Tools and ‘quipment

I am so lucky that I have a husband who understands the need for the proper tools for the job, and not just in home repair and construction, but in any kind of production. If I say I need it, he says, “get it.” However, in this case I said, “You can make this, can’t you?” and he said, “Yes!”

This is a reversible ironing board used for sewing doll clothes. I saw one for sale online and thought that the price was reasonable, but why buy it when he can make it with scrap wood and I can certainly sew the covers myself. So here is what we made:

Doll clothes ironing board

This is going to make pressing in those small spaces so much easier and I won’t have to keep the larger ironing board set up during the construction.

If anyone wants to buy one of these, I can’t help you because the Etsy seller who originally had them, no longer has any up for sale. So glad I could at least still find the picture in her gallery so we could model ours the same. If I had it to do over again, I’d make it shorter….less space between the boards…but it’s still fine. I’d say the larger board is about 15″ long and the smaller one about 12″ Both boards are covered in several thin layers of cotton batting (like you would use for quilting) and then a double layer of muslin with a drawstring to hold it on tightly.

We are going to the camper on Thursday (yay!) and after we return on June 2, I can get started on making some American Girl doll clothes for my craft business. I. Can’t. Wait. For both things–the camping vacation AND the doll clothes making.


Almost three months!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted on here since July 4th!  My sewing room organization came to a standstill due to health issues and then vacations.  Two of them (the vacations, that is.)  We were away for 11 days in August and we have just returned from 9 days away again.  We do love our time at the camper but we are home now till next May. 

I have not been totally without projects, though.  I did finish my curtains for the camper, finally!  I forgot to take photos of them while there, so that will have to wait till next spring.  I also felt the need to make simple, square coasters while there, too.  I got tired of my wood/cork ones sticking to the bottom of the glass and then letting all the water fall on the table, anyway, getting our playing cards, papers, etc., wet.  Not helpful.  Anyhow, I bought some lovely flannel (1/4 yard made 8 coasters!) and I left 4 of them at the camper, bringing the other 4 home. 

These are actually a MUCH darker blue, but it doesn’t matter.  They are functional and washable.  They don’t clink, clunk, stick to my glass or drip water everywhere.  And they were fun and EASY.

After laundry, shopping and a doctor’s appointment Monday, then it was back to my job for the rest of the week.  I actually have two more Md. appointments this week and then next week I begin one month of jury duty.  Not excited about that, but the government doesn’t care.  So how come it’s my second time (last one being over 25 years ago) and my husband, who is nearly 70, has never been called??? Hmmmmm????  How does that happen?

Maybe this weekend I can work some more on the sewing room.  I need to pull nearly everything out and then figure out where to put the two (I hope I can use both) cabinets.  Then put stuff back in the best order I can arrange.  I think some things are going to be edited and some are going back in the “other sewing room.” (don’t ask 😉

I will come back with updates on all of that. 

I did manage to score some lovely things at the Goodwill in Wytheville, though, and will have some photos of that, too.   Coming soon…!

A fun charity project

I love to sew.  Not just anything, of course, because some things are just so boring, I’d almost rather clean a toilet.  I’m only exaggerating a little, but an example is hemming my husbands pants.  ALL of his new pants must be hemmed before he can wear them and most of them are jeans.  My hands are usually battered from pins by the time I’m done and he often buys 2 or 3 at once.  I hate that.

Making a lot of plain panel curtains aren’t much better though I’m not usually scratched to pieces by pins when their done.

But THIS project was fun, fast and allowed me full vent to creativity.  AND it will benefit some little girls who desperately need help.  The design is called a “pillowcase” dress, because you can literally make them from pillowcases, but I did not.  There are various ways to handle the arm holes, straps and bodices, and I tried a couple of them.  Anyhow, I had three of them turned out in no time at all and the fun part was embellishing them.  I had all these yo-yos I had made and some leftover trim from other projects, plus I decided to buy some white rick-rack.  Here are the results:

The dress in the middle was a longer one that I’ve folded up for the photo.

Some detail showing how I used the yo-yos.  One of the dresses also had smaller yo-yos on the back at the base of the ties.

Don’t you just love these bright colors???  And I found these fabrics on a clearance table, for very small $$$$, plus, their purchase also benefited another children’s group.  How great is that?!

The red trim has little white hearts (hard to see here) and was a leftover from something I made years ago.  I have no idea what or when. 🙂

So now I have finished something really fun and sent it off to “Little Dresses for Africa” (see my blog roll link for more info) and it’s time to get back to curtains for the camper.  I bought a number of plain ivory colored panels at Goodwill on my last trip there and some of them worked out fine for the front and back walls of the bedroom, but some will need to be shortened to exactly fit the space above our bed.  They need to fit a rod at the bottom as well as the top, because that keeps them from hitting the pillows and getting in your hair as you sleep.  So precision will be necessary.  It’s only two panels, though, so I can knock that out quickly.  But I’ve decided to use some red and beige fabric my son gave me for Christmas to make some bias trims for them.  I bought bias maker tools and they work really well.  I can get these two panels trimmed and take the rest with me to sew onto the two sets I left on the windows at the camper.  I can easily sew them on with the little Featherweight machine I left there.

I am OFF work for the next four days….State of MD “service reduction day” tomorrow and Labor Day on Monday.  I am looking forward to these lovely days and then, in about two weeks, it’s time to go back to the camper in the mountains for one last hurrah before fall and winter creeps in.

ADDENDUM:  WordPress informs me that this is my 100th post!  Yay!  And for that I get…..wait for it……..nothing 😦  But then, I’m only writing this because I want to.  Readers and comments would be good though.  If you are a regular reader…or even just passing through…please drop a quick comment to let me know.  It would be highly motivational for me.

Back home to reality.

Well, almost.  I still have a few days off, thank goodness, but home brings you back to real life almost instantly.  Laundry, cleaning, garden, groceries.  I decided to be good to myself today and ease in gradually, only doing the laundry (which was considerable!) and some picking up, along with some errands in town.  Oh, and reconciling the bank statment–not difficult, but time consuming and tedious, since we pay for nearly everything with our debit card.  It’s been a quiet day alone, since Jim had a “field trip” with my sis-in-law and her brother.  It was nice to be with myself.  I need that sometimes so I can clear my head and listen to my own thoughts.

But to show you how relaxing most of our trip was, here is a good representation:

The weather was mostly fantastic!  In the seventies and breezy, which was great for napping out by the creek.  Or handsewing by the creek, which was mostly what I did, but I took my turn in the recliner on occasion, too. 🙂

I discovered the joy of making yo-yos, which is quite addictive.  I wanted to have an assortment made up for embellishing some little dresses I’m going to make for a charity.  And of course, they have other uses, too, such as on handbags, sweaters, hairbands, etc.  Real afficionados sew them together and make placemats, table runners and even quilts.  I’m not fond of that look.  Sometimes less is more.

For the non-sewers, yo-yos are little fabric circles that are gathered up, so they look a lot like flowers.  They way they are done, there are no raw edges showing and they are very quick to make with the little plastic discs sold in sewing stores, though women have been making them for probably at least a couple hundred years.  You can make them in various sizes and layer them, or add buttons or beads to the centers. Here’s a sampling of mine in two sizes:

Flowery patterns/colors look great, of course, but even geometric designs like the stripes turn out beautifully.  When I ran out of the scraps I brought with me, I went shopping at Goodwill for something inexpensive to cut up and that’s where I found the flowery pinks.   You can get lots of beautiful fabric cheap if you are willing to shop at thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales (and if you only need small pieces.)  You just have to get over cutting into a beautiful garment.  Sometimes it’s hard.

So that’s my vacation.  Traveling a beautiful countryside, laying in a recliner by the creek, visiting with relatives on the deck, marshmallows over a campfire….and yo-yos.  Now it’s back to making more camper curtains and shortening some I bought (also at Goodwill), saving myself a LOT of time.

We did one other exciting thing on our last day and it involves a purchase I can’t talk about yet, so I will update on that in about a week.

Spring–not today.

We woke up to winter wonderland here this morning.  This is not at all typical for the region, but we were blessed with the beauty of it without much of the inconvenience.  It was nearly all gone by 4:00, except under the shade trees.  But in early morning it looked like this:

I’m so glad I brought in some spring time from my front yard, so I could still remember what season it really is.

I made a great dinner tonight that I will definitely duplicate on other occasions.  We had a wonderful pork tenderloin with a cocoa spice rub.  The recipe is one I found a couple of years ago in Food Network.  The recipe for the rub makes enough for several uses, and it keeps well on the shelf for several months, so it’s well worth the time it takes to put it together.  The meat is first rubbed with the spices and then seared with olive oil on all sides and finished in the oven.  It always takes longer to finish than what the recipe says, but it is always wonderful tasting.

I decided to not use a jarred applesauce with this wonderful meat dish (though I often do) so I found a simple recipe for Fried Apples to make it special.  I cheated with a box of original Rice A Roni, but it was perfect with our sweet pork/apple combo.  I can only handle so many things going on at one time, so I often opt for one dish that can just sit and simmer during that final half hour before the meal is done. 

The meal was outrageously good and Jim and I had to make ourselves stop eating because we were so full, even though our taste buds still wanted more. 

I’ve been productive lately, but have not finished the mose recent project, which is to recover our booth cushions from the camper.  It is a tedious project, but it’s going to make a huge change and will be the first real effort at gradually changing the color scheme from 70’s gold/brown to a more current grey-blue with white and beige.  I decided to not replace the foam bases (outrageously expensive) annd just recover the whole thing.  Since the fabric is not machine washable and will be spot cleaned only, there was no need for a zipper, so I just fit it around, pinned it and took it to the machine to sew.  I only need to hand sew one end to finish it. 

But….the cushions were button-tufted, so I needed to remove the original ones and cover new metal buttons with the matching fabric and then sew them on when the cover was otherwise done.  As I said…tedious.  But I really like the new fabric and I’m looking forward to photographing it for here when all four are done. Yes, that’s two backs and two seats.  I’m going back to it now, so see you later.

Miscellaneous stuff

I had great Turkey Day photos for everyone to see what I cooked and who came to visit, as well as photos of my latest project, but for some reason I have not figured out yet, all of them disappeared.  They were on the camera….I saw all of them.  And then when I plugged the SD chip into my computer no images were found.  Nor were they found on the camera anymore.  It must have been something I did, but just don’t know what.  Either that or my camera is about to die.  Hope not, since I’m not ready to buy a new one just yet.

I will retake the photos of my project at some point, but in the meantime please check out some blogs I recently found.  Sew I Do is a great sewing blog and she’s running a giveaway right now that crafters and sewers will be happy to win.  Please check it out here 

If you like to sew, you may also enjoy Trudy Callahan’s blog and do check out her 9 year old daughter’s blog .  She is learning to sew and blogging about her adventures.  I’m doing my best to support another generation of sewers.

I’m off to do some cleaning on this ugly, dreary, rainy day.  It’s still better than being at work 🙂

Warning! Domesticity attack!

So instead of cleaning out my car for the trip, I’m having this attack of wanting to shop, cook, bake and plan sewing & crafting projects.  Well, some of it is justified. I certainly need to have some small, portable projects to work on while I’m away, for times when I can’t do anything but sit in my hotel room or in someone’s house that I barely know (yes, I will be doing some of that.) 😦  I need something to read, too.  I still have to find a book that I can get into, but that’s not usually an issue for me.

I went shopping today and one of the things I need to do is clothing shopping.  I didn’t get to that.  I went to the thrift store and got 5 items for $1.25.  Fantastic wool blazers and a corduroy dress. They clear out their winter stuff just before spring and practically give any winter stuff away.   I buy these things for the fabric for future use (not my size)—oh, and the buttons are fantastic.   I got absolutely gorgeous 100% wool for small projects or a wool quilt I plan to make “someday.”

Then I went to Hancocks Fabrics and bought most of the fabric to make my grandson a new quilt, since he’s about to turn 13 and I last made him a quilt when he was 3.  He still has it and it’s falling to shreds.  That’s what everyone wants to see when they make their young loved ones a cuddle quilt.  They want to see that it was well-loved and used to pieces..  Of course, it had bright crayon colors and toy boats and airplanes on it–not at all the right thing for a 13 year old.  So he will be richly rewarded with a new one that has woodsy, nature designs–the perfect thing for a young man who loves to hunt and tramp the woods with his pop-pop Fred. Will try to post photos of the fabric tomorrow and will definitely have pics of the finished project….um–months from now.

The quilt is a project for after the trip.  I have another week off after my return from FL and I plan to make Julee another dress and then move on to the quilt. Haven’t made one in quite awhile, so I’m excited.  

I went to Michael’s and found yarn to make special small projects that I can’t talk about here, because some of them might be for persons who MIGHT read it here.  But I’m happy I found some yarn that I’ve had trouble locating AND I’ve got plenty to keep my hands busy while traveling.  I’m still working on a baby afghan, but that will probably be done before I leave.

Then I came home and decided to make homemade soup that took hours.  My beef veggie soup is wonderful on the kind of nasty day we had today.  It was cold and rainy and this soup made us both happy, plus we’ll have plenty for other days when I DON’T feel like all that cooking.   Days when I’ve come home from work wishing someone would just make me a cup of tea and tuck me into bed.  Might get a photo of that soup posted tomorrow, too.

Then it was on to homemade shortbread with chocolate and chopped hazelnuts on top!  Shortbread should be easy.  Heaven knows it sounds easy–there are only 3 ingredients.  But there is some science to it and I tried to rush the process, I think.   Oh well, it looks fantastic.  Will take photos after I cut it, but I’m still impatiently waiting for the chocolate to go back to being solid.  The topping IS easy–I just sprinkled about 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips on top as soon as the shortbread came out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Then I spread it evenly to cover the shortbread and sprinkled chopped, toasted hazelnuts (substitute your favorite nuts or leave ’em off if your prefer ) and a tiny bit of fresh ground sea salt. I hope I can make myself take pictures before I eat them all!  Oh, I forgot, I’m supposed to be sharing these with my brother who just had surgery and has returned home.  Dang.  Well, he can stand all that butter and sugar much better than I can.  Hope he likes them.

Credit for the shortbread recipe goes to Amy Karol, from her Angry Chicken blog.  She has a wonderful “cheat sheet” that she has posted with recipes for many of the things she makes repeatedly.  It is one fantastic page of basics you can keep on/by your fridge and it’s always handy when you need it. The basic shortbread is on the cheat sheet and she recently shared the chocolate topping idea with her lucky readers, too.  If you are a crafter, sewer, cooker, baker–a mom with young kids…any of those things, you can’t help but enjoy her blog.  Please check it out. (Link is provided in my blogroll.)

I was reading Amy’s blog tonight–after the shortbread–and lo and behold, today she has posted about making homemade butter. Oh my.  I know it’s easy and fun and fantastic, but do I need homemade butter?  And do I need another project of ANY kind this week?  Then I priced heavy cream. You only get about 1/2 cup/one stick of butter from a pint of cream, so it isn’t very economical.  But then, you do get the buttermilk too–for those wonderful buttermilk bisquits, hah!   That sound you just heard was probably my heart valves clogging right up from fat and cholesterol.  Maybe I should just THINK about homemade butter and bisquits.

Look for photos tomorrow, if all goes well….no, not photos of my heart clogging–that was not a good transition there—photos of my yummy cooking and future sewing projects.

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