Monday, March 31, 2014

Project run and play week #2, season 9: Spring Break Vacation!

What do you know! It is spring break around these parts! So, what did I dream up for the PRAP Sewalong this week:  Glamping across the USA!  My dream vacation is to own or rent a trailer or RV and take several months, at least, to glamp our way around the country.  We live in an amazing country and I dream of driving down the Pacific Coast to the Redwoods, heading inland through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, crossing the desert to the Grand Canyon, and heading east to Taos, Austin, and New Orleans. From NO, we would head to the Carolina Coast to compare beaches. From there, we could spend a few days in DC seeing the Smithsonian and the sights. Then, on to Pennsylvania dutch country to see where my grandparents were born. Into upper New York state we would go to see Niagara Falls and the Adirondack mountains, and then to Montreal.  From Montreal, we would drive around the great lakes and explores some of that area before heading west again towards Washington state, where we live.  The drive from the Great Lakes to Washington will take us at least a week, if not more, so we can see all the fabulous natural and significant sights along the way. 

Glamping, to me, means camping that is a bit more glamorous than living in a tent and using a porta-potty. So, in my dream, we would have a vintage Airstream like the one my grandparents had when I was a kid!I always love that thing! It had a bed and a fold down table and it was so stylin' in it's looks. Even in the 70s, it was fab-U-lous to see. In my vision, we store cool chairs, rugs, flowers, the antenna so we can stream NPR, and everything else we need to camp in style. We would, of course, stop at lovely retro motels every few days so we could shower, swim, wash our clothes, and enjoy the amenities. 

You are thinking CRAZY!  This girl is CRAZY!! Her dream vacation is an RV trip across the USA? Yep! That is my dream trip. I looooove car trips. My parents have been taking me on long car camping trips since I was three months old. I am an excellent passenger and I love seeing the sights.  Plus, I've already been to Europe.

So, with out further adieu, here is my week #2, season #9 Spring Break Vacation sew-a-long outfit.

It started with the fabric and the idea of using my friend Amy's Brownie Goose patterns. I knew they would be perfect for summer fun.  See sidebar for link =======>

Google camping fabric and you get Moda Glamping. 


 I fell off my chair. How CUTE IS THIS!! 

So, I added Robert Kaufman Carolina Chambray, the perfect summer fabric. (learned that from Amy of BG) and a few bits of this and that and Voila!

The coat is Brownie Goose Pepper with serious modifications.  Pepper is supposed to be a dress but it can be done reversible as a coat.  I not only did it reversible, following Amy's tute, but I shortened it for summer and added a pocket and appliques. I purposely lined up the coat so it would show a bit of the Blondie tunic and I made the sleeve trim match the Blondie body so they would look CA-UTE together.  I googled "camping tent applique" and "vintage trailer applique" to get ideas and winged it (wung it?) from there.  I think they turned out super duper cute!! Since this will be a layering item, I made the size 7 and it turned out great. My E has broad shoulders so 7 fit her great.

Then, I made BG Blondie top and Darby shorts.  Since E is a size 4 wide and 7 long, this took some tinkering. I made the size 7 Blondie but I had to do some serious tailoring to get those armpits not to stick out.  My seam ripper was my BFF for this top.  The yoke also gave me fits, but that is another story. The 7 fit her great, once I got the armpits to work. (remember, she is a 4 wide) The Darby shorts are a size 4 wide but I added length to them at waist and leg. So, they turned out great! 

 Here are some details.  I have done about 2 (??) applique projects before this but I found this awesome-sauce tute from Sew Like my Mom and followed it like no tomorrow and practiced first and I think things look pretty good!   Several years ago, I bought these gigantic red buttons and hey! They look good here!  

 Here are some more photos.

Check it out at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Using canned air to clean a serger or sewing machine

Today, I am going to talk about whether you should be using canned air to clean any of your sewing machines.  This is controversial so I thought I would do some research for you so you know if it is right or wrong. I spent several hours, today, reading all manner of blogs, serger manuals, and sewing forums.

Canned air is the nickname for compressed gas duster products you can find at most office supply stores. I buy mine at Office Max, as you can see, but this is not intended as an endorsement for that store. It is located in the same parking lot as Joann Fabrics and, well, you can now understand why I shop there.

Canned air, or compressed gas duster, is not air at all.  It is a compressed fluorocarbon gas that is recommended to clean hard to reach places that cannot get wet, such as some vents on computers.  The can contains a fluorocarbon gas compressed into a liquid for storage. When you spray it, it comes out as gas and blows particulates, like dust, off of or out of what you are cleaning.

 [Warnings: Do not ever breathe it in, because it is not air and it is toxic. Do not put the can around children or pets. Do not shake the can. Do not use it past when it gets cold. A few seconds, at most, is all it is meant to be used. ]

Now some people say these cans are okay to use to clean sergers or sewing machines. My own Janome dealer said I could use it to clean my serger only but not my sewing machine.  And here is why: compressed gas dusters, or canned air, blow too hard for delicate machinery. Your sewing machine is too delicate for canned air.  Your serger might be too delicate or it might be a hardy soul, like my Janome.  If your serger does not open up on both sides, you could blow the dust and lint further up into your machine. If you use it on your sewing machine, you risk the same thing, that the lint and dust will blow up inside the machine and cause problems.

But my Janome 1110DX serger opens up on both side. As you can see in this picture below, I open up the side AND the front to clean it. And I angle the can so the air is blowing out the side. I do the same with the side, angle it so the can is blowing out the front. I am not blowing the compressed gas up into the machine. And I am keeping the compressed gas duster far enough away from the machine that it is not doing damage.

That is how you can successfully clean your serger using compressed gas duster or canned air. GENTLY.  If you read around the internet, which I did today, this is the concern with the canned air, that you will not be gentle enough and do damage to your machine. So, there, now you know how you can use canned air successfully!

So, in case you are interested, here is how I clean my machine between projects.

First I open it up and blow.

Then, I take my vacuum hose and vacuum in and around. You should see the mess I've blown out! Some people buy a small vacuum just for this purpose that is more gentle than your household vacuum. In that case, you might be able to get closer to your machinery than I do.


 Now, even after all that, there is still lint. Look!  Oops! I forgot to remove the thread! You should do that first! And remove your needles and needle plate, if you want to do a really thorough cleaning. I am just doing a quickie so I left those in this time.

Third step is taking the little brush and very carefully removing all the lint I can find.

Be sure to put the knife down so you can clean the wads of lint behind it!  Wow, there was a lot in there.

Now, I follow my owner's manual's instructions to oil my machine. I use Singer brand oil made especially for sewing machines. That is not an endorsement but please use sewing machine oil, not cooking oil.   

You should be oiling your machine once a week if you use it often! That is what my manual says!

My final step is to take the anti-static wipes meant for computer monitors and give the flat parts a good wiping down. I use anti-static wipes because I do not want to add static electricity while wiping, which you might do if you use regular wipes. Also, computer wipes are much drier than other wipes so I know I will not be adding unnecessary moisture to my machines.

There! Now my serger is all clean and ready for Project Run and Play part 2!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birthday girl sewing

 Today marks 11 years since I became a mother. This is a special day for any mother, but when you struggled with infertility and thyroid issues and almost got to the point of accepting you would always be childless, to celebrate your child's birthday is extra special.  Today, P is 11 years old!!  She came into the world two weeks early because my water level was very low. Due to a very stressful pregnancy, and many scares, she was very small at birth, only 5th percentile for weight and height. So teeny. But, by the time she was two, she had hit her stride and has comfortably remained in the 50th-75th percentiles ever since.  She is a lovely, sensitive, sweet girl, a tad shy, artistic and kind.  She brings us all great joy.  Happy Birthday to my beloved girl.

In honor of this day, I thought I would share with you some of the sewing I have done for her over the years.  I know that sew a lot more for E, because she loves my creations more, but there are still some great things I've made for P.  

Click on each picture to visit that blog post!

I've been sewing since I was a little girl but only sporadically. I didn't start taking it seriously until P was in kindergarten, when I made her this cute dress!  It didn't fit her well that year so here she is in first grade, finally fitting into it! 

 One of my first attempts with knits!

2010 (first grade) also saw handmade halloween costumes. Both girls wanted to be witches and designed their own costumes for me to sew.

This dress was our first attempt at working together to design something she might like to wear.
Summer tank dresses!
 This was our first sewing disaster.  It was supposed to be an Ottobre hoodie but, as you can tell by the face, she did not like it at all. Didn't like the fabric, the hood was not comfy, it was just a big no.

Our second attempt at designing together! She drew the dress and we worked together to find a pattern and fabric

 Mary's Fancy Sash dress for a fancy girl.

And a recent picture in one of the many Jocole knit tops I have made her.  She doesn't like to have her pictures taken as often anymore but she is still letting me sew for her.  Phew. I hope she lets me sew for her forever. 

I love you P!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Project Run and Play Sewalong Season 9, week 1 - Put me in the zoo

It's Project Run and Play Season 9, week 1 and the theme is "Put me in the zoo!"  Elizabeth and Liz, over at PRAP, gave us this challenge - Week #1---"Put Me in the Zoo" Challenge.  Take inspiration from your favorite (or your child's favorite animal) and design and construct an outfit.  Remember to make it "inspired by" and not a literal costume.

My favorite animal at the zoo near us, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, is the red panda. I like them for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is always quiet near their habitat so we can linger as long as we like. For some reason, they don't attract the big crowds. I also love that they are always up in the trees. My daughter, Eliza, is a climber and I was a climber as a child so I can relate to these little guys. It's pretty cool up in those trees! There is food, you are safe, there is a good view.  And they are so stinkin' cute!  Panda is Nepalese for "small, cat-like animal," which fits them perfectly. They are as cute, if not cuter, than any cat I have seen. And I love cats!

When I looked at that little face above, on the Animal Facts website, I immediately ( I mean like lightning bolt fast IMMEDIATELY) saw what I was going to make inspired by this animal - a Millie Rose Flutter dress.  And can you see why? The red panda's ears look just like flutter sleeves, the facial fur and muzzle looks like a bib, the cute eyes and nose are like buttons. The skirt tiers mimic the shades in the body and the sash ties are the tail.  PERFECT!  I just knew it. And, I had just seen two fabric lines at my local quilt shop that I knew were the perfect colors: Downton Abbey by Andover and Chateaux Rouge by French General. 

I used Microsoft Word and Preview to plan the project out.

And it turned out just as I had pictured!


You can check out the linky party over at Project Run and Play and see all the other Zoo outfits!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Leibster Award: Thank you for including me!

The lovely Ren over at The Inspired Wren just nominated me for the Leibster Award! Thanks so much Ren.  But what is the Leibster Award? Well, after much googling, I have discovered it is an award of unknown origin that gets handed out to and from relatively new bloggers. Leibster is german, loosely translating to sweetest, kindest, dearest, or valued. So, it is an honor you pass between newish bloggers as a means of telling them you like their blog!  Thanks Ren. That is so kind of you to include me in your list!

There seem to be a variety of rules but here are the rules I have chosen to follow:

Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.  
Link back to the blogger who awarded you.    
Copy & Paste the award to your blog.
Answer the questions I was asked.
Create a new list of questions for my nominees.
Nominate 3-5 blogs to receive the award who have less than 3000 followers. 
Inform them of their nomination by leaving comment on their blog. 

 Ren left me this list of questions:

How frequently do you post on your blog and do you maintain a posting schedule?

I have been blogging for years but lately am committing to posting at least every other day.  My girls keep me busy so I hope that every other day commitment will be enough time to run a busy blog that gets lots of attention and allows me time to help them edit slide shows, like "The adventures pink fuzzy bunny." two outtakes of which you can see here.

Do you have a favorite dessert?

I love cake! Particularly chocolate cake with chocolate ganache or salted caramel cake.  Here is my birthday cake from last week.  It was chocolate with ganache inside and chocolate buttercream frosting with more ganache on top.

If you had to choose just one go-to source for fabric, what would it be?

I would choose one of the local quilt shops, Fourth Corner Quilts, because the ladies are very nice to talk to, they deal in Janome machines  (I bought mine from them), the store is very pleasant and comfortable, I enjoy petting the dog when I visit and especially enjoy all the lovely fabric. My favorite is the Kaffe Fasset section! I love to see all the fabric colors and styles in real life, so if I could only have one source, it would be local, not online.

Here's what it looks like when you walk in the door. Gracie says "hello!"

What was/is your favorite creative project of all time (even if it pre-dates your blog)?

My first Ottobre creation, from back in November 2009, is still my favorite thing I have ever made.  After working with the big four paper patterns for so many years, it was a thrill to make a pattern from an European pattern magazine. And it turned out darn cute, started my love of Robert Kaufman's Cool Cords, and I still own it.  I even "loaned" it to my niece for a while but asked for it back! LOL Now it is in my special things drawer.

What is the proudest moment of your life so far?
Oh I don't think I could name one.  I never done one amazing thing that completely outweighs all the others.  If I have to pick one, then see that little girl in the cord dress? I birthed her without any drugs and with a midwife. At age 41. I never imagined that would ever happen, ever. It was amazing.

List five random facts about yourself.

 1.  I don't "believe" in astrology but if you look up the characteristics of a pisces, it will fit me to a tee.  I am compassionate, loyal, prone to self-pity and laziness, imaginative, sensitive, and loyal. And I have an extremely difficult time making decisions. In water or out? I can't make up my mind!

2.  I hate to eat shellfish or anything that once lived near shore. 

3.  I lived in Panama as a kid and am not afraid of bugs.  Except crane flies which don't scare me but bug me so much I will require someone to get rid of it for me. 

4. I hate to cook. I am not good a cooking. I will cook, if pressed, but it will not be the best meal. 

5.  I used to play tennis, in high school. Varsity. I have not played tennis at all, not even once, since high school. It just upset my elbow too much and I gave it up.  

Okay, here are my three nominees!

And here are your questions!
1. What is your least favorite thing about sewing and why?
2. What is hard for you to sew and what is easy?
3. What is your favorite thing to do that is not crafting/sewing?
4. Would you rather have an assistant to help you or more time to do your crafting? More time as in if you could magically give yourself more time. Which one and why?
5. Where do you see your sewing in ten years?
6. Name five random and interesting facts about you!