Monday, March 31, 2014

"Without Monday"

"How could he have considered taking Monday off? Monday was the diving board poised over the rest of the week. One walked out on the board, reviewed the situation, planned one's strategy, bounced a few times to get the feel of things, and then made a clean dive. Without Monday, one simply bombed into the water, belly first, and hoped for the best."

Jan Karon,  At Home in Mitford

Friday, March 28, 2014

So-Pink Smock

My new dress-into-a-garden-smock thing is so quick and easy! Keep your eyes open for these linen dresses at the thrift stores--they're abundant and this project is gratifying.

I've put this pink smock in my shop--and it won't be the last.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barn Owl Stencil

Felix has devoted part of his spring break to designing some stencils for me. We started with a barn owl. His first rendition shows the owl just standing there, like it was posing for its identification drawing for Mr. Sibley.

"Make it more dynamic," I said. 

So now it's clutching a mouse in its talon.

Giles says it's macabre. I say nature is red in tooth and claw.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Encyclopedia of Gemstones Log Cabin Quilt

She glows.

Also, bedjackets and more in my etsy shop.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Service Berry

A big vase of service-berry clippings in the kitchen, courtesy of Daisy. So beautiful, but everyone asks, "What's that smell?"

Additionally, a couple of new things in my etsy shop.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cream Biscuits

Cream biscuits. I recommend them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

French Farmgirl Apron. So Easy.

It was so easy to make this linen apron for the garden. I started with a thrift store linen dress--you've seen these a hundred times. Long length, shell buttons down the front, lapel collar.

I buttoned it all the way up, put it on the dress form, and cut away a scoop neck front and back. Then cut straight up the side seams on both sides, then went around to the back and cut out a back neck shape. See below.

I cut strips from some of my back fabric, and sewed them up into waist ties, then sewed them to the dress at the waist seam. 

Next I carefully sewed the full length of the button placket closed, following the topstitching on the placket, two lines of it.

Then I took that long front skirt and doubled it up to make giant pockets for my garden produce. Generally that will be okra, with an occasional green bean if I get lucky.

I stitched the pocket in place up the sides, then up the placket again to divide it into two pockets. (I removed those inside buttons first so I wouldn't break a sewing machine needle).

Last, I looked in my giant trove of bias binding and found that old ball of handmade binding someone made--oh, it looks like at least sixty years ago. I machine sewed it onto the front side of the edges, then took my time and slipstitched it invisibly in the back. I say invisibly. Some stitches actually show, but you know.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thanks, Forsythia

Extra sunshine in the back yard.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday to Monday

Although Irene Parrott's Friday to Monday is hard to find, I want to tell you about it so that if you ever see it you can snatch it up. It's only the best *ever* vintage lifestyle book I've ever come across. Published in 1941, it's a guide to enjoying your weekend--still a novel concept at that time--whether you are a host, a guest, or just a family at home.

It's written for the crowd who might own a weekend house, or visit those who do, but the standard of living in those cottages is eye-opening. She advises letting your guests know ahead of time if they'll be having to use the bathroom in the woods!

I adore the chapter on menu-planning which gives you the hostess' stream of consciousness as she plans the meals:
"Lamb chops (oh no, because I want roast rack of lamb for dinner). Swedish meatballs then (remind Sophie not to let the sour cream get too hot or it will curdle). Parsley potatoes. Lemon meringue pie (not the perfect dessert but I promised Phil I would give him one while he was here) . . . ."
It's so full of zest and joie de vivre, it just makes me happy to read it, and I hope that someday you can read it too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flower Shoppe Day for Daisy

Daisy has long dreamed of working in a flower shop. Thanks to a church friend who is both 1) understanding; and 2) a flower shop proprietress, that dream came true today. I dropped her off at 9:30 with a lunch and took off down the interstate to tend to my post-surgical mother.

When I came back for Daisy, she was loaded down with a beautiful bouquet she had made for us, and an even more beautiful bouquet in a basket, for the neighbor.

She made them herself. And also inflated a lot of helium balloons.

But Flower Shoppe Day wasn't over yet. Later I found this set-up in the kitchen. A "Great Big Daffioodle Sale" was going on in my very own house.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Faithful Purple Orchid

This faithful purple orchid blooms again, maybe the third year in a row. These are such great plants to have around. They're always doing something--blooming, or recovering, or sending out roots in unexpected directions.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Springing Forward

Springing forward like many of you, I'm sure. These are baby kale, parsley, and cilantro plants my neighbor started, then ran out of indoor room for. If I keep them watered, and keep Fitzwilliam from lying on them, I'll be rewarded with good things for my garden.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rock Collection Table Runner

I've been rolling through unfinished projects and found that I set aside this table runner pieced, but not quilted. It didn't take too long to put it together with batting and the good parts of a pair of monogrammed linen pillowcases for the back (sorry I forgot to photograph that part!).

Hand-quilting around each block took just fifteen minutes total and made all the difference. 

My color inspiration was this box, for the piecing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Greek Salad

Scratching the Greek salad itch--a bed of romaine decorated with feta, cucumbers, peppers, avocado, and broiled chicken breast strips.

Notable that Daisy did *all* the chopping and prep except for the meat. That girl is getting big.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Daisy Goes Out Calling

Suddenly keen to recreate the chapter in Little Women where Amy and Jo go out calling, Daisy outfitted herself in correct calling clothes, stocked her little bag with her calling cards, and headed out to the lady neighbors.

She had made herself some notes regarding correct calling etiquette (what to say, how long to stay, etc.) and that may by why her visits were so successful.

Or maybe the success was due to something else. Like her bonnet.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Alabama Chanin Bolero with Wild Embroidery

Elbow-length bolero I made to top a matching sleeveless dress. This is the "June's Spring" stencil from Natalie Chanin's Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I don't see this stencil used much, and it is different from many of the others which are more botanical in nature. This one's got the odd tree shapes and a bunch of circles.

I kind of cut loose, doing some reverse applique, then taking the circles I had snipped out and applying them in their turn. I used several shades of steel blue thread, and both bugle and chop beads. It felt more improvisatory than most of these projects, which was fun and Bohemian. See an empty space, fill it up! About ten hours of that happened last week when I had to sit for continuing education--I made my hay while that sun shone.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Last Look at the Snowbird

Hoping that yesterday was the last visit of this snowbird. 
May it all melt, and spring come soon!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Partly Cloudy Log Cabin Quilt Top

Shades of blue and white, with a little bit of gray and yellow slipped in there. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Streusel Cake

Baking again from Vintage Cakes (of course), this time the Plum Streusel Cake. Jane Brocket carefully explains that streusel cakes aren't actually vintage in Scandinavia because they've never gone out of fashion. They've always been in style at my house too, and taste just as good as if they *were* vintage.

The cookbook directs you towards plums, but I used giant blackberries I picked and froze this summer. Also, I've taken to putting all these round cakes into the springform pan for easy removal and serving. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Brown Paper Bag, Sort Of

It's meant to look like brown paper. It's really a linen blend from my stash.

And I wanted it to look like Daisy had glued on a paper flower--so I used a vintage applique (with "cut here" lines around the design) and machine-zigzagged it on.

For that little bit of scallopy texture at the top of a paper bag, I just did a handsewn running stitch. They aren't actual scallops but they do break up that top line.

This one was a commission, and won't go in the shop.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

An Alabama Chanin Rooster for Felix

Although posing on my ladies' mannequin, this tee is indeed for Felix. He left me one of his Uniqlo V-necks to work on, and I stenciled and stitched him the classic rooster. I did this same design several years ago on a yellow jersey for a pillow and somehow it seemed like the biggest deal and took forever to finish.

I guess my thousand hours of practice are paying off--after the paint dried this took me just a days' worth of sewing to quilt and then cut. On a busy day, too, with plenty of baby-sitting.

This was quite possibly my favorite project of all time to work on . . . because the shirt smelled like Felix.

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