Monday, December 22, 2008

Modified J.Crew

I bought this silk top from J.Crew on super sale a couple of months ago. It is a gorgeous color but the shape is kind of boring and matronly. The neckline accentuates the gathering at the waist and the overall effect is like a potato sack. But it cost money and I lost the reciept, so why not try to alter it? As you can see on the top right, it is also a little big.

So I tried to redo the neckline and take the sides in just a bit. The finished result is imperfect, but at least I'll probably wear it once now to try it out. Better, right? The neckline is not as
smooth as it could be, but it's okay.

Update 1/9/09: I'm wearing the shirt at work today. This confirms that the project is a complete success because I never would have worn it otherwise. Also, Brian said I looked nice and he probably doesn't even remember hating this shirt the first time around!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My group quilt project

I have been quilting lately with a group of 6 other women who also belong to the San Francisco Quilt Guild. Our guild is having a quilt show next March, and we decided to enter a group quilt in the show. We debated a bunch of ideas for a group quilt and decided on this one: we are taking this landscape image, which is from a calendar that one of the women had.

We printed a large copy of the image and cut it vertically into 7 sections. Each of us will make a quilt panel 10" wide by 46" long depicting our "slice" of the image. Then we will hang them all side-by-side to reassemble the image. We are all going to aim for the same size panel, and the general color scheme in the picture, but otherwise are free to make the image with whatever techniques we want. Hopefully when it's hung up, the picture will be recognizable! I've never even seen a quilt done this way, though some of the women have. It sounds like a fun project!

At our last meeting, we cut up the photo, and here is my "slice":

I think I got a good section, with a little bit of everything in it. I haven't started yet, but have been looking at books and magazines for ideas, and I have a pattern printed out on a big sheet of paper to use as a guide.
I will post progress as I make it. The whole quilt has to be done by Feb. 1 so I think I'll get busy on it once the holidays are over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cool Blanket

I was visiting Pittsburgh a week ago and stayed with my friend Maya. She had this great blanket in her guest room. It is basically an incredibly simple quilt with no batting and very large stitches, but the stitch pattern was really pretty and looked great on both the pattern side and the solid back side. Thought you all might like it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In need of some ideas...

In addition to fabric, I have been collecting yarn, buttons, and ribbons galore! I need some ideas for things to make out of them! Not that I don't have enough projects to work on, but I keep coming home from flea markets and discount stores and house sales with more raw materials. I was thinking of making some jewelry with some of my buttons, but don't really know how to do that. I tried browsing some of the craft websites, but I found Craftster hard to navigate, and I've pretty much exhausted Martha Stewart's site. In addition to the things pictured, I have a drawer full of wool felt, which I love, but I don't have any good ideas of what to make out of that either! So help me out with some ideas/patterns/websites or something, please!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frozen Apple Pie

I was a little over-zealous and purchesed way too many Maryland apples last week. They're ripe and there's no way I can finish them before they get too ripe. I already made an apple cake and wonder if anybody has that frozen apple pie recipe. I think it was Grandma's. Help?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Baltimore Update

I haven't posted in awhile mainly because I haven't made anything worth looking at in awhile. This weekend, though, I bought a sewing machine! It's a very simple (and cheap) Kenmore almost exactly the same as the one my mom has had for 30+ years. I haven't sewn a single stitch yet, but bought fabric for some curtains at Ikea and will hopefully create something soon.
During my craft hiatus, I've had a lot of fun with Brian and Izzy discovering new hiking trails near the city. We found a huge network of state park trails this weekend that will be fun to explore as long as Izzy doesn't see any deer. She likes to run off in pursuit, leaving Brian and me wondering if she'll be back.
The morning glories are blooming on our back porch, making it a lovely place to have a cup of coffee or read the paper in the mornings.
The last picture is our new art aquisition. There's an African art dealer in the neighborhood and he sold Brian this nail fetish. It's a wooden sculpture with nails and antelope bones. I'm a little afraid of it, but it's a cool addition to the living room.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shameless Knockoffs

Here's my latest craft. I saw something similar (but not as nice) in Anthropologie. They were $12.00 for a card of four. I made them from my quilting scraps. I made about 30 just last night while watching the Republican convention. I was a bit agitated. Aren't they cute? I need to find a place to sell them now, because I have a lot.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What do you think?

This is a quilt I made from a Kaffe Fassett pattern. It's called pastel handkerchief squares. The stripes are folded and sewn at an angle to make the two-sided "frame" effect for the flower squares. Anyway, when I got it done, I wasn't really happy with it. I have a hard time with these bright Kaffe Fassett patterns. I love them, but when I put my fabrics together to make one, it ends up too busy or something. In this one, I think I used too many different fabrics. Maybe I should have used fewer different stripes and/or fewer different florals in the squares. One thing I think might help is a design wall - it's hard for me to get the overall effect of these quilts until everything is sewn together and I can look at it from a distance.
When Pam and Kathy and I were fabric shopping in the Cleveland area, we saw one of these quilts made up in the Canton fabric shop that we all liked.
Input and constructive criticism is welcome! I'm working on another quilt using a lot of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and I'm afraid I'm getting carried away with all the beautiful big floral prints again!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speaking of Giant Purses

This weekend I cleaned out the giant fake Prada purse that I bought on the street in Rome last year. I emptied it out and washed the liner, which had gotten really dirty, in the sink and noticed that the "empty" purse had an awful lot of change floating around inside. The change was caught between the leather outside and the cloth inside. When I finally found the hole in the liner, I dumped out over $5 in change along with my favorite lip gloss and a pen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I also have the tote-bag virus

Here are some pictures of my tote bags in operation in South Carolina. The orange one is mine, the pastel-colored one is Lauren's and the red one belongs to Robbie's girlfriend, Sarah. I bought color-coordinated beach towels to go with them. We looked pretty stylish at the beach and at the pool, and I've even been carrying mine recently as a purse. Last week I went to have my blood work done for my physical, and when I was done, the guy who drew the blood said, "Don't forget your giant purse there."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tote bags

I can't seem to stop making tote bags! I have about 8 different patterns that I've been playing with, trying them and then modifying them. This small purple one is from Amy Butler's "Chelsea Bag" pattern. I made this one with Timtex, the thick, very stiff interfacing, so it's more like a storage bin than a purse. I want to use it on my sewing table and I wish I had made it a bit wider at the base, but otherwise it's perfect for that. I want to make another one a bit less stiff to use as a bag - I think I'll try the bigger version of the pattern for that.

I made this bag to give to Marian as a kind of beach bag, since they're living in Hawaii. I copied one that Emily and I saw in a fabric shop in North Carolina. We picked out a pretty "Hawaiian-looking" batik and I added the solid orange and green for the pocket and lining.

The green bag is quilted. I wanted to try out a quilt backing that I bought in Kentucky. It's a plain white fabric imprinted with a swirling kind of design - the idea is to use it as a quilt backing and quilt along the lines for an overall quilt design. I tried it on two rectangles of the green fabric and then made the bag from them. Since I'm still pretty new at machine quilting and not very good at improvising free-motion designs, the backing worked well for me. I was going to finish this like Pam's beach bag, but then decided to line it with a bright print fabric.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

wig making (raw materials only)

After a summer in which I have desperately wished for a haircut and after a very convincing sermon on Sunday about "giving", I decided to donate 8" of hair to Beautiful Lengths. I don't think my hair has been this short since elementary school, but it's still pretty darn long.
The hair looks weird in ponytails in a bag, but someday somebody
will hopefully make it into a nice wig.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stealing Craft Ideas

I saw this frame at Anthropologie last month and loved it. It looks like a really easy craft project, too, if you have the right glue. No need to finish the ends if you can just paste them down, right?

This is on my list of things to try someday. Thought you guys might like it, too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


My friend Trent blogs at Re-Nest, a green living site, and I volunteered us to provide him with pictures of our family's famous hand-knit dishcloths. Of course, I did this as a person who has never made one herself! Can you guys send me or post the pattern?

Here's a link to one of Trent's articles about a NC house made of pressed dirt that actually looks like a normal house with normal walls and stuff.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who needs a sewing machine?

I decided to go with Zelda Fitzgerald (crazy wife of F. Scott and famous Alabamanian) for the costume party on Saturday. I got 1.5 yards of this green satin fabric for $3.50 from JoAnne Fabrics and a $7 bucket hat from Target. I also bought Stitch Witch, which is explicitly only for hems, but I thought it could be strong enough to hold a flimsy dress together. And it worked! All the seams are ironed-on glue!

Even the hat is Stitch Witch-ed. I cut the bucket hat and overlapped the brim so it made more of a cloche shape.

At the last minute I added lampshade fringe to
the top of the dress, the beads ($3 for a bag and
strung on black thread), and a coordinating
flower-type thing on the hat. Overall, the outfit was pretty good and it may be my cheapest theme party outfit yet at under $20!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Renegade Craft Fair

On Sunday, Dan and I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. This fair was started by a woman in Chicago and this was the first time they held a fair in San Francisco. Most (maybe all) of the vendors are craftspeople who sell their stuff on Etsy. The woman who started the group sponsors these fairs and has recently opened a shop in Chicago. There were a couple hundred vendors there and a lot of really nice crafts. Compared to other craft shows, this one was young people, and very creative ideas, most of which were definitely hand crafted, smaller items. So the booths were small and most people had relatively few different items for sale. I liked this one booth - the woman was selling vintage-style aprons, and she was standing in the booth giving out cookies from a cookie sheet! There were a lot of tote bags, made from every possible material, from fabric to vinyl and leather, to plastic, including old plastic grocery bags cut and sewn together in layers! There was quite a bit of jewelry, too, and I liked some of this jewelry made from vintage buttons and buckles - perhaps ideas for my extensive button stash! There were lots of really nice letterpress cards and stationery, beautiful yarn and knitted items - gorgeous hand-dyed yarns that were hard to resist. As you'd expect, there was also an emphasis on recycled materials and re-using vintage fabrics and items - like the typewriter-key jewelry. I always think of Mom when I see that, because she loved typing! There were a few quilters, mostly baby quilts. One of the quilters was a young woman whose quilts were mostly black and used fabrics printed with skulls and beer motifs - her business is called "Don't Quilt the Day Job". There were also a couple traditional sewing companies there, Janome was promoting their sewing machines, and Burda was publicizing their online site where you can download patterns for free.
Overall, it was a fun and inspiring show!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why Do I Throw Things Away?

Another theme party is on its way and once again I wish I had not gotten rid of an old piece of clothing. This party's theme is "Alabama and England" because it's the housewarming for my newly-engaged friends Kim (from Alabama) and Dan (from England). If you were to dress as your favorite Alabamanian or Brit, who would you pick? I had two thoughts:
1) Mary Poppins. But my coat is packed in a box in Baltimore along with my other winter clothes, so that's pretty much out.
2) Zelda Fitzgerald. This should be easy because pretty much any generic flapper/1920's costume would work. As it turns out, I've been to a 20's themed party before: Ingrid's 16th birthday party in 1994. I had a drop-waist rose dress with a lace collar, pearls, and a cigarette holder. Now all that's left is the cigarette holder, so I have to find a dress...


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dr. Emily Fisher

Emily pops the corks on the celebratory champagne bottles, after her successful PhD thesis defense on Friday! Looking on is her advisor and mentor, Jeff Dangl.
Bob and Nancy, Zac, Brian and I, along with lots of Emily's friends and colleagues joined her for her defense seminar and the following celebrations, including happy hour with her department right after the committee meeting, dinner out, then more celebrating by the under-30 crowd. The next night we went to another party at her advisor's home. We are all so happy for her!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Look what I found at IKEA

I don't shop at IKEA very often, and I was there the other day and discovered that they sell fabric by the yard. A lot of the fabrics are upholstery weight, some are lighter weight blends. This is one I bought - it's a cotton/linen blend, 60" wide, and was only $7.99 a yard. The print is pretty big - I was thinking of making a table runner, but am now thinking of maybe just hemming it and making it a tablecloth. They have a lot of their signature large-scale Swedish prints, some nice stripes, and some solids. I didn't see anything more than $7.99 a yard.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I've Been Working On Lately

Today I finished my PhD dissertation. This is the culmination of 6 years of study and research and also the end of a VERY long week of editing, referencing, and eventually printing. It is 130 pages long and barely fits in the folders that I bought for the copies that I am about to deliver to my committee members. This thing is LONG but somehow the thickness doesn't seem adequate to contain the years that have gone into it. I think everyone feels this way. For today, I'm glad it's finished. Next week I start working on my defense presentation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Beach Bag

I made my first beach bag this week. I found the pattern while I was shopping with Kathy and Reenie, and I believe they were making fun of all of the fabrics I bought to make beach bags. (I was just planning to make one for everyone I know!) Anyway, I finished it in about 2 nights, and have started the second one. We will look pretty stylish on the beach this summer. And, if you're lucky, I'll make you one!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fabric Finds in Ohio

Here are some of the fabrics I bought in Ohio. Kathy, Pam and I had a great time checking out some of the fabric shops. Pam took us in her Prius, we figured out how to use the GPS system, and we went on a little shop hop. We found 4 shops in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area. We had so much fun that we didn't take any pictures of us, so I only have this one of some of the fabrics I bought. The one on the bottom of my stack is an upholstery-weight Amy Butler fabric - I'm thinking tote bag for that one. The others will find their way into various other projects. I also came home with a couple patterns - one for a quilt and one for a quilted beach bag. So I better get to sewing!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lillian Laney was ahead of her time

I saw this post on PurlSoho and, of course, thought of Grandma. Apparently, hand-knit wash cloths exist outside of our family! Brian is still not fully on-board with the homemade dish cloths, but I'm sure he'll come around.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Finished Quilt

Ingrid finished piecing together our quilt squares for Monika, Rico, and their new daughter last week. Isn't the backing great? I love the orange. Looks like my squares weren't too bright, after all!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Internet Was Right

I got this top from J. Crew last month during their "final sale" which means it can't be returned. On the website, it looked like a really pretty orange-scarlet color, but in real life it looked like my shirt was on fire. I should have heeded the name of the color: bright flame.

I decided to try to change the color. Should I make it lighter or darker? I already have black shirts and it's Spring, after all, so I decided to try to bleach it into a lineny pale orange.

On the internet, they say you can't bleach chiffon because it will burn the plastic of the fabric, which has been embedded with its color since it was created. I ignored this advice and here are the results:

The bleach really did eat up the chiffon, but it looked kind of cool like it was tie-dyed for a few minutes before I tried it on and realized the chiffon was tearing apart at the slightest touch. Then I cut off all the chiffon and left just the satin lining, which I then discovered was totally see-through (last picture). Now I think I'll use the lining to make a change-purse or something.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fishers update

Last weekend my cousin Dan Lipinski got married near Kent. I couldn't go because I was stuck here with my bacteria and plants and a lot of writing to do. But everyone sent pictures and I put the ones of people who I recognized up here if you want to check them out. I think Heather and Jeff will be the next to get married, so maybe I'll make it to that one.