Category Archives: sewing

Headbands- the herald of spring?

It’s not too often that I post a photo of myself up here, but in this instance I do so to enhance the product of my labors today.

It’s spring, and I’ve been feeling the urge to add a splash of color to my self-perceived drab wardrobe. The sun seems to be getting stronger and I think about wearing a skirt quite often. These thought are then shattered as I curse my optimism about the weather and have to walk home in a snow flurry.

There’s a cycle that I get into that I know I am not alone in- I see something that I want, but not wanting to shell out hard earned cash, I think to myself, ‘I’m crafty, I could make that!’ Usually that is the end of the story, I either forget about whatever lovely thing I saw, or I think about it occasionally but don’t do anything about it. Well, not this time!

I’ve seen cute headbands about town, and took the initiative this lazy Sunday afternoon (after I made 2 sets of curtains, sewed in a zipper and made a fabric flower, just for kicks).  I modified a pattern that I found online, but I did not have any elastic, but I had recently purchased a whole package of hair elastics. I sacrificed three of them for a greater purpose. I am quite pleased with the end product of these headbands.

Oh yes, did I mention they’re reversible!?

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Bread, and an apron to bake it with.


I’m afraid that my title doesn’t make sense- that you can’t actually bake bread with an apron. I’m afraid that my small reading population will take me too literally. I finally got around to making an apron for myself that is the same pattern as the one I made for Audrey many months ago. I spend enough time in the kitchen, I thought it was about time that I should protect my clothing from spills, splatters, hand wipes and the like.

I splurged on the fabric (with the pattern in mind) in Portland way back when we went to Oregon for Thanksgiving. Fabric is great like that- it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

In the past several months I have been honing my bread baking skills. Sourdough to be exact. We don’t yet have any pets, so I have resorted to calling my fermentation projects my pets. I have a kombucha baby (or mother, depending on who you talk to) and also a sourdough sponge. Neither have names and I am currently taking suggestions.

The sourdough is not 150 years old, nor did it come from the Yukon. Nic and I made it from ‘scratch’ by harvesting wild yeast from the air (which I just find exceedingly cool). It gets fed at least once a week, and I have adapted a time-consuming bread baking process into one that fits into my lifestyle. I’ve done it enough times now I don’t even need a recipe (a good thing seeing as how the bread baking book was left in Ohio). This bread is on the sour end of sourdough, which is just how I like it, keeps for several days and has a really great crumb.


the crusty crust was created by adopting the no knead bread technique of baking your bread in an already-hot dutch oven, thereby steaming the bread which in turns creates a lovely crust. And with just 4 ingredients I just think it’s the most beautiful thing ever. It’s almost too good to eat… almost.

Sourdough bread (my apologies if you do not have a sourdough sponge. I recommend that you procure one as soon as possible).

1 c sourdough sponge
2 c bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/3-1/2 c warm water

In a mixer with a dough hook, mix all ingredients together and continue to mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes, add more water or flour as needed to obtain a firm and elastic dough.

Turn dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for at least 4 hours (I sometimes let it rise overnight). Punch dough down and shape into desired loaf style (round). Let dough rise for at least 1 hour, ideally 2 on floured surface.

Within the last 1/2 hour of the 2nd rise, preheat the oven to 450 and place a dutch oven or other oven-save lidded casserole dish into the oven.

When dutch oven is preheated, place bread with a deep ‘X’ to accommodate rise in the hot dish. Cover and return to oven. When 20 minutes has passed, remove lid and continue baking for at least 10 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.

Let cool for 1 hour before devouring.

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Cephalopods!


Halloween is a hit-and-miss holiday for me, and it has recently dawned on me that no one is going to make holidays special for you once you’re all growed up. You’ve got to put the effort in to have a rockin’ costume.


These costumes almost didn’t happen due to family duties of sheep shearing followed by some downright pleasant company. Once all that was over, there was only 5 short days to create a couple of cephalopods out of 8 yards of polyester. So I holed up next to the sewing machine and devoted the following four evenings to the cause. Thankfully they came together surprisingly easy, and no sleep was lost throughout the process.


Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I did some internet investigating and found a handy tutorial about how to make an octopus costume, which I modeled my work after. I took a cape approach to the critters and velcro was used to fasten below the chin. I also made sure to create a hat of sorts for the large headpieces of both the squid an octopus so that ones’ head didn’t sink into the heads.


I’m so pleased with how they turned out, I’m thinking about going into the large plush costume-making business. I hope that these critters find another occasion to venture out- they’re a real crowd-pleaser if I do say so myself.

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The Shover.

The Shover got its start about 3 years ago, when I was living with 3 other women in SE Portland. The usual thing happened on a weekly basis- that is to say that mail, junk, legit and otherwise, would inevitably find its way to any surface- though most of the time it was the table. The solution to this endless clutter was happened upon quite suddenly and unexpectedly. I was at Goodwill with one of my roommates shopping for who-knows-what, when we stumbled upon what we eventually, fondly, referred to as The Shover.

The Shover was about a foot and one half tall about a foot deep, and made of solid wood and painted a rich royal blue. It had four square compartments stacked directly on top of one another and was topped with a tin roof and a little tin bird adorning the space directly under the roof. We had found the solution to our mail clutter.

The structure was purchased and brought home and the compartments labeled with the names of each housemate. I am unclear on the circumstances around when the term ‘The Shover” was coined, but it was obvious that there was no way we could not call it this. The Shover’s compartments were also referred to each person’s individual Shover.

Not only did The Shover make household organization fun, it was also the source of endless entertainment;

“Has anyone seen the water bill?”
“Yeah, I put it in your Shover.”
*giggles*

Or

“Do you want to keep this oil change coupon?”
“Yeah! Just stick it in my Shover.”
*giggles*

I have missed the presence of such a simple and effective device in my life since I moved out of this house. I have searched each second hand store for a comparable structure for shoving important (and not so important) documents into, but The Shover is an elusive thing.

And so this is my attempt to recreate The Shover, with fabric instead of wood, and one that hangs on the wall instead of being set upon something.


I call it The Shover 2.0!

If I’m being honest with myself, it’s really more of a mail sling. I reinforced the ‘sling’ part with interfacing to give it a little more umph. I haven’t tested the integrity of the slings, but I think it will be able to easily hold 3 magazines, a half dozen letters from friends and family and maybe, every other week, a bill or two. There is a tasteful pocket at the bottom for such things as pens, pencils or loose change.



I made The Shover 2.0 on Columbus Day, and as such, did not receive any mail, but it also makes decent wall-art. I found the thick stick in my backyard, stuck it through the 2.0 and hung it with thin wire.

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Potholders!


Here’s me taking a break from knitting. This means that I’ve got a sewing area set up (!!). And That means I can leave my area as-is (messy) and not have to clean up to eat dinner at the dinner table. I think this will also lead to more creativity.


I bought some heat-resistant fabric a while ago for the purpose of making an oven mitt- but the notion of potholders struck me yesterday, and I just had to oblige- that was after I made some curtains for the kitchen and bedroom.


The other great thing about these potholders was that I used mostly scraps from other projects. Potholders are small and functional which makes for a nice combination of utility and creativity. I made a pattern out of a box that was originally used for 6 bottles of hard cider- one square for the main section and one triangle for little hand pockets that you can use to manipulate the potholder as a glove-of-sorts… or a puppet.

I need to go dig around my scrap-bag to see what other treasures I can find.

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Different Wagons (lots of parentheses).

In the past year I have decided I liked sewing and knitting. Within these two crafts, I would solidly classify myself in the ‘beginner’ category, but would probably like to think of myself as an ‘advanced beginner,’ as I have committed a good amount of time and resources into improving my skills in both genres.

I think it is a common occurrence to like two things equally (both have unique merits and challenges), but be able to give equal attention to those two things. I find it very difficult to pick up a knitting project when I have yet to finish a sewing project, and vice versa. I have been neglecting a pair of socks I started way back in January due to a run of sewing projects.

It’s not that I’ve run out of sewing projects, quite the contrary, but I’ve got some big knitting plans (in size and scope), and I just need to finish this sock before I will allow myself to begin. I’d like to have two (or more) projects going at once, but I am bad at building up my yarn stash (stashing is a thing that knitters do, so I’m told). I like to purchase with a purpose… maybe I’m just really good a self control (really?). It might also have something to do with wanting to knit a sweater next… making my next yarn purchase a bit of a spendy one.

However, Since I am moving early next month (!!!), and am also planning on being somewhat homeless for a spell (read: camping a lot), I think now is a good time to trade sewing (a hobby that requires electricity, space, a table) for knitting (you can do it anywhere!).

But first I have to finish these damn socks!

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Pulling out all the stops.

As soon as I thought of this title for this post, I started doubting myself… do people really say this? Will anyone understand? Thanks to the Internet and idiom checkers, it’s confirmed:

Pulling out all the stops: to do everything you can to make something successful. In this case it included 3 cups of cream, 2 pounds of chocolate, 2 sticks of butter, rum and 7 eggs (not pictured)

I’ve had a hard time with my confidence with expressions from my childhood. On multiple occasions none of my college friends had any idea what I was talking about. I’d say ‘it’s colder than a well-digger’s ass’ in reference to the February weather and get looks like you wouldn’t believe.

Yesterday was a very good friend’s birthday- a birthday that deserved all stops be pulled out. I had recently bought a new springform pan, and so I offered up my cake baking services. Audrey requested a chocolate birthday cake and I found the chocolate cake to end all chocolate cakes in Saveur Magazine. Demel, THE Viennese bakery was highlighted in this issue and included their recipe for Truffeltorte (with an umlaut over the u)- a three-layer chocolate cake soaked in a rum syrup and partitioned with layers of whipped chocolate ganache. This would be my most challenging cake recipe to date.

But before I baked the cake, I had to make a gift. I believe I mentioned in my previous post how I had visited Fabric Depot and had gotten a lot of inspiration… it came mostly from one fabric in particular- a lovely map print of France and its regions. I’m a sucker for maps. Maps are up there on the list of things I love, in between waffles and baby animals. I knew that I needed this fabric, but also knew that if I didn’t have a particular plan for it, it would languish away in a cabinet, perhaps for years, before a suitable project was found to showcase its glory. And so I made a decision, bought supplies and left the fabric store with a bounce in my step and a finished product in the very near future.

I pre-washed and cut the fabric the night I brought it home, and it was finished before I went to bed the next evening. Behold, the Friday Night Apron by Vanilla House Designs. I wanted badly to keep it for myself, but I did the right thing an informed Audrey of the impending gift (vaguely) to ensure I would not try to sabotage her birthday with my selfishness.

Ricrac is my new favorite thing to sew with- it really made the apron pop and was instantly more fun. It makes the finished product more suited to making cupcakes, or a hip cocktail party, rather than making weekday morning gruel.

Happy Birthday, Audrey!

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