Monday, September 17, 2018

Screen Printed Tee's and Fall Cleaning

So this weekend the sun was shining and it wasn't ridiculously hot and humid which put me in a pretty good mood to get things done.  Even with an annoying head cold that keeps hanging around I was still feeling like tackling some projects.  I never got the cleaning/redoing bug that spring usually brings me.  I guess it was waiting for fall this year.  I painted the door and trim in my bathroom.  After 11 years of us living here I finally had enough of the primer coat.  I would love to paint the whole bathroom but it's not in terrible shape and the new coat of paint on just the trim freshened things up a bit.  Plus I feel like I can't tackle bigger painting projects until I get an apartment painted that I have been procrastinating all summer.  I also cleaned all of the outsides of my kitchen cabinets with TSP.  I even brought out the sharp end of a knife to get all the gunk in tiny corners.  Then I brought a cabinet door to Home Depot and had them do a color matched quart so I could touch up dings, scratches and worn off paint.  It looks so much cleaner.  Of course that is probably only noticeable to me but it makes me feel good so it was totally worth it.

My husband needed some new work shirts because his old ones were finally getting stained and ripped enough that it was embarrassing to be seen in them.  We've always ordered them from a local company and they are not all that expensive but there are minimums and taking the time to go there and pick out shirts and so on.

I was given a screen printing frame a few years back by a friend of my mother's who thought I might like it.  Last year I sat down to loads of YouTube videos to find out just how to use it because I wanted to make some tee's for my daughter's slime business.  I did get a finished product (even though I struggled with making the screens) and printed a shirt for myself and both my girls to wear when we were selling at craft fairs but it took me a couple tries and the finished product was just ok.  So back to my husband's work shirts... I thought I was ready to give it another try.  I told him "Hey! I can make you some!"  My enthusiasm when I say "I can make that!" is not always matched or loved by those in my family but I was going to show them that I really can do it.

I had to make the screen 2 times only because the photo emulsion left over from last time went bad.  I should have known as soon as I applied it to the screen because it wasn't the florescent green that it should have been.  Luckily I had thought ahead and ordered another container of it last year.  I used Jacouard Photo Emulsion and Diazo Sensitizer from Dharma.  Last year I applied the photo emulsion too thick on the screen and it dripped as it dried creating bumps (and a mess under the screen).  I also over exposed it the first time because I thought it had to take more than 2-3 minutes in the sun.  So this time I made 2 copies of the design on the clear sheets and taped them together so it was super dark plus only exposed it for 2 1/2 mins.  I let my shower sprayer do the work of getting the design washed away.  It worked perfectly!  The best screen I've made.

My husband wanted some light weight darker colored shirts with printing in grey.  I found a pack of undershirts at Walmart to use.  It contained several different colors but I thought that was a better option anyways because then he won't have to wear the same color shirt everyday.

Although a couple shirts were light so the grey wouldn't show up.  For those I used black screen printing ink.  For ink I used Speedball brand.  So far the shirts I've washed with this ink still holds onto it's color very well.  The slime tees I made last year I used Versatex brand and I've washed our shirts many times and they still look as good as the day I made them.

It took a couple times to get a nice solid print.  I found the trick was to just keep squeegeeing over it really well in all directions.  My daughter found a shirt she wanted printed and her's printed with the best quality.

I loved how they all came out and my husband was happy with them too.  Five new work shirts and and the screen to print more whenever they are needed next.  This project was a good one and I enjoyed the process once I worked out the kinks.  I can't wait to try some printing on bags soon.    

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

More Teacher Appreciation Bags

I wanted to share my teacher appreciation bags back in June when we gifted them but summer happened and you know how that is.  So I thought with school starting next week it was as good a time as ever.  In my last post I shared one of my all time favorite teacher appreciation bags, the Tom Brady bag.  This time I'll share the rest of the bags I made.  I really enjoyed making bags this year because my girls told me what they wanted for their teachers.  I've always sort of guessed what they might like from the few times I see them at conferences and during pickups.

This bag my youngest daughter was super excited about since she loves sloths.  It's all about sloths and llama's these days with her.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that this teacher also loves them.  I typically give the helper teachers shopping bags.  They are lightweight and can be folded up to fit in a purse.  I have these everywhere, in my purse, at home by the door, in the car, you name it!  I love that I can throw these in the wash and that they can use any fabric that I love but don't necessarily want a whole quilt of it or a piece of clothing made out of it.  I sell these in my shop.

For another teacher...she got this shopping tote.  I make my own labels with my inkjet printer and sew-in fabric sheets and stitch on.  I talked about the paper that I use in my last post.  I have bags that I've washed over and over.  The edges of the labels are unfinished and I find that they fray just enough to make it look like it's supposed to be that way...which it kind of is.

Their main primary teacher usually gets a pretty big and rugged bag.  All of my bags are meant to be used and washed a lot.  This bag was made with some heavyweight cotton fabric from Joanns.  It's stabilized with Pellon Thermolam.  I prefer Thermolam to fusible fleece because it's much heavier/thicker and gives good stability to the bag.

I added a zipped pocket on the outside of the bag.  I try to put these on most of the bags I make.  I just love to have my keys and phone right where I can grab them easily on the outside.

I also add a rectangle of Pellon 70 to the base of the bag.  It's a super heavyweight sew-in interfacing.  I cut it just big enough to fit on the bottom.  It gets sewn into the base of the bag over the thermolam when I am making the outside before adding the lining to the bag.  This adds a lot of stability to the bottom.  It makes a huge difference because even with a lot of weight it stays pretty flat.  This interfacing is totally fine to wash too.

I do one side full of pockets.  Three to be exact.  It's actually just one long pocket sewn right into the lining and then divided into three sections.  I have found that I really like having pockets along one side of the bag and keep the other side open for bigger things.  The other side has the zipped pocket on the outside.  That way both sides of the bag have pockets just one is inside and the one is outside.

And that wraps up all the bags I made for teachers this past end of school year!  Now it's time to start thinking about this years bags.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Gift # 1 The Tom Brady Bag

Every year I make bags for the girl's teachers.  Who can't use a new bag right!? And I make them pretty big as it was told to me one time by a teacher friend of mine that she needed a big bag to carry all her teacher stuff in.  Makes sense.  I am so in awe of teachers.  Anyone who can devote their time and lives to day after day being in the classroom with children all day is amazing to me.  You have got to keep them all paying attention and behaving throughout the day.  I've volunteered for short little bits and there are so many different kids behaving in different ways, learning in different ways, it makes my head spin.  I have always been very happy with the teachers my kids have had and felt like they did a better job than I would have expected.  They are getting paid but what they give to my kids I feel is priceless and I wish I could give them something in return to show my appreciation.  These bags are my attempt.

This past year my older daughter had a teacher that's a HUGE fan of the Patriots and Tom Brady.  The photo above shows one of the displays she made outside her classroom in preparation for the Super Bowl this past year.  I knew right then her bag was going to utilize team fabric! I always wondered what to do with team fabrics so this was my chance.  I wanted to give her a bag that said I'm a mature teacher but open it up and I'm a crazy Patriots/Tom Brady fan!

It was easy to find a photo of Tom on the internet.  I used my ink jet printer and printable fabric.  I have long since used this fabric to print my fabric labels and then hand-cut them.  I've laundered my bags with those labels over and over and haven't had any ink runs on my labels yet.

Tom made a perfect pocket.  I could just imagine her going in for her keys or phone and catching a glance.  I was laughing to myself pretty much the entire time I was making this.  It's good to mix up your sewing with a little silliness.

The finished bag was a beautiful sensible, low key exterior, just like I had in mind.

The inside boasted a true Patriots fan.

I even put a handy zipped pocket on the outside with team fabric.

This was by far the most fun I had making a teacher appreciation bag!  I'll share the rest of my teacher appreciation bags in my next post.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Tip on Getting Wavy Knit Fabric Hems Flat

It's been month's since I even looked at anything pertaining to my blog.  I just realized my last post was on saying goodbye to my little Winnie and that was super sad to anyone visiting for the first time.  I never intended to have that be the story I left as my opening page for most of the summer!  Well life goes on and I thought I would share something that totally bugged me for a loooong time when I was learning to sew with knits...wavy hemmed edges.  No matter what stitch I used I always ended up with a wavy edge.  Some people would say use a zigzag, some would say just slightly stretch the fabric, some would say don't stretch the fabric and on and on.

 So here is my hemmed edge of a cardigan I was making.  Super wavy (and wrinkly).  I'm not sure exactly what this knit is made of but it's very thin and does seem to wrinkle easily.  I think I bought it at Joann's a long time ago when they didn't have the selection they do now.  I used a zig zag stitch on this because I wanted the look.  Normally I'm not into a zigzag but I was feelin' it for this.

The big secret is all in the steam.  Don't touch the iron to the fabric!  Just slowly work steam all over it and you can almost watch it shrink up.  If you put the iron to the fabric even pressing it, the weight of the iron keeps it from shrinking up and thus it will only make wrinkles and waviness worse.

 You can see in the photo above that the top half is a before and then the lower half has been steamed.  You can see some slight wrinkles in the bottom half still but if I just picked it up lightly and put it back down for another steam it would be perfect.

 Here it is now with the whole thing done.  I wasn't really concentrating on removing the wrinkles in the body of the garment yet but you can see how much the steam removed.

 Here's a sleeve sample/before and after.  The top sleeve was steamed at the hem and the bottom one wasn't and you can see how wavy that hem was before steaming.

Here's a close up of the zig zag and the straight (not wavy!) edge.  It's a beautiful sight...

And the finished project!  This was started about 5 years ago, no lie.  I had it all sewn together except I did not finish it because I could not get the hems to lay flat.  I found it in the bottom of a box and was like whoa! I've come a long way and couldn't wait to hem it with my mad sewing skills I've acquired since then.

And the back.  Luckily the color and style are still in after 5 years.  At least I think.  I second guess myself a lot more these days as my girls get older and roll their eyes at some of the things I like.

Oh and the way I like to sew knits, sometimes with a slight stretch, sometimes not stretching at all and sometimes with a zig zag.  ;o)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Saying Goodbye

It's been exactly 1 week since we said goodbye to our little Winslow aka Winnie.  This photo was the last one I took of him just a few days before.  He was 16 1/2 but still looked like a pup.

He was my baby before I had actual babies.  I got him shortly after we got married as a brother to my other dog.  He was waiting at the door when I brought both of my girls home for the first time...sniffing and checking them out.  As they grew he was like a living stuffed toy and for the most part he was a really good sport.

Winnie was a pug/chihuahua mix. He was the most happy-go-lucky dog.  He wasn't really very intelligent and until the last couple years he was an attention hog so much so that when my other dog or cat came over for a pet he would bump them out of the way.

He was a special friend to both of my girls.

My first daughter learning to walk with Winnie.

He was there when they learned to crawl and walk.

He was also super mischievous.  He loved snacking in the kitty litter box.  When he was younger he could find his way into and onto anything.  I'd often find him on the kitchen table.  

A last photo both girls wanted before saying goodbye.

As he got older and mostly just within the last year or two of his life he lost his hearing and eyesight but somehow he still managed to find his way around and know when we were right there.  If he needed any attention and didn't want to go looking for it he'd bark so you would come to him.  He couldn't quite keep his tongue in his mouth after loosing some teeth but that only added to his goofiness.  

He was like a little vacuum.  I can still hear his little pig like snorts as he sniffed and searched for any crumb left on the floor.  Every time I was in the kitchen baking or cooking he could be found underfoot waiting, hoping for something to drop.  He was awesome when the girls were toddlers because we never had to clean up a food spills.  He would be there before it hit the floor.

One morning, a week prior to his leaving us, he just stood there in the middle of the kitchen and wouldn't move.  He seemed to be breathing hard.  He already suffered from congestive heart failure for many years and always had a cough.  It was amazing that he lived with it for as long as he did.  The next day I took him to the vet fully anticipating that it was time but they gave him some medicine that cleared up the fluid from his lungs and he seemed content to lay in his crate, be spoon fed homemade chicken and rice and be doted on for the next week.   We knew he was ready though and the vet told us he was ready but it's making that final decision that just had me.  We finally settled on the next day, Friday.  Early Friday morning around 3:30am after having not barked for a week Winnie started barking.  I went down and sat in front of his bed petting and comforting him.  He seemed to be comforted until about 6:30 when nothing I did would help.  We had deeply discussed this whole situation with our girls and they knew that it was time too.  As soon as the vet opened I called and made an appointment for 9:30am.  I brought the girls to school that morning offering that they could come with me but they chose to say their goodbye's and go to school.  Right before I was ready to take him at about 9:15 I could sense something was different.  You don't want any animal to suffer and of course that is all I could think of...mad at myself for not taking him in sooner.  But then I thought this is natural process.  It's hard for us to think about and see something we love have to die.  I had never been through anything like this.  So I gently picked him up and laid him in the car on his favorite blanket in the passenger side beside me.  I kept my hand on him the entire time and spoke to him as we drove to the vet.  It was less than a 10 min drive there.  I prayed that God would take him quickly and that he would not suffer.  As I drove into the driveway of the vets office and parked he took his last breath.  I couldn't not believe how it all played out.  I was so relieved and so sad at the same time.  

I lost another dog a couple years ago.  He had been sick with diabetes for 4 years and still having another dog to take care of at home not too much had changed around the house.  But now that Winnie is gone we are without a dog.  We decided awhile ago that we won't be getting another one.  We are looking forward to heading out for a weekend and not having to find someone to pet sit or have to run home to let a dog out during the day.  We still have 2 awesome cats which are cuddle bugs and keep us all happy with a lot less work.  

I still come around the corner or down the stairs thinking that I'm going to peek over and see Winnie snoring in his bed or I think I'm going to hear him bark any minute to be let out.  He always seemed to have a knack of doing that when I was in the middle of something.  It's going to take awhile for that all to go away but I will certainly never forget Winnie.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Weekend Quilting

We have a wedding in the family next month.  It's for my husbands aunt and I thought that she deserved a quilt.  I don't think one of my modern bright colored quilts would fit into her house so I dug through my stash and my small box of civil war prints.  I was able to pull out the 30 fat quarters worth to make a queen sized Yellow Brick Road.  I haven't made this quilt in years.  Actually this was the first quilt pattern that I ever made all the way back in 2006 and it kicked off my whole sewing obsession.

I love the Yellow Brick Road pattern.  It's fun to cut the strips, sew them together, cut again and before I knew it I had 100 blocks done!   I chose this pattern because I knew it was fast and I didn't have any big pieces of fabric so this was perfect.

This is the first time I have put up a piecing wall.  You really need to have something to lay this quilt out on because of the randomness of the blocks.   It's easy to put 2 fabrics together and then it would drive me crazy.  In my house there's not one wall that I can leave a piecing wall up.  As it is you can tell there's a door behind this and it's a little too close to my wood stove which is running constantly from about Oct to April.  I'm using batting for a king sized quilt.   This winter my cat found the bin I kept it in tucked away under a table and unbeknownst to me had made it her bed.  It got a little hairy and gross.  I was planning on salvaging it for a smaller quilt but I think I will keep it for a piecing wall.

For pinning all the rows together my ring pincushion came in really handy.  I made this one way back when I owned my fabric shop.  But here's a tutorial on how to make one.  Here's another tutorial too with a very cute idea instead of using rickrack.

I pinned all the rows together starting at the bottom and labeling each row.  I wrote with permanent pen on the flower head pins the row number so I would know which row I was working on.  I pulled each block off the wall and pinned it to the next.

I also wrote on the pattern which row was which number.  I forget really quickly so this will help me remember I started with #1 at the bottom of the quilt.  I've sewn 2 rows together and am hoping today I can get the rest completed.  I've got less than a month to wrap this up so I'm trying to work on it as much as possible and not stress myself out at the last minute.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sewing with Kids: Week 1 - Hand-Sewing

This is the second post in my Sewing with Kids Series.  You can find my first post here on what is needed to get started.

No matter what kind of sewing you do at some point you are going to need to thread a needle, hand- stitch and make sure the stitching doesn't come undone.  Whether you are sewing on a button or repairing a hole in clothing these are essential to any type of sewing project.  Even though the kids are itching to get right to the machine I make them learn to hand-sew first.  It may sound boring at first but to spice it up I like to have them rummage through all the bright colors of embroidery floss and create a simple embroidery project.  This time I chose to have them cross-stitch a letter (an initial) and then have them add to it whatever else they want in the time that the class allowed.  During our next class we are going to turn it into a pin cushion to add it to their sewing kits.
The photo below is the sample I created.

What is taught during this week:
How to cross-stitch and simple embroidery.

How To Sew a Simple Cross-Stitch Letter

Supplies Needed:
White square of fabric - I precut 1 for each child that would fit in their embroidery hoops.  (These will later be cut down into 3 1/2" squares to sew into the pincushion.)
Frixion Pen or other disappearing tracing pen.
Embroidery Floss
Embroidery needle
Letter pattern
Small Embroidery Hoop (Not absolutely necessary but it makes it a lot easier.)

1.  They will choose a letter and using their Frixion pens will place the letter pattern (you can find a pattern here) underneath the fabric and trace putting x's where the squares are.  I brought a light pad which made it super easy to see but you can also just hold it up to a window.

At this point they are just concentrating on their letter.  They can decide later, depending on how much time is available what else they would like to add.

2.  Next they will learn to thread a needle and make a knot in the end.  I have a printed full-color handout I give kids so when they get home and have forgotten they can refer to it.  I also have the same tutorial here.

3.  I use just basic embroidery floss and have them separate the strands so they are using only 2 strands.  It's a little easier to get through the needle for the first time. The length is about their arms length.

4.  Next they just start stitching each x starting at one end of their letter and working their way around.
     A few challenges they will find:
        - Little knots happen in the floss.  It's important not to pull on these (which makes them tighter) but to use their needle to pick them apart.
        - They may also loop the thread around the hoop (meaning they went into the fabric the same way twice).  They will need to unthread the needle and back the thread out.
        - The biggest challenge I find is keeping the needle on the embroidery floss.  There are ways to "tie" the thread on needle but most kids after it falls off 5 times will start to get the hang of it.

5.  I also teach them how to knot the thread on the backside when they are done.  Here is a tutorial for that too.

Sewing Basics: How To End Your Hand-Sewing and Make a Knot

When you have used up your thread, are done sewing or need to change colors, you must knot or tie off the thread in someway or all of your lovely stitches will come undone!  You could just tie a knot in the thread but unless you get it right next to the fabric it your stitches will loosen up and not look as pretty anymore.  

*Important!  When you have about 5-6” of thread left then you are ready to stop sewing and knot your thread. If you don’t leave enough thread then you won’t be able to make a knot.

Make sure the thread is coming out of the back.  Turn your project over and work from the backside. 

Where the thread is coming out of the fabric take a super tiny stitch.  

Pull the needle and thread as you normally would but not all the way!  Leave a small loop.  Then take your needle and go through the loop 2 times and pull it tight.

This should make a knot.  If it didn’t work the first time keep trying.  More than one knot is ok!