crafty things · quilting

New Sewing Machine

My Singer Confidence Quilter sewing machine stopped working back at the beginning of the Pandemic. Early April-ish maybe? My husband is computer/copier/misc office equipment repair guy and was will to give a try at fixing it, so we bought the repair manual (that took a couple weeks to come) and he spent a week or so trying to get it working. When we failed in our attempts, I took it to a local sew and vac repair shop. They worked on it for a couple weeks as well. While in the end they didn’t get it running either – decided the motherboard was shot and the cost to repair would have been more than the machine was worth – they were great and I know where I’m going for any future problems.

So, I was on the hunt for a new sewing machine at a time when the whole world was unusually into sewing. Most stores were closed, and the ones that were open were out of stock for anything in my price range. And if they had something in stock, I wouldn’t be able to go in and try it out. All I had to go by was online reviews and advice from friends. While a couple hundred bucks might not be much in the grand scheme of sewing machines, this was a big purchase for me. I sew a lot, and I need a reliable well running machine.

I had my choices narrowed down to 3 machines in my price range that came in a package with the accessories I used a lot so didn’t want to have to hunt down and buy separately: a free motion quilting foot, and an extended table to fit bigger projects on (for me that’s quilts). They were a Jenome, the newer version of my Singer Quilter, and a Brother machine. I had alerts on the various websites that had the packages I wanted to alert me when they were in stock. In the meanwhile my mother-in-law loaned me her machine, but it just wasn’t one that brought me joy. I don’t remember the brand – it was something I’d never heard of. But sewing on it made me nervous again about buying something without trying it.

Then after maybe a month, a machine became available. The Brother, and let me tell you, I could not be happier with it so far. I’ve made a quilted fleece pad for our guinea pig cage, repaired a couple of masks, and started on a baby quilt for a coworker. It DOES bring me joy to sew on. That guinea pig fleece was thick with multiple layers of fleece and batting and it went through all that like butter. A dream I tell you! I’m so excited to be sewing again.

crafty things · crochet · quilting

2020 – The Year of Finishing

I was tackling my closet with the Marie Kondo energy and was surprised at how many unfinished craft projects I had in there. I was cleaning it out in preparation of cleaning my sewing table because there is a lot of overlap in what I keep in both places and it makes it hard to find things. Plus the sewing table has become one of those catch all horizontal surfaces in the house where all kinds of bizarre things go to be forgotten.

Some of the projects were started to learn a new skill or technique and maybe don’t need to be completed, but others I was excited to see again. They had been out of sight out of mind, but I would actually like to complete them. I made a list of all the projects I found, and am making it a goal of 2020 to finish at least a few of them. Not every project need to be completed, and I’m sure I’ll have new ones I want to work on as well, so I think a goal of 2 or 3 off my list is a good start. Not to mention some of the quilts are likely to be a good amount of work and asking myself to compete all of them is just setting myself up for failure.

I’m going to go ahead and post my incomplete project list just to make anyone else who tends to start then fizzle out on their projects feel a little better. We are not alone.

  • The cat quilt (this is a quilt with pictures of cats, not necessarily FOR cats) it has a very time intense sawtooth boarder.
  • Sunflower quilt (a medallion quilt I was trying to make as a gift for my mother in law)
  • Doctor Who scarf
  • Christmas square mini quilt. (Found this not really started, but all cut out and ready to go)
  • Baby clothes quilt
  • Green/yellow Jack in the Box bed Quilt
  • Quilt of Valor (plus I think I know who I’d like this to go to so I need to look the rules up)
  • Fantastic Beasts Newt blue coat
  • Soccer Jersey quilt
  • Tessellating triangles mini quilt
  • Pile of clothing that needs repairs
  • T-shirt quilt
  • Small amineko
  • C2C scarf – DONE! Gave to my mother before getting a picture (boo)
  • Crochet sheep – DONE! Pictures coming soon

You might notice I have finished the last two times on my list already. I went ahead and added the projects I was currently working on when I made my list because they were still technically unfinished at that time, and I knew I’d be done soon and would like the boost of being able to check them off.

In the spirit of finishing, I am going to take my Doctor Who scarf with me to my sort-of-monthly crochet and knitting get together this week. At first I was trying to think of what new thing I should start to bring along, then realized, I didn’t need to come up with something new to start. I can finish! (Although I’m a very new knitter and my mom finished off the end of the scarf for me at Halloween so I could wear what I had so far, so I also have to learn how to undo her cast off so I can continue it – well, luckily learning is fun too.)


I Made Myself This Little Bag

After my most recent surgery, I was restricted to lifting no more than 5 pounds. The satchel I liked to bring with me to work was a couple pounds at least even when empty. So I needed something lighter I could carry my lunch in but that wouldn’t have room for me to add too much else and let it get too heavy.

Start Trek bag made by Kara Hartz

I found this Star Trek fabric on sale some time ago and have been looking for the perfect project to use it on. Ta Da! I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Inside of Star Trek bag made by Kara Hartz

The grey interior lining fabric is just circles and lines, but I like to imagine (as long as you don’t look at them too closely) they are tiny Enterprises.

I’m 90% sure this is the book where I found the pattern I adapted for the bag I made. It included a pocket inside and I didn’t include that.


Scrappy Flower Quilt Applique Block

I’ve been trying to tidy and organize while out recovering from surgery. Not easy to do without bending or lifting anything, so it isn’t really going all that well. But I did find a bunch of fabric scraps all over the place, and put them all together. I’ve read quilting blogs that seem to consider a fat quarter, or even bigger pieces of fabric a ‘scrap’, but to me a scrap is a few inches at best. Something left over from another project, not big enough to do much with.¬†
I decided I should come up with something fun to do with some of the scraps. I thought, since I haven’t done any applique in a long time, that would be fun. Poking around the internet, I found a free pattern for the above flower here:

It was cute, it was scrappy, and I could adapt it to a little block that I could make in a short amount of time. Winner! If you follow the link you will see there is also a bird pattern that I had intended to use, but the scraps I picked turned out not to have good contrast with each other or the background, so it didn’t look good, and as you can see from my finished block, there really wouldn’t have been room anyway. I still liked the musical notes, even without the bird to sing them, so I left them in anyway. I can do that because I’m a grown up.


Ashoka Headpiece Progress

Ashoka headpiece photo by Kara Hartz

Mistakes were made.

I was nervous about the complexity of this project, but I guess things are going. . . okay? I usually let the kiddos help out with their costumes, but now that they’re bigger, I’m really trying to get them much more involved. So she didn’t want to do any sewing, but she cut out the pattern and fabric for the headpiece, made the clay decorations that will go on the front. (I don’t know what those are called), painted them, and painted the headpiece. So tidying up of the painting will have to happen, but she will do that on her own as well.

All I did was sew and put in the wire in the top. We had a problem of it being much too small when we first did a trial fitting and I was frustrated that we might have to start completely over. Luckily, my fix of just tearing out and making bigger the top section worked well enough that the kiddo declared it good. I might have been inclined to tear out and enlarge other pieces (ok, that would be starting over basically) but I’m trying to keep this her project that I’m helping with and not the other way round. She says it’s good. So it’s good.

I didn’t supervise her directly while she worked so I don’t know if the problem was the pattern, or the cutting out. We also had some printer difficulty so the odds are, the problem was on our end. Still, we made it work. We picked this tutorial to follow¬†because it seemed a lot more manageable than many of the others we watched. At least it was made from fabric, and not latex or other materials I haven’t heard of and wouldn’t know how to get. Although if she keeps getting more into cosplay, I just might learn.


I Spy Baby Quilts in Progress

I have several coworkers and friends expecting babies. I like to make I spy baby quilts for occasions like this. I think I spy quilts are fun. As is my way, I take things one step further. I make sure to use each fabric exactly twice in each quilt so in addition to playing I spy, the quilts can be used for a matching game as well. Extra fun! Although it does involve having an awful lot of different fabrics, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

I only have the rows for one quilt assembled so far. Still lots to do.

So the Mystery Quilt of Valor will be on hold awhile as I work on all the happy baby quilts. I’m also in process of making an Ahsoka costume for my daughter that is somewhat time sensitive. Yea for fun sewing projects! Boo for everything always happening at once.


What I’m Making

This blog was created to share the things I’m creating.

While trying to come up with a topic for today’s post, I was thinking that I haven’t been making anything that I can share. Then I realized that’s not entirely true, I just don’t have anything super exciting, or much progress made on it.

I’m keeping this list to physical things I’m making. I also realized there are several other things taking up more of my time at the moment, but I’m not going to get into those here. I just want to focus on my creating right now.

Mini scarf crochet

Here what is in the works:

Still working on the Quilt of Valor Mystery Quilt. Hopefully have enough blocks to make it worth a post soon.

I have a short story that I will probably finish the first draft of tonight. It passed the ‘flash’ length, but I will probably still be sharing it here – hopefully Friday.

I’ve been teaching the kids to crochet. My project to use for an example is a little scarf for a plush friend.

The novel is theoretically still in process, but I haven’t really be putting any time in. This needs to change.

I’m writing blog posts for work occasionally. This is both more stressful, and more rewarding than I thought it would be, and I’d like to do more of it – which they have given me the freedom to do, it’s just a matter of my finding time.


In a Funk

It happens sometimes, right?
I’m feeling overwhelmed – with things that need doing, with problems that need solving, and that sort of thing. I’m also breaking my rule about avoiding news. It feels irresponsible to do so at the moment. Not only do I feel the need to pay attention, but to contact my representatives and tell my thoughts about it all. That’s what good citizens do, right? It’s stressful. There are people who enjoy this sort of thing. Nutty.

Looking at my calendar is depressing too. Well, everything we’re doing is great, but there’s just so much of it. Over scheduled. Overwhelmed.

So I’m not really writing much. Or sewing. Or feeling creative in any way.

I’m also having a lot of dreams. Science tells us that we’re always having lots of dreams, so it would be more accurate to say I’m remembering my dreams more. Upsetting dreams. At least, upsetting in the moment. My dreams have always been weird. I’ve had friends tell me their dreams and they sound like normal days. I dream things like – Elvis and Kermit the Frog show up in my living room to give me advice on how to get the carolers off my lawn in the middle of the summer. (They thought I should turn the sprinklers on them). So if I try to explain my dreams to other people they sound silly. Yet in the dream, there is often intense emotion or an air of menace that is unsettling, and un-restful. Some of you will know what I’m talking about. Then that unsettled, un-rested feeling clings to me the rest of the day.

It all leaves me tired, and in no mood to create.

Then there’s guilt because I’m not making progress on the quilt, or the novel, or the Friday Flash Fiction stories. That doesn’t help settle me down. Plus, the creating is such a part of me – a satisfying essential part of me, I don’t like the way I feel without it. Time to go into hermit mode for awhile and get my groove back.


The Mystery Quilt Finds a Destiny

I’ve always wanted to make a quilt for Quilts of Valor. It occurred to me the other day that the mystery quilt I’ve been working on would be great for that purpose.

In researching the guidelines for a Quilt of Valor, I learned that while red, white, and blue quilts are not strictly required, they are the most requested colors. So my dilemma about the colors for the setting blocks is now solved. I’ve made two setting blocks so far and really like the red and blue much better than the green and grey the original pattern called for.

I will need to make one additional set of four pattern blocks as well to make the finished quilt the size I need it to be to donate, but that will be fine. Now, I need to go look at the choices to see which one I like best to add.

Doesn’t the red and blue look nice?