Wednesday, July 31, 2013

needle and thREAD WiP

My quilt is coming along very s l o w l y.

My best calculation (and it would be easy for me to be missing a few hours here and there)
puts me at 36 hours and counting.
I no longer remember if that includes cutting fabric or not.
(I'm thinking it does not)

It takes me an hour to turn eight finished sections

into a completed (but untrimmed) block.

More than once, I've thought I've bitten of more than I can chew with this quilt...


My sewing class is coming along nicely.

I probably could have done without the Colette book,
since I'm not exactly a new seamstress,
but I wanted to start at the very beginning...

I did learn a few things, and it would be a good book for a beginning garment sewer,
(especially if she/he wasn't a perfectionist)
but I gotta say,
I was extremely distracted by the fact that - with the exception of the photo on the cover,
and one other picture - in all of photos with real people,
the person was wearing ill-fitting clothes.

"tight horizontal wrinkles means there is not enough width in that area"
Sarai demonstrates this perfectly, although I don't think that was the intent.

I made a croquis as she recommends
(basically (according to Tyler) I drew a picture of myself naked - but there was a heck of a lot more to it than that ;-)
(Florence talks about her croquis  hereI have yet to turn mine into a book ~ let's just say her croquis is a bit lovelier than mine...)
and as soon as I can figure out who to enlist to help me,
I will take a ton of measurements which will thoroughly disgust me.
(thus the difficulty of enlisting help) 

Then I will make a muslin of the dress on the book cover.
Depending on how it looks when I get a good fit,
I may or may not make an actual dress.

You can see by my picture that I've added more books to my course
(insert sheepish grin)
but The Perfect Fit is recommended by pretty much everyone in blogland, 
and at less than $13, it seemed a wise investment,
and supposedly, anything by Adele Margolis is worth getting your hands on.
The Dressmaking Handbook was the cheapest place to start.
It just arrived, so I've only cracked the cover, 
but I liked what I saw:

linking up with

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


needle and thREAD

baby, you're a firework

Oh wait,
that's baby you got burned


It's been a month since I got blowed up 
and I'm mostly healed, so I figure I can post a picture without grossing any one out.
I'll spare ya the scars on my bum ;-)

to give you an idea of the size, which is greatly reduced from 1 month ago,
the section on the left there (towards the front of my leg) is 4.25 inches long

Not too bad, huh?

Quite honestly, if anyone else in the family had sustained this burn,
we would have been off to the ER;
it was pretty bad, ya'll.
But Tyler was a trooper and took great care of me.
I appreciate so much that he let me determine the course of treatment,
although - he did ask fairly often in the early days if I was sure I didn't want to go to the hospital ;-)
I'll admit there were a few times I almost told him to take me in.

I still can't sit comfortably for very long, especially in the car, since the seats kinda curve up on the sides,
and it's still a bit tender, so I sometimes have to remind the kids to be careful of me.
(I am surprised at the number of times I get whacked or bumped into in a day's time!)

There are only two tiny spots, in the centers of the larger burns that aren't fully healed yet.
I think just a few more nights of sovereign silver, manuka honey, and green stuff with a bandage and I'll be done.
(Whew! We spent a small fortune on gauze, non stick pads, and tape this month!
And it would have been considerably more if leaves (plantain and grape, for those who care ;-) 
hadn't been part of my protocol.)

I'll continue to use my special blend of skin healing oils (which I just finally made, 
but would have used in place of green stuff had I been on the ball and made it sooner)
until the scars have faded to my satisfaction.

Friday, July 26, 2013

a good sign

I forgot to take my Limu this morning.
Which is, I think, a good sign.

It's a good sign that my burn is nearly healed
(pain was my reminder to drink it)
It's also a pretty  good sign that it, sadly, hasn't helped my noggin any...

I may not have mentioned...

I love it when Tyler is home!

I like that man.
a lot.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

if only I had a brain

 I handed Brandon the keys,
then  remembered he didn't have his wallet with him, so asked if he had his permit.
He nodded and said, "I put a copy in the glove-box of all of the vehicles."
"Well that was really smart, Bud!" I told him with admiration.

"It was your idea."


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


No more baby chicks;
they're all just chickens now.

Sunday night 
when the kids and I were putting up the chicks,
(who were becoming increasingly belligerent about the whole 'carry the chicks in and out' part of our daily routine)
they decided they didn't want to stay in their pen.
I felt like they were still so small to integrate
(12 and 13 weeks, I think?)
but I was getting tired of the whole carry the chicks while they fight it part of our routine,
so I figured we could give it a whirl.

Things didn't go real super at first;
the big chickens instantly started pecking on the little ones.
What?! It was night time - they were supposed to be calm.
We had a big ole ruckus going on in the coop for awhile
with chicks trying to get away from hens
and me bopping and scolding said hens
while trying to get the babies in a safe roosting spot
while hens tried to get at the chicks.

Tyler and I ended up 
(okay, so Tyler ended up)
chopping some branches that the UPS drivers knocked out of our oak tree into roosts
and screwed them securely into the coop,
so the little ones could have their own roosting space - away from the big chickens.

I went out at 6:40 yesterday,
a little anxious about what I might find.
But they were all perfectly okay.

The little ones stuck real close together all day,
and had a little trouble figuring out what to do when it came time for bed,
but I think they're going to be just fine.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I never knew vegetables could be this good

For dinner tonight we had
stuffed bell peppers (Tyler's recipe)
pan squash (compliments of our generous neighbor) dipped in a mix of almond flour, ground flax, Parmesan cheese, and eggwhite protein 
and fried in a bit of palm shortening and butter
 'pasta' salad
(only, the pasta part was zucchini (also from Penny :-) cut on my nifty tool).

Being wheat-free, pasta salad is one of the foods I've really missed this summer.
A few days ago, when I saw the zucchini from Penny, I decided to try making pasta-less pasta salad.
Only we didn't have any tomatoes,
and pasta salad just isn't as good without tomatoes,
so I used my noodle cutter thing anyways, and sauteed the zucchini 'pasta' in butter with garlic and onions.
It was pretty good, 
but it wasn't pasta salad.

Afraid that people might not be crazy about my zucchini pasta salad tonight, I just made a small batch.
Oh my word ~ that stuff was amazing!

When Jeremiah finished eating tonight
he leaned back, fully satisfied,
and said, 
"I never knew vegetables could be this good!"

Friday, July 19, 2013

continuing education

I've bought a good bit of knit fabric this year,
some for clothes for girls,
but even more for clothes for me.
The trouble is - I haven't wanted to waste my 'good' fabric making clothes for the size I am,
because, you know, as soon as I have a nice wardrobe, I'll suddenly lose weight
and I won't have nice clothes anymore.

I finally convinced myself that that's just foolishness.
In the unlikely event that my fears come true,
well, surely I can buy more great fabric...
And in the meantime, I can wear nice, flattering clothes.

I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday 
designing a dress, drawing up the pattern, and sewing a muslin.
I started with a jammie top that fits well (in some places)
and a dress that has a flattering gathered bit under the bust
and sort of combined the two.

In the event that it actually fit properly
(as I was certain it would ~ it's that darn overconfidence thing, which is so silly, because when does anything fit me the first time?)
I took the time to make it properly, as well. 

Needless to say, it didn't fit well
and now I'm stuck not quite knowing what to do next.

I've been doing what my kids do - charging ahead without the really having the knowledge necessary
 to ensure a successful outcome.
(speaking of - Josiah just came in asking if he could make the recipe he just made up..)
Granted, there is value to learning by failure,
but there is also value in taking advantage of other people's knowledge.

I have laid out for myself a course of study.
And while my nature is to want to buy all of these books at once,
I am going to limit myself to one at a time,
learning from each
before moving on to the next on the list.
(with the exception of the fitting book, which I once borrowed from the library and decided it was worth owning,
and can be using in conjunction with the other books in my 'class')

I probably should to try to get them on inter library loan,
but the whole not knowing when/if I'll even get a particular book
coupled with not being able to keep ILL books very long
has me leaning towards just buying them.

 I'm going to start with

then move onto


This is the fitting book that will used throughout the course,
It's great because it shows pictures of fit problems and explains how to fix them.
Although, ultimately, what I want to do is be able to address these issues during the pattern making stage,
so I don't even have fit problems.
Pipe dream?

The following books are more textbooky and focus on actually making your patterns.
(which the Cal Patch book above does also, but her clothing doesn't seem to be as fitted as I prefer. Being less textbookish, though, I figured it'd be a better place to begin as I am rather slow in learning new things...)
They are both highly recommended by sweet Florence who is an impeccable seamstress, and a bit of a perfectionist, too.

I may also buy this DVD, and if I'm still having fit issues after all of the above, maybe this book
which I've seen mentioned several times on various sewing blogs.
If I need to take things up a notch, 
as on optional addition to my class, I'll add


And of course, I still need to learn how to take better pictures, too....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

gone wild

Josiah's pumpkin flowers

One day
when we still lived in Fort Smith
and only had a tiny yard to maintain,
Tyler - not wanting to mow the grass,
made up a song.
"How do you know 
that a blade of grass won't grow into a tree?
A great big tree..."

A blade of grass won't grow into a tree,
but what looks like a blade of grass at 2 inches tall,
just might.

He waits as long as he can stand it every spring to begin mowing for the season
because I'm always sad to see the wildflowers disappear.

For various reasons,
Tyler hasn't stayed quite on top of the mowing like he usually does.
And you know what?
I've loved it!

Now, I do appreciate the grass in front of the house kept reasonably short
(it's actually mostly grass ~ the rest of our land though, is far more weedy)
and if the grass/wildflowers in the back get fairly tall,
I don't mind paths being mowed 
to make getting around a bit easier
(I actually asked him to mow a small section a few weeks ago, when it bothered my burn to have to step very high)
but I have just been so thrilled to discover all the varieties of flowers
we have
right outside our door.

even when they're spent, they're pretty!

Since they are usually mowed down before they flower,
the only grass dwelling wildflowers I knew we had were the little bitty early spring ones.
(well, and honeysuckle and passion flower. okay, and elderflowers)

I walk around and wonder why one earth people are so eager to use weedkiller. 

okay, so these aren't flowers....

So many times this spring & summer I've thought that I'd love to catalog them, and figure out just how many different species we have.
Of course, it would require actively looking for them on a regular basis - some don't have a long season at all.
The indian paintbrush we found when we discovered the yarrow - was gone a week later.


Just one more thing to love about living out here ~ all the wildflowers.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

six things on Saturday

Brandon and Tyler are making excellent progress on their shop/gym/man cave.
They finished the drywall yesterday
and everyone (except me) pitched in a bit to help mud it today.
Of course, the kids pooped out after a short while,
but the menfolk are still going strong.

I've been commissioned to make their dreams come true as far as paint and decor.
I'm excited.
and a little nervous.
My client isn't as great as Nancy was about articulating his wishes ;-)


The girls were having a tea party.
I overheard Lily asking Lexi about school,
"And what grade are you in, little girl?"


"Eighteen? Well, that's good. 
But you still have a hundred more to go."

Cracked me up!

My burn is slowly but surely getting a little bit better every day,
but I gotta tell you,
I'm a bit weary of the whole thing.
I predict 2-3 more weeks of intensive attention;
Tyler says just a few more days.
I hope he's right.
This is one time I would dearly love to be wrong!

My sister brought me some Limu Wednesday as a gift from my mom,
and I think it has really sped up the healing process.
(thanks, Mom!!)

I've been playing 'beat the iron' this afternoon.
Anyone else play that game?
Or am I just extra pathetic?

I wasn't real excited about my current sewing,
like I said yesterday - it's kinda tedious.
So I skipped ahead a bit,
and instead of trimming all 192 blocks at once
(for the 5th time!)
I trimmed just a few,
then I pressed the seam,
then trimmed to prepare for the next seam,
sewed the next seam,
and hurried back to the iron before it shut off.
I can do 8 blocks at a time.
9, and it shuts off before I make it back;
7 is a waste of a trip.
(yes, I could drag the ironing board to the dining room. But I don't want to today.
Besides, 8 is a nice even number.)

Tony and Kacy get to move into military housing next week.
Kacy left with all of their belongings on Wednesday
and had an absolutely awful, horrible, no good, very bad time making it to California.
But she is there now.

So that's good!
The bad news is, they need a new car :-(
And all of their belongings? They're stuck in Tucumacari, New Mexico.

Brandon participated in a work camp this week:
a bunch of teens and youth coaches bought the supplies, 
then painted several houses in the community - for free.
He's a great worker, that one is!

They had a dinner on the last day of camp, but he didn't really want to attend.
I asked if it sounded like torture to him, or if he didn't want us to have to mess with logistics.
(he's way more thoughtful of that kind of thing than most teens.)
He said, "Both."
Then he added,
"I just wanted to do the work. I really don't care about a dinner."

He's a keeper!

Friday, July 12, 2013

paper piecing tip

Foundation paper piecing isn't hard, but it is a little tricky,
because you kind of have to work backwards.
(It's also rather tedious, but I'm hoping the perfection of it makes up for that...)

I was having a little bit of trouble getting my corner pieces in just the right spot,
and since I'd cut my fabric so that I'd have as little waste as possible,
I sorta had to get my fabric in just the right spot.
Every time.
(if my triangle piece of fabric is off even a smidge, I may not end up with enough of a seam allowance for sewing blocks together)

So I enlisted some help.
I got one corner piece on exactly perfectly
(never mind how many tries it took me)
and then
using my sewing glasses and Lily's Crayola light box*
I took one of my fabric pieces and traced the seam line.

Now, all I have to do
is place my foundation paper on the light box and line up the seam lines

then add the fabric that I'm going to sew next - to complete the square.

I take my template fabric away

and I can sew on my line,

 sure that
(provided I didn't move the triangle while picking up the whole shebang and turning it over)
 I'll end up with a perfectly placed corner,
and proper seam allowances


*I'm not sure where she gets it from ;-) but Lily is a little battery miser.
I can't step away from my machine for even a second
(which admittedly usually turns into minutes and even hours...)
without her fussing at me if I left her lightbox turned on.
The boys have saved me from a lecture on more than one occasion. (Whew)

Friday, July 5, 2013

colorful chevrons and painted rocks

It all started with this,

a practice paper-pieced block I made using scraps from T's quilt.
(which looks really cool on the backside, too)

It was the middle of Spring Break week,
and my school-teacher neighbor friend came over for a visit.
The above quilt block was out on the table,
and she kept admiring it and petting the jewel toned pieces.
I was pointing out the problem with it
(the stitches showed - in the future I'll try newsprint instead of computer paper)

and she said it was beautiful anyways,
and I could just send it over her way if the stitches bothered me all that much...
Penny has had a tough time lately.
A really tough time.
The kind of tough times you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy tough time.

Now, I know a quilt doesn't really make anything better,
but I like to think it can make things a little more bearable,
for starters, it says somebody cares about you. A lot.
And hello - it's a quilt...

So, about a week before Easter, I decided I was making her a quilt.

why, hello, little grasshopper

I had pinned this quilt recently, and knew right off it would be perfect for Penny.
I keep Kona white on hand
and had several leftover solids from both TJ's quilt and Gramma's
so all I had to do was purchase about 6 more to round out the colors a bit.
I wanted mine bigger, so I went with 6" starter squares instead of 5" charms,
which, before shrinkage, made a 66 x 77 inch quilt.

Penny paints rocks.
She does everything from simple words to elaborate flowers spilling all over the place,
and I wanted that to be reflected in the back.
I tried to recall different words that she'd used on her rocks and used those,
and then I added 'friendship' to the mix.

Of course, my favorite 'rock' is the joy rock.

At 1 1/2 hours just for that rock, I was kinda glad I hadn't thought to add embellishments to my rocks until the last one...

Why you shouldn't make a label as part of your quilt.
I didn't quite finish in spring...

I knew I also wanted one big word on the back,
but I wasn't really coming up with anything, so I told Tyler is was his job.
I wanted it to be an affirming word, but not a 'preachy' one.
(like love - it could either be 'you are loved' or 'you need to love'...
(Not that I would put love on a friend's quilt. That could be weird....)
Peace was what he landed on after mulling it over and praying about it for a few days.

Of course - we all know about the problems I had with that...

I really liked the way the quilt I copied my inspiration quilt was quilted, with the pebbling in different colored threads,
but when I started making a list of threads I'd need, I quickly realized that'd be a little cost-prohibitive.
Even if I didn't order my preferred thread...
So I settled on a variegated thread that went with everything.

I don't really much like variegated thread.

So after I ripped out my error, (quilting with the quilt folded under itself - gah!) the quilt sat...

Now, I was dealing with major knee pain that made it difficult to sew, 
but that wasn't my only issue....
Tyler (who really didn't like my pebbling with variegated thread, 
and had told me that now that the quilt was no longer perfect (thanks to my quilting...) Penny would be more likely to use it) 
asked me if the reason I was dragging my feet on it was because of those horrible pebbles.
(He didn't say that exactly ;-) but he really didn't like that quilting!)
And I realized that 
that was what my problem was,
so I spent 9 more hours ripping out all of my quilting.
The only reason it only took me 9 hours was because I'm really not a good pebbler,
and where I should have had 3 or so lines of stitching right on top of each other, I had 3 or 4 lines right next to each other.

I determined that my only option, if I wanted to quilt with thread that matched each of the 38 different colored solids,
was hand-quilting.
So I went through my perle cottons and matched them up,
then got scraps of all the colors I still needed to match 
and spent an hour and about 12 bucks in Hobby Lobby buying embroidery floss.
Using thread heaven made it almost as nice to sew with as the perle.
When I first started, I averaged about 10 minutes per chevron-half
 to hand quilt (including needle threading and knotting) but by the time I finished, I was down to 7.
There are 84 half chevrons, so I estimate I spent about 11 hours on the hand-quilting.
(which kinda surprises me - I thought it would add up to more...)

I went with Remix again for the binding and several times while hand-sewing it onto the back
I was just so tickled with the perfection of it. 
It just matched so well!

Even with all the problems I encountered,
I loved making this quilt.
I loved using a ton of sizing and having crisp even mostly-matching-up-perfectly seams.
I loved pressing the seams open and finding the tiny little half square triangles.
I was so pleased with the floral print for the back - it's from Hancocks, but it is so soft and is just perfect for Penny, I think.
My hand-quilting is improving tremendously, to where the back actually looks pretty decent
I was quite thrilled with my first go at applique - until I washed it.
And had to fix it.
And embrace the fray.
But even in that, there is beauty ~ and the quilt may speak to Penny even more...

This one is actually a little tough to let go of.

I hope that she loves it as much as I think she will.
And I hope this quilt will bring at least a  bit of comfort and cheer to my friend 
for many years to come.

linking up with the amazing Amanda Jean's Finish it up Friday