31 December, 2015

Christmas Bell Curve Theory

Boy ! Am I glad that's over. I feel I missed the entire Christmas season this year. I worked over 60 hours each week at the day job. Mgmt hired a retired clerk to help out but blew it by immediately throwing her into 12 hour workdays. WHO does that? You have to ease people in. Needless to say, she quit after two days of that nonsense.

Everyone and their grandmas are ordering presents via the world wide web thingy. Resulting in twice as many packages transiting compared to  last christmas season. All the big package companies were blown away.

I don't order much - I try to hand make most of my gifts.  I did participate in Amazon's madness guarantee by ordering a couple of items the Saturday before the big day AND receiving them on Tuesday. We're not big fans of Amazon where I work - can you say that we feel grateful to work on Sundays in addition to the other six days a week? Mgmt says we should be grateful for the hours.

Not to mention that Sundays are a big fubar with no one wanting strange vehicles in their driveways on Sunday nor did the customer ask for it to be delivered on Sunday = losing money at my workplace. Lots of overtime being paid out to deliver on that day.

I vaguely recall a Tom & Jerry on Christmas Day - God bless that brother-in-law.

Here's my Christmas season Bell Curve Theory: Picture yourselves a bell curve starting at the beginning of December and ending just after Christmas. It's easy to see the most volume of packages are during the 15-20th of the month. At the start of that bell curve, you have all your new hires trying to stay afloat in the chaos. At the end, you have experienced workers who can sort like nobodies business. I rarely ship at the beginning, nor do I even think about it at the height of the bell curve (60+ hours/wk). I ship the last week. You do have to have an attitude of it doesn't matter if it gets there by Christmas and you get bonus points if people should be grateful I sent them anything at all - they all know I work in this crazy environment. All my packages arrive before the big day - with those experienced workers - with them still employed thru Christmas - with that attitude.

This doesn't include international packages - customs was blown away also with the deluge of packages going to foreign parts. They take their sweet time during this holiday.

Making a few little somethings today. Yesterday, at work, I must have looked even more deathly ill than usual. I was given the day off today so I get two days off - in a row!. Exciting, isn't it?

Here's a couple of microwave bowls that a friend requested.  I used my new Yoko Saito fabric that my dear friend in Japan sent me for Christmas (arrived Christmas Eve!) and I thought they turned out pretty useful. I don't microwave too many items other than cold coffee. Once she gives me feedback, I'll tweak the pattern.

Yoko Saito fabric

When you heat something up in the microwave, the outer container/bowl also gets hot. This is a bowl hotpad so you don't drop hot things when you take them out of the microwave.

These are two squares of fabric with batting inside. The batting is sewn down with an "X" and then darts are made at mid-point along the sides. Then the two squares are sewn together, turned and top-stitched. Just like making hot pads but with a fiddly dart to sew around. These are reversible too.

My son has been making handmade leather gifts for his friends this year. I will try to get photos. He already gave away the leather-covered journals he made. He has made one wallet so far - I think I may be able to get a photo tomorrow.

If you recall, he made a flannel quilt a few years ago and a coffee table about seven years ago. Seriously awesome creations!

I look forward to way less day job hours so I can get back to creating.Happy, Happy New Year Everyone.

20 December, 2015

Portland Timber Sewing

 Dear daughter is working in Alaska this winter. She's got a sweet deal baking at a ski resort with employee housing, discounted  yoga and skiing, sauna, & fun. Way more fun than I am having at my work.

Anyway, last winter, she was traversing Central America countries for five months (Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua). I couldn't send her anything as the mail is so unreliable to those countries. We made a video of us opening her stocking but it wasn't the same.

This year, I sewed her a 'disposable' stocking out of the Canby Herald and filled it will all the usual stocking stuffers I have FIVE days before the actual day. (Can you say scramble?)

 DD is the ONLY Portland Timbers (soccer) Fan in Anchorage and on my recent foray into Fabric Depot, I found some team fabric. I made her two cosmetic zippy bags with clear vinyl fronts for whatever.

I am actually making three sets - I have two other people who need these as well. I finished two large and one medium earlier today and I'll finish the binding on the other three (one large and two medium) on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Maybe tonight.

I had to run to the stores for the aforementioned extra stocking stuffers so maybe my scramble break will get my accurate sewing mojo back

I dislike making multiples for precisely the reasons I experienced today.
I had some bad wonder under (double sided adhesive fabric) that would not release on the second side. I had to re-cut and toss that stuff in the garbage and find my other bolt. Top-stitching problems. The machine gagging on the binding I was top-stitching which necessitated opening up the bed of the machine to unwind it  and retrieve it.

All problems associated with being tired and Christmas sewing deadlines.

I prevailed and I just need to top stitch the binding on the other two sets to make them gift-worthy.

Tomorrow is my last 12-hr workday (1 hr lunch

For these zip pouches, I hand cut (fussy cut) the logo part from the fabric, used Wonder Under to iron on the patch and then did a tight zigzag around it. My base fabric was a dark green batik that offset the neon bright yellow background of the Timber's fabric very well.

The back side is that yellow Timbers fabric and is also bonded to the dark green with Wonder Under.  --  Ha! just noticed I forgot to take a photo of the backsides. Well - no light now.

  Clear vinyl in front and zippers from my stash at the top. Then bound with grosgrain ribbon (did not like the curves) and some black 1/4" double bias tape I also had in stash (which did like the curves!)

Everything is packed into a medium flat rate box. It usually takes three days to get to where she is. Here's hoping Santa does his part.

Our Christmas traditions really start Christmas morning. I start making my Danish puff pastry and then we open our stockings while that is baking.
We all get lottery tickets to scratch off next to the fire.
Then my husband says he will take them to the store to make sure everyone got their prizes. And we all laugh, 'cuz we never see our winnings.
We enjoy our Danish Pastry topped with icing and slivered almonds.
We finish unwrapping our gifts and then it gets busy with two stops for other family celebrations.

What are your traditions or what is your favorite part?
Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

***Update - Christmas Eve. Santa delivered. You rock Santa!

08 December, 2015


Very quick sew - maybe half an hour for two pillow cases? Although I wasn't keeping track - maybe 45 minutes. I used the burrito method (google it) to make these super fast.
All edges are enclosed within french seams so no loose threads start fraying. And those dachshunds were seriously fraying.

I jetted over to Fabric Depot on Saturday because 40% off all fabrics was just too much for me to resist. I had wanted to sew some new pillowcases for my niece and thought these aqua and green dachshunds would work for her.

 It was dark already when I finished ironing these so I used my OTT light (more natural light) by my machine to take these crap photos.

They are in her care package and another gift is sewn and checked off my list.

I picked out a fabric to go with my sky diving bunnies to turn them into pillowcases,  so I am ready to not work eleven hours per day right now. Just sayin'.

06 December, 2015

Super Quick Christmas Gifts

 I have a Christmas card and FQ exchange in one of my FB sewing groups. 
The name I was given was someone I hadn't "met" via FB (yet) and it was a little difficult to 'stalk' her.
She likes purple, crochet and she's a reverend. Not much to go by.

 Yesterday, at my mid-day work break, I went to my voodoo-hippie doc and got my christmas acupuncture and then zoomed over to Fabric Depot to take advantage of their 40% off fabric sale.

I found this vivid turquoise and purple "Tree Of Life" by Timeless Treasures for my swap partner and some purple grosgrain ribbon to trim it.

I fell in love with the scissor print and put this on the inside to easily see what's stored.

 Just love this combo and might make another this afternoon after I meet a friend for lunch and bazaar. Although, I have to sew up two pillowcases for my niece for her Christmas gift. I have a care package going out tomorrow and if I could throw those inside, it would be another item checked off my list.

This was a tiny gift for my friend who loves tiny flower vases like I do. I found these at an estate sale Friday! and knew they were perfect for her. Bonus - I was meeting up with her today. I think they call this Just In Time Inventory. lol

The pieces were made in England, marked DENMARK. There was an entire set that was very tempting, but we are both older and better able to resist

She's a pocket tissue user so a little Tula Pink Rabbit made her a happy friend.

I've posted before about pocket tissue holders - they are less than five minutes to whip up - including the slow fabric selection. You can find tutorials all over.

01 December, 2015

Jewelry Roll For Traveling

 This was my bigger project on Sunday for Bag It (Elm Street Quilts).
It's ginormous.

It folds up nicely though.

I did some patchwork on the front of the linen. This is where I was bogging down earlier. The fabrics I was choosing weren't giving the effect I was after and the trouble was - I didn't know the effect I was after.

I auditioned several fabrics knowing I wanted a background where jewelry didn't get camouflaged. I wanted the outer to look like you'd want to put it in your luggage. I finally settled on linen for the outer with some scrappy patchwork dressing it  down  up 
. I wanted each zipper to be a different color for easier organizing.

Sunday - I sewed this up and discovered it has a double layer of batting which makes it even more ginormous than just the size. I don't wear chunky jewelry. I wear small stuff and when I am traveling, I am attempting to carry less.  After finishing it, and writing this blog post, this is going straight to the etsy shop as a sample sale item.

 You can see some of my extensive collection of airplane jewelry swimming in this jewelry roll.

One of my favorite pieces, a bracelet of  airplanes with tow bars pulling them.

 You can use the ties to hang it vertically from a hotel hanger to see at a glance what you remembered to bring with you on your trip.

"I flew with Cap'n Mac" ( A doctor who gives biplane rides in the summer on the West Coast)

 I haven't pressed this, nor do I care. I was done even before I put the binding on.
I used this tutorial and, if, I were to make this again, I would size it down 50%. It's finished measurement is around 21" long x 12" wide. I lost some height by thinking my vinyl was going to be too long and I wanted the symmetry (same distance) from pocket to pocket.  In other words, I had a sewing panic attack.

I like the concept of a jewelry roll but I don't need one this big. If the idea is to separate your pieces to avoid entanglements, then this was a fail. Mostly because I am not a chunky jewelry wearing person. My little pieces are lonely.

I like my fabric choices though; the pins and earrings show up well on this turquoise fabric. The linen shows up as more elegant, the patchwork brings it down to my level.

I wish I had changed threads in my machine or even hand-sewn colored lines on the outer linen. I did four quilting lines in gold and they do not show up. They would look more awesome in heavier thread  - sashiko stitching across in orange and turquoise colors.

I used some pre-made vintage binding because I was already reading the signs on the wall on this project and it's sewn nicely but not neatly.

Although, one could use this to store electronic devices and all their assorted cords....

29 November, 2015

BAG IT Vinyl Sewing and Helpful Hints

For this last week of BAG IT with Elm Street Quilts, I have had little time to sew. I did enjoy a drama-free Thanksgiving at my house and I was thankful for those relatives who understand this is now a requirement.

I tried to sew on Thanksgiving as it was a day off work but got bogged down with fabric dithering and decided to just roll with it. Today, I managed to get myself into the sewing room where fabric choices were made quickly and sewing commenced.

My big project is a jewelry bag. I still need to hand-sew the binding down.

 I needed a quick & dirty project to 'cleanse my sewing palate' and these two small earbud pouches were sewn without too much fuss. I sized up on the second one as I don't need an earbud pouch. I like Erin's Circle Pouch better. I especially like the heart variation of her small circle pouch.

In any case, a larger see-thru vinyl pouch will be sure to fit in someone's stocking.

I totally stole Janine's idea, utilizing the lace zipper in these. 

It added a bit of polish to these easy bags.

I quilted the back - the diagonal stitching looks best.

Even with my teflon foot, the foot was grabbing at the vinyl during top-stitching, causing the threads to feed oddly. See bottom row of stitching. See those gold dots at bottom? This is the gold top stitching thread being pulled to the bottom. Lessening the bobbin tension might help?

 I had some trouble stitching on this vinyl and I have a little list that could help you sew with vinyl.

1. Sew vinyl with tissue paper underneath or on top or use fabric so vinyl doesn't get stuck on your feed dogs or machine foot. The tissue tears off easily.
Try to sandwich your vinyl in fabric.

2. Use a longer stitch length. This helps when you are navigating different thicknesses in your project. The longer stitch length also keeps things from going to perforated in a heart beat - where the vinyl has so many holes - it tears away from your project.

3. If you own a teflon foot, now is the time to bring it out. It tends to slide over the vinyl rather than your usual foot which grabs.

4. If you don't own a teflon foot, use some post its stuck on your sewing surface with just the feed dogs showing. Some people have used scotch tape on both the bed and underneath side of the foot.

5. My friend who sews with Michael Curry Design (Think giant disney characters and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade)has offered up using K-Y Jelly. You smear it on the vinyl so it doesn't stick and we are officially at TMI.

6. USE A SHARP NEEDLE - A NEW ONE. Don't use a dull one.

7. I had better luck with thicker vinyl bought at fabric store. It comes in guages - I have totally forgotten which one I bought but it's on the thicker side. When I first sewed with vinyl, I  used the vinyl bag I got bed linens in and had a lot of trouble sewing with that thinner vinyl.

8. Use your walking foot to help feed evenly. I have a pfaff which uses the IDT system. It helps keep things from grabbing so much too.

9. No Pins. Anything that leaves holes in the vinyl is to  be avoided. I like to use my Clover Wonder Clips - as long as they are used inside the seam allowance.

The little bag measures 5.5" wide x 4" tall.
The larger bag measures 6.25" w x 5" tall.

26 November, 2015

Rice Crispy Treat Coma

No sewing to report. 

I got bogged down in making fabric choices.
I am still playing BAG IT with Elm Street Quilts and I am making some vinyl bags next.

I am knee-deep in 12-hr split shifts right now at work and while I had today off (Yay! for Turkey Day), I found myself indecisive about which fabrics to cut into and what I wanted this sewing to become.

We had a small gathering at my Thanksgiving table and it went very well. (No drama). Of course, we are now into a turkey coma. Well - not me, exactly. Turkey disagrees with me nowadays thanks to the soy injections so I limit myself  to one slice.   I'm really in a rice crispy treat coma. I can tolerate all the ingredients in this dessert and over indulgence happens.

I think I will put the sewing on hold until Saturday afternoon after work finishes.
I'm going to go read my book:

Cover image for The time in between
Dueñas, María

I'm grateful and thankful for:
1. I can decide whether I will sew or read my book.
2. That we have plenty of food in my nice warm house with family.
3. That I have enough fabric to cause dithering.
4. The bright, sunny day with the gorgeous full moon.
5. Flowers on my table picked (flash frozen) from my garden offerings.
6. Safe travels for family members.
7. Family members who embrace the "Just be polite" mantra and are able to move forward.
8. I can keep three silly jokes in my head at the same time.

I'll leave you with some super silly jokes my co-workers and I were telling random customers yesterday (supervisor gone all week ( she of the "NO TALKING" (wasting time))).

What do you call a turkey with no feathers?


What happens when two turkeys get into a fight?

***They kick the stuffing out of each other***

How does a turkey drink his wine?

***In a goblet***

What's a turkeys favorite dessert?

***Peach Gobbler***

And a couple my friend in Japan told me:

Why did the turkey sit on a tomahawk?
***To hatchet***

What sound does a space turkey make?

***Hubble, hubble***

I would love to hear what you are thankful for.

22 November, 2015

Retreat Bags


I cut into my cherished Echino Airplanes (Kokka).
They have been waiting to be used for several years. They were folded carefully and then tied off with twine.  Lovely to pet.

The blue jumped to be first up in making Retreat Bags. The Retreat Bag is a free pattern from Emmaline Bags. She has awesome bag bling too. The bag utilizes wire frames to keep the bag open wide

 Emmaline Bags carries those zipper ends. So much easier to use than sewing fabric tabs onto the ends. These look very polished. The airplane charm was traded for.

 Those wire frames really help to keep the bag open. I made a second one in the elephant fabric that i recently used in a boxy bag because it was out.

I made a New Year's resolution to use up fabrics once I took them out of stash. To keep sewing until it was used up. But I can't do it.

I was able to cut into my blue echino airplane but I can't cut anymore. I am overwhelmed with the need to save it and parsimoniously eke it out in various small projects to the end of time.

Similar sized bags with long zippers.

The boxy bag is  similar to a men's Dopp Bag. I really like the Retreat Bag better as it opens wide to allow you to see all the contents at once. The boxy bag can be a black hole.

Each bag has it's own version of a handle. I've added carrying handles to the Retreat bag before for my great-nieces. The Retreat Bag is easy to pick up and carry because of the wire frames.

 You can add two slip pockets. I added two in the airplane bag, one for the elephant, and none at all for the great-nieces.

You could dress it up with a zipper pocket inside and even on the outside. The bag starts out at 13 1/2" across but the available pocket room is around 6 inches (centered) x 4" deep.

For this Echino fabric - not a quilting cotton - more like a canvas - I wanted a zipper with metal teeth and I was a little frustrated that I couldn't find one in the right color. You have to understand I have at least 200+ zips in my stash. I scored a big zipper haul earlier in the summer at an estate sale. I was going to settle for an off-white one with #5 nylon teeth (big teeth) but then I found this orange which was the right orange.

There was a black zipper with humongous brass teeth that would have looked awesome but it was way too long and I would have struggled taking some of the teeth out. This one works. I can't really explain why the nylon one would not have worked  - this one worked better. The off-white was safe, the orange makes you think twice.

Thanksgiving is Thursday. I'm having 7 people here.  A bit small this year. We've never had giant gatherings - 13-15 is our average most years.

I cleaned house Saturday between work shifts so I could chisel out time to sew today.
I also wanted to make Apple Cider Caramels for my workmates and for Thanksgiving, along with Butternut Squash Soup for both dinners this week and as a starter course on Thursday.

Working 12-hour split shifts through Christmas now.

 These are all cut up and wrapped, ready to be put into containers.
I actually made two batches this morning. My first went swimmingly until I poured it out -and realized I forgot to add the butter.

These bags were made to help me out at Christmastime and for Elm Street Quilt's BAG IT series this month. Patty has coughed up a very organized month of sewing bags with accompanying tutorials and tips and the whip (prizes!) to make you sew some fun bags.
This week was non-zippered bags  - storage box bags.

I didn't need any open storage nor could I thing of someone who would so I did my own thing. Which is normal for me and entirely fine for the BAG IT series.