Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas wristlets

Time for some Christmas sewing projects. These little wristlets are fun and kinda easy. I use the tutorial here mostly, although I've not been very good at her zipper technique. But after making four wristlets, I'm getting the 'hang' of them (!). I may just continue with winter wristlets and spring wristlets, since Ginette is out on the table.

This wristlet is made from a thrifted napkin with pom pom trim on the bottom. Took me way too much thinking just to figure out how to layer the body of the wristlet without removing the trim from the original napkin. Some days are like that. But the end result is sweetness.

And we've got a white week before Christmas! My camera has decided to stop working, so this is last winter's snow. But 2008 snow looks the same. Dutch word of the day: sneeuw.

'Oh the weather outside is frightful . . . .'

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The accidental post

Re: accidental post -- I was putting together some photos and somehow this post was published before I'd written anything. So I'm editing now to offer some thoughts, though the thoughts I'd thought back then have long since faded into forgotten thoughtland. -- 12/09/08

Fall comes and the sunlight that reaches into the house changes. The last anemones -- the fall Japanese anemones -- are pure white and lovely.

Finished this purse for a customer just as the fall leaves were changing. This time the stripe is a 'tube' which is topstitched onto the body of the fabric, rather than pieced together. Worked well -- the stripe is a light, woven Indian cotton and the purse fabric is an upholstery weight.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of potholders and cookbooks

I'm somewhat obsessed with making potholders. Love the arranging of the colors. Love going through the scrap box to find the bits of fabrics -- chickens! And each one I make seems to teach me more about patchwork and about machine quilting (oh, and the importance of ironing as you go -- with the steam off).
Entered into a barter for this little 'Holiday Goodies' book, published by Peter Pauper Press, so I decided to make a couple of potholders. The first one is pieced and the machine quilting outlines each little 'brick' of the patchwork. Satisfying. Nice effect. I like it! Took me lots of time, however -- seems I'm kinda slow at arranging the bits together. So I made the second of this wonderful fall-hued folk art fabric -- much quicker to sew up -- and it matches the cookbook. (My barter buddy kindly sent the book right away, so I can show it here. Next pic shows the reverse of the folk art potholder.)
And isn't this always the way? Found the little ABC of Cookies cookbook, by Peter Pauper Press, at the library sale the very next day. Two makes a collection?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flannel Quilt Throw and Smocked Gingham Apron UFOs

Do you have unfinished projects? More than a year ago, I saw a wonderful throw pattern by Amy Butler in Country Living magazine, done in her wonderful flannels. I hadn't really sewn much in years, but decided to take this project on. The easy part was purchasing fabrics, I thought. Many months later, I began sewing up the quilted throw, using these flannels from Hancock fabrics. I think that was last November.
I now want and need to finish this project, even though the flannel fabrics/colors seem less than wonderful. I alternate betwen hating the fabrics and liking them just kinda.

But it is getting colder here, and the flannel throw will warm me and the cat when we watch Project Runway (yes, I'm a fan). And it'll give me my first experience in machine-quilting a large piece.

My other UFOs are these four wonderful gingham embroidered aprons, which only need the waistbands and pockets attached. These aprons traveled down an interesting path: first, they were embroidered by a woman who has since passed on. Her daughter contacted the proprietress of one of my favorite shops in order to sell some items -- these items were deemed not of value and were about to be tossed into the trash. The shop lady decided to rescue them and she then stored them for several months in the basement of her shop.

But since they are unfinished, they could not be put in the shop. So the shop owner, who knows I like to sew, gave them to me.

Isn't the work just beautiful? Look at the smocking and the pretty way the rickrack is attached along the edge of the apron.

I guess the moral of the story is to finish what you begin, or your UFOs will become someone else's!

How many unfinished projects do you have?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pretty Patchwork Potholders

Although I've been sewing since junior high Home Ec class, I haven't done a lot of patchwork. And it seems each patchwork project I try, I bungle a bit -- but learn so much in the process. Saturday was a patchwork potholder day.

I followed the instructions in Pretty Little Potholders, which has patterns for all sorts of potholder fun. My first two log cabin potholders (shown front and back) were pretty successful, except that they became a little wonky when I trimmed the edges after machine-quilting them. Also, I hadn't read the hint about sewing the strips so that one colorway dominates one side and a contrasting colorway dominates the other. So these are Random Wonky Potholders.

Why not do another potholder, deliberately wonky and with some color organization? Voila -- the Autumn Wonky Potholder. I just sewed pieces and rotary-cut the shapes as I went along. Pretty successful, except for the upper right corner, where I made a bad color choice; having run out of rust-colored prints, I used a red one.

Right now I can't imagine sewing an entire quilt of strips. But it would be beautiful. Whose blog did I just see with wonky quilt squares? Loved it. Denyse Schmidt's quilt book has a great wonky striped quilt. Should I put that on the Project list?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My minimalist style

In our office-corner, which we 'redecorated' last winter, I've gone with a very spare style. Instead of four shelves above the drawing table, full of hard-to-reach and therefore seldom used books, I put just one Ikea shelf. The black boxes hold office supplies -- envelopes, stamps, paper.
I try to keep other items to a minimum. It's a perfect place for a posy or, like now, some foxtail grasses. (I must admit -- the velvet violets and little box of vintage stencils somehow migrated here just this week. It's usually just the boxes and one vase.)

I caught a glimpse of the contrast between the office area and the kitchen this morning. The light is so very different, as is the chaos-level. Really, if you saw my computer desk top and drawing table, you'd see some chaos there as well. At least the walls have that minimalist style that I crave. And I like the spareness when I'm 'at work'.

When I'm very very brave I'll show the room of fabrics and paper that is my quasi-studio. Now there's chaos!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What I've been sewing

On these last days of summer, I've been sewing bags and purses.

Squirrel purse -- for hording acorns (fabric from Superbuzzy)

I love the saturated colors of this batik bag. And a carved mother-of-pearl button (swoon).

'Summer's End' -- dragonfly and sunflower tote.

Which one is your favorite?

Monday, September 1, 2008


I am in serious need of editing.

This is a pic of two shelves of my kitchen bookcase.

It's where all the extra stuff lands.

You know, when the seasons change and the little oil paintings of winter scenes have to come off the wall? Those are on the top of the jadite batter bowl. And the brown teapot, which did not sell at consignment: in front of the old wire flower frog, which used to be on top of the living room bookcase, which is now in the craft room.

And the stack of dessert plates, also failing to sell at consignment, is now under a bowl on the top shelf. And the clay marbles, the ME paper box . . . these were in other areas of the house and ended up here.

Here's the 'after' -- how I wanted the shelves to look. Pretty simple, just the green stuff and the two camellia pictures that I'm so fond of. I do think the bud vase should go, tho, don't you agree?

(The shelf edging may need some explanation: a friend gave me two cut-off pillowcases because she thought I could use the crochet trim. I tried it out here on the shelves and pretty much like the look -- except on the bottom shelf you can really see how it is just fabric cut off. And they are not wide enough. But I like the idea.)

Anyway, this is the story throughout this house: too much good stuff, landing haphazardly atop, next to, and under other good stuff. I sometimes feel like I'm a minimalist with a bad collecting habit -- I love all the stuff, but I reallyreally love a bit of spare and a bit more space.

And I used to be an editor. Apparently I need to be one again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another walk in the garden

Hydrangea 'Blushing Bride'

Buddleia 'White Knight'

Elephant ear



Nicotiana + Verbena bodnariensis

Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Regrets at Summer's End

Where does the summer go? I feel a bit of melancholy at the end of summer. Long days seem to slip away so fast.

And now we're at summer's end, looking toward the next season. The list of projects I wanted to complete is long. And I just want to be in the garden, sharing its beauty and plenty with Mr. Chippy and Mr. Toad.

Here's an early summer project still to be completed: ATCs for my two sisters. Ack, ack! And the theme was my selection this time: Strawberry. Note the due date: June 16. Why, that's just last week, no? No?!

I will make the cards. . . . very very soon. Promise.

If anyone is looking for me, I'm in the garden.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Roasting the Harvest

Here in the shady suburbs, we have a small garden patch out by the street -- a raised bed on one end -- just enough room for tomato plants. It's always so difficult to temper my springtime tomato buying. This year we have two Green Zebra and one each of Sweet Million, Fantastic, Superfantastic, Principe Borghese, Juliet and Roma.

The Sweet Million plant is over 6 ft tall now, some of the others nearly so.

Juliet has lovely grape tomatoes all lined up on a stem.

It seemed forever for any of the tomatoes to ripen. . . . but suddenly we seem to have ripe tomatoes on all plants all at once.

And just when I needed it, I've two methods of oven roasting tomatoes. This one, from Smitten Kitchen blog, I tried today with the Juliet tomatoes. Some are now diced up and put over a mini farfalle pasta , sprinkled with parmesan. Delicious!

The second method roasts the tomatoes a bit longer and slower, resulting in an oven-dried tomato. This recipe is in the Chicago Botanic Garden newsletter, coming from the owner of The Rustic Kitchen in Chicago:

Oven-dried Tomatoes

Slice six large tomatoes or halve smaller ones and arrange in one layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, as well as thyme or rosemary, if you like. Place in a 200-degree oven for about eight hours.

Let cool, then transfer to plastic containers and freeze.

Enjoy all winter in salads, sauces, sandwiches, and flatbreads.

For delicious infused olive oil, add enough oil to cover the tomatoes to drizzle on salads or to finish off pasta or risotto.

I intend to try this one tomorrow. Yum! Tomatoes tonight, tomorrow, and in the winter, too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vintage Fabric Goodness

Just got this great piece of barkcloth fabric -- gray and wine -- washed it and put it on the line.

And this sweet little piece, too, with bows -- a nice weight of cotton.

I love finding the odd fabric pieces at the thrift or garage sales . . . . I try to wash them soon after purchase, otherwise I get them all confused up and can't remember if I've washed them or not. Right now a couple more are 'living' in the back room, waiting their turn in the soapy water, and there's also a couple of felted/almost felted sweaters back there, ready for another spin in the washer and dryer.

But aren't there just so many wonderful new fabrics out there? (These are from Superbuzzy, purchased last year.)

I make myself crazy looking at the various sites with such goodies for sale. And then I tell myself to go do fabric laundry and then actually make something out of the fabrics I already have.

(More last-year purchases . . . again from Superbuzzy and from local quilt shops.)

But who can resist? Maybe one little on-line purchase, soon. Just one. Or, while I'm paying for postage, maybe a couple of yards. Of different fabrics. And some more to coordinate. And to contrast. And I really need some red with white dots. . . .

I think I need to go do more fabric laundry.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sewing again!

Newest sewing project completed: a tote bag, made for my cousin. She supplied me with this fab fabric -- it's irridescent, sputnik-y, and altogether cool. Inside is royal purple.

We went on a 'photo shoot' together at the Evanston Art Center. Oh, what a beautiful old building. I need to go back and explore and photograph some more.

Wouldn't you love to have a greenhouse like this? Details are amazing -- the carved orb begs to be touched.

And next door is the Grosse Pointe lighthouse. A stately old beauty on the shores of Lake Michigan. I love this place.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thrifty Seibel Plates -- Back to the 70s

These are 'Trellis' plates, designed for Mikasa 'Duplex' by Ben Seibel, recently thrifted. The line was in production from 1974-75, my first two years in Chicago. The gold and green colors are so 70s, I think -- earth-tone colors.

And maybe that's why I strangely love these dishes -- not my usual colors or style, but the graphic quality and colors of the flowers remind me so much of the mid-70s, my first years of solo independence and self-expression. Trippin' on plates.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer garden and Introducing Mr. Hopper

Mr. G. Hopper visited the garden today. He might be looking for Mr. Toad.

The garden will soon reach its summer glory. Coneflower are in full bloom, as are the verbena bodnariensis. Blue salvia, coral nymph and white salvia, white alyssum, hot pink impatiens . . . all are contributing to the symphony of color.

Both white and yellow buddleia are about to open; bee balm and dark phlox are already blooming, and the white phlox should be fully out by the week's end. My garden is not full sun, so many of the perennials are a bit slower to open fully.

And the monarchs have finally arrived. My husband says they are practicing for the Oshkosh air show -- they seem to be doing acrobatic tricks in the air as the dip in and around the gardens.

Not another toad -- this is a frog vase, holding a wonderful 'Annabelle' hydrangea bloom.

Summer colors to store away and remember when we are in winter's gray and white.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Toad in the Garden!

Just a couple of days after I last saw Mr. Toad in the garden, I spotted this little guy.

At a garage sale.

So he came home with me.

Welcome to the garden, Sir Toad.

(More garage sale finds to be posted soon.)