Sunday, December 26, 2010

Zippy Wallet

The other day a dear friend on Facebook reminded me of this wonderful project from a great  tutorial.  Called the Zippy Wallet, 'Noodlehead' has created the classic little thing that actually has a chance of being made AND of being useful.

I implied to my friend that I would make her one so I got out the scraps from making the Girls' harnesses and this is what I came up with:

I don't think this little gem is going to my friend as it is just the right size to hold essential items like a little cash, a credit card and a driver's licence.  Also, this plays into my undeclared resolution to stop lugging a big purse everywhere I go and return to using my Car-go carrier for the just-in-case items I lug around on a daily basis.

Besides which, I don't think she would like one made out of scraps so I will dig out some virgin fabric for her.  Right?

I hope your Christmas was a good one.  Mine turned out a little differently than I thought it would because the smoked turkey from Sweet Sadie's that I had ordered got sold to someone else!!!  Paul and I ended up doing doing a Jewish Christmas with Chinese takeout food and movie watching.  After all, the day is not about killing  yourself over the stove but about enjoying family.

Alex and the Girls were very happy that Paul was home!

Gifts Part 1

If you need some inspiration on gifts for those you missed this holiday season watch this video clip by Ben Stein for CBS Sunday Morning.  I am humbled by its simple message even with the trashy ad you need to 'enjoy' first.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creativity Challenge

Last year about this time the Seams Possible ASG neighborhood group issued a challenge for each of its members to create something using their birth month as the inspiration.

I am a June baby so my inspiration was to use roses, pearls and the month itself as my inspiration.

The project was not due until this past November and, I must admit, I waited until almost the last minute to produce something.

It turns out that I had signed up for a landscape quilt class at the quilt festival and I convinced myself that I could turn it into something to meet the challenge.

This is what I produced:

Does it look like June to you?

Here's the back story.

In my family we moved lock, stock and barrel out to the beach on the May long weekend and stayed until Canadian Thanksgiving in October.

Our place was up on Georgian Bay where frosty mornings in June are not unusual.  Heck, I was even born on one!

View Larger Map

Although we acted like it was summer, summer really didn't happen July.

We put the sailboat on the beach, unpacked the sand chairs and generally convinced ourselves it was summer.

But it wasn't summer thus my picture of a lovely day at the beach with a raging hail storm reminding us that Mother Nature has a sense of humor.

I haven't figured out what to do with this creation but it does make me smile.

Construction notes:
  • The background was fused to some Peltex which was also fused to some plain cotton.
  • The details were fiddly cut from some conversational prints representing Nantucket, glued down with a glue stick and the edges free motion stutched down with invisble thread.
  • The rain was primarily free motion quilted with black metallic thread.
  • The grass was some free motion work with greenish thread.
  • The hail stones are little pearls I sewed on to the surface.
  • The black stuff is Misty Fuse...not as effective as I thought it would be as representing a gloomy day but close.

The countdown to Christmas was fully in evidence today when I ran out to pick up a couple of things.  There were lines at all the check out counters except for Petsmart (no idea why as the store was packed) and there was a general air of desperation on many faces. 

My favorite incident was when I stopped for lunch and there was a table full of elementary school kids with one one lone male adult.  It appears that several mothers decided to do some shopping and this lone Dad was tasked with keeping the kids busy of a couple of hours at a local restaurant.

That guy gets my vote as parent of the year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


One of the things I really enjoy about this season are the ASG neighborhood groups holiday celebrations.

The food is always amazing on both sides of the equation... some is sublimely delicious while some is inedible...or at least for me.

I seem to split my contributions three ways... a quick pick from the supermarket, something from Sweet Sadies or something I actually make from scratch.  This year the quick pick was salad, Sweet Sadies contributed Cajun Rice or potato salad and I made batches of fudge...yum!

Besides the food there are gift exchanges or swaps.

One group decided on an unusual gift swap this year.  Each of us had to made a tote bag from our stash.  The gift was to be wrapped in a brown paper bag.  I made a gray/gold/pink tote lined in grey silky stuff with a zippered pocket inserted into the facing.  No picture but it was pretty basic if a little on the small side.

A dear friend chose it and I hope she gets a lot of use out of it.

I, on the other hand, picked a bag that included a huge tote made from upholstery scraps.  

Pretty neat, isn't it?

There are a couple of large pockets on the inside and it could carry a whole queen size quilt if needed.  Look closely at that flower embellishment...that button is fabulous!

Thanks, Donna!

The other type of gifting that goes on is the gift exchange.

In this one each person either chooses a gift from the pile or steals a gift from someone else.  I put together a pile of wool roving, felted coasters, a felted sweater with a lot of texture and a homemade sachet of moth repellent.  It ended up in the hands of a woman who does a lot work with wool and wool felt so I hope she can use everything.

I scored big time.  I was the eighteenth person to draw out of 19(I think) and by then most of the big loot was frozen... like the pile of red silk bits and beads...oh, how covetted that package!  The only thing that I saw that I was interested in was a book from the Kyoto Costume Institute called Fashion.. A History from the 18th to the 20th century.  It is 735 pages packed with all sorts of information about fashion.  There are several editions available and this is the one I received:

I have already spent many hours reading the easily digestible essays and the little bits of explanation for particular items of clothing.  Two of the things I have learned is that stomachers really have nothing to do with stomachs and that corsets have always been, and will continue to be, instruments of torture.  Can you imagine yourself stuffed into a corset that had 182 whale bones as its support?

Today was my last holiday related get together for this season when I made a brief appearance at a friend's open house.  Someone brought some cakey lemon balls that were infused with a lemon liquer.  I love citrus flavored food but these were way over the top.  I must try to make some of these for myself so I can indulge without worrying about getting pulled over for driving while drunk.  ;-)

Time for me to start getting back to normal eating and gathering some things for Paul.  We will be eating a Sweet Sadie's turkey for Christmas Day and I am so looking forward to that as they do a mean turkey.  Maybe I can persuade him to make some of his fabulous scalloped potatoes?

Hint, Hint :-)    

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mardi Gras Socks

In my on-going effort to conquer the 'wrap and turn heel' of many knitted socks constructed from the toe up, I attempted another pair after the lacy pair from a couple of weeks ago.

I still don't think I can make a perfect 'wrap and turn' heel but I do like these colorful socks!

I am calling them my Mardi Gras socks just because of the colors not that I will be visiting Mardi Gras anywhere in this lifetime.

I hope you are not too frentic with last minute shopping and that you take some time to enjoy the season...singing out loud with all the carols even if you can't carry a tune in bucket (like me!),  wasting electricity on silly outdoor light displays and having a good cry over some of the sappy Christmas movies that are all over the television these days.

I know I will!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Feeling Broke

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was feeling broke this Christmas.

Well, I still feel broke but my my big idea ran into a little problem.

The little felted wallets from a couple of days ago did not stretch as far as I thought they would.

After giving out a bunch to the Knitting Club kids and holding back some for some friends I realized that I would have nothing left for the Workshop Houston kids.

I had been told that nothing was necessarybut I still felt I needed to give them a little something.

My new big idea started here:

and ended here:

Essentially I took a bit of canvas, covered it in arcylic craft paint, fused some random flower and bird fabric cut-outs to it, added some prepared angelina fibers, covered everything with some glittery polyester organza, randomly free motioned a bunch of metallic thread swirls all over, added some batiked fabric as a backing (only on half of them because I forgot to do this step on half of them), used the serger to cut everything out and finish off the edges.  To finish it off I used a leather punch to drill a hole into each for a hanging ribbon.


Waiting for the paint to dry was the longest step while cutting out the fabric shapes was the most tedious.  All in all it took about an hour of real work to put together about 25 ornaments/bookmarks.

When I went to the holiday party this afternoon, my hands really began to hurt, so I left them on the drinks table for people to pick and choose their favorites. I have no idea if they even liked them or if they ended up all on one pesron's tree or bookshelf becuase the pain meds are just now beginning to kick in.

Love them or hate them I am done with creating things for this holiday...

Maybe not ...

I have this quilt just begging to be quilted and to go to a new home...


I wonder if I can get it done in time?

With enough pain meds anything is possible :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wish Lists

There are a couple of groups that I work with who are looking for items I KNOW we have in our stashes of stuff.

You know, the stuff we bought with great expectations or those big green garbage bags that have been given to us when someone is downsizing their household.

Well, if you have any of the following items, I have a good home for them:

Knitting supplies:
  • yarn - all kinds but most especially simple worsted weight varieties
  • needles - all sizes but most especially looking for really, really large ones like 35s
  • crochet hooks - all sizes but smaller is better for fixing dropped stitches
  • scissors - blunt nosed or in a sheath
  • stitch counters
  • stitch markers
  • measuring tapes
  • simple patterns for smaller projects
  • yarn needles - metal or plastic
Sewing supplies:
  • sewing machine needles - 90/14 seems to work best but all sizes are needed
  • serger thread - all colors and types
  • fabric - one yard cuts or larger of clothing type fabrics like denim, gabardines etc.
  • hand sewing needles
  • all types of fasteners - velcro, buttons, zippers, snaps, draw strings etc.
  • interfacing - fusibles light to mid-weight
  • pattern books/catalogs
  • unused patterns for garments like skirts, pants, tops,jackets, home dec... SIMPLE
  • lining - light weight in one yard cuts or larger
  • rotary cutting supplies
  • sewing related magazines and books
  • pattern making paper
  • pillow forms
All of these will be put to good use with the thanks of many middle school students.

Let me know here or by email at anjoae at msn dot com if you can help us out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feeling Broke at Christmas....

...I am not really broke but this year I'm trying to be a little more frugal than in prior years. 

After all, I have to invest in a new laptop ....the screen on this one keeps falling off and, despite my best efforts, there is a bug in my system that will not let me load any security updates...or I could quit my internet playing cold turkey. NOT! 

And before you ask... yes, I can access the internet on my iPod and on my phone but teeny tiny screens and keyboards are not condusive to semi-regular blog updates.

Back to business.

So I am feeling broke this year but I have several obligations that I feel I need to fill.

First the knitting club kids should get something.  If them, then so should the sewing kids.  If them then a couple of dear friends who keep me from slitting my wrists.  And last but by no means least there are a couple of folk out there who will give me something and I must reciprocate because they are just such good people.

Where am I going with this?

Well, note the first layer of the list above... the knitting club kids.  I really want to give them something for being such good sports the last few months.  The last time I did this I made them knitting bags and gave them needles, scissors, needles and stitch markers.

Since they already have bags (courtesy of an unknowing quilt guild member) I needed to come up with something else AND not spend money.

It turns out that I have a bunch of old woolen sweaters that I will never wear again, if I ever wore them in the past.

Taking a cue from someone who makes great felted accessories I came up with twenty of these little gems:

The process couldn't have been easier:
  1. run old, wool sweaters through one hot wash cycle.
  2. lay them on a fat surface and let them may take a day of two.
  3. cut up the sweaters discarding the cuffs, waist bands, button plackets and anything else that is not a nice flat piece of felted wool.
  4. cut up the flat peieces into rectangles like 5" by 15" or whatever size will work with your felted wool.
  5. roughly fold the rectangles into envelopes with about one quarter of the length as the flap and the rest as the body of the envelope.
  6. cut a slit in the flap as a button hole.
  7. sew up the sides of the body of the envelope on the machine or by hand.
  8. run through another hot wash and also through the dryer to felt your wool even more to hide the stitching and to generally beef up your fabric.
  9. sew a button on the body of the envelope to match the button hole.
  10. steam press to get any kinks out that may developed in the wool.
  11. enjoy your creativity!
These can be used to hold other gifts like journals, candy and gift certificates or can be used to store credit cards, sewing supplies, knitting supplies, make-up, love letters and other assorted paraphenalia that gathers in our brief cases and purses.

That's my christmas gift making for this year.  I think I will give each of the kids one with some seasonal candy in them while the adults may just have to make do with a new little pockets for their own stuff.

If you are stuck on a gift with a little handmade flair try these out. 

BONUS:  I got to use some up some of my stash of old sweaters and some buttons that were looking for a good home. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...

...not really but my four legged buddies are not happy with this chilly weather. 

Even with their coats on they are very reluctant to do their business outside.  I've noticed an increase in 'accidents' around the house and it is getting old fast when I have to get down on my knobby knees to clean up after them.

Right now, though, all is right with the world as I just cleared out the Thanksgiving decorations from Sweet Sadie's to install the Christmas ones which means a BBQ flavored quilt is now available for their sleeping comfort.

Yes, there really are three dogs under this quilt.


that's Alex wondering if it would be worth his while to get out from under the quilt to see what I am doing with the camera.

I don't have the heart to switch this smelly quilt with a freesh one just to get the smelly one into the washing machne.  I think it can wait a day ot two .  After all, its not smelly to me and I could use some down time from their 'loving' antics.

I hope your first night of Hanukah has gone well and that the run-up to the big day..Chistmas, that is...has not worn you out already.

I have a few projects that need to be completed within the next 24 hours for a couple of functions I will be attending so I better get back to the grindstone/sewing machine!   

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Twinkle Toes Socks

Installment #5 of the 2010 Twisted Yarns Sock Club was the Porifera Socks from the recently published book Twist & Knit.  It is a relatively simple pattern that includes a nice little lacy bit at just above the toes and just below the cuff at the top of the leg.

Kinda cute, yes?

The yarn used is Tosh Sock from Madelinetosh.  It is hand dyed and I chose the Georgia O'Keefe colorway.  Why a blue green sock yarn would equate with Georgis O'Keefe I'm not sure but the yarn was easy to work with and machine washed and dried beautifully.

Three new skills, for me, were included in this pattern: a provisional toe cast-on, a wrap and turn heel and a stretchy bind off that you do with a yarn needle.  The toe went well, the heels...not so well and the bind off was a breeze. 

There is one error in the pattern that made me crazy in the beginning.  I prefer a sock pattern with 60 stitches in it.  The cast on chart showed a 60 stitch cast-on but, as the stitch pattern is based on 8 stitches, 60 stitches would not work.  In this case the author meant me to use the 64 stitch cast-on.  A small and relatively minor error (the 60 listed should have read 80) but one that caused me to rip out about 30 rows and re-start my first sock from the begiining.

I am making another pair of these socks in less expensive yarn and without the lace pattern so I can practice my new skills.  Why do I see myself knitting alot on Thanksgiving Day while watching movies?

OH!  and I call these my Twinkle Toes Socks because the first day I wore them my RA was acting up and my left foot would not stay flat without a lot of pain so I spent most of the day walking on my toes to ease my way.

Have a great Turkey Day!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mabel's Fleece Hat

Friday afternoon three intrepid sewers and one gallent cutter gathered at the Elmgrove Community Room and made fleece chemo caps.

What a great time we had with an abundance of great food and overflowing creativity.

The basic hat is simple:

Cut your fleece at 22" x 13" with the 22" side being the stretchy side.  13" is the maximum height but it can be cut down to as little as 9".

Sew up the 13" sides for the back of the cap.

Sew one end of the resulting tube as the top of the cap.

You are done!

The creativity comes into play when you decide what else to do with your cap.  Bunny ears, fringed top knots, boxed corners and mountainous peaks were all tried and worked!

Here is a shot of Mabel with her hats waiting to get loaded into my car for the trip to a local chemotherapy group:

And an aerial view of the same group:

Even people who sew once in a blue moon seem to have been suckered into buying fleece at one stage of their life or another.   Take it out today and make some of these easy caps.

Your stash will thank you and all those benefitting from your largese will be gratful of a soft cap for their hairless heads.

Don't know where to take them when you are done?  Call your doctor's office and ask the staff for the location of the chemotherpy group they use or ask a friend who has had cancer where they went and take them there. 

Thank you to Janetta, Susie and Liz for joining me in this project and to Sweet Sadie's for providing the turkey and cranberry sauce.

Have a creative weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alex's Running Away From Home Tote

Back in May I came across a pattern for a really large tote bag.  I called it My Running Away From Home Tote and wrote about it here.  I made another one at a Strip club session and you can see that post here.

This past Friday another group wanted to work on this bag and, while I love this project, I really don't need THREE bags to run away from home with so I decided to make a pint size version.

Insted of starting with 5" squares of fabric I started with 2 1/2" squares of fabric.  I actually used up some of the remains of a block making project and some fabric that had not been cut yet.

I think this is pretty cute:

It's just the right size for Alex to run away from home with all his essentials in one place...his Greenies, his battered toys, his piece of Elk Horn and a kid sized bottle of water.

I don't need to encourage Alex to go walk about so I will be giving it to a friend for her or her 3 year old grandson to use.  This should not be a surprise to her as she asked for it at Friday's session.

You may get a chuckle out of this..

While I have been writing this post Kelis (the little girl) has been upstairs barking at something at the front of the house, Kimora (the big girl) has been barking at someone walking by the backyard fence and Alex (the middle sized boy) has been on a living room chair trying and failing, once again, to get onto the kitchen counter.

I hope your week is going well and to the Americans out there.... Thanksgiving is not supposed to cause stress just warm fuzzy gatherings.  Get an extra dozen eggs in the house and if the turkey won't thaw and the yams look green, you can always be thankful for scrambled eggs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Lawn Dress

What is a Lawn Dress?

It is a dress that you make with high expectations  but, in the end, it just doesn't meet the standards of polite company.

The dress that ends up on your back while you mow the lawn or weed in the garden not while flirting with sun tanned young gods at the beach.

I've made one before (see here for that post) and knew I could never make the same mstakes twice.

Once was enough!

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was about time that I made a dress but this time I would make one under the expert tuteledge of a real garment sewing teacher.  She shall remain anonymous as my failure should not reflect on her teaching skills.

We used Kwik Sew pattern 3151 and I chose a wonderful homespun orange striped fabric. 

 Don't they look nice together?

I love orange and thought the V-neck would show off a little bit of cleavage.

In the three classes we meaured ourselves, pin fit the pattern, sewed and clean finished the seams, inserted a long zipper, did a blind hem and made those cute little bust gathers.

 I waited until I got home to try it on.

BIG mistake. 

I should have tried on the bodice earlier in the process so that I could have seen that the arm holes are huge for me and the bust gathers too little for even for my modest boobs.

I could try to re-work the bodice as I have lots of this fabric but, as I was taking pictures of this dress on me for this post, I realized that the color looked awful on me.

I mean I looked like a diseased pumpkin.

Not a pretty sight... sort of stomach turning if you must know.

So now I have another Lawn dress... for mowing the lawn and weeding the garden and not for strolling on the beach during the hot summers here.

Again, if you see me in this dress in my front yard, just keep going and pretend not to know me.  You will be doing us both a favor.

On the other hand....I have some lovely white linen with little grey swirls on it that could be another version of this dress...hmmmm.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

International Quilt Festival 2010

Just a small samplng of the quilt show portion of the Quilt Festival this year.  More can be seen at

 Although Baltimore Album quilts leve me cold this award winning one is quite charming.
I love that the maker decorated the back of her quilt!!
 This quilt was constructed in pieces then assembled with the sections joined by knotted cording.  FABULOUS!

 I think I have some of this fabric but not the skills displayed!
 One of my teachers - Gilbert Muniz - won the garment competition.  I wonder who could fit into this corset!

A close up of the teeny tiny quilting done on most of the quilts.
Part of the show area ... in total about the size of one and a half football fields... just for showing the quilts!
That first quilt!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Boring Quilt

Last time I posted I had noted that the quilt we worked on at Saturday Strippers was very boring to put together.

Being a little OCD about these projects ( I don't want any to end up in my UFO pile!) I spent most of last week finishing up the top.

This is how it turned out:

Yes, it is right out of the sewing machine and needs a pressing.

Yes, it does not have borders and may never get them

Yes, it did turn out better than I thought it would.

Not sure how to quilt it but I envision a trellis of leaves winding its way up the beige parts like a meandering vine... or not.

Right now its about 72" x 84" which makes it an over-sized twin size quilt or a skinny queen size quilt.

I don't have enough of the original fabric to make large borders so I guess it will stay this size.

Lessons learned:
  • Boring construction can yield good results.  Maybe not show quality but definitey fine for a utility quilt.
  • Random selction of fabrics does not yield an even distribution of fabric.  There are at least four instances in this quilt top where identical fabrics are either next to each other or across from each other.
  • Cutting all the fabric before you get started does not mean you need to use it all up.  My OCD required me to use up almost every square inch of what I had cut for this project when I really should have tried out the basics first then decided how big I wanted it to be.
The International Quilt Market has begun and the Festival part starts Wednesday evening.  I signed up for a couple of classes and I am looking forward to the creatve energy that this type of gathering generates. 

Time with quilts and time with visiting friends makes it worth the price of admission.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday Strippers - 10/23/10

Yesterday was the semi-regular monthly gathering of the Saturday Strippers... or as I affectionately call it... Strip Club.

We gather to sew projects that use pre-cut strips and/or squares of fabirc.  The projects must be interesting and easy to make in a day.  Both of these requirements were met yesterday when we tackled the Random Reflections Quilt from the Moda Bakeshop designed by KarrieLynn at Freckled Whimsey.  Check out her blog to see what else she has been up to recently.

But I digress.

Yes this project looks interesting and it is an easy sew BUT it is a boring sew.

Let me explain..

When you make a pieced quilt top it is is typical for you to take little bits of fabric and keep sewing them together until you bigger bits which eventually become a quilt top.

In ths case you sew long strips of fabric together at their short ends, cut out where they join in the middle, sew the short ends together again and cut out the middle and again and again and again  until you have used up all the fabric.  At this point you have a bunch of 10 1/2" strips of two tone fabric which get sewn together to make rows then the rows together to make the quilt top.

The pattern uses 80 strips of fabric, 40 for the background and 40 for the reflections.  Doing a bit of quick math, you end up sewing 160 little short seams, stopping 4 times to cut out the middles and them you can get into block construction.


BUT, if you are a creative soul like some of my colleagues yesterday, you will use the pattern as a starting point and end up with the following quilt tops:
 Joyce used 14 strips for her crib sized quilt that Kimora likes so much.
 Janetta used 16 strips on ths quilt top that will go to her grandson Tanner.  Alex liked it so much he started rearranging the stips!

Two other quilt tops were almost completed in the time we had but I didn't get pictures.  One was all lovely florals for the reflections and different pastels for the background, while the other used scrappy reflections and a solid beige for the background.

I, on the other hand, got a headache, went home for a nap and brought Alex and the Girls back with me to close up.  This is all I got done:

I have a ot more to do on this quilt and I know I will enjoy the results.... I'll just have to watch something exciting on the Tivo while I am doing it.  I don't want this to be the first Strip Club project I have not finished.

I hope your weekend is going well and that your projects are generating some creative excitement for you.  I'm still working on it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mabel's Turban

Making Chemo Caps is a year long project.

Every day in every chemotherapy unit someone is in need of a head covering.

Usually they need many of them as they get easily soiled with shedding skin and night sweats.

The Mainland Morning Quilt Guild of Texas City, Texas has a unique (at least to me) project providing turban style hats to their local chemotherapy units.

With their instructions in hand plus a sample of the turban I have come up with Mabel's Turban.

Materials needed:

5” of ¼” elastic for that scrunched look at the back of the Turban

13” x 22” knit fabric for the body with the long side being stretchy for going around he head.

4” x 5” knit fabric for the loop at the front.


Sewing machine with a stretch stitch, double needle capability and/or a serger.

Matching thread – Unless you are looking for a strong contrast use a matching thread as your stitches will show on the right side of the turban.

Note on Fabric: Do a test run on the chosen fabric before investing in a lot of yardage. Knits vary significantly and good results are hard to achieve if your knit fabric does not cooperate.


1. Sew together the 13” ends of the main fabric with a stretch stitch or a serged edge. Sew seam allowance to the body of the turban with a straight or stretchy stitch.

2. Sew a 1” inch hem using a double needle or stretch stitches.

3. Form the loop by sewing or serging the 5” inch sides of the loop fabric together. Turn right side out.

4. Fold the turban, right sides together, so that the hem is on the bottom and the already sewn seam is to one side. Seam the top edge from the sewn seam to about ¾” from the folded edge.

5. Thread one raw end of the loop through the ¾” opening and wrap the other end around to the inside of the turban. Sew the ends of the loop and the remaining raw edges together. This may be quite thick and need to be hand sewn.

6. Attach the 5” elastic to the inside covering the original seam from the top seam to just above the hem. Use a stretch stitch on your sewing machine for this step.

Thank you to Susie of Texas City for the well loved instructions and to Janetta and Lish for bringing it to my attention.

Try out this new Chemo Cap and let me know what you think.  The Once Upon a Time Bee will be making these at our December gathering.  

It really is quite stylish if you can ignore Mabel's drunken look.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aloe Bog Coat

The other day I was browsing the local fabric store's clearance section looking for dress fabric.  I am taking a class in dressmking and needed something a little opaque, light weight and a flattering color to use in the class.

I did not find dress fabric but I did see a light weight canvas with a black background and a light aloe leaf printed all over it.

At $4.00 per yard plus other discounts I just couldn't pass up buying three yards of it.

Heck, it might even get made into a dress some day.

I took it home, washed and dried it and then sat on the couch with it straightening the edges and realizing that it would never make it into a dress.

Consumed with guilt about buying another useless piece of fabric, I was prepared to throw it into the donation bin when inspiration struck.

I remembered that when I was in Barcelona several years ago I bought some black trim that I was going to use in making a Chanel style jacket.  I did not make that jacket but I still had the trim.

Falling back on that jacket staple, the bog coat, I made this the other evening:

It looks a little crappy on a hanger but it looks great on with black jeans and a t-shirt.  The trim gives it just a little bit if glamor.  The trim, whem I dug it out of the trim box, turned out to be a little stretchy so it went around the neck and collar areas without any fuss. 

I think I may add a closure but I haven't found anything I like in my drawer of closures.  I 'm sure there is something in there that would be perfect but I need to dig deeper.

All in all a well spent couple of hours.

BUT I still had fabric left over.

I could have tossed the rest into the donation bin but I realized that it was a great weight for a toe bag.... a really huge tote bag.  I have a need for a really huge tote bag to hold all the fabric I have on hand for the Once Upon a Time Bee. This is what I came up with:

Not very glamorous but I boxed the bottom to the size of a bolt of fabric and it is now holding six bolts of fabric and a lot of other bits ready to go to our next sew-in.  It came out at about 24" wide by 22" tall and 12" deep.

Waste from these two projects - from the fabric the little bit I cut out for the neck of the jacket and the little strips from straightening the fabric; from the trim about 2" from the frayed ends.

As I go off and feel smug about my thriftiness I hope you are enjoying the fine fall weather.  If you get a chance, do a rain dance for us here in Houston.  Between no rain for three weeks and lots of little paws running around protecting the back yard from those evil squirrels, my lovely grass is down to dust and weeds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sock Club #4

I finally finished the August Sock Club project two dys after it was due.


I have not been late with the past projects and, in fact, have been early enough that I have been able to make two pairs of socks from each pattern

This one was so different because there were a ton of cables that needed to be worked. in this project.

The kids at the Woodcreek Middle School Knitting club figured out that there are about 200 cable stitches on each leg.  I figured out that both socks included a total of precisely 846 cables.

Not that I don't like cables but working so many on such tiny needels(zeros) and such fine yarn (fingering weight) got to be a real pain.  

I think my real prejudice against this pair of socks is that I lost THREE of my precious rare wood size 0 double pointed needles.

Here's how they came out:

Not bad for something I didn't like doing?

The yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn which I think is a new line for them.

The pattern is called Two Roads, published by Nonsuch Knits and developed by Lynn Ann Banks.  There was one small error in the pattern we were given but it had little impact on the final product.  Heck, it had so little impact on me that I knitted it the correct way without even noticing the error

I am glad this knit is over and that I can now go onto a new installment.  The current pattern is knitted from the toes up, has a nifty little wrap and turn heel (my first one is pretty ugly :-() and a couple of very nice lacy inserts.

Until I get those, or any of my other WIPs, done... happy knitting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mabel Knight Hat

Every year many of us make hats for those suffering from hair loss from chemotherapy treatments.  For the past three years we have only made watch caps from knits using  a pattern from Nancy's Notions.

I have been priviledged to have given away hundreds of these caps in zip lock bags - three to a bag with a decorative pin for those that seem especialy girly.

I was proud to do it but some of the knits we had gave really variable results.  Unfortunately you don't know how bad a knit will be for this project until you actually make the hat and then its too late.  I would still distribute them hoping that someone with a big head would appreciate the ones that came out huge because of a loose weave and that children would get the ones that came out too small because of a lack of stretchiness.

This year things will be different.

We are making three style of hats - one woven, one fleece and one knit.  The knit one will only be made from a single source of fabric and we will be using a new turban style pattern.

The fleece hat will be a watch style cap as well but we are making up the pattern based on one Paul has that has ears.  (I think I  will skip the ears.)

The hat made from woven fabric is a copy of a hat sold in M. D. Anderson's Cancer Center Gift Shop that sells for $24.00(!).

What do you think?

I'm calling it the Mabel Knight hat as the vintage hat form it is on had her name inside of it.  It is a more complex sew than the other hats but a much more stylish result.  Doesn't Mabel look good in it?

And what a great project for Breast Cancer Month!

The directions and pattern are being prettied up from my scrawl by a good friend.  When they are ready I will have them available on-line for every one. 

When the fleece hat pattern is perfected I will make it available as well.

Until then, look around you sewing room for yardage you will never use and think about making some of the simple charity projects that are already available on-line.  Your handiwork could make all the difference to someone in need..

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Workshop Houston Part 1

I am now volunteering at a project called Workshop Houston.  Its located down in Houston's Third Ward - an area in transition from/to incredible poverty and incredible wealth. 

I am working in the Style Shop once a week for a couple of hours helping middle schoolers with their sewing.

The one thing this group is not lacking is equipment.  They have been donated five Bernina sewing machines, one Bernina serger and a lot of fabric.  The have even been given some wonderful hand dyed fabrics that I would love to have!

The other thing I find interesting is that they are very well organized.  Check out this shot of the book cases:

Everything has a place(surprise, surprise!) and everything is usually in its place.

I think I kind of shocked them when I started taking apart one of the sewing machines that was giving poor tension.  There was one little bit of thread caught in the tension disks so it was an easy fix but when you see an old lady with her screwdrivers, tweezers, oil cans and other accoutrements attacking one of your precious sewing machines ...well,  I think you can imagine what the staff thought!

If you are looking for a giving opportunity, the workshop could use some good quality thread and a new heavy duty iron.  The iron needs to be pretty indestructable as it is used for standard pressing duties as well as heat setting silk screen projects.

The basc assignment is to use an old Kwik Sew sewing curriculum to teach these middle schoolers... no more than thre or four at a time... how to use a sewing machine and create simple sewing projects.

I, of course, cannot leave good enough alone so I have already suggested changes to make it more creative.  After all, anyone can sew but few of us can create something original from sewing.

I'll update you as things progress but I must say that I am looking forward to my weekly visits as a way to re-engerize my own sewing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apps - Part One

This may be the only part of a series on Applications available for our various electronic devices but I think this one is particulary fabulous.

Cook's Illustrated magazine has a free app with 50 of its most popular recipes plus some product reviews.  I put it on my IPod and was prepared to just browse it whan I needed a domestic goddess tweak.

I was mistaken.

I don't cook a lot but I do like a good omelette so the Perfect French Omelette called my name.

This is not a typical egg recipe.  You actually cook the eggs twice with a rest period in between.

The egg mixture includes three yolks, two whites and a half tablespoon of frozen butter.

Weird or what!

I tried it this morning and the results were wonderful.  It was tender, flavorful and it even looked like the picture.

Now on to the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies or New York Coffeee Cake or ......

Try this app or become a one day member of Cook's Illustrated and you too could impress your friends and family with a new breakfast treat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Halloween is Coming to Town....

okay, so it doesn't scan but Halloween has been a lot on my mind recently.

In keeping with the changing decorationg themes at Sweet Sadie's I decided to come up with a quick little quilt that screams Halloween.

What do you think?

The pattern may be called 'PS I Love You' but I was introduced to it as a quick two color wheel chair quilt.

Mine is a little larger than a wheel chair quilt and came out to approx. 45" square.  Each block is nine inches square finished and uses 3 1/2" strips of fabric.  Borders can be added but I don't think they are necessary.  It is a breeze to put together however I cheated because I just kept putting blocks together until I ran out of strip sets.

I quilted each block in the ditch and added buttons to the block's centers for extra security.

The cute (but poor quality) orange fabric came from JoAnns and the black (and great quality) is straight Kona Cotton.

This pattern could make a great I Spy type quilt with different fabrics for the little blocks and I bet it would make a great controlled scrappy quilt.

I didn't think I would get to this quilt but when I went to sew last night I had to move the dogs off of it to get to the machine.  I took the hint and finished it off.

By the way... the stuffed witch sitting on the bench will also be going to Sweet Sadie's along with some carved pumpkins and other goodies.  I did not make the witch but purchased her many years ago.  It seems odd to me that she has been sitting on my front hall bench for a few months now and Alex and the Girls have not spent any time playing with her. 

I wonder if she scares them???     

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekend Work

Even though I don't work for a company any more the weekends still take on a special meaning for me.

Here are the things I should be doing this coming weekend:
  • clean up the backyard
  • move and trim the grass in the backyard
  • mop the downstairs floors
  • flip the cushions and vaccuum out the sofa
  • join others in creating quilts to be auctioned for M.D. Anderson
  • finish my Twisted Yarns socks
  • cook and bake meals for the coming week
  • make/finish three projects for charity events
What I will probably do:
  • Nap with the puppies
  • visit Sweet Sadie's for some BBQ
  • work on duplicating a purse a friend brought home from Florence
  • go to the soft opening of a new Cracker Barrel restaurant just down the street
I know I will accomplish the first item on this list, probably the second...not so sure about anything else.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And Another One Bites The Dust

Several moths ago I finished a quilt top.

Nothing unusual in that except that the pieces making up the top were purchased from a friend reducing her UFO stash.

This kit was from a class that my friend had taken back in the 80's and I purchased it about three years ago.  Most of the pieces had been cut out using plastic templates, outlined in pencil and cut by scissors.  Some of the pieces were actually put together by hand.  The basic star blocks were to be sashed together and the center of each blocks was to have an appliqued heart in its center.

Here's what I came up with:
A little washed out in the sun... sorry!

No appliqued hearts, no sashing and lots of stippling event though my intent had been to work fancy feather quilting in each of the yellow blocks.  Oh right... the yellow blocks were my addition to the overall design.

Here's what it looks like after being washed for the first time:

The whole thing is about 84"  square and took over 1,000 yards of thread to quilt.

In some ways this is cute quilt for a someone who likes bubblegum pink flowers.

In other ways, this quilt stinks - only two of the four mitered corners are square, the original fusibale batting had to be ripped out, and my piecing when combined with the original piecing does not match up perfectly.

Then again ... done is better than not done.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mushroom Days

When the ground gets too wet to absorb any more moisture, mushrooms come up.

A least that's what the experts claim.

I grew up believing that mushrooms in the grass came from dog poop.

Around here the ground can get super saturated very quickly and the mushrooms come soon there after. 

Anyway, I proved to myself that the dog poop theory is somewhat wrong when these sweet little mushrooms appeared in a large flower pot outside.

Then I went on a mushroom hunt in the yard and did not find any other cute mushrooms but I did find this aged one.

Ewwwww!  That looks like some old guys butt.

On walks with the dogs I have found a lot that are scattered through various  yards.  They tend to be clumped together and contain more than one type.

I have not tried to eat any of them because, despite evidence to the contrary, I still believe that at least some of them come from dog poop.

Prove me wrong.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Thing I don't Understand

While driving on the freeway today I passed an eighteen wheeler transporting cars.  Each car was covered with a custom fabric cover. 

That makes sense to me as a way to protect the cars in transport but what I don't get is that each cover had a transparent bit over each window.


Why would a car in transit need the windows uncovered?

I just don't understand.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I recently upgraded my cable package to include HD channels.  The new cable box also has a DVR in it (who knew?) and I can get movies on demand.

With all this TV goodness I decided to explore On Demand movies this past week and I have decided that I have becaome a very shallow person.


Because the content of the movies is not as impressive as some of the clothing.

For example:

The Young Victoria - An Oscar winning movie about Queen Victoria's up-bringing and her eventual marriage to Prince Albert.  The story is great but the clothes are wondrous.  I would almost give my soul for the beautiful night clothes and underwear and the silk gowns took my breath away.

Bright Star - The story of a young fashionista in love with John Keats.  This time the garments are part of the story and they are wondrous.  All of them were constructed by hand and match the styles and techniques of the day. 

Coco Before Chanel - Yes, the clothing is part of the story but watching her actually work the fabric and the designs is an education in itself.  The film is mostly in French so don't try knitting a sock while trying to read the subtitles.  The story of her rise from an orphan to a leading light in the world of fashion is fascinating.

Valentino - Yes, the clothing is part of the story but the creative process is fascinating to watch.  I was entranced as he added ruffles to a beautiful pleated gown.  If you ar interested in Valentino and his story, this is a must see documentary.

So, yes, I am shallow, but with this kind of eye candy available to a fashion junky who can blame me?