Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Small Scale Couture


Funny how things work. A week ago I would have never thought I would be designing custom clothes for those of extremely small stature. Yet, here I am a day down the rabbit hole and a basic pattern tested with plans for at least 3 more designs to create.

Couture for dolls. Like I said, it's funny where life takes you. It's a really great way to use up those little scraps and in end, I hope to bring some smiles to some sweet girls.




Friday, February 20, 2015

Negroni Shirt Pattern - by Colette Patterns


I finally had some time to finish my test garment for the Negroni shirt from the Walden series of men's patterns from Colette Patterns.


I am really happy with the way it turned out, so I thought I'd do a brief little review of the pattern for y'all.

Negroni is a solid intermediate pattern. Sewing shirts takes a bit of effort and I had not sewn one with a collar, flat felled seams, a yoke, and all the rest in quite some time. The instructions are well written and if you have any experience with shirt making you should have an easy time following along. If not, this is a great pattern to give it a try!

I decided to sew the short sleeve version in XXL as the Engineer likes a bit of comfort and ease in his clothing. After finishing the shirt and he tried it on, I think an XL would have easily fit him, but he was perfectly happy with the size.

I started by tracing the pattern (I'll wax poetic about tracing patterns some other day) and cutting it out of some dodgy quality 1980's quilting cotton I inherited from my grandmother. Since this was intended to be a test garment, I didn't want to use any of the good stuff.


I made the shirt exactly to spec. Following the instructions to the letter, I like to do this on my first run with a new pattern, then make any adjustments and order changes according to my own sewing style and intuition the next time around.  

All of the pieces came together perfectly. Any issues I had were due to sewist error and not because of any problems with the pattern.  The only alteration I had to make was cutting 2 1/2 inches from the sleeve length; yes, one of the Engineer's nicknames is Sasquatch, but even Sasquatch couldn't pull those sleeves off - these sleeves were seriously long!

The shirt length itself was just right, even the buttonhole placement from the pattern piece was right on; this is something I always have to change and mark myself, but since the Mr. wasn't around for that phase I went with it and was pleasantly surprised that it worked out as well as it did. 


I am thrilled that he likes it and that I ended up with a wearable test garment. 
It also re-lit the spark for flat felled seams - Oh I do love a flat felled seam... hmmm maybe a little flat felled seam tutorial is in order next week! Anyone in?

I highly recommend this pattern. It's so great to have a solid men's pattern and I can't wait to make it again in some quality fabric. I have a feeling this is going to be a long lived and oft used pattern. Hooray!

You can find the pattern in many of your local fabric shops or you can get it Here!




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oh Hello!


Oh goodness, here I am! Playing catch up after last week's mayhem. You know how those go right? One member of the clan gets sick, another gets sick, and another needs a tooth pulled and it all falls apart. Nothing too serious, but it turns the house upside down. Then all on the mend we had the long weekend and...

In any case, we are on the road to rights with some crazy nice weather that has tricked the flora into thinking it's Spring. Blossoms on trees, daffs in brilliant yellow and of course a little Crocus Pokus going on.

It's lovely, though a bit disorienting knowing how cold it is in other parts of the country. What's the weather like where you are?


Monday, February 9, 2015

Hello Monday - Hello Dolly


I am approaching this Monday with considerably less grace and benevolence than last week . It's dumping rain, the cupboards are bare, and I'm just not feeling it. It's alright, it will pass and all will be well again. For today though, the song Rainy Days and Mondays is on repeat in my head.

This weekend I did get a special request. So I stitched up a dolly using this very basic pattern. Next time (if ever there is a next time... a doll maker I am not) I will draft my own pattern to tweak the things I think could use tweaking. I whipped up an outfit on the fly getting input and direction from Pony Girl.  Once it was finished, I was informed that she needed to be a mermaid too!


There you go kiddo! Dolly is nameless as of yet. She should be named and off on numerous adventures after school today.



Friday, February 6, 2015

The Accidental Collector - Bookish

A completely intentional if slightly out of control collection

We have eclectic tastes

Some of my earliest and best memories are of my mother reading to me. I could listen to her read for hours, she had one of those soothing voices that made me feel cozy and safe as she read.  A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter were regular bed time reading, among many other wonderful books.  So I imagine that is where it all began, my love of books.


I learned to read at an early age. I remember at the ages of 5 and 6 while living in Hawaii we had a book mobile that would come down our street once every two weeks. I would get so excited that I would wait outside impatiently holding the pile of books from it's last visit until I saw it come down the block. As I would greedily grab up new books from the mobile library, my mother would tease me saying, "Leave some books for the rest of the kids!"

I was one of those kids that would stick my nose into a book and inhale the heady scent of the printed pages and sigh out loud with contentment. As I got older and we moved to rural Oregon, much of my free time was spent up a tree, under a tree, or in my room reading books. Once I surprised my father by nearly dropping a book on his head from my perch up in a tree. He just started to laugh and said, "Girl, if you ran out of library books you'd read the darn phone book cover to cover wouldn't you!" 


When I was 16 I was reading Miller, Nin, Cortazar, Durrell, Camus, etc. and dreaming of being a writer in Paris. I spent hours in funky, musty, labyrinthine used bookstores looking for gems on the shelves. I could count on books to make me feel less lonely, to travel to far away places, to have adventures and to spark my imagination. Books were my constant companions. They are part of my tribe.


This faded old photo above is from an historic log cabin on the edge of a cliff overlooking the pacific ocean. The cabin belonged to a friend of my father back in the day. That couch is where I spent hours and hours reading some of my favorite books. This is where I read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Invisible Man (Ellison)... and oh I could go on and on.

I have had to purge my collection of books from time to time due to moves or other life circumstances, but I always re-build.


In 1999, on a day off from work, I went to my local book store and saw a book I could not imagine living without. I knew I had $40. in my wallet; for me that equaled two weeks worth of groceries. The book cost $34.95. I bought the book, a bottle of cheap wine and stayed up to the wee hours reading. I lived on one meal a day of rice and beans for those two weeks. Ah, for the love of books! "Man can not live on bread alone." 


Oh my, I have rambled on. I could write a book about my love of books.

Now my collection merges with The Engineer's and Pony Girl's, it keeps growing. The only downside to this is that we have run out of bookshelves. Something must be done, really.

Just yesterday, additions to the collection arrived in the post. Oh happy mail!


Many thanks to Annie for the plant dye book recommendations!

I need to get back to reading more, so tell me, what are your favorite books? 







Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Radish Blossoms Books


Patty Radish of Radish Blossoms caught my attention as a wonderful contributor to my Stitched Journal Project last year. Then I found out that she has an Etsy shop where she sells the most wonderful art journals made from vintage books.

This is a familiar method to me, but I have not seen it done as well or as wonderfully as Patty does it! Her work is lovely and thoughtful with a great attention to detail.

I recently received 2 of her beautiful books and I thought I would share them with you.


Each book contains some of the original pages from the vintage book along with art papers, map pages, old ledger pages, vintage ads, etc. Each book also comes with a packet of ephemera to play with as you use the journal. So cool!


I found her prices to be really reasonable considering the amount of work and time she clearly puts into them. I think that using her journal will be rather inspirational actually as well as just plain fun.

Go peruse the Radish Blossoms shop! and get yourself a little present...

Go read the Radish Blossoms Blog!

Happy Wednesday all!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hello Monday - Slow Simmer


It's a rainy Monday, the perfect sort of day to slow simmer something delicious on the stove, perhaps bake some bread, and think on plans for the coming days.

My work room/studio is nearly back together and well organized. Thank goodness as I am itching to do some stitching again. I'm planning some makes; like this Negroni Men's shirt from Colette Patterns in this handsome Kaufman lightweight cotton plaid. I'm planning a test shirt in some calico I have in my stash, then on to the plaid.

Whilst unpacking and organizing, I came across a few unfinished projects from days gone by, so those are on the to-stitch list as well.

Well, I'm off to brew a cup of tea, listen to some Debussy, contemplate cooking, peruse bread recipes, and make the most of this rainy Monday.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Accidental Collector - Well Tinned


No, I never set out to have a collection of tins. There have been a few folks peppered throughout my life that I have known who intentionally collect tins. Not me. I never even considered it. Yet, here I am with a decent little collection of vintage metal tins.

Once again, my grandmother is to blame for this. Oh that woman had a lot of things! Fortunately many of those things were lovely, or interesting at the very least.

You see when I was young my grandmother was quite a baker. Her cookies were heaven. She was well known for a few specialties in the cookie department. Unfortunately, some how most of those recipes have been misplaced and I have never been able to replicate the melt in your mouth sugar sandies that she used to make. She would make up batches of cookies at a time and send them to us in her metal tins (vintage even then). We would get a box with a couple of tins, we would open the old clanging lids to peel back layers of wax paper to reveal the goodness inside.

This one has become my well worn button tin

We always had to return the tins so that they could be re-used for future batches of cookies. When my grandmother passed, I elected to keep a couple of the tins to use for storage of buttons and other sewing accouterments.  Handy things those tins, though from time to time I find myself looking at them and being overcome with a mad craving for peanut butter chocolate bites.


One day I was at my local thrift shop looking for this and that and there was a funny old tin that caught my eye. Upon seeing the $.99 price tag it jumped into my hands and came home with me.


 Another day, many moons later, Pony Girl and I found ourselves at a garage sale. While PG was making me proud negotiating the price of a doll, I spied a couple of sweet vintage tins. I wasn't going to purchase them, you see I don't collect tins. I just thought I would casually ask the price and say oh well no thank you. However, when the woman had been talked down on the doll to a mere $3.50, she announced, you can throw in the tins for $.50 to round up to $4.00 as I'm running out of quarters for change.

And so now I seem to be fairly well tinned. Since there are more than 3 it makes for a collection. I truly never meant for this to happen.