Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daisy's Winter Wardrobe, Dress Two

We used the same pattern, but this time in an interesting gingham variation. See the tiny twists in the fabric? It almost looks like the fabric has been smocked in a diamond pattern. A little optical illusion.

Rickrack at the collar, vintage blue buttons, and most especially, long sleeves with "a little puff at the top."

Apparently this part of Betsy-Tacy and Tib was just too good.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fall Birthday Banquet

Time to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday--I'm so glad he has it at this season when it's a joy to putter in a warm kitchen, enjoy the golden light on the table, and cook again the rich foods we remember from last year's cold weather.

Can you read that menu? We started with a zucchini and gruyere tart (Bella made it, with puff pastry). Then a gorgeous salad, red lettuces with sprouts, pomegratate seeds, and candied walnuts (definitely will be making this again!).

Roast beef, mashed potatoes put through a ricer (you know it's a fancy dinner then!), gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, rolls.

Then, in honor of the man's love for pie, instead of a birthday cake an Upstanding Apple Pie served with homemade vanilla ice cream and coffee. We baked it in a springform pan and went for three vertical inches, with local apples.

Of *course* cards followed, and though we said we'd let Grandpa win in honor of his birthday, Bella did the honors. So, a revenge match.

Next year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clara in a Ruffled Sweater

Clara wears this gorgeous ruffled sweater over a little cotton 1940s housedress. The colors are just right together. Thrift store, you are so good to us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clara Reads to Us

Clara has changed cello teachers and now has to go Out of Town for her lesson, an undertaking which takes a good four and a half hours start to finish since she takes a ninety-minute lesson from a generous, unworldly professor who never looks at the clock, and it's forty-five miles away. It's too long to leave the younger girls at home, and too long to take them along.

Lately though, to the satisfaction of everyone, the grandparents have started having Bella and Daisy as visitors during the lesson. But oh the driving was no fun--until Clara started Reading.

We're working on the Chronicles of Narnia and no one wants to do anything except get on the interstate so we can have another chapter.

My favorite part is that after we're home, Daisy rolls around on the floor reviewing the chapters we've read, until she can quote long passages verbatim, from memory. If it's about Reepicheep or a Bulgy Bear, she's there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daisy's Winter Wardrobe, Dress One

My Daisy had definite ideas of her own: winter dresses, stat, and no negotiating in the fabric store. We came home with her four choices in fabrics and got to work. She stuck to a very close palette of blues and browns.

I actually was fascinated by this process. She has long observed *every* detail of dress, and regaled us at age three with excessively complicated descriptions of the costumes at a musical she attended. I mean, she was throwing around the terms empire waist, pleats, and square collar.

So no surprise that she knew what she wanted in her winter wardrobe.

Some turquoise buttons down the back of this soft, fine corduroy. Elbow sleeves. Peter Pan collar. Plain hem.

Made from (the out of print, I think) Butterick 6487, with a few modifications to please her highness.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Oh my. They make Footies in Daisy's size. She's been longing for them ever since she outgrew the 3T's several years and many inches ago.

Thank you, Lands End. You make school so cozy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Baby Quilt in Raspberry Scraps

It's so quick and fun when the cut-out squares are waiting in a basket. Then it's just a matter of picking a color to work with, and joining up pairs, then doubling and doubling them til there are lots of strips of eight squares.

Then once there are enough, making four big blocks. And setting them in muslin strips, and then backing them with a sweet cherry print from the stash.

This one's heading into the shop.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yellow Patchwork in a Pillow

If my pillow form weren't oversized, you'd be able to see the plain canvas border around my piecing. I like the border. It calms things down.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Own Apples

. . . from the tree halfway down the driveway. It was Daisy's life dream to pick them into a basket covered with a cloth. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glass Domes

These glass domes, which are all over magazine pages, are also over the thrift store for just pennies. They truly are lovely and I've started picking them up when I'm shopping, after being inspired by my artistic sister-in-law who does the most elaborate, layered visual stories in hers.

Of course, mine at this point just hold a rock and a sprig. But I'm thinking of becoming a more complicated person!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Different Methods"

'Men and women can't do housework together without quarrelling. Different methods, my dear. Men can't help in a job, you know. They can be induced to do it: not to help while you're doing it. At least, it makes them grumpy.'

'The cardinal difficulty,' said MacPhee, 'in collaboration between the sexes is that women speak a language without nouns. If two men are doing a bit of work, one will say to the other, "Put this bowl inside the bigger bowl which you'll find on the top shelf of the green cupboard." The female for this is, "Put that in the other one there." And then if you ask them, "In where?" they say, "in there, of course."'

--C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

Monday, October 18, 2010

Colette Patterns: The Ceylon Dress

I haven't actually been sewing my head off--I made this Ceylon dress in June. And enjoyed wearing it so much this summer--I even camped in it. The lightweight cotton shirting is so light it practically floats off the dress-form. When I make it next, I'll do it in a little heavier fabric. In fact, I'm thinking of a stable wool jersey, or a crepe, and making one up with long sleeves for colder weather.

Don't be intimidated by the number of different little pieces in this pattern. Lots of seams can mean lots of opportunity for improved fitting. And the instructions are very, very careful and clear!

This dress very effectively balances comfort and flattery, with that wide set-in cummerbund-style waist. Sail on, Colette!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bella Makes Another Savory Pie

She says that if she ever does run a bakery, it will be a savory bakery. She tried a new Nigella recipe, this one for sausage and spinach pie baked in butter pastry in a springform pan. Despite misreading the directions and so omitting the step of *cooking the spinach*, this one came out great.

I feared a sodden mess because of all the water cooking out of the spinach during baking, but nothing bad happened.

I think the only savory pie in the cookbook she hasn't made yet is the steak-and-kidney pudding. I've told her no go--the lack of a pudding basin is only the beginning of my objections to that one!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Violet Cardigan

Why, oh why, was there a cashmere cardigan (Ralph Lauren) with the tags still on, in my size and favorite color, hanging on the end of the rack at the thrift store? It wasn't even my birthday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Perfect Purples

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Colette Patterns: The Oolong Dress

Another design from Colette Patterns, the Oolong dress. It's bias-cut, fully lined, and slips over the head with no closures. Easy, right?

Ha! Not for the faint of heart. It is very well-designed, and goes together sensibly, but all those pieces cut out one at a time on the bias will wear a girl out.

I used a gorgeous cotton lawn, with the most scrumptious sheer crispness-but-also-some-drape, and it was perfect. Lined with plain white lawn, it doesn't need a slip.

Extra credit to the designer for the instructions to press the give out of the pieces by stretching them gently down the ironing board. It really made the bias easier to control, and I've never done it before. Truly, Colette patterns are a sewing education.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pillowcases from Nothing

The pillowcases all wore out, like yesterday. I knew this day was coming, it's why I had bought a big piece of white cotton sheeting. I wish I could cut an even number of pillowcases out of it instead of five, but oh well.

At least they're crisp and new and don't have holes. And I can embroider them.

Thrifted embroidery transfer and thread and hoop and floss and probably needle also. I love making something from nothing!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Slice of Chocolate Cake

Bella pays it forward by putting the leftover cream cheese frosting from her last baking project between the layers of a new chocolate cake. Efficiency!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Vintage Inspiration for Hostesses

"The house was immaculate, and Carney's bedroom was as fresh as the sweet peas on the dressing table. Isobel's rack in the bathroom was a snowy drift of towels. Olga had polished the silver. She had roasted a ham and baked a pot of beans; she had made a molded salad, two kinds of cookies, and a cake. The menus Mrs. Sibley and Carney had planned were written neatly and hung on a hook in the pantry."

--Maud Hart Lovelace, Carney's House Party

Friday, October 08, 2010

A School Dress for Clara: Vintage McCall 1603

Cute, cute, cute--and if you omit the sleeve tabs, sort of normal! I used all one fabric for this, no contrast yoke, but did make self-piping for the collar and for around the front panels.

It's got a little bit of a western feel because of the piping, and Clara generally wears her brown cowboy boots with it.

A tie belt is my best friend for fitting this slim girl.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

First Aid

I'll tell you when I realized my first aid supplies were lacking: when friend Nathan, more of a computer network specialist than an arborist, climbed to the top of the silver maple in the dark, broke a branch, and while falling peeled most of the skin off his arm. Like from the wrist to the biceps. More than my little box of bandaids could handle.

On my next trip to the store, I stocked up on some basic supplies--your large gauze squares, your tape, your antibiotic ointment. Because I have a new rule that I won't send a kid home actually oozing blood.

Credit for the darling spray-painted tin idea goes to Brocante Home blog.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Scrap Quilt for Owen

Just finished a twin-size scrap quilt for one of my very best nephews. He comes to stay every summer for a week or so and this summer we pieced him a quilt. With my sewing machine back in top form I got it quilted last week while babysitting some *other* nephews for two days, boys who go to bed on the early side, leaving me plenty of time to run this thing through the machine over and over and over . . . .

I'm always pleased with how these projects come out. It just seems like you can't go wrong with scraps. For this quilt I didn't stick to quite such a close palette as I often do, and included not just blues and greens, but some bits of brown and even pink and red when they showed up on blue and green backgrounds. It makes things a little busier. Every quilt has its own shtick, you know?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Colette Patterns: The Crepe Dress

My pale blue version of the Crepe dress pattern by Colette. It went together very nicely as their other dresses have for me, and truly the instructions are a pleasure to work with.

I would be even happier with the patterns if they had a few more markings, like notches at the tops of the skirt pieces. TWICE now I have sewn skirt panels in incorrectly because there aren't enough distinguishing marks on the pieces. I'll add my own next time, but would it hurt to indicate center front on a pattern piece? Thought not.

Ignore my whining. It's a beautiful pattern and the dress you'll get totally depends on the fabric you choose. I went with a cloud-like blue confection for a dressy summery dress, but in a bright print (with contrast bias binding instead of facings) this would read as a classic housedress. And the Colette website shows it in a sophisticated silk.

Final thought: this is the most beautiful shaped cap sleeve I've ever seen.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Yellow Baby Quilt

Finished! Working on this project I was struck anew with how the close quilting in both diagonal directions really makes this style of quilt sparkle. The one diagonal doesn't cut it, for me. But when both directions are done, the squares really start to work together and sing.

I had enough dress fabric left over to back this stylishly in yellow and gray.

Someone asked what size blocks I cut. I stick with 3 inches by 3 inches because that's how wide my plastic ruler is. And it's not so small it will drive you crazy, nor so big that it looks awkward. It's Goldilocks.

Friday, October 01, 2010

A New Kind of Run

If you run to a typical training plan you usually do at least three standard runs each week--a long run, a speed workout, and an easy run.

Go figure, but that easy run--for me, usually 5-7 miles--has felt like a lot of work. Until last week. Maybe it's the cooler weather, or perhaps I've developed fitness superpowers, but now I can run about four miles before I start feeling like I'm working. It keeps surprising me. It's called running so it's supposed to be hard!

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