Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sewing Presents for Christmas 2013

Fraternity T-shirt Back
Fraternity T-shirt Front
On the previous post which highlighted the college t-shirt quilt I hinted at a creative use for additional
t-shirts.  Online there is no difficulty finding many neat ideas for reusing favorite t-shirts but I've never before seen pillowcases.

I work for the Student Ministry at a local church and t-shirts are ordered for multiple events every year.  By Christmas there remains a large selection of leftovers.

Graphic T's Front
Graphic T's Back

After seeing my previous t-shirt quilts one of our youth interns was interested in having a quilt made out of his many graphic t's.  We struck a deal in which he cut the squares and provided the backing and I constructed the quilt.

With t-shirts on my mind and so many at my disposal I wanted to make a quick gift for all the interns.  In retrospect I did make a t-shirt pillow case many years ago with some left over Christmas fabric and a white t-shirt.  The idea popped up again and with a dip into the many wonderful remnants I am still working through I went to work.

Front/Back with added fabric
top and bottom.
For the youth staff I sewed a pair of pillow cases out of 4 different shirts.  I did a slightly different style on each but on every pair I added stability by lining the inside of the opening with the coordinating fabric.

Decorative stripe with inside lining.
With this style the neck was retained filling in with fabric from the sleeve. The shirt was a large which was wide enough to reach the standard pillow case size without extra fabric therefore coordinating fabric was used to decorate the outside of the pillow case as well as inside the opening.

An extra large shirt was too big for a standard sized pillow case.  On this design I cut more fabric off the sides and made the pillow case to size with the coordinating fabric.  This design also retained the neck.

The neck was retained and filled in with fabric from the sleeve.

The quilt I'd made for our intern had enough remnants to create matching pillow cases out of yet another shirt.

I expect these pillow cases will be used at times when a pillow may get thrown around on the vehicle floor, into a tent or out by the fire.

 Situations where you don't want to mess up a "good" pillow case, which makes them perfect for anybody on a road trip, school trip, family trip or at scout camp, summer camp, church camp or on any kind of overnight adventure.

If you make a pillowcase I would love to see it, please post a link in your comments.

Happy Holidays, Happy Sewing!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Out of Sync Birthdays

L. turns 21 today.  December 7th, within the UT college calendar falls at the beginning of semester finals.  This is L's third year at UT, so as in the two years past we planned to celebrate over Thanksgiving break.

We drove down to Austin to pick him up but he was booked to fly back the following Sunday.  This required taking his gifts with us as there were some big boxes and all needed to end up in Austin.

Circumstances such as these puts a birthday out of sync.  Instead of being a problem I see these as opportunities to make a week, or month, celebration instead of only one day.  On November 27 we celebrated in his dorm room as he opened gifts.  On November 29 we celebrated with cake and candles at home.  Today he is back in Austin celebrating with friends and I get to cyber-shout out, one more time.

One of the large gifts was a UT
 t-shirt quilt.  It is the first full size quilt I have 'quilted' on my home machine.  The backing is that ultra-soft minky material and although it shifted slightly the adhesive spray recommended to aid in the quilting process worked great.

Quilting a full size takes patience and practice.  The process and result went so well I've decided to make baby size quilts to practice and improve my patience and machine quilting skills on.

L. was thrilled with the new college quilt, which takes the place of his high school quilt.  There were many other shirts that didn't make the cut for this gift.  Watch for a future post on the creative end found for those

Here on Pearl Harbor day we wish L. a Happy, Happy 21st Birthday!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quilt Number ??

Three years in and I am losing count on how many quilts have been completed.  It would seem safe to say I found a hobby and the counting can cease.

There is never a lack of ideas or patterns to choose from when, along with the rest of the techno-savvy public, web surfing has become a frequent past time.

In the process of getting Logan settled for his junior year at UT he gleaned through his closet and we ended up with a stack of jeans he could no longer wear.  Initially they were headed for Goodwill until I tripped over a Denim Circle Quilt that mimics the Cathedral Window pattern.  Now with plenty of denim conveniently in stock I had my next project.

The prints are from the fabulous stash R. gave me months ago.

Something to mention at the beginning of a denim project; denim is HEAVY and can be difficult manipulating through the sewing machine. That said, although I love the end product here, it is 'regular' bed size.  I prefer queen size but I was at my limit for wrestling this cover through all the top-stitching.

The bobbin thread was cranberry to match a color on the front and to highlight the top stitching (unable to see here on the back) but it added a nice touch and has me feeling confident enough to try machine quilting on my next project.

Because of the smaller size and the lovely stash of coordinating print fabric I added a 3 inch frame with denim binding. 

My continuous sewing has brought gifts of supplies from fellow sewers downsizing.  I've received several bags of batting which has the ideas churning on how to use them.  If the machine quilting goes well perhaps I can use the batting for baby quilts to test new block patterns and practice machine quilting techniques. 

Hobby indeed!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013 Fall Back

It has been since the Bear Quilt that anything new has come out of the sewing room.  The machines have not been silent just busy refashioning tops.

In 2010, with the implementation of a wellness program at D.s company, we went on 20 weeks of Weight Watchers with great success.  A total loss of 40 pounds changed my wardrobe over and the 'big' clothes were packed away.
There are a couple schools of thought on retaining 'big' clothes.  A frequent comment was, "You should get rid of those sizes so you don't have them to get back into."  That is an understandable idea but I have some very nice pieces and am realistic enough to know that those boxes may need to be revisited.

Three years down the road and indeed, those boxes came out of storage.  I have regained 20 of those pounds and some of the stored tops refashioned, are a sensible, economical choice.

Don't be discouraged for me, I am back at Weight Watchers for a refresher and expect to unpack the smaller tops that, for the moment, have been stored away.

This pillow has been at the back of my mind since I finished the Raw Edged quilt.  A round pillow was my initial concept but it didn't have the bright blue fabric that popped on the quilt so my intention was always to make another round or square.

My friend S. over at Thoughts From Mill Street sent me the Exploding Pineapple pattern some time ago.  I decided to give it a try and in an afternoon this came together using a small pillow form.  I believe this is a much better compliment to the quilt.

L. is back at UT for his junior year and that seems to be the motivation for getting the sewing room up to full speed.  Already in mind for the holidays; I like to cover the couch pillows in decorative fabric and there is a 'hidden zipper' tutorial to try with the fall material.  As well, Elysium has a wonderful, free Good Deeds dress pattern for small girls I want to get started on.

With Fall at our doorstep what is on your mind?

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Empty Nest Year 3: Getting the Hang of It

L.'s third year at UT began with move-in weekend over the 24th.  Our experience with this has been different every year.

The first year we paid extra and moved in the night before the rush.  The second year L. drove down with out us and moved himself in.  This year his 'stuff' was stored miles from campus and he was moving into a new high rise.

I failed to mention he was on campus the whole summer for classes and a lab internship so the answer to the question, "Are you headed for Austin?" was "You bet!"

800 students were moving into one building on Saturday.  It was controlled chaos, well done, but chaos none-the-less.  We were in the unloading zone at our appointed hour, braved the waves of back-to-school shoppers at Target and Walmart and had L. set up and settled by the end of a long day.

Dorm living has changed.  The past two years L. was in a private dorm that looked exactly like a dorm room. This new set up is more like an apartment. The only thing lacking is a cook top and oven.

A kitchen/living room area shared by two bedrooms that hold two students each with a double sink, shower and stool.

Every visit is celebrated with good food and venues that are pure Austin; high energy, unique and Austin Weird.  You gotta love it.  L. does and so do we but it doesn't make saying good-bye any easier.  This third year is set to be full and exciting and speeding him towards plans post-graduation.  Where does the time go??

D. and I are as settled into our empty nest as L. is into Austin.  We are finding our way with new interests and looking toward our future. The journey, to date, has not always been easy but we have each experienced positive, personal and family growth.

And so we say, "Cheers!" to all new and returning students and the adults that make the college experience possible.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hook 'Em

 Since L. left for college at the University of Texas at Austin I have been an avid UT representative.  When you are connected to a group through regular, large sums of money it seems only wise to support that group wholeheartedly.

This being said, anything with a Longhorn or that is burnt orange I proudly display.  I have the mom sticker on my car, numerous burnt orange t-shirts and lounge wear plus my office is decorated in UT wall art, I use UT pencils, Kleenex and a mouse pad.

It should come as no surprise my support will show up in my sewing.  In the Bear quilt post I mentioned trying my hand at paper piecing.  It didn't take long, combing the internet for free patterns, until this Longhorn pattern showed up and became my first attempt.  This is a 5 inch square and really too intricate for a first try but I wasn't daunted.  It took several ripped seams to get the idea and make a good run at the technique.

A good first try.

Much like paint by number with fabric.

I was happy with the end result but wanted to try this same pattern on a larger block.  Another internet search found how to enlarge a square and I turned the 5 inch into a 10 inch.

Each effort highlights sections to practice and I've exhausted the Longhorn for paper piecing but have another square to try already in mind.  The individual piecing doesn't take a lot of time, putting the combined pieces back together and getting a 'squared' square was my biggest challenge.  Something to continue working on.  What have you been doing this summer?

This Longhorn pillow has a place in the re-upholstered chair.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Was Thinking of You....

Working with fabric is a panacea for me.  Handling fabric through cutting and sewing is an activity that puts me in a place where the cares of the day fall away.

D. bought me my first sewing machine early in our marriage because I wanted to try my hand at making clothes.  I took a couple of sewing classes and although I could follow the patterns accurately I don't possess that spark of craftsmanship that keeps a garment from looking....well, homemade.

I tend towards projects that allow me the pleasure of creating, doesn't require a fitting and is forgiving with mistakes.  Quilts are particularly satisfying because the outcome always looks good.

After my sad attempt at clothes the machine didn't come out of the closet too often.  When it did, even when L. was young and in the smallest of apartments, I would piece a quilt.

L. leaving for college, my sister sending me her serger, a room available to pull everything out and leave it out and a friend supplying wonderful fabrics has sent me into sewing overdrive.

The informational treasure trove available on the Web has provided most of the inspiration.  A variety of quilts led to little
dresses and then back to this adorable quilt.  The pattern, (the cat and dog will eventually be made), was discovered on a Pinterest page.  Heading over to Simplicity I discovered it was out of print (no longer available in stores) but could be ordered online.

In the midst of putting this charming bear together my next project was discovered. Paper Piecing, a method for making intricate patterns on quilt squares.  It explains and offers an easier method for creative piecing that strikes a cord in the pseudo-craftsman that lives within me.

What to put this interesting quilt square on?  Back to the Net to surf sewing websites I stumble across a 'Bag Swap'.  A wonderful world of various homemade shopping bags and many had incorporated a block that was paper pieced.  A perfect next project.

Having been asked more than once, "What are you doing with all these things,"  had me thinking, 'what am I going to do with all this stuff?'

Initially, they were for L. or my own use.  The kids clothes had no particular purpose other than my desire to try my hand at the patterns and I would teasingly say they were for my grandchildren (no pressure L.!)  D. came up with the best answer and I now say, "These things are going into my Grandmother's Hope Chest." This gives my sewing a purpose and encourages me towards better craftsmanship.

While sewing I imagined snuggling my grandchild in my arms, wrapped in this bear and what I will tell about making it for them at a time when they weren't even a twinkle in their Daddy's eye.

I will say, "While I was sewing this bear, way back then, I was thinking of you."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Done and Done


We began dis-assembling this chair for re-covering during Christmas break.  L. was home and helped me re-do the springs in the seat and also picked out the fabric, accurately doing the math to be sure I had enough to finish the job.

Getting started post here and completed post here.

Like most projects once the largest portion was done there was less impetus, and desire, to tear into the ottoman.

The niggling thoughts of a project undone finally kicked me into gear.  It was a pleasant surprise when the ottoman progressed faster and smoother, due in large part to the learning curve achieved through the chair.

Unfortunately I didn't enjoy the process as much as other sewing projects so unless there is another piece that really catches my attention I'm not going to seek out any more reupholstering projects.

Clearly, there is a white tag that needs to be removed from under the ottoman.

Refashioning has grabbed my attention and there are several tops on the sewing board to learn how to refit and redesign.  That project is only to fill the time until the 'out of print' pattern arrives that I ordered, just today, from Simplicity with the cutest rag quilt.

Pics to follow!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Swan Song

The definition of Swan Song is a person giving a final public performance or professional activity before retiring.  Following is the Swan Song for this version of Live & Learn with Sally.

My first post was published at the end of January, 2009 because of a suggestion from D.   He thought I might enjoy the process of blogging.  I was vaguely aware of blogs but had no particular interest until he made mention of it.  I was intrigued that D. thought this was something I would enjoy . . . and he was right.

Through research, trial and error I stumbled into, and became a participant, in the enormous, online world of bloggers.  What an incredible opportunity to satisfy my writer's bug, put my words in front of a wide audience and make new friends.

Blogs are a treasure trove of information giving evidence to the myriad of reasons someone might want to blog.  An early, important rule of blogging is; a wide readership requires posting regularly and often.

The focus of my blog has changed and evolved but it has always been, and will continue to be, a creative outlet.  Posts will be less regular and contingent on what my other creative outlets are producing.  Topics will be more personal journal and less an attempt at growing a diverse readership.

Thank you so much to the readers that have subscribed or visited weekly to read my words.  It is your attention that drives every writer.

Thank you to the friends I have made in the blogging world.  Your commenting was much appreciated.  I will continue to stop and visit at your place.

To all those who have passed my way, thank you for joining me on a great, personal, writing experiment.  It has been fun and much enjoyed.


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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Current State of Affairs

In the weekly rumination of "what will I blog" the topics were varied and many, requiring a post on the current State of Affairs as seen from my arm chair in West Texas.

Memorial Day Weekend.  One weekend a year to thank those who sacrifice their lives for our freedom seems weak and yet under the blanket of minimum government funds our citizenry demonstrates their gratitude by stepping forward.  This is just a chip on the iceberg of the organizations that offer help to our returning soldiers and their families:

Oklahoma Tornado.  Crisis enmasse seems to be happening at a fast pace; Sandy Hook,
Boston bombings and most recently the destruction resulting from the EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.  The huge bureaucracy that is our government moves slowly but surely yet once again our citizenry steps in to fill the gaps.

National groups include:;;
Non-profit organizations include:
 Baptist On Mission Disaster Relief; Missouri based Convoy of Hope; Santa Barbara based Direct Relief; United Methodist Committee on Relief;
 Jewish Federations of North America

It is difficult not to feel pride when we read how often the common people step up and help their neighbor, reach out to offer assistance and take the time to care.  

West Texas remains in drought conditions with no expected change this season.  Water in our area is becoming a limited, expensive commodity. 

We worked through the mysterious illness that affected us all with one trip to the doctor, OTC meds and many hours on the couch.

We've enjoyed two weeks with L. home before he returns to Austin for a summer of class work, lab research and tutoring.  This leaves D. and I to entertain ourselves with summer plans currently limited to a 4th of July visit with D.s family and an August visit with my folks.  

With the summer stretching in front of me I predict a Summer Sewing Extravaganza.

Three dresses are already on the cutting board. Our list of minor home repairs will get some attention and I leave the possibility open to the unexpected, unanticipated adventure.

What is the current State of Affairs looking like from your arm chair?  

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Transitions: plus black mold, cedar fever, or D. turning the air conditioner too damn low!

Last weekend was spent in Austin moving L. out of the dorm and into a storage unit.  Last year, under some misconceived illusion that a dorm room does not hold much, our moving technique was clumsy at best.

This year we went prepared, like the moving/packing pros we are; boxes pre-collected, packing tape with dispenser, plastic packing wrap (on a roll, available at Wal-mart, never move without it!), large garbage bags, 3 Marks-A-Lot.

A rented U-haul pick-up truck, Extra Closet sized storage unit, one hour in traffic getting back (caught in graduation traffic), two and 1/2 hours packing/loading, 1/2 hour unloading and the deed was done.

L. is home for two, measly weeks then returning to Austin for lab work and to take advantage of the summer course of Inorganic Chemistry.  We met H., who he will be sub-leasing an apartment with, and M., a lovely, young woman L. met in April.  Sophomore year is in the books.

We stayed cheaply (rooms were difficult to come by) but to our good fortune the room had a new heating/cooling unit. This is very important as D. requires the room to be cool/cold and the standard motel room unit rarely has the umph to reach his optimum temperature.  This particular unit blew arctic cold and D. took full advantage.  I share this because come Monday morning we were all sick.

Not just an occasional cough or sniffle sick but a full on; sore throat, hacking cough, sinus headache, chills, achy muscles, multiple Kleenx box running nose, sick.

D. made it to work one and a half days, then two days in bed before an Urgent Care visit, $40 worth of meds and relief by Friday.  I made work all week going through 2 boxes of Vicks infused tissues, (still looking like Rudolph), a box of OTC allergy meds and spreading ill germs throughout the office.  L. slept for three days and made it through with a few doses of antihistamine.

Odd that we were all afflicted at the same time.  There was some black mold in the hotel bathroom but we gave it a pass considering the price point...could that have been a factor?  Austin is known for an allergy, Cedar Fever, that several friends pointed out can manifest in such a way. Allergy season is at an all time high...could this be a factor?  And then, there was sleeping in arctic like temperatures for two nights...could this be a factor!?!  Whatever the cause it provided a dramatic wrap up to a successful weekend and academic year.

What are your 'go-to' remedies for an allergy or cold?

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Truth Will Out...Online or Off

In a previous post I shared how much I like the online social world, especially the ability to stay connected with L. at school.

L. left for college two years ago and it was admittedly an adjustment.  We are among those that prepared and rationally understood it was time for L. to move out and move on.  We were not prepared for our own emotional adjustment.  This particular upheaval happens to enough parents that it has a name; Empty Nest.

Instead of an occasional phone call or possible letter the Internet allows us to continue to enjoy the conversations of shared interests.  Sending links and talking through messages about what we've read or found remarkable has been a salve for our Empty Nest journey.

One such item L. shared recently is the article, I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet.  The author took a year 'offline' unplugging all electronic devices.  His expectation was to return to the 'real' world and reconnect, something he did experience in the first couple of months.  By the end of the year, though, he came to a much different conclusion.

He discovered that living offline felt as though he had "fell out of sync with the flow of life."  His final assessment was this, "What I do know is that I can't blame the internet, or any circumstance, for my problems. I have many of the same priorities I had before I left the internet: family, friends, work, learning. And I have no guarantee I'll stick with them when I get back on the internet — I probably won't, to be honest. But at least I'll know that it's not the internet's fault. I'll know who's responsible, and who can fix it."  

I encourage you to read the whole article thorough the link on the title above.  I found that he made his point most sharply when talking to his young niece.  He asked if she ever wondered why he didn't Skype with her like she did with her grandparents.  She replied, "I didn't think you wanted to."  

Who you are; your personality, your quirks, your manner, what you value and what you don't is the same in the 'real' world and online.  Connecting with others only happens, online or off, if you make the effort to do it.  

I admire the author's intent and appreciate his insights.  Having come from an age when the 'real' world was all we had I think he is right on target.

I'm a fan of the internet and all the joys and pitfalls that it brings.  There is so much more that needs to be done to make it safer and more secure all while the technology changes at lighting speed but I'm thrilled to be along for the ride.

What are your thoughts about life, online and off?

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