors so you could make a giant afghan if you wanted. It's good because it doesn't require any tools other than your fingers but, I have to admit, I hope to never use it again. It's really easy to skip loops so you have to be very attentive. It also sheds like crazy and all that fluff stuck to my pants and nowhere else! I even brought some home with me. But, for kids, this is a fun project and the blanket is incredibly soft and snuggly.
We will be doing another because, in my wisdom, I also bought the unicorn skein at the same time. She got really good at it be the time we finished so the second one should go faster.
PS, Ella is covering her face because I made her. She was happy to have her picture taken but I don't think it's appropriate for me to share photos of someone else's child on the internet. I don't even like to share my own photo on the internet!
Yesterday was a great day for finishes. I'm heading off to my friend's house at the river Monday for a few days of sewing and yakking so I'm using that as incentive to wrap a few things up.
First up is the baby blanket. You know how it is. Once the end is in sight you just have to motor through and finish and that's what I did with this yesterday. The blanket finished to about 36" square.
Here are the details on the blanket for my future reference:
I used the Purple Gingham pattern from Daisy Farm Crafts. It's really well written and they have nice videos to help out. Don't like this one? They have over a dozen gingham blanket variations. I'll be making more for sure.
The yarn is Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn, 4 weight acrylic. I bought 2 skeins of the peach and 1 each of orange and white. I d love this yarn. It's really easy to work with and is very soft. It makes Red Heart seem like sand paper.
Hook size K for the body and J for the border
This border design is in the pattern. It's 2 rows of SC and a row of shells. Each side was 1 stitch short to make it work out perfect so I just put in a fudge shell (using one less stitch) somewhere along each side. The shorter shells aren't noticeable at all. My first round of SC on the sides is a bit messy but I do have trouble getting the sides to look good. It would have been better if I could have used white for the border but I didn't have enough leftover white yarn. I had to go either orange or peach. I think orange looks best.
This is what's leftover. I have a few small balls of leftover yarn now and it's annoying me so I'm going to start a granny rectangle that I can use up all the scrap yarn on. As I finish each project I can just add the leftover yarn to the "scrapghan" and someday it can be a donation or camping blanket.
But that's not all! I also finished the toy bags for the boys. I found the tutorial online but I've lost the link now. There are dozens of tutorials for bags like this. They are so nice that now I want some for myself.
The bags even have fancy boxy bottoms.
They are lined.
And they have tabs made of faux cork. I bought this bundle of cork fabrics over 2 years ago and this is the first time I've used them. When I showed the dino bags to Chris he immediately noticed that the tab was dino teeth. He wins extra credit points.
I'm also quilting and practicing my feathers. I forgot to take photos but there are a couple of veterans quilts getting a lot of fancy feather quilting!
Thinking toward Monday, I'm packing up projects. I've decided that I can start my SIL's animal print quilt. It's going to be made exactly like my Indonesian Batik quilt, just smaller. She want's a sofa quilt.
I'm also going to attempt this. My friend, Kim, is bringing me some leftover silk fabrics and I'm going to see if I can pull this off. I think the color will be teal or red.
Later today, though, I'll get back to sewing the big Summer Sunset star and there's lots more practice quilting ahead of me this weekend.
I have three younger brothers and when I was very young there was a situation where I was favored with gifts over my brothers just because I was a girl. While I enjoyed the attention and gifts I felt guilty that my brothers weren't included. Our parents never treated us different and didn't tolerate other people treating us different. That particular situation never happened again and that was a good thing.
I've been making the doll dresses for my SIL's granddaughter. She also has 3 grandsons and I didn't want to leave them out. Two of them are obsessed with dinosaurs and the little guy likes busses.
I found some dinosaur fabric and EMS fabric. I made each of the older boys a pillowcase and the little guy a pillow.
I'm using the leftover fabric to make them some lined toy bags. Kids love bags. A good drawstring bag has the added potential of becoming a weapon.
She will give the pillow/pillowcases to the boys next week and it will be good for the boys to get a gift when the girl doesn't for a change. I also found these hat kits that I'm going to make later this summer. I saw them a while ago and fell in love with them but didn't think I had anyone to make them for. Fortunately I got a Lion Brand newsletter while I was making these gifts and I realized that I could get them for the boys. They are all young enough to be big Sesame Street fans. These will be for later this year but I think they will be a blast to make.
In between sewing sessions I went to the doctor for my toe injury. It's confirmed "turf toe" which is really funny because it's a common football injury. I have the added complexity of it involving 3 toes. There's nothing special about the treatment. I have to wear my stiffest shoes (that I hate) every day for several weeks and I have to start some PT in a couple of weeks. It's just going to take a long time because it's a foot injury. It's mostly just annoying. I didn't do it being athletic, I did it moving heavy furniture in flip flops. It's actually pretty funny and typical of my kind of injuries.
This project is officially done! Completing this project has a completion satisfaction rating right up there with The Great Wall. It was not easy, I had a ton of allergy issues with the Sharpie markers and it took a long time but it was worth all the pain and suffering in the end. Drawing the designs was great fun; it was the other elements that were kind of a drag.
There are 2 cloths that are about 7 feet long in front of the sink and stove and one that's less than 3 feet long in front of the fridge. In case you are wondering, yes, we still have white appliances. Black or stainless will replace them when they die. I expect that because we want to replace them that they will never die and I'm fine with that too.
These started with plain artist canvas bought on a large roll. They were primed on both sides with gesso and then I painted one side with satin wall paint in three shades of a brown to blend with the floor. If you look close you can see that I painted them with grain line directions to match the wood planks.
Here's the smaller one that's in front of the refrigerator. We had fabric covered floor clothes here before that had to be at least 10 years old. They did a great job of protecting the floor and they are still in fine shape. They will go into the guest house.
Click on a gallery image to see larger views
Here's a gallery with close ups of the designs. All of the designs were done with Wild Gears. Wild Gears are an ingenious upgrade of our childhood Spirograph. You know that Spirograph was brilliant because it's just as popular as ever. It was one of my favorite toys and Wild Gears is one of my favorite grown up toys. (I was going to say "adult toys" but it really doesn't fit in that general category.)
I used Super Sharpie markers to get a really bold line and I probably went through a dozen or more on this project. As soon as I noticed any fading in the mark I got out a new marker. The designs that appear to be "on top" were the first drawn. To draw a layered design I had to be careful to stop and start lines at the edge of the design on top. There were mistakes and I did have to do some "erasing" with paint.
Chris and I finished them by folding under a hem and using the glue gun to stick it in place. He coated the underside with one coat of polyurethane and 3 coats on top. The have rug pads under them to keep them from slipping on the floor. I hope these will last as long as the last ones or until we leave this house because making a 7 foot floor cloth is a pain.
If you are interested the Wild Gear Sets that I used in this project are:
3-Way Modular Connectors
How's this for cute? I'm making the doll outfits to go along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors. February is yellow month so I made this sun dress Monday night. I had just enough of that fabric to make the dress. It looks like it would be easy but the dress is fully lined and you have to turn it through the shoulder. It was a pain but I did it. I hope it fits Ella's doll.
Yesterday we finally had a beautiful sunny, warn day so I decided to get a start in trimming bushes and cleaning up beds. If the ground ever dries out I'll start bringing in and spreading 8 or so truckloads of mulch. My trimming method makes mulching easy! There are Barberry bushes. They don't mind this harsh treatment at all and I won't have to tend to them again for a few years.
Then I came in and started sewing my star blocks together. These are the blocks for the small stars. I thought I'd get all of the star blocks together yesterday but it turned into more work than I expected.
This quilt is made on foundations that you leave in. That's generally a great idea but it leaves way too much bulk in the seams so I'm spending a lot of time tearing out the material where seam allowances are pressed. It's a pain but it's necessary.
In the evenings I'm making progress on this blanket. One ball of yarn is done and I've started the second one. This pattern has a border and I will not have enough yarn for the border. I bought what the pattern called for but my gauge is different because I crochet pretty tight. As a result I think I'm using more yarn. I had to run an errand to Lowe's yesterday and Hobby Lobby is nearby. I thought I'd see if I could find something that might work for a border. Pretty much everything looks awful. White is too bright, ivory makes it look old and dirty and every pink clashed.
In the end I decided to go bold and see if this will work. It has the peach and pinks from the blanket plus every other color. It might look like crap but crochet is really easy to pull out. It's a low risk experiment. The blanket can always go without a border and I can make hats from this yarn if I don't use it on this blanket.
I've talked about all of this stuff during the month so this is just a little wrap up[ post. I'll be linking to the RSC main blog.
My project is to make blocks from a hoard of repro fabrics and then to use those blocks to make 8 lap quilts from the last of my Great Grandmother's UFO projects. She made 8 big string stars that will be the centers of the blocks. Since I like to take pre-cut kits on my vacation to Maine, I will just be cutting out blocks each month and will take them with me in August to sew. I'm picking only 9-patch patterns in the hope that it will be easier to put these quilts together in the end. This month I cut 8 blocks in each of these patterns. They are placed on cardboard pieces that came with some glass time. They are going to stack really nicely for travel.
My other goal is to make a doll outfit each month for my SIL's granddaughter. She wrote me the cutest thank you note for this little nightgown and even gave me a A+ sticker!
There's nothing like a little positive feedback to keep you going. This is the start of a second outfit. I've got a hat cut out and probably need to make a t shirt to go under it.
The February color is yellow and here are the fabrics that I've pulled to start with.
My best friend and I finally exchanged Christmas gifts last week so I can now share the gifts that I made for her. I hadn't realized the habit I had gotten into of buying gifts for her as I shopped gift shops on vacations. I couldn't do much of that this year so I had to be creative. I was really stumped for a long time.
One day I was in the shower (where I solve most of my problems) and thought about things we did the past year and the biggest thing that came to mind was this project: her mosaic pizza oven. That gave me my sunflower theme and I was off and running. She has an outdoor screened porch so I thought that placemats and pillows for outdoor entertaining (or just lounging) might be good gifts.
I got out my Jacquard Color Magnet and borrowed this stencil from my friend, Marcy, to make some center panels for placemats. I absolutely love Color Magnet. The images are always so crisp.
Then I dyed 3 half yards with my own leaf and sunflower screen prints.
At the same time I dyed some lengths of denim in matching colors.
Starting with the pillows, I fused and the satin stitched two sunflower pillow covers.
I even had enough gold fabric to do piping. These should look pretty good on her outdoor furniture.
And I found these great sunflower buttons for the closures on the pillow backs.
The placemats were really straightforward. I made 8 and each one has the gold center strip. With another strip top and bottom. I mixed the blue, green and tan among the placemats.
I had dyed a mottled fabric for the backing and I used that for the binding. These were really a lesson in letting the fabric do all the work. The piecing design couldn't be simpler.
The best part was finding these vintage Corelle sunflower plates! The set is finished off with dyed napkins. I even found matching plastic flatware in gold, vanilla, blue and green to match the set. She's ready for her first outdoor cookout.
I had a lot of fun making these and she really liked them. At least, she said that she did!
She got me a bunch of crochet stuff including some books and a big project tote and she gave me some really cool things that she's printed this year. She's been busy carving stamps and now I have a tote bag and some bandanas with her designs.
Christmas in January is a good thing!
I've been working on a little bit of everything but the most noticeable progress from the last 2 days is the floor cloths.
This new motif too FOREVER because of having to work it under 3 other designs and having to change holes on the gear and move it 2 spaces every time around. There is a mistake but I don't think it's noticeable enough to "erase" it and start over.
Then I added this design and I did make a a mistake that had to be erased. Erasing here means painting over with a tiny paint brush. This one was particularly complex to draw to get under and through the other designs. I had to go very slow.
This is after fixing the stray mark and coloring in part of the design.
Here's that last design added to the small floor cloth that will go in front of the refrigerator.
Here's one of the long ones with it's new design in place. I really feel the end in sight now.
In other news, I got a photo of Ella happy with her new doll outfit so I'm cutting out a jumper and hat. I think I'll try to do a couple each month along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors. January is pink. I, thankfully, don't have a lot of pink fabric but at least this one has pink in it.
The next set of star points are underway too. Soooooo close.
Yesterday was dyeing day and that usually means several hours straight in the basement but the plan for this week was shibori. Shibori takes a lot more elapsed time (about 8 hours) but there are some breaks while the fabric is on the dye bath. I probably should dye shibori more often but, frankly, it's just too fatiguing. Once every couple of months is a good pace for me. I do love seeing the color combos develop.
In between sessions I'm working on Summer Sunset. The 5th set of star points are almost done.
And here's the surprise pink RSC project that I did this week! My SIL's granddaughter, Ella, is 7 and she's delightful. She is also obsessed with American Girl dolls. Personally, I've always hated dolls. They creep me out no end. But I have always liked doll clothes. I tried making Barbie clothes for another little girl once but Barbie clothes are way too tiny and really hard to make. After spending some time with Ella I thought I might try to make some clothes for her collection of TEN American Girl dolls that includes her mother's AG dolls. I ordered a pattern off Etsy and this is the first piece. The fabric is a cute vintage feedsack fabric and the pattern is a nightgown and sleep mask. As I was sewing it I found some unforgivable flaws in the old fabric that I patched as best I could so I consider this one a prototype and will send it to Ella just to see if this pattern fits. Has anyone made anything from 18" doll patterns? Do they generally fit OK?
I even added some vintage buttons as decoration. I learned a lot making this little dress so I'm better prepared for the next outfit.
Back to dyeing, I found this photo that I forgot to share last week. When I was doing the impromptu sewing room cleanup last week I found a box of linens that a friend had given me. She used to haunt thrift stores and find all kinds of cheap linens. I've decided that I need to just start dyeing them. I dyed these in the bin with the Coleus Gradient and they turned out really nice. I have a friend who is now big into carving stamps and printing on fabric. I'll give these linen cocktail napkins to her for to add the final decoration.
Tomorrow I finally get to share the project that I did for Paula Nadelstern last year!
Yesterday was a day to catch up on some chores and a day to devote a lot of time to wrapping up this coaster adventure. I started with a plan to make 4 coasters (no bowl) out of a pile of green scraps. You'll see in a minute that plan did not work out. It produced 1 ugly coaster that will probably be put by my sewing machine because we always keep the ugliest things we make for ourselves.
I switched gears and combined a small pink/red pile with some of the green ones to make some rose inspired coasters. There weren't any of the pink strips left so this set did not get a bowl. They are tied with a bow and put away for future gifting.
I had this much clothesline left. Not enough for a set of coasters but maybe enough for a trivet.
I rolled it into a coil to see. Compared to the ugly green coaster that looks like just about the right size for a trivet. My biggest pile of strips was a mix of greens and blues so that's what I went with.
It actually doesn't look too bad! It's pretty darned heavy and sturdy. I used cotton thread so that it can tolerate hot pans. Would you look at that? I have a whole other roll of clothesline! What was I thinking? I'm putting this away for now. I'll use it as I make quilts and need to use up trimming strips. For reference, I used 2 packages of clothesline (200 feet) for all the things I've made the past couple of week. One package goes a long way. I didn't need 3!
Honestly, the biggest news for me lately is that I've found a great new (to me) website with wonderful vegan gluten free recipes. Gwen from Delightful Adventures makes the best GF/Vegan recipes that I've ever found on the web. I've made several of her recipes but the latest are these Ginger Molasses Cookies. They taste like the Ginger Snaps that I haven't had in ages! Look at that, they even look like real cookies. In my world that's a miracle. The things I make rarely look like the recipe picture. Even Chris likes these cookies.
I'll probably take most of the rest of the year off. The main project I'm working on is one that I can't share. I'll stop in when I have something new, otherwise, I'll be having fun, relaxing and will be checking in on all of your blogs.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.