Sunday, May 31, 2009



For Kate

Kate is equally enthralled by the ruffler foot, and we came close to ruffling up half my stash. Karen, you had the winning "what to do with ruffles" suggestion - here is a sundress with "wings" aka huge ruffles on the sleeves! I also used the ruffler to gather and attach the skirt to the bodice. That task usually takes about 30+ minutes, but this was about 45 seconds in all. WOW.

For Kate

For Kate

I managed to pull off a perfectly enclosed zipper in the back of the dress this time... when it works, that's a thing of beauty. I was feeling brave, so then I stitched in the ditch from the outside to trap the bodice lining down & hold the seam allowances from the bodice and the skirt inside, and that worked well. The sewing gremlins were out to lunch today, I tell you!

Kate's new dress

The fabric for the bodice and the sleeve ruffles is from Sandi Henderson's Farmers Market line. I have some of the apple print as well, to make another sundress with.
Kate's new dress

And while we were modeling dresses, here's the "clown costume dress" shift, aka "lilly pulitzer style sundress" from last weekend. Notice the ruffle she put in her hair? ;-)
Kate's new dress

Kate's new dress

After we were done playing with the ruffler, we did a few hours of work on transplanting more tomatoes and squash. We planted 23 tomato plants (a sheltie ate one... thankfully it was really tiny and we got most of it out of his mouth), butternut squash, zucchini, eggplants, bush beans, arugula, and tons of flowers. 4 hours of sweating away in the sun. Reminded me that I LOVE my carhartts. I want to build pants like those some day, they're built super crazy strong. I buy mine at an outlet near here for about $20/pair, and they're the perfect pants for farming. If you look at the seams, they're triple stitched, reinforced all over, and they use some super tough canvas that's amazing. Good stuff. Then we slacked off and went to Denville Dairy and ate some huge chocolate ice cream cones.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


To anyone on the east coast who heard the maniacal laughter at about 8:30 PM.... that was just me, finally figuring out my new toy. After the yellow dress purchase, I figured that I should just get over the $35 for a ruffler foot and buy it, lest I continually buy dresses that are more than $35. ;-) See, it's a totally sensible purchase!

Of course when it arrived, it had the world's worst directions, and didn't fit on my Viking Sapphire. I pulled out my Huskystar 215, that had been languishing up on top of a dresser, and it fit that machine wonderfully. Which is actually kind of nice, since now that I've figured it out, I can leave it on that machine and have a permanent ruffling station. It's sitting on the same ikea table that I keep the old Viking 1030 on, and I can flip between the two of them. I never thought I'd get up to having three machines set up, but there you go.

new ruffler foot outputOf course getting to that point took two hours of watching videos online, trying, swearing at broken threads, fiddling, trying more stuff, and then... all of a sudden... it worked!! Coats Dual Duty thread worked much better than the Coats cotton thread, which kept snapping. And it took a bit of fiddling to figure out how to place the material so that it would be picked up to start. So here's the stupid part... I ruffled up some ribbons and now I can't decide what to do with them. I want to make a little sundress for Kate or Ana, but I don't have enough ribbon to go around a skirt hem (I'm buying a loooooooooong ribbon soon as I can so that I can do that!). The ones I have are now about 1.5 feet long... maybe cute around a collar, but I would worry that it would poke up and itch them. Hmm. Here's a bit of the lime green one:

new ruffler foot output

Monday, May 25, 2009


Today I had one decent project and one total disaster. The disaster was supposed to be another pintuck skirt from Stitch magazine, in denim. I bought a jeans twin needle and topstitching thread, cut out the pattern from some dark blue denim and traced the pintuck lines onto the skirt. Then I pintucked with the yellow topstitching thread- came out pretty decent. But... I had flipped one of the pattern pieces upside down, so that the horizontal pintucks didn't meet. ARRGGHH!

I forged ahead anyway, finished it up, tried it on... and it's too tight. I forgot that I'd used a stretch cord and smaller seam allowances last time! It's uncomfortably tight all across my hips, so I'm not going to be able to wear it unless I lose a few pounds. The pintucks looked so nice, so I'm bummed out. I have more material, so I'll make another one at some point, but- ARGH! I'm debating whether to make it a bit wider or track down some stretch denim.

Here's the better project. The fourth version I've made of BWOF 03-2008-108, this time with short sleeves in eyelet. I just whacked off the sleeve length and folded up twice, then stitched a wide hem.

BWOF blouse

Closeup of the fabric. I did welt seams for the princess seams since there was no getting around the seam allowance showing anyway.

BWOF blouse

Still one of my favorite blouse patterns of all time! One of the four I've made is a gold glazed linen one for my mom and she wears it quite a bit. The princess lines are nice, and I like how the collar is different from your standard collar but not too out there like some BWOF designs.

Here's a sneak peek at something else I'm working on- a doubleknit colorblock dress using a pattern from the November 2008 Knipmode. I need topstitch on a middle color band near the waist (light purple) and hem it before it will be done. I chopped *6* inches off the hem after I took this photo to get it above my knee. Nothing like a good reminder how short your legs are. ;-) The bodice looks weird here from holding the camera, but it does have a bit of a gap under my arms. Not quite enough to rip out the side seams, but if I make it again I'll narrow it a little there.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Simplicity 3595

S 3596 is a Simplicity Halloween costume pattern. I made the clown dress this weekend for Kate (came out very cute, but I don't have any photos of it) and noticed that it was really just a very cute A-line shift. So here is a non-costume sleeveless version.

kate's dress

On the topic of dresses, I really need to buy a ruffler foot. I found this dress this morning and to buy it because the collar is gorgeous.

yellow dress

Full length:
yellow dress

It's by "Max & Cleo" and I can't seem to find a website for them, sadly. The dress is all cotton, elastic waist, faux wrap. There's a tiny hook and eye to keep the faux wrap top from gapping, and a side zip. Too cute.

(ETA the dress is on Nordstrom's site in brown and in yellow)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Smocked or shirred?

Smocked Sundress project on Martha Stewart: I call this shirring, not smocking. It actually drives me a bit bonkers to see so many references to "smocked" tops in catalogs and things when, well, it's made with elastic thread. Am I the only person who calls these different things?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Pillows

new fancy pillows

Do you want proof that actually I go into sewing withdrawal? I made two pillowcases for the bed today because I couldn't go all weekend away from my Viking. Making these actually went OK even with stiff fingers and everything, but then it's all straight lines. Not that we needed new pillow covers or anything, I just found myself in the fabric store this AM and this fantastic blue fabric kind of followed me home... and it looks really nice with the pale green walls. I'd never sewn flanged pillow covers before, but it was pretty easy. To sew the flange around the edges, I used the farthest seam marker on the throat plate to stitch the line and came out with a nice sized one.

No pattern for the cases, I only laid out an older storebought cover and traced it. The zipper in the back is done the same way as the storebought. The back is cut in two, and a standard zipper is inserted into the seam. You have to make sure to keep the ends out of the flange when that's stitched, so an 18 inch zipper with the end snipped off worked well. 16 inches might have been a bit better, but I didn't have any whites that size.
back zipper

The front fabric was about $4/yard at JoAnns this morning, and 1 yard made two fronts. The back is some white home dec weight-ish sateen from their remnant bin, about $3 as well, so this was some pretty economical bedroom mini redecorating. I found the front fabric in the nursery print cotton section, of all places. Shh, don't tell anyone our bed is decorated with a nursery print. ;-)
new fancy pillows

While I wasn't sewing I did a bunch of cooking. I made an apple tart and this Bon Appetit recipe that Smitten Kitchen just posted about- asparagus, goat cheese and lemon pasta. We also made a batch of homemade yogurt! I'm on an antibiotic from Thursday's adventure, and it's a pretty strong one. So we made a nice batch of homemade yogurt to settle my stomach, and it came out tasting really nice. Mmmmm- I should have tried this a while ago! Now I'm eyeing yogurt makers on amazon. This batch was made in a big pyrex bowl on a stovetop, which worked but was kind of bulky and time intensive. This is yogurt tutorial for making stovetop yogurt - worked very nicely!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Here's an action shot of Kate in the purple quilted jacket I made her a few months ago:

Notice how it's accessorized with brown & pink floral leggings and a sky blue headband. ;-)

And here is Cameron, sheltie testing a quilt layout. If you can't sew, you can still lay quilt blocks out on the floor and move them along. My dad had to help me pick up everything when I was done playing layouts, and by then Cameron (his sheltie) had been replaced with Declan (my sheltie) on the quilt pieces. This is a twin sized one, so the backing and batting are pretty big. We picked up one end and started walking forward to fold it in half. Declan stood his ground on the nice comfy spot he'd found to sit- we had to pick him off the batting to continue folding, then he walked right back on! Silly dog.


Here are some of the squares that I did early in the week. They're mostly using Sew Mama Sew's Amy Karol fat quarter pack. I really liked the colors in that set! So different from the shades I usually gravitate towards.

quilt squares

On the recovery front, I have a huge purple bruise on the back of my hand & I'm pretty run down, but otherwise OK. My mom got out her naturalist books last night and we looked through them & I forced myself to look at the photos of the snakes. Ewww. We figured out what it was, though- it was definitely a yellow rat snake. I actually got shivers up my spine when I saw the picture, because it was exactly the snake. They're non poisonous, obviously, but agressive biters, which makes sense because it really got me. Supposedly they're not uncommon as pets so we wonder if it was an escaped or released pet. Good to know that it really wasn't a ribbon snake, because we have them all over and although they freak me out, I always think of them as essentially harmless.

One more picture- here is Tom playing on his slide. Cutest little boy ever!!!


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Well. I might have myself a short sewing hiatus... I managed to prove my dedication to organic gardening by surviving a snake bite on my hand when I was out putting pine needles around the blueberry bushes!

My grandma insists that only a certain type of pine needle can be used, so she got some bushels of them from a friend a few days ago, and they were resting near the bushes. I dumped 5 bushels under blueberry bushes, and was reaching into the 6th when I felt something sharp on the back of my hand. I yanked my hands out, and there was a snake in the pine needles in my hands. He jumped right off and under the bushes, and I realized I'd been bitten - two fang marks on the back of my hand. Let me say this, I'm really not scared of much but even garter snakes terrify me! Long story short, I ended up at urgent care, where they were extremely concerned about the fact that I couldn't describe it better than "twenty inches long and brown" -they like to know exactly what got you. What was I supposed to do, stop freaking out and make it pose for a mug shot? ;-) I'm sure the poor thing was more scared than I was! Telling them that my whole arm hurt when the bite is down on my hand didn't go over terribly well. So now I'm balanced out... tetanus shot in the other arm (my last one was 6 years ago), so I can be sore on both sides for a few days.

Let's look at some nice squash blossoms from last summer:

squash blossoms

OK, now I'm going to repeat to myself... I will not be freaked out walking around the farm the rest of the summer. I will not be freaked out walking around the farm the rest of the summer. It might work someday. ;-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Originally uploaded by wck

The two weekends in the making Mother's Day & May birthdays cake!

Last weekend, I made a big batch of lemon curd & put it into little glass babyfood jars. Each jar holds just enough for a cake filling. Then this morning, Ana and I went to the grocery store and bought heavy cream and strawberries. We made two layers of Lemon Yogurt Cake (with the almond flour variation and only a half cup of sugar), whipped cream for the "icing" and sliced berries. After the cakes cooled, we put it all together, and here it is! It spent the afternoon hiding in the basement until after dinner. Delicious! And fairly low sugar compared to most fancy cakes.

Kate's strawberry shortcake dress

Here's the dress from the fabric that Kate picked out yesterday. She first was attracted to all the sparky fabrics in the prom dress aisle, but I ixnayed those. ;-) So we picked out Strawberry shortcake, and I asked her if she'd like to use some eyelet for the collar, and she agreed. Here we go:

kate's dress

Super girly sleeves!

kate's dress

I know it looks really simple, but for some reason this dress took forever (forever being almost 4 hours)... it was very slow going with the sleeves, the collar, gathering the skirt, attaching the skirt lace, pressing pressing pressing. I hope I'll get a picture of it on her this evening.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tom's Birthday Quilt

So far:

tom's birthday quilt

new book!

This has been a looooooong Saturday. I took Kate to her friend's birthday party this morning at an ice skating rink. We had a small run in with what I call a hockey dad. I mean, I did go to Wellesley, but I don't think I'm overly sensitive to this kind of thing- we walked into the party room carrying our skates (both hockey skates) and said hello to the birthday kid and ooh'd over the presents. One of the dads there, already in skates, came over and said "Did you rent those? She shouldn't be on hockey skates! You should go back and ask for figure skates!" I turned and said as sweetly as I could, "Actually, these are our own skates." To which he replied, "Those are really hard to learn in. Are you sure you'll be OK?" Argh! Yes, we're girls. We both love ice hockey. Deal with it. So I just told him that we were quite happy skating in our hockey skates. Once we got on the ice we had a grand time, and she's really getting good. She actually had a long talk afterwards about how she sees that going almost every weekend really helps- I'm glad she's learning the importance of practice! ;-)

We went to JoAnns afterwards to pick up batting for her little brother's birthday quilt, and she picked out some new material for a dress and some Tinkerbell fleece for a pillow. We made the pillow together when we got home, with an envelope back. She was really confused about how that was going to work until we turned it right side out at the end and put in the pillow. Then she wanted to play with putting it in & out a bunch of times, since it was MAGIC. So cute.

My sister bought me The Practical Guide to Patternmaking for Fashion Designers: Juniors Misses and Women for my birthday. Whooohoo! It's a really a textbook, and it's fantastic. Hopefully I'll scrounge up some time to play with it soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

miami skirt

This is yet another BWOF 01-2008-127b, Princess Seamed Pencil Skirt "exclusive design" from the January 2008 BWOF and one of my favorite skirt patterns ever. The material is one of the "designer graphic cotton prints" from Gorgeous Fabrics. The fabric was really nice to sew with- it's a bit lightweight, but presses and sews really well. It's lined with silk habotai also from Gorgeous Fabrics because I just couldn't bring myself to sew all those curvy seams in ambiance, and the material needed a lining. This is WAY brighter than anything I'd ever usually wear, but hey- Florida in a few weeks!

I held my breath while I was topstitching. Nothing fancy, just used some cotton thread and ran the right edge of the foot down the seamline. Carefully. VERY VERY slowly!


Here's the lining hem... I like the curvy stitch for lining hems. Easy.


There's an invisible side zipper with strips of white weft interfacing underneath on the left. It was hand basted first since I was worried about how light the fabric was, but it went in OK. The waistband is, again, grosgrain ribbon from my grandma's stash. I basted the fabric & lining together, then stitched down the ribbon on the outside, understitched it, and then pressed it. I hand tacked it to the lining in a few spots to further encourage it not to flip out, and called it a day. The hand tacking was mostly because I was already nearby with thread & needle, sewing the lining to the zipper. Zippers itch me like crazy, so if I don't stitch the lining almost right to the teeth, I'll never actually wear the skirt. My sister has a few nice skirts now that I originally made myself & failed to do this step on. ;)

swirly loops

For BeeBee and Karen: Ice Cream Ball, pint size. You'll have to find your own army of kids to kick it around on the deck for 15 minutes, though. ;-) Perhaps you could send some of the thunderstorms back up here though? The tree pollen is driving everyone nuts, we need a bit of rain to wash it away, please!

I practiced some more free motion quilting on a "craft sized" (so says the batting bag) scrap quilt. Here's the front:
Quilt front

Quilt front

The back is from the Farmer's Market line. I loooooove the back of this quilt, it's so crinkly and the dahlias are so pink and wonderful. I used more than an entire spool of thread on this - Gutermann 100% cotton again, with a new size 80 needle, and didn't have a single broken thread. Hooray!
Quilt back

You know what strikes fear into my heart? Finangeling a king sized quilt through my machine. This is 50 blocks short of king sized:
stacked squares

I've sort of just figured out how to wrestle with this wimpy craft sized one! I suppose I should try a twin sized one next. Here's another view. That's a a lot of squares... this thing is going to be a beast to put together.

stacked squares

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The promised rain and thunderstorms never appeared this afternoon, so we've been out on the deck enjoying the surprise sunshine!

Ana is learning her numbers right now. She's a very concrete learner like me, she likes to hold things and look at them- so I bought some wooden numbers at the craft store and we painted them. Now she has numbers to hold while she learns them.

ana painting


(Kate is wearing a sweatshirt I made her last year. It's still huge, so it makes a good painting smock)

Then we pulled out the ice cream ball and made blueberry frozen yogurt. Mmmmm yum!

making frozen yogurt

blueberry frozen yogurt!

You know it's summertime when the ice cream ball is rolling around on the deck. ;-)