Monday, March 16, 2015

World War II Army Air Corps Coat

My son has recently aquired an authentic WWII Army Air Corps coat that once belonged to a tech sergeant from the 2nd Air Force. He showed it off for pictures during spring break. This coat is enormously heavy! It was great getting a close look at the fabulous details of the construction methods.











I love this button detail. Here's the front of the coat...


...and here is the other side. A metal ring is on the other side to secure the button and keep it from popping off. My son's buttons are always popping off on his 18th century attire. I'm always sewing them back on, so we could definitely appreciate this!


Lots of flat felled seams...


Close-up of a flat felled seam.


This wool coat is definitely toasty in the cold weather!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Duffel Bags for Laundry in the College Dorm

It has been a busy two weeks of fun...two busy spring breaks with two different college kids who attend two different colleges who observe spring breaks on two different weeks! Whew! Couldn't we have enjoyed each other all together at once? Well, schoolwork still reigned rather paramount though we did find bits and pieces of fun. In between the fun moments I kept busy. Therefore I have lots of blogging to catch up on though we were never able to do anything significantly fun. My son kept teasing me with promises of teaching me how to swing dance, but school duties overcame even that bit of fun, though we did watch some movies and do a few other family things together.
First up is where I left off with my son's quilt. I had wanted to sew a sailboat pillow for him in red, white and blue to coordinate with the quilt. I thought it would be fun laying on his bed near his window that looks out on "Lake Bob," which is the campus nickname for the campus pond. However he had no interest in going nautical, even though the look would continue with the Americana patriotic theme.  Instead, he had other plans for me.
"Mom, could you sew some duffel bags for me to pre-sort my laundry at college?" Hmmm, didn't I try to buy some for him at Target last summer? Yes, but it didn't seem as important then as it does now.  Years ago, when my kids were born, I had bought different laundry baskets and taught  my family to presort laundry so I could more efficiently throw loads into the machine as needed, without dumping the entire batch of  laundry onto the floor to sort. Even on vacation I have differently patterned duffel bags for presorting as we go. It makes it so much easier when we come home to do the largest load first or as needed when we are on the road.
Now my son envisioned duffel bags far different from the ones I had made for vacation. Those are merely traditional two dimensional bags. He envisioned three dimensional bags that he could set in his closet and toss clothes in through the week, then grab for the laundry which is conveniently next door to his room.
Three dimensional duffel bags? I was envisioning tote bags, which I had never made before.  I asked for measurements, because I knew he had specifics on that too. I went to the fabric store where I found some blue and white 100% cotton ticking, determined to keep with the Americana patriotic theme (and sneakily be a bit nautical too!)
I confess I don't always prewash fabric. When I do I rarely find a difference, but I did prewash this ticking and I'm glad I did. We lost a few inches in the laundry! 


With my son's diagram of how he wanted the now slightly less than 4 yards of fabric cut and then sewed together, I laid everything out and got to work!


After everything was cut out I created all my casings.


I chose two panels to sew eyelets...


I hand stitched the eyelets with some leftover buttonhole twist that I had. The color was a perfect match. 


I had enough fabric to make 2 duffel bags, so I set each of the panels aside to complete sets so I wouldn't get them mixed up.


Here is duffel bag #1.The center will be the bottom. So far two opposite sides are sewn on.


Adding a third side...


...until finally I have all four sides sewn to the bottom. Then I sewed the sides to each other, and threaded the cording through the casing as far as it would go until I ran into the seams. Then I threaded the cording to the outside of the casing, then on the other side of the seam I wove it back in. (I had added other eyelets for this that I never got pictures of.) I liked this effect a lot! I had had such a busy week, that I did most of the sewing for these the day before he left to go back to college. This project took about 1 full day for two duffel bags. 


Of course these do not stand up pefectly, but it was good enough for my son. Here are two of them, ready to go back to college with his new quilt. 


Project-3D Duffel Bags
Pattern-self-drafted from my son's sketch
Fabric-blue and white 100% cotton ticking
Notions-thread, cording (I recommend a thinner corder than I used, but he's pleased with the thick cording)
Time to Sew-1 full day for 2 tote bags

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Red, White, Blue Lightening Streak Quilt

When my son was graduating from homeschool last spring, I told him I'd sew a  new quilt for him to use on his dorm bed. Alas, the summer was so busy with numerous graduation details, such as formalizing the homeschool highschool transcript, and preparing for college for two kids, that I never started the quilt. Thus, my son took his star quilt to college. Every time I walked by his room and saw his empty bed, devoid of even a quilt, I was quite sad.  Then when my son came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he kept dragging his quilt back and forth between home and college. That might not seem like much, but he has lots of stuff to pack and the quilt is just one more thing. I was determined to sew the new quilt for college, so the star quilt could stay home.
We agreed on a pattern my son liked last summer. He likes rather intricate designs, which tend to be my nemesis. I found a quilt pattern which had lots of energy and movement, yet looked quite easy. I showed it to my son and he liked it a lot.  In November I bought all my fabrics and supplies at Suzie's Quilt Shop, partly because JoAnns and Hancock did not have any of the solid red, white and blue fabrics I needed. I was rather surprised by that, so Suzie got my business! It turned out to be a win/win, because Suzie is quite friendly and I found out she attends the church where my next door neighbor pastors!
After Thanksgiving I started rotary cutting the strips I would need. They look quite even, thanks to my new handy gadget which I blogged about here.  Here they look quite patriotic...


although here I began to think I might be making a candy cane quilt! It was early December!


Finally all my strips were cut and sewn together. That's when I began to get nervous!


The cutting of triangles with bias edges, and joining those bias edges made me so nervous, that I broke my rule of no chemicals and I used a bit of stabilizer to help. For more on that story, read this.


Cutting the stripes into triangles went amazingly well. However I somehow got confused flipping my ruler to cut the proper size triangle so they came out larger. I reasoned that perhaps they could easily be squared after joining them to the candy cane triangles. At least I hoped so, because my shoulder was killing me from all of the rotary cutting and I didn't want to rotary cut anymore. Furthermore  my brand new blade was already dull. Read more about that and how I fixed it here. When I went to the next step, I saw that my biggest trouble was matching the angles. I carefully ripped this out and tried again...  


...this time carefully measuring and pinning...


I pinned and sewed all of these together...then I suddenly fell sick. The day before I got sick I had picked up my son at college to come home for Christmas. I had felt so well and had so much fun! The next day while quilting I simply wore out...and started coughing, coughing, coughing. Thus began a long bout with a massive coughing cold, which at some point became bronchitis. My coughing meds put me to sleep so well, that I slept through most of Christmas.      


I had done some Christmas shopping long before Christmas for everyone, but this quilt was my son's main Christmas present. The day before Christmas I had my son haul all the gift bags and tissue paper upstairs to where I store the presents. I sat on a stool and barely endured stuffing gift bags and tagging them, I felt so awful. By then I was on a z-pack but it wasn't kicking in as quickly as it had in the past. Also I felt so many gifts were missing but I had no recollection of where they could possibly be. However I found this gorgeous box to present the quilt pieces I had so far accomplished. This is what  my son opened on Christmas Day.


In January I started feeling about 50% better.  I sat and carefully marked and pinned pieces. That was a couple of months ago so now I don't remember the details I had meant to share about pinning these pieces...










Finally February came and I was about 75% better. Here are all of the blocks finally  laid out! However this is for a twin quilt and my son has an extra long twin bed! 

I had bits and pieces of blocks left over. Let's see...hmmm. I found this extra completed block. That is what I had planned for the extra long twin. Just two more blocks are needed. Do I have enough bits and pieces to make them?


Oh no! I am short two bits to finish the blocks. My side was still quite sore from all the coughing in December and January. I did not feel like rotary cutting and sewing strips and cutting triangles, but I had to finish this quilt and I was near the end.


Here is a trial run to measure how much more I would need for the borders. 





How about the joining of these two borders on the angled seam? If I had tried to do that it could never happen!



Now that I had the borders done and the quilt sandwich made I determined to thread baste the quilt, even though I had a fusible batting in the quilt sandwich. Read about my decision here




For the hand quilting I decided to feature the zig zag. I stitched it in white in the seamlines of the red and white zig zags. Then I repeated it in blue in the field of blue. It's subtle but is quilt nice. By then I ran out of time. I was determined to conquer, and I'm glad I did, because I can't believe how busy I've been since!

 I finished the final stitch minutes before I left the house to bring my son home for Spring Break. I laid the quilt on his bed for him to see when he came home. I felt sort of bad about the quilt. I have a few puckers where places did not match, so I set them where he would have his pillows. Also everything shrunk from all the quilting! Oh well. I'm exhausted, and I know this will be used a lot as a cover while sleeping. Also he sits on his bed a lot at home, so I assume he does the same at college. I'm sure this will be worn out by the end of college years and will have been thrown into the laundry a few times. The laundry process alone will likely shrink the fabric a bit, which is fine with me. I love the old fashioned look when 100% cotton quilts pucker after the laundry. That might hide my own puckering mistakes! 

I had hoped to sew a boat pillow, which I thought would be a fun reference to "Lake Bob" outside his dorm window by his bed. Alas, he is not interested in the pillow. However he is interested in duffel bags. Our interpretation of duffel bags are two different things. I planned on making drawstring two-dimensional duffel bags. Easy! He actually prefers tote bags that are three dimensional. They were a first for me and returned with him to college tonight. He loves them! Stay tuned for details on those...