Friday, August 28, 2009

Out with the nasty

Boy did I need a new ironing board cover. I sew a lot, and so I use my ironing board a lot for pressing. I have an oversized ironing board that is so great for my purposes, but it only came with unbleached muslin covers. Both stained and tore, and finding new, oversized covers is hard to do. Plus, when you do find them, they are overpriced.

ironing board

Ugh! It's pretty much ruined all my tutorials, hanging out in the background all nasty-like.

I decided to make my own, and heck if it's not the easiest thing I have ever done. Ever. I found a tutorial here.

OK, watch how simple this is: Buy a piece of fabric -- must be 100% cotton, no synthetics, due to the heat of the iron. I bought 2 yards, but I had a bit left over as you'll see in the picture.

Take off your old cover and pull the string out. Save the string and the little plastic string tie thing, if it has one.

Smooth out the old cover on top of the new one. Cut, leaving a seam allowance of your choice.

ironing board

ironing board

Remove cat before proceeding. (I swear, I thought she was going to pee on there. She's on antibiotics now, but she had a bit of a bladder infection and was peeing in naughty places. She was especially fond of fabric. She must be feeling better because she just sat on it and kept her wee-wee to herself.)

Finish the edge. I serged mine, but if you don't have a serger, just zig-zag on your sewing machine.

ironing board

Now just fold over and sew a little casing for the string. None of this has to look pretty. It will be hidden on the underside of the ironing board.

ironing board

Now, run the string through the casing. Have you ever used one of these bodkins instead of a safety pin? They are awesome, and practically free.

ironing board

Put your new cover on the board and pull in the strings. Look how much better!

ironing board

ironing board

Vintage sheet quilt

I have had the Nine Pillowcase Quilt (aka the Clothesline Quilt) on my mind since February. I am finally making some progress. I have a few small blocks done. I love the vintage sheets. I'm really looking forward to the finished product.

vintage sheets

What? You want to see the inside of my kitchen cupboards?

Don't you love Bed, Bath and Beyond? I could spend hours wandering through the organizing products, daydreaming about nicer, neater cabinets and closets.

I recently had to do a health assessment for my insurance company and was rewarded with a gift card to a store of my choice. I'll give you one guess what my choice was.

I've recently begun washing out/cleaning out my kitchen cabinets. As I go, I've been separating out tons of stuff I don't use or need. It feels great to not have everything stuffed into the cabinets.

Here's the worst cabinet I had:


And here's the cabinet with my baking stuff:


Every time I needed, say, a cookie sheet, I had to take a bunch of stuff out to get to it. I wanted them to stand upward, so I bought a little rack at Lowe's for about $12. It just sets in the cabinet, no installation. I moved these items from the baking cabinet to the first cabinet I showed you:


Then I filled the baking cabinet with other stuff. I even have space left over. I got rid of a big fajita grill -- you know, one of those things you get for Christmas and then use twice in five years. It took up so much space. If any Duke City people reading this want it, let me know soon. It's pretty cute, and has a tortilla warmer.


The top shelf still looks a little jumbled, but it's really not bad. Just my cake/pie pans and casserole dishes.

I don't have a before picture of this cabinet, but it is so very much nicer now. I had way too many mixing bowls, so I got rid of some old plastic ones in favor of my nice, metal Pampered Chef bowls with lids and the brown bowls that match our dinnerware. This cabinet also was stacked full of stuff. I took out the coffee maker that I haven't used since 2002. Why was I letting it take up space like that?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

A fondness for birds

It seems I've been embroidering birds lately. I'm not sure why. (See the scary "Alouette" post)

One day, I was frolicking about on Flickr when I found this vintage embroidery transfer pattern:


Something about it inspired me, and I decided it would make a nice purse. I always need a more plain handbag, but whenever I'm sewing I'm attracted to the fun fabrics. I got some plain, tan fabric and used a transfer pencil (bought at Michael's) to trace the drawing after printing it on my printer. I then transferred it onto the fabric with the iron and embroidered it.


Next, I dug around in my stash for a lining fabric. I found this perfect one. It brought out all the colors in the embroidery, but it's sort of bold, so I decided to but a band of the plain fabric around the interior top so that the lining fabric isn't distracting from the embroidery and is less visible.

embroidery,handbags, totes

Then I sewed her up.


To do something different than usual, I used square rings on the handles. It gives it a nice touch.


More gifts

Two more items from this giveaway post went out this week.

To Kerry, I sent this pleated paisley handbag:

handbags, totes

And to Kathy, I sent two quilted place mats, reversible:


For anybody interested in making a handbag, I do have several tutorials listed on the side column of my blog if you need some help. I was going to make a tutorial for the quilted place mats, but I had to do so much adjusting as I went that I would really need to do another set to make sure all my notes are correct. I may get around to that eventually.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Presents are arriving at a mailbox near (five of) you

Hey, y'all! Remember this post about presents?

Well, you can count on me. I have sent three of them out already. The final two are for Elaine and Amy, and both of you I know in real life. You'll have to be patient, but I'll get them to you soon enough.

The first one went to Olga. I hand-embroidered four napkins with sillies. I don't know what else to call these characters. They are from the Julie West transfer pattern on Sublime Stitching.

I wanted to wait for her to get them before I posted pictures, and I'll do the same for the rest of them. The other two just went out yesterday, so no pictures yet.

Keep in mind that these are among my first embroidery projects.

embroidery,vintage,thrift storeembroidery,vintage,thrift storeembroidery,vintage,thrift storeembroidery,vintage,thrift storeembroidery,vintage,thrift store

I recently embroidered a handbag that I'm making, and I'm really excited to show you. I just need some sewing time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Down at Fraggle Rock

Remember "Fraggle Rock"? Remember Marjorie the Trash Heap?

Marjorie the Trash Heap

The other day, my husband wouldn't get out of bed. By the time he did, it was quite a mess. While he was hiding in there, I thought he rather reminded me of good ol' Marjorie, though maybe a little less dirty.


Yep. Some pink glasses and he's good to go.

Some things you can never escape

When I was a kid, I liked cows. So people gave me cow paraphernalia all the time. As I got older, my fondness for cows waned. I mean, real cows are alright, but I don't want cow stuff all over my house. It took years before people stopped giving me cow-related junk.

A few years ago, my mom wanted to open a cupcake bakery. And ever since, the poor woman is inundated with cupcake this and cupcake that. I was going to embroider a cupcake kitchen towel for her, but she was like, "enough with the cupcakes!" and then she chose regular cake instead. (??!?)


I had trouble photographing it because without the flash it's hard to see, but with the flash it's so washed out you can't see it at all. And, uh, nice trash to the right there, huh? Oops. I forgot to crop that out. But, we're family, right? You don't care about my trash. I don't have to impress you.

She also wanted a towel with hearts, but so far my satin stitched hearts are pretty awful and uneven.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Multi-colored alouette

A French reader informed me after a recent post that alouette is a type of bird. I'm sure it looks nothing like the bird in this post, but that word sure is fun to say.

It also made me want to see what the song was about (see this post). Well, it is quite disturbing actually. It's about plucking the feathers off of a poor bird.

The following information is from wikipedia, the source of all truths. The last line is the best. I started off making it blue, so it would stand out. But I think red is a more appropriate color:

Alouette, gentille Alouette
Skylark, nice skylark
Alouette, je te plumerai
Skylark, I shall pluck you
Je te plumerai la tête
I shall pluck your head
(Je te plumerai la tête)
(I shall pluck your head)
Et la tête
And your head
(Et la tête)
(And your head)
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai le bec
I shall pluck your beak
(Je te plumerai le bec)
Et le bec
(Et le bec)
Et la tête
(Et la tête)

The song continues in this fashion, with the italicized phrase (a part of the bird) in each verse being substituted with a new one, with the previous items being recited at the end:

  • Et le cou
And your neck
  • Et le dos
And your back
  • Et les ailes
And your wings
  • Et les pattes
And your legs
  • Et la queue
And your tail
  • Et la coeur
And your heart
  • Et les poumons
And your lungs
  • Et la cerveau
And your brain
La Conclusion
The Ending


Alouette, gentille Alouette
Skylark, nice skylark
  • 'Tu est un torse saignant
You are a bloody torso

Oh. My. God. I don't even plan these posts. Seriously, I just start typing and weird things come out. I'm like, "Oh, I think I'll go Google this sweet song about a bird with a pretty name."

OK, so let's pretend that alouettes are happy and pretty and have all their feathers. And that they are brown and red and blue. Here's one now!

embroidery,vintage,thrift store

I embroidered a vintage dresser scarf for my Grandma's birthday. I am new to embroidery, so I'm really proud of this bird. I tried to make it look like feathers. I added a few flowers to the sides and some curlicues.

embroidery,vintage,thrift store

embroidery,vintage,thrift store

embroidery,vintage,thrift store

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sometimes you've just gotta know when to quit

I have come to the conclusion that it's time to give up on a few projects. I could just secretly throw them out and let you think that I'm a good sewer, but I am open to exposing my flaws publicly.

Simplicity 2927

This version was supposed to be a mock-up, using fabric I got for 50 cents. I started to think that maybe it would actually turn out to be a cute top. I actually dragged this out for weeks. I hated working on it. I started to think that I would not even try to make this pattern out of the "real" fabric I had bought for it, even if the gray top did come out nice.


It didn't.

Problem #1: cheap fabric.
Problem #2: really bad thread. Not proper sewing machine thread. I got it in a big grab bag at the thrift store. I could tell that this spool should be tossed because the quality was just awful, but I needed gray thread that day, so I used it anyway. It was coarse and broke a lot. It caught in the machine and wouldn't feed well.

thrift store

Problem #3: I cut two right-hand pockets and then had no more fabric to fix it with, so I couldn't use them.


Problem #4: I struggled to make the rounded front collar. It came out uneven and wonky.

But I'm still on board here, you know?

Problem #5: Horrible, horrible job putting in the lapped zipper. I have never been good at zippers, and especially lapped zippers. Here you can see the stitching is uneven, and then of course I ended up with a large pucker at the bottom.

sewing room,sewing

At this point I decided to forget the whole thing. I'm just not willing to take out the zipper and do it over. I want to put this project behind me.

Serger cover

I was going to make a serger cover with some stash fabric and McCalls 2723. I hate this pattern, too. It's a pattern I've had for ages and once made my sewing machine cover from. I realized after this one took a turn for the worse that I had modified the sewing machine cover, for good reason.

This project requires you to sew the lining, batting and outer fabric together, with wrong sides together. Of course, this leaves a big, ugly seam that you then have to wrap with bias tape and sew. Only it's thick and awful and I couldn't sew it straight to save my life. It's also, like, 2 feet tall, enough for two sergers stacked on top of each other. I don't get it.

I left it sitting around for a while trying to decide if I was willing to unstitch the whole thing and then resew it, but with with right sides together around the bottom and turn through a hole in the lining. I decided that I'd rather toss it.

My craftmanship is so embarrassing that I will not allow you to see it. I have photographed it from many feet away, to spare you the horror.

serger cover

That's it, on the floor over there. Squint hard.

I can do some good things

I'm embroidering some cutesy-poo things that I won't photograph quite yet. It will give you something exciting to look forward to in your life.

Not one single picture except this one of my unpedicured feetsies

Mark and I went to Las Vegas for a few days to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. I took the camera, but somehow didn't take any pictures at all. It's a terrible shame, because I got my hair done one night and this amazing stylist GOT IT TO CURL. And it stayed all night. And even the next day it was curly! Actually, it kind of weirded me out to see curls on my head, despite 35 years of trying desperately to get them.

And no pictures of the curls.

I don't really have that much to say about the trip. We ate. A lot. We drank. A lot. We snorted coke. But not too much.

I saw "The Jersey Boys," and although normally musicals make me want to disembowel myself, this one was amazing. But, I don't care what Mark says about it, I hate the song "Dawn" by the Four Seasons. I do like "Oh What a Night."

We always stay off-strip at the Palms, which is really a party place. The noise gets to me. There's music blasting everywhere. This time I insisted we go to the strip and just wander. We went on Sunday afternoon, and I had to choose between two troublesome options: wear jeans and socks and tennies, and have happy feet but be extremely sweaty and miserable. Or wear a light sundress and sandals, but risk my usual blistered mess. That's because my feet don't really get callouses. Yeah, I know. You're totally jealous, and you'll think of me the next time the pedicurist is sloughing off your dried up heels. But what it actually means is that my feet are always blistered.

So we get a ride to the strip and wander about. My feet were OK. I was wearing these (my only lousy excuse for a picture with this post):


They don't give me blisters, but there's no arch support or padding whatsoever. At one point, we're in Caesar's Palace, and Mark suggests we just walk all the way back. But we came out of the wrong exit and ended up walking the wrong way. We got to the street we needed to take, but it was an overpass above us. And there was no earthly way to get up there. Someone painstakingly made sure to block every possible way with a fence.

We walk past, and find a little path. After trudging along for a while, surrounded on both sides by thick shrubs and chain-link fences, and noting that this would be an excellent place for muggings, Mark says "Shhhh. I think I saw a wolf." Great.

Well, we didn't get eaten by a wolf, but we did run into a locked chain-link gate at the end. It was probably about 7 feet high, and Mark wanted to hop it. I was wearing a dress and those fabulous Payless Shoe Source sandals above. There was just no way. I would have sliced up my legs, torn my dress, lost my shoes. So we walked back down and noticed a lady in a toll booth outside the back of the Bellagio. She pitied us and gave us drinks of water, but told us there was no easy way to walk to where we were wanted to go. It was a mere few-dozen yards, but there was no way to get there. She pointed us around the back of the building to the employee entrance and radioed ahead to let us through. As we walked, one person after another silently pointed the way until somebody took us a back way into the hotel. Eventually we made it out front. But now we were still miles away from the Palms. Should we call a ride? No, not after all this. We're making it on foot, dammit.

And so we walked. And walked. And walked. And we did it. My feet were on fire by the time we got back, but no real damage. Go crappy Payless shoes!

I was going to provide a Google Map to show you how horribly far we trudged, but it showed that from the Bellagio to the Palms is only 1.3 miles. I guess that now I look like a bit of a whiner. We did walk for a few hours before that point, though, if that helps my case at all.

And, yes, I still have heels as soft as a baby's bottom.