Friday, November 30, 2012

Finished Objects: Fabric Shopping Bags

The completion of these two projects officially marks the end of holiday crafting/gift sourcing. Yes, it is November 30. Yes, I’m done.

I followed this tutorial for making a lined bag. It is finished nicely with no raw exposed seams. The seam at the base is a French seam, and oh, so sturdy. I used a large plastic bag from Hancocks for the pattern, and I’m glad I did. With seam allowances, the final bag is smaller than the original.

Both patterned fabrics are from the Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection. The skulls are “estrella de los muertos.”

The toile is the last sizable remnant of “midnight pastoral” that I’d used to dress Mabel.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finished Object(let)

I completed the quilt topper for my Craftsy BOM (Block of the Month) class.

The next step should be to buy the backing fabric and batting, baste the sandwich together, and machine quilt them together. Instead, I’m going to pause this project for now, while I take the Craftsy machine quilting class. Once I’ve completed that course and feel semi-confident of my skills, I’ll take this one on. I always considered this BOM a learning quilt, but I’ve spent eleven months on it. I’d hate to ruin that effort by cutting corners now.

Finishing the BOM will more likely than not take place in early 2013 while I attend to a backlog of other projects demanding my attention.

Remnants: Fall Edition Part 3b

As promised, here are the specs on Mabel’s cabinet makeover.

The first step involved unmounting Mabel and all her constituent cords, and whisking them away to the repair shop. Then I removed the leaves and doors, and most of the hinges.

The plan was to paint it, and then apply a hard clear coat, but first I needed to fill in the router holes that once held the mounting hardware for a previous machine, and a couple of exposed chip veneer areas. Because these areas receive stress, I needed to use heavier artillery than a normal hole.

I opted for WoodEpox by Abatron,  a two-part wood replacement product that is worked like Silly Putty, but hardens and bonds to a high strength when cured. It was a tad spendy, but it works indoors and out, and we’ve got enough wood rot problems on the home exterior that we’ll get full value out of the purchase.

Once that had thoroughly cured, I used sandpaper to rough up all the surfaces that would get painted, and spot primed the areas that had been filled. 

Oil-based paints are being phased out by paint and chemical companies in favor of environmentally-friendly formulations, and I knew I needed a surface could be top coated with a clear coat, and would be durable enough to stand up to this use. The local Benjamin Moore retailer recommended Advance paint in satin finish. I had already spent a week pondering colors, holding chips up to the machine and fabric in different light, so the choice of dark walnut was relatively quick and painless. After all those surfaces, parts and pieces were painted, I top coated it with Benwood Stays Clear acrylic polyurethane in a gloss finish. From what I am told, it will not be as prone to yellowing over time as some other formulations.

I needed to do one more thing before adding the fabric panels, and that was to cut off the existing knobs, which were pegged and glued in. If I hadn’t done that, I would have had to cut a huge slit in the fabric to ease it over the knob, and then had to figure out a way to cover up the slit on the finished door. Cutting the knob off and finding a replacement seemed the better option in the long run.

With that done, I took 1" belting, folded in half lengthwise, and glued it around the perimeter of the designated padded fabric panel areas. 

My fabric is midnight pastoral, from The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection. I’d originally seen a bolt of it at my local shop when I had no appropriate use for it,  and it was gone a week later when I did. So I ordered a couple of yards from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, California.

After measuring, remeasuring, and measuring again, I cut muslin to size adding 3" to length and width to be folded under, double-checked against the cabinet again, then cut the final fabric.

I sewed the muslin to the back of the fabric to give the weave more density.

A comparison of the fabric over batting, with the muslin (left) and without (right).

Two thicknesses of polyester quilt batting was set in the bed I’d earlier created with the belting, then I carefully began stretching and securing the fabric over the cabinet using upholstery tacks - making absolutely certain the fabric was oriented correctly to the cabinet, of course.

Half-inch twill applied with hot glue covers up the tack heads. The replacement knobs are from Hobby Lobby.

 There you have it, Mabel before:

and after:

All in all, my free machine and cabinet only cost me around $300—but her new attitude is priceless, no?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Remnants: The Fall Edition Part 3a

Meet Mabel

Mabel is a 1950s-era Dressmaker sewing machine I rescued from the sewing machine glue farm—part of the household purge of late spring when my MIL prepared to downsize from her multi-bedroom home with basement, to a single bedroom apartment. The initial plan was to put her (the sewing machine, not the MIL) in a garage sale, but I altered those plans when my BIL announced he was going to cut the power cord before it went in the sale, purportedly due to the condition of the cord, and concern over a possible lawsuit.

The machine still had its original power cord—
twisted cord wrapped in a rubber sleeve that
had degraded to the point the rubber had become tacky.

While the cord probably needed to be replaced, in my book that should have been the concern of the new owner. Otherwise, the prospective buyer had no way to test the machine to see if it even worked. That single action would have likely meant a death sentence for the machine.

 Doesn’t she look like a transistor radio or old television set?
If I turn the knobs in just the right way, will I be able to see the first moon landing?

Mabel will be a second machine for me. She has fewer stitch options that my Janome, but I tend to have as many sewing projects going at one time as I do knitting, and isn’t 98% of what we sew straight stitch work? It will be nice not to have to re-thread my machine every five seconds, but it and the cabinet needed a lot of work before I would allow it in the door.

Step one was to take the machine to the nearest sewing machine repair shop to have it overhauled, and the power cord replaced. The word I’d gotten from my MIL was that it had been “serviced recently.” Based on the amount of squeak to the machine when the repairman manually turned the hand wheel, “recently” might have meant 1973.

It was the cabinet that was in really sad condition. It never was a high-end cabinet, and although it has some interesting veneer, that veneer was chipped, broken, and out-and-out missing in places.

Overhauling the cabinet was a much more labor-intensive project, achieved over a five month period, and loaded with creativity with a healthy dose of wry humor. Project details will follow in a later post. For now...

Mabel before:

Mabel after, showing off her new “dress”:

Think that’s a classic toile print? Think again!

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Brief Update

Burned and stabbed with upholstery tacks, the fingers of my left hand throb like a son-of-a-*&%$@—the lengths I will go to to achieve crafting perfection!

The downside of my discomfort is the obvious hitch in my knitting schedule. The upsides are the final product that I will have and cherish until I get hauled off to the home, and that the injuries were limited to my non-quilting hand. Less ability to knit = more time to quilt.

The project - code word “Mabel” - is nearly done (What project you ask? Patience, moppet.), with pics to follow in a day or two, and a detailed how/why to follow a week or so later.