Archive for the ‘Sewing and Handwork’ Category

Blanket Revisited

January 23, 2012 @ 6:36 pm | Filed under: Sewing and Handwork

Two and a half years ago, I made this. Cotton quilt top and fleece bottom. No batting, no quilting. A quilt for corner-cutters.

Oh my goodness, how delicious was she??

As it turns out, my handiwork was shoddy: every time we wash it, another seam pulls apart. I bet I’ve stitched up (with big, ungainly, totally visible stitches) a dozen or more gaps.

As it turns out, that doesn’t matter. It’s everybody’s favorite blanket. I snuggle under it every morning and evening (and a fair amount of time in between). The kids fight over it.


Sorry, Jane.


Its surface seems to attract books.

The other day, I was thinking about how Valentine’s Day is approaching, and although I seldom do seasonal decorating outside the Advent-Christmas stretch, I was walloped with a wave of desire for pink. Pink pink pink. I remembered all the yummy rosy fabrics stuffed in bins in my messy laundry room/storage area—bins I pretty much haven’t touched (except to shuffle them from place to place) since Huck was born. We should make another snuggleblanket, I decided. And by “we,” I mean I intend to foist most of the work upon my offspring.

(Does this sudden plan have anything to do with the fact that Jane had friends over last week and they raved about my blanket, patched seams and all? Probably. I am highly motivated by praise.) 😉

Step 1: Assemble all the pink fabrics in the house. Check.

Step 2: Wash the ones that haven’t been washed yet. Check. (Thanks, Scott.)

Step 3: Press fabrics. Check. (Thanks, Rose.)

Step 4: Locate rotary cutter and that plastic ruler/cutting guide thingy. (Jane’s on it. Thanks, Jane.)

So far, so good. I think we’re on track for a Valentine’s Day snuggle. (I won’t speculate as to which year.)

(Hey, Alice, see that teapot fabric? I bought a whole bunch of it on sale three years ago, intending to make you something sweet for a new-baby gift. Whoops. This is like that time I made you a chicken pot pie after B. was born, but so many friends had brought you dinner that your freezer was full, so I said I’d keep it in my freezer for you. And then I ate it. I’m an awesome friend.)

Lookie What I Made!

December 28, 2008 @ 9:37 am | Filed under: Sewing and Handwork

Just please, please don’t look too closely. My stitching is deplorable. I really cannot manage to sew a straight seam to save my life. Scott says he likes to listen to me sew because of the inanities that come out of my mouth while I bungle the job… “Son of a b…utternut squash!”

Anyway, here’s my little diaper case, and yes, I am inordinately proud. It holds a couple of diapers and a travel wipes container.

I followed this pattern at Blessed Roots. I don’t know how to use my machine’s buttonholer, so I made the little strap instead. And I left off the wristlet strap.

This was the practice model. I’m itching to try again with some beeyooteeful scrap fabric sent to me by a most indulgent and kindhearted chum. I think I’ll make the top flap smaller this time. The pattern allows a flap big enough that the diaper case could, in theory, double as a changing pad, but that would only work while baby is very small. I’d rather use a blanket.

Another Birthday Present: Dear Jane

December 19, 2008 @ 8:36 am | Filed under: Books, Handcrafts, Sewing and Handwork

It is astonishing how much attention my hubby pays to my enthusiastic chatterings. Especially when the topic is something he has absolutely no interest in personally, like, say, quilting.

One of my birthday presents was a book I’ve been hankering after: Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt by Brenda Papadakis. I learned of this book, and of the incredible Jane Stickle quilt itself, from a link on Twiddletails, one of my favorite crafty blogs. Anina, the Twiddletails blogger, has a second blog called (for now, at least—yesterday a bit of a trademark dispute arose over the name) Dear Baby Jane, an amazing site on which Anina posts step-by-step photo tutorials for making every single block in the Jane Stickle quilt.

This is no mean feat. Jane’s quilt is a masterpiece. Every single block of this large quilt is pieced in a different geometrical pattern. Many of the patterns are traditional quilt blocks; many seem to be unique to Jane.

An autographed corner square tells us that Jane pieced the quilt “in wartime, 1863,” and that she used over five thousand separate bits of fabric. A farmer’s wife, she lived in the little village of Shaftsbury, Vermont. She was born in 1817, which makes her roughly a contemporary of Charlotte Tucker Quiner Holbrook, the maternal grandmother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whom I wrote about in my Charlotte books. This is one of the many reasons the Jane Stickle quilt intrigued me when I first read about it at Dear Baby Jane. Charlotte was born in 1809 (along with Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Louis Braille, British statesman William Gladstone, Charles Darwin, and Felix Mendelssohn—some year, eh?) in Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a young woman, Charlotte worked as a seamstress, advertising her services in the local papers. By 1863, the year Jane finished her quilt—four years before Charlotte’s granddaughter Laura was born—Charlotte had been living in the “big woods” of Wisconsin for decades. Jane Stickle, meanwhile, lived her whole life in the Shaftsbury, VT, area, and instead of a storytelling granddaughter, the legacy she left us was her incredible wartime quilt.

Here’s a link to a good-sized image of the Jane Stickle quilt—dubbed the “Dear Jane” by Brenda Papadakis. (Contemporary versions of the quilt are nicknamed “Baby Janes.”) I don’t know if it’s kosher to post the image itself, so I’ll just stick with the link. The color scheme is what’s known as and “around the world” pattern: the blocks move through a range of shades in concentric circles (more or less) beginning in the middle of the quilt.

A whole Dear Jane subculture exists in the quilting world, both online and off. There are many gorgeous quilts modeled after or inspired by Jane Stickle’s masterpiece. On the Dear Baby Jane blog, Anina leads an online community of quilters who are piecing the quilt a block at a time, two blocks a week. (Marvel at the photos here.) Just reading Anina’s instructions has been a tremendous education for me. (I was sorry to read, yesterday, of the trademark stickiness and the possibility that Anina will take down the entire blog. I am hoping hard that this does not come to pass.)

My indulgent but wise husband will read this and fear that I am poised for a dive into the world of Dear Jane creators, but he need not worry. Having never completed so much as a simple block quilt (Rilla’s little quilt is still only half quilted, if you can call the mess I’m making “quilting”), my attempting a Baby Jane would be something like a starling chick trying to soar with the flock while it is still in the egg.

But oh how I love to look at the gorgeous variations others have created, and to read about the gradual progress of people attempting the ambitious project right now. And I can’t wait to dive into my new birthday book to learn more about Jane Stickle and her quilt.

Handcrafts Blogroll: Who’s Missing?

November 10, 2008 @ 8:10 am | Filed under: Bloggity, Handcrafts, Sewing and Handwork

I’ve added a list of my favorite handcrafty blogs to the very bottom of the righthand sidebar. What it really is is the handcraft folder from my Google Reader—I’m sure this is very old news, but I just figured out that I could make individual folders on my Reader public, and therefore accessible via link or RSS. Nifty. One of the options available is sharing the folder as a blogroll, so: there you go!

If you’re a craft blog addict too, please check out my list and let me know of any gems I’m missing!

The Mothers in My Books Are Expert Seamstresses

September 20, 2008 @ 4:04 pm | Filed under: Sewing and Handwork

Me? Not so much.

I’ve just finished making my second-ever set of curtains. I thought they’d be easier than the first set because the first ones were lined and these weren’t. And, I mean, curtains. Four straight seams. Not rocket science.

Also: the fabric I picked is checked. Checked! As in: the pattern is basically a grid of straight lines in pretty colors. Right? That’s what checks are: a grid. So for all my cutting and ironing and sewing, I had built-in straight lines to follow. Foolproof, right?

Not proof against this fool, apparently. Even Scott had to admit my level of incompetence is pretty impressive, when he saw the evidence hanging right there, unevenly, in the window. He witnessed how carefully I measured and re-measured before each cut, each round of pressing, each seam. He watched in amusement at my overzealous triple- and quadruple-checking. He saw me ever so carefully compare the finished first panel to the almost-finished second one before sewing the final seam, a bottom hem: how hard I worked to make sure they would be the same length when hung.

They aren’t. Scott actually burst out laughing when he saw the final product, because it really is comical that a reasonably intelligent person like his wife could spend two entire Saturdays on a project, applying an almost insane degree of attention to detail, and wind up with one curtain a good three-quarters of an inch shorter than the other.

Oh, and there’s a nice little splotch of blood on one of the panels, too, from where I ran a pin into my thumb. The blood got on the back side of the curtain so we figured it wouldn’t show, but it turns out that when the sun shines through, there’s a gruesome little silhouette. I should really be washing that out right now instead of writing about it.

Although, come to think of it, maybe I should stick to writing about women who can sew instead of trying to be one myself. 🙂