Getting caught up

So, it isn’t that I haven’t been sewing, because I have. And it isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, because I do. It’s because I’ve been so blasted busy, I just haven’t had time to post lately. Sorry about that. But now, let’s get caught up. 🙂

First things first – my son in law graduated at the beginning of this month from his AIT class, and is currently at home, working at the recruiting station until the middle of next week. Next week, he and my daughter will be moving to their permanent duty station, and while it’s not too far away from us, it’s still further from “home” than she’s ever lived. Add to that, their baby is due in the first part of July, and it’s been very hectic around here. Oh, and let’s not forget that we’re putting together a baby shower and going away party for them this coming weekend. It’s been CRAZY busy lately! But the baby quilt is finished, and we are ready for the party, so maybe once we get the kids moved to their new home  things will slow down for a few weeks? Yeah, I don’t think it will either.

Last week, I was working on Sarah’s quilt, which I haven’t talked about at all here. While she knows she’s getting a quilt, she doesn’t know anything about what the theme might be, or the colors or anything, because it’s a gift from her husband, Erik. All she does know about it is that there is some machine embroidery involved in the design (duh, what’s the good of having an embroidery machine if you’re not going to make good use of it?!?). And last week, while working on the quilt, I ran a sewing machine needle all the way through my finger. Yes, it hurt. Yeah, it was a stupid accident. Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. It caused me to head off to the doctor to get a tetanus shot, where I was asked when the last time was I actually got a tetanus shot. Do you know, I couldn’t even remember when that was? I’m figuring maybe as long ago as 25 years … but surely not, right? But then, it could be.

Also on and off the machine is the Green Eggs and Ham quilt. I’m using the time that I am upstairs but not sewing to put stars on it. Today, there should be quite a few stars going on it because I have to do some housework up there.

And finally, I’ve been planning my daughter and son in law’s wedding quilt. Hey, don’t blame me for it not being done yet! They moved the wedding up by a year, so how could I have made it in the three weeks I had between the time they announced their plans in August last year and the September 2013 wedding date?! But my goal is to have it done for them by Christmas this year. It’s a churn dash, using the same pattern as the Ugly Quilt, but with a black background and brightly colored churns. I’ve wanted to make this version of the quilt since I first started Ugly Quilt, and my daughter asked for it, so I cannot wait! I’m so excited about it!

Oh, one other thing – I figure that when my daughter has the baby, I’ll take my sewing machine with me and maybe do some home decorating things for her while the baby sleeps. I think she’ll really like some monogrammed towels, or nice guest hand towels with embroidery. Little home improvement bits that won’t break the bank, but that will make their new house a home.

Next week after the baby shower, I’ll try to post photos of how we set up and everything. 🙂

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My formula for living is quite simple …

I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.  – Cary Grant

Staying occupied really isn’t a problem for me of late. Last weekend, for example, Chris and I went to the farmer’s market and purchased a big box of tomatoes, which I spent Sunday turning into tomato sauce. I’ve made homemade tomato sauce before, cooking down tomatoes to turn them into spaghetti sauce, but I’ve never made a big batch to be canned before now. I will admit that I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. From about 12 pounds or so of tomatoes, I canned nine pints of sauce. I can’t wait to try it out in recipes. I think my mom was surprised that I didn’t season the tomatoes at all – no salt, no spices … just tomatoes and a bit of lemon, to raise the acidity of the jar contents. I used a couple of jars during the week to make spaghetti, which got great reviews from my family, and a jar was used yesterday in some ranch beans that turned out fabulous. I am happy!

I had plans to sew last weekend, but because of the tomatoes, I didn’t get around to it. This weekend, I managed to get a pair of shorts made for myself. They are denim, and I’m quite happy with them, except that they seem to be a little looser than I expected. I made a muslin prototype, but the actual shorts are bigger than I expected, but I’ll do a post on that later. My plan this week is to spend some time at the sewing machine making myself some t-shirts and a top. I’m not worried about the fit of the top, because it’s very blouse-y and not even close to fitted, and the measurements actually work with my body measurements, and the same holds true for the t-shirt pattern I’m using. Once I have these clothes together, I may make another couple pairs of shorts, because as I mentioned before, I can certainly use some summer clothing.

Our new furniture was delivered a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. One of the things I haven’t done yet is to put up drapes in the house, because for one thing, drapes can be quite expensive, and for another, I’ve had some trouble finding something I truly like. So I got this idea to go looking for fabric to make my own drapes, at Joann’s. I was browsing through their home decor fabric, congratulating myself on such a good idea because I found several pieces I really loved. Then I looked at prices and wanted to cry. Most of the fabric I loved was more than $60/yard. Considering I need about 20 yards of fabric to cover four windows, it was clear that this wasn’t going to work. It also gave me a greater appreciation for the cost of draperies at places like JC Penney and other big box type stores. Even with a 50% off sale, the drapery fabric would be in excess of $600 … so now I’m considering other options again. Ugh!

All in all, I feel like I have spent a lot more time in my studio over the last couple of weeks than I have in the previous five years combined. It’s probably not true, but I definitely have the sewing bug. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much, I am going to dig through my fashion fabric stash in the closet and see what I can find in there to put together!

Happy sewing,

Jill

February has been crazy!

After posting a record breaking (for me) 11 times in January, I just disappeared, didn’t I? I’m sorry about that. Things got crazy busy for me – I spent last week in London for work, which meant that the week before I spent getting ready to go. But I’m back now and I’m here to tell you about what’s happening on other fronts for me!

First of all, I’ve taken to baking our own bread. It’s light, it’s fluffy, it’s so darn good, I can’t imagine why I didn’t start doing this sooner. Actually, I DO know – I could never find the right sandwich loaf, but I finally found it, and it is awesome. The recipe is from King Arthur’s flour, and it is by far the best loaf of bread I’ve ever baked – and I’ve baked many! You can find the recipe here … I highly recommend it. I double the recipe (don’t add any more yeast, but increase the salt by half) and it turns out wonderful every time.

The second development is that I’ve been looking at sewing machines and have just about decided on the Pfaff Creative Performance. Of course, if someone else has a rockin’ deal on a wide throat machine when I get ready to buy next month, that might change. But I’m loving the CP right now like you wouldn’t believe. It does quilting in the hoop, it’s an embroidery machine and it has a standard 9mm stitch width. You can also buy the embroidery unit separate from the machine, so the purchase can be broken into two separate transactions. My current plan is to buy the embroidery unit with the machine, but it’s nice to know that if my finances won’t allow that, I can save up the money for the embroidery unit while still enjoying the machine. I don’t mind telling you the fact that this machine is purple doesn’t hurt either! 😉

And the third thing is … with the idea of spending so much money on a sewing machine, I have decided it’s time to expand my sewing horizons into fashion and home decor. I have done some fashion sewing in the past – mostly for the kids when they were small, and all of it extremely easy. What I haven’t ever tried before – but seriously something I need to master – is a zipper. So, I have decided that I need some sewing classes, either online or in person. I signed up this week for my very first sewing class – Sewing Studio through Craftsy. I got a great deal because I signed up during a promotional special for President’s Day – I think I paid only $15 for the class. Don’t worry if you’re interested though, they run specials fairly often. Just sign up for their newsletter and you can get notifications on reduced prices all the time. Once I got enrolled in the class,  I found out there’s a book that is needed, called S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop. I was lucky and found it at my local Barnes & Noble, but you can order it through Craftsy, Amazon or a number of other booksellers. I know that people were complaining about needing to buy the book, but my feeling is, you can never have too many reference books, and it does offer 10 patterns that can be altered to fit even plus size (the author is great; she was offering to help folks alter the pattern in the class!). So far I’ve only watched the first two lessons on making the envelope pillow, and tonight I plan to actually try my hand at it. I will pull some fabric from my stash (I have a few 16″ pillow forms, so I think I can get away with using a fat quarter), and I keep muslin (for the back) on hand all the time. The first two lessons have already taught me things I didn’t know – like how to make a french seam. That lesson will be very useful now that I don’t have a serger (I sold it last summer, like an idiot).

When I have my pillow completed, I’ll post a photo! Oh, and after I bake some bread this afternoon, I’ll post a photo of that too. 😉

Domestically yours,

Jill