Monday, February 28, 2011


Sorry, I didn't have a Sunday Sundry post this week.  I thought I might get to it later, but now it's later and I've decided to just skip it this week.  Or maybe this is it? 

I spent several hours working today.  In between jobs, I sewed on a quilt top I'm making for a former next-door neighbor lady who has cancer.  My sister and I visited her last week and I so wished I had a lap quilt to give her.  So I'm working on one for her now, trying to keep moving forward on it rather than my usual start-and-stall pace.  It's all from stash, and I'm using some large florals and a couple vintage fabrics.  Not a modern-looking quilt, by any means, but I like it and I think she will too.  There are elements of earth and sky, sunshine and flowers, and good times remembered.  

As I worked on it today, I thought about the time these neighbors got a fondue pot and invited our family to come over and fondue.  We all crowded around the kitchen table with those goofy long forks in hand and, well, fondued stuff.  I must have been maybe 10 or 11, and it was loads of fun, mostly because of such great company.  As a kid, everything seemed more lively and interesting at the neighbors' house.

They were like extended family.  We kids would wander over during the day (I doubt we knocked) and just hang out, maybe have a bottle of Coke, play Yahtzee, watch TV, and talk about whatever was on our mind.  They liked to tease and laugh that infectious kind of laugh that teaches one not to take things too seriously.  The husband was a talented hobby artist who painted incredible wildlife and nature scenes.  We'd watch him with his brushes and pallet there in the knotty pine paneled room that served as his studio, and pester him with 20 questions.  I bet he loved that.  

Their two daughters were several years older than my sister and I, and we wanted to grow up to be just like them.  I remember the older daughter had a poster of Paul Revere and the Raiders on her bedroom wall, and I thought that was just so cool, like, she must know Mark Lindsay (ha!). They gave us their hand-me-downs (and we loved it), everything from jeans and penny loafers to Trixie Belden mysteries.

One hot summer day, we packed a big cooler, piled into their woody station wagon, and road-tripped to the Milwaukee Zoo.  It was the first time any of us kids had been to the zoo, and we made a big day of it.  I still remember the ride home (pre-air conditioning and seat belt laws), lying in the back of the station wagon, my bare feet propped up on the open rear crank-down window, catching the breeze.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two for the Show

Back to working on quilts this week, I got a couple things accomplished.  First, I finished the binding on the Christmas whirlygig quilt, so it is officially done!  

I took advantage of the bright sunshine and a fresh snowfall for these pics.  

The quilt really does lie flat; it's just over a snowbank and part of a buried hedge.

The back:

Closeup of the quilting, by Angie at Five Little Monkeys.  Love it!

One more crossed off the PhD (Projects Half Done) list!

Next, I put together a black and white (and a wee bit of red) quilt top.  

I talked about my fondness for black and white quilts and gave a hint of this one in the previous post.  

This top went together fast, after I got done fussing with the layout.  The pattern is Perfect Ten by Swirly Girls Design, which calls for 10 fat quarters.  I had nine, plus some great scraps from Jenny, so I mixed those in too, including the one black/white/red piece.  It was too perfect not to! 

This quilt may be a little busy, but I really like it.  It still needs a border, and I have no idea what I'm going to do there yet.  Suggestions? 

I'm linking to Sarah's Can I Get A Whoop-Whoop Friday linky party.  Be sure to visit—she's having an awesome giveaway!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Black and White Quilts

I'm once again joining the Favourite Things Friday party at Quilting in My Pyjamas.  Shay and I had an email conversation about the subject of black and white quilts recently, trading links and inspiration.  It's something that's on both of our to-do lists.

Here are a few of my favorites, done by some highly creative quilters, from Flickr.  As you can see, they're not all just black and white.  Some have another color or two thrown in, just enough to make it pop, sing, or sizzle.  I really like that idea.

1. Quilt Show in Portland, 2. Circle Applique Quilt Top, 3. "Which is Which", 4. The Geese are Free!, 5. Spider Web Doll Quilt, 6. Rett's Black and White Stringer, 7. T-Bright Spinners on Black and White, 8. Opera Quilt, 9. Half Moon DNP, 10. The Black and White Quilt

I also started a folder in my browser's bookmarks for black and white quilts, and here are links to a few of them.  Remember, you can middle button click to open the link in a new page, or right-click and select "open new tab."

Snapshots Quilt, by Elizabeth Hartman
Planetarium Quilt, by Elizabeth Hartman
Snail Trail Mini Quilt
Striking Black and White Quilt

For the past few months, I have been collecting black and white fabrics for a quilt.  I also bought a pattern but wasn't sure if it was the one.  After overthinking the matter far too long, I realized I was approaching this as my one and only black and white quilt, not what was more likely to be the first of many black and white quilts that I may make.  Perspective shifted, I cut some fabric, already.  

This also seemed like a good time dust off Viv, my vintage Singer 301, to do the piecing.  She does a great quarter-inch seam (as long as I don't drive over the line), and she really needed something to do besides just sit there looking all retro-sexy. 

Here's a sneak peek at the layout.  In the next post, I'll show you what I've gotten sewn together.  I'm really liking it so far!

How about you?  Have you made a black and white quilt?  Feel free to share a link to one you've made or been inspired by elsewhere, if you'd like.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 28

I have a bit of writer's block this Sunday morning.  My house smells good, like blueberry pancakes, crisp bacon, and strong coffee.  

Snow started falling about an hour ago, first like powdered sugar and now like goose down.  There's a winter storm warning in effect.  Bring it.  I've got nowhere to be except my sewing room.

Said room was a wreck after all the shirt-making.  I need to vacuum and tidy up a bit before I launch into what's next, but I enjoy even the cleaning up part when I'm in that space.

Got some new music to keep me company, courtesy of my friend Joe.  He called me from the ski lift at Big Sky a week or so ago and we talked music.  

A package arrived from him this week (thanks, Joe!) with some CDs, including the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, Robert Plant, My Morning Jacket, Cake, and The Ironweed Project.  I've been listening to the lattermost over and over.  The lyrics aren't going to win any awards, but the music kept me moving as I finished the shirt Friday and Saturday.

I saw The King's Speech yesterday with my sister and really enjoyed it.  All of the actors were superb, but I especially enjoyed Geoffrey Rush as Logue.

Thank you all for your kind comments on the sew-along shirt.  As I was wearing it yesterday, sitting there in the dark theater, I noticed it was possibly one of the most comfortable shirts I own.  That makes all the fussing about fit worth it in the end.  I really should invest the time to make myself more clothes that fit well, especially since I can't just walk into any store and buy off the rack (they just aren't made to fit the super-tall woman).  

Take jeans, for instance.  I bought a couple patterns and some nice denim about a year and a half ago, and there it still sits in the storage bin.  For me, there's always that little hurdle of anxiety to overcome, built up from past sewing experiences involving fit issues and not-so-great fabric selection.  Although it's more work to make a muslin (or two, or three), this sew-along has made me a believer in the essential part it can play in ensuring a good fit and a better overall outcome.

So you may see me sewing more clothing soon.  Today, however, I have a date with a quilt binding.

Dolly is sporting a new (to her) apron, something I thrifted a month or so ago and haven't even taken the time to iron yet.  

She doesn't mind though.  Nice needlework detail.  

In closing today, Dolly and I would like to serve you a piece of Cake.  I love the guy at 2:13. I could watch a whole video of him jamming along to this song, along with the blonde dry cleaner, the pilot in the orange jumpsuit, and the drug rep.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shirt Reveal - Part 2, The End

Should I write words?

Do I need words?

Pretend these are very interesting words...

Fascinating words, in fact.

I just said something to make you go hmm...

And wonder a little bit.

Then I have a new idea...

You can tell by the look on my face...

It may be funny, or a little surprising.

Made you smile!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Whoop-Whoop Friday - Shirt Reveal Part 1

I am 98 percent done with the shirt for the Men's Shirt Sew-Along.  It still needs buttons and buttonholes in front.  And a live model, after a desperately needed shower.  

(How do all of you brilliant overachievers do it, week in and week out?  Something's gotta give.  For me this week, it's been personal grooming.  And to think there was a time when I hesitated to answer the doorbell if I wasn't wearing a full face of makeup.)

For those of you visiting for the first time, I took a vintage men's shirt pattern circa 1943 and made it into a shirt that I, a woman, could wear.  

Three muslins and numerous tweaks later...whoomp, there it is!

I've said it before, but this has been an exercise in patience and persistence.  I was ready to throw in the towel (or the shirt, as it were) several times, but then I'd try one other thing (sometimes out of desperation).  It often worked.

It's not perfect...I could have paid more attention to matching the pattern at the back yoke, for instance...but it's much better than where it all started.

One of my favorite things about this shirt—a last-minute decision—is the inner yoke and inner sleeve placket in a different fabric... 

...a Kaffe Fassett print I bought recently.

It's loud and proud, that's for sure.  You'll be able to spot me all the way across Walmart in this thing.  And you'll be wondering where the Grateful Dead concert is, and if you can hitch a ride in my VW bus.  Or perhaps you'll be wondering if I'm the bus.  

I don't even want to know.

I promise to post pictures of me modeling the 100 percent finished shirt this weekend.  Until then...

Peace, man.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

Yesterday I sewed Muslin #3 of the shirt I'm making for the Men's Shirt Sew-Along.  This has turned into somewhat of a Frankenstein project, as many alterations as I've made to the original pattern (and as many crazy floral fabrics I've cobbed together).  But I am happy to report that after a bit more tweaking on the third muslin, I'm finally ready to cut out the actual shirt!

It was hard to get a photo of myself wearing Muslin #3.  Norm was gone to a rally at the state capitol, so I was on my own.  The self-photos didn't work out, so instead I'll show you my first ever full bust adjustment (FBA).  <--That link, by the way, rocks as far as FBA tutorials go.

I was happy I had the cardboard dressmaker's mat I'd thrifted last summer.  There's probably an official name for the thing, but I don't know it.  Anyway, it was great because I could pin right down into it, and the grid lines helped in lining things up.

I wasn't sure how much to adjust the shirt front in the bust.  I guessed somewhere between a C and D and went with 5/8 inch.  I think the recommended adjustments may have applied to a standard women's pattern to start with, which is sized for a B cup.  I dunno.  Brain hurts.  Long story short, it worked fine.

In summary, these are the changes I have made to the original pattern:

- Added 3 inches to length of front and back.
- Added 2 inches to sleeve length.
- Decreased sleeve width by 5/8 inch from shoulder to wrist.
- Redrew point of collar.
- Decreased back yoke width by 3/4 inch.
- Decreased collar length by 3/4 inch.
- Removed gathering in shirt back below yoke
- Sway back adjustment.
- Decreased width of shirt back and re-cut rear armhole.
- Altered side seams of shirt back, removing 5/8 on each side from under arm, tapering out to hip, and adding curves at waist/hip.
- FBA/darts added to shirt front.
- Lowered front neckline 3/8 inch.
- Removed gathering of lower sleeve and added pleats.
- Raised side slits by 1-1/4 inches.

Many of the alterations were by trial and error, but I did find some helpful general tips in two books I'd picked up at a thrift store last summer:  The Busy Woman's Fitting Book and The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction.

And with that, I'm off to cut out the real shirt.  Fingers crossed!

P.S. - I cannot wait to get back to making quilts! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 27

Look what greeted me outside my kitchen window this morning!  

I laughed and wondered who would have sneaked into my backyard in the middle of the night and painted this lovely heart in the snow?  The mystery was soon solved when Norm woke up, trying hard to stifle a grin.  Those of you who know us in real life may be in a mild state of shock right now (as am I).  What a sweetie!

More Pleasant Surprises
There was a package on the porch when I pulled in the driveway late yesterday morning.  It was my whirlygig Christmas quilt that Angie at 5 Little Monkeys had finished longarm quilting.  Squee!!  It's so pretty!  

She quilted it in little vintage Christmas ornaments, which is perfect with the retro theme of this quilt. Now I just have to bind it and it'll be done.  If you need something longarm quilted, I highly recommend Angie.  She was fast too!  

One Gal's Scraps is Another One's Pleasure
Jenny wanted to get rid of scraps, and I offered to take some off her hands.  She packed a flat rate envelope and sent it on its way, and I tell ya, getting it was just like Christmas!

I was giggling and squealing like a two-year-old  when I started to pull out the various scraps and strings.  I love scraps!  Oh, the possibilities!

Pioneer Woman, I am Not
I have been trying to clean out the pantry and freezer this month, inspired by Shay at Quilting in My Pyjamas and her Frugal Grocery February. It has made for some interesting, but decent, meals.  For instance, there was lentil stew on a bed of quinoa.

And chicken a la king.  I had some baby spinach that needed to be used, so I sauteed that and threw it in too. 

I am no Pioneer Woman when it comes to food photography.  It is what it is.

Today I'm making a turkey, which was a freebie at Thanksgiving, but I didn't have to cook dinner then.  We've invited my daughter and her boyfriend and my dad over to help us eat it and celebrate Valentine's Day early.  Dad's bringing the wine.  Yay!

The Pride & Prejudice marathon began yesterday at my friend Kathy's house.  We had a nice breakfast and then watched two episodes.  

This is the version with Colin Firth as Darcy.  Kathy's our resident expert on all things Jane Austen.  She prepped us beforehand on relevant historical and social nuances.  Good to know.  

Even Zack watched along with us.  Good boy!  The marathon continues in March.  I'm enjoying it immensely.

Kathy's son is in a band that just released a new CD.  They're called Book Club.  You can hear the songs on their website HERE.  Awesome!

Aw, Shirt!
I'm working away on Muslin #2 for the Men's Shirt Sew-Along, and it has been a learning experience.  Despite the frustration and exercise in patience it has been, I think it's worth the effort to give time and thought to the various fitting issues.  How will I ever learn, otherwise?  Even though it's basically involving remaking a men's shirt into a women's shirt.  

You know the tightness across the seat in back that I mentioned?  I figured something out.  It's not originating from the lower part of the back.  It actually is happening because the front is too tight in the chesticular area, and that is causing it to pull across the seat (and make the front hike up).  Here is what I mean.  

This is the front.  See those diagonal creases?  They point from the boobage to the hipage.  This is a men's shirt, which is cut flat in the chest, whereas I am not.  I believe the solution would be to do a FBA (full bust adjustment) in the shirt front, and that will hopefully also take the pressure off the side seam at the hip.

And the new collar turned out great (yes, those are two different fabrics...this is not a wearable muslin).  Happy dance!

That's all the news that's fit to print this Sunday here at TWISI.  Have a great week, all.  And Happy Valentine's Day!