inefficiency

Another window has been dressed, and I really love it. I'm in a sewing mood lately, it seems. This long skinny window is next to the door in my little house studio, so I thought it would be fun to do something colorful and bright in this light, white space. I started out by pulling out some scraps from my scrap basket, and piecing them together. Since I didn't have much of a plan to start with, I just did a row of patches at a time. It was probably not the most efficient way to go about it, and probably took longer than it should have, but it was a pleasant sort of quiet busy-ness.

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I just lined it with a bit of lightweight white cotton and hung it with tension rods at the top and bottom. I love how it looks a little bit like stained glass with the light shining through. The colors are so cheery, they make me happy to look at them.

image from www.flickr.com

As I sew, I always hear the voice of my college clothing construction teacher. She was a brilliant seamstress, and I learned so much from her classes. I was thinking it would be fun to have a little online blog sewing class. I'll pick out a pattern-probably a skirt to start, then maybe a blouse-and anyone who wants to join in, can! Is anyone interested? We'll cover everything from choosing sewing supplies and equipment to adjusting a pattern to fit.

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I'll work out the details this week and start up the week after. 

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shade

I'm ready to start tackling some slightly bigger projects around the house now that I have the time, hopefully one or two every week!

When we moved in many, many years ago, almost every window had mini-blinds. The depth of my mini-blind loathing cannot be adequately expressed in polite language. I managed to remove the worst offenders in years past, but there have been a few hangers-on, taunting me with their dusty, broken slats. So I hereby declare February the month in which I will eliminate the last mini-blinds from my home, if it kills me.

First up, are the doors, front and back. Well, actually, I removed the blinds from the front door, painted it, and started on a simple linen shade, but Mr. HeyLucy had strong feelings about the way it was looking. Since he doesn't usually have much of an opinion regarding my home decor projects, I decided to appease him and go another direction for the front door, and use the shade in my little house studio instead, which desperately needs some window treatments all around. 

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When I was in high school, I worked in a drapery workroom. It was the 80s and we made lots of Roman shades and balloon shades. I like this updated take, it's simple and soft. I am considering adding a border or embroidery to the bottom, but I've got to take care of some other windows first. 

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It's just unlined, washed linen, and it used a minimal amount of fabric, which happened to be a curtain panel from our old house. Since my professional drapery sewing days were a few years ago, I referred to Simple Soft Furnishings for specific directions. I can't recommend that book highly enough. The projects are all very straight-forward, and easily adaptable for any style of decor. Next up, I think I will do a colorful patchwork kind of thing for that long window next to the door.

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It feels good to have that done!

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a simple craft

First of all, thanks for all the kind words when I asked about what makes a good blog. My plan right now is to keep doing what I've been doing, but I will be doing it much more often! My goal is to have a new post every week day, and I'm having so much fun coming up with ideas to share. So thanks for visiting regularly, and I hope I will be able to make it worth your while!

As I mentioned before, I'm doing some serious cleaning out around here. This week I'm working on our laundry room which is just a tiny junk room, really. Now it's a little easier to walk in there without tripping over the vacuum or a pile of laundry, and I will eventually do some painting and reorganizing. While going through a cupboard the other day I came across a couple things that inspired a little craft project. I have a stack of little shopping bags, the brown paper bag kind, with the twine handle that I can never bear to throw out because they're so cute, you know? I sometimes used them for lunch bags, but since I'm not taking my lunch anywhere I thought I'd find another use for them. Of course the first thought was gift bags, but how to decorate them? Most have a big logo for the stores they came from, so that's kind of tacky. Then I found some coffee filters. Not being a coffee maker, I'm not sure where they came from, but I suspect I was saving them for some long forgotten craft project. 

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So the wheels in my brain started spinning, and I thought about some other stuff I had laying around, and without buying a thing I came up with a plan. Some old book pages taped over the logos was easy enough. Then I experimented with coloring the coffee filters. I pulled out some watercolors for the pink flower, and the tea-dyed the filters for the antique-y flower. I'm not very skilled with watercolor paint, but I don't think it's possible to mess it up in this case. The filters can handle a lot of water, so I just soaked them and dabbed paint all over and blotted them with a paper towel when I was done. The tea-dyed filters were literally just soaked in pot of tea. I squeezed them out and laid them flat to dry, which only took a half hour or so. They ended up with a nice crinkly texture.

Each flower is six or seven layers, and I simply folded each filter in half and then in half again a total of four times. Each layer was then trimmed into a petal shape, each layer successively smaller than the last. The smallest layers I slashed the petals apart for a fringe-y effect. 

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com
I stacked up all the layers and then searched through my box of beads for just the right centers for my flowers. I sewed on some pearly beads in different sizes and colors for the tea-dyed flower, going through all the layers, and did the same with some irredescent green seed beads for the pink flower. 

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I cut a circle of felt for the back of each flower and cut two small slits for the pin back to go through. I covered the stitching on the back with hot glue and then also applied a line of hot glue around the edge of the felt circle before applying it to the back of the flower.

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Lastly, it was just a matter of flipping the flowers over and fluffing up the front. I went layer by layer and even used a little steam from my iron to make them stand up a little more. 

image from www.flickr.com

Oh, and as an added touch, I used some eyelets on the bags for the pins to go through. They probably aren't necessary, but they're fun to use, so I went for it. 

image from www.flickr.com
I'm sure what I came up with is not entirely original, I know there was a Martha Stewart coffee filter rose project not long ago, but I like to think I put my own twist on it. And the flower is a nice bonus on top of whatever gift I might put in the bag. They are surprisingly durable and could be pinned on a lapel or a bag or maybe a hat. Next up, I think I'm going to play around with some fabric flowers. I love flowers!

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long weekend

Yay for three day weekends! I know some people might go somewhere fun, or throw a party, or go to the beach, but I was happy to just stay home and spend some time in my little house studio. It's been awhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed just puttering. Plus, now I have lots of blog fodder for the rest of the week, I can't wait to share some of the things I've been making. For now I will just tell you about some little necklaces I finished up and listed in my etsy shop

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You might remember these from earlier this summer. I'm happy to say that I finished them and listed three on etsy. I kept one for myself, of course, and another is going to someone who I think will especially like it. 

image from www.flickr.com
I had all my jewelry/beading supplies out and spread all over my work table. I'm a terrible jewelry maker, but it so fun to play with the little bits and pieces. 

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I kept these simple, and just hung them from a bit of leather cord. I don't wear necklaces often, but I tend to like this sort of long, silly pendent type jewelry. Pretty soon I'm going to need something to organize all these necklaces I can't stop making. I'm thinking something like this is awfully cute, and thrifty too!

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success and failure

I just had a four and a half day weekend, and not much happened and it was fantastic. In fact, I barely left the house, and when I did, it was purely on foot, with Winston, to walk through the frosty meadow in the middle of our little valley. I didn't drive anywhere once I got home Friday afternoon. I made sure to run all my errands, and did lots of grocery shopping on Friday so we were well provisioned. Saturday was an official pajama day, so I made a hearty breakfast of bacon, potatoes, and eggs, and then a good, warm pot of soup for dinner (sausage and kale, a favorite around here). There was a nap and a lot of knitting while sitting on the couch watching Netflix. I might have accidentally cast on three new projects, as well as working on that one existing one, but I will save all that for another post. They are all pretty quick projects and one is almost done, so I don't feel bad.  

Sunday morning, we woke up to the sound of the snow plows scraping the street. Finally, we had our first snow storm of the season! It came down heavily all morning, so we decided it would be wise to stay put, and there was still soup to eat, and I also discovered that Downton Abbey was available to watch instantly on Netflix. Have you seen it? Why did they leave us hanging like that? I was happy to read that there will be a second season. If you love a good BBC costume drama, and you haven't seen it, watch it soon, so good! 

So, with all this free time, I spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday in my little house studio doing some general cleaning up, but also a little sewing. I've been keeping all my DPNs collected together in a little ceramic pot, which looks really cute, but is super annoying when I actually want to use a set, and have to shuffle through and find a whole set in the same size. So I made a case that I can easily tuck into my knitting bag, and now I will always have the right size needles as soon as I need them. 

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The new case is the one on the left. On the right is my much-loved case for regular needles from Yvonne from one of our annual Christmas swaps ages ago. And underneath is a binder with page protectors where I keep all of my recently-organized circular needles. Cute, right? Let me tell you about all the things I did wrong with my cute, new case. I should have made some sort of flap to go over the needles, because now, if you turn it upside down, they all fall out. I sewed a piece of ribbon on both short edges, which means that when it's rolled up, one is uselessly rolled up inside.

image from www.flickr.com

I didn't do the best job on my little labels. They're just scrap fabric, with the numbers stamped on. I cut them out rather unevenly, but they are just tacked in place with a tiny bit of fabric glue, so I'm thinking I might remove them and stamp the numbers directly onto the polka dot fabric. Ah well, I can just make sure to store it upright, and the one ribbon is long enough to wrap all the way around to keep it closed, and the number labels are still kind of appealing in their wonkiness. Not every project can come out perfect, and sometimes I can just be happy with 'good enough,' and I really like my new little case, despite it's shortcomings resulting from my inability to think it all through before I sewed it. And it turns out that I have four sets of size 7 needles and no eights or nines. 

 Project number two was to make a batch of marmalade, which is one of Mr. Heylucy's favorite things ever, apparently. I didn't realize he liked it so much, but when I brought home a bag full of citrus on Friday, and told him my plan, he asked me multiple times every day when I was going to make the marmalade. I was greatly inspired by this post from Putting up with the Turnbulls. Heart-shaped bits of peel? Yes, please! I had some organic Meyer Lemons and some mandarins, so I went to work. My heart cutter wasn't quite as cute, but it was just as tiny and blister-inducing, but totally worth the effort.

image from www.flickr.com

So I set to cutting and cooking. I didn't add the cinnamon hearts, I just wanted to do a simple marmalade for my first time. I cooked and cooked and tested to see if it was set. I checked the internet and read that it would set once it reached 220 degrees, so I got out my candy thermometer and watched the tempurature carefully. The recommended 30 minutes passed. I waited another 15 minutes, and still, we were only at 210 degrees. Another ten minutes, and it crept up to 216. Then it started looking a little too golden, and then it was sticking to the pan. Oh no! I stopped immediately, and got it into the jars, and then I processed them to seal. I had been licking spoons and tasting regularly and it was really, really delicious. I made myself some toast this morning, and eagerly opened a jar. Not only had it set, it was set more than any other jam or marmalade I had ever had. I could scoop it out with my knife, but it was kind of hard to spread so I just made due with a few evenly spaced chunks. So, another not-quite-a-success. It does taste delicious, but I obviously need more preserving practice. I think my thermometer is not quite accurate, it's the same one I used to make three batches of caramel, and the first two batches didn't work either. I also wonder if the tempurature thing has to do with our altitude at all. I know water boils at a lower tempurature, so maybe I'll try cooking it to 210 or so next time. I will keep experimenting and figure this out! So it was another failure, but a delicious one, and I will keep trying. 

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