Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oodles & Oodles of Tomatoes . . .

Today, at 4:00 pm, I decided we had to do something with the pot of pizza/spaghetti sauce sitting on the stove (Sarah made this a few days ago) PLUS all the tomatoes overrunning the refrigerator and garden. Two hours later, 9 pints of sauce and 19 pints of tomatoes were either in the water bath canner or waiting to be put in! This picture is the beautiful result of our work. Sarah was gracious enough to help me, and I must say that I much prefer canning with someone else over doing it alone. (I included the red pepper in the photo because it looks gorgeous.) Needless to say, we ordered pizza for dinner.

All of the tomatoes came from Sarah's garden (see the link to "A Gardener's Gazette" to get to her blog). We figured out that we canned 30 lbs. of tomatoes; the sauce started as, I believe, 24 or 28 pounds of tomatoes. This is in addition to the sauce she made previously. As long as the weather holds, there are plenty more tomatoes in the garden; the weather forecast is for above-average temperatures again this week. Hard to believe that Monday is the first day of October!

About that blue shirt I wrote about this past Monday - I had an opportunity to wear it when Sarah and I went shopping on Thursday and she said it looked store bought. That makes two shirts from that one pattern that she's made that comment about, and it sure makes me feel good! My only regret, and this holds true for much of what I make, is that the shirt will have to be ironed after washing. I love sewing on and wearing cotton; sometimes I'm able to find fabric that has some polyester in it, but often I just head for the calico section. Not that ironing is horrid - it's not - but it means I have to go out in the garage and get the ironing board, then find a place to set it up. I never can find a convenient place - I'm always in someone's way. Sometimes I use the small tabletop board, but it's a bit harder to work on.

Also this week I decided to organize my pink/purple/bit of green fabric bin. I'm trying to follow the directions I found here. I have found quite a few pieces that are large enough to actually make something from; these go in a separate tote with labels on them to tell me how big the pieces are. This is making me think I should go back through the tote of blue fabric and see if there are any larger pieces in there . . .

And as if I don't have enough fabric, I bought 14-1/2 yards of good quality cottons at a sale this week. I decline to mention the price, since my dh may read this blog, but I probably paid a bit more than 1/3 of the original prices (I got them from a nice mainly-quilting shop). In addition, I bought six Children's Corner patterns for $1.00 each!! This means I got over $60 worth of patterns for pennies. I am so excited. I'll try to get some pictures of the additions to my fabric stash.

After the fabric store, Sarah and I went across the street to a nice yarn shop. Sarah loves to knit and enjoyed seeing all the specialty yarns (I like touching them, but they're so expensive that I can't consider buying any.) The shop had an extensive selection of books - mainly knitting, but some lovely crocheting ones, too. I picked up two: "Crochet for Tots" by Nancy Queen, and "More Crocheted Aran Sweaters" by Jane Snedden Peever. Back before we had children, I spent time sitting in the auto repair shop (too often) crocheting an Aran-type sweater for Phil . . . he wore it out some years ago, as he wore it under his coat nearly every day in the winter.

Lastly, on Tuesday evening I finished stitching a 4-2/4" x 29-1/2" bell pull that I've been working on since spring. The pattern is "Simple Gifts" from "Told in a Garden." All that's needed is to sew muslin to the back and insert the bell pull hardware, of which I only have half because the shop had only one of the size I needed (the other is on order.) I chose black, instead of the gold the shop used on their sample. This piece will be hung in our upstairs hallway, which has an Amish theme. The picture here doesn't do it justice, so I'll try to get some pics of my completed piece. Perhaps I can do it in two halves.

On my crafting "to do" list is to finish folding that fabric; move the totes before my hubby's dialysis supplies come on Tuesday (since they're sitting right where those supplies need to be placed); choose a pattern to make a skirt for one of my nieces (Christmas gift); decide whether to keep trying to stop a piece of fabric from running so I can make overalls for my nephew in CA with it, or crochet him something from my new book (another Christmas gift); decide on Christmas gifts, preferably handmade, for Julia and Jamie Rae (JR is my niece in North Carolina); put away last week's purchases; and make a fabric pumpkin before winter arrives. This should keep me busy for a while. Problem is, I always find other things to do!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Organizing & Sewing

I went crazy on Saturday - I decided to organize some of my fabric. Whatever possessed me, I don't know. I have four large tubs of fabric scraps, plus any number of piles in various places in the house . . . I had to drag the tub up from the basement, then I proceeded to dump the contents on the great room floor (in view of the TV, of course.)

This is the mess I had to contend with. I folded and folded until I had to go to bed. After three hours, this is all I had to show for my time:

Three neat piles of fabric folded into 6" x 13" rectangles, and balanced precariously on one another.
And this much is left to sort and fold, which I worked on Sunday evening, but I was tired and didn't get much done. The mess still sits there, gathering dog fur!

I had planned to finish a shirt on Friday night, but discovered that I had sewn one sleeve in upside down. It's hard to tell the right and wrong side of the fabric, but still, I should have noticed that the notches for the front and back weren't in the right place. Of course, I had serged the seam - it rarely happens that mistakes are found before doing so! Today I decided it was time to undo that seam and finish the blouse, which I did. Here is the finished shirt.

I've made three other shirts from this pattern, and have one to go. The pattern is by Lois Hinse - the CasaBlanca blouse, pattern #5707. What I like about Lois's patterns is that they fit well and are relatively easy to make; in addition, they can be made from a variety of fabrics. For this shirt, I've used cottons and silky fabrics. One change I did make is to use bias tape on the neckline instead of serging the edge, folding it over, and top stitching it. I discovered that was nearly impossible when working with silky fabrics. The bias tape gives the neckline more stiffness and I think it looks better.

The next blouse is pink, and I want to do machine embroidery around the hemline, or at least part of it. I have some ideas from the November/December 2004 issue of "Designs in Machine Embroidery." (I bought that issue when I was trying to determine which machine embroidery magazine I preferred. I finally settled on "Creative Machine Embroidery" after realizing that "Designs in Machine Embroidery" assumed that everyone owns a top-of-the-line embroidery machine, which I don't.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Making Time . . .

We are having wonderful weather for late September - 70's and 80's - so I took some time to sit outside on the swing and review some of my smocking patterns and even do some smocking on a gift (I can't say what it is or for whom as the intended recipient might read my blog . . . ) Phil, my dh, came out and sat with me for a bit, something we don't do often.

My great eBay find: a copy of A~Z of Bullions for $5.99 + shipping! I've always been afraid of bullions, but tried them again recently and am confident enough to actually try including some in my smocking projects.

And in today's email, a sale notice for the place to go in nearby East Rochester (Patricia's) for fabric. They're having a fabric reduction sale and there are some great prices, so since I was planning to head that way tomorrow on our way to Build-a-Bear, we will stop. I also have a coupon for 15% off patterns, so I'll check out their heirloom patterns while I'm there. Whoo hoo!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Is gardening a craft? It's more of a hobby, but then, crafting is a hobby, too, so I can post about my gardening, right?

Grace thought a garden around our mailbox would be nice. After all, a lot of our neighbors have done the same thing . . . so quite a few weeks ago, Phil and I dug up the area. Mind you, with the drought here and our infamous clay soil, that wasn't an easy job. Once it was done, Grace said she wanted it bigger . . . so I went back out and dug some more. Finally, we purchased the extra topsoil needed to fill it in (after taking out the millions, or so it seemed, of rocks left over from the driveway and road; we live in a new subdivision, and I think they filled everything in with rock) and several bags of red cedar mulch (my favorite.) Lowe's had some fall plants on sale, so Grace chose two mums and an aster, which I finally planted tonight. This is the start of our garden! To the right of the mailbox, we'll put some lavender (which we'll get when we divide the huge plant in another garden.) Grace would also like some Rose Campion, ( of which I have plenty of volunteers (i.e., it spreads.) She's not sure what else she wants there; I've no doubt she'll come up with other ideas.

Here are a couple of other pictures of our front gardens:

What a Moose!

Grace (17 yo dd) finally made a stuffed animal last week. She's had the pattern for ages, and the problem was that the directions were in Swedish!! We got on the Internet, and with the aid of an online dictionary, we were able to figure out most of the instructions. The end result is this very cute moose, which she intends to put in the car she will be driving (when she gets her license.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Last Week's Sewing

Last week I made myself two pairs of capris; one pair is denim and the other is black twill. I'm sure I cut the same size for both, but the denim pair seems to be bigger. Nonetheless, they are comfortable and I think look good on me. The pattern is an older Simplicity one (meaning, it's been in the catalog for several years). It's number 7655.

I also made a huge discovery recently: I've been smocking since Sarah, my oldest, was very young. (She's going to be 21 at the end of the year . . .) All these years, I've been putting my fabric through the pleater incorrectly! The portion of the fabric that will not be pleated is supposed to hang out the LEFT side of the pleater, not be run through the remaining rollers! I'm not at liberty to say what I'm working on right now, but suffice it to say that pleating the fabric the correct way makes a HUGE difference in the quality of the pleating (such as, no split pleats.) I should have read the directions more carefully all those years ago.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Blast from the Past

I found and edited more pictures of outfits I've made for Julia. Enjoy!

Pinafore and Bloomers, April 2004
Sleeper, April 2004
Dress from Sew Beautiful January 2006 issue
Smocked Jumpsuit, November 2004

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Projects From the Past

Check out these pictures of outfits I made for Julia back in July, 2005! So far, these are the only digital photos I've found . . . there may be more in the hundreds of pictures on my hard drive.
Shorts & Shirt Outfit

Another Shorts and Shirt Outfit
Seaside Sailor Bubble from Sew Beautiful, Spring 1996 issue
Seaside Sailor Bubble, Back View
Summer Bubble from Sea Beautiful, Issue #76
Summer Bubble, Back View
Smocked Overalls
Close-Up of Smocked Overalls
Smocked Overalls, Back View

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Outfit for Julia, my 3-year old niece

I've just put the finishing touches on a new outfit for my niece, Julia. She loves purple, so whenever I sew for her, I try to find purple fabric. The pattern is "Strawberry Kiss" from "Australian Smocking and Embroidery" issue #77. It's not my best work - I learned that it's very important to read and follow ALL instructions, especially when pleating for smocking. I neglected to break the pleating threads on the back of the shirt where the placket goes . . . I had a terrible time securing the smocking and then cutting the placket after it was finished! The front, however, came out fine; who looks at the back? I hope Julia will enjoy her new outfit!