Category Archives: Crafting!

Pattern Drafting? Not so much.

I drafted a skirt pattern following the instructions in the book, Sew What! Skirts last week while watching, I’m embarassed to say, a rerun of the 1970s Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew show (this is what happens when you don’t have cable anymore).  I accidentally drew the curve for the waist about an inch shorter than it should have been.  1″ too short on one side=3-4″ too short altogether.  Oops.  This meant that the waist of the fabric (of course I cut the fabric that night) is waaaay too narrow, though the rest of it is fine (the curve for the hip is something, let me tell you).  How to fix?  Yesterday I began by cutting a 3″ strip of cotton and inserting it along the side.  This didn’t work terribly well, as it buckled along the curves (the strip is much lighter than the wool skirt) and made the bottom of the skirt to wide, compared to the other side.  So I worked on taking it in in sections.  This only caused the buckling problem to move around.  After consulting with my neighbor who agreed that the buckle was really there and not in my imagination (I can be an obsessive sewer and fixate on non-problems), I’m now taking out the strip, as you can see in the photo.  I think I’ll cut the front panel straight down and insert the strip there, and hope for the best.

It’s nice to learn the lesson that I need to pay more attention to what I’m doing yet again.


I need to make a decision

New Chair cover?Please help!  You see, when I bought the fabric for the rocking chair in the last post, I also bought some new fabric for the table’s chairs.  It matched the rocking chair fabric well, but lo, I think it matches the dining chairs themselves a little too well. The dominant color in the pattern is the same color as the chair itself.  D’oh.  So here’s my question for you (and pardon the flash–it’s a dim morning)–  Do I cover the chairs like this, with the leafy print alone?

Or, do I add a band of contrasting fabric, like the red I used for the rocking chair?  Or maybe you’d like to suggest another color….Or add band?

There’s an option 3 that I don’t really want to consider, too–repainting the chairs, maybe just white or something.

What do you think?

Slip Covering

TuesdayHi there!  You remember Tuesday, friendly household cat?  He’s sitting there on the Ugly Glide Rocker.  The chair itself was a scavenge, care of Mr. Pea’s mother.  She never does that kind of thing but surprised us all when she came home with this one day, lifted from someone’s sidewalk.  It’s comfortable, but I always disliked the covering.  You can see it ok here–a piney green with flecks of red and white, patterned in black.  I couldn’t wash them, as they were quilted to the foam.  Tuesday destroyed much of the seat, since his claws pick up the little threads and pull.   This chair became (for me) increasingly an eyesore.  But yesterday I dropped off Mr. Pea for his trek to grad school and in my little trip home (a little sad, I admit), I stopped at Joann’s to peruse the decor fabric choices.  I was looking something that would pick up the mustard yellow walls and complement but not match the red curtains, which you can see here:
New valances

I also wanted to come up with something to re-cover the dining room chair cushions, which have had it thanks to all kinds of spills, pizza hands (not mine–our niece’s, years ago), sticky velcro, etc.  Also, they didn’t really match this dining room.  So for the rocking chair, I made this:
New covering for ugly chair!What do you think?  I really like it, and it wasn’t too hard.  I began by using my seam ripper to get the old covers off the foam (the foam I will one day replace–just not now, since I don’t have a power saw).  Then I turned those covers inside-out and placed them on the fabric.  I cut around the old pieces carefully, then cleaned up the messy edges and sewed!  The new covers fit ok but not right, exactly–the ties were off and they were a little big–so this morning I fixed those problems and whip-stitched the back seams (or, bottom seam) closed.  Voila.  Two hours was all it took, and it might as well be a new chair.

This is only stage one of Make Dining Room Prettier.  Stage two will be the chairs for the table; stage three is a little…bigger.  You’ll have to wait and see!


Hot Ladies pajamasI need to stop disappearing for weeks at a time!  I have all the usual excuses for you–I was busy–my cooking-to-not cooking night ratio went down–I didn’t have the energy–but I think the one that wins, as usual, is that I was lazy.  I didn’t make the time.  Alas.  But here I am.

Two weeks ago (sniff) I had spring break.  I love spring break.  Even though I always have a mountain of things to do, that mountain is spread out over days and the days themselves feel much less hectic.  I spent half of the first several days cleaning.  I scoured my kitchen.  Cleaned my craft closet out.  Straightened out the linen closet.  Other mornings I spent sewing–a project for a tiny guy who was born (gulp) six months ago, and some new pajama pants for me.  Then in the afternoons I’d grade exams, write an article, and put some solid dents in the mountain of work.  It was a good week.

Here are the pajama pants that I made.  Pardon my dusty mirror and my sloppily tossed-off bathrobe.  Those of you who have known me a while know that these pants are made of fabric I have had for a long, long time, back when Sweet Pea Handcrafts first began.  I sold away a lot of it when I shut the business down, but held onto a couple of yards.  Finally, I have turned them into jammies just to get it out of my stash.

Pajama pants are really very simple to make, even if you’re insanely short like me and need to crop all of your patterns to fit.  You cut two big pieces–stitch each leg up–then stitch the pieces together.  I make a jaunty little hem by ironing by eye–I don’t measure anymore.  I like to live dangerously and am lazy.  You make a casing at the top the same way.  You run some elastic through the casing and voila–pants.  These pants actually have a major error you can’t tell by looking at them, unless you’re looking closely.  I’m going to keep the secret of what the problem is to myself!

For those of you looking to try an easy pajama pattern, Simplicity makes some that are easy to read and assemble.  I have a whole stash of patterns that I picked up when on sale at Joanns, usually for a buck or two or three apiece.  They no longer make this particular pattern, but any of these Easy-to-Sew or 2-Hour patterns should be easy enough for the novice sewer to start with.

Just what I wanted

Completed bedroom!This weekend I had some time to do something for me, and I spent that time putting the finishing touches on my bed.  I showed you the quilt (in terrible lighting) a few weeks ago–now you can see, too, that we’ve hung up a print we received for Christmas above the bed, and I made some pillows to complete the ensemble.  I am so much happier with this bedroom now.  It’s colorful and cheery, and doesn’t seem beige and bland at all!

Here’s a close-up of the pillows:New pillows from quilting scraps and an old bed pillow

They were made from a pattern I sketched out on notebook paper–three simple rectangles patched together for the front, and two overlapping rectangles for the back.  Each back rectangle featured a hemmed edge (so they overlap cleanly) and the two pieces were pinned to the front section, once it was sewed together.  A few minutes later, voila–pillow covers.  The fabric was in my stash–remnants from the quilt itself.  The brown linen you can see was strips and sashing; the blue was what I used for the binding, and the yellow paisley is what covers the back.

The best part about this project is that I used an old bed pillow for the inserts.  It was flat in the middle–I bought a new one months ago, and the old one just sat on the floor for the duration.  Last weekend I used a pair of scissors to slice it in half as cleanly as possible, and I simply shoved each half into a casing.  It was a little messy with fuzzies everywhere, but it cleaned up easy enough.  I was glad to rescue the pillow from the landfill and really pleased with how these turned out.  Plus I put a tiny dent in my stash!  Always a plus.

Back to School!

quilt backMy weeklong hiatus is explained by the arrival of the spring semester.  I started class again, with two brand-new ones on my roster, and a slew of committee meetings.  I have joined an awful lot of committees, as those of us seeking tenure sometimes do.  After this week it’ll quiet down, but until then, it’s a little bit of madness and chaos.

I thought I’d share with you, though, a few things today.  One is my quilt back!  Here you can see it folded on top of the quilt.  It’s a golden paisley pattern.  I wasn’t sure about it when I bought it, but I’m glad I went with it.  It complements all the blue on the front well.  Plus it’s extra-wide, so I didn’t have to stitch pieces together to make the back.  That’s a wonderful thing.
Bittman's new bookSecond is the new cookbook by Mark Bittman, writer for the New York Times.  I like Bittman–his TV programs are entertaining, as is his writing.  This cookbook is a great departure, though, from standard cookbooks.  It contains hundreds of recipes, but none are written out with long ingredient lists and numbered steps.  In this cookbook, each recipe gets a simple paragraph and instructions are pretty general, without a lot of measurements or specifics.  I made chicken with maple pecan sauce last weekend–there were specs for the sauce, but not for the chicken.  I used a pound and it was delicious.  Recipes for pasta often don’t contain quantity, either.  I’m going to make a couple of other recipes before I send this back to the library, but I really like this book and its style.  For folks who are not comfortable with cooking, this might freak them out–“HOW MUCH PASTA?  ARRRGH!”–but for those of us pretty cozy in the kitchen, this feels right at home.

Granola variation--maple with pumpkin seedsLastly, I share with you a variation on granola that’s pretty good.  This one has about a pound or so of oats (you see why I like Bittman’s style), around 2/3 c of unroasted, raw pumpkin seeds, about 1/2 c chopped pecans, mixed with a combination of 1/4 c vegetable oil, about 6 T maple syrup (the real stuff), and about 6 T brown sugar.  Bake in a 250* oven, stirring every 15-20 minutes, til toasted enough for you. Let cool in the oven.  Mix with a handful of flaxseeds and 1/2 c of dried cranberries.  This is a variation of Molly’s grandmother’s lovely granola recipe.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have chapters to read, Neko Case to listen to, a whiny cat to quiet, and a chiropractor to see despite the typhoon outside.

I finished!

Quilt, now with added catA few days ago I finally finished the coin quilt I started back in the summer.  Maybe it looks just like the quilt top to you, but I assure you it is backed, bound, and contains lovely cotton batting in the middle.  Here you can see it spread on the bed, with Tuesday the cat posing for you.  He wouldn’t let me even stitch or pin the binding without climbing on it.  I guess it’s his quilt.

The quilt gives the bedroom a much-needed pop of color, which I’d been looking for since we moved it.  It was so…beige.  It’s a rainbow pattern, interspersed with additional blue coins.  The back, which isn’t pictured, is a golden yellow paisley.  The photos aren’t glorious because I had to use the overhead light, but I think you get the idea.  If the sun returns this week, I’ll take some better pictures.

QuiltHere it is full-length.  There’s a teal border–also hard to see.  I only quilted the vertical lines, using my mom’s Janome with it’s lovely quilting foot.  It took a few hours, but wasn’t nearly as intensive as if I’d, say, done all the horizontal lines as well (everything was uneven, so I didn’t, despite my best efforts).  Someday I’d like to do fancy free-motion quilting, but I went with something very basic for my first quilt.

I got a lot of help from Oh Fransson!, a quilting blog with really helpful tutorials.  I found the ones on the ‘quilt sandwich’ and binding especially useful.  I did all the ironing, quilt sandwich assembling, and pinning of the binding while watching episodes of Carnivale.  I’d already watched them some time ago so I didn’t have to pay too much attention, but it gave me something to do when I was frustrated and stuck!