Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Repurposed table cloth into curtains

One of my favorite things to eat is Miso soup and sushi. An asian salad and soup is great, too. Sometimes I choose cashews, madarin oranges, sesame seeds, green onion and ginger dressing. This time I used wasabi soy beans, sesame seeds, crunchy noodles, red onion and green onion, and ginger dressing. Green tea alongside, mmmmmm. I just love it. I could eat asian food every day. My brother's wife is Korean and I love to eat at their house. When her mother visits from Korea I am at their door so fast, its rediculous. Watching her mom cook, I make mental notes so I can make her dishes at my house. "Kim", the sushi wrappers that are in little squares, I love to eat those with rice. My neice and daughter both love it. Kinda funny that our kids will eat seaweed but push away other food.
Anyway, notice the blue square bowl? I am in love with that deep, dark blue.

While shopping in Target, I had found this blue and white table cloth on clearance. Probem is, when I moved, it didn't look right in the room. So, I repurposed it into kitchen curtains. I have always loved cobalt blue and white. There's something about those colors that is so soothing to me.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I enjoy watercolor painting. When a man I dated left for Afghanistan, I sent him goodies in the mail. I painted this for his postage label and copied it on the printer. I inserted it into a plastic sleeve page and taped it to the top of the box. When he returned, he had the box top with him. He absolutely loved it. It showed my thoughtfulness. ( Along with his favorite 60% cocoa chocolate chip & walnut cookies I sent in a tin among other food items I mailed. )

I haven't had time to paint since I have been working on clothing designs and an idea for a Christmas craft. My daughter's preshool is only 3 hours 4 days a week and that isn't very condusive to creativity. I try to cook meals that will last a few days so that I can have more time to make things. I spent yesterday creating that blog title thing but it's so big. I can't change the size, frustrating. If it is annoying, please let me know.
Advent calendars are great and I have an idea for a shabby chic one. I just need to hurry. I also need to make 18" doll clothes and baby doll clothes for gifts. We have the "Molly" American girl doll. It caused crying and squeeling with delight when my daughter tore the paper and saw the red box and the doll's face last Christmas. So, I have 2 patterns for doll clothes. I do not want to come up with my own pattern for that. It's simply too much work. The construction will take enough time. I may make a bag for the doll. Not sure.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Putting in Grommets

Pandas are the favorite of the 4 year old dress up queen that lives here. So, with cold weather here I have been creating a pattern for a knit tunic dress or top. The velvety spandex leggings I made about a week ago. I created a pattern for those, too. This dress is a mock up of what the final dress garment will be. Its a little too wide in the shoulder area but my daughter's chest is narrower than most 4 year olds.
The panda ears are kind of crooked. I noticed that after. You see, while I sew, my crafting room gets torn apart. My child invades all my drawers, shelves, etc... She climbs on my back while I am at the machine. Its amazing that I even am able to construct a garment. Pheww.....
So forgive the crooked panda ears, please. Anyway, I found this houndstooth knit and I had to have it. The hot pink had to be added in order to convince her to put it on. I love all colors. I really don't have a favorite. In her mind, though, pink and purple are fantastic. The panda had to have rhinestone eye balls, too.

Putting in the grommets was super easy. Bought a kit from Hancock fabrics here in town.

1. I spaced the grommets by "eye" and then traced the inside of the hole with washable pen. The instructions say to cut a hole.

2. I didn't I used an awl and pushed it through the knit. I snipped tiny cuts around the hole made with the awl.

3.The fabric was then stretched around the grommet. I used the tip of the awl to guide the fabric over the edge of the grommet.

4. The bottom grommet fits into a black ring under the fabric.

5. The top grommet fits inside of the bottom one. The top grommet is the longer and wider ring. The long silver tool fits over the top grommet and you just hammer that until the top grommet pushed through and wraps around the bottom grommet.

Voila! Easy and I love all the possible ways I may be using grommets.

The bottom grommet pushing through the fabric hole made with the awl and tiny cuts

Punching the awl through the fabric

Simple Dritz kit I purchased

Bottom black ring and the top peice for the hammer comes with the kit.

Placing the grommets by sight

sofa table sewing

Then, this painful event occured while serging.... I use a sofa table for my machines. I like that it is sturdy and doesn't vibrate. I scooted my chair under the serger and rammed the sharp point of the wood into the soft part of my knee. It hurt so bad I had to lie on the couch. Of course that wasn't enough to deter me from my mission. I sat down, throbbing knee, and continued serging.
I need to write a post on accidents in the sewing room. You know, like burning yourself with the glue gun or the iron, stepping on a needle, cutting your fingers with scissors. My favorite is the rotary blade accident with my son when he was three. He reached up onto my counter top and pulled it down. Holding my hand out, I said, " give mommy the cutter, please" He replied with a rebellious, "no" while pulling his arm back to show his posession of it. That action caused the blade to slice through his face, right next to his lips. I had a plastic surgeon stitch it up. I have never forgotten that moment. He is now 17 and has dated the entire cheering squad at his high school. It obviously hasn't affected his looks.

I try to always leave the rotary cutter on lockdown now. My female Dennis the Menace that I live with could, however, figure a way to unlock it, I am sure.

I flatlocked the top peices together on my serger. To make sure that the top didn't stretch too far at the opening. I put a 3" satin stitch across the bottom before putting in the grommets. A peice of the tearable embroidery paper was used to sew over the two adjoining peices easily. Then, you simply tear it away. Love that stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I bought a plastic knife set from Walmart and this was my first attempt at palette knife painting.
Regretably, I haven't had any formal artistic training in painting. The public school I went to had art classes but we were only allowed one elective. I chose chorus and drama and only one year of art. In that class we never went over any techniques for painting. About 10 years ago, I picked up some cheap acrylic paints and just started painting. I painted a picture of Berkley Plantation in Virginia. Which is actually the sight of the first Thanksgiving in 1619. The long winding dirt road that leads to the grand entrance is beautiful and feels like traveling back in time. Berkley is the home of Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

I lived in Suffolk, Va and I used to take a drive to the ferry in Surry, VA to Williamsburg. Then, I would drive route 5 to visit the plantations. My favorite plantation was Westover, William Byrd's estate. After reading his diaries that provide insight into the daily life of a colonial plantion owner in Virginia, I would sit under the trees along the James River and I could actually picture the people who lived there. There was a church on the property that Maria Byrd had dismantled and moved up river because there was too much partying after church on the property. That story made me smile.

Westover Plantation in acrylics
I think I improved from the first painting to this one.

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Anyone ever tried painting with acrylics? watercolors? any insight? advice?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making a Corset

I love this book by Susan Khale and Claire Shaeffer. Actually, any book by Claire Shaeffer is a favorite of mine. What a wealth of knowledge she has packed into her books. I highly recommend any of her books. Another one is below, "Couture Sewing Techniques". I have even taken this book with me while I soak in the tub.

And, I must say, I am a fan of Project Runway. I just wish I could see more of their sewing techniques. I like to watch the construction of the garments. I have a formal occasion to go to and I had this antique reproduction pattern that I purchased about a year ago. I can't find the pattern now, but it is a Simplicity pattern, I think. I made a muslin. The fabric is not very expensive. Its a faux silk outiside and broadcloth interlining and then duck cloth on the inside. After basting by hand and sewing the peices together by machine, I have been spending hours handsewing the raw edges under. I do need to make a modesty peice so that my skin isn't showing under the lacing. I want to use a different fabric, I think. I am thinking about covering the corset with machine embroidery, lace, and beads. I will make a skirt to wear with it. Just need to surf the net for some lace.

This is time consuming. I hope it turns out to be great.

My daily activity is full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner making. Although, I did make a huge pot of chicken and dumplings to eat off of for a week. I had to break down last night and eat steak with a red onion sherry sauce and horseradish on the side, sweet baked potato, and a salad with artichokes. This morning the pancakes I made were so filling I couldnt finish them. I used a quick biscuit mix instead of making them from scratch with buttermilk. Now its time to think about lunch and then back to stitching.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christening Gown (smocked & embroidered)

slip with scallop edge stitch done on my Bernina

Shadow Embroidery on the bottom

lace and tucks created with crochet thread and a special grooved foot for pleats

hand embroidery on the bodice and the hemline

tiny seed beads sewn throughout

Australian Smocking Magazine had this gown feautured on the front cover of one of their issues. I fell in love with it. The materials were about $200. It was tedious, but loving work. Something that I hope she can look at later and see how much effort I put into this garment for her. A tangible object that when she touches the places I embroidered with my hands she will hopefully think about the hopes I have for her life.

I have been working on a pink fur coat and hat that has taken some time and design effort. In between I have baked pumpkin cheesecake muffins & shepherds's pie. Running back and forth to preschool and dance lessons has cut into my creative time.

An idea for an advent calendar of some sort is being drafted in my head. Hopefully, I will be able to actually produce it. My sewing area looks like a small animal was run over in there. pink fur rolls all over the floor. Faux fur is a mess to work with. My clothes were covered in hair. Not a great idea when you're wearing black pants. Knocking over a container of beads that were organized was a frustration. Luckily, my daughter decided to help me organize them again. It gave her something to do. She loves going through the buttons and ribbons.

Yesterday I cut dress shapes out of that foam stuff and she colored them with markers. I tried to show her how to sew with felt but she isn't ready for that yet.

There is never enough time in the day for me to do all I have planned for the day. Its a shame I require sleep.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Smocked Bishop Gown

smocking design is by Ellen McCarn

Two 1/2" tucks above the ruffle hem. I thought maybe I will take these out as she grows.

I hand crocheted an edging to match the angel sleeves

This dress was made a couple of years ago. It is still her favorite dress. The large ruffle hem at the bottom gives it a major twirl factor. She happens to adore Strawberry shortcake and she has the doll. The fabric, voile, in a pale yellow with strawberries, I found at Hancocks on clearance at the end of summer. Its very thin, and easy to see through.

Problem: the crochet thread ended up bleeding onto the fabric after a washing. I was not happy about that, needless to say. I recommend Ellen McCarn's beginner smocking booklet. I have one that belonged to my mother. After my initial smocking lesson, I referred back to it from time to time. I also am a "Sew Beautiful" magazine fan.

Hope you are inspired...