Friday, November 23, 2012

Felt Christmas Trees

My last sewing project for myself was the Truffle dress from the Colette Handbook. I had high hopes for it, had somewhere to wear it and everything, and just could not get it finished in time. My husband's birthday is less than a week after mine, so we had a quick overnight trip planned down to Berkeley to see the Delfeayo Marsalis Octect playing Such Sweet Thunder. I wanted to wear my dress that night, and was up late (WAY too late) trying to get it done but realized near the end that a) I was too tired to do things nicely and in the morning that b) I still needed to wash out the stabilizer I'd used all over the fabric. So it has yet to be completed - I needed a break from it, but there's really hardly anything left to do.

I HAVE completed this project, though! A friend of ours asked me to make this felt tree for their kids, and I made a few extra to hopefully sell online or at a craft fair I'm taking part in on December 1st.

They were fun and easy to make. I considered adding decorations (stripes, polka-dots, two-tone sections) to the ornaments but I didn't want to have any issues with them separating if they get chewed on or pulled at too much. The tree is about 45" tall, perfect to pin or stick up on a wall for the kids to play with. There are a few versions of these floating around online; this is just my take on it.

For anyone in the Santa Rosa area, here's the flyer for the craft show I mentioned:

If you're out shopping that Saturday, stop by!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pattern Pyramid Winner!

According to, the Pattern Pyramid will be traveling to Megan! Congrats! :)

Friday, October 5, 2012


Don't forget to enter the Pattern Pyramid giveaway if you want a chance to win - you have until Saturday night!

I couldn't figure out how to get the Google Earth tour to show up online, but if you have Google Earth and know how to add a tour, you can get the file here: Google Docs - it will fly you around the earth on the Pattern Pyramid Path (or something close to it)!

And here is an actual map, showing the places this batch of patterns has been so far:

View Pattern Pyramid in a larger map

In other news, my blue Clovers are done and have been worn, but don't have pics - update to come!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My "Gardening" 2012

I use the term "gardening" loosely, since we didn't plant a garden this year. Our yard just needed too much work and we had too little time to make it happen. I do have plants, however, and in the spirit of Gayla's "Herbaria" posts all summer (which are completely inspiring, take a look!), I decided to photograph what I had a few weeks ago.

Row by row, left to right:
  • Japanese maple - my grandma grows them and I have a tiny little tree.
  • Hydrangea - my grandma took a slip from some hydrangea plants that were part of our wedding 7 years ago and gave me the plant this year - I love how the pink flowers fade and the green color on the back.
  • Snapdragon - this is a tough plant, I've had this one for a few years and it's withstood quite a bit of neglect, vacations, etc.
  • Rose - I was going to pull this rosebush out, so I cut it back as far as I could early in spring. I never got around to pulling it, and it apparently quite liked the severe pruning.
  • Little white flower - I don't actually know what this is. But the plants in 3 pots on my back deck all died for no good reason… except this plant.
  • Rose - I have another rose bush by one of our windows - aren't they pretty when the new growth is still that burgundy color?
  • Blackberries - These aren't actually my plant and I don't want them, but they grow up over (and under, and through) our fence from our neighbor's yard.
  • Geranium - Another pretty tough plant, it shares a container with the snapdragon.
  • Peach leaves - Also not my plant; our neighbors have a peach tree that hangs over our fence. The leaves are already changing color (and were as of early September).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pattern Pyramid Giveaway!

The Pattern Pyramid has landed in California! I wanted to map out where the patterns I received have been so far, and look, there are fancy maps and everything: EDIT: There were supposed to be fancy maps. They aren't working like they were supposed to (one isn't even a map?). If I can get it to work there will be a map post to follow!

The idea of the pattern pyramid (started by the lovely Karen) is to pass a bunch of sewing patterns around the world! The rules are as such:
  • To enter, comment on this post between now and Saturday, October 6 at midnight PST. Open to anyone with an active blog - make sure it's included when you comment. Winner will be randomly selected by Monday, October 8.
  • The winner gets to pick one pattern to keep for him/herself and host a giveaway for the rest!
  • If you do win, please consider making a donation to The Brooke, a charity close to the heart of Catherine, who so generously provided these patterns.

Now the details:

My Pattern Pyramid Parcel had 5 patterns plus a Burda magazine. The hardest part of all this is choosing just one to keep - it has really brought out my inner greedy pattern hoarder! But I have decided to keep the Burda - and to pass it on sometime next year. TJ, the first recipient of this round of patterns, suggested making up your pattern during the giveaway period and passing it on - I do not have the time to do that right now, but I agree with the sentiment. Instead of giving in to that inner hoarder, I'll use it and pass it on - recorded here for accountability! I'm also adding in 3 vintage patterns that I recently picked up at a thrift store.

The Patterns

Butterick 6965 - 1950's
This one is new to the pyramid - Roobeedoo added it in hopes that it will be made and worn in a warmer climate than Scotland!

Simplicity 3385 - 1960's

Polynesian 181 - 1970's

Burda 7694 - recent

Vogue 1046 - Anna Sui - 2008

Simplicity 7672 - 1976
This is for a jacket, pants, and - wait for it - "pantskirt"! I think the jacket is great, though - look at that interesting detailing on the back.

Simplicity 4076 - 1952(ish)
This is for "girls' tap dance trunks, blouse, and skating outfit" - really, how could I pass this up? Even if just for the drawings on the envelope.

McCall's 7990 - 1982
Misses' Ballet Costumes - Halloween maybe? This was another one I just couldn't pass up.

Plus, you get your very own Pattern Pyramid label to sew into whatever you make! Good luck!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two Types of Ice Cream

I love ice cream. I love making ice cream because I get to mix up my own flavors. Over the summer, I made two types of ice cream.

The first: Candied Cherry Ice Cream with Fudge Ripple. My recipes come from the book The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. This started out as his "Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream," but when I started to make the ice cream I realized I didn't have almonds. So it's basically a simple ice cream base with some almond extract added. To make the candied cherries, you basically just cook down pitted cherries in water and sugar. I chose this recipe because cherries were in season. I added the fudge ripple because I didn't have the almonds! It was fun to make, and certainly stayed gooey and smooth even in the freezer.

The second one I made was White Chocolate Macadamia Oatmeal Praline Ice Cream. I was thinking of white chocolate chip macadamia cookies, but went with an oatmeal praline for the cookie part instead of plain cookie dough. I really liked the contrast of the ever-so-slightly-bitter praline with the (too) sweet white chocolate. I wouldn't make the white chocolate ice cream on it's own, and in fact would probably cut back the amount of white chocolate that went into the ice cream. It took 2 full bars (8 oz); I'm not really a white chocolate fan to begin with. I did like this ice cream with the add-ins, though. But it was super rich, so I could only eat a small scoop at a time without feeling sick - good portion control, I guess!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thrift Share Monday - Phonograph Cylinder

This post is part of Thrift Share Monday - you should check it out if you like thrifting or just looking at unique items people have found. Today I have a fun find to share! A while back, I was browsing through the Goodwill website and saw a bunch of phonograph cylinders listed from one of the local stores. I thought I bid on one or two of them, but apparently I didn't click through to confirm or I'm just going crazy. So after I saw they'd all been sold, I was looking through the website again and saw one last cylinder for sale, bid on it, and bought it. (Fun fact: I am having an extremely difficult time typing "phonograph" without a "y" at the end. I think my muscles think they're typing "photography"?)

I love it. It's an Edison Blue Amerberol cylinder with a recording of "Only a Pansy Blossom," which is a waltz, I believe. This was released in 1913 - it's almost 100 years old, folks. It's blue and awesome looking and currently lives in our living room. I should have opened up the tube to show you the actual blue cylinder inside... Maybe I'll post a photo to Instagram (which I am on now, by the way, evidence in the sidebar).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Working on Projects

For those who've been following the Pattern Pyramid, started by Karen at Did You Make That? - I won a round! More info to follow, and my first ever giveaway! :)

Other than that, I've been working on things but have nothing to show for it. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes isn't it?

One thing that's been taking my time is an intro to HTML and CSS class. I've been making a website about my sewing (what else?), so in a way I feel like I've been blogging and documenting my process. But none of that is showing up over here! And I don't necessarily want it to, it's a lot of filler so I can test out coding and whatnot.

I've been documenting my main autumn projects. One of those is finally finishing my drapes -- which I started way back in June! There are three windows in our living room that needed drapes, two of which are very small and only needed one panel each. I got the curtains for those two sewn up and realized that the remaining fabric wouldn't be enough for the fullness I wanted on the largest window (2 panels). So I waited for a coupon and finally ordered one more length of the fabric. I've since sewn up a wide panel and hung it the other night....

You may have noticed the completely uneven bottom hem? I'm not sure if that was due to uneven hemming or uneven folding of the header, but something is clearly not right! I'll have to unpick and resew that bottom hem (MUCH easier than re-doing the header).

Monday, August 6, 2012

SSPC 2012: Clovers Part A (aka Clover Shorts)

This is just a quick post, I'll give more details when I finally make the pants (hopefully starting them tomorrow evening!) These are the Colette Clovers, modified to have a front zip fly and shortened - I think I gave them a 4" inseam? They also have cuffs, sewn separately and attached so the shorts are permanently cuffed.

Fabric: Navy blue fine line twill, 100% cotton, from Fashion Fabrics Club. I was quite happy with this fabric, I bought it to make these as a hopefully wearable pair but knowing they could possibly be an unwearable draft. They have several different fabrics labeled as "fine line twill," so I'm sure others are different, but this was a lightweight, smooth cotton fabric. It was nice to sew with, and when I've worn the shorts, they haven't gotten wrinkly and they're comfortable and cool (temperature-wise).

(Side note: I did the zipper so poorly that they don't stay zipped up on their own and require a safety pin. Long shirts are also necessary.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

SSPC 2012: Green Skirt (Dress Refashion)

Last summer, I made a dress from the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2443 pattern - the same pattern I made my jacket from. It's a bit of a tricky pattern with the curves in the bodice, especially in a knit, but if you take your time and sew carefully it'll be fine. I wore this dress a few times, but it just wasn't working for me. The issues were all to do with my sewing and fabric choice, not the pattern itself. I'd love to make this again, possibly with a contrasting band around the neckline and waist like so:

But anyways, here's the version I made (as seen at the Coliseum in Rome):

I used a striped jersey knit for the top and an ITY knit for the waistband and skirt. I eliminated the neck bands because I didn't like how they'd look in a stripe. The first issue I had was that I apparently attached the skirt crooked. I think I cut the bodice with the stripes pretty straight, but when I tried it all on, the skirt was clearly veering lower on one side - which was made even more obvious by the way it didn't parallel the stripe above it. I slipstitched the waistband to be a little more even (because unpicking that knit was way beyond what I was willing to do), and it was wearable. But the more I wore it, the more the heavy skirt pulled at that stitching. It also just pulled at the bodice - ITY seems fairly heavy for a knit, especially when paired with a much lighter jersey. Which reminds me, I also had to line the bodice because it was kind of see-through, but I didn't have enough of the white jersey I was using (leftover from something else) to do it correctly.

So I ended up just cutting off the bodice, cutting off the white band at the bottom, re-hemming it, attaching some elastic to the waist, and calling it a new skirt. Voila:

I took this picture as I was heading off to work. so it's over exposed and I only took one shot. Oh well. I really like the color of this skirt, but I don't have enough things to wear with it. I think some back-to-school shopping will be in order soon (although I'm not going back to school...). The nice thing about a dress is that you don't have to figure out which shirt to wear with it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

SSPC 2012: Status Update

Officially, the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge 2012 has ended, but I'm setting my personal deadline through the end of summer. I guess that's less of a challenge and more of a seasonal plan, isn't it? I have, however, completed 6 of my garments (new & fixed/altered). I'm partially done with two of the other garments also, but "almost" doesn't count here. A review:

Pastille dress: New garment - technically started before the challenge, but completed as part of it
Blue roses skirt: New garment - started during last fall's challenge, but sat around waiting to be finished until this challenge. It's a completely hand-stitched Alabama Chanin pattern.
Green skirt: This used to be a dress, but wasn't thrilled with it and chopped off the top to make a skirt
Voile dress: This was altered to fit better and be more comfortable
PJ pants: These were a 2-for-1 as part of Karen's Pyjama Party as well as this challenge
Grey Clovers: I made these earlier this year in a class, but I hadn't completely finished them (umm, there may have been areas that were just basted, not fully stitched...) - until now

Still to be done:

Bird print shirt: This one is almost done. Well, in some ways it IS done - I was all ready to wear it and everything when I realized the blue chalk lines on the v-neck are still completely visible and I can't seem to remove them. Plus, the point of the V has started to tear, probably not helped by my efforts to remove the chalk. I need to figure out how to fix it as it's completed construction-wise but not wearable.
Blue Clovers: This seems like it would be simple as I've made this pattern already, but I want to tweak it a bit more as I'm not thrilled with the adjustments on the first pair. I'm trying to make a wearable muslin shorts-version to test my next set of adjustments, so it's kind of a double project. The shorts are almost done. So close.
Chambray Traveler dress: I haven't even pulled this out of the closet where it's been sitting in shame (it's way too big.) I wasn't excited about this one, but I've been thinking about it more and I'm ready to be able to wear it. It requires quite a bit of unpicking stitches, though (and I used French seams for a lot of it - extra unpicking).
Navy blue interlock shirt: The fabric didn't come in for this one, so I ended up switching the plan to a: Button-back shirt. I bought a black and white linen/cotton blend for this, and I'm hoping I can use a button-front shirt pattern I have to make a button-back shirt instead... not 100% sure it will work the way I want it to.

So numbers-wise, I'm more than half done. Amount-of-work-wise I'm less than halfway. I feel like I've made good progress. I've been wearing things I made, which is fun. I made quite a bit of sewing time early in the challenge, but I just can't set aside that much time lately. I'm going to keep working on this though, and I'd like to get at least the bird shirt and Clovers done in the next month; they're the two on my list I'd most like done to wear during the summer. And one more picture of them all together, because it feels good to see all these things that I've made:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Goings-On

We've been busy around here. I've been trying to eke out a little sewing time but don't have much to show for it. Last Friday we went to the Jelly Belly Factory with a group of jr. highers from our church. I'm snacking on some belly flops as I type.

On Saturday I helped my brother and his wife move into their new house. Then on Sunday we all (me, my husband, brother, sister-in-law, mom, and dad) went to the city for my dad's birthday - a Giants game followed by dinner in North Beach.

Yesterday was the 4th of July (obviously), and I worked on my Clover shorts all afternoon and got them this close to being done. They need a little hand-stitching and one more cuff sewn on. Then in the evening we went to my in-laws' house for a block party BBQ and a few fireworks.

This upcoming weekend we're heading back towards the city with the jr. high youth group to visit the Golden Gate bridge and hike around the headlands. And on a totally different topic, here's my one completed curtain. I still haven't finished the other one or ordered the fabric for the big one. Oh well. At least we can't watch our neighbors' TV anymore.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Craft Room/Office Reorganizing

This is what I've been busy with lately:

One of our extra bedrooms is an office/craft room all for me. The current organization is, well, lacking. I need shelving and boxes and have plans for things like a pegboard and a mirror I can actually see more than my knees and feet in. Today it's a little better than these pictures; this was when EVERYTHING was pulled out of the closet, out of cardboard boxes, out of piles on the floor. Our neighborhood is having a block garage sale in a few weeks, so I set aside things to sell and/or donate. Made a garbage pile. Still have quite a bit to go through and organize, but my fabric is purged and put away in plastic boxes and bins. I feel like I don't have much of a stash, but when I pull it all out there's more than I think. I only kept things I really liked and/or had actual plans for. And the supplies for my Etsy things.

And in other news, Juliet kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award! Thank you, Juliet! If you haven't visited her blog, do. Her sense of humor comes through in all her posts, she makes cute clothes and posts delicious-sounding recipes. And she's a kiwi, which is just fun to say. :) Thus I bring you:

Seven Things About Me

1. I married my high school sweetheart, and married him young (I was only 19) - this fall will be our 7th anniversary!

2. I work at my dad's business - two of my uncles work there as well

3. I've been playing Clusterz online way too much lately

4. I spent my 15th birthday in Venice - I know, right? I was very fortunate to go on that trip with my parents and grandma, and made quite a lot of memories

5. I was able to visit Europe again last year and took only a carry-on size suitcase plus a backpack for a 17 day trip. I was quite proud of that.

6. I grew up on the same street that my mom grew up on - with my grandparents up the road, my aunt and uncle next door, and other aunts and uncles up the road or over the hill at various times. Needless to say, we're a pretty close-knit family.

7. I bought this today (under the less exciting name "Biscoff Spread). Let's just say, I dipped a spoon straight into that jar. A few times. Nutella has the same effect.

And I would like to pass the award on, although I'm only going to choose 5 blogs rather than 15. These are all blogs that I've just recently started reading and would certainly recommend.

Alice of The Pin and Thimble - she's a new sewer, but is already making some lovely things. Check out her tie-dye skirt!

Jo of Making it Well - another new sewer, also making lovely things! She shares multiple types of projects and a lot about the process of each one

Lauren's Musings of a Flower Child - brand new blog to me, but she's got a soft, pretty style and and eye for good details

Erin of Opportunity Knits - She doesn't just knit, she sews and crochets. And even her sweeping is pretty - I certainly don't get to sweep up pretty flowers like that!

Paige of Lux Per Diem - Photography, sewing, life. It's all there.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Has Arrived

I got a new camera a few weeks ago! My old one was just getting old and starting to not work right. I'm still learning how to use this one, but it's been fun so far.

My hydrangea has started to bloom. This plant is from a cutting my grandma took from one of the plants we used to decorate at our wedding. Love that.

I made chocolate-cherry ice cream (I have a photo of the actual ice cream, but I think it's still on the camera.) Cherries are so pretty; these were cooked into a candied cherry syrup. I haven't made ice cream since last summer, I think. Working on remedying that.

I also made a sweater/jacket for a friend's new baby girl (who made her entrance to the world yesterday!) 100% cotton, pattern from Little Crochet by Linda Permann. I've made two patterns from this book so far and both were very cute. I need to work on choosing a yarn weight that fits the project ahead of time, though, I've had to make alterations for sizing both times because I chose heavier yarn than what was called for.

And the thing taking up most of my sewing time right now is curtains for our living room. We have woven wood blinds/shades right now, which I really like the look of, but they don't totally block the light. I also just wanted drapes - something to add some color or pattern or something. I'm making lined pinch-pleated draperies out of a small scale black and white gingham I bought from It's coming along fine so far, but they're much more time-consuming than I anticipated. Working with these big pieces of fabric take a lot of space (and pins!)

So that's part of my summer so far. An update on the Palette Challenge will be posted soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspiration: Beaded Sleeves

Last week was one of those weeks that just wasn't productive. I didn't feel motivated to do much, so the time I did spend working on things went towards a gift (yet to be finished... I had to redo a good chunk of it). I realized today I had this post sitting around half-written.

So, two weeks ago the Coletterie linked to this Threads article showing a pair of beaded and embroidered sleeves. If you haven't seen it, do! They're absolutely beautiful. The detail is amazing.

It got me thinking about how cute it would be to add sheer beaded sleeves to a simple top or dress. I lack the experience or ability to make anything quite like the inspiration, but I have done a bit of beading and rather liked it. The Alabama Stitch Book even has a little info on beading, and the stencil patterns from it would work for beading patterns.

I started looking for examples, and while they weren't all over the place, I did find a few (quite a few wedding dresses, too). Here's one:

Photo at

I like that it's more modern, with the very plain bodice and bright colors, but the beading is a little heavy.

This is example from Flickr is on a sweater and different beads than I'd use, but I like the random, scattered style with a stronger concentration at the hem:

I'd use a simple bodice and little cap sleeves for this. And wouldn't the Truffle dress look good with beaded sleeves and matching detail on the ruffle?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Notes to self: Fitting

I meant to put this in my original Pastille post, but seeing as how I forgot and it was a wordy enough post on its own, I'll put it in here. I mentioned some of these things, but I want to very clearly document fitting notes and future changes so that I can easily find them if/when I make a pattern again. Or for reference on similar patterns. I could write them down somewhere, but chances are I'd lose them. Blogs really are handy as notebooks.

Pastille Dress

  • Back bodice is too long
  • Waistline on front bodice needs to be raised a smidge outside of the darts
  • Skirt could still be straightened a bit - near the middle it still rounds out too much
  • Sleeves - didn't mark changes on pattern piece, so try to trace dress or just re-do them (or remove them)
  • Check waist length between front bodice and front skirt - it didn't seem to match up, probably forgot to adjust skirt waist after altering bodice


  • Make back bodice one piece and move zipper to side, add width to seam allowances for lapped zipper
  • Sleeveless or draft separate cap sleeves
  • Lace insertion at hem instead of pleats
  • Do the bow
Also, things I learned or tried:

Thread tracing
Using lace hem tape
Prick stitching, lapped zipper
Hand-stitched understitching on facings
Several certainly-not-textbook fiddlings to get those sleeves to lay right without unpicking everything...

And here's a close up of the fabric I used (in TWO colorways!) just because:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wooly Jacket, Part 2

I knew I had more pictures of this jacket. I finally found them in a different folder on my computer. I realized I like this jacket with a longer shirt, as shown here. I wore it the other day with one that just came to the top of my jeans and didn't like the look quite so much. Funny how proportions change the look of something so much.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SSPC 2012: Pastille Dress - DONE!

My sister-in-law gave me The Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, and I highly recommend it. There are reviews about it all over the place, so check those out if you want more info. It's full of great tips and very clear writing, plus it includes five patterns. I decided to start with the Pastille dress, which is a fitted cap-sleeved dress with three horizontal tucks near the hem. I used a pink cotton with a red and white feedsack style print that I bought from a local fabric store.

Why, yes, I *do* feel awkward taking pictures of myself!

I haven't done a whole lot of pattern adjusting before, but I needed to adjust this one. I liked all the cutting, moving, adjusting, and most of all - getting results. I tissue fit to figure out how much to take out for the SBA I needed, and I made the muslin with those changes. Then I just sewed the whole thing with 1" seam allowances so I could let out anywhere I needed to. I did not test the skirt at all. I realized at the end that the waistline needs to be adjusted a little bit, so I may test it all in the future.

The main adjustments I made were the SBA, taking some length out, especially in the back bodice (although it still needs quite a bit more taken out), and straightening the skirt a little. It had quite a pronounced outward curve around the hips.

The other change I made was to redo the sleeves. I sewed them up as drafted, but ended up carving a good slice out of the outer edge to make them shorter and change the curve a little. They just weren't fitting correctly over my shoulders. I will most likely change them more significantly if/when I make this pattern again.

I made my first lapped zipper on this dress! This dress was designed with a centered zipper already, so I made a centered back lapped zip. I could (and probably will) move it to the side next time. I feel like it's kind of conspicuous right there, and I certainly need more practice with those. I must have had it misaligned, because I have a weird fold/crease at the bottom and I managed to make the top edges not line up at all. I did not want to redo it, so I'm living with it.

That zipper is one of the reasons (excess back length being the other main one) why I like this dress much better with a cardigan.

I will probably wear it without one also, because I want to be able to wear it during the summer.

Besides the general awkwardness, I was using a different camera and not sure of its timing...

And in other news, my Alabama Chanin skirt is *THIS* close to being done! I just need to attach the waistband elastic, which I'm going to do tonight (probably while watching Once Upon a Time). I also have my 80's pattern t-shirt all cut out, and I'm re-fitting my Clovers as shorts - hopefully a wearable muslin. I ordered a few things from Fashion Fabrics Club, and lo and behold they didn't send me any thread, including the Woolly Nylon I was hoping to use on my knits, or the blue knit for the McCall's shirt. So I need to see what else I can find now. But I'm still making progess!