Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Adventures of the Summer of '16



The summer of 2016 has been an unusually eventful and exciting time prompting a step out of my blogging hiatus to share thoughts and pictures.

Home of the Giant Panda
Through a perfect storm of circumstances D and I (me as staff, D using up vacation he would lose) volunteered to lead a group to Chengdu, China in May.

China was not on our bucket list but what an experience!  Because of D and another professor in our group our work was educational. We met with teachers in 4 Elementary schools and 2 Universities plus participated in an English Corner student group and a Community Center parent's group.


At the Great Wall
We spent eight days meeting and sharing with so many wonderful Chinese nationals.  They opened our eyes and hearts to a different culture with shared similarities in smiles and hugs that easily crossed the language barrier.

Before we flew home we stopped in Beijing to visit the Great Wall, Palace of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City.

We traveled over the international date line.  A tip about sleeping pills was a lifesaver in China.  Coming home, we struggled with getting our body clocks back on Texas time.  This experience has given us a taste for more international travel but anyone with tips for jet lag PLEASE share!

UT Austin Graduate!
L. graduated from UT Austin in December, 2015 with a double major, Computational Chemistry and Computer Science.  He considered job offers in the computer industry (the lure of $$) but his ambition, since 5th grade, has been to earn his Ph.D.  With acceptance into the Chemistry Graduate program at Rice University in Houston L. moved while we were in China.

Although we were with Logan when he found his apartment earlier in May we made a beeline to Houston the week after we returned to see his new apartment and visit the lab where he will be working.

We wrapped up our summer of 2016 with a 10 day vacation!

My Dad, in 1989, planned a 3 day family reunion that included 3 branches of family.  His intention was for us meet every 4 years.  Summer of 2016 was our 8th gathering of the Fred & Mary Cruckson clans.

Rockin' 55
We began our trip with a stop in Oklahoma to spend 3 fun days with D's family. Being as we are both celebrating our 'double nickel' birthday and no longer embrace the 24 hour driving odyssey we opted to take 2 days to drive to Wisconsin.
Sister, Niece, Grand-Niece

My immediate family of 23 joined with 117 other family members at a Northern woods campground to enjoy 3 days of community meals, horseshoe and volleyball tournaments, an auction, nightly games, talent show and memorial service.

We are back home in the Texas Panhandle.  Both our jobs are involved with prepping for the coming school year and we are busy gearing up.

As the summer of 2016 was so full of unusual adventure it merited chronicling, thanks for reading!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Going Over-the-Moon and Passing It On

I like Show-N-Tell.  I like sharing things I've made as well as see and hear about crafts others have done.

I'm thrilled to find an instant friend in someone who shares my hobby and enjoys talking about it as much as I do.

I was over-the-moon! when L. came home for Christmas break and wanted me to help him make a blanket to give as a gift.  I have made other items for L. to give as gifts yet he was very adamant about doing as much of the sewing on this project as he could.



We are a crafty family and have shared in multiple projects.

L. picked out the fabric and disassembled the chair for re-upholstery.  

D. and I helped L. make a carrying case for his Dominion card game.
 

He had no particular design in mind for the blanket other than it should have some University of Texas elements.  We set off to scour the stores for ideas.

L. is open to the recycle/reuse ideal so we started at Savers.  We worked through the store as I explained what I generally look for and what items are easily refashioned.

At first glance there was nothing that sparked our interest...until we dug a little deeper.  In the blanket bin we discovered this wonderful, chevron patterned throw in UT colors made out of the ultra soft Minky fabric.


 L. wanted the finished blanket to be larger than the 4 x 6 of the throw.  A design began to take shape as we discussed our options and headed for the fabric store.

 L. was true to his word and diligent in his efforts to do a major part of the sewing.

He took time to practice with scrape material, quickly got the hang of the machine and moved on.


The final design was to border the throw in white Minky with stitched wording on the panels.

An outline of the Longhorn was added to the corners of the throw for continuity.

L. finished the blanket with an embroidered personal message at the bottom.

We were both very pleased with the final product.

Longhorns
2015
Longhorns
University of Texas at Austin

Friday, November 7, 2014

What to wear, what to wear...

There is an endless stream of fun, easy and creative refashion projects on the internet.  Often of an evening while my sweetheart and I comfortably watch television in our Barcaloungers I'll serf the web and collect new ideas to try between quilts.

I finished the Cat quilt this past weekend. This cute top idea slipped in before I begin cutting panels for a Rugrats quilt.

The refashion is a man's dress shirt paired with a  t-shirt.  I bought the red t-shirt at a second-hand store because I liked the lace insets on the sleeves.


The blue dress shirt was an old one of D's.  It had to be taken in quite a bit as it was a man's extra-large.  I also added the decorative strip which has red and blue stars to dress it up a bit.
More practice in the 'fitting' process will help plus a better quality t-shirt would look and work better. I like the design and look of this refashion and will keep my eyes open for better dress/t-shirt combinations. What do you think?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Summer Show-N-Tell Sewing Projects

Not having posted since last May there is plenty to Show-n-Tell from the sewing room. The Cat quilt, the final version of the animal, children's quilt is cut out and half way through construction.  Instead of straight line quilting as was done on the Dog and Bear I am quilting the silhouette of cats on each piece.




At the beginning of the summer I wanted to try spelling words with quilting stitches.  Remaining, various colored t-shirts of L's and remnants of the first UT quilt resulted in a second, more casual, UT quilt.



L. had this really neat hand-painted t-shirt of the Texas capitol and Austin skyline he bought Freshman year.  It was so unique I decided to make a pillow sham and try my hand at adding a zipper.  I really like how it turned out and the zipper allows for ease of care and washing.

The work on the Cat is continuous but it is put aside when the urge to start and complete a project in a day takes over.

I am a big fan of the twirly skirt fashioned onto a t-shirt.  There is still a lot of fabric that I was given and this is such a fun and colorful way to use it.  These finish up in a day.



This cute shorts pattern uses
the remnant bottom of t-shirts.  I had plenty of shirt bottoms so I had to give these shorts a try.




I pulled out a bedspread from storage along with decorative pillows.  The pillows needed a face lift and I found this pillow sham idea. This refashion uses old dress shirts.  

To put some color on this mono dress shirt I made an Exploding Pineapple quilt square to put on the front.



  The finished front....                                                                                         ...and the finished back.
From my sewing room to yours, keep the needles moving my friends.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sewing Gifts for Mom & Me

Re-do ripped out and
 on the dress form.
The clothing refashions coming out of the sewing room have been more 'minor adjustments' than refashions.  Admittedly, I'm timid about ripping out, cutting off then expecting I can get it back together in any kind of shape I would actually wear.
Color me timid no more!

This post features the making of my body form; constructed out of duct tape. It was a project specifically to move toward refashioning a dress that was too full in the skirt and too long.  Not necessarily complicated changes except I wanted to make the adjustments without taking any part of the zipper off the back (that would be complicated).

After finishing the Dog quilt I resolved my next project would be the dress. The refashion didn't take more than a weekend but there was MUCH seam ripping and plenty of measure, try on, measure again.



Before
After
I am very pleased, and not a little surprised, at how well it turned out.  My courage has been bolstered and another dress refashion selected.  It is a dress of the same style so I'll let out the pleats and see if I can't gather it for a swirly, twirly look plus bring the hem to knee length.

This dress was no sooner pressed than another refashion item was under the rotary blade...


My wonderful mom liked the smallish cosmetic case made out of left over quilted squares and remarked that she could use it to hold her pencils in the car.  Knowing she would appreciate a car tote a knit vest came to mind that caught my eye when I bought a jacket last week, the one that was supposed to become a larger barrel bag (but it fit great so I wore it to work instead).

This vest became a perfect tote for holding puzzle books, a Kindle, notebook and pencils.

The sides were cut down and put together allowing for markers on both sides of the bag then a handle was made out of the colored lines that were cut away.

I added two pockets for a cell phone and pencils.  A previously ordered tension frame was installed for closure.



I need to get this in the mail (I'm already tardy) but Mom is visiting two of my sisters and it should arrive before she makes it home.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!




Saturday, May 3, 2014

Woof, Grrr, Meow

July of last year I purchased a child's rag quilt pattern that has a bear, dog and cat.  They all look the same except for the ears.  Last July I made the bear and this week I finished the dog.

Last month my darling D. caught a hot deal on Amazon and bought me a Brother sewing machine with 99 different stitches.  I knew immediately that the dog quilt would be a perfect project for trying out many of those stitches and helping me learn my new machine.


The cat will eventually be made; this pattern is too cute and too easy not to do them all.



As with most projects I had to re-cut two 'squares' leaving two odd pieces that I quickly found a use for.  

This barrel bag was listing as a cosmetic bag.  It seemed small but the right size to use these defunct, quilted pieces.  My intention was to recycle a red sweater with a super zipper but my initial cuttings were off (measure twice cut once...eek!) and that idea got tossed.

This alternate refashion had to include a lesson for installing a zipper.  Not a difficult task but one that does take a bit of finesse.  I'm happy with how the overall bag turned out, D. thought it was a sufficient size for cosmetics, but it is small.  

A trip to Goodwill today garnered a lined jacket of a lovely color and fabric with a double zipper that will become a larger barrel bag after a quick enlargement of the current pattern.

(I put the jacket, marked size S, on my form to take this picture and thought, 'this fits my dummy, it should fit me'.  Currently rethinking the use of this jacket.)

The summer is looking good on all fronts with a line up of a number of refashion ideas...sew on my friends.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

In My Sewing Room and We're Talking Bags

After the dress dummy I fell into the world of 'bags', grocery and hand to be exact.  In the midst of sewing my timing gears wore out and the machine was in the shop for a week.  In a previous post I shared I got my first Singer in 1980.  There was a flurry of initial sewing but then only minimal action for about 31 years.  Since 2011 I've worn out the timing gears twice with A LOT of sewing but also, more likely, yanking heavier materials than is wise between the feed dogs and needle.

Yet, I have not been deterred but more surprisingly rewarded!  My attentive husband, D.; patiently watching me spin and thread, cut and construct, curse and kick spied a Brother Laura Ashley CX155A sewing machine on Amazon's Daily Hot Deals.  Their selling point, "goes through 5 layers of material" caught his eye, the selling point to me "99 decorative programmable stitches"!

I am eager to start the Dog rag quilt but I needed to finish up the bag projects which today, are complete.

The reversible grocery bags from a t-shirt and fabric were a breeze and very useful.





A regional sweatshirt was headed to a pillow case but turned into a tote instead.
The initial large bottom seemed plain and uninspired (not to mention the pockets inside were wrong).  A revamp fixed the pockets, rounded up the bottom and became a test for 2 of the 99 stitches.  The craftsmanship is clearly first-round but a lot was learned in the process.



This smaller purse received the bonus of lessons learned.  From a sweater to a handbag
I love how this purse turned out.  Handbags are a project that will definitely be revisited.

 
The sewing room has been cleaned and restocked, fabric picked out and pattern prepared.

Let the quilting begin.