Monday, February 2, 2015

Easy BBQ Aprons

I've been doing a lot of sewing this season - between bouts of the flu. Yes, I had a flu shot but this year's strain got me anyway - and it seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving! 

A small group of friends has been gathering at my place on Wednesday afternoons to sew. It started with friends wanting to learn to make my easy market bags


and we had "Sew Much Fun" we continued with bargello placemats, pillow cases with french seams, quilt-as-you-go table runners and this week we will attempt aprons. I've looked at dozens of apron patterns and tried to select the best techniques to make a simple apron that can be easily changed to make it smaller for kids or larger for more coverage. The choice of fabric types and placement of pockets and matching or contrasting tie makes every one individual. One apron takes about 1 1/2 yards of fabric. The body alone can be made from a one-yard cut.

First, I made a template for the body of the apron from brown wrapping paper. The long left side goes on the fold of the fabric and measures 34-inches (more or less depending on how long you want it). I cut mine just wide enough to leave a 5-inch strip at the selvage for the tie (about 14-inches wide which when opened makes the apron 28-inches wide from the waist down). I like lots of coverage so I wanted the bib 12-inches across at the top - so the pattern measures 6-inches. The short side measures 24-inches. The curve at the armhole can be a straight line or gentle curve as I show - up to you.

On my pattern, I drew a second line 2-inches in from the curve and made a second pattern piece (the white piece) that fits between the lines. Do NOT cut the 2-inch strip off the main body pattern piece! Let's call the 2-inch wide curved strips the tie tunnels.

Here are my pieces cut out and opened up. The top two pieces are for pockets and the long thin straight piece is the tie, folded. This apron uses one long tie. I piece several 2 1/2 wide strips together to make a tie between 4 and 5 yards long so it goes over your head, through the tie tunnels along the curved sides and crosses behind your back and ties in the front. Obviously, the length of the tie depends on the girth of the recipient.

Here are the 2 tie tunnels. Turn the longer edge up 1/4 to 1/2-inch ( I try for a 1/4 but it usually ends up closer to 1/2!) and iron. I used starch to keep it in place.

Pin the tie tunnels to the armhole curve, right sides together, and sew in place with a 1/4-inch seam. The tunnels are left and right and will only fit one way.

Iron the seam open being careful not to un-iron the 1/4-inch hem.

Turn the four straight sides (top, bottom and 2 sides) over 1/4 inch and iron. Include the short sides of the tie tunnel. Fold over again, iron and sew. This takes a little finesse as you turn and iron across the open seam.

Turn the tie tunnel to the wrong side and press.

Topstitch the tie tunnel 1/4-inch from armhole.

Turn apron over and sew inside of tie tunnel at hem.

Completed tunnel!

Sew the 2 1/2-inch strips together to make tie.

The tie is folded, ironed and sewn the same way the handles for the easy market bags were made except no batting is used and the tie is much thinner (finished tie is about 1/2-inch wide and can be sewn with a single row of stitches down the middle or two rows each less than 1/8-inch from the sides.

The tie is threaded up through the first tunnel (I use a large safety pin) and down through the second tunnel - creating the adjustable neck strap.

OK - this picture isn't very clear, but I added a long pocket towards the bottom and stitched it in the middle to make two separate pockets. I also added a pocket on the bib so it looks more like a BBQ apron.

Sew Much Fun!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Colorado Field Ornithologist (CFO) Convention in Sterling Colorado

Bill and I attended our first CFO Convention over the Labor Day weekend in Sterling, Colorado. We gathered with 175 other birders and the mayor of Sterling for the welcome barbecue on Thursday evening followed by 3 days of field trips, a Saturday night banquet, talks and impromptu "chases" to see specific birds.  

A Black-billed Magpie along the route to Sterling.

After the welcome BBQ, several of us went out to search for Western Screech Owls. The leader lead a car parade to a remote spot and called in the owls. It was quite dark when I took this shot and I'm amazed I got anything - but it's a picture, so it counts - a lifer for both Bill and me.

Our first field trip took us to a private wildlife area in Fort Morgan. We saw lots of Towhees - this one is a juvenile Spotted Towhee.

There was a lot of discussion about the identity of this sparrow but the leader finally decided it was a Song Sparrow.

Western Wood Peewees were the default bird of the trip - we saw dozens.

A Red-shafted Flicker.

Swainson's Hawk

I've only seen Wilson's Warblers in the high country before this trip.

Another Life Bird for us - a juvenile Mississippi Kite. There were a lot flying high over one of the city parks, but Bill and I waited until dusk when they began to land in the trees.

Not a great picture as it was so dark - but a real thrill for me to see one up close.

Our birding group (the slackers) on Saturday at Columbine Park. Our leader is Ted Floyd - a wealth of fabulous information!

 This has been the year of the Cedar Waxwings! There were dozens in one of the trees - both adults and juveniles.

This time of year, I don't see the red on their wings.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch looking for insects.

Our Sunday trip took us to Tamarak SWA where I saw this Bullock's Oriole. We counted a total of 58 species - not bad. It was a great weekend and we are already looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One Block Wonder

The additional material arrived so I've been working on my One Block Wonder - with a twist. The material is very beachy (Tropical Vacation) so it will go on the guest bed in Ocala. At least that's the plan - always subject to change.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Easy Market Bags

I've been waiting for some material to arrive from England so I can finish up my beachy OBW quilt so have been making market bags to keep out of trouble. They are very easy to make and go pretty quickly. The finished bag measures 20" X 20" - but sometimes if I am a little short of material I adjust the finished size accordingly. I usually use scrap material, but in honor of my sister, Beth's birthday, I decided to use some of her fabulous hand painted/dyed material.  This bag uses 3 different materials: focus material for the center outside, handles & inside pockets; green for the top & bottom outside and yellow for the lining. I also use fusable batting that I buy at Joanns when it goes on sale.

Center outside 10" X 20" (2 pieces)
Top outside 3" X 20" (2 pieces)
Bottom outside 8" X 20" (2 pieces)
Handles 5" X LOF or, if using scraps, about 5" X 28" long (2 pieces)
Lining 20" X 20" (2 pieces).
Fusable batting 19 1/2" X 19 1/2 inches (2 pieces).  If the main fabric is quilting cotton, I also cut batting for the handles (2 1/2" X 28") and for the pocket (8" X 8").
Pockets: I use whatever matches. Sometimes I add pockets to both inside and outside, sometimes not. It all depends on what I have & how it looks. I like at least one inside pocket and cut a piece 8" X 16".

Step 1: Outside. Sew the top, middle and bottom outside pieces together so you have 2 squares measuring 20" X 20"

Step 2: Lining. Fuse batting to the wrong side of the lining pieces.

Step 3: Pockets. (OPTIONAL) Fuse batting to half of wrong side of fabric.

Fold the 8" X 16" pocket fabric in half with right sides together. Sew the sides only and turn right side out. It should measure 8" X 8". The opening will be the bottom of the pocket. Make as many or as few as you want - any size you want. I like to include one for my cell phone. Decide where they will go - but stay towards the middle - not too high or too low. Measure in from the sides so they are symmetrical. I usually put the inside pockets about 2" down from the top and the outside pockets (if any) on the center piece only. Stay at least 5" from the bottom.

Mark with a horizontal line where the bottom of the pocket will go.

Sew the bottom of the pocket on the line with the opening facing the top of the bag and the top of the pocket hanging down towards the bottom of the bag.

 Flip the pocket up, center and sew sides and bottom.

The stitching will show so pick your thread color accordingly. I use a walking foot since you are sewing through several layers.

Step 4: Handles. Fold your fabric in half longways with wrong sides together and iron a crease.

Open. Fold the outer edges in to the center line and iron.


 Fuse batting down the center using the ironed lines as a guide.

Fold the outside edges in again (over the batting and meeting in the center where your first ironed line was).

Fold in half and top-stitch along both sides.

Decide how long you want your handles. I like 28" long so I can put them over my shoulder, but my hubby likes them shorter.

The handles are sewn to the top of the right side of the lining. I place them about 5" from the sides as shown in the pictures.

Sew 1/4 inch from the edge. I go forward and backward several times.

Step 5. Once the pockets and handles have been attached, sew the outside panels together on 2 sides and the bottom - right sides together. Set aside.

Sew the 2 lining panels together except leave a 5" gap in the middle of the bottom seam.

Step 6. The Bottom. Lay the lining panel flat and draw a 3" square on both sides of each corner.

Line up the bottom seam and the side seam as shown. Sew along the line. Cut off the corner about 1/2" from the line. This squares the bottom. The line will be about 4" from the corner. If you like a smaller bottom for your bag, reduce your square to 2.5".

Repeat step 6 on the outside panels.

 Step 7. Stand up the lining with the right side in. Put the outside panels inside the lining with right sides together. Make sure the handles are inside. Pin the raw tops together - matching side seams.

Sew the lining to the outside panels. I use a 1/2" seam to hide where the handles were sewn on. Once they have been sewn together - turn it right side out by pulling everything through the opening left in the bottom seam of the lining.

If your bag is a gift or if you are expecting the quilt police to inspect it, the opening can be hand sewn closed. Since it's on the bottom of the inside, I usually just machine stitch it closed with a zig-zag stitch. Finally, tuck the lining inside.

Iron the top seam and, if you like, you can top-stitch around 1/4" from the top. There, it's done!

I especially like the colors in this bag. Since I had very little of the center fabric, I made the handles with the blue fabric. The lining is yellow. I usually select a light fabric for the lining and use a darker fabric for the handles.

On this bag I combined the center strip and the bottom strips and cut 2 pieces measuring 17 1/2" X 20". The lining matches the top strip, the handles and the 2 inside pockets match the chili fabric. If I make the bag for a child, I make all the measurements smaller. The most important part is to enjoy the process, make it your own, and USE the bag!