18 October 2014

Bits and Bobs - 2

This is the second of what I hope will become a regular series of posts calling attention to awesome things I have encountered on the Internet. My purpose is to practice gratitude by making a record of the good stuff that I see around me and perhaps bring something fun and new to my readers.




What’s better than Connect Four?  Eternas is.  It’s like Connect Four in a circle.  Also, this wood game is so pretty, we’ve taken to just leaving it out as decoration. 

I have no idea how this video reached 27 million views before I even watched it once! 'My First Hardcore Song' by 8 yr old Juliet OFFICIAL

Speaking of being late to the party, if you’re not already following Humans of New York on Facebook, please go be the 10 millionth +person to do so.   I swear that page is making me a better person. 

Less is more.  I’m attempting to declutter and found this blog post helpful.

Along the same vein, I’m experimenting with a capsule wardrobe (you can read about capsule wardrobes here) I threw out my damaged clothes and whittled down what is actually in my closet to a small subset of what I own (I didn’t do an exact count.) That’s what I’ll wear for the next 3 months.  Wish me luck.

Fall weather = jacket potatoes all the time.  Here’s a decent recipe for the potatoes I do these all the time and like to keep assorted toppings in the fridge, ready to go.  My favorite at the moment is slivers of turkey pepperoni, black olives, and fresh mozzarella. 

print from JodiLynnDoodles.com
This charming print from Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles is by my desk, making me smile….     I bought it at a local crafts fair.


A friend recently told me that she always buys something if she goes into a local independently-owned quilt shop, even if it’s just a spool of thread or a yard of solid white fabric.  The idea is to support the shop.  I’m going to try to do the same from now on; not all of the local shops cater to my taste, but I do really appreciate their being there and if they provide a decent customer experience, I’m happy to buy a little something!

I’ve also resolved to buy more of my books from local independently-owned shops, rather than online.  Yes, I pay 20% more, but I also help support business that I really value (I love Literati and Nicola's books in Ann Arbor)  Both host great events and have brought pretty rad books to my attention.  I figure I can make up the difference by using my library more often!

I just bought this new book by one of my favorite authors at Literati…can’t wait to dive in! The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


Full disclosure: Amazon.com links are affiliate links and I will profit if you click through and buy. Though of course I totally encourage you to simply use your library or buy at a local indie shop!  I also get a little bit of happiness kickback if you enjoy anything I’ve written here.  ;-)


16 October 2014

Gardening tote

This post was on Sara's blog exactly a year go  http://www.sewsweetness.com/2013/10/purse-palooza-pattern-review-lotta.html.  I reposting it here for posterity.

Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review : Lotta Jansdotter's Gardening Tote

Gardening Tote Finished

While I'm usually a quilter and not a bag-maker or garment-sewer, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Purse Palooza this year because I've been wanting to make the Gardening Tote from Lotta Jansdotter's book Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing for quite some time. In fact, when I took the pattern peices out of the envelope at the back of my book, I discovered that I had already cut out the pieces for this bag.

There is just something so pleasing about this simple tote!

Gardening Tote Finished


First off, let me say that if I were to make this bag again, I would definitely use interfacing so that the bag stands up on it's own.  I really wanted this bag to be more of a bucket/basket and not a floppy thing.

I've stuffed it for most of these pictures so that it has shape.  It's a bit pathetic when empty.

Gardening Tote is floppy



Overall impression of the pattern:  I like the bag that this pattern produces (I'd love it with some interfacing), but the instructions need some work.

Gardening Tote Pattern is in this book


What fabric and supplies are needed to make the bag?
The pattern calls for 2 yards of heavyweight cotton fabric.  This is actually a bit weird because it assumes you are going to line the bag with the same fabric you're using for the exterior.  This is not what is shown in the picture for the bag, however, which clearly has a brown exterior and a red/white interior.  The pattern really should list the yardages separately.

Gardening Tote Pattern

You need 1.75 yards of 1" twill tape.  This is what goes around the tops of the exterior pockets.  It would be helpful if the pattern said what the twill tape was for because I had assumed the twill tape would be inside the handles, so I wasn't concerned about the color.  Since it actually goes on the exterior, the color matters.  I ended up just binding the top of my pockets like a quilt, using quilting fabrics.

My fabric selections: I've used fabric from my stash--Ikea upholstery fabric for the exterior, a Kaffe Fassett print called "paperweight" for the interior, a Carolyn Friedlander print called "blueprint" to bind the top of the pockets, and an unknown print for the handles.


Impressions of the instructions and illustrations:

The instructions are flawed.  
(a) fabric cutting confusion.
In STEP 1: B:  There are two separate lists of what to cut from your fabric.
When making my bag, I thought for a minute that I had lost my place and was rereading an old section,  eventually I figured out that in the first section you are cutting fabric using the paper pattern pieces and in the second section, you are cutting fabric without using pattern pieces (because they are simple rectangles.)  At least it does point out which pieces are for the interior of the bag.

(b) the pleats
I honestly have no idea what my pleats were supposed to look like.  The illustration was not helpful because it didn't seem to correspond in any way to the location of the pleats which I had copied from the pattern piece.  I did my best to follow the directions, and ended up with a pocket panel that was way too wide.  I just ended up putting extra pleats in in order to get the Front Pocket piece to be the same width as the Front Panel pattern piece.  It worked in the end, but I was very confused and not sure it would turn out well.

(c) incomplete instructions for side panels
In STEP 4, you attach the pockets to the exterior of the tote.  However the instructions only have you sew the pieces together (the sides to the front, etc).  The front and back pockets should be subdivided by running some addional seams up them.  This isn't mentioned in the instructions (though the markings are on the pattern pieces and the picture of the finished project makes those seams obvious.)


My modifications:
As mentioned above, I used a quilting fabric to bind the top of the exterior pockets rather than twill tape.  The fabric I used for the lining was also lighter than the pattern calls for, which probably didn't help with my floppiness problem!

Difficulty level: 
Given the flaws in the instructions, I don't think this is a beginner bag.  I think that if the pattern were better written, it could be a good bag for beginners as it comes together fairly quickly and you're rarely wrestling with more than two layers of fabric.

As it stands, however, I think having made a few bags before would help the sewist power through the weird and missing bits in the instructions.

Overall, I do think it produced a nice-looking and useful bag (even more so if you were to attach interfacing to the exterior fabric when making the bag.)
Gardening Tote
I plan on using mine to tote my hand-sewing to and from friends' houses!

12 October 2014

a new home - for me and my work

I’d be putting it mildly to say that it’s been a big year for me/us.  We got married, Jon took a fancy new job, I left my job at the University (long story short: they added so much to my workload that I wasn't able to do my job well, and I hated not being able to do my job well), and now we’ve moved house!

a new house

And this new house…oh, it is our dream house.  We’re in heaven over here.  Lots of work to do, but still....so awesome.  This place is just perfect for us.  The house.  The land (10 acres!) and the location.  Sigh.  Right now, it’s full of boxes and the previous owner’s dust, but I still love it.  We're planning on being here for decades.  Which feels amazing after 20 years of moving from one place to another for work, for school, because of roommate changes, because of life, etc.


That's my mom painting in the great room (she is the best mom and she love to paint, so she flew in and painted for four days straight!)  This room is amazing.  It was a 2-car garage before a renovation 10+ years ago and it's huge and sunny...so huge that I'm clueless as to how to furnish it, but I'm calling in a decorator for a consultation and hope to figure it out soon.  Filling this room isn't a priority and we're on a budget, but I think that'll probably be a good thing...we'll take our time and do it right!

The new house is about a 45 minute drive from the old house; we’re still in the greater Ann Arbor area (we moved from the eastern side of the county to the western side).  I am still going to be a part of the modern quilt guild there.  But it’s far enough that I won’t be working with Pink Castle in any formal capacity anymore, especially because this move of home also means a move in studio because...

Studio Reno

...next to the house is another house.  Well, a garage really.  A garage with a mother-in-law apartment over it. And nobody’s mother is going to live there.  I’m going to work there.  It's covered with a tarp in the picture because when I snapped this shot it only had half of its new roof (the rest is going on today).

This wonderful bonus building was sold to us “as is” because the previous owners had the water and electric turned off over there for five years and they hadn’t repaired the badly-in-need-of-repair roof.  These people. They seem really nice and the buying process was FAST and AWESOME, but I'm so glad they were only here for five years and couldn't do any real damage with their neglect.  They added a layer of the-cheapest-thing-from-menards over the top of a house that was exquisitely built and beautifully maintained since the 70s.  For example, take the landscaping, there are the beautiful fieldstone terraces all around the house.  When we looked at the house, most of them were completely overgrown with weeds. When we moved in and started cleaning up the yard, we couldn't believe how extensive the terraces are (hundreds of yards of terraceing) and how great they look with just a little bit of tidying!  I'm so excited to see what Jon (he gardens, I don't) does with the place.  Anyway, thankfully, only 5 years of that, so we can peel it back and fix it, and underneath is amazingness.

Okay, back to my studio building...structurally, it was all good to go.  We’re handy people who have helpful friends and family. We've demo-ed most of the interior.  The new roof is being put on as I type.  After that heavy lifting, we will move on to the fun stuff...making it look how I want.  I want it to be beautiful and sunny and inspiring.  And I'm in luck because that's how this building wants to be...it is so close!

The kitchen and bathroom will largely remain as they are; we're just going to scrub, paint, and clear them out.  The untouched-for-five-years appliances (ewwwww) are being donated.  I don't need a working kitchen over here.  I'll be right next to the house and can/should go home for lunch (to let the dogs out) so the important thing is to get the bathroom operational and not touch these rooms too much in case we do want to use this space as an apartment someday.  I'll plunk a kettle and a small fridge in the kitchen and call it done.

It's a lot of work, turning a neglected building around, but the lovely thing about a gut job?  On your own property?  You get to do what you want.  The only people you've got to run it buy are your husband (who owns the building with you) and sometimes a wise family member (we're related to contractors and engineers who weigh in on issues of insulation, ventilation, and structural integrity.)

We've already taken a wall out.  this not only gave me a nice big room instead of two smaller rooms, but added to the square footage as it took out the closets. You can see, in the photo below, the grooves in the floor where the walls/closets were.  The doorway on the left will be drywalled in. 
Studio Reno

Here it is (roughly) in floor plan mode.  FYI: These drawings were made at floorplanner.com (free service)

Slide1

studio plans


Speaking of grooves in the floor,  I kind of like that orange linoleum floor, but it is decades old and horribly damaged in a few places, so it's coming out and we're going to install a new floor.  Probably laminate, since laminate fits in the budget (wood does not) and I really like being able to sweep my studio (no carpet!)  The photo below shows my favorite laminate samples so far.  These happen to all be from Build Direct, I'm waiting on a few more samples from local sources before I make a final call.

Flooring samples


As for overhead, I woke up one morning knowing I needed a vaulted ceiling in there.  This is not just a matter of LOVING that look, but also because it makes the space seem so much larger.  I cannot tell you what a fantastic difference it made to pull down the 8' drywall ceiling.  Here's how it looks right now.


Studio Reno

Insulation and panelling will be added along the roofline, covering up some of these rafters. Then everything will be painted white.  It'll be be vaguely like the ceiling in the photo below, except not, because I have different looking rafters and more framework going on and because we left the ceiling over the kitchen and bathroom (so you don't see the end of the rafters on one side.)  But, you know, sort of like this...



I cannot find the source for this image.  
I was able to trace it as far back as 
http://www.ikeafamilylivemagazine.com/gb/en but no further.  


Going for the full vault (like this house) is rather pricey because you have to re-engineer the support system for the roof.  Our vaulting option will cost about $1000--most of which is for insulation that needed to be replaced anyway.

Anyway, these are the plans.  I’m hoping to be quilting in there by January.  In the meantime, I’m quilting in what will be our guest room and I'm making fanciful design boards on my laptop!  I'm all about the light and a happy vibe.
studio design

Living the dream over here, people!  A dirty, dusty dream!

New studio