Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cloth Shopping Bags

No idea why it took me so long to organize cloth bags for my grocery shopping. If I could have anticipated the smug, righteous feeling I would get at the checkout counter as I whipped them out, I would have made them long ago . . .

These are made from a thrifted tablecloth ($1) and lined with grey dotted swiss that was a stash pass-along. I made five and they held about two-thirds of my week's groceries. So I'm thinking two or three more, in some dashing fabric.

Perhaps green?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In the Vintage Kitchen: Butterscotch Slices

Refrigerator cookies from my oldest cookbook . . .

We did a variation on the variation and filled them with a little piece of super-dark chocolate.

And that worked fine.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Corduroy Toy Bags

. . . are in the shop, if you were needing one or three.

In the Woods

Of course the mornings start out chilly, so a fire is in order . . .

and a person can sit beside it and work on a little hand-sewing project they might have brought along. I seriously considered bringing my sewing machine; after all, we were going to be there for two days!

And while you wait for the cabin to warm up you'll need your hooded sweatshirt.

When you do go out, it's breezy and blue.

A stop in at the closest antique store is in order.

Beautiful arrangements, a little pricey. We didn't bring anything home.

Off for a hike--without little girls, who stayed in with grandmother. Felix was more "in the woods" than the rest of us.

No matter where we go, the most beautiful things in creation are these faces:


Felix and Clara

Clara at sunset

and Giles.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Off to the Woods

We are headed out for the weekend, to a cabin in the mountains. Lots and lots of cooking and eating, a little hand-sewing, some hiking, and looking at gorgeousness. Back on Monday!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Three Lovely Sewing Books

I have been adding to my library of sewing books--there is so much beautiful inspiration out there! Here are some I have really enjoyed recently, and can recommend either *as* gifts, or for *making* gifts, take your choice.

Last Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen. I'm latching on to her designs for cosy wool hats made from thrifted and felted sweaters--I'm itching to get started on these, no pun intended.

Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. I especially adore the fabric birds pictured on the cover, and plan to make several for my Christmas tree. I also love her idea of "machine-tying" a quilt by machine-embroidering an ovals in each square of the quilt.

Simple Gifts to Stitch by Jocelyn Worrall. Elegant indeed! She uses a variety of fabric, from silk to vinyl, and has some interesting new structural ideas I've not seen before.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Library Basket

This is the library basket. It has been making the weekly trip to the library for over twelve years now. I believe it had a former life as a grocery shopping basket, ended up stranded in a thrift store, and was rescued by my neighbor, who passed it on to me.

Why is the library basket so perfect, so superior to a tote bag?

• Its rigid sides keep books from sliding out and around in the car.
• Books can be neatly stacked, magazines don't get crushed.
• Its metal frame can support many, many pounds of books.
• It's substantial enough to have a "home" under a table in the schoolroom. Library books *belong* in it, so they tend not to wander as bad as they might.
• It's easy to see what's in the basket, whether you're looking for something to read, or checking to make sure you've got everything with you to return.

Daisy brought home some books today in the library basket. Then we read on the couch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cabbage Plant

For the pots this fall: big graphic cabbage plants on the front steps.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vintage Fifties Dress: Simplicity 3749

A beautiful pattern for a housecoat, housedress, or street dress. Seriously, a housedress? I made this up in a cotton and it seems *very fancy* to me! I think I will be wearing it out of the house.

A gorgeous cotton find from Denver Fabrics--sixty inches wide and luminous watery color.

Keeping things on the luxe side, I used pale pink velvet ribbon in place of seam binding at the cuffs (I love cuffs! I love three-quarter sleeves!).

I also used the velvet ribbon as a waist stay. The skirt drapes beautifully--I love the gathered panels at the side front.

Books in the Shop

A handful of Grace Livingston Hill's are in the shop tonight--I found these in hardback so am trading up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"The Thing About Real Life"

"The thing about real life is that important events don't announce themselves. Trumpets don't blow, drums don't beat to let you know you are going to meet the most important person you've ever met, or read the most important thing you are ever going to read, or have the most important conversation you are ever going to have, or spend the most important week you are ever going to spend. Usually something that is going to change your whole life is a memory before you can stop and be impressed about it . . . ."

--Edith Schaeffer, L'Abri

Friday, October 19, 2007

Round Mirror

My friend Elyse has given me a handy rule of thumb: if you see a little antique mirror, you should buy it. I am following her advice, and now am enjoying this beautiful circular example which has stalks of wheat printed along the edges, and lots of speckled foxing. Could it be lovelier?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In the Vintage Kitchen: Salmon Patties

Getting that Omega-3 in the old-fashioned way . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Sew a Simple Girly Skirt

Here's a lesson in sewing a simple half-circle skirt for your favorite girly girl. I'm creating mine for a three-year old, and it's going to take a little less than a yard and a half of fabric. I will also need matching thread, a tape measure, scissors, chalk, and a drawstring that is 12 inches longer than the child's waist measure.

First, measure around the widest part of your girl's hips. Then measure how long you want the skirt to fall from her waist. I want this skirt to be about 15 inches long, since I like the length of the pink skirt I already made.

Now, take that hip measure and add an inch for the seam allowance, and then divide it by 3. My hip measure was about 17", so my magic number is 6".

Now, lay your fabric out folded in half crosswise, so that the selvedges lie on top of each other. Choose a corner on the fold, and designate that the top of the skirt. Now take your magic number, and using your tape measure, mark an arc 6 inches (or your magic number) out from that corner, in a quarter circle at the top of the fabric. Hold the tape measure in the corner, and swing it around the full arc (just like using a compass) making chalk marks periodically, then free-handedly join them into a continous line.

Now, working from the arc you have drawn, draw the bottom hem of the dress, using the number of inches you want plus an inch for seams. I wanted my skirt to be 15 inches long, so I hold the tape measure 16 inches out from the short line and again mark an arc, just like a compass, farther down the fabric. Now cut on your lines, and you will have a shape like this:

Using the leftover fabric, cut a waistband that is 1 inch longer than your hip measure, and is 2 inches wide. Working right sides together, pin the waistband to the waist of the skirt. Let half an inch of the waistband hang over the side edge of the skirt. If you've never done it before, pinning a straight piece of fabric to a curved piece will feel a little strange. Don't fret, it will all work out. Just let the straight piece curve gently for now, and match the edges carefully.

Stitch them together using a half-inch seam allowance.

Now, carefully snip into the seam allowance--almost to but not reaching the stitching--about every two or three inches. You will find that your waistband will now lie much more easily.

Time to press! Press the seam allowance of the skirt up towards the waistband. Press the little excess ends of waistband under, towards the inside of the waistband. Stich down with a zigzag stitch. Your drawstring is going to emerge here, so do a good job. Then press down the top of the waistband, so that a half inch is folded under.

Now fold the waistband over towards the inside of the skirt, aligning the pressed edge with the seam. Make sure that the casing you are creating is wide enough for your ribbon drawstring. If it's not, pick a new ribbon! Or refold the waistband with a smaller seam allowance.

Pin the folded waistband in place. Working on the wrong side of the skirt, stitch the waistband down, forming a casing (a tube through which you can thread a ribbon). Stitch all the way from one end to another, but do not stitch the short zigzagged openings closed. Reinforce the ends which might be strained by pulling on the drawstring by stitching over them several times.

Okay, you're past the hard part! Now arrange your skirt inside out, two selvedge edges together, right sides together. You're going to sew up the back seam. But DON"T sew the waistband! Remember you'll be threading ribbon in. Reinforce the top of the seam by stitching over it 2-3 times, up and down the first inch of the seam. Now press it open nicely. No need to finish the seam since you used the selvedges!

Time to press up the bottom hem. Working carefully, press up half an inch all the way around (if you can manage; nothing bad will happen if you go a little larger, but try to keep it even all the way around). Now, tuck the raw edge of the fabric in until it meets the pressed crease, and pin in place. Isn't that tidy? You're going to stitch all the way around the skirt right beside the top fold you just made, and your hem will be completed.

So close! Now thread your drawstring in. Pin one end to a safety pin that will fit in the casing, and poke that all the way around the skirt, drawing the ribbon along behind. Leave even amounts dangling out, and knot the ends so they can't be pulled in.

Decorate child with skirt and allow to twirl!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Beautiful new textures in the shop tonight!

Pink Skirt Day

I'm not trying to start a National Day of anything, but at our house, it was Pink Corduroy Skirt Day, as I whipped out two of them for Bella and Daisy.

They're both made out of this darling corduroy, multicolor polka dots with the random ladybug scattered here and there. I didn't use a pattern; instead I just cut a half circle with the right waist measure and the right length. Daisy's waist is elastic, and Bella has an invisible zipper in the back seam. So simple: a narrow machine hem and you're out of the sewing room!

Back to the book and Boy Scout popcorn now.

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