Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lots of things started, nothing finished

Outta here

I'm getting ready for vacation. Today's my last day of work until Aug. 9! We're just going on a quick jaunt for our 4th wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. Then I have lots of time off just hanging around the house, which I LOVE.

Favorite Things

One of the patterns I've been drooling over is the Uptown Coat pattern by Favorite Things. I finally bought it, then anguished over the fabric. I saw this Porcelina fabric in an e-mail newsletter from Fat Quarter Shop, and despite looking around, I kept coming back to it. The fabric on the left is the main jacket fabric, and the other two form the chest area. It's like the turquoise coat on the pattern below.

Fabric for Uptown Coat

Uptown Coat by Favorite Things

Vintage sheets quilt

Also, I've finally gotten moving on my Clothesline Quilt, AKA the Nine Pillowcase Quilt. It's the vintage sheets quilt that I was so excited for, and when the pattern finally was posted, I realized that the cutting was sort of hard. I did use a lot of pillowcases, but I also used a few sheets, and boy were they a pain to cut with a rotary blade.

vintage sheets,quilting

Oh, Fransson's version can be found here. She's the one who had the tutorial.

My main issue is that I want this to be a quilt for a queen size bed, so that means I need to add extra blocks. But that's going to ruin the 9-9-9 symmetry of the quilt. There are 9 tiny squares in the small blocks, then 9 small blocks in a big block, then 9 big blocks make up the quilt. If I add blocks, it messes that up, but I guess I'll live with it, because I want it to fit a bed and I've already cut the strips. I guess I could have made them bigger in the first place, but they would have been been a lot bigger.


I've been having fun embroidering. One of my projects will likely be one of the gifts for my five recipients from this post. So I won't show it until they get it, so it will be a surprise.

But I have so many ideas going. One thing I want to do is take this image and embroider it on a piece of tan fabric and make a handbag for myself.


Now I just need to buckle down and finish some things. Forget about the socks I've been working on for months. I'm making no progress at all. And hell if I'm going to take my knitting on the plane this time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I think I have actually run out of time

I officially do not have enough time for all of my hobbies. I used to have it all figured out:

work out before work (I work a swing shift)
read on my dinner break
knit after work while watching TV with Markles
sew on my days off

Note: this does not seem to leave time for cleaning. The one thing that seems to motivate me to clean is the threat that someone may come over. That turns me into an instant cleaning madwoman. If they don't come over, that's OK. My house is clean. So invite yourself over. Or at least threaten to.

But now I have a new hobby: embroidery. And I've been thrifting. And antiquing. And quilting. And I still want to work on my pattern drafting skills. Dear, God! I haven't the time for it all. The house work will definitely have to be dropped, company or not.

Here are my first embroidery projects. The transfers are from "The Kitchen Linens Book" by EllynAnne Geisel. See this post.


The back of the book includes a bunch of vintage iron-on transfers, reproductions from a McCalls 1945 line.


These are done on flour sack cloths purchased at Hobby Lobby in the needlework section.


They're so happy, those fruits, candies and ... uh ... whatever that thing on the right is.

I also went to thrift stores and bought a bunch of blank linens. I selected only ones that appeared to be cotton or linen. I got some napkins (which I use just on a day to day basis, so I don't need full, matching sets) and a dresser scarf and a table square. All blank canvases that I can embroider, and all 99 cents to $1.99. Can't beat that! I'm thinking of embroidering the dresser scarf for my grandma's birthday on Aug. 8.

I love the flowers on this dainty little napkin. This was so fast to do, too.


Furthermore, I discovered a Web site so wonderful, I could burst. Or spend all of my money there. Or both. It's called Sublime Stitching. And it proves that old-fashioned women's work is perfectly cool and trendy. And not old-fashioned at all. Go check out the transfer patterns. (But then come back. I'm not done.)

((tick-tock, tick-tock))

Did you go look? Aren't they the cutest things ever? I bought her book, "Sublime Stitching" by Jenny Hart, too. It's also filled with transfer patterns, albeit more generic ones than the patterns you can buy online. I ordered this one and this one off the site.


I would also like to mention another thrift store find in the fabric section (or "material," they call it. I find that only people who don't sew call it "material" instead of fabric. And considering that they priced a small piece of muslin at $6 AT A THRIFT STORE, I am fairly certain that they don't sew).

What I found was a two-yard piece of pinstriped wool. Real wool! Like what you cannot find at chain stores like JoAnn's. Or at least, I never do. Real wool! Like the kind that costs $14 a yard.

How do I know it's real wool? Well, I did a burn test. Did you know you can get at least a rough idea of a fabric's fiber content by burning it? I learned this in Fabric Science class. Pull off a few strands from the fraying end and hold them with tweezers. This is important. DO NOT use your fingers. Next, bring a flame toward it. First, note if the fibers shrink back from the flame. Wool should do this. Then it should ignite, and it should burn a little and then self-extinguish. It should smell like burning hair (no surprise). Finally, the burned residue should be slightly hard, but easily crushable between your fingers.

All fibers have different reactions. For instance, polyester sort of melts, so the bead if forms after it burns is hard, like plastic. And the smell is awful.

So, now I know it is really wool. And I know you are impressed that I got two yards of it for $5.99. Because my husband doesn't appreciate my find. He says it looks like "poor-people clothes." And like it belongs on people in an orphanage.

Bah. Maybe he should go take a closer look at his suits.


Allouette! Whatever that means. It could be the F-word for all I know

No, it's probably not the F-word in French because there is a spreadable cheese at the supermarket by that name. And is it ever delicious! On a warm baguette ... and fattening.

But cheese isn't the point of this post. Weirdness is. Remember the Kids in the Hall comedy troup? They were so weird. Just wonderfully, stunningly, hilariously weird. This skit randomly popped into my head just now, so I thought I would share it with you.

If you don't know the Kids, they may be an acquired taste. But it's almost as delicious of a taste as the Allouette cheese. (That just totally came full circle all clever-like, and I didn't plan it at all. It just flew forth from my fingers! Wow.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sucked in to the dark vacuum of used bargains

I wanted to sew today, my day off. And I will, but it's now nearly 6 p.m. and I haven't started. That's because try as I might, I can't stay away from thrift stores and antique shops. Yep, I went back to "Antique Mile" today.

While all the old-houses-turned-vintage-shop locations are quaint and charming, the air-conditioning is bad to nonexistent. Considering the 100+ heat wave we're having here, I about died. I was forced to stop for a hamburger, fries and Coke at Blake's Lotaburger on the way home. It cured me.

Anyway, I did buy a set of four embroidered napkins, but no picture of those today.

Here are my thrift store finds:

A ceramic, handmade lemon juicer for $3.99. I'm always wishing I had a lemon juicer. The bottom is carved with "M Bennett." I wonder who that is.

thrift store

And a giant bag of thread, also $3.99. I needed to go buy gray thread today anyway, and probably would have spent half as much on that one that I spent on this whole bag. I know old thread can be bad, but most of this looks really new.

thrift store

Plus, there's gray thread in there.

Finally, remember that embroidered cloth with cats on it that was unfinished and I asked what to do with it? I think I'll cut it in half and hem, and make two napkins out of it. In the meantime, a certain real-life kitty has made herself quite at home on that kitty-cat linen.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Treasure hunt (or the post that goes on and on)

Today was a fun day. I taught an old classmate (like from elementary school, who I met up with on Facebook) how to knit.

But before that, I decided to go on an antique treasure hunt. Wait, maybe I should back up.

OK, last night I attended a book signing at Bookworks, a local bookstore in Albuquerque's North Valley, for the "The Kitchen Linens Book" by EllynAnne Geisel.


I had to zip over on my dinner break. It just sounded sort of interesting, and she was supposed to have some vintage linens on display. She turned out to wonderful to listen to.

The book also has iron-on transfers in vintage designs included in the back, so I can try doing this on my own napkins. Which I will, because I certainly don't have enough hobbies. Soon I will be forced to quit my job, and maybe move to another planet where there are at least 48 hours in every day. But I digress.

You see, those old linens with silly pictures embroidered on them really have a tale to tell. Many women in the '30s and '40s had very little, especially during the Depression (Thank you, Robyn, for the history lesson). They may have had one set of napkins, and they were often handmade. They embellished their linens with embroidery to make them special. They embroidered kitchen towels with happy teapots and such to make their days more cheerful.

I overheard one woman saying that she and her mom used to embroider their tablecloths at the kitchen table, talking and rotating the cloth until it was finished.

I was smitten, to say the least. I suddenly wanted some of these linens to treasure. I wanted to bring back to life the careful handiwork of some woman before me. The handiwork that she took pride in, but that her family clearly did not understand or appreciate as they tossed it into the Goodwill pile.

I recalled the kitty pot holders my mother-in-law gave me when her own mother died. I pulled them from the drawer and saw them in a whole new light. I thought of my husband's grandmother living in a tiny house, poor, in a little mining town in Colorado so long ago.


I suddenly had a new love for those pot holders I once thought were ugly and old and icky. And that brings me to my treasure hunt. You know how I've been on a search for vintage sheets? I noticed that I never saw any vintage dish towels or things like that at the thrift stores. It had never dawned on me to try antique stores until last night, when I heard one of the book signing attendees say something. (And strangely enough, I never saw any vintage sheets at the antique stores.)

I looked online for the antique mall on Fourth Street and got the address. But as I was driving down Fourth Street in Albuquerque, N.M., I kept finding one antique store after another. I'd pull out of one driveway and two doors down there was another one. I also found a second-hand store (not clothing) called Ren's Thrift, where I got the best deals. For one thing, I got these cool rooster tins for very cheap there, plus a few linens.


I'll actually keep those inside my sewing cabinet to store notions.

Here are my linen finds:


You know, these women would actually hand-crochet borders to them. They'd intricately embroider the designs. It was all done with such care, and, most certainly, patience.


(Those napkins on the bottom right are probably not handmade, but the set of four was pretty, and also dirt cheap at Ren's Thrift Store. I've been trying to use cloth napkins instead of paper more often.)


This one, below, is one of my favorites. I like the colors. Unfortunately, no part of my house really goes with the antique or vintage look. Remember these silly cats from the estate sale? They feel right at home on these linens. They're all, "meow meow, I remember the good ol' days, meow. The days when people didn't buy all their crap at Wal-Mart, meow."

Vintage linens

I got this hand-crocheted lace, too. AWESOME!!!! I am definitely going to use this to embellish something that I sew or knit:


And these buttons, to go with the Argyle Lace Hat from "Boutique Knits." It requires seven buttons, and I thought these vintage ones would be a neat touch. There are only six, though they are in their original package. I'll be using this gray wool yarn.

hats,knitting projects,vintage

boutique knits,hats,knitting projects

I never did reach my original destination. I found it, but it had a sign that it moved a mile down the road, and I kept getting distracted by other shops. I actually found out that it's an area called The Antique Mile, and there are 15 or so shops there. If it weren't 100-plus damn degrees out these days, maybe I'd stroll about on foot. And also, if there were sidewalks in the area. And no scuzzy peeps. And no drunken drivers who may swerve accidentally onto the shoulder and kill me when I'm just innocently seeking out vintage linens. Goddammit.

The book's author says she collects these items to honor the women who made them. She doesn't care if it's not her monogram; she uses it anyway. And she uses all of her vintage linens. She doesn't keep them in drawers for safekeeping. I think that's what I'll do. Better to make use of them and enjoy them, in my opinion.


On a slight sidetrack, I'm going to make Simplicity 2927. I had picked it up for a buck on sale, and wasn't too thrilled by the looks of it. Then I saw that this version of it on My Daruma and knew I must make it. Hers is so awesome. I couldn't find good fabric. I wanted something simple and plain, maybe something that would match black pants. I picked this black linen blend with gray polka dot embroidery, and a cute button from Village Wools' faboo button selection.


(I see now that the picture is pretty useless. You can't even see the fabric. You'll just have to await the end result. ;) )

But I also decided to do a trial run, and chose this very unexciting gray fabric. Guess what it cost me for a yard. Go on, guess. OK, I'll tell you: 50 cents. That's right. It's just a practice run, but if it comes out OK, I may very well have a usuable, cute top for 50 cents. But I also got a button for it at Village Wools, and that was around $2.50, so something doesn't make sense here.



Alright, so back to vintage linens.


At one stop I got this piece of fabric with what appears to be a practice run on embroidery, and I'm looking for ideas on what to do with it. I could cut it and sew it onto something else. Any ideas?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Amy Butler Anna Tunic

I love this pattern. It's pretty easy, it's super-cute and it all comes together perfectly. Usually, it seems that things don't line up this easily. It also has details like the flower brooch, and you can wear it with or without a tie belt.

I used Michael Miller Black Zip Zinnia fabric from Hip Stitch because, as much as I love Amy Butler prints, she doesn't really do black. And I wanted black to wear with my leggings.

Amy Butler

I made it on the short side, because I've been working out and I thought my legs were shaping up nicely. But then, looking at these photos, maybe not. But they will. I'm very into the gym right now.

Amy Butler

I kind of like it beltless, though my other version, the tunic length, I like with the belt more.

Amy Butler

I put a big red, mod button in the middle of the flower brooch.

Amy Butler

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A few patterns that I really want or may die without

1. The Uptown Coat from Favorite Things. You'll have to click to see, because you can't "borrow" their photos. I wish I could borrow, with credit, because I think it's good advertising for them.

2. Amy Butler's new Mini Dress/Tunic pattern.

pattern,Amy Butler

3. Amy Butler's new Field Bag pattern.

Amy Butler,pattern

4. Pretty Ditty's Honey Girl Sundress.

Pretty Ditty sundress

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

You don't want presents?

I have three takers on the post about getting free presents, which can be found here.

Anyone else interested? I can take two more people, and in return you would make the same offer to others. Visit that link above for more info or to participate.

And to those who already signed up, can you please email your address to me? There's a link to my email on the right side of my blog -- additionaljesus**at**

Friday, July 3, 2009

I was just DYING for frito pie, but didn't know where to get it!

I saw this sign today (for you ABQ folks, it's at Paseo/Wyoming). It's near a grocery store and strip mall, but not anywhere near being directly outside of any particular store or restaurant.

I was bewildered by it. Who is this Dee Dee? Does she just whip up a frito pie in her kitchen anytime someone calls with a hunger deep in their belly?

weird sign

Mess of a dress

I bought this (rather enormous) pillowcase at an estate sale recently.

shirred pillowcase dress

I really liked it and have been kicking myself for not buying the other half of the pair because it was never enough to make anything. Then I saw this pattern for a shirred pillowcase top and got inspired.

Then I thought, "darn if that isn't a really long pillowcase. Perhaps it could be a dress."

Then I thought of this dress I've been drooling over for a while.

I decided to go for a dress, but with an empire waistline. I had never shirred before. It's actually very easy. Instead of using thread in the bobbin, you use elastic thread, and then pretty much sew in straight rows.

vintage sheets

I cut my pillowcase up and started shirring. And then quickly realized that this item was going to be small. Really small. I mean, I'm small, myself, but not that small.

vintage sheets

I thought maybe it would fit my friend's tiny 7th-grade daughter. Then I thought maybe it would better fit her 5-year-old daughter.

So I stopped shirring earlier than I would have to create a smaller chest area and then did a separate skirt. This was dumb. I should have just left it one big piece. I realized if I simply gathered the skirt and sewed it on, the waist would have no give, and therefore the dress may be difficult to put on, since there is no zipper or anything.

So I started making an elastic casing for the waist and then couldn't figure out how to sew it onto the top. If the casing is right at the top, then where is the seam allowance? So I left a seam allowance and made the casing a bit under that. Then I sewed it on and it looked like crap because there was shirring, then a big gap, then an elastic waistband. I had to sew the seam closer, and in the end there was a big, unruly seam allowance that bunches up the waist area.

I know there has to be an intelligent way to do this, but I simply am not seeing it.

vintage sheets

OK, so I used the idea in the shirt tutorial above and put rick-rack along the pillowcase hem stitching. Then I attached straps (tie straps, since I didn't know how long to make them. I never sew for kids.) and put decorative buttons on the front for a touch o' cuteness.

vintage sheets
vintage sheets

Thursday, July 2, 2009

50% success rate

I've been on vacation this week, and I've done quite a bit of sewing. I have had several failures, and a few wins.

I made two items from Simplicity 2892.

Style C came out pretty cute. I used a fabric I had laying around for some time. I finally felt inspired, and I like the result.

Simplicity 2892

The only trouble I had was that the opening on the side bottom doesn't line up very well. One side is longer, but I don't think it's that noticeable.

Simplicity 2892

I also tried Style F on the pattern. Actually, I did Style D, which is the same as F but with a straight, loose bottom. Boy did my gathering come out crappy. For this top, I used a vintage sheet. The whole thing looked really bad, so I decided to add elastic to the bottom. This looked less bad but "less bad" does not equal "good."

Simplicity 2892

My husband said it looked like maternity wear, and he expects people to come up and congratulate him on an upcoming fatherhood if somebody sees me at the grocery store (No, I'm not pregnant). So it's not very flattering. I get it.

Simplicity 2892

Speaking of wearing it to the grocery store, I love when I make a garment and forget to take the marking pen off. I had written "B" for back just to keep things straight early on in the sewing, and walked around like that all day.


Finally, I made another List Taker for my friend's birthday. I used these fabrics I had bought swatches of. I didn't end up buying the fabrics, but wanted to use the cute swatches.

List Taker

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I want to give you a present.

Do I have five readers?

I saw this over on whatkatydid's blog. Here's how it works. The first five people to leave a comment on this post will get something from me. But in return, you have to do the same thing on your blog and make something for five other people.

The details are as follows, and if you want to play, copy the following onto your blog and leave me a post:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It’ll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.
7. Send your mailing address - after I contact you.

It's easy, right? I mean, you can do just about anything. I'm not opposed to shipping overseas.