Monday, March 24, 2014

Handmade Gloves

One of the Christmas presents I made this year was a pair of gloves for Marc. Marc has very large hands and has a hard time finding gloves to fit. I have a supply of grey fleece that I bought on clearance in the remnant rack at JoAnn which I thought would make nice warm gloves. Plus, if I screwed it up, it wouldn't be a big financial loss.
In my mind, gloves seemed simple enough - just trace the hand, cut two pieces and sew together. Well, that might work in a pinch, but to be really functional gloves need gussets between the fingers, and they're all different sizes.
I found this pattern online - Controlled Exposure Fleece Gloves - which was written by a man. I don't know why but I found that to be rather odd.  Apparently he is into mountain climbing and couldn't find gloves he liked so he designed his own.  The pattern was easy to follow. 

The first step is to measure the hand to determine which size to make. Then cut out all these odd-shaped pieces and try to make sense of them all. Then you pin like mad. It looked like a weird science project at that point. It's a bit tricky to manuever the small pieces through the sewing machine, and the seam allowance was only 1/8" - not much room for error.
Mid-way through the stitching I seriously considered throwing it all away. Then suddenly I was done and it was a functional glove. Yes I was surprised.  And then I had to make the second one.
They turned out soft and warm and machine washable. The fabric probably cost me all of $1.00. All in all, it was worth the trouble and I know I will make them again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring Gardening

We started our first seedlings in early January.  It didn't take long to run out of space.  I had tried to economize by buying the smaller seed trays (from Johnny's) but it became evident fairly quickly that I would have to repot them in peat pots as they outgrew the seed trays.  Annoying. 

Anyway, we have hundreds of seedlings growing nicely.  Keep your fingers crossed that they'll all grow in the garden!  Marc already tilled two of the three gardens so they're ready to hill up and plant. 

We can't wait to get started and get some fresh vegetables growing.  But wait we must.  We are used to a USDA zone 8-9 in Texas, in which gardening could be done year round.  It's a bit different here.  We're in zone 6B.  Without a good greenhouse, nothing can be grown outside in winter.  In Texas, potatoes were traditionally planted on Valentine's Day but here it's St. Patrick's Day - a full month later!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Freeze Dried Laundry or Sublimation is Sublime

This picture shows laundry drying on a clothesline with snow on the ground.  The temp is around 22 deg. 

Since we moved, I've been hanging out all laundry to dry. We do have a dryer but it's in the other house and we haven't moved it over cause we are planning to remodel the laundry area and need to do some rewiring first. Also, I enjoy hanging out the laundry because I really like the fresh smell and the fact that it's FREE.

Hanging out laundry in and of itself is simple however, to ensure that you always have clean clothing or sheets at the ready takes some planning and work. Line drying in the summer is a breeze (pun intended) but in the winter it's a bit more work.

I had heard about "freeze drying" laundry in the winter but had never tried it and didn't know anyone who had.  I googled it and found that wet laundry does in fact dry even at below freezing temperatures. Apparently the process is called sublimation (as opposed to evaporation in warm temps).  Sublimation basically is when the water in the clothing freezes and then turns directly to a gas without going through the liquid state.  Humidity is the important factor - if it's too high the laundry may not dry completely in one day.  And yes even jeans and towels dry in freezing temps!

I keep an eye on the weather, using the Weather Channel app on my I-phone. When a nice sunny or low humidity day is in the forecast, I plan to do a lot of laundry at one time on those days.  Sometimes I wash the night before so it will be ready to hang in the morning. I need a large supply of clothespins in order to get a lot of laundry done at one time. I have to get the laundry out early so that as soon as it's sunny it will start to dry. I have to get it in before it gets dark so that the dampness won't set in. It sounds like a lot of work but I think the payoff is worth it.

The minimum washloads I do per week includes three loads of clothing, one load of sheets, one load of blankets, two loads of towels and one load of kitchen towels. According to the Cost Calculator on the website Project Laundry List, I am saving approximately $221.90 per year by line drying those 8 loads of laundry.  That's really a lot of savings. 

Of course if you line dry laundry you MUST have a Clothes Pin Bag.  If you sew and want to make one of your own, visit my Etsy shop and instantly download your pattern today!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Modern Gray and Yellow Table Runner

I found these fabrics at the International Quilt Festival in Houston over a year ago.  I knew they would work with the new color scheme that Stephanie and Frank have in their living and dining rooms.  It only took me 18 months to make the table runner that I knew I wanted to make when I first saw them. 

I decided on a very simple pattern - 2" by 3" rectangular blocks, pieced together in strips of four random blocks, with white sashing between the blocks. I quilted it using the stitch in the ditch method.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Homemade Christmas Gifts - Coffee Cup Cozies

This year was another "Homemade Christmas".  One of the gifts I made for just about everyone was a Coffee Cup Cozy.  It seems like everyone likes "take-out" coffee, lattes, or frappa-something or other, so I thought they all needed a Coffee Cup Cozy.  I used a Starbucks cardboard sleeve as a template and created a pattern for the cozies.  I used either covered buttons or vintage buttons for the closures, along with a hair elastic.  Before stitching them up I embroidered the recipient's name or monogram.  Here are pics of some of them. 


Monday, December 2, 2013


I am having the hardest time trying to get blog entries posted! Pictures sometimes load, then sometimes won't. It hangs up. I can't scroll using the bar on the right. I can't do anything! I spent probably a good hour typing and uploading pictures (painstakingly) and then the blasted thing froze up and somehow didn't save anything! It is very frustrating and I can't figure out what the problem could be. I've upgraded my internet explorer. Anyone have any ideas???

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Function over Form in the Kitchen

Fall Garden

Before we moved in to the new-old house we thought we'd just freshen up the kitchen with paint, and maybe a new countertop, but it turned into a total gut job (as they say on HGTV). 

We went down to the studs and even replaced some studs, added new insulation, rewired, updated gas lines and plumbing. Then came sheetrock (previously it was cheap paneling, texture, and paint. We added new cabinets, countertops, sink, dishwasher, stove, fridge, floor. Everything except the window.  

I've pinned hundreds of images of farmhouse kitchens for inspiration prior and during the remodel. Most of them include creamy painted cabinets, stone or brick floors, a vintage cast iron sink, a chippy white kitchen table, and a wood burning cook stove. As it turns out, my kitchen looks nothing like any of the pictures I've pinned on Pinterest. While I love the look of painted cabinets, I have had white/cream painted cabinets in two out of the last three houses I've lived in and what I don't like about them is that they take constant upkeep. I got really tired of wiping down cabinets constantly. Kitchens are messy places and stuff drips. I had some really pretty custom painted cabinets in one house and I had a corner appliance garage, which i really liked. However, after about a year I'd literally wiped the paint off the corners from all the cleaning. So for practicality's sake this time I wanted stained cabinets (to hide drips...).

In the last house we had stained cabinets but they were a dark "cherry" finish which I didn't like. We ended up going with rustic hickory cabinets in this house.  Here's an "in progress" pic.

Kitchen Remodel in Progress

They look nice but again, not my idea of my dream farm kitchen. I ended up with a stainless steel sink mostly because it's practical and cheap and because I didn't find a vintage cast iron sink (within our budget) until AFTER the cabinets and sink were already in.... Bummer.

I left one wall blank so I could put in a wood cook stove. While I haven't given up yet, I have encountered obstacles. I wanted a masonry chimney and as it turns out this is apparently a lost art. I only found one local mason and the price was ridiculous. I don't want a metal chimney system, but may have to go that route. As I reported previously, I found a Gem-Pac wood stove locally for the low, low price of $600. A local stove shop had removed and replaced it for a customer. I did quite a bit of research and learned that the stove was not UL listed and needed more clearance than I could spare. So that whole project has been tabled for now. I didn't add cabinets or electrical wires to that wall so that in the future I could add my stove.

I will post some pics of the kitchen when it's completely done. We lack drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, touch up paint, and a few other odds and ends. Meanwhile, Marc has started on the living room - sheetrock, texture, etc. - and has it ready to paint tomorrow. We are replacing the set of french doors with a picture window, but that window has not come in just yet so we will move back to the kitchen to finish up the kitchen.

In addition to the remodeling I am working on some sewing projects - a christening gown (with slip, bonnet and slippers) and three dozen kitchen towels. Here's a pic of the kitchen towels.

Happy Camper Towels
We have a nice - but late - fall garden planted. Everything is doing well though the lettuce bolted.