Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Curtains!



Last time I was at Marden's I didn't buy any quilting fabric. Nope, not a scrap. But, I did buy yards of drapery fabric. Yards, because curtains take yards. This pair took over 8 yards because they are fairly long and I wanted that extra ruffle on the top. At $1 yard for very good quality drapery fabric (extra wide too)- how could I go wrong? OK, so the selection was pretty picked over and I will admit - I was hesitant about this plaid... but it had a such a nice feel and I thought it would work out OK. Now I think it worked out better than OK - they really look much nicer than I thought they would. The fabric is heavy and has a nice sheen to it... it took a press very sharp and was easy to sew (I used a size 16 needle and a slightly longer stitch length). I was careful to cut it so the plaids would line up. While curtains are fairly straight-forward - it is still alot of sewing - I used almost 2 bobbins.
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This is the 1st room to get new curtains. The tie backs should have white piping around the bottom edge, but the store only had 1 package and I needed 2... so I just went ahead and finished these up and can always add piping at a later date if I really want to. Right now they are hooked on existing hooks, but I think that I will lower the hooks for these curtains. Done is done and I am really happy with how these turned out. They replaced white lace curtains with venetian blinds... those dumb blinds are constantly getting stuck/broken/whatever, so I am happy to have these nice big curtains now instead. Next up for this room is getting some of the furniture moved around, but that isn't as important as having curtains. One thing at a time!

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Mixer!

DeLonghi Mixer
A few months ago, our very old, but trusty Kenwood finally died. So, we lived for awhile with storebought bread, storebought pizza, storebought treats. And - we could not grind meat because the meat grinder goes on the mixer. Yuck. To add insult to injury - all those things cost about 4X more than what they should at the store. A good mixer is really a money saver if you use it! If you just let it sit on the shelf and collect dust - not so much. Anyway - I now have a new mixer! This one: http://www.citychef.ca/xcart/customer/product.php?productid=18214 - it is much bigger than my old mixer - so I have to start experimenting with increasing the recipe because the mixing bowl looks pretty empty when you make just 1-2 batches of something. And with an 1100 watt motor - I think it will stand up to some serious use!
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Here is a photo of my NEW K-hook compared to the old one. Yup - the new bowl is huge!



So far I've only made honey oatmeal bread and cinnamon rolls and then more cinnamon rolls - yum! Then again, it did just arrive only the other day! I haven't even had a chance to start some sour dough starter.
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I never made cinnamon rolls before but my son loves them and I got to thinking - how hard can they be to make. OK, sure you have to let them rise and then rise again (like bread), but since I make bread already I can just make the 2 at the same time. Here is a photo of my very 1st batch of cinnamon rolls -which were absolutely yummy. BUT - the recipe never said what size pan to put them in and I put them in a small pan - oops!


They disappeared anyway and I made another batch using a Pyrex rectangle pan.
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Here's some photos of how I made them... 1st I let the dough rise for 1 hour before rolling it out into that rectangle, brushing with butter and brown sugar/cinnamon.

Roll longways and slice. My end pieces are a bit funny looking, but trust me, they taste fine.

Lots of space left in the pan before the 2nd rising! See why I used a small pan the 1st time around?



After rising - ready to go in the oven.

Yum!

Oh yes, I think I am really going to love my new mixer for years to come! And my son? He loves Momma's cinnamon rolls!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Is Important?


Some days... well, I just feel like I am juggling alot of balls all at once. My days are busy, between my business, my son, my routines of sewing, gardening, cooking, housecleaning, whatever. I have my own worries in life. And to relax - I just might cruise around some blogs - and then feel VERY un-artistic. When, really I would like to feel artistic. Why can't I make my blog look like a magazine spread? Why am I still using old fabrics instead of the latest and greatest? Why can't I get better photos? Why can't I cook more creative food? If only I had 48 hours in every day instead of 24. I must keep my eye on my own prize - my life, my family, what I AM able to accomplish.
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I accept things the way they are... and have no regrets. Because if you are always dreaming of tomorrow, you just might forget to hug today. And truthfully, I sort-ov wish I could hug and hug today forever and make it stay. Because today... well today I am my little son's hero and he loves me so much. And it takes so little effort, really - just lots of love and patience! And to remember that time is fleeting so for heaven's sake - put aside whatever it is that I am doing that I think is so important and go have some fun together! Parenting articles always seem to tell you - take time for yourself. I have very little time for "myself" unless a shower counts? And I do like to go bike riding by myself. But mostly, for me, "my" time is having fun with him.


Because right now, in this moment in time... Because... well, because I am taking the time to fly a kite with my son. He runs across the field and shouts - "this is fun, Momma!". Priceless! And I run next to him while he rides his bike on the real road (love my new sneakers - Momma's need a treat once in awhile too). "Don't worry Momma, don't worry - I am being careful". Wobble, wobble, wobble. And then have to go to the store because I lost the sunscreen and we both need it. And bugspray - because for some reason all the bug spray got squirted ON the bugs (to kill them) and the "pet" snails and slugs (so the bugs wouldn't bite them). The cooler I need today has been converted into a slug condo so will have to be washed out. And I wait in line so he can ride 3X around a field in a horsecart at a street festival. I buy him mini gardening gloves at the Dollar Store so he can weed the flower bed without getting rashes on his hands - that keeps him busy while I mow the lawn to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Help him change his clothes several times because he is playing in the sprinkler. We are putting together a model. We draw pictures together. Meals (and snacks) must be on time or the world will fall apart (we always have a small cooler of snacks in the car) - trust me on this one! We make brownies past bedtime (Shhh - we miss bedtime on non-school nights). A quick clean up of the days mess. And by the time he is in bed, I am so tired. And for some reason - my house also looks like constant chaos. Ah, but that garden bed is looking pretty spiffy!
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BUT I don't want to ever forget the joy in these simple things... so I take my photos along the way... when the camera battery is charged. Because sometimes, just sometimes, my camera charger plug gets unplugged to charge some very important toy. Phooey!
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Please, I don't want to ever forget these days... when he accidentally let go of his kite and went tearing across the field to get it - successfully! When we went to the zoo yesterday - last time we went to a zoo he was a baby - and what was his favorite thing? Feeding the baby ducks corn (25 cents a handful), and petting the sheep - he had never seen a sheep before. Oh wait - I take that back - we spent a good hour picking up duck feathers on the ground and today he spent a good hour making a book of his feathers. Or maybe it was the child's map they gave to him... he loved referring to that. Oh, and when he ran along side the zoo staff lugging a bucket of meat to feed the lions... "what kind of meat are you feeding them (moose) - "oh, do they like moose better than humans?" He is so funny and happy and lively and full of energy and questions - and funny without meaning to be (because he really thinks he is asking a serious question).
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This week he will be six. I will never be able to get newborn, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 back. We are headed into SIX. I have loved each and every stage of his life so far! I know I am not the perfect parent, but I really do try my best. I have to take deep breathes and remind myself to be calm - MANY times. It really is a concious effort sometimes and fortunately - he never seems to notice a 10 second lag. Those 10 second lags have allowed me to carry on calmly. Because really, in the big scheme of things - all the messes along the way don't really matter. And somehow, despite my worst fears (call me Nervous Nelly - I just don't want anything bad to happen to him), he is still here, in one piece. The smile on his face, his pure joy, his cuddles and spending this time together with him now, that is what is important.
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P.S. - He is wearing he 1st ever T-shirt I've made (at the zoo). See, I actually do get some sewing done!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Simplicity 4076



I made this top in December and seeing that it is still 40-50 degrees out almost every day... I am still wearing it. Guess it is a good thing I like it! The neck is low so unless you sit up bone straight all the time and never ever bend over to hug a child... well, I just wear a black tank top underneath. Those sleeves are a real pain when it comes to washing dishes or if you don't watch what you are doing when you eat. But they look cute, right? The only pattern adjustment I made - I lengthened it a fair bit. It was quick and easy to make.
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This is a great winter top and I am planning on making at least 2 more for this coming winter (I will make the sleeves narrower and I will probably be making the scoop neck version). Because the front pieces overlap - I think that the pattern would be too warm for a summer top unless you used a very lightweight knit.
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I don't have a coverstitch machine, but I did the topstitching using a double needle for knits. The back side has a little zigzag and that gives it enough stretch to use on knits. Great solution if you don't have a coverstitch machine.



Monday, June 08, 2009

Simplicity 2927



This dress took too long to make for what it is... but it is done now!
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Complaints about the pattern:
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1. NO way was the facing going to lay flat. So, I put down an old Canadian dollar (the one that is bigger than a Loonie), traced around that and made the facing bigger. So my facing is more of a keyhole.


2. LOTS of curves on this pattern. The side pieces had no lower notches to match with the center front - there really should have been at least 1 lower notch. I trimmed every curve with pinking shears. On the facing photo above - afterward I also turned up the raw edge and stitched it down flat. Using pinking shears makes it very easy to turn up curved seams.
3. Not the patterns fault - but my fabric ravelled everytime you looked at it! And did NOT hold a shape, press or pin. So, I ended up top stitching EVERY single seam. EVERY single one at least on 1 side and the side seams on both sides. I like the look of top stitching. I top stitched the yoke too make sure it doesn't lose it's shape. And I also zig-zagged along the zipper - it doesn't show from the outside, but hopefully will keep the fabric from raveling. All the top stitching looks nice, but did take extra time so the dress took me a bit longer than I thought it would.
4. The corner treatment of the pocket was really sloppy - leaving an unfinished edge a tiny bit exposed. Sloppy and I was surprised. And had already done all the work on the pocket and made the called for snip before I realized that this was a bad instruction. Bad, bad, bad. Glad I wasn't using a super expensive fabric.
5. The directions instructed you to press the yoke facings up and then to trim to 1/4" - but if you did that I don't see how you could have possibly sewn the front side and back side together neatly. I did not do the trimming and was happy that I didn't. A little wiggle room can be a good thing. You are sewing around curves here so I thought the extra fabric was helpful in preventing raw edges from accidentally not getting caught in the stiching here and there. I hate it when that happens! I used lots of pins on the yoke and thought it came out pretty good.
6. That yoke is hard to get nicely rounded. The good news - you overlap the 2 of them so if 1 is not perfect you can hide it under the better one. The instructions for getting the yoke around the dress were bad if your dot didn't line up exactly at the edge. You actually have to stop sewing a tiny bit before the dot in order to leave turning room to get the yoke to wrap around the dress.
7. I don't like the instructions for the zipper. I prefer to baste the seam, lay the zipper down on the seam, attach and then unpick the basting... perfectly lined up every time. WHY did I follow the directions? My way would have been faster. Not only that - the notch to stop stitching the seam to allow for the zipper - stopped a bit too low so I had to go back and sew the seam a bit longer... grrr. Why didn't they just mark the notch in the correct place to begin with - a 20" zipper with an opening bigger than 20" just doesn't work.
8. The yoke turns up a tiny bit and looks like a mini wing. Hopefully it will lay flatter after washing. I thought the yoke would be wider than it actually is.
9. The arm holes really stick out like wings! I took it in some without having to red0 everything. I will have to have my super sewer sister look at it to come up with a clever idea to take it in a bit more - maybe tiny darts because I really, really don't want to take off those arm facings with all my topstiching in place. The fabric is busy enough to hide a fix.
10. Tighter fitting through the hips that you would think by looking at the pattern and a bit roomy in the waist (plus those underarm wings). The sizing just seemed off on this one. Usually I baste my main seams together to check the fit but you can't do that with this pattern because of the top yoke.
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There - I think that covers all my complaints. Since this was a Project Runway pattern AND Simplicity (I like Simplicity patterns) I was pretty disappointed in the pattern. I wouldn't really recommend this particular pattern because of all the issues (especially the fit issues)... other pattern companies have similar patterns out and I might try another version at a later date. Still, I like the dress well enough to wear it this summer. It is out of a really nice polyester - thick enough not to be see through and feels cool. It will never wrinkle and with all that top stitching will hold its shape. The fabrics were $2 a meter - the buttons, zipper and thread cost more than the fabric. And the pattern I got for $1 at Joanne's sale.





Thursday, June 04, 2009

And that was May!


How did it get to be June already? I am hoping for warm weather up ahead as May stayed a pretty steady 8C (mid 40's) most the month.
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A quick re-cap... I celebrated my May birthday. One of the ladies at quilt group makes a monthly birthday cakes ... she does lovely cakes!
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Sewing wise - what did I make? Well, I did make that summery dress I blogged about earlier - but I can't take a photo of it until it warms up enough to actually wear! I have been working on a 2nd dress and am making progress. 1 thing at a time!
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I did that small baby quilt and have it almost completely quilted now. And - I did finish my Courthouse Steps quilt top.
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And, I've started another diamond project - I am determined to conquer diamonds. Sooner or later it will happen.
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Pitiful, pitiful, I absolutely can NOT remember what I did unless I review my photo card on my camera. I swear - I would forget my entire life if I didn't take photos along the way! And then I download them onto my computer by month/year. My saving grace because how could I possibly explain to people that I just don't remember making an entire quilt top - but then when I review my photos - oh yes, I DID make that quilt top. Hummm. Oh and we did lots of fun things too during the month of May....
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Right - so a bit out of order... but we went bike riding some, I've was good about going to the gym 1X a week, I went to quilt group, our community had a great concert, I went to a funeral, the Momma kitty brought out her 3 baby kittens, we went away for a few days, my friend knit me a fabulous scarf, I got new sneakers, the apple trees are in blossom, the humming birds arrived as well as 100's of other springtime birds, AND finally - my kitchen sink is installed. Life is bliss I tell you (or would be if it would just warm up a tad bit). I KNOW - because I have the photos to prove it! I wouldn't think that you could pack that much into a mere month, but obviously we did!
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And this is so cute - my son - searching for tadpoles last weekend. Yeah, we spent a few hours at this ditch - but I brought a book and my handy-dandy portable beach chair and we both were very happy!