Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Consider this your Christmas card!  I texted this photo to everyone on my phone list telling them to start humming Jingle Bells before reading my holiday message. So much better than writing out all those cards. I'm also hoping it will start a trend so that I won't have to read the tome-like missives that have grown so popular over the years.  Maybe I'm just jealous because mine would have said things like "Keegan hasn't bitten anyone in a week, and gosh, we're excited about that!" or Kyle got thrown out of the choir for faking singing which is such a hoot, right!" or "Kiefer refused to play any sports this year.  He can't possibly take the time away from video games."  

Still lovin' the chalkboard door. This is the best way to make a snowperson and the only way you will see me making  one.  I feel like I'm seven again playing with all this chalk, and my snowperson looks like a seven-year-old created it. 

Got the new tree up!

Went with a new lighted tulle tree skirt from Pinterest because this new tree is much narrower and lower to the floor than the old one.  My old tree skirt (also known as all the stuffed animals the kids accumulated) just wouldn't work.  You can see that original tulle pin here. 

I was surprised that it took twelve yards of fabric to fill out the area under my skinny tree.  Kinda elegant looking, though,  isn't it!

I turned my old tree skirt into a cell phone charging station.  Too much???
Most importantly, 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Hand Embroidered Gingers

I promised Sandra, who is a ginger by the way, that I'd show her some of the hand embroidered gingers I've been accumulating.  The goal is to make a quilt eventually.  I'm trying to give each one a different shade of red hair.  This next one will have to be a centerpiece.  She looks like a bit of a hussy which is probably why I'm particularly fond of her.
I'll be changing the floss I am using for her hair because I recently found a bright red, slightly furry embroidery floss with bits of metallic fiber in it that I think will be perfect for this little floozie's hair.  Can't remember the Etsy shop that sells these, but I'm sure I can find it if someone is interested.  Now, if I could just find some boys to add to the mix.  Let me know if you see any out there on the interwebs.  Should you care to draw some, I'll be your first customer! 

Quick Peek at the Christmas Aprons and Towels

Okay!  After sitting around wasting time agonizing about which fabric to use, what colors, which embroidery designs, I've finally gotten busy with the aprons.  I decided months ago that I would make unisex aprons for my three kids and their mates or, as my son  likes to say, their counterparts. This apron is for one of the girls.
I'm using a heavier-weight denim which is making sewing on the straps a pain with the multiple layers of heavy fabric.  I've ordered some nylon webbing that I may end up using instead.  The embroidery design is from Urban Threads, and I'm quite happy with it.
There's a theme going here believe it or not.  This design goes with the "you wash, I'll dry" designs I put on sets of white with denim blue trim kitchen towels.
Design is from The Embroidery Library
I have a set of yellow towels to match the yellow apron design and teal towels for the apron designs in teal.  I do hope this is making sense.  It's after midnight here.  I probably shouldn't be allowed to put things on the internet at this hour.  Feel free to let me know of any errors.

Moving on!  The last couple will be spending Christmas in Mongolia which will give me a few more weeks to stress out about colors for them.

My latest setback is this design which I planned to use of the guys' aprons.
It just looks wonky cuz it's hanging wrong.  

First, it turns out that most people have no idea what this means.  For those people, the urban dictionary defines it as being a response to a statement that something cannot be done.  Example:  "You cannot possibly do that recipe.  It's too hard." Response "Challenge Accepted"  To me, it seemed like such a male response to cooking--the men in my family anyway.

 Second issue with this design is that all those curly lines look too feminine to me now that it's on an apron.  The shiny embroidery thread further adds to this problem.  My daughter's counterpart (I can't believe i just typed that word) is a weight-lifting, motorcycle-driving mechanic. Only his tools can  shine.  Any suggestions for a replacement design or quote would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cutest Little Girl Holiday Dresses

This is one of the best parts about having little girls in the family--
getting to  buy frilly dresses.  Blingy sequins are sewn into the center of each flower.  It's so cute I hung it on the Christmas tree.  This one is for sixteen-month-old Arabella.  Big sister Angelica is getting this one--
Look at that black tulle crinoline at the bottom!  It's a "twirly dress" that Angelica is gonna love.

Must get back to the sewing room.  I'm working on four aprons, changing the pattern as I go along, changing my mind about the embroidery designs, and just generally making life difficult for myself.  Hopefully, I'm get to post about them soon!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Towels for Brian

My lovely husband Brian has been in Pittsburgh this week, and I missed him, of course.  That got me to thinking about making him something.  He's always saying that I make things for everyone but us which is not true at all.  It may seem that way, though, because most of my sewing for us is house things. 
No, they are not for the kitchen.  They're for Brian so that he doesn't have to go find something at the most inconvenient of times. Enough said.  Yes, Sandra, that is what these are for.  Now the question is, do I need a new category for these on Pinterest or can I just put them under sewing?

In the interest of keeping this about sewing, and just in case anyone is still here rather than off to remove my blog from their list, here are a couple of pics showing just why you really need to wash these towels before embroidering. 
 See how much the white one has "waffled" from washing above and shrunk in size below?  I love the after, so I'm happy.  They are from Target, $2.99. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

A much more manageable rice heating pad

Okay!  I now realized that smaller is better with rice pads.  This one is for the neck and doesn't weigh enough to compact the spinal column like the last one, so it can get tied on.  I am wearing it at the moment just because I can.  Also it's providing me with some heat since winter has finally descended on New York's capital district area with a sprinkling of snow and cold this morning.

The sewing went well.  Unfortunately, I could not find my funnel and ended up doing this:

which resulted in scenes like this:

and this:

Something tells me I will be finding grains of rice in my sewing room for some time to come. 

This was made with two 9x13" pieces of fabric for the base.  When I finished, I thought I had over-stuffed it because it was rigid, not forming to the neck.  However, just bending and playing with it a bit made it softer so that it bent to the neck nicely.  I don't know whether the flannel stretched out or the rice just needed to settle more.  Either way, it turned out perfectly for me.   

    New Towel Emboidery Design

    I've been searching high and low for nice towels to embroider, both kitchen and bath.  Some I purchased on Amazon that turned out to be much more utilitarian and dull when they arrived than they appeared in the online photos. I was going to just keep them myself til I found this design from Embroidery Library.
    There is another one that say's "I'll Dry."  The design fits perfectly with the rather rustic looking towels.  It gave me the idea of creating sets of these towels with some denim aprons and potholder items for my kids for Christmas.  I'm going to try to take most of the denim from my hoard of old jeans I've saved from the kids to make them more personal.

    In order to accomplish this, I am going to have to stop doing housework from now until Christmas.  I know.  It's a lot to give up, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice for my children.  Who knew I'd still be able to use the kids for an excuse for not doing housework even after they were grown and gone!

    The Pinterest Shoulder Rice Heating Pad Saga

    The dictionary defines saga as a long tale of heroic achievement, so I think it works for this little sewing adventure.  I consider this a success despite my family's reactions.  My sister's recent, "Hey, remember those rice bags we made a long time ago?" reminded me of the over-the-shoulder rice heating pad pin I had stuck on my sewing board while wasting hours of time on Pinterest.  You can see the post here. The real original poster's blog with a tutorial is gone, but this blogger has pics that I thought would be enough.

    Does anything ever work out as planned in the sewing room?  There were two issues with this and I refuse to take responsibility for the first one.  The original design goes out to the edge of the shoulders which I did as well.  Once my pattern was cut, I hung it on my dress stand only to find that there were "wings" that stuck out where the shoulders curve.  How's the heated rice gonna do its job there?  This required some darts which miraculously worked out.  I am NOT good at this kind of sewing improvisation!
    The second problem is entirely my fault.  I thought why not make it longer in the back for when I get carried away with the weight training and need some heat across the upper back?  The answer is BECAUSE IT WILL WEIGH ALMOST 7 LBS.!  This is where the fun began.  After my Keegan tried it on and seemed to crumble under the weight, I thought maybe some ties to hold it on might help with the weight.
    Here is that silly version in the photo below.  No, it does not work.  You don't make the weight any better by tying it on to the body, nor should you be walking around with this thing if you have some achy (is that spelled right?) issues.  Carrying that weight may well exacerbate the aches and pains. 
    I took the ties off.

    This is not a total failure, however.  On the plus side:
    •  if you are sitting or lying down, it's great. In fact, you can even lie on your stomach and the freakin' weight presses down in a rather comforting way nicely pushing the heat down.  
    • sitting back in a chair, it's wonderful.  
    • I was trying to see how long it would hold the heat, but lost track after a half hour.  Were I in school today, I would definitely have been diagnosed with ADHD.  I will just say that it held the heat for a long, long time with the caveat that it took FIVE minutes to heat in the microwave. 
    • it induces gales of giggling from the moment people pick it up.  No one expects a heating pad to have this kind of heft.  
    Remember, though, that you can do it as the original designer intended with a much shorter back which would reduce the weight to something more practical thereby making it Pinterest success!

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Not getting much sewing done, but we've been moseying along here!

    This is the sole extent of my creative endeavors lately.  Still don't regret covering the door to the basement with chalkboard paint. When I have a need to play with artsy stuff, the door gets a workout.  What better to play with than chalk--it's so forgiving and temporary.  I may not be artistically talented, but I don't let that stop me.

    I've been doing too much pinning, not enough sewing, lots of hiking and biking on the Zim Smith Trail--
    where you can find a ton of rocks for cairn building, and biking at the Saratoga Battlefield where you can often see deer like this little beast.
     We also FINALLY, almost a year later, went up north to my parents' hometown, Long Lake, New York to scatter my  mother's ashes.  Some were scattered into the lake near the town center.  Ama always did like to know what was going on in town.
    Some were scattered at Buttermilk Falls just up the road.  It flows into Long Lake and was a favorite place of my mother's.
    If you are near Long Lake you really should go to the falls.  This next photo doesn't do the buttery yellow and white water justice, but it's close enough.
    It was raining and cold which would have please my highly superstitious mother who said that it was good luck to be buried in the rain and married in sunshine. I have no idea how good luck applies to the dead, and I'm sure those of us shivering in the rain were not feeling lucky.  Then again, we did have a great lunch at the Adirondack Hotel across from the town beach.  Finding any restaurant is a challenge up north.  I guess finding a good one was where our luck came into play.

    My daughter Keegan, sister Robin, husband Brian, and me.  It was in the 60s the day before in Clifton Park.  I knew enough to dress for the north country's version of fall, about 30 degrees colder than our area, unlike some other people whose names I will not mention.
    Must include a photo with Robin's husband Jim who also came along for the adventure.
    That would be the guy taking videos with his phone.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a picture of someone who is not taking a picture nowadays?  Almost every photo I have is of someone taking a picture-sometimes taking a photo of me taking a photo of them!  Never really noticed how much this happens until this trip.
     Rest in peace, Ama. 
    Anne Cecilia LeBlanc Young Bressette 1963!

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Is it possible to keep a sewing room neat?

    I mean when you actually USE it?  Here is my room in August.
    I could even keep the door open without worrying that someone would see it!

    So neat!
    A place for everything and everything in its place.
     I swore it would stay this way.  Photo from this lovely October morning:
    I really wanted to make this photo as small as possible, but I'm hoping that publicly shaming myself will encourage me to get it cleaned up.
    I only made a few baby things!  In the process, I had to tear through every piece of fabric I owned to decide which ones to use.  Then I discovered a ton of fabric that had snuck into the stash without being washed.  I long ago promised myself that I would wash all fabric as it came into the house so that it would be ready when I needed it.  I have no idea how all that unwashed fabric got on my shelves.  I'm blaming Brian.  The mess I will have to take responsibility for mess.
    Hints on keep sewing rooms neat would be appreciated.  Maybe I can get Pam of Threading My Way to set up a Link Party for this!  If you have not visited Pam's site--that would just be crazy cuz if you sew you HAVE to have found her site, but if not check it out.  Never-ending link parties in all kinds of sewing categories that I often turn to for inspiration.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Tried the Ultimate Baby Bib Pattern (It's a Free Download!)

    I think I've downloaded every free bib out there by now.  This one creates a pocket for catching crumbs that unsnaps for emptying and washing.
    The bottom gets turned up, folded to the back, and snapped.
    It's an easy pattern.  I think the hardest part was thinking through the snap part to be sure I was putting them on right.  My resident dragon agreed to serve as model here. 
    The pocket has the advantage of popping open a bit to really catch all those little crumbs which is more obvious in the photo below.
    I'd love to tell you where the embroidery design came from, but my sieve-like memory fails me here. Just Google it! Since I did not pay for the pattern, I went searching for that link which is right here.  I sooooo appreciate it when people share their patterns.  That link takes you to the maker's tutorial which includes a link to get the free pattern on Craftsy.
    The maker used laminated fabrics which is a great idea.  For my first try, though, I went with cotton and flannel.   Laminated fabrics are freakin' expensive, and I am not experimenting on my tiny, costly stash of them.  Next time, though, I'll try the laminates....maybe.  I have a really hard to actually cutting into pricey fabrics. 

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Summer Vacation #3 - The Dry Riverbed

    My neighbor had some drainage issues that were resolved by digging a trench and filling it with stones.  To me it was a thing a beauty and a solution to my problem of dirty basement windows on the side of the house where nothing will grow.  Well moss grows there, some weeds, the occasional piece of grass, and mud.  Mud does well there.  It then splashes up on the basement windows.  This is not a pretty sight when sitting in the man cave downstairs. 
    Soooo, the landscape company truck arrived yet again and the wheelbarrow got dragged out again. It's supposed to look like a dry river bed.  What do you think?
    Okay, try to picture it without the green hose and the downspout.  Like this?
    Don't let that green color fool you.  It's mostly moss.
    Now does it look like a dry river bed?  Am I the only one who sees it?

    Lessons learned:
    • Don't tell the driver to dump the load in the middle of the driveway blocking the garage doors.
    • Don't overfill the wheelbarrow.
    • Don't get annoyed with the neighbors when they start saying things like, "What are you trying to do, kill yourself?" or "Let me give you the name of my landscaper."
    • Do be prepared to back up your claim that it looks like a dry riverbed, preferably with photos of actual riverbeds.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    Summer Vacation # 2 - The Great Tree Removal Part

    The trees were one of the reasons I wanted this house.  Fall leaf removal at our last house was unending.  Pine trees seemed like a much better idea.  Pine trees were less work in the fall than deciduous trees, but they have their own issues such as pine needles that carpet the lawn and driveway in a thick golden layer in the fall, pinecones that seem as plentiful as the needles some years, and pine pollen in the spring that easily comes through the window screens coating everything inside and out in a thick, thick yellow dust.  Then there are the falling branches. 
    See all those broken branches?  Each one can be as big as a small tree when it falls.  Any good wind or snowstorm meant we would be cutting up and taking a truckload or two to the landfill.  Sometimes the branches just get stuck up there.  I'd be mowing and worrying that it might fall on me.
     Multiply this by the five trees which might look spindly in the top photo but were all a couple of feet in diameter.
    So the fire truck came.  Yeah, that says fire truck.  This company took recycling to a whole new level--old fire truck reenvisioned for tree removal.
    Silly me, I thought that the trees would come out and I'd through some dirt down and reseed five spots.  In reality, as each of those big chunks fall, the grass gets torn up.  I should have realized this since it happened every time one of the limbs fell from storms. 
    After vacuuming the lawn, (Yes, I did vacuum the lawn much to the amusement of the neighbors with a shop vac because there was no way the lawn was going to grow under all the wood chips.)  moving a truckload of topsoil with a wheelbarrow, raking in grass seed, I had this:
    That's Brian trying to lift some heavy bags of wood chips into the truck.

    After almost two months of watering because Mother Nature decided it as time for a drought just when I needed some rain:
    Notice that it rained in both these photos.   No rain but a near useless sprinkle or two while I needed to water the lawn. Mother Nature can be a nasty wench.  Fingers are crossed in the hopes that the grass will all come back in the spring.