Monday, August 21, 2017

College Kid Quote

Me- The Illiad is boring. I mean, it's a good story, but it's such a rough read.
Him- Oh, I don't think so.
Me- You haven't read it since 5th grade!
Him- I took it to field school with me.
Me- How long did it take you to read it?
Him- I read it in the evenings one week. I started it Monday and finished Thursday.
Me- Ummmmmmm

Friday, August 4, 2017


I'm all about fast, easy, and easy to wear. These wrap pants were easy to make from a tutorial, fast even though I changed a lot, and they are so incredibly comfortable. I used this tutorial and heavily modified it.

This is a pair of wrap pants. They're based on Tai fishing pants.

I love the flowiness of these pants.

I made two major modifications to the tutorials. These pants are supposed to tie in both front and back. I didn't want a knot/bow in the back when I sit down, so I installed a button and hook and eye. It reduces the flexibility of the garment, since I'll have to move the button if I gain or lose weight, but I'm happy with the result. 

The second, more important, modification I made was to add pockets. I am absolutely refusing to make any skirts or pants without pockets. Figuring out where to put the pockets took a little thinking, since these pants have two pieces that overlap. I ended up putting them on, pulling the piece that wraps to the front back, and sewing pockets directly onto the under piece. It worked perfectly. When I'm not pulling the front back, you can't see the pockets, and they are perfect.

These took me a total of 3.5 hours, including figuring out the tutorial, cutting, ironing, sewing, hand sewing a buttonhole, and adding pockets. I think if I make them again, and I probably will, they should only take about an hour plus the button hole. (I've got to get my sewing machine fixed!)

Friday, July 28, 2017

A New Skirt

Nine years ago, a friend suggested the book Sew What! Skirts by Francesca DenHartog. She had been making loads of skirts using the book and thought others would enjoy it. I bought it in May of 2008. Then, I never made a thing. When we moved, it got lost. Maybe, I gave it to my sister. Who knows? I just know I didn't have it anymore, and I wanted to use it. Finally. So, when I found one at Half Price Books, I picked it up, even though that was not what I was there for. I'm so glad I did. I made a skirt! Without a pattern!!! I love how it turned out. Had my sewing machine not decided to be angry at me, the skirt would have taken only a couple hours start to finish. Sadly, I had to make the buttonholes by hand, so it took longer. Those buttonholes did give me an incredible sense of accomplishment, though. I'm excited to try another skirt option. I have fabric that needs to be used, and a dearth of clothing, so I need to sew myself a wardrobe.


I added darts to deal with a swayback.
*Shirt is from Threadless. Photos were taken at the Fort Lewis College campus because we live right down the hill, and it's beautiful.
Affiliate link. If you buy this book, I'll get a small portion of your sale.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hand-stitched Buttonholes

Today, I thought I'd show you how to hand-stitch a buttonhole in case you need to make buttonholes and don't have a sewing machine, or yours decides to be difficult like mine. This is a photo heavy post, as it is (mostly) a photo tutorial. At the end, I do include a video I made of how to make a blanket stitch for the purposes of the buttonhole. Enjoy.

First, you need to mark your buttonhole placement. Personally, on this particular project, I had no problem just drawing it on my fabric. On a more delicate fabric, I might not have done that. Use straight pins to keep the edges of the buttonhole stable until you have stay-stitches in place.

Cut your hole. I start the cut by folding the fabric in half and cutting a small hole. Then, I slide my scissors* tip into the starter hole and cut the rest of the hole.
Stay stitch the one end.

Insert your needle into the edge of the stitch line, while holding your thread up and out of the way.

Pull your needle out through the hole.

Make certain that the needle comes out over the working thread.

Pull it snug. You want that loop to sit snugly, but not tightly against the edge of the hole.

Once you get to the end of one side, make a couple stay stitches at the other end. This is what your buttonhole will look like after one round of stitches down one side. Turn your work and continue down the other side. Make certain that when you pull the needle point up through the hole on this edge that you don't catch the other side's stitches. Repeat all of this a second time to make a nice tight buttonhole.

This is what your buttonhole should look like when you're finished. You'll notice that the loops make the edges of the buttonhole.

A video of me doing blanket stitch for a buttonhole.

*Do you say scissor or scissors? I'm just curious.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Just Keep Knitting. Just Keep Knitting.

When I started school in January, I was only 3 blocks away from being done with Gabriel's Geekalong blanket. Now, I'm only 2 blocks away from being done. Argh! Really, though, I love school. And, while school was going on, it was pretty much the only thing I was doing. That's just one of the realities of managing fatigue. I do think I'll get done knitting his blocks before school starts, and probably even start joining them. Here's hoping I can finish all three blankets in time for Christmas. Honestly, I was on track to finish them for Christmas last year before we moved. Moving just takes up so much time and energy! It's a good thing I like moving.

This is a queen sized bed. The joining technique I'll be using will make the blanket 8 inches wider and 14" taller. We may add an extra block and make it 5x5 instead.

This is the stack of blocks completed for all 3 blankets.

My most recent finishes.

I had to buy more stitch markers to make these.

Sometimes, I get a weird need to sew, and go off the knitting rails. This week, I'm making myself a skirt. It was a really easy skirt to make, right up until I got to the buttonholes. There's a reason I have two sewing machines. That reason is that the machine I've had for years keeps getting messed up. Something is wrong with the housing for the bobbin case and it doesn't allow the machine to work properly. I've had it in and out of the shop. Out of desperation, I bought a new machine. Happily, my new machine is a dream to work with. Sadly, because of the type of machine it is, it only does straight stitch. So, I'm doing my buttonholes by hand. It's actually been rather satisfying. I am anxious to finish it, though. I suspect I will do so today.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Bunch of monkeys on the deck.
When our furniture was first delivered and stuffed into the room.

Current configuration

When we moved to Colorado, we downsized from a 3400 sq ft house with loads of storage, 2 living rooms, huge kitchen, large dining room, a sewing room, a workshop, 4 bedroom, 3 bathrooms... it was big. Now, we live in a 1000 sq ft apartment with little extra storage, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and an almost nonexistent kitchen. Honestly, I'm extremely thankful for the amount of buy-in we've gotten from our children for the change. We kept both our couches when we moved, and they barely fit in our living room, but they were old, worn out, and extremely uncomfortable. 

A couple weeks ago, Gary and I abandoned our children for the day and went to the larger city about an hour away to look at furniture. We had already decided to replace our couches with multiple recliners to allow for maximum flexibility when moving out of the apartment. Of course, when the chairs were delivered, they really didn't all fit in our living room. We ended up moving 3 bookshelves to make room. Not only did that make extra room, but it opened the room up to the kitchen/dining room, making the room look better.

A couple weeks ago, we moved our dining room table onto the balcony to give us extra room in the kitchen area. We plan to install a rug, more lighting, and maybe some other things to make the balcony seem more like a room, but it works. We'll add plastic to the balcony come winter to insulate it. In the meantime, we're now looking for something to add to the dining area to make more counter space. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Eighteen Years

Eighteen years is a lifetime. It's the amount of time we consider sufficient to make a man out of a boy, or a woman out of a girl. It's the amount of time we consider sufficient to teach a person what they need to know in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to smoke, and who to vote for in an election. And, it is the amount of time that has passed since my brother died.

I'm not the sort to continually mourn. Most years, this day passes with a slight hiccup, just a small reminder that he's gone and not coming back. This time of year doesn't bring a special pain, just that reminder. 

Instead, my grief comes in small doses, when I want to ask for his help knowing how to comfort a child much like him. My grief comes when I look at my child and know that he would have enjoyed knowing his uncle, or my nephew knowing that he should have had his father. The grief comes when my son wants to talk math or physics and I know that my brother would have loved talking about that with him, or when the boys are playing D&D and I know he would have enthusiastically joined in.

The grief is brief. My mourning is done. But today, I remember my goofy, irritating, smart, slightly neurotic brother. RIP Frank III. I love you.

If you would like to read about the day he died, I wrote about it 4 years ago.


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