amis au fil des ans

just a few good friends, sharing adventures in family, arts, and sometimes heavy machinery

dressy hooters

I finally did it! I made a dress! And guess what…it actually looks like a dress!

I used the free PDF pattern called Wee Wanderer from Sarah Jane studios. I probably should’ve started with something simple like a pillowcase dress or jumper first, but I really wanted to enhance my skills, figure out how to use my serger, and try to remember how to install a zipper. Happy to report I managed to do all of the above (with quite a few setbacks along the way of course).

My major lessons learned:

– Having a serger rocks. Even for someone who just uses it occasionally to craft, it just makes lots of things so much easier.

– I need a cheat sheet for machine feet. Between the serger and the sewing machine, I think I used 4 different feet (and could’ve used the gathering foot for the ruffle as a 5th, but I chose to go old-school to save time). Everytime I switched feet I had to take a timeout to read the manual, adjust some threading, and in some cases, look at YouTube. It was pretty time consuming.

– Having a good, well-written pattern is worth a fee. This pattern was free and it was the authors first pattern, so there were a few kinks to get through. I’m sure for someone who has made things like this before it would’ve been fine but I needed the specifics and I got hung up more than once. Thankfully YouTube has videos for everything, and I figured out how to do the zipper in my sleep last night (no joke). Ha!

I did get better at a few things: I never ran out of bobbin thread, my fabric cutting was done correctly the first time, and I didn’t need to rip as many seams as you’d probably expect. Score! I’m definitely planning on making this dress again, now that I know how to do it.

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The heartbreaking error…

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babydoll basket

One thing nearly everyone knows about me: I am an unconventional gift-giver.  Odds are I will never be regular about giving gifts to people, even within my own family, and odds are even better that when I do give a gift it will be nowhere near a holiday or birthday.  That said, I am an awesome gift-giver and while there is no predictability to when or where you’ll get one, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to like it.

I hope to continue this trend with my niece’s newest gift: a baby doll basket for her American Girl dolls.  Many thanks to SE for introducing me to this pattern and for the encouragement along the way while I grunted my way through this project!

There is not much of a construction story here.  We had a few days of cold, snow, cold, ice, cold, and wind.  I wasn’t interested in leaving the house.  I logged about 10 hours of work time making this, and really it would’ve been less if I would have done a few things:

1. read the instructions correctly the first time.

2. read the instructions correctly the second time.  (I should note, the instructions are EXTREMELY clear).  Ugh.

3. cut the material correctly the first time (see item #1 & #2 for explanation)

4. for the love of it all…LEARN HOW TO USE BIAS TAPE CORRECTLY.  I do not wish to discuss the inappropriate words that kept coming out of my mouth, or the number of times I managed to get a pin stuck in my hand.

5. hopefully, for the last time…PAY ATTENTION TO THE BOBBIN THREAD AMOUNT.  Such a rookie mistake, but for some reason I keep making it.  And making it.  We’re talking intensely concentrating on technical sewing for over 25 minutes before realizing the bobbin has long ago run out of thread.

If you keep up with my blog posts, you probably wonder why I continue to sew.  I guess this is why I end up with my sewing machine in the closet for months at a time.  We have a love-hate relationship.  We are currently leaning dangerously close to the hate side.  But it will all be worth it if she loves this!  (No pressure)

If you’re interested, here are the pattern and fabric links:

Pattern 

Amy Butler Love Paradise Garden Wine

Aunt Polly’s Flannel Small Polka Dots Pink/Purple

Pattern pieces

Pattern pieces

Basket sides

Basket sides

Outer shell complete!

Outer shell complete!

Finished!

Finished!

Side view with contrasting colors

Side view with contrasting colors

Reversible bedding

Reversible bedding

2014-02-05 12.57.06

dutch oven bread

Recipe: Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

After sampling the many types of delicious breads my friend Megan always made, I have had homemade bread-making on my to-do list for years.  For some reason the yeast component intimidated me…I mean…it GROWS.  On it’s own.  It must be crazy and difficult to work with, since clearly it has a brain.  

Some folks argue that making your own bread is one of those bang-for-your-buck household money-saving tips.  I read an article the other day that claimed you can save $80 – $320 a year per person making your own bread!  Of course, that’s not why I did it, and I’m certainly not about to research the validity of these claims, but it makes for interesting conversation.  Who doesn’t love saving money??

Another reason to make your own bread is that you control the ingredients.  With so much discussion about preservatives and loooooong lists of unpronounceable (is that a word?) ingredients give people the willies.  Homemade bread has very few ingredients, and I can pronounce (and spell) all of them!  Plus, it’s super easy to add in extra goodies (dried cherries! cinnamon! nuts!) to fit your individual tastes.  

After hubby purchased a Lodge Cast Iron Cookware set, we’ve become addicted to finding new and interesting uses for the various pieces.  The dutch oven in particular is a very cool tool, not just for stews and soups.  When I saw this recipe, I knew it was perfect for us.

I don’t need to walk you through a tutorial of how to do this.  The directions are clear and simple.  I let mine sit overnight for about 18 hours…just because I slept in…but it worked out great!  Just make sure you have a nice little tub of spreadable butter or jam ready and waiting for when this sucker comes out of the oven!!

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Very sticky, watch out!

 

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Could’ve left this in a few more minutes, but we were too excited

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If you look closely, can you see the steam??

 

death by scrapbuster quilt

I love quilts, especially quilts that have been made from fabric that served another purpose.  My mom has a quilt that my grandma made from squares of my grandfather’s old suits.  The darn thing feels like it’s 100 lbs, but I think it’s just heavy from all the stories it holds.  🙂

I have always been too intimidated to make a quilt.  Not because the sewing seemed difficult, but because it seemed like Such. A. Commitment.  All those squares!  I’m not exactly known for my ability to focus on one thing for a great length of time.  Fast forward to us moving into the Tiny House, me feeling a constant need to purge stuff…and those looming boxes of fabric scraps started to really irritate me.  It was time to quilt!

I started by watching a few videos on YouTube, getting the general idea.  Then I found this awesome Instructables lesson.  Seemed easy enough, and believe it or not I already had all of the materials including batting that I bought in (no joke) 2006 when I decided to make a t-shirt quilt (SPOILER: it never happened).  I grabbed the rotary cutter and my fabric scraps and started cutting.  You should know this was October 4, 2013.

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Cutting, cutting, cutting

I read somewhere that someone used a small mason jar to put all her scrap threads in while she worked…brilliant idea!!

Once I had what felt like enough squares (turns out it wasn’t, but alas) I started piecing them together into 9-boxes.  I will say, I started by pairing up 2 different fabrics together…but now I wish I had done all random because I feel like my quilt looks like a mish-mosh.  Oh well.

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Pairs

After I had enough 9 boxes ready (or so I thought), I laid them all out on the table and tried to figure out the order.  This was when I first realized how I could leverage my hubby’s strength in analytics and patterns for my own use…I invited him downstairs just to take a look and he immediately started moving the blocks around, flipping them in different directions and telling me what I needed to do.  To my quilt.  I didn’t ask for his input.  I still don’t know how this happened.  He redesigned the whole thing.  I was irritated.  After he was done and left the room, I took a step back and was even more disgusted because…he had made it look better.  Dangit!

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First draft.

This is exactly the point at which I got burned out.  It was October 5th.  I packed up all the squares and called it a day.

About a month later I decided to sew again, and pulled everything out.  I stitched together the 9-boxes, admired my quilt, and decided it was too small.  I don’t know why, but starting from the beginning, cutting out squares and sewing them together piece by piece…was torture.  What felt like an eternity later, I finally had my quilt top done.  It still wasn’t as large as I originally wanted, but I was starting to really hate this project.

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Quilt top

That was before I started quilting.

I watched a few more YouTube videos on how to make a quilt sandwich, locked my dogs in the spare bedroom so they couldn’t get involved, grabbed a sheet out of the Goodwill pile and spread everything out on the family room floor.  While on a conference call for work (SHHHH) I crawled all over that quilt adding a million pins to keep it together.

Since I just have a standard home-sized sewing machine, I couldn’t do any kind of fancy quilting so I opted for “stitching in the ditch” which has nothing to do with going outside.  This meant hours of straight, long, boring sewing.  My back hurt, my arms hurt, my butt hurt…I never thought it was going to end.  Suddenly the quilt felt insanely huge.

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Machine quilting

I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to put the whole thing back in the closet again.  I hated quilting.  It was November 16th.

And so it sat.  For two months, folded up in a nice little pile on top of the dresser in my guest room.  Still full of pins and without a border.  It ate at me every time I saw it, a nagging little project that wouldn’t end.  ARGH.

I had to figure out how to make binding.  I had this red fabric with little white dots that I had purchased for the t-shirt quilt (circa 2006), I must’ve bought 3 yards of the stuff and have been dragging it around ever since.  This was my chance.  I found this tutorial and it seemed fairly simple so I gave it a go.  Much to my surprise it went pretty quickly and BAM!  My quilt was done.  It turned out great, but it’s definitely going to be a while before I embark on another large(ish) quilt like that again.

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Finally completed on January 20, 2014

a whole year??

we’ve gone a WHOLE YEAR without blogging??  this is criminal!  are you ready to get back to it ladies?!?

searching for shade

ok, so everyone is off growing babies and i’m left to the blogging…whoops, that was a bad plan!

i did take a few photos of one of this weekend’s projects – magnolias.  after paying someone with heavy machinery to take down our 50+ year old oak tree and a random olive tree in the middle of summer, hubs and i immediately went through tree remorse.  not one to wait around, we ran out and bought two 12′ tall magnolia trees to start the process of replacing what we’ve taken away.  it’s no comparison to the tree that spread like an umbrella over our entire house, backyard and garage, but…it’s helping a little!

here you can see the olive tree on the side of our house.  it was super ugly and the branches kept dying.  birds would sit on the branches and chuck little berries (olives?) at you like bb’s out of a pellet gun.  it had no redeeming qualities.

the olive tree enjoys its final evening

After removing an olive tree

two new magnolias, ready for growth spurt

so you may be asking yourself – what’s up with the stump?  were you too cheap to pay the guys to grind it out?  in what appears to be a mis-communication, we remain owners of this tree stump.  not one to get bent out of shape over little things, i’ve tasked hubby with creating something like this:

courtesy of this old house

i’m here and i’m back!

i know i have been mia.  and i really am sorry.  i haven’t been doing much…  except growing a baby.

so please join me in #4’s internet debut…ta da!  #4!

 

needless to say, we are all very excited in this house.  although no one as much as big sis e.  she wakes me up each morning letting me know how happy she is to be a “triple big sister”.  she has also already begun to clear the house of any small objects.  coins, pizza pieces, baby kai lan, and mr. fluffy have all been relocated to a shoe box until baby is big enough.  that’s my e.  very proactive.  baby is due 11/5/2012.

and as if by magic as i entered the 2nd trimester i started to feel like sewing again.  i have 2 projects lined up for this week so stay tuned!

missed you girls.

 

dwell studio bedroom, in progress

hey, where are you guys?!  i know you’re not sitting around, so please start sharing again!!

my next room decor project is focused on our master bedroom, mostly because we don’t have anything that actually matches and is functional.  i’m a firm believer in white bedding so that’s not going to change, but i needed to spruce up the place a bit.  i fell in LOVE with the new dwell studio line of fabrics, but didn’t want to pay the prices for their bedding, so i’m trying to be a little creative and find ways to incorporate the fabric into our room.  you may recall i also used dwell studio in the mudroom redo too!

dwell studio fabric samples

what you can’t see – we used to have brown curtains on the windows, only because they were left over from my previous home.  they were too short and, well, brown, so i’ve wanted to replace them forever.  i decided on white (white?!) curtains, and i actually like them more than i was expecting!

i’m definitely not done yet, but what i have finished so far is: recovering the lampshade, adding a bench from our dining room and recovering it, and making 2 pillow covers.  small changes but the impact has been big!

for the lamp, i used bella porte charcoal.  sissy and i kind of traced the lamp onto the fabric, which worked fine and all, however the pattern is a little lopsided.  we didn’t think this through enough obviously.

the bench used to sit in our dining room since it’s technically part of our dining room seating, however we never use it.  instead i brought it upstairs and recovered it in vintage blossom in grey.  actually, i can’t take credit for this project – my very talented parents did this bench and the one in the mudroom while i was visiting hubby in japan!!  how awesome is that?

after seeing the vintage blossom on the bench, i knew i needed more, so i ordered 3 more yards of fabric and made two king-sized pillow covers using this tutorial.  i love them!!  the one change i made to the tutorial is that i didn’t do the edge.

pillow pocket close-up

next up are a few euro sized pillows in the yellow & white zig-zag pattern (premier prints line).  maybe also some toss pillows for the bench in one of the other fabrics…at any rate i hope hubby likes it when he returns!!

go fish

i’m back!!  whew, the last few weeks have been a little crazy, but my house is empty again so i was able to tear up the dining room with all my sewing gear.  the day wasn’t uneventful though – about 80% of the way through this project i snapped a needle and couldn’t find the bottom half for a while…thought it was inside the machine…until low and behold i found it stitched into the back of my project!  well, happy that it wasn’t in the black hole of my machine.

anywhoo, another month of baby showers for me!  i was getting bored with the standard issue bib & burp so i decided to get a little creative with my first applique.  since this baby’s gender is unknown, i stuck with green, yellow and orange fabric scraps.  yeah, that’s right – scraps.  i bought nothing for this project, whoopie!

i did use the fish pattern from a mccalls pattern i had, but could have created something similar pretty easily.

oh, and check out the labels, copied from se!!!!

nippori…

…is where i plan to be exactly 24 days from now, and i couldn’t be more excited!  anybody want me to pick up anything??

oh, wait, let me back up…

23 days from now i will depart this wonderful country aboard a 14-hour flight to the land of the rising sun.  yup, japan!  turns out spouses really can go on deployment every now and then, and i’m meeting the hubster in tokyo.  whoo hoo!

…so back to nippori…i’ve had my plane ticket for a month and change and wouldn’t you know the only thing i’ve researched as far as tourist things are concerned is where to buy fabric.  ha!  nippori is the fabric district of tokyo.  yeah, you read that right.  a whole section of town dedicated to fabric, notions, thread, buttons…oh my.  check out this site describing a store called tomato.  it’s almost too exciting to think about.

http://www.askingfortrouble.org/crafts/2007/11/02/tokyo-shopping-guide-tomato/

it’s a good thing i have status on delta because i’m definitely checking multiple bags on my way home 🙂

cheers

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