drat

Oh sure, I planned out all my spring and summer (and probably fall and winter, if I’m honest) knitting, and Quince and Co releases a collection of patterns for their linen yarn. I love linen. I especially like the little apron-like top. It’s fun and different, and I have a thing for linen and aprons.

apron

In fact,  I have a pinafore from Rough Linen and I love it so much. I wear it all weekend no matter what I’m doing-yard work, cooking, cleaning. It’s the best thing ever. I have the natural linen color, but I think I might save up for a black one too. And then I’ll wear it everywhere, and pretend it’s a tunic top and not an apron at all.

pinafore

I also love this linen dress (found via Miss Moss). I might need to make myself something similar. I could wear a dress like that every day and be happy about it.

jane-sew-006

Next time I’ll have a post about something I actually made, instead of talking about things I want to make.

Read More

autumn to-do list

Now it really is starting to feel like autumn up here in the mountains, and the cottonwoods have the barest tinge of yellow. Something about the change of seasons makes me want to get some things done. I made a list, and I’ve already started working on it:

  • Wash and re-block hand knits.
    I pulled out a couple scarves, and they’re not dirty, just a bit crumpled from being shoved in a drawer all summer. A good blocking will do them all some good.
  • Take a crochet class.
    I went on Saturday for a class, and it was so helpful! I’ve done a little crochet on my own, but was never sure if I was doing it right. I especially never felt very comfortable juggling the hook and the yarn. In my class I learned a good way to hold them both, and I can single and double crochet quite well now. I even found a pattern for a ripple blanket and started on the first stripe. I actually had tried to do a similar pattern years ago, but I was never happy with the way it looked. I thought it would be a great project to use up leftover bits of worsted weight yarns. I’ll be working on it for a long time, but it will be a nice break to do a stripe here and there. 

DSC_1310

  • Make roast goose.
    So, I’ll be brief on this one. We had two mean geese. They were noisy and unpleasant and I found someone who was willing to “process” them for me. And now they are in the freezer. I’m still working myself up to it, but I found a good tutorial for when I am ready.
  • Get some more chickens.
    My girls aren’t laying much, and two of the six hens are now six years old, so it’s time for some fresh young hens. I’ll let my old ladies enjoy the rest of their days in our yard, though. They don’t try to nip at me when I feed them.
  • Finish website re-design/cleanup.
    I want to keep things clean and simple around here. I’ll probably do  a little here and there on this one, but I’m still not in a mood to spend my evenings in front of the computer.
  • Learn to use Lightroom, and organize my photos.
    I’ve started doing this too. In fact, I’ve even switched to shooting in RAW. I’m not totally sure what that even means, but I’m doing it! 
  • Bake a cake (flourless, of course).
    Done, and it was good, but I’m still searching for a really good grain-free cake recipe. I used this recipe, and it was dense and moist, which I expected. It was just a little too sweet for me (which might have been the pears I used, they were very ripe and sweet), and a little heavy. But it was so fun to bake again. I won’t be making it a regular habit, just a now and then treat.  

DSC_1312

  • Make a scarf from a piece of Liberty fabric I’ve been hoarding.
    This should take about ten minutes, I’ve got a yard, so I think I’ll just cut it in half and sew it end-to-end for length. 
  • Make a sweater for Pulley
    He doesn’t have fur like the other dogs, I think he’s going to need some warm clothes for the winter. 
  • Start making soup.
    I need to find some new soup recipes. Do you have any good ones? 
  • Knit the perfect cabled sweater.
    I want something cozy and slouchy. This might be just the thing. I have to decide what kind of yarn to use. 
  • Buy a lot of pumpkins and decorate the porch.
    I’ve got two so far, but I’m going to need some more.

Bonus items:

The Autumn pin board.
I also just needed to share the fact that you can follow an astronaut on pinterest.

Read More

the next phase

I am fully committed to my porch project, and making a lot of progress. Even though I have a lot more that I want to do, it’s now my favorite spot to hang out. I can eat out there, sit and knit, read, or even take a nap.

I finished two pillows and have a couple more pillow forms waiting for covers. I played with batik again, and again, it was a lot of fun. This time I went bright with pink and orange dye. I originally added the orange to the pink dye bath when I was finished with it, hoping for more of a coral color. Obviously, I should have added less orange for that to happen. I’m fine with the bright tangerine, though.

pillowsI just used a paint brush and beeswax on drop cloth fabric, like last time, but I think if I do this again, I’ll invest in this special tool to see if it gives me a little more control. I just keep calling this sort of imperfect outcome ‘organic,’ to legitimize all the gloppiness of it.

I love the texture of the drop cloth for these pillows, which will be outdoors much of the time. The cushion covers are simply two squares of the dyed fabric with an invisible zipper in the bottom seam, so they’ll be easy to remove and wash.

pink pillow

I know, I need to paint my rocking chair. It’s an old, cheap one from Wal-Mart that Mr. Heylucy surprised me with one day, years and years ago, so I can’t complain. Painting it is on the to-do list, but it’s at the bottom for now.

Completely unrelated to all this, I made a little rosemary wreath after work the other day, just for fun. I have two giant rosemary bushes in serious need of pruning, so I cut enough sprigs for this project. And you can’t even tell, the bushes are still spilling over the walkway. I could probably make a couple dozen wreaths from those monsters.

rosemary wreath

Here’s a quick how-to, in case you want to make one yourself (it’s super easy and fun!): cut lots and lots of rosemary sprigs. Strip the leaves from the bottom few inches, and bunch three or so together and wrap with floral wire (I have a paddle of very thin, green wire, so it’s easy to wrap). Don’t cut your wire. Gather together another bunch, again striping the leaves from the bottom, and overlap the first bunch, wrapping the two bunches together and continuing down the stems of the second bunch. Keep repeating with new bunches until you have a string of rosemary long enough to shape into a circle. Wrap the last bunch to the first bunch. If you have a lot of wire showing, you can just add more sprigs here and there with short bits of wire to cover it up. And that’s it! Hang up your wreath and admire your handiwork, and marvel that it just took a few minutes to make. If it’s a bit wonky, just call it ‘organic.’

And going back to the porch, here’s a gratuitous picture of Pulley, who likes hanging out there as well.

pulley on the porch

 

 

 

 

Read More

the porch, so far

Porch sitting season is here, and I am doing some serious porch nesting right now. I love sitting on the porch and reading, and while the rocking chair is comfy, sometimes I just want to curl up with my book on a bed, but I don’t want to go inside. Ever since we moved here I imagined the perfect vintage French daybed, piled with pillows. The problem, of course, is finding such a thing and having it not cost hundreds of dollars. After all, it is going to be left outside. So I needed something that was maybe not quite so precious. I also didn’t want to have to build something and then find a mattress or some other sort of padding. And then I remembered seeing a cot on Martha Stewart or some place similar. I liked the idea of an old, wooden army cot, but frankly, they didn’t look all that comfortable. After a little searching, I found this nice, substantial-looking number. It folds up nice and small, so I can stash it indoors during the winter. With the addition of a down comforter on top of the pad that came with the cot, it’s super comfortable and roomy, which is good, because if I’m out there laying on it, there’s a pretty good chance that there will be a dog or two on it too. porch

Next up, I plan to add lots of pillows. I’ve got lots of inspiration to work from. I have pots to fill with plants and flowers, and a bird cage I filled with succulents (more on that in another post). This is just one corner of our porch, it continues all along the front and side of the house. I’ll be rearranging things, and sharing more soon.

While the cot was all made up I took the opportunity to spread out the second quilt I’ve finished from my mother-in-law’s collection. I am feeling all accomplished and stuff. This one is a classic double wedding ring. It was pieced by hand, and like the first quilt I finished, it was nowhere near flat enough to be quilted, so I tied it too(Actually, my mom and sister did most of the tying some time ago, but I added some more ties and then a binding). Still, I’m enormously impressed with the amount of work and care that went into it. A double wedding ring is a hard pattern under any circumstances, but like the previous quilt, it’s all hand pieced.

wedding ring quiltIt’s full of so many different scrappy bits. I had a hard time picking a good fabric for the binding, but I think this tiny geometric worked well with a lot of the patterns and colors in the quilt.

wedding ring quiltPixel especially likes curling up with me on the cot, so he watched longingly from the window, while I was taking pictures. I love his short little haircut, he looks like a little boy fresh from the barber shop like this.

pixel

Read More

a project

I’ve been doing so many things, so I’m going to have to do a whole bunch of catching up. I thought I’d start small, with one of my favorite things that I’ve made lately, although I didn’t actually make it by myself.

Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a stack of quilt tops that had been handed down to her. She didn’t know exactly who in her family made them, but they came from Arkansas and West Virginia and were made in the 30’s and 40’s. I don’t know if they were made by the same person, or several different people. The fabrics are pretty amazing, but the workmanship is not the best.

quilt2

I started on this particular quilt top ages ago. I started to hand quilt it, but it wasn’t anything close to being flat, so I gave up on that idea, and it has just been languishing. I pulled it out again and decided to just tie it, and not worry about all the puckering and bunching.

quilt1

I kind of tied the crap out of it, but I absolutely love it. The fabrics are so fun to look at, and there are lots that I wish I had larger pieces of for my stash. I backed it with a 30’s inspired rose print and bound it with another stripe-y 30’s-like print, and I think they are just perfect with the colorful top.

quilt5

The maker of the quilt top may not have been the most skilled seamstress, but the whole thing is hand stitched, and I think she had a great eye for color. I hope she would be happy with what I did, and be pleased that it is being used and loved.

quilt4

There’s a certain melancholy to an unfinished project, isn’t there? I think about all my half-finished things laying around, and wonder if years from now someone will find something I’ve started and value it enough to finish. Or maybe I should just get it together and finish what I start.

quilt7

quilt6

Read More

sewing class: supplies

Sewing class

I really didn't mean to disappear for a week, I was surprised with a cold and a tweeked back and just your usual life stress, but here I am now, and I'm excited to share this first episode of Sewing Class!

So, let's talk about the supplies you need for sewing. There really are not a lot, and if you start with the best quality you can possibly afford, most of these things will last you a really long time. If you take nothing else from this post, just remember that one point, please! It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Of course, the first item on the list is a sewing machine. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here because 1) I'm super opinionated about what brands are worth buying and 2) I have some links I'll share that say pretty much what I would have said anyway.

I have a Pfaff from the 1980's, and it's my second (both were hand-me-downs from my mom, who currently has another Pfaff). I've also sewn on Berninas. I recently learned that Pfaff is now owned by Singer, so my next machine will most likely be a Bernina. Who knows when that might be, however, because my Pfaff is still going strong. I am definitely a fan of German/Swiss engineering and metal parts. Some good advice about buying a sewing machine:

  • A Dress a Day wrote pretty much exactly what I would have written. Do your research, go to a local shop to try out machines, decide on your budget, look at used machines that were high-end when new.
  • Some more good suggestions at Wiki-How, "Don't let the number and variety of stitches persuade you to purchase a more expensive machine. If you don't use them, they may as well not be on the machine, so consider whether or not you'll use them with the type of sewing that you do. You can do a lot of sewing with a simple forward, reverse, and perhaps a zig-zag stitch." Yes, this is absolutely true! 
  • Sew Mama Sew has some good links to reviews and a handy list of questions in PDF format that you can print out to take with you to your local sewing machine shop

So, to summarize, absolutely try before you buy (only buy online if you've been able to try out the same model in a shop). Don't discount used machines, they are a great way to get a higher-end machine for a good price. Set your budget and get the best you can afford within those constraints-don't be tempted by 5000 fancy stitches or super-computerized embroidery machines, unless, of course, you can imagine 5000 projects that you can use each and every one of those stitches, or you just want to embroider everything you own. Start with a (good quality) simpler machine, and when you outgrow it, trade up for something better! 

Now that we've covered the biggest investment, let's talk about all the smaller stuff. Garment construction actually consists of three, equally important elements: cutting, sewing, and pressing. We've covered the sewing part, so now the next biggest purchase for sewing at home is a steam iron. Hopefully you already have one, but if not, again, get the best you can afford. You want an iron that can get nice and hot, and can generate lots of steam. I've had my Rowenta iron for about 12 years, it still works great, but I'm thinking about graduating to a real, gravity feed iron. These are what we used in my sewing classes in college, and what professionals use,  and no home iron comes close. It looks like there are some reasonably-priced models out there, so it's time for me to start doing some research!  

image from www.flickr.com

Now for the Cutting part of clothing construction. Get some good scissors and don't use them on anything but fabric! Get them sharpened regularly, and a good pair of sewing shears will last you forever. Please don't bother with those plastic orange-handled ones, get some real, chrome-plated dress-maker shears, 8" is a good size. You should be able to find a pair for $25-$40, and they will be well worth the investment. Some good brands include Gingher (I think they even have these at Jo-Ann, so you could get a really good deal if you buy them with a coupon), Wiss, Mundial and Marks. I've had my Marks shears for over 20 years, and my Gingher embroidery scissors for probably just as long. I take good care of them and I'll never need to buy another pair. 

Once you have the big three (machine, iron, scissors) taken care of, the rest of your supplies will be easy to find and inexpensive to purchase. Obviously you'll need pins. I prefer glass-headed pins, so if I do need to press something while it has pins in it, I don't have to worry about melting plastic. Fine quilting pins work well. These are the ones I always use, they're extra fine and nice and long. 

Various measuring tools are necessary, at the very least a tape measure and a six-inch metal ruler. A retractable tape measure is handy, so you don't have to constantly re-roll yours, but mine is currently in my knitting bag, so I make do with a regular one at my sewing machine. While I'm sewing I often just keep it draped around my neck anyway. Stay away from fabric tape measures, as they can stretch out and then won't be accurate. I also have a large dressmaker's square and an 18" ruler and I use my 12"x6" quilters ruler quite a lot too. They are all nice to have, but not essential.

Of course you'll need needles. For hand-sewing, fine quilter's sharps are a good all-purpose needle. If you find the tiny eye on fine needles hard to thread, just keep a needle threader handy. You'll also want to keep a supply of needles for your sewing machine handy. We'll talk more about this when we start sewing, but again, quality is very important here. I only buy Schmetz needles, and try to keep a good supply of sizes 70, 80, and 90. There are some other specialty needles you might want to eventually invest in, but we won't need them for this project. Along with needles, get some good thread, Gutterman and Mettler are excellent brands. 

Also get yourself some marking tools, a disappearing ink pen and tailor's chalk are good places to start. I also use my embroidery scissor to cut notches in the seam allowance for marking. 

And lastly, but super important, make sure you have a seam ripper! If you're going to sew, you're going to need to un-pick sometimes. 

And that's it, everything you need to get started sewing. Anything I missed that you have and use? Do you already have everything? Any questions? 

Up next: choosing the right pattern size and selecting your fabric!

Read More
%d bloggers like this: