Word of the Day!

Word of the Day

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I bought a big huge box of patterns at a garage sale today. I'm super excited because there are a whole range of decades represented, from the 1940's to the 1990's. Some really awesome dress patterns, some which I will be posting pics of here and there.

But the one that has me most excited is this one, for purely personal reasons. It's not even vintage:

I'm 90% positive that this is the first dress pattern I ever made (or one from a different company but the same general style), when I was around 13. It was a 4-H project, and I made it in a very dark blue tiny floral print. I loved that dress, and wore it until I outgrew it.

It was a pretty simple beginner project (although it wasn't my first sewing project ever, I think I'd done some kulottes and a wrap skirt before) except for the cord that laced up the back, which was self-fabric and HARD to turn inside out. I think the only reason I got through it was because my mom did most of that part.

If I am ever able to dig up a picture of that dress, I will post it here.

This second pattern I originally thought was a girl's pattern, not a misses pattern, because of the model's exceptionally youthful look, but no, it would fit me. Not that I plan to make it, unless I am suddenly in need of a maternity top.

Doesn't the model in the upper left look like she needs an exorcist, stat?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fresh Today: Baby Goats

We have been expecting the goats to start kidding any day now. Two weeks ago, we were expecting them to start kidding any day. Some of them are HUGE.

Today at least the weather was sunny, though not as warm as some days have been lately. The wind was blowing pretty good, though.

The first hour or so of a baby goat's life is pretty important. They have to learn to do two basic things: stand up and eat. They don't catch on as quick as you might think. The drama unfolds about like this:

Baby goat thrashes his legs around, trying to stand up. He makes it to his knees, then decides it's too much effort, and sinks back to the ground. After a few seconds of contemplation, he tries again, gets halfway up, and falls over sideways. Immediately he tries to surge to his feet, and makes it all the way for one glorious second, at which point north knee and west knee simultaneously fly out in opposite directions and it's back to the drawing board. Another attempt has him taking one wobbly step (and onlookers cheering), and then his front end slowly slides forward, knees stiff, resembling "downward facing dog". Maybe he's given up walking and gone for yoga.

This process repeats itself for awhile. Eventually he staggers over to mama, who licks him encouragingly, maybe even nudges him towards the milk bar with her head. He starts butting at her kneecap, attempting to nurse (Food: Ur doin' it wrong). When he finally does make it back to the appropriate location, he makes an enthusiastic lunge for the udder and falls on his face again.

With two kids, it's double the fun to watch. For awhile we watched them see-saw back and forth. One would get up, and the other would fall down. When that one got up, the other one fell down. Then both managed to get up, stand there all wobbly, and simultaneously fall down again. And eating took them a long time to master. It seems like such a basic instinct, but apparently is harder than learning to walk. However, they seem to have got the hang of things, finally.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Past Projects - Number 1

I thought it would be nice to show some pics of the dresses I made before I had a blog. If I can, I'm going to dig up some of the REALLY old pictures from junior high and high school (4-H and home ec. projects). But we'll see. I'm not sure some of those should be seen by the general public.
This I made maybe two years? ago, when I first started dreaming about making dresses from vintage patterns. It is a muslin, made of the cheapest, lowest quality cotton I've seen. It was fifty cents a yard. The fabric is very thin. I had to make the bodice of a double layer, and a slip is absolutely necessary. I like blue, but the pattern, a sort of batik-looking violet floral, isn't really something I'm wild about.

It was a Frankenstein of these two patterns, plus sleeves I drafted from scratch:

I feel very much like a Mennonite when I wear it, although truthfully, they would never wear something with that neckline. Mostly, this is a wear-around-the-house dress, although it makes me look somewhat overdressed. Thus the sandals. I find in the summer when it is hot, a dress or skirt is more comfortable than pants, as long as I don't feel like I need to wear uncomfortable shoes, and the skirt is full enough for free movement.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Things in the Mail!

Look what I got in the mail today!

There is a story behind these cute patterns. See, I bought this other pattern on Ebay.

It is an unprinted pattern, probably from the forties. As you can see, it has some very unique details, and is pretty uncommon. After the auction ended, the other bidder on the pattern contacted me through E-bay and asked if she could buy it from me after I was done with it. At first I thought it was a little bit of a strange request, but it is a unique style of dress, and not something that I've seen before, and vintage patterns are hard to find in the right size.

Well, I have a lot more planned projects than I do time to make things, so I wrote her back saying it could be a long time before I was done with it, so I proposed a trade. She traded me the two patterns at the top for a tracing of the Ebay pattern. I think it worked out great, and we both got something we wanted. Sometimes the Internet is so cool.

The Marian Martin dress is next on my list of things I want to sew, after I am done with the baby quilt for my sister. It's going to take around four yards, though. Brandon's grandmother gave me 4 yards of some pretty blue floral fabric the other day, so I will probably try the pattern out in that. It will be my first unprinted pattern.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Girl Scouts of America are evil...

...and I'll tell you why. I bought some Thin Mints, and half the package is gone. After that half of the package is gone, I'm going to want more Thin Mints, but they aren't selling them again until next year.

I looked in the ingredient list, and "crack" isn't listed as an ingredient, but I'm sure that it's in there. It's a good thing they don't sell them all year round, actually, because if they did I'd be knocking over convenience stores for my next fix.

Humorous Pictures
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Dress

I'm calling this my Easter dress, because hey, that's as good an excuse as any to make a dress. Although I made less for wearing to church and more for wearing around casually. I finished it last night and pressed Brandon into service as my photographer.

I got three yards of the butterfly fabric on impulse. That was all there was left. The pattern, it turned out, called for more, because the skirt is meant to be on the bias. I laid it out and had just enough to cut it on the straight grain(and absolutely no margin for error. The pockets are in red because I didn't have enough of the butterfly print for pockets.) As you can see, it didn't noticeably affect much.

The dress went together well, and I used a new zipper technique (out of Sew What! Skirts). You baste the zipper seam together and then use fabric glue to tack the zipper down to the wrong side of the fabric, centered over the seam. Then you stitch neatly (in theory at least) 1/4" on each side of the zipper seam on the right side of the fabric to fasten the zipper down, and rip out the basting stitches. And voila! There you have it, the easiest zipper installation method I've tried, even if it doesn't look any better than any other zipper I've done.

I used the new rolled hem foot to hem it, and while it looks okay from a distance in the picture, in real life I need to go back and redo some parts. I have pretty much mastered the rolled hem foot for straight hems, but the slight curve of this hem kept throwing me off.

I really like how this dress turned out. The bodice isn't really my favorite, but the shape of the skirt is very nice. I can't wait for some actual warm weather to wear it in. Right now it is blustery and cold out, although the sun is shining, deceitfully making it look warm.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Helpful Tutorial

Using the rolled hem feet is not as easy to figure out as I had hoped. I messed around for an hour or so with them, trying to make a consistent, even hem, and came up with this (and this is the best). The piece of fabric had been cut perfectly square on my cutting mat.

The instructions that came with them are nearly useless. So this morning I went looking for an online tutorial. I found several, including a video tutorial, but the most useful one was here, at The Sewing Divas.

I looked at the pics, read through the instructions, looked at the pics again, and something clicked, and I realized what I'd been doing wrong all along (putting the pre-rolled hem at the start under the right side of the foot).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Feet

I confess, a year ago, I had no idea that sewing machines had all kinds of special feet. Zipper foot, buttonhole foot, normal zig-zag and straight-stitch feet, that was the limits of my experience. I had no idea that there were sewing machine feet that did fancy things like roll hems for you. If I had, believe me, I would have burned a lot less fingers trying to press those itty-bitty hems for sewing.

I just now got around to buying some rolled-hem feet, though, because while I had my old Kenmore, I was thinking I wouldn't waste any money on accessories for a machine that I was going to get rid of as soon as humanly possible, and then once I got my new one at Christmas (New Year's, actually) I didn't want to pay $6 shipping for a tiny $7 sewing machine foot.

But now that I am quilting a quilt for my sister, I desperately need a walking foot (yes, I can hear you true quilters gasps of dismay). The first baby quilt turned out not nearly as great as it should have because of my lack of said walking foot. So I bit the bullet and ponied up my accumulated Etsy money for the year (it's been a slow couple of months) for a bunch of fancy feet. And they arrived today!

I have got two rolled hem feet of different widths (they're cheaper in a set) and a walking foot, stitch in the ditch foot, a freehand quilting/darning foot, and something called an "open toe craft foot", which I wouldn't have bought but it was part of the set. Yay!

My Etsy shop money has mostly gone to upgrading my sewing equipment: I bought half of my new Kenmore with it, and the new feet. It seems almost counterproductive to sink everything back into sewing, but on the other hand, I like these equipment upgrades and enjoy them on a personal level, as well. I probably would have made do with what I had just for my own use, though.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Baby Shower Goodies

These are the things I made my sister for her baby shower, to tide her over until I get the quilt done. She got a lot of nice things. One thing is for certain, her baby will never go naked.

This bag is what I decided to do with the star quilt square that didn't work out as well as I liked. I thought the little bag would be good for tossing a few small things in for short excursions if she didn't feel like lugging the whole diaper bag along. I put a shirt-style pocket on the back, because I am obsessed with putting pockets on things.

I have a similar bib (the sock monkey print) in my Etsy shop if anyone is interested. :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another Quilting Project

To practice quilting BEFORE I did any on the baby quilt, I made this little table mat from a free pattern at Perkins Drygoods.

I love the way it turned out! It is strip pieced, so it went very quickly, but the scalloped borders make it look unique (and more complicated than it is). I am also in love with the fabric I used, although the pitfall of buying fabric at Alco (which is like Wal-Mart's country cousin) became apparent. The girl who cut it out for me was obviously annoyed to have to come cut the fabric, and she was muttering and jerking the scissors around (I don't think she was upset with me, just frustrated with the fabric, which wasn't on bolts but folded). The cuts of fabric I got weren't straight at all, and varied two to three inches between the low side and the high side. For one of the wide border sides, I had to piece two rectangles together because of the badly-cut material. You can hardly tell, though, because the print is so busy.

I also had to piece the batting together because I was using odds and ends leftover from my Christmas projects. There was a large piece that was big enough except a square was cut out of one corner, so I just cut a square to fill it in and zig-zagged the two pieces together.

I don't think I attached the bias binding in the approved quilter's way of attaching bias binding. I thought about it, but my only instructions were the "Quilting for Dummies" I borrowed from the library, and I couldn't make heads or tails the directions. So I made bias tape and put it on like I usually do, folding it in half across the raw edge and stitching through all layers. The top looks fine, but I had to go back and tack down some places on the back where the stitches didn't catch the back half of the bias tape.

The pattern was very clear and easy to follow, however there was one small error. I emailed the owner of the site/pattern designer, and she told me she'll get it fixed soon as she can, but just in case, be aware. The "outer border" instructions say to "Cut two strips 3.5" x 20.5" Those strips actually need to be about 22.5" long. Just to make sure, cut the first two (16") outer border strips, sew them on, and then measure to see exactly how long the last two outer border strips need to be. For this kind of project, especially if you are a beginner like me, it is probably better to measure all the border strips and do them as you go instead of trying to cut them all out beforehand. That way you don't waste any material cutting to the wrong measurements if your seam allowances are a little too wide or narrow.

I am getting addicted to this quilting thing. It allows me to buy small amounts of fabric, and in patterns that are cool, but that I would never use for a whole garment. Also, to make someone a quilt gift, you don't have to know their measurements.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baby Quilt Numero Uno

The last few days I have not been working on the squares for my sister's baby quilt, because I have been working on this one. I waffled back and forth over whether I would sew this one, for a friend at church, or give her something smaller, since I was already embroiled in one baby quilt. But the fabric was so cute, a soft cozy flannel, so I went ahead and bought some pieces. Then Sunday we were given the news that THIS SATURDAY is the shower, so I had to hurry up and get it done. This Sunday is my sister's shower, but I made her some smaller things and will get the quilt to her after the baby is born. He can't use it until then anyway.

It was good that I did this one, for the practice in machine quilting at least. I have a lot of kinks to work out in my quilting technique (maybe I need a walker foot?). At any rate, I now know to cut the backing fabric larger than the quilt top.

I wish the quilting and the border had turned out more perfectly, but I really love the quilt top, and for a quick and easy baby quilt the four-patch design can't be beat. I think cutting out and sewing the quilt top took only four or five hours (Can I mention here how I love, love, love my rotary cutter and mat?). Would have been less if I had planned better. I had to stop partway in and rethink my arrangement of the pieces. They are 5" squares with a 2" border (that is covered up by the satin binding.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Pitfalls of Optimism

Last week we had some lovely weather. Sunny, not so windy that you ended up with grit in your teeth walking to the car from the house (that "in like a lion" thing is really getting old). I knew parts of the country were having awful snowstorms, but here it was nice. So in a burst of optimism, I cut out this dress: (the middle one, shown in blue, but I nixed the sleeve ruffles)

Saturday the weather was beautiful, high 60's, and I wished I had worn a dress. Sunday, the weather turned bad again, and this morning I woke up to this (this is not terrible winter weather for this part of the country, we usually get a lot more snow than we have this year):
So I guess I will be waiting a bit before I actually get to wear that dress. I haven't sewn it together anyway. I have too many baby quilts to do. Of course, next week it could be in the 70's, you never know. That's about the only thing that you can count on about the weather here in the Texas Panhandle. It will change (and it will be windy).