Saturday, February 3, 2018

Tutorial: Apron for Care Center Residents

Many of us will have to face an elder loved one moving into Assisted Care or a Nursing Home.  As "Dad" has advanced into his 90's his hands tremble a bit, and eating in the dining hall has become frustrating.  He became discouraged that he spilled so often, but staunchly refused to wear a 'bib.'  And who can blame him?  He has had to let go of his dignity and independence in so many ways.  It was time to figure a way to help him out.

 The answer came when my husband's company changed their corporate logo.  The old shirts, though in great condition, were about to go out to the thrift store.  That is, until I got ahold of them. 

This is the result:  A double layer apron that looks like a man's dress shirt. The double layer keeps wet spills from soaking through before he can grab a napkin. It's wide and long enough to give good coverage down onto his lap.  No ties or buttons for arthritic hands to fumble with, and it doesn't pull over his head.  The weighted straps just rest over his shoulders.   It even has a pocket for his silverware or cell phone.  And, it went together in an hour!

He loves it! "Dad" wears one at every meal.  It's easy for him to put on and take off, has saved a ton of effort on laundry and he doesn't feel it's demeaning.  He's proud of his son, and pleased to wear his old company logo.  Win, win!

Here's how it's done:

* one men's medium weight, long sleeved dress shirt.  (I used chambray and a light twill size Large Tall.)
* six old fashioned disc drapery weights.  You could use quarters too, but would need about 3 in each of the six pockets to have enough weight.
* sewing machine, scissors, marking chalk, thread and sewing pins. (Rotary cutter, cutting mat and 5-inch wide ruler optional.)

Step one:
step 1: cut off collar and sleeves
With scissors, cut off the collar and sleeves.  Discard collar.

Step two:
Turn the shirt inside out.  Spread out the shirt.  The back will probably be a little wider than the front.  Use pins to extend the center pleat farther down on the shirt back.  This will take up the extra fabric for now. The sleeve opening front and back won't exactly match.   Smooth out and draw a gentle curve around the armholes from a point a bit below the armhole and re-cut so they match. 

step 2: pin to extend pleat in back

Step three: 
Cut straight across the top above the top button, but below the back yoke. I had to cut off the collar buttons because they were just where I wanted to cut.  Make sure you don't cut through the pins holding the back pleat together.  You can't see them from the front!  Stitch the curve from side seam to top opening.  I used a standard seam allowance.  Then, stay stitch across the pleat in the back so it doesn't shift.

step 3:  cut straight across the top, below the yoke
Stitch curved side seams.

Step four:
Next, smooth out the the sleeves.  Cut off the cuffs right above the placket, parallel to the cuff edge.  Discard the cuffs.  Turn sleeves inside out.  Using the fold of the sleeve as one edge, cut a five-inch wide strip from shoulder to cuff.  Trim the top edge at an angle, cutting off the seam at the top of the sleeve.  (The cuff end will be attached to the apron, the angled end will have the weights.)

step 4: cut off cuffs

step 4: 5-inch strip and angled edge cut
Step five:
Sew the long side and the angled side of the 5-inch strips to make the shoulder straps.  Turn right side out.  Place your weights along the angled side and mark with chalk to make three little pockets.  This helps keep the weight distributed during use, and they don't all fall to one corner.

step 5: sew and turn straps. note the angled edge

Step six:  
Stitch the three pockets by sewing lines about 2-1/2 inches long or so up from the bottom.  Drop in your weights.  Then stitch across just above the weights to keep them in the pockets.
steps 5 & 6: marking pockets for the weights

  Step seven:
With the shirt still inside out, slip the shoulder straps between the front and back.  Place the strap at the very outside edge on both sides.  The longer point of the angled, weighted edge should be toward the center, and slid down between the front and back shirt pieces.  Stitch across the top edge, catching the front, the raw edge of the straps, and the back all together.  Turn right side out.  All done!

step 7: slide straps down into the shirt,
points toward the center
straps all the way to the outside edges

step 7: stitch top edges
Turn right side out.  All done!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Little Dresses for BIZAA

Last spring our Church was asked to participate in a sewing project making little girls dresses for a mission trip to Nigeria.  We took up the challenge and made over 100 pillowcase-style sundresses from the Little Dresses for Africa pattern.

The mission group we are working with is called BIZAA.  They specifically work to get children off the Streets and out of Child Labor and into the Classrooms in southeastern Nigeria.  They sponsor children in elementary and secondary schools and now have a vocational school for them as they get older to learn nursing and computer technology. 

The founder of the organization is originally from that area, and now works for a church in the Twin Cities.  When he travels back to Nigeria he brings the dresses and other needed items.  But, he mentioned that the pillowcase-style of dress isn't really appropriate for the girls to wear to Church.  So, I'm working on a design for a simple dress that has a drop shoulder sleeve.

Here's what I came up with today.  I think it will work.  No zippers or buttons, will pack flat, reasonably easy to cut and sew.  Now I have to draft up patterns in a whole bunch of sizes.  And how about that 1960's fabric that was in the donation box?  Back in style again!

Of course, now that I've done all this, I see that there is a new raglan sleeve pattern available from Nancy's Notions.  But I think I like my version better.  No elastic or draw-strings.  Well, I can give our sewing crew a couple of options when we have our sewing day in March.

Sunset On Smith Lake

After quilting up a queen size Charlotte's Baskets, it was time to do a bunch of piecing - just to break things up a bit.  I'm so happy to report that my version of Bonnie Hunter's On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt is all pieced together!

It's surprising how many corners needed to meet, and that they actually matched pretty well.  I didn't try to pin anything, just held nesting corners together where they happened.  The quilt top is about 75x90 inches right now.  Usually I like square 90 inch or larger quilts for our queen beds.  Then no one can steal all the covers!  Since it will be a while before it's quilted, I'll have to decide whether to add a border on two sides to square it up, or leave it as is and use it on the full size bed at the Lake.

Here's a couple sunset photos from our Lake.

Not a bad color match!

I think I can get in on the last link-up. Check out all the beautiful quilts!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Charlotte's Baskets

Sew excited to share this finished quilt!  My sewing machine really gets humming in January and February here in the Bold North - or Cold North depending on your point of view. 

Charlotte's Baskets is queen size and a Bonnie Hunter pattern from her book String Fling.  I had made up quite a few scrappy string blocks just for fun, and found this pattern was the perfect way to use them all up. 

Originally, I started quilting in a Baptist Fan pattern, but after using up one bobbin I set it aside.   My shoulders were so tense from manipulating it through the machine.  Weeks went past, and the Holidays too.  Resolving in the new year to get going on some UFO's, I decided to rip out the fans and go with a more straight-stitch grid pattern with the walking foot.  Triple Zig-zag on the widest and longest setting looks great on the navy sashing and border.  The only free-motion quilting is some loops and stars on the string block corners and in the string border.

A new marking method worked okay.  I used a gray ultra washable Crayola marker on the orange border.  The markings were sharp and did not fade or brush off like chalk markings have.  The marks don't come off with just a damp towel.  I had to wash the whole quilt, but they all came out. 

The next unquilted top has been layered and pinned.  All set to go!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2017 Year-end wrap-up

Time to take stock of what got done when I had time to Quilt Awhile this past year.

The fabric stash was decreased - at least I think so.  From what I kept track of, it looks like I used up 80 yards of fabric and only bought 49 yards.  A concentrated effort was made to shop my stash first, and only buy what I need to complete a specific project.  Did pretty well until the end of the year sales. (sigh)  But, it is the first year I've had a net decrease in yardage since I started keeping track.  Hooray!

My best UFO accomplishments were to finally quilt up two of my Bonnie Hunter queen quilt tops from previous years, and finish piecing the queen size Calendar quilt top started years ago.

My new skill for the year was to make two wall hangings with wool applique.  I'd never tried that before.  (There's one more in progress, but I've stalled out for now.)

Completed quilts:
4 Queen or larger:  Three Bonnie Hunter designs were quilted and finished this year -Easy Street,  Celtic Solstice, Alietare
In addition, there was a flannel and denim quilt for my DD and SIL that was at least Queen, maybe King.  It sure seemed like a beast going through my DSM.

3 Lap Quilts:  Courthouse Stars, Medallion sew-along, and the State Parks bed runner.

1 Baby Quilt: State Parks

2 sets of 4 placemats:  Halloween/autumn, Let it Snow (Christmas gift)

But it must have been the year for table runners and wall hangings.

5 Table Runners:  Vertical and Horizontal Garden Baskets (one a gift), Birthday, LeDuc Bunnies, and the pink one from the thrift store pants.  (I still haven't named that one but it turned out so much better than it sounds. ha!)

6 Doll and Mini Quilts: Log Cabin mini, Striped sashing doll quilt (gift), two Lighthouse wall hangings (one a gift and one for me), Palmateer Point doll quilt, Tulip mini.

5 Wall hangings and Table Toppers:  Blackbird Gathering, White table topper (gift), Green table topper (gift), Spirit of America (gift),  July leftovers.

2017 also saw the completion of a couple of pieced tops:
2 Queen: Charlotte's Baskets and Calendar row-by-row
1 Mini: Crow's Foot

That may not be all of them, but it's all I can come up with for now.  All in all, a pretty productive year for quilting. Thanks for all the times you've stopped by my blog this year, and all your encouragement.  Love to read your comments!  Here's to another year ahead of quilting fun together!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Crow's Foot

Crow's Foot - 21 inches square
On Ringo Lake is coming along, but I never can work on just one quilt project at a time.  Just need to mix it up a little, you know? 

Kathleen Tracy makes such adorable small quilts, and every month she puts out a challenge to sew along on one of her designs.  January 2018 is Crow's Foot from her book Small and Scrappy. 

Looking at her quilt, I decided that the border piece would actually determine the rest of the quilt fabrics.  There was a 14 inch striped piece in my scrap bin that was from some fabric samples gifted to me at least 20 years ago.  Perfect!  Then, time to do some math so that it could ALL be used up.  The main blocks were made a bit larger than Kathleen's pattern to make it all work out. The colors are deep dark blue and a rosy mauve.  Kathleen's small quilt finished at 15.5 inches and mine is 21 inches.

The weather cooperated, so I snapped a quick photo outdoors.  Then, off to sandwich and quilt.  The hand stitching on the binding is all that's left now.  Hopefully it will be my first finish of 2018!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Frosty Babies

Frosty Babies wall hanging
Last Christmas (2016) I made four seasons wall hangings for our son & DIL at Christmas.  The Winter design was a Christmas candle.  Lovely, but it went out of season pretty quickly, because January, February and March are clearly still WINTER here in Minnesota!

So, my plan for this Christmas was to make another winter wall hanging for their kitchen that would last through the winter months.  I found the perfect pattern at our annual Police Dept. book sale last June.  Frosty Babies, by Brandywine Design, with adorable applique snowmen!

I picked out three of my favorites and turned them into a great winter wall hanging.  Wish I could have put one more solid border around the whole thing so that the 9-patches didn't disappear into the binding, but it would have made the wall hanging too wide. 

There was enough Let it Snow fabric (which I used as backing) to make four matching placemats too!