Monday, 31 March 2008

Something Completed Finally

Here is Mom's finished tote. The dimensions are 10 x 14 x 4. Inside is one large zippered divider pocket and on each end are two smaller pockets. I used the same idea from Lana's bag except I did the inside pocket a little differently. To the lining pieces for the ends of the bag I added an extra 1/2 inch. When it came time to sew the already finished pocket into the bag I just folded the lining end piece in half with right sides facing with the edge of the pocket sandwiched in the middle and sewed a 1/4 inch seam. That was repeated for the other end of the pocket. I don't know how this is done in patterns, but it's what I went with and the results are great.

Extra care was taken when cutting the pieces for this bag out. I made sure to get the pattern centred so it would look pretty.

When cutting the sides I wasn't so careful. But it still looks okay.

I'm not usually one for making the same thing over and over. Once I've figured out how it's done it is easy to lose interest, but this tote gives great results with a minimum of fiddley details. I just might have to make one for myself! Maybe I'll make a tutorial.

What a Haul!

There was an awesome sale on at Fabricland this weekend, everything was 50% off unless it was already on sale. So it was stocking up time! A bunch of 100% cotton solids both for accent fabric and more applique came home with me. I was a little dismayed at the available colours of the cotton solids, while if you walked to the other side of the counter there were three times the amount of poly/cotton broadcloth. Ah well I'm tingley with the lot of them.

Once everything got home and washed and ironed, it was time to pull it all out on the table to start playing with colour combinations. I love how much fabric changes just by switching accent fabric.

I'm still having a hard time deciding which of these I like best.

Or this

Or maybe this

Oh decisions, decisions. Then there is this new fabric that came in from Equilter (it was hiding in the picture on the post about that) and I must admit to having an almost indecent love of it. I paired it with the turquoise and a teal because there was no matching greens to be found.

It's hard to decide whether the two solid colour combo is too heavy or not. There is also the option of adding an accent colour using ribbon on the solid fabric and there are more options for ribbons than there are for 100% cotton fabrics.

There is way more to show but this post is already picture heavy as it is. Time to go finish stuff instead of planning the next three sewing months away. Mom's bag is almost done, I would have finished it up last night but either the light isn't good enough or my eyes aren't because I couldn't even tell the right side from the wrong side of that black fabric!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Something wonderful

Something wonderful hopped out of my oven today. It all started with those last two bananas. You know the ones, the ones that are always left in their embarassingly over-ripened state sitting out on the counter no matter how quickly you try to eat them up, and no matter how many you bring home from the store there still always seems to be two. Seems like it should be a chance for some simple arithmetic, if you buy 6 bananas and end up with two over-ripened bananas leftover then next time you should buy four, four bananas. Ha Ha Ha. (Sorry had a Count von Count flashback for a second there.) Of course this is simplistic because there are variables like the green-ness of the bananas at time of purchase which would affect the length of time before the bananas passed their ripeness peak, but that is putting far too much thought into this. Point is - even if you buy two less bananas, there are always going to be two 'past their prime' bananas on the counter. It seems like some evil banana conspiracy.

So the two bananas were destined to become banana bread - a most noble end for those sweet but not so attractive leftovers. My tried and true recipe got a minor adjustment so here it is.

Butterscotch Banana Bread

Prehead oven to 350 celsius

mix in one bowl:
1 3/4 c white flour
2/3 c white sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

cut into flour mixture:
1/2 c butter or margarine

stir into flour/butter mixture:
3/4 c butterscotch chips

in another bowl:
mash up 2 lg. bananas (1 cup)
beat in 2 eggs
add 1 tsp vanilla

dump the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just mixed.
Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let loaf cool for 15 minutes and then remove to cooling rack.

And you end up with this:

It turned out super yummy. The butterscotch chips melted and sometimes burst through the crust making little golden rivulets which cooled and formed little candied bits. It may not be a regular breakfasty snack, but who cares, it tastes so good!

Make some for breakfast, if it lasts til then.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Mama's got a brand new bag

Ok I’ve been procrastinating. The new fabric is sitting prettily on top of another pile of fabric, waiting. Does anyone else feel pressured to make? But at the same time not wanting to make something just for the sake of using up a stash? Or, for fear of screwing it up? Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling. It’s easier when someone asks for something specific, so when my mom said she wanted a tote for a trip she is going on I busted out the fabric and got to work.

I used some stretch cotton that I had bought to make a skirt for myself and black cotton for the lining. I made pockets on each end, one for a glasses case and one for a water bottle. Inside is a large zippered divider pocket and I think a small pocket for keys or whatever. So far it is just what I wanted it to look like and I totally fell in love with this material which is an added bonus. After I brought this fabric home I felt kind of meh about it, another drawback to the store shopping – a complete loss of common sense. But now that it has been cut and I’ve had a chance to handle it I can’t wait to make something for me out of it. My mojo just might be crawling back out of whatever dark hole it’s been hiding in.

No, the bag is not finished because I ran out of interfacing and the store was out because I had just missed a huge sale (probably a good thing). It will be finished in a few days and until then I’m chopping up the rest of that cotton for a skirt, or a jacket, or something that I’m going to screw up.…and so the evil cycle begins again.

There a couple of crochet projects on the go for the quest to use up the acrylic but the camera turned them into some kind of blurry radioactive monstrosities (not much of a stretch from reality, but still). I will try to get either some better pictures or mutant superpowers, superpowers could be fun.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

If you whine enough

your fabric will come. My package from eQuilter came in today! And I am loving all of it!Yeah, very purple and green. If you didn’t know they were my favourite colours you would by looking at my fabric choices. Orange is my other fav, I live for Hallowe’en!

I am growing to prefer shopping online rather than brick and mortar stores. I have to prepare to go to fabric stores because I get so overwhelmed that I rarely bring home what I went in to get. Lists are written, plans are made, patterns are picked out and then I walk through the door and all of plans go out the window. I wander, I fondle, I design on the fly. I have actually walked out of a fabric store and stood outside for a few minutes to cool down enough to try again. Crazy. Maybe this isn’t you, you are one of the lucky ones, I have seen your kind in the stores - the quiet calm, the relaxed posture, the composure – and I aspire to be like you when I grow up. But that’s not me. To shop online, everything is organized, I can search for a particular colour, pattern or style without having to wander past hundreds of others which inevitably lead to distraction. I can relax, drink a coffee and compare choices rather than running around in the fabric shop like a crazy person with a bunch of bolts in my arms trying to find matches and make decisions. It’s true, you can’t fondle, but it’s a fair trade to save myself from looking like a fabric manic.

So with the cool-headedness that online shopping affords I picked up 4 different purple patterns with plans to make a baby sized quilt based on the Iroquois Confederacy Belt for the Mohawk Fair this year. Not to be confused with the Confederate flag. I am thinking of strip piecing it with one strip representing one row of the wampum beads. The hand quilting will just be stitched in the ditch to accentuate the beaded look of the original belt. In my brain it looks great. Sorry the picture isn't great though, but those beads are all made from drilled quahog shells which are deep purple with colour variations that's the reason for needing so many purple fabrics.

As for all the green fabrics the plans are a little more open. I’m thinking skirts and maybe a bag. I still need to take a trip to the fabric store to pick out some coordinating cotton solids for trims and white for the quilt and thread but that I can handle, they are all in one area.

Thanks Mom for the early birthday presents!

*crosses her fingers that the other package makes it before the weekend*

You learn something new

I picked up this purple fabric with no idea what it wanted to be. It was on sale at Fabricland so there wasn’t too much of the worry about screwing it up that I’m usually plagued with. Does anyone else do that? Putting off cutting into fabric for fear of wasting it?

So I pulled it out the other day once Lana’s gift was finished and started planning and pinning. Pleats have been calling to me lately. Yes, pleats. No it’s not really my style, but neither are skirts. This spring (if it ever gets here) I want to start wearing skirts. I get really hot and miserable in the summer, shorts ride up, jeans are too hot, so skirts are my last option. Yes dresses are a possibility too, but I’m baby stepping into the world of girly clothes. I wouldn’t want to stumble this early in the game and relapse only to wake up covered in camo coveralls or something.

So the seductive coolness of the skirt is tempting me. My first attempt came out pretty well formed, working without a pattern. Why do I even buy patterns anyway? I never seem to use them. Ah well, that’s a rant for another day.

The skirt was all pleated, zipper sewn in and the waistband was even attached when I learned something new and very important about myself. I guess there was always a hint that I understood this problem, I did sew the pleats in the back a little longer than the front because of what I thought was a big butt issue, but that isn’t actually the problem.

Hello, my name is Kerri and I have Swayback. I can just hear you all cringe and scream in shock and horror. I have images from the old Godzilla movies flashing in my head. In case you, like me, were one of the uninformed it means that my spine curves in more than it should at my lower back, this in turn tilts the hips forward which causes my butt to stick out. It explains why my shirts always bunch up at my lower back (the back waist length is shorter than the front waist length so there is too much fabric length on my back). It also explains why I usually wear RTW pants higher in the back and lower at the front and why if I pull up the waistband in the front to make it even with the back then the pants gape at the back. It also explains why my skirts are always shorter in the back, it’s not due to my enormous butt! Oh so many things to learn! I am not a monster! I just have a weird posture. I’m sure Quasimodo is feeling me.

If you, like me have fitting issues, I found this site to be very helpful. It isn’t just about the swayback issue but helps with tons of fitting adjustments! This is quickly becoming my favourite quick help site as the written instructions are short and there are helpful little diagrams showing how to chop up and change the offending pattern piece. Go, New Mexico State University!

Oh and here is my skirt I still need to sew the hem - taken up a little more in the front than the back, but on my next skirt I’ll test out the new found alteration information. I will be victorious over the sway back!

I think the next skirt will be an A-line, now if only the mail would hurry up and bring the fabric to me. And there is a long weekend! Oh noes, my fabric is never going to get here in time!

Friday, 14 March 2008

It's Done!

Alright, the birthday present is finished. I didn’t use a pattern (anyone else for reinventing the wheel?) so I just went with a general idea and worked backwards. For the most part the finished product and my brain image matched, except in my brain there was another zippered pocket that didn’t find it’s way into the design.

I made the zippered pocket, the zippered pocket was lovely and it quietly waited on the table until it was time to be worked into the bag.

He amused himself with some fabric scraps as I interfaced and ironed. What a good little pocket.

He got in a little reading while I busily sewed up his big brother.

Then the zippered pocket got bored waiting and fell asleep. Because the pocket was sleeping he didn’t notice that it was his turn to get worked into the bag. Now the pocket is mad and is refusing to talk to me, but the bag is finished so I have something to show at least.

He was even more upset that his brother found his way into the bag.

I'll mail it, as soon as I can find a box to fit it. Mental note, design gifts based on the sizes of available boxes.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

No Peeking, Lan!

I’m working on a birthday present for a friend. Her birthday is supposedly February 20, but I have insisted and will continue to insist that her true birthday is March 23. So her gift is not late, and I have a good 3 more days before it needs to be in the mail.
One present/three days=plenty of time, right?

Well, in my brain there have been a lot of ideas rolling around and they all work off this theme. Of all these ideas nothing has actually been created yet. So when do I decide to finally start working out these ideas? And to add to the pressure, this project incorporates skills I’m not very skilled at. Yeah, apparently the crazy runs in the family.

This is a peek at my progress so far. Lana, avert your eyes!

So I’ve never really done appliqué before, but I think it turned out pretty well. Both fabrics are pretty stable so I didn’t use any stabilizer or anything. I did the cutouts and edged it with blanket stitch instead of satin stitching the shape on the teal. So far I’m pretty proud of this. I can’t wait to finish it!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Everyone needs a dragon

So I was looking on ravelry again and found a pattern for a crocheted dragon. No, I really do knit, in fact until recently I knit almost exclusively. But with the addition of a new sewing machine and the desire to quickly burn through my acrylic stash I haven’t made one knitted item in the last month or so…I’ll start something soon, I swear.

Actually, I realized I just lied. I did knit one little thing, it was a washcloth. I had stumbled across a blog called Mossy Cottage Knits whose post about sentient vending machines made me giggle so later when a cry for help came from the same blog I offered assistance. In the crazy accounting system of life it might not be a good rule to throw a washcloth at every person who makes you laugh, but when they ask, well how can you refuse? How often would you have a chance to do that without odd repercussions or misunderstandings anyway? A couple of days later there were more than 30 knitters offering time on their needles to crank out some washcloths. Isn’t that cool?

I didn’t have any kitchen cotton left (I know, I don’t understand it either) but I did have some Garn Studio Muskat in a creamy colour that smuggled itself home with me from an extended stay in Copenhagen. Sneaky, sneaky yarn. So I knit my washcloth and fought the urge to knit another. The only thing keeping me from making more was an image of a pile of talking washcloths meekly saying, “but I only needed 59.” And then I distracted myself with a much needed crochet dragon.

So I found ‘My Fierce but Friendly really Dragon’ (and the ravelry link) who will from now on will just be referred to as him.

Even though I’m a fan of making things in one piece I really didn’t mind putting all his little pieces together. So maybe it’s seaming I don’t like, sewing on wings and little tiny ears is perfectly fine for me. I wasn’t really sure about counting the rounds, but after searching out this YouTube video it became obvious that I was just overthinking everything, it is only numbers after all.

I really like the way this pattern was written, just writing out the total stitches for each round and the general location of the increases or decreases made it easier to shape this little guy. And the wings, which were written out in rows, are so cute (although mine are a little floppier than I would have liked). Just imagine that wing shape becoming a tail, or the collar on a frilled lizard with some tweaking.

So I loved this pattern, it was well written and easy to understand. And it was quick! I just used some worsted space-dyed acrylic. I don’t know the brand, or if it’s still available, but it is a pretty good dragon colour. Of course, a touch of purple would have made it better, but that is always the case for me. Purple is pretty.

I love this little guy. I would have added little buttons on his legs and arms for that teddy- bear-from-my-childhood vibe, but there weren't any around that would match. He is still jointed though so his arms and legs do move. That's why he can sit on his butt and beg for treats...a virgin sacrifice is preferred.

What am I going to be doing with him now that’s he done? Well, a friend likes dragons even more than I do so he will be well taken care of with her...if he ever makes it into the shipping box. Did I mention I love him?

Oh yeah, he’s missing eyes. I don’t know if I should embroider him a pair, or buttons, or eyeballs. He’ll be really done soon, really.

As for tonight, I have finally come to accept my dress form’s shape and size (read: my shape and size) so it’s time to be draping some fabric. I am envisioning a little olive green dress with pleats down the front for contour and shape. There is some knit jersey in the stash and at $2 a metre there won’t be any tears if I muck it up. Wish me luck!

I'm sorry the photos are dark. Must start remembering to take pictures while there is daylight. There really is no excuse now that that days are getting longer.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

And then there were two

Well as if the world wasn’t scary enough I now have a body double. Ok, it’s a shiny, headless, torso double, but it’s basically my shape and size. All the dimensions correspond pretty well to my measurements except it was lacking in one key area, umm make that two areas. Somehow the boobs got smooshed into what appeared to be pecs, so it was a decidedly male looking shiny torso. Of course, the flatness of the chest didn’t appear to be much of a discrepancy to my eyes until I slipped the shirt I was working on onto the form and the cups had nothing to fill it out. I repositioned the shirt, assuming my lack of doll-playing years had left me ill equipped for dressing someone other than myself, but that didn’t fill out the chest either. Thinking that somehow I had cut the pattern wrong I took the shirt off the dress form and put it on myself. “Wow,” I thought, “I have boobs!”

It was time to bust out the tissue and stuff my dress form. Suddenly I was feeling very immature. And that was just the beginning of the downward spiral into immaturity land because once I had fashioned a couple fakies and duct taped them onto the dress form I stood back and started giggling.

Maybe it’s just me, but they look like two big eyeballs. Two big shiny robot eyeballs. Yeah, apparently I’m 12. At least I resisted the urge to draw in pupils and eyelashes.

I found the easiest way to eliminate the little bumps and ripples was to put a cotton sports bra on the dress form. Not only does it smooth out the bust but it gives the fabric something to stick to when I try clothes on the form. I am still debating whether I should just cover the whole thing with some nylons for the same reason.

I didn’t mount my form on a stick of some kind, though I think that might be nice. For now I just stuck a bag of beans in the bottom and she sits very happily on the table. I would like to use the form for making dresses and skirts as well so I’ll have to impale the dress form sometime.

All in all I’m happy with the outcome. Except it scared the hell out of me when I caught the shape out of the corner of my eye last night.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Un-Drunken Carrot Cake

Yep, I did it. The cake was presentable, and even, and the little leftover cook's treats were yummy. There was a ton of frosting left over, I forgot this recipe makes a 'generous' amount of frosting. But I'm sure I'll find something else to slather it all over. While the cats were bugging for treats I lost count adding the icing sugar (2 pounds!) and there may be a cup less in there than the recipe called for, but it tastes just as good, maybe better because it isnt too sweet. So the cake has already left the house today, I'll see how it turned out tonight.

Oh, and as you can see, Luther can't resist anything I'm paying attention to. While trying to get pics of the finished product I saw little paws reach into view and snapped this pic.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Duct tape - a sewist's friend

Yeah, I’m getting into the Red Green swing to prepare for getting covered in duct tape tonight. Being wrapped in plastic wrap and duct tape sounds like some serious bdsm thing, but no, I will not be suspended or have straws stuck up my nose. The latter, by the way, only ever seems to happen when I’m talking to a cute guy and looking at them instead of keeping my eye on the prize as I try to take a sip of my iced cappuccino. Yeah, I’m all kinds of elegant.

Anyway, I really need a duct tape dress form because apparently I have some sort of freakish body shape which doesn’t fit with commercially produced patterns. And while I feel like the only one, I know that most people fall into the freak category when trying to get patterns to fit, especially very fitted patterns like the one I’m working on now.

Burda 7938 I picked view B with the long sleeves. The shell is 12 pieces without the sleeves and fully lined making it a fun sew, with lots of tweaking possibilities. The first muslin had cups that strayed all the way down to the bottom of my rib cage plus I realized it was way to lowcut for me. So I raised the neckline, fiddled with the boobs, shortened the shoulders and cut it again. This time around it is better, but there is still some fine tuning that needs to be made and I can’t do it on myself. So getting mummy wrapped in duct tape will solve all my problems! How often do you get to say that? And it might be an incentive to lose some of that winter weight which can’t be a bad thing either.

So far today...

This pile of raw materials

Became these

It’s my favourite carrot cake recipe. I had lost the recipe for a long time (it was a photocopy out of a magazine), it made me sad. Then a friend said that carrot cake was his favourite kind of cake and magically this awesome recipe reappeared. Funny how that happens. That was back in November. It was a big hit with his household with at least two of the children saying it was, “the bestest carrot cake in the whole world!” Ah, you gotta’ love kids. Since I hate raisins I chopped up some dry dates so there was still that moist chewy sweetness, without the chewing-through-shriveled-skin feeling raisins gives. Yeah, I’m not really into cannibalism.

This is the first time I've made it since then. I still need to put it together and hopefully it won't become Drunken Carrot Cake. Be sure there isn't any alcohol in the cake, but usually by the time I get finished with the cake it looks like there was copious amounts of alcohol in the cook. Ah well, fingers crossed.

Oh, and after checking the photocopy there is no magazine title listed, it must have been on the other page so I can't even find a link to the recipe. It's pretty basic though, just throw tons of cream cheese/sugar at it and all will be good with the world.

I have also gotten the hexes sewn together into a blanket. There are more than 100 and surprisingly this foray into crochet didn't use up that much of the acrylic. Well, it's quite possible that the acrylic still residing in the suitcase prison has begun to breed in an attempt to take over the house. I don't want to know.

So the blanket is basically square and if you look on the pic there is a side on one hex that isn't sewn to his partner yet. I'm thinking I might add a little pocket in that space, might make a handy place to slip the remote or kleenex. You can't see the back because there are lots of stray ends hanging out, but use your imagination. I think I was a little down when I started this, looking at the colours it's very drab and not even a touch of purple snuck in which is odd for me.

Hopefully there will be a drool-worthy cake finished soon.