Friday, August 31, 2012

Slow Time

I am spending these few days caring for my mother here at the schoolhouse following her hip replacement. She came straight from the hospital yesterday evening, just forty-eight hours after the surgery. Ouch. She needs a lot of help with dressing, walking, washing, and of course she can't cook for herself. Today I realized that it was three in the afternoon and I hadn't "done" a thing, just like in the old days when I had very small children.

Although, as I told her, it was also *unlike* having small children because she doesn't scream or fight about changing clothes, washing, or eating. A step up, for sure.

It's kind of dreamy, this slow time. Everything takes forever, and then I look up and the day is gone.

Tomorrow maybe will be the day I get the broccoli plants set out in the garden, or maybe not. People before seedlings, I always say.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Log Cabin Quilt: Black Walnut

I just pieced this twin-size quilt in log cabin squares, of which I will never tire. Yellow and orange centers, ranging out to neutrals, bitter browns, and some black, this one was made with our native black walnut trees in mind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Appliqued Quilt of Unknown Origin

I took my mother this gorgeous quilt top to put together and quilt. It's sewn from flour sack fabrics, appliqued with hearts in the tiniest of hand-stitches.

Me: "Will you quilt this?"
Mother: "Oh, it's gorgeous. You didn't make it? Where did you get it?"
Me: "No idea. It just showed up in my stash."
Mother: "Did I give you this? I gave you this."
Me: "You did? Will you quilt it?"

Clara's got it on her dorm room bed. It's very nice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Alabama Studio Style: A Pale Green Ensemble for Bella

This is the other half of my pale green jersey yardage--a six-gored dress and a bolero for Bella. She likes the gored dress from Alabama Studio Style better than the straighter cut of the Studio + Design, so that's what I make now. It's good to get that straightened out! The matching bolero takes just a scrap--half a yard? less?--of fabric.

The fun comes with the embellishing. I finished all these seams by hand with a running stitch topped with a seed bead--you can just see a peek under the bolero. I also used groups of two or three seed beads to finish the dress neckline.

The bolero finishing strips are sewn on with brighter bugle beads. This is a wonderful, comfortable outfit that can go to class or go to a wedding.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tis a Gift to Come Down Where We Ought To Be

(Clara, in the place just right.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Cotton Formal for Clara: Vintage Simplicity 1848

One last dress for the "go-abroady trunk" as Clara packs up for college. She bought herself some very nice cotton sateen and even more very nice dotted Swiss, and picked out this vintage pattern.

I'm not going to lie--I felt somewhat daunted. I'd never used boning before, the pattern was too small, and what is going on with those pleats over the bust anyway? We made a toile of the bodice--it hardly needed any modification--and forged ahead.

I took my time and hand-basted the pleats down (when do I ever do that?) and it all came out surprisingly well. Very surprising, in fact, when I read that I would be threading my shoulder straps through slots in the front trim I had no idea I had constructed, but indeed had made successfully. Whew!

I did put the boning in on the wrong side of the lining, darn it. So I made yet another iteration of the bodice and snuck it in as an interlining. So yes, it's fully lined (twice) instead of being faced as the pattern directs.

We used the Swiss dot wrong side out in the bodice (just a suggestion of dots) and then textured side out in the skirt. The underskirt is sateen, all seventeen miles of it.

I made my first *real* waist stay with its own closure, and my first hanging loops so that dress can be comfy in the closet. Good thing I had a deadline, or I never would have finished all those details, I'm telling you.

But just look . . . .

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Scrap Quilts for Baby

In July I pieced several quilt tops and then my mother went and had her hand operated on, which--just imagine--slowed her quilting down! Then before she could get to my projects, she went and quilted an enormous vintage applique quilt top for Clara to take to college with her.

But *now* I'm getting the satisfactions! So I have the Raspberry Patch Scrap Quilt you see above, offered in my etsy shop,

and I've also got this gorgeous Rain in June green log cabin waiting for a friend to decide yes or no. If she passes, it will go in the shop too. I do so love picking up a finished quilt from my mother's house. The difference between a top and a quilt is so profound and the quilt is so very satisfying.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Ruffled Celery Dress for Clara

The basic dress pattern worn at a longer mid-length cut, embellished with a pleated ruffle at the hem and at the neckline. Cap sleeves. Construction stitching done on the machine, pleats basted together on the machine, then everything finished by hand.

The pleat is constructed separately from the dress and then machine-zigzagged onto the skirt. Then I hand-stitched a narrow strip of jersey down the middle of the ruffle, using a beaded feather stitch.

The neckline has a slightly smaller ruffle basted down, and then the finishing strip is aligned with the bottom edge and hand-stitched down with embroidery.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Milk Chocolate Dress for Clara: Advance 6118

We couldn't resist the perfect milk chocolate gloss of this special cocoa-colored cotton at Gail K fabrics in Atlanta. Clara decided on a second version of Advance 6118, which is easy to make and has a very full skirt for cello.

I had been warned about the attitude at Gail K, and when I called them to ask if they had any all-cotton jersey I was summarily informed that there was no such thing, that all jersey had some spandex in it. Hm. So I didn't buy any jersey there, but we did find some other nice things on our way to the beach in June.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Daisy's Last Words to Felix Before He Left for College

. . . as written on a card decorated with pink ribbon:

"Summer time is very fun.
Too bad it's pretty much over and done."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tonight, on the Porch

Looking out the window tonight I saw Felix lying flat on his back reading Chesterton's essays. Just out of camera range, Daisy had a goat leashed to each of her ankles.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Clara on the Phone

Clara on the phone with her roommate--they meet for the first time next week. No worries though as Hannelore was already planning to bring a vintage pitcher for raspberry lemonade.

These two will get on fine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fitting a Jersey Tee

In my forays into Alabama Chanin-style sewing I've made up several tops and dresses and have found consistently that the necklines are impractically low. "Revealing" is how the website describes them--"disappointing" for someone who wants to wear them around town.

So this time I chose to sew up a simple widely-available scoop-neck tee and see if that worked better for shape. If it was a go, then I could bring all the Alabama Chanin goodness to the finishing and embellishing.

I picked up New Look A6735 to that end, and was really happy with the neckline and shoulder fit, but just look at the horizontal wrinkles across the small of the back. What to do about my apparently terrible swayback? (The one I'd never noticed before.) At first I though I'd need to somehow take fabric out laterally, but then it occurred to me to take in the center back seam (handily placed for this fix).

Look at that--it did the trick perfectly! I transferred my changes to the paper pattern piece because I will definitely be going back to this garment for all my Alabama Chanin shirt sewing projects.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cake Lady: Hummingbird Cake

Phew! Only four more cakes to go and we'll have baked all the way through our Cake Ladies cookbook. This week we made hummingbird cake, a moist and slightly spicy cake with a couple of bananas and some pineapple in the batter. In an interesting bit of frippery, a few thin slices of fresh pineapple get oven-dried into "flowers" for decorating the top.

There's supposed to be a cup of canned crushed pineapple in the batter, but since I didn't have any I just put a cup of fresh pineapple in the food processor and used that just fine.

And, of course, fluffy cream cheese frosting tops things off.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Floaty Madras Dress for Clara: Vintage McCall's 3643

We tried this pattern again with new and improved fitting adjustments. To give more room through the bodice (this pattern is sized too small for Clara) I cleverly extended the sides this time, instead of pulling the pattern back from the center fold. And I moved those outrageously high dart points down from the stratosphere. A perfect fitting score this time!

As for the skirt, I ditched the pattern altogether in favor of a circle skirt. I had hardly any fabric, *and* I didn't want to mess with matching plaid on all those gores.

To support a bountiful skirt in a light fabric, I used rayon seam binding as a stay in the waist seam. I also made sure to interface the seam with the zipper in it to keep the cotton from buckling or rippling. Those moves paid off with very smooth construction.

This is such a delightful pattern. With my change to a circle skirt, I had literally four pieces total in hand to sew up, plus three strips of bias binding. Can't beat that.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"Gracious Appointments for Work"

"In the dear home kitchen, with its clean yellow floor, newly painted for her home coming, its white oilcloth tables, and its gracious appointments for work, nothing could seem quite sorrowful."

--Grace Livingston Hill, Blue Ruin

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

In the Mood for a Satin Bed Jacket

I'm fascinated that in previous decades women took the time and made the effort to create special garments for times that don't even exist anymore. Convalescence? Who does that anymore; who has time for that? Perhaps we just aren't sick for as long anymore, or maybe we just don't give ourselves the chance to rest.

But if I were to convalesce I would definitely want something "very feminine and softly becoming." Wouldn't you?

Look for this in my shop next month, after I've finished all that satin stitch.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Cake Lady: Strawberry Shortcake

This is a towering strawberry shortcake done in "stacked cake" style--five layers of pastry are baked one at a time in an iron skillet, cooled, then layered with cream and berries. Time consuming? Yes. Delicious? Yes.

Better have a plan for the leftovers if you can't get through this cake in a sitting: it doesn't keep well after it's been put together. I ran the last section of ours down the road to Chuck, who was out on a 35-mile bike ride after spending the day painting the back side of my house.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Greek Salad in Milk Glass

With company over for dinner, I put all the fixings for a big Greek salad in separate milk glass containers. Even the pitas were lined up like toast in a toast rack, in one of my biggest footed bowls.

The girls complain about all the cupboard space I give to my milk glass collection, but I think it earns its keep.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Daisy and the Loom

Daisy visited a weaving demonstration while we were out on one of our summer adventures in July. Seeing that this place had a little loom where anyone could sit down and have a try with the shuttle, she immediately commandeered the seat and had to be dragged away after a solid half hour of very nice weaving.

Then we remembered that my mother has a very similar loom and hasn't been using it lately, and we thought she might lend it to us.

We picked it up yesterday, brought it home, and got the Composer to tighten a few loose bolts, then wound the shuttle with some thread and let Daisy go. After weaving eight new inches of fabric* she was ready for a swim, but it seems that this, for now, is definitely Her Thing.

* Lest anyone think that this eight-year old has supernatural powers, I should note that the weft threads (is that right?) were already strung on the loom for action.

Friday, August 03, 2012

A Back-Wrapping Plaid Dress for Bella: McCall 8164

I wish I could find this pattern in my size, you know? I made one for Bella several years ago and she's worn it out and requested another one, and could I please utilize my improved fitting skills? Yes.

The charm of this dress in plaid is, obviously, the bias flounce panel that makes up the bottom front.

Someone passed along a generous amount of this crinkled cotton plaid, and there was enough left over to make a dress for Daisy. Of course, she asked for a back-wrapping dress, and of course I said I didn't have a pattern for that in her size, and then of course when I looked in the stash, there was one right there! So she got what she wanted.

And here she is racing off the visit the box turtle that lives in the vegetable garden in a big hole in the okra patch, under the red canvas awning. That turtle is living the life!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Striped Quilt for Titus

Phyllis embroidered the puppy motif for a quilt for a little friend--

trusting me to stripe it up with goodies from the stash.

A quick machine-quilt and it was done.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Synchronized Swimmers

A little backyard Olympics, presented by David and Daisy.

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