Currently Reading

I just finished a biography of Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco and actress during the 50s). It was very good.  Gave good background into her movies and family life.  She was such an elegant, gracious lady.  She is one of my favorite actresses, even though she only made about a dozen movies total.  My favorites are High Society, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.  The book is called “High Society:  The Life of Grace Kelly” by Donald Spoto.  I would recommend this if you are a fan.

Now I am reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.  Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was invited to give a “last lecture”; apparently a tradition at a lot of colleges where the lecturer would present what he would want to say if this were to be his actual last lecture.  Its an interesting concept and gets you thinking about the subject as well.  What I am enjoying about this so far, is that his invitation came right about the time he found out he was dying of pancreatic cancer.  So it really is a last lecture.  His topic was following your dreams.  I’m not very far in yet, but I am enjoying it a great deal.


Purple jacket progress

I finished cutting out the pieces for the purple jacket. But now I can’t decide what to bind the edges with.  I have a foldover bias tape that looks a little like satin.  The main problem is that it is  very narrow and I’m afraid of not being able to manage it and making it look homemade.

I also have some black foldover elastic.  Same problem. Only, in addition, I’m afraid it will look cheap as well.  I’m thinking of heading back to the fabric store to see if I can find some satin or other matching fabric that would make a pretty bias binding. 

Also, it looks like I have enough fabric leftover to make a pencil skirt to go with the jacket.  Yipee!


Jacket Sewing, pt 2

I cut and pinned all day yesterday.  I now have two jackets cut out and ready to sew.

1.  The purple suiting from yesterday.  Cut out as Robin’s jacket.  I’m ready to sew, but I need a foldover trim binding before I can start.  The very first step is to bind the edges of the pockets. 

2.  Blue hopsack that I bought last week.  I’m making it up as Max’s jacket with a white trim around the edge.  I need lining for it.  I could start sewing, but I want to cut the lining while the jacket is still pinned to the pattern so I can get the pieces all the same size.

I have fabric for a few others waiting in the wings as well. 

1.  Pink broadcloth with a tiny jacquard-like dot in it.  I’m thinking probably Sheila’s jacket for this one.  The fabric arrived just a couple of days ago and so needs preshrinking still.

2.  Black wool.  Needs preshrinking and a pattern.  Can’t decide what I want to do with this one.

3.  Purple quilted something.  I’ve forgotten what it is, I’ll have to check the label.  Kind of a suede-like fabric.

4. White/grey boucle.  I was originally going to make Robin’s jacket with this, but the wrong side is not very attractive.  I’ll probably get something grey and shiny for the facings.  Also needs lining fabric.

And then, with the basket weave and the two already cut out, that makes seven new jackets! Woo-hoo! 

Since, I can’t work on the jackets until after I go shopping tomorrow, I think I’ll cut out and sew that apron I’ve been needing.  I have a cute wraparound pattern (which I need because I tend to wipe my hands on my rear) and some Daisy Kingdom fabrics left over from when my daughter was little.  I’ve been wondering what I could do with it.  An apron should be really cute.


Jacket Sewing

I’ve been spending a lot of time this last year trying to learn how to make my patterns fit properly.  Its a huge problem I’ve always had with sewing.  I love sewing, but I’ve never known what adjustments to make and so I’m always frustrated when things don’t fit.  I gave up sewing for myself over 20 years ago.  I sewed for my daughter until she got to be about 14.  She’s very tall and large busted, so again, I didn’t know what to adjust to make things fit her.

Well, I found a pattern company, Silhouette Patterns that has helped immensely.  They make patterns already adjusted for B, C and D cups.  Its owned by Peggy Sagers and she also posts webcasts every two weeks about different sewing issues and/or ideas.  I’ve really learned a lot from her.

Starting in January, she started a webcast sew-along for jackets.  In January, we did a lined, shortish, princess-seamed jacket.  Max’s Jacket, pattern #1950.  She took 2 1-hour webcasts to explain things.  I made my first lined jacket since 1984, and it looks beautiful.  Although, even after fussing with the muslin, its a little big across the bust.  I think I’m going to have to take in some seams just slightly.  But I’m very pleased with it over all.  It looks professionally made to me and I’m super proud of it.

Then, in February, she walked us through an unlined jacket, pattern #1750 Robin’s Jacket.  The body of this jacket is the same as the previous jacket, so we were able to make the same adjustments to the pattern, without having to do a lot of muslins to get the fit right.  I’m ready to cut mine out.  I’m just waiting on the fabric. (Its in the washer)

I bought two fabric lengths that I’m debating over for this jacket.  The one I originally intended to use is a polyester basket-weave suiting.  It is a reddish-violet with black basket weave threads.  I like it a lot.  When I got it out to start the project, I noticed the tag said “dry-clean only.”  Horror!  I hate having to dry clean clothes.

Here’s the two fabrics I’m thinking of.

The first is a violet-red basket weave polyester.  This picture looks more red than it actually is.

basket weave fabric

basket weave fabric

And here’s the second.  Its a purple, slightly stretchy suiting.  (the picture looks a little on the brown side, but it is really a gorgeous plummy purple.)

Stetch suiting, purple

Stetch suiting, purple

Well, I got out my handy-dandy rotary cutter and ruler and cut out a 4-inch square to put through the laundry.  To see how the fabric reacted, you understand.  Since I had this other purple suiting fabric I was also thinking of using, I cut out a square of it also.  I just took them out of the washer and measured the two pieces.  The basket weave looks like it might have lost about an 1/8th of an inch.  But, even though it was pinked on the edges, it has raveled terribly.  It probably lost about 3/8  inch due to raveling.  Even if I decide to wash it, the garment is going to have to have the seams finished well.  The other piece did fine.  They are in the dryer now, so we’ll see if that has any impact.

They’re out of the dryer now.  The purple held up really well.  I’m thinking I will use this fabric for the jacket.

purple swatch

On the other hand, the basket weave fabric is going to take some thought.  It did not shrink or ravel any further in the dryer, but it does have a slightly felted look now.  I like the way it looks right now, but I don’t want to take a chance of further felting/shrinking/raveling if I make my jacket out of it.   I really like the look of the raveling, however.  It makes a very nice fringe.

basket weave swatch

My thoughts at the moment on the basket weave:  I would really like to use its fringing capability as the edging on a jacket.  I’m going to look for a jacket pattern with straight lines and squared corners to use it with.  It would have to be unlined so that the edges are free.  I could just sew a tight zig-zag or something similar about a 1/2-inch in from the edge to prevent further fraying and then just fray the edge when the garment is finished.  I’m considering washing the fabric before cutting because I like the slightly felted look, but then hand-washing or dry-cleaning the finished garment so that it doesn’t felt up even more.   The Silhouettes pattern of the month is #1819 Sheila’s jacket.  I think it may fill the bill for this fabric.

Anyhow, I need to start laying out this pattern, so I will say ta-ta for now!



DIY Household Cleaning Spray

Vinegar + Dawn + soap scum = clean shower doors!

Vinegar + Dawn + soap scum = clean shower doors! (Photo credit: TartanHearts)

I will freely admit I’m not the world’s best housekeeper.  Not even second best.  In fact, I hate the job.  So, as you might guess, I’m always looking for shortcuts and ways to make it easier and faster.

In the 15 years that I’ve lived here in Utah, I’ve tried a lot of products to cut through the hard water and soap scum combination that glues itself to the bathtub and shower surround.  You can’t get that stuff off with a chisel.  (I came from Oregon, where hard water is pretty much unknown.) I tried everything from CLR lime remover to Lysol, to Scrubbing Bubbles. You name it, I’ve tried it. Even the Magic Eraser was less than impressive.  They all left gray stuff all over the tub, especially on the bottom with its pimply rough surface.

Recently, I found a pin on Pinterest that has blown me away with the results. It was for a DIY cleanser that this particular pinner named Blessing in a Bottle. The recipe is available all over the internet, with slight variations.  But they all boil down to this simple combination:

8 oz Dawn dish soap (the blue variety)
8 oz white vinegar

Mix the two together in a 16 oz bottle. It works best if you spray it on the surface, let it sit 15-20 minutes (or longer), swirl it around with a scrub brush or plastic scrubbie to loosen the dirt and then rinse. It comes off like nothing was even there! My shower is now cleaner than it has been since we moved in three years ago!

The first time I tried this, I left it on the shower walls while I did the rest of my housework and then rinsed it off. It worked so well, I’ve tried it on several other surfaces. I’m ecstatic with the results. My only complaint is that it makes LOADS of soap suds. You have to rinse with a wet cloth a couple of times and then dry it with paper towels (or a new cloth) to get all the soap off. But things are so clean and shiny, it may be well worth the extra effort. However, I’m thinking the next time I mix some up, I may cut the soap in half and increase the vinegar by that much. Or maybe add water? I think diluting the soap a little more will help.

In any case, I’m very pleased with the results and this has inspired me to look for more do-it-yourself cleaning tools. Think of the money you could save not having to buy all of those different cleaning supplies!

New Years Eve

sewing at the dining room table

sewing at the dining room table (Photo credit: pinprick)

Well, here we are again at the start of a new year.  2013.  It always seems fantastic to me when we make it to another new year.  I mean, I remember 1960.  2013 seems so far away from then.  When you’re looking forward at the age of 10, 15, even 30, that seems so far down the road.  I’ll be 58 this year.  While i know that is young, especially these days, it still seems a little unreal–like I am not really that old.  (mental head shake)

Well, whatever.  That’s not really what I intended to write about today.  Even though most resolutions don’t make it past the middle of January, New Years still is a good time to reflect  and look into ourselves.  Change is good.  If we are not changing and growing every day, then we are stagnating.  And take it from me, stagnation is not good.  You start doubting yourself and, even worse, disliking yourself.  Stagnation is not a good place to be.

Because of this little bit of wisdom I’ve learned in 2012, my goal for 2013 is to accomplish something every day.  It doesn’t need to be big.  Just a tiny something is OK.  But it has to be something moving us forward, supporting goals for either home or work.  This, of course, got me thinking about what it is I want to accomplish.  I already have a bucket list and I’m plugging away on some of them.  Others are kind of big and need a good-sized savings account.  But that does not seem to be the kind of accomplishments I need this year.  This year, I’d like to build my dream life.

So what does my dream life consist of?  Good question.  The things I enjoying doing most need to be included:  Sewing, reading, cooking/experimenting, music, flowers, genealogy, family, and arts and crafts.  When I look off into the mists of my dream life I see a small herb garden in the kitchen that I use in cooking.  My kitchen is decorated with homey things that I painted myself.  I have some great kitchen tools, like le creuset pans, and everything is neatly but conveniently arranged.  I have a tiny kitchen, but I feel comfortable in there because it is well organized and functional.

I sew regularly for myself as well as others.  I’ve learned the skills I need to make my clothes fit well.  I have more successes than failures.  I have a dedicated space for sewing that I don’t have to clean up between sessions.  I have a dressmakers dummy that I can use for fitting and draping purposes.  I also have a good sewing machine (my current Singer is as old as I am), a serger, and an embroidery machine. And I use them all regularly.

I have a piano, preferably a Clavinova.  its small, but it suits my purposes.  I have a bookshelf nearby that I can keep all my music on.

I make it down to the genealogy library regularly to keep up on the family history research.  I have a small flower garden.  Flowers are so beautiful and give me a lift every time I see them.  I get a chance to read and learn new things every day.

It seems the best thing to do is to make a list of everything I’d like to accomplish, no matter how crazy or seemingly impossible.  The big fear here, of course, is that you might hold me to it and I’ll fail.  again.  Here goes:

finish my SWAP
take cooking lessons
de-clutter and simplify my home
grow an herb garden
decorate the kitchen
paint the bathroom
get a promotion and raise
lose weight
get diabetes under control
put up lots of jams an veggies this summer
get my daughter launched into her adult life
read my scriptures every day

Funny thing is, I had tons of things rolling around in my head before I started writing; now I can’t think of  them.  Oh well, this is enough to get started on on really.  Next step:  what are some of the little things I can do to accomplish this.

1.  sew every day.  Even if it is just one seam.
2.  declutter one drawer, shelf, cupboard, until the kitchen is organized and useable.  Its so small I feel claustrophobic in there.  I need to make it easy to go in and use.  This will probably mean staying on top of the dishes better and making sure that everything has a permanent home.
3.  read scriptures on the bus every morning
4.  walk aggressively to the bus stop every day.  Its a 20 minute walk each way.  That should be some good aerobic exercise.
5.  Find a place for a small kitchen herb garden.

That should be enough to be going on with for now.  If I can even accomplish those things, I’ll be moving forward.  The thing I need to remember is that it doesn’t matter how large or small the task is, the important thing is to do it. and do it now.

Thanks for listening to my rants.  Happy New Year, everyone!

SWAP 2013

 Even though SWAP officially started the day after Christmas, today is the first day I will be able to sew.  I had to work both the 26th and 27th, but I’m home today and ready to start the first garment.

What’s SWAP you ask?  It stands for Sewing With A Plan.  And it is an annual competition over at the Artisan’s Square forum.  This year, the rules are 10 or 11 coordinating garments, sewn in 2 capsules.  Each capsule has to coordinate within itself and there has to be a bridging garment that allows the two capsules to coordinate with each other. I felt that I needed work clothes badly, so that is my theme.  I am doing one capsule in black and white and the other in grey and white.  The bridging piece will be a jacket in gray with black trim so that I can wear it with both sets. 

We have from December 26 through April 30 to complete the wardrobe.  You can find more detail on the rules here. 

Following is my story board for the plan.  I will update with pictures of the completed garments as we go along. 

Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business


You can’t see it in the picture, but the green blouse has a few tucks at the shoulder that have been smocked.  I intend to duplicate that.  The blouse will be white, with black smocking.

I believe I will start with the jacket today.  Then, I will be able to see how each blouse looks with it and change plans if I need to.  I’m really excited about this.  I haven’t sewn anything in a long, long time.  Especially for myself.  I think the depression was in charge of that, mostly.  But I’m starting to do a lot of things that I haven’t in a long time.  That to me is the most encouraging thing of all.  A good sign that the depression is on its way out.

Anyway, I’m off to sew.  (and bake some 7 layer bars, too, I think.)  Have a great day!