Thursday, May 9, 2013
The author writes about all manner of old fashioned farming and housekeeping topics. She kind of rambles in the book so by the time you're done you know all about her personal life as well. She said that the book idea started back in the 70's when she put an ad in the classified section of The Mother Earth News. She didn't think she would get much response and hadn't started the book yet.
She was bombarded with orders, and checks in payment. She hadn't even started the book yet, but she cashed the checks and started typing. This was back before personal computers so she actually typed everything up on a typewriter and mimeographed (no home copiers either...) copies. She realized it was more work than she thought and she got a few chapters done and sent them with a promise of more to come. She eventually finished the book and sold it to a publisher. My copy has 520 pages of tiny type. That must have been a lot of work. I can barely manage a blog entry per week.
A few years back Carla Emery was on a speaking tour, and she was slated to speak at a farm close to where we lived. I was thinking I would go and have her autograph my old copy and buy a new version (she's updated it through the years). She died of a heart attack right before that speaking engagement.
I'm reading it again for inspiration as we have a contract on our "city" house and we'll be moving to the "sticks" soon. We have a contract to purchase a 32 acre farm in the Ozarks (we're buying part of a larger tract) from a young Mennonite farming family. This property is about half pasture and half woods. We are looking forward to having the woods to explore. The current owners grow all of their own food in the large gardens and raise meat goats. They asked to stay on the place until they harvest the corn. While none of the buildings are what I would call picturesque, they have most of the outbuildings that we will need, including a well house, a goat barn (possibly to become a poultry house), a shop, a small multi-purpose barn, and others. The house is what they call on HGTV a "fixer". Livable as it is, but definitely in need of updating. We have scheduled inspections on the farm and hope that we don't find anything that will be a deal breaker. I can already see myself living there and don't want to have to start the house hunting process again!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
This jacket was a lot more involved than the past couple of projects I have posted on. I used the method whereby you cut off the sleeves, then cut out an actual sleeve pattern piece and sew it all back together. The fit is much better using this method.
If you wonder why even start with a sweatshirt, why not buy fabric? Buying a sweatshirt is usually cheaper than hunting down the fabric if you can even find the color fabric you want. Plus you get the color-mtched ribbings to use on your project or save for another use (for kids' projects for example).
I didn't have a pattern for the jacket, but I did find some on the internet to use as inspiration.
I have a machine embroidery design set which I used for the heart/flower applique called "Best Friends Forever" by Friend Folks. It was pricey - $39.99 - by far the most expensive machine embroidery design set I've bought. I knew that I wanted to use it for this jacket project the minute I saw it. I also have in mind that I will make a quilt. There are 9 different designs. The only thing I don't like is that there's only one size - 6x10, so you can't size it smaller for kids outfits for instance. Oh, one other thing, the pictures show quilting but the design disk does NOT include the quilting stitches, which I find to be a little deceptive. The quilt pattern and instructions are included on the disk. Even without the quilting stitches, I love the way they turned out. I had some buttons which I used as the flower centers. The designer sells matching buttons, but I just didn't want to spend any more money.
This jacket morphed as I went along. Since I didn't have a pattern I kept thinking of things I wanted to add. I decided I wanted a collar, and ruffled edges, and so on. I didn't have a pattern for the collor. I just drew one freehand using the sweatshirt neck as my guide. I used minky for the collar and cuffs. The collar is lined in pink cotton and the cuffs are lined in minky. I got hung up on the sleeve cuffs and tore them out and changed my mind a couple of times before I finally ended up with the plain cuff.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Here's another Sweatshirt Transformation project I made at Christmas. For this one, in the interest of time, I decided to make a vest. I had bought a jellly roll in taupe, grey, aqua, red and green at the Quilt Festival. It's called Blitzen by Moda. (I hoarded that jelly roll but couldn't bring myself to open it up for a long time.)
I wanted a plain grey sweatshirt as the base, which I didn't have on hand (pink, brown, slate blue, etc etc. I have, but plain grey, no) so I went to wally world for a cheapie. I found an aqua one, which turned out to be perfect for this project! I think I paid $5 for it. I prewashed and dried it, cut off the ribbing and sleeves, then ironed on stabilizer tapes on the cut edges. I tried it on inside out and marked and trimmed the arm openings till they looked like what I wanted. I then cut open the side seams.
I started applying the jelly roll strips in the center back. I just stitched it down. Then I added a strip on each side till I had the back covered. I did the same on the front, starting in the center front. I did 'audition' the strips and had an idea of where I wanted each to go before stitching. After the strips were stitched on, I stitched up the side seams and serged. I made foldover trim for the neck and arm openings out of one strip so they would all match. No, I didn't make bias strips - I only had jelly roll strips to work with, no yardage and anyway, I'm pretty lazy so even if I had the yardage I wouldn't have made bias tape. For the bottom edge, I combined a few strips of a similar color to make a long enough piece. (If anyone wants detailed info on the construction process let me know.)
The bottom edge is shown below. I used a stitch in the ditch method to finish off the foldover trim. On the left side you can see the inside of the sweatshirt. I used a matching thread in the bobbin and a taupe in the needle.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
For some reason I am enamored with transforming a sweatshirt to a jacket. I have no idea why. In the hot Texas climate I don't even get to wear them much. Nancy's Notions had a sale a while back on sweatshirts so I bought several, which have been languishing in the fabric stash closet. I hoard fabrics and supplies until a project worthy of their use comes along (silly to say that about a sweatshirt I know).
We had a trip planned to Arkansas the day after Christmas and I knew the weather would be really cold (in fact it snowed and we drove through an ice storm) so I thought it would be the perfect time to make some sweatshirt jackets. The one pictured here is so fast to make I literally made it on Christmas Day, after we celebrated Christmas and before I had to pack for our trip.
In a nutshell, when making a quick sweatshirt jacket, you pre-wash everything and dry first of all. Then cut off all ribbing, apply two strips of iron on stabilizer to center front and neck edge, cut open the front and try on, inside out. I then pink under the arm to take up the excess fabric so that it fits better. This is the easiest way to convert a sweatshirt into a jacket. The other way involves cutting off the sleeves and reconstructing it, which is more work but it fits better.
After the jacket fits, apply the fashion fabrics. It's basically a quilt as you go method. I started with the lighter strip at the bottom of the jacket and stitched it directly to the sweatshirt, on the top and bottom of the strip. I then took the dark grey strip, turned under the raw edges and pressed and then opened out one edge and pinned it, right sides together, over the raw edge of the bottom strip, and then stitched in the crease. I finished off the top edge with a blanket stitch. (If anyone wants more detailed info on construction let me know.)
To encase the raw edges I made double fold strips out of another fabric. I know I SHOULD have made bias, but I was in a big hurry. The only place this is really an issue is the neckline but for a quick project I just didn't want to invest the time. I bound the neck edge and sleeve edges first, then the bottom edge, and finally the front. I had a cool oversize wooden button that I wanted to use and for the button loop I used a brown hair elastic. I have gotten so many comments on this jacket and the funny thing is it cost about $15 and took about 2 hours! It works great to layer over a turtleneck but isn't so bulky that I can't wear a coat over it as well.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I went to a yard sale of a former crafter, a lady who had a small home based business, and she had TONS of fabric, among other things, for sale. It was in huge boxes, all mixed together. She wanted to sell it all in lots so I had to take what was in the box. One fabric in the mix was a lacey knit in a hot pink print. I couldn't imagine that I would ever find a use for it, but eventually I realized it would be perfect for a nightgown. I had some hot pink stretch lace that I'd ordered off the internet for another project which matched perfectly.
At another yard sale I found some batik fabrics which were about $2 per yard. She had quite a bit for sale but wouldn't bargain on it so I only got two pieces of about 2 yards each cause I really didn't want to pay that much. I made a top out of one piece (I'll show it in a later post) and used the other for a comfortable nightgown. I washed the batik and machine dried it so that I wouldn't have to worry about shrinkage later.
I used McCalls 5248 for both of the nightgowns pictured. The pattern calls for lace trim at bodice top so I followed the pattern directions for the pink one. When I was done and tried it on I realized it was too big (gapped in the back but ok everywhere else) so I made a casing and added a piece of 1/4" elastic to the back, which took care of that issue.
For the batik nightgown, I didn't have any matching lace so I made a bias tape and enclosed the raw edge of the bodice front with it and used it for the straps. I like the way the stretch lace on the pink nightgown 'gives' for the straps much better than the straps made from the fabric. I already knew this batik nightgown would be too big in the back but decided to add rows of shirring instead of the elastic. Because this nightgown is cut on the bias you're supposed to hang it up to set the bias and hem it the next day, but after serging the bottom edge I just didn't feel like it was necessary to hem it.
|Finished edges - stretch lace and bias tape|
Monday, April 15, 2013
|Turquoise Faux Tooled Leather|
|Brown Boucle with Leopard Cross Applique|
I have been on a purse making tangent lately. Here are a few that I have made and listed for sale on Etsy.
When I go to the fabric store I always look in the remnant bin and it seems like I always find something that would work well for a purse so I pick it up for pennies on the dollar. Now if only I could sell some to help fund my fabric and pattern buying addiction . . .
Saturday, April 13, 2013
|My homemade laundry detergent|
You've probably seen pictures or descriptions of people making home made laundry detergent on Pinterest or blogs. I first started making home made laundry detergent a few years ago. I've read about how economical it is, but I've never done the math. Marc is skeptical of "home made" stuff so I do continue to buy detergent but I still like to have home made on hand too. I find that it cleans as well as the detergent I normally buy (Purex), at least as far as I can tell, but I am sure if you did a scientific experiment and compared it to say Tide it would not do as well. But then again I don't buy Tide, I just don't want to spend that kind of money on laundry soap.
Some recipes call for Zote soap and some call for Fels Naptha. Up until recently I couldn't find Zote, but now Wal-Mart carries it. They stock the two soaps, the Washing Soda and the Borax together. Apparently enough people are asking for these items that they're regularly stocking them. The last time I made a batch I used Dr. Bronner's soap cause it was half price, and I don't think it worked nearly as well as the Fels Naptha.
There are several recipes out there, but I just use one bar of soap (grated finely), 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of washing soda, mixed well.
|Only a few items are needed to make laundry detergent|
|The Roto-Slicer Attachment which gets a lot of use!|
|Soap being finely grated|
|Mixing it up|
To alleviate this storage issue, I just make the powdered version now. There are a lot of recipes out there with a lot of good information, such as The Family Homestead. You supposedly only use a tablespoon per load, but I use about 1/8 of a cup in a extra large load. I always place the powder in the washer first and start the water to dissolve the detergent before I put in the laundry.
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
Not long ago I ran out of diswasher detergent and remembered seeing something on Pinterest for a home made version. I do buy the more expensive Cascade cause I don't want to have to rinse my dishes. I just want to put them in and have them come out clean. So when I was out of detergent and didn't want to rush out to the store, I made up a batch of home made just to play with and see if it worked. You can find recipes here and here.
Fruit Fresh is Citric Acid. I suppose not everyone has this in their pantry but I do. If I didn't I probably wouldn't rush out to get it just to make home made dishwasher detergent.
As I mentioned, I usually do not rinse dishes but I do scrape off solid stuff. I use the normal setting most of the time and set it to pre-heat the water so it's hot. I have a builder-grade dishwasher, not a nicer expensive one like the last house. I don't have a water softener here either. I do use a rinse aid since I don't have a water softener. Since I had all the ingredients on hand in order to make up a batch I am happy enough with the way it works. I don't think it works quite as well as the Cascade gel that I use, but certainly works as well as the average powdered detergent out there. I didn't do any price comparisons to see if I saved any money.
It is nice to know that if I run out of a cleaning product I can make up a batch of whatever I need by having just a few basic items on hand.