Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bound Seams

This blog helped me figure out how to do bound seams: Though I'm still a bit fuzzy on the difference between bound seams and Hong Kong seams. I think I've been making bound seams, but I definitely haven't mastered the technique. I've had to each seam twice and they still look a little wonky. The goal is to make the insides look better, but I don't think I'm there yet! And as it's taking a long time to do, I'm questioning if this is even improving the project...

You can see the top part of this seam is much better than the bottom part. I managed to sew along the same line for both sides. This is the ideal. I haven't been able to make it work every time though, despite multiple attempts.

I've also started sewing on elbow patches to another sweater. Happily this is going much faster than the last time.

I have one more seam to bind, then it's on the sleeves (I think). But I'd like to go to this craft fair today and that'll cut into my good sun time:
I don't have much light in my work area (a.k.a. the dining room) this time of year, so I have a span of about 3 hours during which it's bright enough to sew.

P.S. I'm still fiddling with my blog. Now I'm having trouble adding captions to the photos...and the website link doesn't want to work. And of course, I'm still struggling with the widget!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Elbow Patches Revisited

I wasn't happy with my first attempt at sewing on the elbow patch, so I took our the seam ripper and undid it, and tried again. This time it worked out much better.

It helped doing a couple stitches on one side, then a couple on another side, then on the top, and then on the bottom. And then going back and connecting it all. It made the patch more stable and I was able to prevent it from puckering. Plus now the patch is better centered on the elbow.

In other news, I still haven't been able to integrate the widget into the blog, wahh! I haven't given up though. And now, only three more sweaters await their elbow patches...

Sunday, January 23, 2011


The sleeves are done!  Here's a picture:

I made a small mistake in the basketweave - can you see it?  Luckily, as I made the two sleeves at the same time, I have identical mistakes.  One would think I planned it!

I was able to work a little on my sewing today.  I made bias tape from the leftover fabric, which I will use to bind the seams.

The first step is to trace out where I'll cut the fabric.

I'll sew the pieces together later.  I've found that easier to do than trying to do the continuous loop method.

One inch bias tape.
Right side and wrong side.

We're still working on the widget issue.  It didn't work with this template either.  But I have seen it used on other blogspot pages, so it must work.  Somehow. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Page Design

I had to change my page design to a different template.  I liked the other template, but apparently the HTML wasn't written in an organized manner.  I tried to put a particular widget on the page and failed (even though I read the Blogger instructions)!  So then I asked T. to do it, since he does have an M.S. in computer science.  He spent an hour and a half and wasn't successful either.  He felt that the desired widget wasn't compatible with the HTML style of that template.  So, I changed the template, checking first that the HTML seemed tidy and was T. approved. :)  I like it; I just hope it's not too busy.  I haven't put the widget on yet, but hopefully it will follow soon.

In the meantime, here are some photos of T.'s other (non-farmhouse) grandmother's sewing notebook.  She had her samples beautifully organized.  I found this and claimed it when we cleaned out her attic last year.

Whoops!  I cut off the 'e' - it should say Couture.
Sewing Advice.



Ornamental stitches.
I should have scanned this, but I only thought about that after the fact.  I can still do it, later.

Fancy work!


In other news, I have worked a bit on my sewing project.  The shoulders and sides are now sewn together.  I'm thinking of doing bound seams to make the insides a bit cleaner.  That would be a first for me.

Don't you think I need a dress form?

I couldn't work on it at all today because there wasn't enough natural light.  It was a somber day and we don't have enough artificial light in the room to make up for it.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit brighter.  But I was able to work on my knitting.  There's only three inches left to do on the sleeves!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Episode II: Cleaning out the Farmhouse

It's taken me a while to summon up the energy to describe the rest of my adventures in the farmhouse, but if I don't do it soon I won't ever do it!  So, here it goes: I believe that I left off with pictures of the mattresses.  The upstairs bedrooms still had their beds (all nicely made up) and dressers.  Indeed, the dressers and wardrobes were still storing clothes and various other items.  That's where I found all the handkerchiefs.  Due to the narrow staircase, the only way to get the furniture out the house was to take it apart. 

You can see T's dad's school project about Africa on the wall.
 T. and his dad took care of that part while I lugged down the mattresses and bedding. 

This photo is a bit fuzzy; I was supposed to be working so I couldn't really take my time with the photos!
And I then carried down the footboards, headboards, boxsprings, and railings as separate pieces.  Once everything was out of the house, we then had to get them into the hayloft.  Again, we had recourse to an old hand-made ladder (this one was much newer though, in comparison) for the light pieces.  Essentially, the books and other items that were still in good condition (and that hadn't been claimed immediately by me, myself and I) were to be stored in the furniture in the hayloft, once the furniture had been reassembled.  So those small items we took up in a basket as we climbed the ladder.

But before we could place the wardrobes, etc. in the hayloft, and then reassemble them, we had to first clean out the hayloft.  T. got the privilege of using the old pitchfork to move all the 30-year-old hay to the far side of the hayloft.  Luckily I was spared this very dusty and sneeze-inducing task.  Once he had finished that, T. felt that it would be better to really clean out that half of the hayloft (where there is even a concrete floor).  Translation: he felt it was a good idea to move a 3-foot-high pile of 10-foot-long wooden planks five feet to the right.  Groan.  I wasn't in favor over this idea; it didn't seem like we were accomplishing that much.  Needless to say, I lost that argument and I found myself picking up one end of the plank and helping him move them, one by one.  Five feet to the right.  But the stack we made was much prettier than the original stack.  Sorry, no photo, I was working!  I took of photo of this though:

Some of the old horse tackle still hanging around.
Once that was accomplished, T's father and I stood on the ground level of barn and we handed up to T. (who was in the hayloft) - piece by piece - the various parts of the wardrobes, etc. that were destined to be reassembled and stored in the hayloft.  T's father and I had to jointly hand up the pieces (backs, side doors and whatnot) because they were quite heavy and we were having to lift the pieces above our heads in order to reach T.  I don't know how T. was able to take them and carry them to the other side by himself.  Apparently he has better developed upper body muscles than I do!  And he never even had sore muscles (or so he claimed), but I sure did.

Once all the pieces were up in the hayloft, T. and his father put them back together.  They were able to do this fairly rapidly despite the fact that it was late afternoon and rather dark up there, and of course, we didn't have a flashlight.  I am really impressed with the construction of those armoires - simply ingenious.  Very user friendly and high quality; Ikea could take a lesson.

You might be wondering what we did with all the items that weren't worth keeping.  Two words: the dump.  We took a tractor-pulled, very long flatbed trailer filled with junk to the dump.  Understand me, this was a very well organized dump.  You had to sort everything appropriately.  There were something like ten categories.  Luckily we could pull the tractor right up to the big bins.  We stood on top of the trailer bed and tossed things in.  Nonetheless, it took us quite a while and we had to go around twice because we missed some things on the first go-round.  One of the employees even came over and helped us determine what could go where.  We had to throw out an old treadle Singer sewing machine.  I know, horrible!  But it was in really poor condition; very, very rusted and the wood was all rotten.  Trust me, if I could have saved it, I would have. 

I think that's about it - for now!  We might find ourselves doing more work the next time we visit.  The house will be really beautiful after the renovation.  It's a special house and it deserves some love and attention.  I know I have been complaining about it, but secretly, I am glad to be part of the process.  Here's a few pictures of the nice parts of the house and the grounds:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Craft Christmas Goodies

I know I promised to write Part II of the house-cleaning adventure, but before I do that (not today!) I'd like to share some of the craft-related goodies that I got for Christmas.  Some just arrived in the mail today, having been ordered with a gift card. :)

My sister gave me owl-themed fabric (as requested) because I'd like to make a quilt using only owls.  I love owls; I know that they are super trendy and now probably out-of-style, but I love them nonetheless!  So here are some photos of the lovely, lovely fabric for my future owl quilt:

The orange is Far Far Away II; I'm not sure about the other one.

The orange fabric is Alexander Henry and the blue is Amy Schimler for Robert Kaufman (Forest Fun).

I couldn't identify this piece either, but it is super cute!

I wasn't able to identify this red fabric; the selvage wasn't included in the cut.  The light blue fabric is Alexander Henry Tsukiyo.

The only slight hiccup is that at least one of the fabrics is a linen-cotton blend (from Heather Ross' Far Far Away II collection) and thus a bit stiffer than those fabrics that are 100% cotton.  And another piece of fabric must be cotton lawn or voile, and thus not stiff enough.  So those two pieces I'll keep apart and use for another project.  Maybe a bag for the Far Far Away and a garment for the slinkier one?

In the nearer future (for this spring and summer) I'd like to sew some skirts.  Here are two patterns that I'm planning on using:

I already have various shades of brown fabric that I'll use for the Hippy Chick skirt.  I'll have to buy something for the Colette Beignet; maybe a nice red.  I'm thinking of eventually wearing this shirt with the Beignet:

This was the first shirt I ever sewed.  It's a Simplicity Built by Wendy pattern: # 4112.  This is also the shirt I'm supposed to be (more or less) replicating!  Recognize the fabric?

These magazines are not, strictly speaking, Christmas gifts.  Unless you consider that self-gifts count.

I love this shirt pattern (and the fabric and styling of the example) and may even overcome my fear of Burda patterns to attempt to make it:

However, were I to try to sew this, I'd have to first trace out the pattern from this mess:
I'm not sure I'm up to it yet!  And I think I'd have to add the seam allowance too!

I also have some ideas from looking at these books that arrived today:

And I have plenty of knitting patterns to choose from, thanks for my mom:

This is the first time I've looked at the Knitting Guild's magazine "Cast On" and they have a different approach than Interweave or Vogue.  They had some really helpful technical articles, etc.  Which is not to say that Interweave doesn't have that, but still, the overall tenure of the magazine seemed less commercial.  I guess that makes sense, for a guild magazine. :)

I hope you have plenty of inspiration at your fingertips, as I have.  Now I need to get cracking!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More New (Old) Goodies

I promised to do a post about our experience cleaning out T's grandmother's 200-year-old farmhouse.  I'm not sure I have the energy to go into the details today, but here's the basics: we spent three days during Christmas vacation cleaning out the top storeys of the farmhouse because T's dad would like to turn it into separate apartments to rent. 

If this doesn't sound like a big deal, it's because you haven't seen the upper storeys of the farmhouse!  His grandmother lived alone for many years (right up until her death last year), but due to limited mobility, she only used the ground floor.  So the upper levels were uninhabited for probably 30 years, except by squirrels, rats, and mice.  The squirrels made themselves nice little nests in the walls and stashed their nuts:

This is the living room.

 T. claims I exaggerate when I say the house was being lived in by animals.  So, I ask you, gentle readers: what are squirrels, mice, and rats: vegetable, animal or mineral?  ;)

Anyhow, first we started by cleaning the attic, which had been variously used over the years to store grain and dry tobacco.  And then later on, roof tiles and old sewing machines, broken glass, etc. were stored up there, and that was its state when we cleaned it out.  But first we had to start by creating another level to the attic by laying planks across the roof beams.  We then transferred the roof tiles up a 100-year-old handmade (no joke) ladder to rest upon the planks.  My job was to stand on the ladder and hand up the tiles to T., who had to scamper across the planks.  Oh so very safe.

Then we progressively worked our way down and cleaned out (yet another) grain storage/junk storage area, then the bedrooms, living room, and various closets containing 30-year-old rat poison and various other hazardous chemicals.  I stress that this had been an active farm until about 30 years ago.  T's father worked on the farm until eventually getting married and becoming a banker.  And all the tools, chemicals, etc. that the farm needed were still being stored in the house, stable, barn, and attic.  That makes for a lot of rusty blades, nails and chemicals.

Some items we took out of the house.

 I don't have time today to describe our antics in cleaning out the hayloft (which still contained 30-year-old hay), nor do I have time to explain why we needed to do this.  Instead, I would like to stick with the house.  In cleaning out the house, we had to move some very beautiful, very heavy furniture.  We also discovered some equally beautiful and well-preserved items in the various cupboards and drawers.  We were able to claim a beautiful rug, which is now in our living room:

And I also took some handkerchiefs that were still in their original packaging, never used.  I'm not sure what I will do with them; perhaps I'll try to sew them together into a shirt or skirt.

I also claimed a beautiful old spinning wheel.  We couldn't fit it in the car on this trip, so it's being kept for me safely until we return.

And now I need to go prepare my lunch!  So stayed tuned for more complaining descriptions about our antics on Episode Two: Cleaning out the Farmhouse