Tiny projects

Well, it has been quite a while since I have updated you on my projects. I have done a tiny bit of hand sewing since my last post. Here’s what little has been going on:

DSC_0012I had been given three adorable tiny bibs for the baby at our shower. Unfortunately, our baby was not one to cutely emit a tiny dribble occasionally. No, nope. He was a veritable waterfall of drool for months and months. We needed large, functional bibs that could withstand lots of washing. So I cut the binding/ties off the necks of the adorable bibs, layered them on top of each other, and hand sewed new binding/ties over all three so that we end up with one large bib. I’m really happy to say that this hand sewing has gone through multiple washing machine cycles and is doing fine. In fact, you can probably see staining on the bib in this picture…proof that this thing is being used a lot in real life.

DSC_0007Next, are a few little toys that I made up. I noticed that the baby liked to play with latches, so I grabbed some latches and ribbon and straps from the fabric store and simply hand sewed them together. This is hardly worth talking about, but here’s a picture in case you are interested. This project was not very efficient as far as cost goes…I don’t think I would do it again unless I already had the pieces to refashion from something else. But it was fun to make something for the kid and he still plays with them. And the sewing is holding up…so it’s a successful make.

I’ve just started working on a project that is a little bigger…although still not as big as a piece of clothing. I’m not ready to put the time and effort into clothing until I get a bit better at this machine-less sewing.


Hand sewing

We have what is considered a small house for the US. It’s 970 square feet and we have two adults, one teenager, one baby, two cats, and one dog living here. It’s really plenty of space for living. Living in 970 sqft with that many people and critters is really easy.

However, it’s not a lot of space for hobbies…especially hobbies that require tables, and machines, and ironing boards, and some place to cut large pieces of fabric. Before the little one came along we had one room that served as the home office/guest room/sewing room/storage room. It worked. It wasn’t ideal, but it really did work. But now…well now we have a home office/guest room/sewing room/storage room/baby room. And that doesn’t really work. Sewing has pretty much slipped off the list of things that can be done in that room. And sewing is not fitting into any other room either. So, the machine and the fabric and the notions are all tucked away in cupboards and I had to come up with another option to make my make-y heart happy.

2014-03-12_10-09-30_402So, I grabbed some supplies for hand sewing and popped them into a little box that I had sitting around and now that’s my sewing center. I can store it in the dining room, where it takes up minimal space, and it can travel to my armchair whenever I have some free time to spend in the armchair doing hand sewing.

I have done some minimal hand sewing in the past…closing up pillows, tacking down facings, etc, but I am not terribly good at it. The first thing I tried this time around was to refashion some slippers I had ordered off etsy…they didn’t fit me nicely, so I decided to add a casing around the top and thread some elastic through and tack it down. Admittedly, it was a bit of a kluge, but if my hand sewing skills were better it may have worked. As it is, the hand sewing fell out within days and the whole project feels like a failure. There isn’t even a picture. It’s not worth a picture, believe me.

I decided I need some help, so I went looking for hand sewing resources. I can not find any! It seems the only hand sewing info in books and blogs right now is either for finishing up machine sewn items or for making heirloom projects. I want to hand sew full items and I want them to stand up to my life…washing machines, cats, and kiddos. I’d like to know how to make things durable and how to start and finish with knots that won’t fall out. But I just can’t find this info. So, I’m practicing on some little projects and I’ll hopefully figure it out myself. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes. In the meantime, if you know of any resources for hand sewing…I would love to know about them! Please leave a comment…it would really help me out.

(P.S. It’s a bit ironic that I spent lots of time trying to figure out the exact right blog name and finally decided to name my blog after the feed dogs on my machine, and then those very same little dogs got put away into a cupboard. Sigh. Maybe I will rename the blog ‘True Dogs and Incompetent Needles’)

Sew Gateful Week Resources: Calculator

My Happy Sewing Place

For those of you who are quilters, this may be old news. For dressmakers…well, I’ve never seen any dressmakers besides me use this handy calculator, which just seems a shame. So I thought I could share by letting everyone know about this awesomeness…It does FRACTION math. I don’t particularly want to spend my life figuring out ‘5/8 inches plus this’ or ‘that minus 5/8 inches’. And I usually get it wrong when I try, even though I’m a math geek. I love math, but can’t seem to do any fraction math when I’m in the heat of a sewing battle. So, this little calculator helps me out. It also does things like ‘add 1/2 yard plus 12 inches’ or ‘5 1/2 yards plus 10 meters’. Super handy.

2014-02-26_08-51-13_64If you are a quilter and haven’t heard of this calculator…well it’s even better news for you. You can figure out yardage for your squares, calculate how much sashing or binding you need, what you need for backing, etc. It takes a bit of manual-reading to get all that figured out, but the manual tucks into a pocket in the back of the calculator, so it’s always handy.

So, there you go. If you are really interested in this sewing resource, both of the links below would be a good place to purchase. Then you could live a life where you never subtract 5/8 inches again.

Quilting Calculator from Amazon | Quilting Calculator from Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest

Tiny Activity Blanket

DSC_0001I have had one opportunity to get out my sewing machine and make something since the tiny person came along. I was so excited. I knew that I wanted to start with something simple since my time was limited, I hadn’t been sleeping, and it had been a while since I had sewn anything. So I decided to make a tiny activity blanket for the boy. I wanted something that had high contrast colors, some textural interest, and some bits for his tiny fingers to play with. This blanket is about 18 inches square(ish). The front is a checkerboard quilting cotton with a red button. The back is chenille with tabs and loops from a checkerboard ribbon and another red button.  The binding is just a pre-made satin blanket binding.

DSC_0002Although, the whole point of this project was to have something easy I could do in limited time, it turned out to be much more difficult than I planned. Chenille is not easy to sew (I had no idea) and I spent almost all of my precious sewing time trying to troubleshoot that. I eventually sandwiched the chenille with swedish tracing paper and then sewed. Then I ripped the tracing paper off. This worked well. You can just barely see in the picture that there is some quilting holding the layers together. The plan was to have a lot more of this, but time ran out due to the chenille struggle.

The second problem was the binding…I managed to completely mess it up and was left with no binding when my time was up. The tiny blanket languished on the to-do pile for a long time waiting for more sewing time. Eventually my mom took pity on me and took it home and put the binding on with her machine. Thank goodness for moms.

The boy does like the blanket, so I would call this a successful result, if not a particularly stunning piece of sewing.

Jalie 2805



This is my first attempt at a tshirt sew…Jalie 2805. I really wanted something that fits better than RTW tshirts, so I spent a lot of time doing drafting changes. I first tried to do a cheater FBA by extending from one size to another at the bottom of the armscye. This was a bad choice for my body (I’ve since realized why). After the bad cheater FBA, I went back and did a real FBA with slicing and sliding and all the hoopla. It worked a bit better, so that’s what you see here. I cut the neckband on the wrong grain and didn’t bother to reinforce the shoulder seams…two little problems that bug me every time I wear this. However, I made this about a year ago, and I wear it a lot. It’s always the first one out of the laundry. It’s shrunk a bit in the laundry, but luckily, I have also shrunk since I made it, so we are still a good match. I would say it’s a semi-successful make.

After this shirt I cut out a lovely purple knit to make another. I worked really hard on that draft with sloping shoulder adjustments and forward shoulder adjustments and a different type of FBA. I had so many adjustments, I had to keep track of it all on a several pieces of paper. Then I started sewing and my machine just ate the fabric. Huge hole right in the middle of all those shoulder adjustments I had tried to make. I spent several minutes staring at the fabric. I spent several minutes thinking about all the adjustments I had made. I decided I don’t want to work with a pattern that requires so many changes. I grabbed all the fabric, all my adjustments paperwork, all the pattern pieces…the entire pattern, in fact…and walked out to the recycle bin and tossed it all in. It felt really good to be done with that project.

So, I’m done with Jalie 2805. On to new things.