Friday, May 27, 2022

Table Scraps Challenge - May 2022

This month's Table Scraps Challenge prompts were "sage/forest green" and "square."

I thought I had a lot of sage green scraps, but it turned out, not so much.  Enough for a couple log cabin blocks, but not much more than that.  

So I switched to forest green, or close enough, for the other two blocks.  I didn't want a stark contrast between the sage and the other greens, so my interpretation of forest green gravitates toward the medium dark vs. deep dark range.

Together the four blocks made a nice square table runner.  And, of course, it all starts with a little red square and builds outward.  

Some of those fabrics have square bits too.  Squares covered!

Linking to the Table Scraps Challenge May Link Party at The Joyful Quilter.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Comment Issue Fixed...Maybe?

 A couple people have mentioned having trouble leaving comments on my blog.  I assumed it was a Blogger bug or a Google glitch, or possibly a browser issue.  However, I've now made some changes to my Blogger comment settings and it seems that it may have fixed the issue.  Maybe.

Here's what was happening when a friend tried to comment and what I did in response. 

My friend said when she tried to comment, she got a prompt to sign in to Google to comment.  When she signed in, it just reloaded the page, but it still didn't allow her to comment.  It was just a loop.

My Blogger settings had been set to allow all comments, including anonymous and by name/URL, but she wasn't seeing those options, just the Google sign-in prompt, which seemed to be a dead end.

I did some searching online for answers, and one of the links I explored suggested changing my comment settings from embedded to pop-up window.  I was skeptical that this would help, but when other efforts failed, I thought I'd make the suggested change to pop-up window comments and see. This means when you click to comment, it opens a separate comment window for doing that.  That's also where you'll see other comments that have been left. 

My friend was finally able to comment, so it seems to have worked.  When I checked to see how this looked in practice after making the switch, lo and behold, there were the three options for commenting, i.e. with your Google account, anonymously, or with name/URL.  I couldn't see those choices before in the embedded comment section, even though I had set them to that in my Blogger settings.  Now, within the pop-up comment window, you should see these options and be able to select one when commenting.

One downside will be that I won't be able to reply to any anonymous comments via email, unless you choose to leave your email address in your comment.  We'll just have to see how it goes and make further adjustments as necessary. 

I don't know who else may have had issues trying to comment, but if you have in the past, would you try again on this post?  Tell me what you had for dinner (I had leftover casserole) or your pet's name.  If your comment still doesn't show up, feel free to email me (thewayisewit at and let me know.  Thanks!


Friday, May 20, 2022

Spring is Popping and a Curb Pick

After a long cool spring, it finally got warm—very warm, and very quickly—and everything turned green, popped, and took off!  I mean, it seemed like in just a couple days' time.  I remarked on a friend's Facebook post that my daffodils were barely up a couple inches, then bam, they were blooming, and now, a few days later, they've already called it quits. 

One day I came around the north side of the house to see the bleeding heart bush coming back nicely but no blooms yet, and it seemed like the next, there were pink hearts all over it!  Now it's the lilacs.  Here today, gone in a short few.  Such is the season.

So I did what we do here when it seems we've finally rounded that corner to warm weather.  I bought flowers and mulch and dirt, and set to work cleaning up last year's garden debris, turning soil, and planting pots.  There's not much to show for it yet except aching knees and whatever the heck I did to hurt my left foot, but hopefully that'll all get better as fast as things in the garden are growing.

A couple weeks ago, we were out for a neighborhood walk during a time when the city sanctions its semiannual "bulk pickup."  That's when residents can put out larger pieces of furniture and other stuff that doesn't fit in the regular weekly trash container.  Just about every street has the usual lineup of defunct Hoovers, decaying sofas, and banged-up headboards.  I am not above a good trash-picking, though, so I keep a casual eye out for treasure on our walks.  

The hubs is wary of my penchant for adopting others' castoffs, but he should trust me by now.  He's still using a bedside table I gleaned from the curb years ago and repainted with a faux marble finish.  And there was that lovely-but-rained-on vintage typewriter that turned into a nice bit of green cash.  And remember the Red Wing crock that's now holding a plant in our living room?  Just a few of my trash-picked treasures.

(2018 - Can you believe someone put this beauty at the curb?!)

So when I pointed out a bench on our recent walk, I got the usual resistance.  "We don't need that!  Where are you going to put it?  It's nasty, and I'm not carrying it," and so on.  But by the time we reached our house a couple blocks later, he agreed to hop in the car and retrieve the bench.

Isn't she pretty?  Okay, maybe not cosmetically, but she was sturdy.  Good bones, as they say.  

I sanded her down as best I could—and there were more layers than a Swiss Colony Dobosh Torte—or as best as need be, since she was just going to go back outside to serve a supporting role for summering houseplants.

A couple coats of exterior paint and voila!  I'm sure it won't be long until the weathered patina returns, but at least she had the full spa treatment in the interim.

Not much sewing has happened for a couple weeks while I did other things in the fine weather.  But yesterday I started on my Table Scraps Challenge for May, so I won't be totally empty handed by the end of the month link-up.

So tell me, do you have a favorite trash-picked success story?


Sunday, May 8, 2022

What I Did When I Wasn't Blogging - Part 2

It's Mother's Day as I'm writing this, and I wish you all a happy one!  I had the good fortune of spending the day yesterday with my daughter and her boyfriend, and we had a wonderful time on a sunny and warm spring day!

Okay, so catching up on a few other things I did while I took a break from blogging in March and April.  I made a couple of kennel quilts for the veterinary surgery clinic where my daughter works.  This was again sparked by the sewing room declutter challenge earlier in the year, where I found I needed to thin out the pile of old scrubs and miscellaneous animal-themed fabric scraps I'd set aside for these quilts.  

I have a general idea of the size they like to use at the clinic.  With that in mind, I cut my squares so as to get the most bang for the buck out of the odd sizes of scraps available.

The scrubs I used were all darker solid colors.  The scrub pants had extra seams down the front, so instead of a wider pants front to work with, I had narrower strips.  I decided to use these for one of the quilt backings.  It was fun to puzzle it out on the living room floor.  

The other backing was made with miscellaneous chunks from the tops and pants.  

I like the way both backs turned out.  The scrubs fabric is a blend that feels so soft, too.

These crazy pirate cats made me smile.  I found that fabric, along with the fire station dogs, while thrifting last year.  

In that same thrift haul, I bought a bag of polyester batting scraps for $2, which is what I used in these two kennel quilts.

* * * * *

We had a wedding to go to in early April, our first big (unmasked) event since the pandemic started.  I was really looking forward to it, but—that age-old dilemma—I had nothing to wear.  For most women, you just go shopping and find something cute, right?  Well, when you're 6'2" with very long arms and legs, that's not so easy.  And what looks good on a 20-something model doesn't necessarily jive with the aesthetics of a middle-aged woman who is usually cold (no bare arms for me, plus it was still between seasons here and could just as likely be 50 degrees or snow).

I ordered a tall size dress online with moderately high hopes.  Suffice it to say, it didn't work out and I had to send it back.  At that point, I resolved to wear pants and a nice top instead.  In shopping for tops, sometimes I have luck with stores like Lane Bryant or Torrid because the cut is more generous, hence the sleeves and body a bit longer.  So my daughter and I set a date to go shopping, and with her help I found a nice top and a long-sleeved cardigan to go with it.  Yay!

Now for the real dilemma: Pants.  All of my pre-pandemic dress pants were too tight.  I'd gone through my closet last year and gave my sister a stack of the ones that no longer fit.  At my request, she brought them back and I tried them on again.  I had lost a few pounds in the interim, but most were still unwearable.  There was one gray pair, however, that I thought might do in a pinch if I could let out any of the seams.  If not, maybe I could use them to draft a pattern and make a new pair that fit well.  Which is, long story short, what I attempted to do, but (-spoiler alert-) did not entirely succeed.  

It turned out to be less straightforward than it would seem.  I had some navy trouser fabric on hand that I decided to use to make a (hopefully wearable) muslin.  The idea was that after I'd drafted the pattern and done any necessary tweaking, I'd make myself a pair of pants that fit like a dream.  Right?  Not exactly.

Over the course of the next week, I sewed, adjusted, and ripped every seam in that trial pair at least three times (except the fly front; I made a stellar fly front in one go!).  I watched YouTube after YouTube on proper pants fitting.  I enlisted my husband in taking countless photos of my rear view to help me determine what was going on back there.

Ultimately, I got the pants to fit everywhere but the in the back legs below the butt, where there was just all this extra fabric.  Below you can see where the hubs has pinched it with a couple of clips.  Unfortunately, I couldn't just cut and sew a seam where it is clipped.  I'd have to make an adjustment on the pattern and recut the back.  Basically, start over.

With the event date fast approaching, I did the best I could but eventually had to give up on making a pair of pants.  I went back to my old, too-tight, charcoal gray pants to see what, if anything, could be done to salvage them.  I was able to remove the back waistband and let out the two back darts and eke out a scant 1/4 inch from the center back seam.  Then I cut a new back waistband from some other fabric in my stash.  It worked well enough, and that's the pair of pants I wore to the wedding.

What I learned from all of that is that I need to take a pants fitting class and figure out, once and for all, how to make myself a pair of pants that truly fit well.  My online shopping options, for dress pants especially, are severely limited.  Long Tall Sally sells out of my size in a heartbeat. JCPenney no longer has women's pants in ultra-tall, which had been my mainstay for years back when I had to have work wear.

If you're wondering, I did finish the pants muslin with a waistband and hem.  Though the back leg does not look great, it's better than the first picture above and they'd probably be okay to wear in a pinch.  Preferably at night or to a dark theater.

* * * * *

Finally, to put a positive cap on this post, I finished this scrappy rail fence quilt.  

This is the top I worked on last summer after I had finger surgery.  Having cut all the pieces beforehand, it was something easy enough to sew together while my left hand was in a splint and rehabbing.  

It was made with many of the scraps left over from making masks, so it's kind of a memory quilt in a way.  Not that I want to remember wearing and making masks, specifically, but rather the creative and supportive efforts to make ourselves and others safer during that time.

Finishing this quilt was a good way to bounce back from the pants making fiasco.  It was a nice feeling of accomplishment.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

What I Did When I Wasn't Blogging - Part 1

I made progress on a few things during my March and April blogging hiatus.  I finished a couple of quilt tops I'd been working on.  Here is my Scrappy Trip Around the World.

I usually got a better sense of this quilt from a side view as I was putting it together.  Not sure why that is, maybe just the greater distance as I stood in the laundry room door versus straight in front of it.

And here's the Hole in the Barn Door quilt top.  I love the colorful scrappiness of both of these.

I wasn't sure how to border this quilt at first, but it seemed to be asking for more color beyond the blocks themselves, so I sandwiched a strip of scraps between an inner and outer gray border.

I've sent these to local longarm quilter Sandy and I'll probably see them back in a few months for binding.  There's no rush as I will probably be keeping these, at least for the time being.

* * * * *

A few weeks ago, I sent some quilts to Rachael and Becky of Quilted Twins.  Becky has been  heading up a massive relief effort for Ukranian refugees in Poland.  She and her husband and team of helpers have been doing great work providing supplies and other essentials to Ukranians displaced and otherwise affected by the war.  Her sister Rachael in Florida was gathering quilt donations to be shipped to Becky through the end of April.

* * * * *

The hubs and I enjoyed some nice nature walks, even though winter seemed to be taking her sweet time leaving.  We caught some early spring migration as we walked the marsh trail one cold but sunny March day.  It was fun to see and hear gorgeous trumpeter swans, as well as other swan species, geese, and red wing blackbirds.

A pair of trumpeters flew so low over our heads we could hear the "zizz-zizz" of their wing feathers vibrating.  Who knew their beating wings made such a neat sound!  Their trumpeting sounded like the honking of an antique car horn to me, but that was really cool too!  (Click the link to listen to a sample.)

* * * * *

I read and/or listened to some interesting biographies and memoirs, including the audiobook versions of Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper, The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard, and Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci.  Two thumbs up on all of them!  

The audiobook versions were narrated by the authors, which I enjoyed.  I will say that on Vanderbilt, though, I also got the hard copy of the book from the library to read some of the chapters myself.  While Anderson Cooper does a fine job overall, he read a little too fast for my liking on some of the more descriptive chapters about Gilded Age parties and opulent decor and who wore what, etc.  I needed to imagine those scenes at a more leisurely pace.  (I also found it a bit odd, to be honest, that he pronounced "satin" like "sadden"—and there was a whole lot of satin in one chapter in particular, which, incidentally, did not sadden me one bit!)

* * * * *

My sister came over to sew with me, and we made some throw pillows together.  Probably 10 or more years ago, she gave me some Debbie Mumm Christmas fabric of six different Santa panels.  She'd bought it for herself in the 1990s but didn't make anything with it.  I didn't do anything with it either after she gave it to me, just put it away in a drawer.  When I was decluttering the sewing room in the beginning of the year, I showed it to her again and we decided to make a day of it and sew the panels up as pillows for her.  This fabric was truly "old enough to vote," as my dad used to say.  (I say: Can we procrastinate or what!)

As it happened, I had some nice coordinating fabrics in my stash for an assortment of different borders and pillow backs, so we sewed up all six pillows over the course of what ended up being couple afternoons together.  It was fun to have a sewing partner and to finally get them done—months before next Christmas, I might add!  ;)

I'm going to break this catch-up post into two parts.  Stay tuned!


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Table Scraps Challenge - April 2022

I missed the March Table Scraps Challenge.  Among other things, I was trying to get over a GI flare (which is probably TMI already) and needed to make a concentrated effort to get a handle on my diet.  I think I finally figured out that tomatoes and peppers are an issue for me, so I stopped eating them.  Things improved, and I'm grateful for that, but I won't lie what a bummer it is to give up ketchup and chili and pasta sauce and tacos and enchiladas, and the list goes on.  I decided to cut out sugar too, because I know too much of it does my digestive system no good, and I'd gotten into a habit of baking treats a little too regularly.  So all of that took up some mental and physical bandwidth, and blogging fell by the wayside.

But I've adjusted now to the new normal, and hey, it's spring!  Or so they say, because it's been a long, cool one here in the Upper Midwest.  I can't wait for warmer weather and flowers (any day now, Mother Nature?).  So in addition to the Table Scraps Challenge brief of "pink" and "words" for the month of April, I added my own challenge to create something with flowers.

I was thinking I'd make some kind of tulip block into a little table mat, but nothing really inspired me yesterday when I sat down to the task in the sewing room.  I switched to sorting through my pink scraps instead when, lo and behold, a tiny square of fabric sifted through my fingertips.  Hello inspiration!

I decided to applique an improvisational string-pieced flower on a string-pieced background of pink.  For the flower, I pulled all the wordy fabrics I could find, which was not many, but I sewed up a big enough slab to cut out not one but two flowers.

A little bit of jumbo rickrack and some kind of stabilizer strip from the box of trim became other parts of the flowers.  Finally, they seemed to need some kind of foliage, so I pulled out a black and white polka dot scrap and freehand cut a couple of leaves.  Everything got fused down and edge-stitched.

I went with a wavy stitch pattern on my machine for the quilting.  I didn't consciously plan for it to mirror the curves of the rickrack, but it kind of turned out that way.  Serendipity!

I found a black 2-inch strip of fabric with what I think is Japanese lettering on it (but I could be wrong), which sufficed for the binding.  

And there you have it!  It's about 12 inches square and will probably go on my nightstand.

Linking to the April 2022 Table Scraps Challenge at The Joyful Quilter.