Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Quilt Top

There's something so satisfying about turning hundreds of tiny pieces of fabric into a whole cloth.

Conrad thinks so, too.

On the whole I'm really pleased with the way this came together -- from thrifted sheets and clothing, from my stash, and (in one case) a pair of shorts my mother made, which were worn by both my brothers.  I just cut out the worn spots and used the rest of the fabric.  Now it just needs to be "sandwiched" and quilted.  But that will have to wait until the other quilt I'm working on is finished and comes off the frame!

I was going for a color palate which would appeal to boys as well as to me.  I think I succeeded: this got a word of approval from both my landlady's sons.  Though Erik, who was helping me lay out the blocks, watched me for a while and then remarked "You're kind of a perfectionist, aren't you?"

That was very perceptive of him.  I'm going to try to pretend that the three spots where two identical squares ended up next to each other (despite my best efforts) don't really bother me!  

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Refurbished Blanket

The day I woke up with the binding of my blanket wrapped around my neck, I decided it was time to do something.  The poor thing is really old -- as old as I am, I think, or close (which is not particularly old for ME, but for a blanket it's rather elderly) -- and it's had a lot of hard use in its lifetime.  I've already reattached the binding once, but it has frayed itself away to practically nothing.

Sad old binding.   This isn't even the worst part.
Fortunately, just last week I picked up a linen dress at the thrift store.  It was a lovely shade of purple but it appeared to have been shrunk at some point; the tag said "6 petite" but it probably wouldn't even fit a six-year-old.  However, the lining was just the right shade of purple (and the poor shrunken outside will probably be used as well), and at $2 it was cheaper than buying blanket binding.

The first step in sewing.  Plus the first joint of my thumb, looking a little bit lost.
I just cut strips roughly 4" wide (I didn't measure particularly), pieced them together, and pressed in one long edge.  The other edge I stitched to the blanket, then folded the whole thing over and stitched again along the pressed edge.

Shiny new binding, aka thrifted polyester lining fabric.
Voila!  My blanket has a new lease on life.  (Of course, the shiny new binding only shows up how sad and threadbare the rest of the cloth is.... but at least now it won't strangle me in the middle of the night.)

I didn't bother trying to match the thread.  (And I don't know what's up with the tension on my machine.
My stitching's been a little bit uneven lately.)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Aprons for the Shop

Woah.  Apparently Blogger has been busy changing the look and interface of posting when I wasn't paying attention!  That was a bit of a surprise...

In other news, I've spent the weekend dismembering thrifted clothing!  It sounds crazy, but it's fun.  There are several shops around here (Goodwill and others) at which you can get items of clothing for only a few dollars, and they all have a "99 cent" day as well.  I've found that this is an excellent source of fabric!  If I can buy a sheet for a dollar and get the equivalent of 5 or 6 yards of good quality fabric, why pay the price-per-yard?  And I've found that men's shirts provide quite a lot of good, useable fabric as well.

Embroidered linen apron.
Mostly this is good for quilts, but I made aprons, too!  Long, linen skirts are perfect to make waist aprons out of.

Natural linen, with a pocket!
I've spent a lot of the weekend sewing, as stress relief since the semester's almost over, and also because I can't spend any time singing right now as my voice is completely gone.  So, I made three aprons, and they're all up in my shop!

Petal pink and pretty.
Now I'm going to work on the quilt I'm currently obsessed with, and try to remember not to talk to the cat...

Monday, 23 April 2012


Here's the strawberry banana smoothie I made last week.  Looks good, doesn't it?

And you would never know that it has almost half a cup of zucchini in it!  

I'm clearing out the freezer and getting my green veggies at the same time.  Sneaky!

Mine was a handful of frozen strawberries, a banana (also frozen), a splodge of yogurt, a splash of lime juice, and the zucchini.  But yo can use any fruit you have on hand!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Things I would LIKE to do in the next few weeks:

~ Finish the quilt I've been working on since last January.  (A now 8-months-late wedding present.)
~ Spin.
~ cut out and make about three other quilts.  (I have the quilting itch this month.  I can't help it!)
~ Go for long walks.
~ Not worry about finding a summer job.
~ Make things for Etsy.
~ Read mindless things.
~ Work on my novel.
~ Just be.

Things I NEED to do in the next few weeks:

~ final exams
~ major music analysis project
~ find a summer job.

Sigh.  Why is it that reality is so much more boring (and less creative) than the fantasy?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Sometimes I worry about projecting a false impression of my life on this blog.  I tend only to post when I have a pretty new project to show you... a funny story... a new opportunity to share.  Most of the time I leave out the struggles, the heartache, the difficult times.  Believe me, they happen, and frequently, but I try not to burden the internet world with them!

Today, though, I'll be serious.  I just heard that a young man I met last month at a vocal competition - the winner of my category, in fact - lost his life this past weekend in a car accident.  I only spoke to him for a few minutes - I can hardly claim I knew him.  But the news shocked me, and has made me pause and think about my life.  How precious life is.  How much we take it for granted!

My heart goes out to his family and friends.  May he rest in peace.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Riders to the Sea

Yesterday was the final performance of my school's spring opera production -- and the reason it's been a little quiet around here lately!  We did two one-act operas: "Riders to the Sea" by Ralph Vaughn Williams, and "Gallantry" by Douglas Moore.   Which are about as different as two operas could possibly be!  Riders is incredibly dark and tragic -- set in a little fishing community on one of the Erin Islands in Galway Bay, it's bleak and sad and lots of people die.  Gallantry on the other hand was written in the late 1950s and is an honest-to-goodness "soap opera".  It's great!

My photos are all from Riders because that was my opera.  Besides having a lead role (I played Cathleen, one of the daughters), I spent countless hours in the concert hall this past week working on the sets.  I learned how to paint a pretty convincing fake wood grain!  And also how to paint a floor you'd swear was linoleum - at least from the audience :-)

Photo by Calli Smith: courtesy of C.S.Photography
This was an incredibly rewarding opera for me - I learned a lot as a singer and performer, and I also had the chance to do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, painting and putting the set together, and helping pull together the props.

Our family: Nora, Cathleen, Maurya, and Bartley.
Doesn't the ladder really look like aged wood?  I painted it!  The floor wasn't me, though.
And look!  That spinning wheel on set?  Yep, that's mine.  I got to sit and spin for about 10 minutes a night... which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I almost filled a bobbin with a pretty grey single during the course of rehearsals and the performances.  

Spinning in the dressing room after our last performance.
I may have more photos later - obviously since I was onstage I couldn't take them myself, but we had a professional photographer (and my good friend) who came to the dress rehearsal and got lots!  The one I posted above is her work.  Once she gets the rest online I'll see if I can get permission to blog them for you, or at the very least I'll direct you to her website so you can see them if you wish!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Gown for Beth

A few weeks ago a friend from Union contacted me and asked if I could make her a dress.  When she said she had in mind a floorlength, formal gown made out of seersucker I was a bit dubious, but when she sent me the fabric I began to be able to picture it and the more I worked with the dress, the more I loved it!  Also, Beth is tall and blonde and gorgeous; I was excited to make something lovely for such a lovely person!

The pattern is Kwik Sew 3400.  This pattern was nice to work with; it's printed on sturdy paper rather than the usual tissue, and the instructions were clear without insulting the intelligence of the sewer.

The dress is this pretty blue and white seersucker, lined with creamy white.  I used a white-on-white calico for the bust lining, figuring it would give a little extra body as well as being more comfortable next to the skin.  It fastens with a zipper but has a row of pearly buttons sewed down the back for decoration.

Beth wanted a little contrasting band at the top edge to give a little extra interest to the bodice.  I turned the strip on the bias, both so that it could just curve gently around the edge of the bodice, and also to get the detail of the diagonal stripes.

The whole dress is french-seamed for a smooth and lovely finish, and I used lace hem tape to finish the hem.  (The lining just got the double-fold treatment.)

I'm a little bit in love with the drape of the skirt and the train.  I'm also glad I got the chance to really use my dress form!  It was so helpful to have the form which I could dial down to exactly match Beth's measurements, and to check the fit and drape as I went along.

The gown is with Beth now!  I can't wait to see photos of her in it, and if she gives her permission I'll share them with you when I get them :-)

Edit:  I have pictures of Beth in her gown!  She said I could post them, so here you go :-)

Edit:  I have pictures of Beth in her gown!  She said I could post them, so here you go :-)  Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hot Pink for Easter

I thought I would show you what I wore on Easter!  I made this dress about a year and a half ago but I don't think it's ever made it onto the blog.

The pattern is a simple princess-seamed, scoop-necked dress (I think a Butterick or New Look pattern, but I don't have it on hand to check).  The main fabric is a rayon blend (?) which I picked up several years ago; it's lined in palest pink cotton.

It drapes so prettily!

I've decided I need to learn to accessorize with colours other than black!  Most of my belts, shoes, handbags, etc are black, which goes with everything, but it gets a bit tedious after a while.  Any ideas?

The sun was extremely bright on Easter -- befitting the day, but a bit challenging for photography, hence the slightly strange exposure and focus of some of these pictures!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!  And all the world today rejoices.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


I had the pleasure of making several things at the request of a dear friend (mother of one of my college friends!)

She asked for a tea cosy
It doesn't fit my pot, but hopefully it fits hers!

and a mug cosy, with the nickname of a friend on it

I love how the ties came out corkscrewed!

and a pineapple doily, like one her grandmother had crocheted for her many years ago.

This was the hardest part, because I had to figure out how to follow a crochet lace pattern!  But I managed it, and I'm so pleased with how it came out.

Thanks, Mrs K!  I had so much fun making these things, and I always enjoy doing commissions because I know who the items are going to -- makes it more personal :-)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Patterns for Sale

I've been going through the stash of vintage patterns which I've had for a long time, weeding out those I'll probably never use.  I have three sets of them up in my shop now, with more to come!

Three Simplicity patterns, marked size 14.
Mostly late 1950s/early 60s, I think.

Marked for "Juniors".
They are mostly smallish sizes.  They're perfect if you're a slim, or if you have a young daughter!

A skirt/vest combo, and a cute blouse.
Keep checking back in the shop for the rest of them!

Monday, 2 April 2012


Today I got up at 3:30 AM, because I had a paper due.  I've been thinking about it for a week or so and I really did try to write it yesterday, but it didn't work.  So I started writing at 4 am and finished around 7.

Nine pages in three hours.  These are all the books I cited, suffused in early morning sunlight.

Then I went to school in the closest thing to pyjamas I've ever worn in public.

You can't see them, but I'm wearing slouchy knit gauchos.  And my hair is in the sloppy looped-up ponytail I slept in (briefly.)
Now I just want to go sleep in the warmth under a tree.  Maybe on this quilt, which I've just taken new and improved photos of and which is back up in the shop.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Baking Day

Yesterday was baking day.

The bread turned out better than it has in months.  (Probably it was the new recipe I tried.)

And the cake was yummy.

There is just something irresistable about chocolate cake on a turquoise plate.  (Recipe is Anna's dairy-free chocolate cake from Pleasant View Schoolhouse, only I didn't make it dairy-free.)