Archive for the 'sewing (etc)' Category

Fun with Watercolors

November 18, 2010

In lieu of fabric based craft project I’ve been playing around with my old watercolors lately.  Its relaxing and fits easily into the evening between making dinner, watching something or other and reading.  I picked up a book from the library which encouraged me to get out my masking fluid again and give that a try.  The below three pictures are examples (note: they’re copied from exercises in books, not original compositions).  The fourth one is all me … which is why its really not as interesting.

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Another Decision

July 7, 2010

On Monday evening I sat down to my sewing machine and pieced all the colored portions of the quilt.  It went like a dream – thanks to having been all planned in advance.   However I’ve not been entirely satisfied with the result.  When laid out on the bed over the white background fabric it all looks a bit … insipid.  I don’t like it as well as the simple navy cotton throw I’m using right now.  I think its a combination of the light colors of the fabric (somehow different than they seemed when whole) and the white walls in the room (curse you apartment regulations).  But then it occurred to me that the light colors might make a nice contrast to a darker background.  So I’m at another decision crossroads.  Thoughts anyone?

Happy Country’s Birthday

July 4, 2010

KJ and I celebrated by baking this cake (which was supposed to be blue on the inside but turned out green instead (oops).  And also by watching period British costume dramas.  Roshni aptly named it our Redcoat Turncoat weekend and we enjoyed it no end.  Happy Birthday America.

Layout (on a very dirty floor)

July 2, 2010

OK.  I’m back on track with the quilting.  I’ve got all the pattern pieces cut (except the white borders) and I delayed actually piecing them long enough to lay the whole thing out on the floor and have a look.  I’m still pretty pleased with the overall effect although somehow the green/yellows seem a little more washed out in place than they did as full fat quarters.  But basically I really like it.  Its amazing how fast the cutting process can go when I don’t have all my own waffling and decision making process to wade through .  Using someone else’s pattern is certainly a major time and stress saver.

Now I’ve got all the pieces stacked and ready to start sewing and pressing. (By the way, the table is all painted and done but I haven’t photographed it get – I’m playing with a couple of different room layouts to accomodate the new round shape first.)

Right now, I’m pretty excited to see this quilt top come together.   I’m not sure if sewing will begin this weekend or not, as my sister is visiting for the holiday but either way I have a feeling that piecing this quilt top is just going to fly.  And as I haven’t had my sewing machine out of its case since April it feels like more than time to get started!

I have a short attention span.

June 30, 2010

I came home last night with only two more fabric patterns to cut into pieces.  Look you can see them laid out on the cutting mat there on the table (yes, the new table).  But at the end of the night I still hadn’t finished (or started cutting them out).  So the quilt is on a mini hold.  “Why,” you ask.  Well I’ll tell you – because the humidity was so nice and low.  I realized that this next streak of days would be the perfect time to finish painting the table I bought last month from craigslist.  So I spread out some plastic drop cloth, block the table up on some handy spacers (more paint cans) and cracked out the brushes again.  I’m very excited to wrap up this project which has gone on far to long. Read the rest of this entry »

Decision

June 28, 2010

So I made a decision and went with the Denyse Schmidt quilt.   I feel odd about executing someone else’s design but I really do like it a lot and why shouldn’t I go with that feeling.  I did end up re-doing the colors again yesterday.  I removed all the fabrics with gray tones in them and then filled in with a few more of the other remaining colors and added two more solids: the periwinkle blue and the yellow.  Here’s how its (theoretically) looking now.  But I actually started cutting last night so I’ll be having a physical mockup soon in addition to the digital.  Its fun to be playing with fabric again this way.

New Project

June 26, 2010

This is my first weekend at home since my birthday and before it had been another month since I stayed put.  All this time away meant that I started using my apartment like a hotel room – coming home to eat, read, watch something and then go to sleep … and I haven’t had a project for quite a little while.  (Well I did re-finish a new table but that’s another story).  Today I’m finally starting one!  At the same time that I picked up my new table from Craigslist last month I also picked up a new (to me) queen bed.  Trading in my sister’s childhood twin felt like a wonderful step into the good life but has required a few ancillary purchases.  With a queen bed, one needs queen sheets, queen mattress pad and a queen quilt.  For the moment I’m using a waffle weave blanket from my old bed turned sideways which doesn’t cover my feet but is fine for summer wear.  But now the quilt is getting underway.

I actually have everything on hand already because of my magpie tendency to acquire fabric without a firm plan and because I took advantage of a great sale at Hancock Fabric last month to pick up the flannel backing and cotton batting I’d need.  From my collection of fat quarters I assembled this collection above.  The brown fabric is the sheets, the navy is the flannel backing and the white muslin will be the background of the quilt top.  I’d actually also cracked last time I was at the quilt store and bought the pattern for a Denyse Schmidt quilt “Stacking the Odds”.  Its this one here. Its simply too cute to pass up and all her stuff really appeals to me.  I almost never follow the patterns of professional designers – its more fun to play with my own stuff and I’m too stubborn.  But this quilt really has me tempted. Read the rest of this entry »

Canned Cupcakes

May 22, 2010

Well officially I suppose they are jarred cupcakes but they are in canning jars and I love alliteration.  These are the cupcakes I prepared and shipped to my dear friend Roshni for her birthday.  She’s been mourning her lack of proximity as I baked up a storm this spring so I decided to surprise her with with baked goods of her own for this occasion.  I was wondering if it was even possible to ship cupcakes without irreparable damage in transit when the internet gods suggested this solution.  I was instantly taken with the idea.  Cupcakes in a jar!  What a notion.   Here’s how theirs look.

Quite lovely.  I didn’t understand why they were splitting and frosting their cupcakes vertically until after I’d done all of mine but now I think I’ll do it their way in the future – it helps the cupcake spread and fill up the whole base of the jar better which will, I assume, keep them fresher.  It also looks better.  However I’m very pleased with my first attempt.  I don’t think it will be my last.  Even for short range transport – from my apartment to work or to a friends house – this is a great solution that will keep everything looking neat and be easy, fun and novel to consume as well.  Hooray.

I’ll photograph come of my own in a forthcoming post.

Can it!

May 13, 2010

Today I (somewhat) accidentally took my lunch to work in a tupperware container.  The container in question is the only one I still own – a relic of my college days and possessing some sentimental association as I carried it around the world with me in 2002-2003.  But as I borrowed a plate so that I could heat up my leftovers – calzones with tomato dipping sauce, I remembered again why I don’t like to use plastic anymore.  All this is by way of saying that I have a new love in my life.


I am rapidly falling head over heels for Ball canning jars.  I switched out my tupperware for pyrex a few years ago and I still use and like all of those pieces.  But my new love is definitely official canning jars.  I have so many in my life now.  I get two two-quart sized jars every week containing my weekly gallon of farm fresh milk.  Shortly after that began I borrowed three quart jars from my mother – for decanting extra milk from one week to another and for other useful refrigerator storage.  I was pleased that they took the same size lids as the larger ones.

I should mention that at this point I don’t even do any official canning.  I did put up several pounds of bell peppers and about 40 lb of tomatoes last fall but I did it all with freezer storage.  Nevertheless, they are infinitely useful.  And I’m eager to expand my range this summer.  Plus Ball is apparently a great company.*

And to top it all off – it was only a few days ago that I came across this little item on Young House Love‘s recent House Crashing post.  Oh yes.  Its a ball jar chandelier:

I‘m semi seriously considering making one!  The proud DIY home owner is Kara Paslay who details how she and her husband assembled the thing on her own home improvement blog.  Its actually an amazingly elegant look out of a really casual country set of items.  I’m very amused and I’d take it over my apartments oh-so-passe bronze four directional lights and a fan fixture any day.

However my main point is this: Ball canning jars are absolutely fabulous and can be used for nearly anything.  Hooray for them!

*As I was rhapsodizing to myself about how much I love them I said “I should buy stock in Ball Canning Jars.”  Then I went and looked up their website.  Apparently they were named the “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list in 2010 by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.  They’ve been working to improve their overall energy use, VOC releases, water uses, natural gas use etc over the last few years.  Apparently most of their revenue is actually in real cans – the steel ones you buy food in at the grocery store – which I’m not so wild about.  But as far as the glass jars arm of the company goes … they are all about making re-usable glass canning jars – to be used in lieu of disposable containers for prepared food.  So, two thumbs up there as well.

Deadline met!

April 19, 2010

Well its all done.  And I really did end up cutting it down to the wire.  I redesigned the collar of the jacket last thing and was sewing on the final seem at noon on saturday.  Then I rushed all around my apartment throwing things in a bag and was in my car on the way to the wedding by 12:20.  According to google maps that departure time meant I’d barely make it to the service but, by dint of driving quite a bit over the speed limit on open roads the whole way, I made it there in good time.

The wedding was totally lovely.  This was actually my first grown-up wedding and I thought it all came off beautifully.  Chris and Paul were married in her home town church by his family minister and everyone there was very casual and happy.  Chris looked amazing (like a real bride)!  The reception was really nice.  There was a great big band style band playing dance music and I sat with a table of fellow archi-grads so it was like a mini reunion as well.  All in all, I was thrilled to be there for it.  Oh I almost forgot.  The craziest thing is this:  I caught the bouquet.  I’m not really up on the rules of this but I figure it means one of three things:  Read the rest of this entry »

19 Hours … and counting

April 16, 2010

OK.  I’m cutting this one down to the wire because the occasion for this dress is tomorrow at 4:00 PM.  I figure between the time it takes me to drive to the church in Keister and the drive of my commute home from work tonight I’ll have about 19 hours to get this all finished up (plus do all the eating, sleeping and personal hygiene I feel is necessary in the interim).  I’m quite confident about the dress – it just need to have the zipper set in and then be hemmed.  The jacket still doesn’t have sleeve of any sort – that one is just a rectangular piece of fabric pinned on to test.  It may or may not make the deadline.  Never the less it will be fun to try it tonight.  And I’ll be sure to snap and post the final result tomorrow.  If anyone has a spare moment tonight … wish me luck in being as decisive and productive as I need to be!

Lightning Round Dress Design

April 5, 2010

Here’s my new challenge: the 72 hour dress.  This is something I’ve had in mind for a while – the fabric was purchased on a whim in January and I decided probably in February that I was going to make a dress out of it to wear to Chris’s wedding.  But then other things came up and I didn’t really get around to doing it.

So now here it is April and the wedding is the weekend after next … and I also had plans to make a coordinating gray corduroy jacket.  Accordingly, yesterday I threw down the gauntlet for myself.  I bullied a little reluctant design advice out of KJ while she was here and came up with a basic design and then got my dress form out and started pinning.  The above is still just the mockup – all held together with pins and folding.  In this shot to the right though I’m wearing the semi-complete bodice section while my handy dandy dress form continues to be just pinned together.  But by the time I left for work I had attached the skirt section to the bodice and tried the whole thing on once.

Its coming together very quickly and I’m keeping my usual contemplative deliberation breaks to a minimum.  Tonight I hit the fabric store for a zipper and hook-and-eye closure and I very much hope to have it wrapped up by tomorrow.  Here’s the full mockup below:

And now Cobbling

March 21, 2010

I am Seattle this week on a delightful time traveling visit to late spring.  There are flowering trees all around me and the glorious weather is matched by an even more glorious farmers market yesterday bursting with bright flowers, gleaming produce and general happiness.  As I was mentally packing last week I hit a major snag when my trusty Keens (worn nearly every day since they replace my last pair about three years ago) had worn through in the soles and sprung an unfortunate leak.  This was a problem on the muddy paths around work at Whole Trees and looked to be similar issue when I took them to Seattle and to the hiking trails around Darrington where I’ll be visiting Catherine later this week.  I could have replaced them but wasn’t quite ready for the expense and the mental commitment to a new pair of shoes so close to summer and chaco season.

Then I hit on a wonderful solution – I could revive my old pair of Keens.  They were also pretty worn out but now probably in about the same condition as these ones and without the problematic leak which filled them with muddy water at every puddle.  Brilliant.  I dug them out of my storage unit and happily re-adjusted to them.  Then on the plane, Friday, I made an unpleasant discovery – these ones might not leak through their rubber sole but the leather work on the top was dangerously close to coming unstitched.  The secret black thread which really held the pieces together was broken and it was hanging together (barely) on its decorative top stitching.  Uh oh.  “That’s OK, I reassured myself.  These may be my only shoes for the week and I may plan to walk all over the entire city of Seattle in them – I will simply repair them myself.” Read the rest of this entry »

Further adventures in tailoring

March 9, 2010

So here’s the upshot of my latest adventure in pattern making.  It all started when I ventured into the Mall of America once more in February.**  I was trudging around trying to find the Verizon store when I walked past Burberry.  And then walked past again.  And then went in.  I felt a little awkward about even being in the store as I am so patently unable and unwilling to purchase anything within but I couldn’t help myself.  I was just finishing off my little plaid coat of last month and so I was inordinately interested in construction details.  My extended curiosity conveyed the wrong impression to one of the painfully stylish salespeople who mistook me for a serious customer and came over to talk.  “Try it,” she said, “that one is so cute on.”  So I set down my tote bag (keeping the display table between her and my dingy hiking boots) and picked up the coat in question, surreptitiously noting its price as I did: $650.  It was, in fact very cute ‘on,’ and it had a nice solid heft to it and the plaid wool lined up perfectly at every seam.  Impressive.  But of course it was totally unthinkable so I looked in the mirror from every angle and then shrugged it off.  “I think the sleeves are a little short on me.”  “Oh that’s no problem,” she replied, “we have a tailor who comes in regularly to make those little alterations.”  For $650 I’m not surprised.  I made a non-committal noise and left the store.

On my way out, though I snapped this picture of the shirt on the mannequin thinking that I could replicate it at home.  Certainly I won’t be able to get hold of the bold plaid that they probably have trademarked but I’ll mess around and see what I come up with.  Here’s my first stab.  I’m thinking that I’ll probably make a couple versions of this shirt since I really like it and it seems to be everywhere right now!  I’ve seen the same design, a tunic top with shirring across the front and sometimes in the sleeves, in J.Jill, Eddie Bauer, and on the street (even here in sleepy La X!).  This is made in a dark brown paisley pattern that my aunt sent me last year.  Its just a bit stretchy which is a little more forgiving for a first draft pattern. Read the rest of this entry »

Progress in Plaid (concluded)

February 12, 2010

Its Done!  I sewed up the lining last night and I couldn’t be prouder.  I actually can’t really believe I did it.  I’m trying to remember when I started this whole crazy kick and I can’t be perfectly sure but I think I saw the Heroes episode which inspired it three weeks ago Thursday and I know I bought the chenille on January 22nd.  So that’s less than three weeks start to finish.  I was designing as I went which slowed me down a fair amount but, of course, added to the fun.  Right up till the last night when I decided that it needed a fourth row of buttons and quickly added them just before hand stitching the lining closed.  But its done. I did it.  And today I wore it to work.  I got a complement on it from a total stranger at the internet marketing seminar I attended this morning too.  The woman next to me, Danielle Kaeding of local radio news fame, actually, said she liked it when we stood up at the break.  And she meant it in a thats-a-cool-coat-how-clever-of-you-to-decide-to-buy-it way, not even in an how impressive that you sew your own clothes way.  I think I can call myself a real seamstress now!

Here’s a peek at the lining, which everyone seems to agree, totally makes the coat!

To see the whole process see the older posts here.

Next stop: the moon!  Actually, next stop I think will be a dress and coat with matching lining to wear to Chris and Paul’s wedding.  More on this soon!

Cupcake Heaven

February 11, 2010

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make something out of Sarah Magid’s new book Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies and other Sweets that Taste as Good as the Look.  I got it off the new book shelf at the library a couple months ago and keep renewing it because I just can’t let it go out of my life.  I’ve never been that much of a desert chef but … her cakes are just so beautiful I want to make them!  This weekend my aunt is going to bring my dear little grandma over to my parent’s house in Madison for a Valentine’s Day treat.  She hasn’t been to our house in nearly two years now because its hard for my grandfather to drive the two hours it takes to visit and also because he’s bah humbug homebody who doesn’t like to travel or really leave the house anymore.  That’s not true of her at all but as he’s her only sourse of wheels she’s pretty isolated these days.  This weekend we’re striking back and making her our collective valentines date for the weekend.  All grandma, all the time.  It should be very fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Fabric Frippery

February 8, 2010

I was up in the Twin Cities this weekend, visiting a few friends from school, and I indulged myself with a round of my favorite quirky fabric stores.  I’ve been hitting the fabric pretty hard of late but I don’t really see any reason to be ashamed of that.  In fact I feel like shouting it from the rooftops – its fun.  And should you happen to feel the same – here are the two best shops I know about in that area: Read the rest of this entry »

Progress in Plaid (continued)

February 4, 2010

So my dressmaking adventures have continued fairly continuously since last I posted about my plaid coat project here.

Its been quite the challenge but I’ve really enjoyed it.  I forgot to note when I started in on this but its certainly been a couple of weeks now that my apartment has been littered with little strings of chenille.  I went through an extensive period of basting and pulling apart – trying to get both the fit and the plaid at the seams to a good place.  Since the weekend I’ve been making more concrete progress.  I sewed up all the seams with navy thread and then pressed them all flat and sewed them down on both sides.   (Sidenote: I love, love, love sewing seems flat.  Its just the most satisfying thing in the whole world.)  Then I cut out the lining fabric and assembled it as well.  For some reason it was fitting more snugly than the coat itself (less give in the fabric probably) so I had to slit it up the back and add a 2 inch strip to allow for a little more give in the shoulders. Read the rest of this entry »

Sweatshirt Set

January 30, 2010

No, I haven’t been playing with photoshop – there are two of them.  This is actually a project from a couple of weeks ago.  I made up the green shirt first based on  my memory of a beloved sweatshirt from several years ago which was destroyed in a freak bleaching accident.  I made the muslin pattern based on a couple of shirts I like and tinkered a bit to get the raglan sleeves to set in properly.  The second (gray) one went much more quickly as I had already worked out the fit … although I did play around with ways to edge the sleeves and waist for a while.  Eventually I just turned the fabric backwards to create edging – since its sort of a terry cloth material it makes a nice little contrast.  Pretty neat huh?  Real shirts made by and fit to yours truly.  I feel like quite the seamstress and I have the muslin pattern pieces labeled and marked with grain lines and notes etc so that I can make another whenever I please.

Progress in Plaid

January 26, 2010

So my latest sewing project is providing a very pleasant challenge.  Last week I watched an episode of Heroes which featured (among other plot lines and devices) a really adorable plaid double breasted coat with princess seams and a gathered waist in the back.  It was still in my head on Friday when I went to the fabric store without a clear agenda in mind and found they were having a really good sale on wool.  Sale or no sale I decided it would be better to begin making a pattern from scratch with a less expensive fabric so I found this chenille plaid in the bargain bin for just a few dollars a yard.

It is being really difficult (read: fun) to try to get all the plaid to line up properly in a coat with this many seams and I think when I go back for the real fabric … I’ll go easy on myself and get a solid.  However the plaid may turn out to be presentable enough to wear on its own when I’m done.  In any case I’m having a great time figuring it out.

I’ve been trying on and measuring all my other coats and jackets (I seem to have a bunch that I actually never wear) and also just making leaps of faith with the scissors.  And doing a LOT of basting and unpicking.  But its coming along nicely.  This is a shot of me trying to get the grain of the sleeves to match perfectly with the line of the main body. Read the rest of this entry »