Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

Here is the last of the 3 projects that I picked up in Missouri when I was visiting my grandmother.

I like version A, which has slightly longer sleeves than the version in the photo (and is the middle sketch in left-most column.)

I've been trying to break away from sewing almost exclusively with cotton prints and I found a wonderful stretchy, crinkly fabric that I think (hope!) will be perfect for this pattern:

My apologies if it looks the same on your computer screen as it does on mine - a blinding eye-smack of bright coral with no details. In person, it's a lot cuter. ;)

When will I get to this project? Well, luckily it won't get lonely in the queue - there are plenty of other projects to keep it company! But, don't worry, someday I will be modeling this blouse and my husband will NEVER lose me in a crowd!

I will get to it. It's in the queue... ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend Project: Weaving a Log Cabin

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands.

The kit for making my log cabin hand towels and throw rug came, and I couldn't wait to get started! As usual, the "kit" was really just a bunch of yarn and a piece of paper with instructions on it. You can see here my secondary color (rust) and the mop yarn for the rug weft:

These went so much more quickly than the 32 kitchen towels I made for Christmas gifts - mostly because the yarn was fatter and there was less of it. For example, instead of needing 402 warp threads, I only needed 180. And, on the weft, 12 throws of my shuttle yielded an inch of hand towel weaving, as compared to 20 throws for an inch of kitchen towel weaving. (For the rug, 10 throws of that thick mop yarn yielded 3 inches!!)

I did have to use two shuttles (with 2 different colored threaded bobbins) at the same time - that was a new experience. It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but once I figured it out, it wasn't difficult.

I think this is the coolest pattern - isn't it neat how it looks like the weaving changes direction between horizontal and vertical? But it doesn't! Even though I've finished the project, I can still just barely wrap my head around how this effect is achieved...

The rug part used two shuttles also - one with the rust colored yarn, alternating with the off-white mop yarn.

Here is a shot of one of the hand towels hanging in the bathroom (sorry for the poor lighting).

And Oliver provides his seal of approval for the new bathroom throw rug!

Talk about instant gratification - this was a very quick and very fun project! Our house has 2 more bathrooms... Hmmm... ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Confession

Okay, this one is a little bit embarrassing... I've always known it in the back of my mind, but it really became painfully obvious when I had to sew a bunch of straight seams to separate all of the kitchen towels that I had woven into one long piece: I can really only keep a good, straight, well-measured seam when I have the seam allowance on my right (the picture on the left, above).

When the seam allowance is off to the left (picture on right), I have a difficult time keeping it straight and even.

So, how about you? Do you sew equally well on both sides? Am I just being lame and all I need to do is practice on the other side? Or can I blame it on being right-brained? or left-brained? or right-handed? or something?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Branka, Sarah, Lois, Cindy, Stitchywitch, Julia, CarlaF, Mamafitz, Elaina, Shannon, Lisa and Uta for talking back to my last confession! I asked if anyone bought patterns after seeing a floor model made up in the fabric store.

The results were pretty evenly divided. Six people have bought patterns, and three people have bought fabric, because of an in-store display; while four people have not been influenced into a purchase by these displays.

The reasons given for the “no” votes included (a) being on a budget, (b) only shopping with a fixed objective in mind and not being swayed, and (c) being turned off by the poor quality of the workmanship in some displays.

Two other people reported that, while they aren’t particularly enticed by the typical floor model at a fabric store, they are strongly influenced by seeing patterns made up into outfits in other venues – in particular, Stitchywitch called out magazines like Vogue and CarlaF called out sewing and fashion blogs.

I thought that one of the coolest things was that FOUR of the commenters – Lois, Julia, Mamafitz and Lisa – have all had experience making those floor displays! Most of them reported that they were able to choose the pattern and fabric themselves and make it up in their own size. Once it had been on display for a while (i.e., several months), they got to keep the garment. It does sound like the seamstress has more control over the pattern selection when the display is for an independent fabric company – in fact, Sarah pointed out that multiple Joann’s have the same garment on display at any given time – so those folks aren’t getting to choose. And Mamafitz shared an interesting tidbit – the store she sewed for pulled the bolt of fabric that she used off the floor while her garment was on display, because otherwise most people would just make an exact copy of her garment (as best as they could).

ETA: Oops, I misunderstood Mamafitz. The store pulled the fabric bolt WHILE she was making the garment, to make sure they had it available while the garment was on display - to HELP people who wanted to copy her version of the dress. Sorry!

I would think that it would be pretty cool to see your own work being modeled in a fabric store – and especially cool if you found out that the sales of that pattern went up because of your garment. ;)

Thanks again, to everyone, for sharing your stories! :)

Photo credit: Uta provided this link to this store display that she couldn't resist!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

Now that I've finally finished weaving my Christmas 2009 gifts (!!!), it's time for a new weaving project. Earlier this spring I thought I'd weave fabric that I could use to sew myself a top. But while I was home sick, I had plenty of time to browse the internet for fun weaving kits - and I found this neat bathroom combo of 2 hand towels & a matching rag rug.

The weft of the rug is made from mop string material - isn't that cool? I'm thinking that, with a thick weft material like that, it should weave up really quickly. And I've always liked "rag" rugs for a bathroom, as they can be thrown in the washing machine with some bleach...

The other thing I like about this kit is that the pattern is one I've wanted to try ever since I first got my loom - it's called "log cabin" (for obvious reasons). Isn't it amazing how it looks like the direction of the weaving changes? Even though it doesn't... I can't wait to figure out how it works. :)

I ordered the kit with a rust color as the secondary color (rather than the light blue that is pictured here) and, while I'm not sure when - don't worry, I'll get to this! It's in the queue...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Good News

I'm back home from the hospital. :)

Still sleeping a lot, still easily tired, still on lots of meds - but this time it feels different - I think I'm truly "on the mend." Finally!

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes! When you are sick and discouraged, it definitely helps to know that you have friends who care... Thank you. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Well, things are not going as well as I had hoped. Turns out pneumonia is a tough old bird.

It laughed in the face of a course of Augmentin.

And while there wasn't any laughter, it held it's own against a course of Levaquin.

Thus, I get to spend a few days in the hospital. :(

And another week without blogging...

Not even any cute cat pictures... :(

Good wishes gratefully accepted and please don't forget about me while I'm gone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Secret Lives of Cats: Final Report

Using last week at home (with pneumonia) as my cover, I undertook a dire and perilous mission. I attempted to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the secret lives of cats.

This will serve as the final report from my investigation.

I'm afraid I must admit defeat. While there were suspicious circumstances, I was never able to collect any hard evidence to prove that our cats do anything more than sleep, eat and play while we are away at work during the day. Is this the truth? Or were they able to bamboozle me during my short stint at detective work?

All I have left, at the end, is a big question mark...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Secret Lives of Cats: Part 4

Using this week at home (with pneumonia) as my cover, I have undertaken a dire and perilous mission. I am going to attempt to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the secret lives of cats.

In this series, I will share with you the pictures and notes from my investigation.

Day Four: They may be on to me... Sammy and Oliver split up today, making it impossible for me to watch them both. I opted to follow Oliver, who spent the day prowling poolside, studiously ignoring Milly who was also soaking up the muggy Florida heat.

His attitude was so alert and watchful that I stuck with him, confident that something must be about to break. Now, in hindsight, I wonder if his behavior was a deliberate red herring, designed to lure me away from the real action, with Sammy, inside...

With my feverish coughs abating, I am running out of time. It is likely that I will be well enough to return to work tomorrow, and thus will have to bring this investigation to a close and submit my final report. Tonight may be my last chance to gain even the tiniest glimpse into the secret lives of cats. Wish me well...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Secret Lives of Cats: Part 3

Using this week at home (with pneumonia) as my cover, I have undertaken a dire and perilous mission. I am going to attempt to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the secret lives of cats.

In this series, I will share with you the pictures and notes from my investigation.

Day Three: A breakthrough! These pictures show clear evidence of covert communication - via paw-based semaphore.

But, what he is signalling? And to whom? The mystery deepens and, for just a moment, I am overcome by a wave of self-doubt. Will I ever be able to crack the code and break into this ancient and powerful secret society?

Humbled, but not defeated, I continue the investigation and will submit my fourth report tomorrow.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Secret Lives of Cats: Part 2

Using this week at home (with pneumonia) as my cover, I have undertaken a dire and perilous mission. I am going to attempt to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the secret lives of cats.

In this series, I will share with you the pictures and notes from my investigation.

Day Two: The charade of ingenuousness continues, but I sense a weakening of their resolve - clearly evident in this photo. As long as I remain vigilant, I believe that I can crack this case.

I remain unbowed and will submit my third report tomorrow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Secret Lives of Cats: Part 1

Using this week at home (with pneumonia) as my cover, I have undertaken a dire and perilous mission. I am going to attempt to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the secret lives of cats.

In this series, I will share with you the pictures and notes from my investigation.

Day One: Sensing that something is afoot, our cats maintain their pretense that they are innocent creatures whose only thoughts in life are to eat, sleep and play...

I knew it wouldn't be easy, and I am not discouraged by this first set-back. I will submit my second report tomorrow.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Weekend Project: To Bed I Go

I think I've mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks that I haven't been feeling up to par. I saw a doctor about 1.5 weeks ago and he put me on some antibiotics. But I continued to worsen and went back yesterday. It's official, I have pneumonia. (Thank goodness for spell check!) So, it's back to bed for me and I'm going to take a week off from everything, including this blog. It's certainly no fun, but nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things. In the words of the great governor of California, "Ah'll be baaack!"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Confession

I picked up the pattern I showed you in Wednesday's "In the Queue" post because it had been sewn-up and put on display at the fabric store. That is actually the first time I've ever bought a pattern because of a store display.

Hmmm... I wonder who has the job of sewing those display items and if it's a fun job... Do they get to pick the patterns to sew, or are they assigned? Do they have to sew the same garments for all of the stores or do they get to sew more variety than that?

Anyways, how about you? Have you purchased patterns because of a store display? If so, do you do it frequently? In general, do you think those displays impact people's shopping?

Photo credit: Melingo Wagamama

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Elaina, Sarah, Mamafitz, Julia, Faye, Mary, Gwen, Gaylen, Claire, Cindy, Sarah, Becky and Uta for talking back to my confession last week! I asked if people have "tried and true" (TNT) patterns that they re-make over and over again.

So, do people have TNT patterns? We got the typical spread in responses - there were 7 definite “yeses”, 4 “kind-ofs”, and 2 “nos”. The main reasons for NOT using a single pattern over and over again were (a) the person I sew for (me or someone else) changes size too much and (b) I get bored easily.

The TNT patterns that were called out (many approximated as best as possible in the illustration above) included:
* women’s dresses (2)
* t-shirts (2)
* skirts (2)
* women’s lingerie (2)
* blouse (1)
* men’s underwear (1)
* children’s dresses (1)
* blue jeans pattern copied from RTW (1)

How often do you have to make a pattern before it becomes a TNT? Some call it a TNT after making it as few as 3 times, while others have made their TNT patterns as many as 20 times, and the average across all commenters (who gave numbers) is 10 times.

I didn’t specifically ask what makes a pattern a TNT, but nonetheless some themes emerged. Of course, some TNTs are for basic wardrobe staples (like underwear) – things that you can always use.

Beyond that, it sounds like TNT patterns are patterns with a particularly flattering fit, and that are easy to modify for different looks. For example, Cindy loved the fit of a pair of RTW jeans, so she copied the pattern and now makes them in a variety of styles - high-rise, low-rise, boot-leg, bell-bottom, etc. Each pair has the same excellent fit!

And Gwen’s TNT is a t-shirt pattern that she has used to make a t-shirt, a dress, a nightgown and a cardigan – changing the neckline, the sleeves, etc.

In other words, some people use their TNT pattern a little bit like a sloper. In fact, Sarah said that, instead of a TNT pattern, what she’d really like to have is a princess seam sloper.

Thanks, again, everyone! I loved reading about your TNT patterns and looking them up on the internet! :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

Here is the second of my purchases at Joann's in Columbia, Missouri recently. You know how they usually have 2-3 outfits made up and on display in the store? This is one of the outfits they had up in the store:

I'm going to make the version in the photo. It has cute pockets - they aren't just hidden in the side seams. I don't think I've ever made this style of pockets before.

This time, I was a bit more subdued with my fabric choice - no big swirly, flowery, pink prints:

I think it will be a great work outfit! I'm really looking forward to making it up (I've already washed the fabric!). Of course, I can't predict exactly when, but don't worry, I'll get to it. It's in the queue. ;)