Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I've been knitting.


It's different than sewing. I get to watch more TV* when I knit. As long as I stick with simple patterns and repeat them 15 times. Seriously. I've knit this hat at least that much. I kept making it too small or too big. But then I got it right.

Speaking of screw-ups. This.


Well, not that one. But the one I made before it, when I put the damn buttonhole (which was excellent, by the way) in the wrong place. I thought I was being all clever by sewing the hole before assembling the bag. And I'm sure that is a clever approach for folks intelligent enough to think through where the fucker should end up to create a properly functioning bag.

I'm seriously in love with both those fabrics. They're Denyse Schmidt for JoAnn. DS Quilts is what the bolt said. And they were half off. Score.

Hat+clutch (free Kwik Sew pattern here)=birthday present for a good friend in Butte.

:: ::

Thanksgiving leftovers have come and gone.


It's December, for fuck's sake.

We cut down a freaking adorable tree in Red Lodge. I tried to take artsy photos of the dogs in front of it. I failed.


Shitty photos always look better in black and white.


Our tree came with real pine cones.


Take that, you people-who-put-up-fake-trees-and-adorn-them-with-cinnamon-blasted-pine-cones types.

See that popcorn garland? Yeah, I sewed that shit. I feel like I need one more to have an aesthetically decorated tree (read: the bottom half has garland. The top doesn't. That's not cool.)

:: ::

I got a request to make ugly dolls. I think I succeeded.


:: ::

OK, so I feel bad that I never posted a photo of this finished pillow.

Linen pillows

*Just to clarify, to me TV means whatever DVD I pull out of our the wagon of movies, all of which I've seen at least five times. But we ain't gots no cable. Or noncable, whatever that's called.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A quilt finish!

Wheh! It's been a while.

Al's quilt

**JUST TO CLARIFY, this isn't my own pattern or idea. I saw something like it on Pinterest maybe ... anyway, just not claiming it.

A quilt for my brother's birthday! He's 25.


I was just terrified of sandwiching and quilting this beast, but it wasn't a big deal. I think this helped:


It's my first bed-sized quilt. I didn't get a final measurement, but it covered the top of our full-size mattress with a little drape.

Anyway ... the brother loved it! I gave it to him on his visit out here at Thanksgiving, and he used it when he crashed on our couch. Twice. We do holidays right in our family.

The specs:

Fabric is a mix of Kona solids (Orange, Jade, Earth and Daffodil) and Essex Linen (PFD and Sand).

The batting is Warm and Natural.

I used straight-line quilting, with rows an inch apart. I marked the lines with a Clover water-soluble marker, and about had a heart attack when the whole soluble thing wasn't solublizing. But it came out after a go in the washer sans soap and a tumble in the dryer sans heat.

We had fun photographing this one.



And most importantly, the brother loved it.

:: ::

On other fronts, I built a lightbox.

Light box!

Specifically to take photos of the dinos.


This one was mostly a just-to-see-how-it-works effort; now I want one big enough to accommodate sewing projects.

I made some super wonky stars.

SUPER wonky stars


More onesies


Tag blankie. It's from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing for Baby. I made it to test sewing with minky, except I cheated and sandwiched some batting in there too (for sturdiness). Finding fabric ribbon was hard! My JoAnn didn't have any. I went to Target, but all their gift-wrapping ribbon wasn't fabric. But the ribbon adorning their gift bags was, so I bought a few and appropriated the ribbon. Not too bad of a situation, because gift bags (the rad plain brown paper ones) always come in handy.

Tag blanket

Soft baby blankie. The front is a great flannel. The back is super-soft minky. I've never really sewed with either before and was nervous. The flannel was fun. The minky made me swear a lot. It's slippery, even with a walking foot. But it makes an awesome baby blanket. I sort of wish I'd used a piece of quilt batting in the middle to give this thing some weight, but I don't the the layers would have stuck together.


I made a pretty bad-ass pie.


Ran well with others.


And learned some new skills!



All in about a week and a half.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


There's this quilt I'm working on ... and I'm not totally wild about it. About 50 percent of the time I love it, and the rest of the time I think it's awful.

I've dealt with it by avoiding it, until today. The recipient of the quilt will be here in two weeks, so it's time to get busy.

But for the last half month or so, I've done other stuff. I think I get most of my sewing done when I've avoiding some other project.

Another pair of Henry pants!

Pants the II



Cardigan from old hoodie

Finally bound these pillows. The blue one is also done, but not washed. And since they spent a month on the couch with the dogs, they need a good washing before I'll show them publicly.


Pillow back


Also, a trout.



And then two bags lined with ripstop nylon. First, an insulated bag. Or a wet bag. Whatever you need it for.

Insulated tote-wet bag

The guts are Insul-Bright. The outside is cotton ticking from JoAnn. The tutorial I used is here.

And then came the toiletries bag.

Toiletries bag

And two little bean bags/fabric weights from the snipped corners.

Pin cushions

There's also been lotso baking! This, in particular.

Apple cake

I don't think it needs frosting. But I added it here because I made this cake for work, but ate the whole top off when it came out of the oven and needed to hide that.

Chowder did a bit better at the dog park last Sunday.


And, finally, Echo came!


I went up to the sewing room at 10 a.m. to start work on the quilt I'm dreading. And I forced myself to clean up in there. When I was almost done, our mail carrier knocked on the door to drop off this wonderful package! What a reward for being all responsible and adult-ish and stuff.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I got back from vacation last night and unleashed four days' worth of saved-up sewing.

Henry pants!

Henry pants!


They're for Henry, the most adorable baby in the universe. Ever. His parents were nice enough to let me stay with them Sunday night and took me along to a delicious dinner/pumpkin-carving/dog-petting/Muppets-watching evening.

I borrowed a pair of Henry's pants with the plan of drafting a pattern, but then remembered the simple pants pattern in the Simple Sewing for Baby book I have.

The pants from the book turned out the same size as Henry's, except the length -- they were about 3 inches shorter. So maybe he'll have capris. I got the hanger at Bitters Co. in Seattle for $12. It's from Paraguay.


I also powered through this last night.

Potholder! I stopped in Bozeman on my drive home and got some Insul-Bright. Every store in Billings has been sold out of it for the last year, so I was glad to find some at Main Street Quilting Company. It was only $3 a yard!

I didn't follow a pattern, but I did get my idea for the back from Oh, Fransson!



It was nice to be able to sew up pants and a quilted potholder in an evening. I bound it this morning, but still. A year ago, I would have no idea how to do any of that stuff. And six months ago, it would have taken me a weekend.

The first big thing I sewed/quilted was actually a quilt for Henry when he was born last February. Now, more than 10 months later, the list of sewing stuff I don't know how to do is still longer than the skills I've acquired, but I've got most of the basics down. If I was graded on a elementary school report card, I'd be "fully performing" in all the essential areas.

The coolest thing I've learned is how to hand-bind. Before my mom taught me, I never thought I'd like it. Now it's one of my favorite parts of quilting. It has a cool rhythm and it seems like the part of the process you have the most control over, I think because of the slow speed. Plus the final quilt looks so perfect and it gives me an excuse to watch dumb movies.


And now it's back to a quilting project I started before I left... More on that later...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Season shift

That's it. I'm calling this fall. Even though the garden doesn't agree. And it's supposed to be 70 degrees on Thursday.

Still going strong!
Go Vikings. I'd add an exclamation point, but it's hard to do when they're 1-4.

That's tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and beets. And gourds, for some reason.


Welcome to the (tomato) jungle.

Welcome to the (tomato) jungle

That photo doesn't quite do it justice. There are probably -- no exaggeration -- 40-plus green tomatoes on those plants. And with the weather we're having, I don't think we'll lose them to frost.

Heirloom tomato

What a beauty.

I have a confession: I pulled the zucchini plants -- with a few blossoms still attached. Honestly, I just can't eat another zucchini. I picked two today. There's still a six-pounder in our kitchen waiting to end up in a cake or some other dish that transforms healthy food into a butter-and-chocolate monstrosity.

The former home of the squashes

That poor little lavender plant in the lower right corner hasn't seen sunlight since July, when the zucchini went bonkers and grew 10 feet in a week. But it smelled like lavender when I pulled away the squash vines today.

Get this -- I had a strawberry from the garden today. I didn't think to take a photo, but the strawberry plant is thriving. Especially in the last three weeks. I know it's an ever-bearing variety, but still. It's strawberries. It's October.


Billings' first dog park opened over the weekend. We took Chowder.


That's what she did the whole time, when she wasn't busy peeing on her own tail. She was so afraid of the other (all very nice) dogs.

Even these guys.


Staying a safe distance from everybody else:


Total panic.



As much as Chowder failed at the dog park, we succeed at the Friends of the Library book sale.


All that = $12. That's a lot of new books there!

I found a great Amish quilt book too. Not patterns, just photographs of a collection. Tons of inspiration.



And this book. Totally impractical, but awesome. And only $1.




We had the kind of day on Saturday that makes me like Billings. We ate at a killer restaurant we've been meaning to try for months. We made out like bandits at the book sale. We went to a party at the brewery. All that happened within blocks of our apartment. We basically did Democrat-liberal-hippie things in this very cowboy town. If we keep having Saturdays like that, my opinion of this place might turn a corner. I also had three cupcakes that day, which played an important factor in my happiness.


I finished up this wonky piano keys quilt during the Saturday rainstorm. It's made with 1930s reproduction fabric. I started this top months ago, and then it just sat around while I worked on more time-sensitive projects.


At first I was pretty "meh" about this quilt, but once it was bound I had a total change of heart. I finished it while we were watching Fargo on the couch and it went into insta-use. That's why it's so wrinkly in the photo.



I got a start on my next project, but I don't have any good photos to share yet. And I won't for a while because I'm off to Seattle on Thursday!