Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sewing Project UPDATE -- I Did It!!!!

Well, I was almost ready to give up. I mean, really, three tries and no closer to success and I was getting a smidge discouraged.

My third or fourth attempt went into the trash. Seriously. I didn't even bother salvaging the parts of it that were okay.

I emailed my mentor again and finally asked her the question I should have asked ages ago -- how do I attach a piece that has to be attached on two sides????   She answered with the magic words: "Don't sew past your seam allowance."  In other words, when sewing down the first edge, don't cross that invisible 1/4" line of the second edge.

You'd think that would be a common sense sort of thing, but it wasn't. Suddenly, it all clicked and I tried one last time, from scratch.

I recut my fabric. Again. I reassembled each individual unit. Again. We're talking fourth and fifth attempt here at some of this. I began attaching the units to each other. Again. And this time.....this time, it worked. And I'm so excited, I'm going to show it to you, even though someone out there is going to get this for Christmas. I figure, the recipient has no idea she's the recipient, so it's okay. Right? I mean, you guys don't know, and I'm not telling, so I can show off my hard work, can't I? Of course I can.

It's still not perfect. One bit is slightly shifted from where it should be. I decided I don't care. In a few hours* of work, I finally had a presentable piece. Done.  The 3rd piece in a 4 piece set. I will try to tackle the 4th piece, which everyone tells me to skip, over the weekend. I think with all that I've learned through the trial and error of this piece that I might just be able to handle the 4th one. We'll see.

In any case, in one afternoon** I was able to go from this --

(take two: second attempt whole block, alongside the 2nd version of the center piece;
see how the green triangles on the outside do NOT line up with the green triangles on the inside??
Yea, that's a bit bad in this design...)
To this --

(final cut: the final version. Imperfections and all. Notice, only one green triangle doesn't match this time!)

Overall I'm quite pleased with myself. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And I don't hate sewing yet. Pretty cool, huh?

*(it took me one hour to cut and assemble the basic units; each outside arm, then each square that makes up the center pinwheel; it then took me 30 minutes to assemble the pinwheel, and then between 30 minutes and 1 hour to attach all 4 outside arms to the center pinwheel; remember, this is all by hand)

**slight lie, there. The first attempt after the bits seen in the first photo is the one that went in the trash. That was about an hour of work over the weekend. The final cut was done on Tuesday, yesterday, in an afternoon's time. But it did actually take one more failed attempt between the 2 steps shown. I'm a slow learner, I guess.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sewing is HARD.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

I can't post pictures, in case various gift recipients are reading. Although, if they are -- take this as fair warning: If you think you might be getting a handmade gift from me for Christmas, chances are high that it won't actually materialize.

(ha! catch that pun??? hand sewn.....material-ize??? Yea, I crack myself up.....)

Anyway -- sewing is hard. Squares I can do, more or less. Triangles, not so much. Mitered corners?? Strange shapes that join triangles??? Even worse -- sewing something that has to be connected on two sides. HARD, I tell ya. Hard.

But, these people, the intended recipients (who are daily dwindling to lesser and lesser numbers, as I face the reality that my ambition far exceeds my actual ability....) -- well, these are important people. People I love. People I want to impress. People who I know will value the effort.

And so I trudge on. Ripping out stitches, re-cutting fabric, AGAIN. Re-stitching the ripped out bits. Again. Because I have high hopes that I might really, truly, if I work really, really, really hard until I'm out of time -- I might actually finish enough of these little things to be able to give them to more than one person. That's the goal. The plan. The, as it stands right now, pie in the sky.

My mentor is walking me through it and has solved the biggest of my problems, so there is some hope. (I still haven't sent her pictures, either.....I'm such a bad student!). She is such a natural teacher that even via email I'm able to figure out what I did wrong and how to fix it. She's pretty cool that way.

And, she did tell me that part four of my little project was probably too hard. So, if it gives me fits, it's only my own fault for even trying. After the difficulty with part three, I'm thinking she's probably right. Except there is this teeny tiny stubborn part of me that wants to try anyway. Even though part three still isn't perfect and is just barely "good enough."  So, one more go at part three, fixing the last of my errors, and then I'll decide on part four. Thing is, it's full of those mitered corners and wonky shapes and bits being connected on two or more sides and triangles and, well, it's a seriously complicated bit of work.

I just keep thinking, "yea, but it's a seriously cool bit of work, and if I pull it off, nothing in the sewing world will ever scare me again......"

So, back to the sewing room (aka, dining room table). I've got stitches to rip out, and cloth to cut, and sewing to do. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

I have been so busy! I'm working on Christmas gifts and finding myself under deadlines I didn't know or anticipate having.

Every year I make an annual photo memory book for us to keep. I use Picaboo X - if you're looking for an easy, professional quality photo book program, this is the one you want. It's a free download, you work on your computer, not on-line, and the flexibility is amazing. There are thousands of very scrapbooky backgrounds available, too, as well as simple stuff that doesn't look froo froo at all.

Every year, usually in the weeks before Christmas, they offer a Buy One Book, Get One Free coupon. Normally this is Buy a Large Book, get a Medium Book (of the same book; you don't get to then make a 2nd, different book) Free.

Well, this year, expiring Monday, November 15th, they are offering Buy 1 Get 1 -- same size copy. Same size, people. So now the recipient of the free copy gets a large instead of medium.

AND -- even better! -- they just started offering Calendars! So that's on the list, too, and under the same Buy 1, Get 1 offer, only until Monday. So suddenly, the projects I was working on and planning to finish next month all have to be finished right now. -Gulp-

The good news is, I'm done with the first calendar (except for waiting on pics from my sis-in-law.....). The second calendar will only take me 30 minutes or so, as I'd already done it over on Kodak Gallery so all I need to do is more or less transfer that over.  And The Book is almost done. One last day of work should do it. I hope.

Which will finally give me time to work on the sewing project I've got going. Someone is getting a set of pieced, quilted coasters/hot pads. If I manage to figure it out and get them done. they're proving harder than I thought they would be, which stinks, 'cause I was hoping to get more than one set done. That's looking less and less likely. We'll see. Maybe I'll get some good sewing time in this weekend - it's another 3-day weekend coming up, and we're just going to stay home and relax. So, maybe.

In any case, all of this explains why I have been, and am likely to be, absent from the blog the past few (and coming) days. Christmas gifts can't wait, not when I'm on a deadline.

What projects do you have going on at your place? Have you started Christmas preparations yet? I'd love to hear about what that looks like at your house.....