Monday, July 13, 2015

Wisconsin Quilt

We lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin, for one year and we wish it could've been longer.  We loved everything about it, except for the winter that lasted for 6 months and the bazillions of mosquitoes that descended upon us during the muggy summers.

I started quilting in La Crosse and tried my first paper piecing project with this candy box heart pattern.

Don't you just love quilts with legs?!  Anyway, I usually avoid anything with hearts, but this was a special group project.  We wanted the young women at church to have an ongoing service experience.  Somehow we found out that the Renal Dialysis Unit at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital was drab and needed some holiday decor to cheer up patients who spent many hours at a time there.

We kicked off this partnership by taking a tour of the unit and learning about dialysis.  Then, after that, each month we would devote one of our weekly meetings to making decorations and one of them to decorating the unit.

We worked on the quilt together during a few of our weekly meetings.  I know we taught the girls how to applique and they made most of the star blocks.  I think some of them also helped sew the 4-patch blocks.  I can't remember if I made all the hearts or if we taught some of them to do that too. 

We gave this quilt to the unit to hang on the wall permanently.  I wonder if it's still there?  I hope the girls and other leaders cherish this experience as I much as I do.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Skinny Jeans

These are skinny jeans.  They were the jeans that I made and wore...when I was skinny.

This is what skinny jeans look like after you've been riding an elephant at the zoo.

Back then, I didn't know that I was skinny.  Over the years, I've discovered that skinny is relative.  These jeans stopped fitting about 25 pounds ago (30 years ago?).  The zipper is broken and the hems are faded and stitched together.  So, why do I still have them?

For many years I hoped that I could just put them on again, not wear them necessarily.  If I worked hard, I probably could do that.  I was just about ready to part with them - cut them up and incorporate them into a quilt.  Fortunately, before I grabbed the rotary cutter, I suddenly realized that they are the only Kathy-constructed article of clothing I still have in my possession.

In high school and college, I made almost all of my clothing - back when it was affordable and cool to make your own clothing.  People would say in genuine surprise, "You made that?!"  I made all of my pants, from super bell-bottomed 70s hiphuggers to high-waisted 80s pants.  I even made my brother some trousers.  That's why these jeans are so cool.  They are constructed like men's trousers, not like wimpily constructed girly pants.  Oh, I could go on about that.

Check out these details.  They have pleats...and darts.

They have waistband lining and SERIOUS pocket construction.  Check out the denim pocket insert on the front view - just like store-bought guy pants!

This is a hard-core zipper.  It's so hard-core that I can't even call it a zipper, it's a fly.  Usually there are no extra pieces when sewing a zipper in women's pants.  But with men's trousers, there are about 8 pieces to put that fly together.  Oh, I could go on about that too!

There's no way I can part with these pants now.  Ugh!  This excavation is going to be hopeless!

P.S. During my image searches, I came across this pattern that could very possibly be the exact pattern (the red ones) that I used for my white denim ├╝ber hip-huggy bell-bottomy 70s pants.  I used to wear them to school with a crop top, belly exposed.  Oh my, what was I thinking?!

Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm knitting again!

I thought my knitting days were over almost five years ago, but thanks to modern medicine I'm knitting again.  I'm still s...l...o...w...l...y working on the archeological dig that I started in December.  I rediscovered all my knitting supplies, books and yarn.  I purged some books and patterns and am trying to use up my yarn stash.  Of course, I made this sweater out of a new yarn purchase.  I'll never learn, will I?

The pattern came out of this old Debbie Bliss book that I just can't part with.  Lots of the patterns look outdated, but I didn't think this one did.  Or am I wrong?  I hope not.  I wouldn't want Baby Girl Harris to be bullied by her toddler friends in a few years!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Operation Smile Gowns

Here are some very rough instructions for sewing the gowns for Operation Smile.
  • Whether using a serger or a sewing machine, please sew 1/2" seams and 1/4" hems.  A serger can be used on everything except sewing the neck ties and back ties.
  • With right sides facing, sew shoulder seams.
  • Hem sleeves.
  • Sew side seams.
  • Make 4-5 clips in the armpits so that they won't pucker when turned right side out.

  • Hem back openings and bottom edge.  If the back edge is cut on the selvage, feel free to make the hem bigger than 1/4" so that the selvage doesn't show on the right side.  Make the hem on the other side match.
  • Line up center of 48" bias tape with center of front of gown.
  • Fold bias tape over edge of gown neck.
  • Pin to hold in place while sewing.
  • Zig zag from one end of the neck tie to the other end, making sure the gown does not slip out from between the bias tape.
  • Sew the back ties into place, about 8" down from the neckline.
Voila!  You're done!  Wasn't that fun?!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No-No Arm Bands

Here are detailed instructions on how to make a pair of no-no armbands for Operation Smile.  These arm bands are comfortable splints that are used to keep children from bending their arms and touching their faces after their cleft palate surgeries.
  • Use a rotary cutter to cut two 10" X 15" rectangles. (Please make a matching pair of arm bands.)
  • Hem or surge a 1/4-inch hem around all sides of each rectangle.
  • Fold the short side of the rectangle up 5" and press.
The next several steps will show you how to create nine pockets in which tongue depressors will be placed to create the splint.  It's very important to measure accurately so that the tongue depressors will fit in the pockets.
  • Make a sewing guide with tape and a marker.  
  • On the tape make ten marks that are 1" apart. 
  • Place the fold of the arm band next to the marked tape.  Make sure it is centered.
  • Make ten marks on the fold of the arm band.
  • Unfold the arm band.
  • Mark the top of the pocket in the same way.
  • Refold the arm band.
  • Use a straight edge to connect your marks. (See faint pink lines in picture below.)
  • Mark the other arm band the same way.

The next few steps will show an efficient way to sew the pair of arm bands simultaneously.
  • Put the folded sides of the arm band next to each other.
  • Sew the first line, making sure to back stitch at the top edge of the pocket and at the fold, but do not lift the foot on your machine.
  • Continue sewing the other arm band, again making sure to back stitch at the fold and at the top edge of the pocket.
  • Lift the needle and the foot, turn the connected arm bands and lower the needle and the foot onto the next line.
  • Continue to sew all the lines in this fashion without ever cutting any threads.

  • Carefully snip apart arm bands and clip any other stray threads.
  • Important - Test out your pockets by making sure a tongue depressor will fit into each one.
  • Cut six 22"-long pieces of ribbon, three for each arm band.
  • Fold each ribbon in half to find center.
  • Pin three ribbons on one side of each arm band - one in the center and the other two about 1" from each end.
  • Stitch the ties into place by stitching back and forth a few times.
  • Fold ties to side and finger press into place.

Voila!  You're done!  Wasn't that fun?!