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Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts
28 December 2012

Of Bread and Napkins

I've been baking bread and sewing napkins. It sounds quite cozy, doesn't it? Very domestic diva. Very Martha. If only. My coping mechanisms for grief seemingly swing between "eat everything in sight" and "reorganize everything in sight." I've been trying to focus on the latter, because the former is really not doing me any good in the long term. I tackled my sewing room just after Christmas and, amongst the never-started or never-finished projects, I found a neat pile of squared scraps I'd meant to make into napkins three years ago.

So, I sewed napkins. Haphazardly and with no good grace. If you look not-very-closely, you can clearly see how my stitches wander around the hem, mostly keeping in a straight line, but occasionally veering off to visit more exciting parts of the napkin.

More Napkins

Whatev. They're napkins. As long as they wipe my face clean and launder reasonably well, it doesn't matter how perfectly imperfect they may be. And I made them to pack with work meals, so it's not as if I'll ever inflict them on dinner guests. (Admittedly, I would burn them and shoot their ashes into space before I let my mother see one).

So. Napkins. I sewed some.

And, yes, I baked bread. A beautiful traditional white sandwich loaf baked in a pan and everything. It baked up right and looks like "real" bread aisle stuff. None of that crusty misshapen "rustic" nonsense I'd been baking.

A More Traditional Loaf

How did I get such a perfect loaf? I ... bought a bag of frozen bread dough at the grocery store! Yes, I did. And I'll do it again. Yes, one bag of five frozen unrisen loaves for four dollars is not as economical as scratch bread, but it's waaay cheaper per loaf than the farmhouse-style white I usually buy (when I buy bread) and easier because I can make one loaf at a time and leave the rest in my freezer.

I do love Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but I feel it doesn't work well for a household of two. One loaf can last us most of the week, but in order to use up the dough before it goes weird, I feel I need to bake bread two or three times in a week and that just isn't happening and I end up wasting dough. (Also, that tub of raw dough takes up a lot of fridge space).

So frozen dough is pretty okay. I thawed and baked it according to the instructions on the bag and it turned out beautifully. The instructions said "bread is done when it pulls away from sides of pan and sounds hollow when tapped lightly" and, by golly, they were spot-on. My lovely loaf did indeed sound hollow when I tapped it. It did take longer for the dough to rise than I anticipated, but that was because my kitchen side wasn't warm enough. Next time, I'll tuck the dough in the corner by the toaster where it's always (suspiciously) warm and see if that loaf rises faster.

A More Traditional Loaf

(Brushed it with butter as it came out of the oven, because butter makes it better).
16 September 2012

Celebratory 60th Birthday Quilt

I've been away from quilting for a while -- sure, I''ve spent a considerable amount of time in my sewing room, moving fabric around and dreaming, but I haven't sewn more than a napkin in the past two years.

Then a friend had a baby and a dear coworker turned sixty and quilting took on a certain urgency. Being a bit rusty, I went with rag ("frayed-edge") quilts for both as I knew it was an easy method and would hide most (if not all) of my mistakes.

Rag ("Frayed-Edge") Quilt

I've not quite finished the baby quilt -- still snipsnipsnipping all the seams -- but the lap quilt for my coworker's birthday is done and looks pretty darn cute. I used a kit from Malibu Quiltworks and am quite sure I'll be buying more kits from them in the near future as they have some really lovely fabric assortments for sale.

My mother helped me a bit with assembling this quilt and, between the two of us, it took five (gossipy) hours to sew it together. I snipped the quilt seams while watching television (two episodes of House and one episode of Black Books) and then stuffed it in the washer -- et voilĂ  a quilt was born!

Rag ("Frayed-Edge") Quilt

05 March 2010

Jelly Roll Quilt-Along 2010, Block #1

Finished my first block for Moose on the Porch Quilts's Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt-Along. I started this block in a terriblenogoodrotten mood and was pretty sure I hated the jelly roll I had chosen, but by the time I got to the end of this block, everything was pure happiness and bliss. Hmm ... quilting as therapy?

Used a "9" by Sanae for Moda jelly roll for the body and Fusions 5573 by Robert Kaufman in vanilla for the background.
25 February 2010

Jelly Roll Quilt-Along 2010

I was very excited to hear about Moose on the Porch Quilts's 2010 Jelly Roll Quilt-Along. Since we moved here, two years ago, I have not been quilting as much as I would like. Yes, I've made some pretty curtains and runners, but I haven't made any proper quilts. Indeed, it's been so long that, when I go in my sewing room and start sifting through patterns and fabrics, I become overwhelmed by my choices and start to doubt whether I have any idea what I'm doing.

Yes, thank you, I know I am weird.

So Moose on the Porch Quilts's 2010 Jelly Roll Quilt-Along seems right up my alley:
From March 1 to August 2, every other Monday, instructions for a new 12" block will be posted. All of the blocks will be made from jelly roll strips and yardage.

Each block will be designed by a different person. Every two weeks there will be a guest blogger on my blog introducing herself and her block. At the end, you will have made a fun quilt 58" x 72.
As every block will be different, I am unlikely to get bored and I should get lots of practice with different techniques. With two weeks to complete each block, I have a definite (but generous) deadline to meet so no shirking (I hope) but no panicking, either!

I think I will be using a jelly roll of Sandy Gervais's "Objects of Desire" for Moda, but I have not purchased the background and sashing fabric, outer border fabric, or binding fabric so I do not have a picture for you all yet.

Methinks I shall need to visit the fabric store on Saturday ...
15 May 2009

Pretty, Pretty Curtains

Pretty much ever since we moved in, I have been toying with the idea of quilted patchwork valances for my sewing room. I've daydreamed over many a pattern and fat quarter bundle, but never been able to commit. A lot has to do with the ugly bubbling red and white walls of my sewing room. It's hard to imagine anything looking pretty against them.

Last weekend, I had some kind of brainstorm while browsing Fabric.com in the middle of the night and ended up ordering a jelly roll of "Nouveau" by Sentimental Studios for Moda and two yards of Wilmington Prints's "Essentials Scroll" in light ivory. Alas, by the time the fabric arrived, I had forgotten my brilliant plan! What was I supposed to do with these fabrics? Why had I not jotted down notes? Oh noes!

Today, I unrolled the strips and held them up to the window and, against the bright light of the afternoon, they were beautiful. So beautiful that I decided to bite that darn bullet and piece some valances ...

Every time I started to panic (and I panicked quite a lot), I just held the strip set up to the windows, oooh-ed a bit at the play of light through them, and went back to my sewing machine. The tops are done now -- it took about three hours to cut and piece the two of them -- and now I have to wrap my head around quilting them. I want them to have a bit of body, but not be too stiff. The thin cotton batting I normally quilt with is, I think, too thick for this and so I wonder if felt might work ...

Probably, I am over-thinking a pair of valances.

Lest you think I spent all my time fretting over fabric, I also made turkey soup from the carcass of the one I roasted on Wednesday. The soup, while very basic (turkey with mixed vegetables and barley flakes), is quite flavorful from its afternoon adventure on the stove top and will probably not last long in this house.

I was also smart enough to keep some of the turkey meat back for "Turkey Enchiladas" and we will have the enchiladas for Saturday's supper with a bit of green salad and beer.
24 July 2008

More Ascot Valances

I promise you that someday soon I will find something new to obsess over and stop bothering you about curtains. Right now, however, I have many naked windows and much fabric. You will just have to bear with me a little while longer.

"Countryside Cottage" Ascot Valances

By "little while" I mean the next few months, of course.
20 July 2008

Cheep Housing Ascot Valances of Adorableness

Bought a Sony 17 in 1 multi-card reader/writer thingamabob to plug my camera's memory card into so that I may upload pictures to my computer without waiting for that thrice damned F-Spot Photo Importer to resume its former functionality. Or be less broke. Whichever.

"Cheep Housing" Ascot Valances


Anyway, you may now see two of my lovely ascot valances and know why I've been whittering away about bird fabric for weeks now.
14 July 2008

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Remember how I wrote that fabric.com had sent me four yards of the white background bird print rather than the ivory and that they were sending me four more yards of the stuff I wanted? Well, it's not the stuff I wanted.

I want this:



but keep getting this:



Argh.

Happily, it looks like Quilter Studio at Appleberry Fabrics has ivory in stock and I have ordered three yards to make the last two or three ascot valances needed to go over the thrice cursed sliding door.

I am getting to be quite an expert valance maker. My order with Country Treasures came in much faster than I had expected (thank you, mary jane) and I had just enough to make three more valances. I did the rough sewing (all the bits you can't see when they're turned rightside out), but then gave them to my mother to do the top-stitching. Everyone can see the top stitching, you know, and my top stitching just isn't good enough yet. I also made two valances in the same pattern, but using a blue and yellow floral The Husband picked out, for one of the bathrooms and they came out really well.

Unfortunately, my camera, my computer, and my photo importer are not talking to each other and I cannot show you what it is I keep whittering away about post after post.

Just trust me when I say they're all dead purty.
09 July 2008

Happy as a Jay

So, remember when I wrote that my mother had snapped up four yards of Diane Knott's "Cheep Housing" birds and morning glories on ivory (10153-2) print for me at a little quilt show in upstate New York? Well, it turns out it wasn't a little quilt show in New York, but a little quilt store in Vermont.

She bought the fabric from Country Treasures of Chester, Vermont. The day of the fabric.com snafu, I e-mailed them to know if they had any more of the ivory print and not only did they have 2+ yards left, but they let me buy it over the phone and are mailing it to me. Huzzah.

This means I will have over six yards of the lovely stuff.

My house will be swathed in it.

Can't wait.
06 July 2008

The Birds! The Birds!

About five months ago, I was on Clothworks's website looking at Diana Knott's fabric collections and fell headfirst in love with "Cheep Housing." As soon as I heard it was being released, I marshalled my forces (my mother and the internets) and set forth to acquire as much yardage as I could. My mother hunted "Cheep Housing" from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire before finally snapping up four yards of the bird print on ivory (10153-2), plus half yards of the tonals, for me in a little quilt show in upstate New York. Then I found another five yards of the ivory bird print on fabric.com last week and there has been much rejoicing.¹

Too often, in my early days as a quilter, I erred on the side of economy and bought dribs and drabs of fabric I really liked -- only to regret I had not bought more. Now, if I see something I really love, I buy as much of it as I can. If I later decide I have more than I need, I can swap with my mother. But, if I don't have enough, there's not a lot I can do to get more. The magic of the internets only goes so far.

What I need is a quilt stash modeled along the libraries of the Discworld. Instead of all library's everywhere connected by the magic of L-Space, I would have a stash connected to all stashes everywhere through Q-Space.

And, probably, I would never sew anything because I would always be away on expedition looking for that perfect accent fabric. Better, perhaps, to make do with what I have ...

So. Nine yards of the ivory bird print, plus two and a half yards of assorted tonals (10157-1 et al). What was I going to do with all that fabric? Why valances and place mats and runners and a twee little wall hanging and ...

Mine was going to be the Crazy Bird Lady House.

And it still may be:

  • Last weekend I cut out, using an old McCall pattern, the pieces for four lined (ivory colored cotton from Joann's) ascot valances. I pinned them, my mother stitched them, and I hung them up in my kitchen and den yesterday. They are wonderful. I just need to make five or six (depending on how full I want them to look) to go over the den slider and half my ground floor will be birded.

  • The kitchen has two glass fronted cabinets which the previous owner had tacked fabric over. My mother and I have measured and pondered and we do think we could do better. We will piece together little quilts using bird housed from the panel (10151-1) and strips of the tonals to cover the glass panels.

  • For my sewing room windows, I plan on making two simple gathered rectangular valances from the bird print trimmed with a pieced strip of the tonals.

  • After that, I will probably be heartily sick of twee birdies and go back to batiks (which is good, because they must be dealt with soon as they are taking over my stash).

    --

    ¹ I must write a little bit more about my fabric.com shopping experience. While I had ordered four yards of the ivory background bird print, I received four of the white. As soon as I realized the error, I sent fabric.com a slightly panicky email about how I really needed the ivory background print. This morning, I received an email saying that not only are they sending me four yards of the right fabric, but I could keep the yards they sent me in error. Is this not awesome customer service?

    I think I will use the extra fabric to make some quilts for Project Linus, Quilts for Kids, or Quilts of Valor.
    16 March 2007

    ... The Wife Will Play

    The Husband has been away this week attending the SeLinux Symposium in Baltimore. I am not sure how much he has been enjoying himself, but I have been having a fine time. In the past few days, I have: reorganized our bedroom closets and made a trip to Goodwill; ironed an enormous pile of wrinkly cotton things and visited the dry cleaner; denuded the bathroom fan of its furry pelt of gray goodness and bleached the grout; shredded forests of paper and tidied my bit of the office; made one of The Husband's birthday presents and drawn up a quilting plan.

    Yes, a plan. Basically, every other Friday I will go to my mother's and I will work on x project until it reaches y stage and only then will I leave my mother's to grocery shop and clean the house. Quilting is what I want to do, but housekeeping and food shopping is what I tell myself I need to do. If I keep doing what I think I need to do, then I will never get any quilting done and I will feel pissy the entire time I am flitting about the produce aisle.

    To keep myself from feeling overwhelmed, I am sticking to small projects such as simple quilted place mats and table runners. Nothing even as big as a wall quilt. Not yet. Maybe, over the summer when I have full weekends off, but then I will work every Friday and so won't be able to quilt with Mom and ... crap. I could quilt on my own, but I'm not half as productive on my own as I am with other people.

    Anyway, place mats and runners. I love place mats, but the one's from the shops never seem to last as long as I would like. So I will make nice, sturdy, washable quilted cotton ones and our table will be all purty and shit. And, maybe, we'll stop using it as the Table of Holding and eat off it more than twice a week. I would l like, on the nights I am home for supper, to sit down at a tidy dining room table with set with candles and place mats and eat like civilized folk. We used to. We used to have candles every night and the table ends were not stacked high with papers, books, and bits of mail. Now, we eat in front of the television or amongst the heaps of detritus. It is disheartening. We are civilized. We are grownups. Surely, we can pull our shit together and act like it.
    28 September 2006

    Christmas Craftiness in September

    I've decided to sew Christmas presents this year rather than wracking my brains trying to figure out what to buy for people. Which is not to say that I will not buy any gifts, just that a whole lot of people will be getting scarves so you all had best start hating me now and get it over with.

    Last year, I bought a copy of the "Simply Elegant Batik Scarf Pattern" by Simply Ordered from Keepsake and meant to make scarves with it, but shuffled it into the pattern pile and never saw it again. My mother and I went up to Appletree Fabrics a couple weeks ago and they had such nice flannels that I had to bring some home. When I got home I realized I was not really in the mood for a big project like a bed quilt and remembered the scarf pattern. Dug it out and saw I had enough for at least two scarves ... and that's when I realized that (if I could get enough out of the way now) I could save myself some stress at Christmas by giving a whole bunch of scarves away.

    It costs me about twenty dollars in materials and takes about two hours make per scarf. The only real problem is finding the right flannels -- not everyone I'd make a scarf for likes flowers or plaids and "funky, bright, but not juvenile" seems a loosing proposition. Thank god for eBay, hey?
    13 December 2005

    Bit by the Quilting Bug

    I started quilting in October 2002. You'd think what with all the crafty women in my family and my magpie-like love of bright fabrics, I'd have started sooner than that. Oh, my mother tried to get me interested when I was a wee kiddie and then again as a teen, but I was such a little snot about it. Quilting was so girlie, you know. And old-fashioned. Blue-haired old ladies who'd never read Betty Friedan and liked to watch Oprah quilted. I'd sooner poke my eyes out.

    But, I loved my mom so I went with her to all the local shows and shops even though I insisted I had no real interest in any of it. And that was my downfall. At shows, surrounded by all those gorgeous quilts and super friendly vendors, I'd find myself buying fat quarters of this and that. I'd bring the fabric home and think "I'll do something with that, someday" and then forget about them.

    One day, though, I started looking at quilts differently. Sure, they were still beautiful pieces of art, but I began to see how they could be broken down into parts and I began to think it didn't look too hard.

    I was afraid of the sewing machine and rotary cutter for a while (heard too many horror stories), but time and practice helped me become more comfortable with them and now I no longer worry too much about slicing my finger tips off or sewing them together.

    I find quilting to be very comforting. Oh, there are days when everything goes wrong -- all the strips are miss cut or I'm short fabric or I've stitched things together upside down or the goddamn bobbin keeps jamming --- but those days don't bother me too much. They're only quilts. It's not as if I'm doing rocket science or brain surgery. I can come back and try again tomorrow or throw the whole thing away. It's okay.

    You can see my projects on Flickr or watch the slide show:


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