Monday, March 31, 2008

Table Runner with Pintucks

At 8:11 p.m. I stopped in at Finny's site for a quick fix of bitchin' and realized that I was way behind on the March Sew Along project. Behind like haven't even started. In fact, she hinted that a new project would be posted the next day. Oh the pressure!

So, got off the Internet -- my all time favorite time waster -- and ran downstairs to get started. See, the thing is that I had been lamenting on what materials to use. While I really did want to try something new, there is virtually nothing I haven't done with fabric. There's also not a single fabric out there I haven't tried to force through my machine. So.... I used this excuse to procrastinate for the past 31 days.

In the spirit of reduce, reuse, and recycle (and remember I'm on a strict stash diet) I reached for the only thing I knew was both 74 inches long and about 46 wide! Luckily -- or unluckily -- I have all the fabric from all the drapes that were originally constructed for my house about 15 years ago [I didn't pick it. Some crazy old lady did].

I have gobs of the stuff. I don't know what it is, exactly, but I suspect it's silk or something. It's really slippery and slinky and heavy. It's also got a slub to it. I've been using it to line purses and trim costumes. Really fancy stuff. Nightmare to work with.

Seeing as the project was to perfectly press little pintucks throughout the runner, this fabric was the antithesis of a good choice. But in the end I'm glad I used it. It has a formal look to it. But with the bright blue thread I used, the formality is more in line with my actual style.

Oh wait. I don't really have any house style. Seriously, my dining room is empty and I had to move the time out chair out of the corner so you couldn't see it. There's nothing on the walls, and there's a big gaping whole in the fireplace/mantel where a TV used to be. Suggestions?

By 10:54 p.m. I had photographed it and posted it to the flikr group. Good heck, hope the next one doesn't give me such grief.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Breadie Is Born

Well, it turns out I've become a bit of a breadie. I made bread, again, today -- 4 loaves. My favorite moment of the baking process was NOT when I pulled the sweet smelling loaves out of the oven but rather when I pulled out my KitchenAid to get started and found toys in the bowl!

My whole weekend was filled with fun homemaking-ish type stuff I kicked it off with a "Get Your Craft On" party at my house. Over bagels I introduced a couple of friends to embroidery. I loved having fun girls around me and crafting at the same time. I was worried that everyone would think, "Oh great! Embroidery... too pioneer-ish." And to a degree I think that might have been the sentiment going into it.

But I got an e-mail today with a picture of one of the gals' first completed project. So cute!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Magic Bread

6 cups white bread flour
1 1/2 TBLSPN dry yeast
6 oz evaporated milk (canned)
1 1/2 cups water warmed to 110 degrees
2 TBLSPN oil
2 TBLSPN honey
1 (scant) TBLSPN salt
1 egg room temperature
1 TBLSPN dough enhancer (I actually have never used this because I can't find it locally.)

Scoop 3 cups of the flour into the bowl of your mixer. Add yeast to water (in large PYREX measuring cup). Add evaporated milk and then water/yeast mixture to flour (as the mixer is mixing). Add oil, egg, honey, and salkt (then dough enhancer if you have it). Mix well. With mixer running, quickly add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough just cleans the sides of teh bowl. DO NOT OVER MIX.
Pull dough out of mixing bowl. Divide in two. Knead dough portions into loaf shapes with slightly oiled hands. Plop into greased bread loaf pans. Cover with a damp, old-school dish towel and place somewhere kind of warm. (I put mine under the light on my range/hood.) Let dough rise at least 30 minutes. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves together for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Because of Lady Bird

The spring installment of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap is finished!
I'm on a strict stash diet, so everything in this quilt was found from remains of other quilts or purchases for "that perfect project" that never happened. I can't discuss the particulars of why I chose these colors or the inspiration. But I will say that I wanted to leave my swap partner with a little bit of mile high spring. This pattern is created and published by a Colorado native.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Weekend Bag or Really Great Place to Stash Your Knitting, Vogue 7653

While the rest of the handbagaholics I know are struggling with the Amy Butler messenger bag pattern, and her weekend bag pattern, I turned to an old pattern I had in my "library". The pattern is Vogue 7653 (all Vogue patterns are on sale at JoAnn's right now!). I've actually had it for about 4 or 5 years and never got around to tackling it. Not sure you can still buy it in retail locations.

The pattern itself is a bit more complex than others I've used. I think it's a Vogue thing. There were 34 pieces in all to make 4 bags. All of them are luggage size, if you will, and all of them use similar directions (which is confusing if you ask me). The pattern I made required three layers of each piece, a befuddling process of lining up outer fabric, interfacing, and lining fabric. Then there's this whole disconcerting issue with folding and cutting the handles. I was genuinely flummoxed and a little worried that the whole thing would fray. But it seems to be holding.

If I were to make this bag again, and I do think I will, I would consider a completely perplexing process of shrinking the pattern. Has anyone ever done that? It's just a really big bag and I just don't have need for bags that big. I also think that I would try using duckcloth as interfacing. I used a very stiff interfacing -- as the pattern calls for -- and it crinkles ever so slightly when I use the bag. This bothers me.

The inside lining has no pockets. All that work to basically have a bucket. So, I would probably fashion some system of pockets of all shapes -- like blackberry size, diaper size, pen/pencil size. There's room in there for a lot. I still can't figure out why interior pockets weren't accounted for in the pattern.

Lastly, and this certainly isn't a must, I would probably try to find a harder/stiffer/springy-er cording. I used your basic decorator's cording (like you may use to pipe a pillow) and I feel that it falls in on itself when the bag isn't full. One thing that I changed about the pattern that I do like is that I used a cut up plastic placement for the base rather than cardboard. That way if it gets wet it won't crumble. The placement was on clearance for 25 cents.

I used Laurie Smith fabric, of course, and various notions from various local sewing stores. I figure I spent a grand total (excluding pattern) of $10. Not too shabby. You may be asking what I'm going to use this crazy orange bag for. Just going to stuff all the knitting and crocheting supplies I've ever purchased in there. You remember my feelings about knitting.

Knitting, A Lost Cause

OOOpppsss! I guess I had good intentions. I started this hat about 27 months ago. Yeah, that's right, I was going to finish it before I had another baby. Here's the "baby" modeling the unfinished result. I'd love to figure out how to knit, and crochet. I think it looks so cool and you can do it while watching T.V. Now I embroider when I need to keep my hands moving.

5 Strange Felt People

Have you ever had a project that almost made you quit your hobby? I did, and for some reason I kept picking it up, again and again, over the past five years. Maybe longer.
It all started with a trip to Mexico City. I was traveling with my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law, who lived in Mexico City at the time, took us to some unique places to shop. One place in particular involved us following a guy in a pick-up truck through a fairly desert-ish countryside to his farm/hacienda. He was an artist and we were led to his upstairs studio (which looked like a cross between the attic and a hay loft) to view painted furniture. I knew I would not be traveling with a painted armoire or chest of drawers. But there were some little houses that caught my eye. My mother-in-law purchased four of them... one for each of her children's families. I had a crazy idea that I would sew individual dolls representing all the families. That was stupid.
Turns out, I hate sewing doll clothes. And so, it took me a very long time to finish these 5 strange felt people. My kids like them, but are really only mildly interested in them. Good thing I didn't get too serious about going China-free this Christmas. I would have had to make more than just strange felt guys.
Anyway, body forms were purchased at Zim's in Salt Lake City. Felt clothing was pieced together and embroidered. I took some direction from the patterns in a book about Wee Felt Folk. That might actually be the title.