Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

I'm sure everyone knows the answer to that elementary school yard standard. My answer is a bit different and not as clever but here it is anyway!

It could be a pirate thing, a goth thing or simply a whole lot of fun well done in this skull print.

I have been casting around for the right pattern from late summer onward and finally, a suitable one was found. I liked the brown tunic a lot and figured the same pattern could carry this very graphic print well even if black isn't always my best color.

There is a lot to love about this shirt but I'm going to start with the fabric. A fine soft wool, in a woven diamond twill. It has the appearance almost of a thermal waffle weave but it isn't. Drapey and very light in weight this will be a staple in my closet for almost the whole year and perfect for the holiday season now. The construction is quite different, the side seams run from the back of the armhole curving to the front hip.

During construction every seam is finished and most hidden in french seams. I learned to do a good miter on this blouse and like the comfortable fit and style very much.

For those that commented on the Turkey Day Apron there is a pattern for that! I was remiss at not including it with the post. Reet's Rags to Stitches No Hem Reversible Apron #RR125.

In general news, Greensprings Fire & Rescue got called out to a structure fire Friday night around 9:30 pm. The beautiful and unoccupied log cabin was fully involved even as the call came in. It was a total loss but the fire was kept contained to the cabin and didn't creep into the forest or move towards other homes. It was a long night for the crew of 3 volunteers (everyone else was visiting family elsewhere) and Gene made it back home a little after lunch time on Saturday.

Dandy got to be THE pony ride giving star Saturday. Children and grandchildren of a friend came up for a peek at the horses and donkeys. Dandy, as always, is the most willing of farm ambassadors. He is as much of a photo ham as Stella, gentle, loves kids, and knows they bring LOTS of treats. He was not disappointed and everyone is enjoying a few days of the bounty Cassidy and Finn brought. Thank you.

My Black Friday splurge consisted of bags of pine shavings bought at the Grange Co-op at half price. And the answer to how many bags of shavings can ft in the back of the Subaru Outback is 10. Oh and a little fabric shopping as there was a sale. Some of it is gift fabric and a fair amount of the next months sewing won't be shown here until after the holidays.

The weather has been very un-Oregon like. We have had some days of rain but we are looking at about a week of almost Indian Summer weather. Warm, dry and sunny.
The donkey's must be enjoying it. I caught them all playing yesterday. Running around, mock fighting and just being kinda silly. The horses were watching them fascinated. It was pretty cute.

And speaking of cute, I'll leave you with this parting shot: Pogo. I'm keeping this ball safe for Stella...honest.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Just in Time Turkey Day Apron

And gosh, have I needed one...for years! I am a messy cook so an apron is a very welcome addition to the daily effort.

This one has cute pockets and is fully lined. It was a lot of fun throwing this together early this morning, just in time.

We have had some other sewing success. The rayon/lycra knit (diva of the fabric world I'm sure) was difficult and time consuming to work with compounded by a pattern that has 24 darts spread through the garment (12 on the sleeves, 4 on the back and 8 on the front) all radiating down from the neck line. What Einstein picked it for this fabric?
Ah, that would be me. The finished top came out well in spite of my struggles and is quite wearable and comfortable.

Next up and in keeping with the green/cream/black theme is this 60's inspired A line tunic. It fits like a glove and I swear makes me look like I lost 10 pounds just slipping it over my head.

I used exactly 2 yards (that's all there was) of a light decorator weight cotton canvas. A winner for sure!

I want to wish everyone stopping by, a wonderful Thanksgiving, even if it may not be your holiday today. We have a lot to be thankful for here. Gene and I count family, friends and furkids high on our long list of bounty. Oh and football! ;)

The cats Rodger, Juno and Buzz are thankful for slow mice.

Horses Cooper, Dandy and Nick are thankful good carrots and apples are available all year.

Donkeys Sugarfoot, Ladybird and Star are grateful for warm coats.

Charlotte is thankful she is still top dog, Dennett is thankful for his daily walk.
Jack is thankful he can leap the dutch doors, Pogo is thankful the stitches in his butt will be coming out next week.
Smoochie is ever grateful for dropped food, Peter is thankful for soft pillows and down throws.
Bea is thankful her knee is holding up so well after surgery 2 years ago, Robin is thankful that my Dad taught him to jump up on the sofas and chair.
And Stella... Stella is thankful it is Robin's turn to wear the Hat of Embarrassment this year.
Robin is an awfully good sport BTW.
Don't worry, he is not scarred for life. A little turkey and all embarrassment shall be forgotten! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Those Devious Donkeys!

Oh, you think they are cute don't you?

They gently take any and all treats from your fingers like highborn ladies at tea, they stand like fine Italian statues while you dress and undress them. They even come and rest their little shaggy heads on your shoulders if you sit a spell with them. All the books say they are very smart, but you think to yourself it doesn't look like much goes on behind those soft eyes and heavy brow.

If you think that you would be OH SO WRONG. They plot, in fact I know they likely whisper stuff as they stand three abreast in their trailer hut. Warm and dry while you lug hay through all kinds of nasty weather. So it was Friday late afternoon. The gate was getting hard to open and close with the snow, so I decided to do a stall guard with two lead ropes, one high, one lower with about 12-15" in between and some slack. I left them suspiciously eyeing my creation as hay was happily munched. At 7:30 that night Gene burst into the house after a long afternoon in town doing errands and announced that we had donkeys on the loose, all three were in the driveway. I got myself bundled up and out we went, carrots in hand. In the driveway you say? Not a donkey to be found, but so many little tracks in the snow going here and there, no way to track the little buggers either. No eye shine, no tell tale rustle of donkey coats, just snow and cold. Sneaky, quick and quiet you could add to that list of traits. So, after looking and calling we found ourselves back at the top of the driveway, when I spied a short little quick eye shine. The gang of three had taken themselves back to their paddock. Sugarfoot even put himself back in and was eating the last of the hay. The ladies were hanging by the intact lead rope stall guard, tapping their hooves and waiting for that errant doorman. I bustled them in, pulled the gate back into place, calmed the horses who were working on their own escape plan and went in and had a good stiff drink. I have new found respect for those little long ears.

So, besides the donkey incident, a flat tire on Bob the tractor ( he got a new one to replace it) snow, a cancer scare with one of the dogs (Pogo has an unusual type of infection and the fix is a long course of antibiotics..whew!), and Dennett going off and then back on his food, I have managed to put together a single new top. Sewing Workshop's Zigzag Top and it was a lot of fun.

It was a completely different collar/yoke construction than I have ever done and it kept me concentrating for most of the sewing. While tricky, the directions as always with SW patterns are first rate. This is made from pinwale corduroy and I have modified it a bit with the addition of some ribbon,

making little "cuff" tucks in the sleeves

and adding pockets. Only one has the little ribbon detail.

Casual tops always benefit from pockets and these are nicely interfaced and lined to prevent sagging. Overall I am happy although it is a bit too big. Next one I'll go down a size. This one might shrink though. I rarely prewash fabrics unless I am mixing them. Garment manufacturers don't so why should I? I build in the shrink room on the cutting table. It works for me.

Parting shots: You can take pictures of cute little me to your hearts desire,
but NO, I am not leaving this to go outside for a walk.
No way!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weaver's, Have I got a Pattern for YOU!

I know that just about all of us at one time or another have wished for a really good pattern to use some of our beautiful handwoven cloth with. Something useful, something not too fussy or fitted or big or complicated. Most of all, something that looks high end to show off all our hard work. Crafted, not crafty.

I happen to have just such a pattern! Once a month Fabric of Vision has an evening event called Swig and Stitch at Liquid Assets, a nice local wine bar . Sandi demo's and stitches, we swig two or three wine pairings and take over the full length of the bar and then some. For $18.00 we get wine, we get free patterns and we almost always learn a new technique or two. It's just a lot of fun and the bonus this past S&S, was a perfect pattern for handwovens.

The Pattern is The Hooded Scarf by Jamie Christina Sewing Patterns.

It has five variations and two sizes (adult & child). It is cleverly drafted and the instructions are thorough and easily understood. You will need a sewing machine, but due to the nice construction, you might not need a serger. The designers site is Flash heavy and my computer hates that stuff, but you can find it in stock at Fabric of Vision
and Sandi is happy to pop stuff in the mail. The number there is 541-482-4009, and yes, this could be considered a shameless plug for a wonderful shop and a great little pattern

I did a child's size using the cute pleat option, a button and a folded piece of pretty ribbon completed the pleat detail. The outside fabric is a beautiful and soft rust wool and the inside is a lovely cotton from the new Phillip Jacobs collection.

These fabrics are amazing in that they are color saturated but still soft and muted. It's a balance I wish I could achieve in a lot of my weaving. The scarf covers the back of my neck very well and is a winner for feeding. I have a great big water resistant coat with a barn type collar but the neck is large and I've always wished it had a knitted under collar. A detail you don't often find these days I might add. I wore it out yesterday to town and this morning doing early morning barn chores and loved its versatility. I need to make a few more and what great gifts they would make too!

So there you have it, something wonderful and timely for winter weaving.

Parting shot: Who need Man Ray when you've got Jack?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On To The New Challenges

The last of the cut out TNT patterns has been finished and I'll admit it right here and now, I adore my little snap tool! My short list of sewing needs has more snaps at the very top. Good sized antique brass snaps were used on this top. This is Kwik Sew 3620 with the shawl collar done in some fine Japanese cotton. Needs a good pressing too!

And then it was on to something new, a lot of somethings new are in the works.
First up to get my feet wet on pattern auditions is a new one by Indygo Junction.
It's IJ 867 Mod Top and Tunic and I am in love with it.

As a child in the 60's this hit just the right note with me. The fabric had been one I admired from afar, so when this pattern came in it was an easy pick. It's a heavier cotton canvas and should hold up well.

Hope so as it's going to get a lot of wear. I'll be making this again with some very minor tweaking in other fabrics. Gotta find my old Go-Go boots and break out some Nancy Sinatra maybe. ;)

Yesterday was a pattern and fabric cutting day as I loaded myself up with projects.
Here is what we accomplished.

Sewing Workshop ZigZag Shirt in aqua baby wale corduroy.

I can't say enough good things about these patterns. They are cleverly designed and well drafted. The instructions are first rate too. Almost all of their styles are flattering to many many body types.

Cut and ready for sewing is also Vogue 1173.

I added this pattern to my collection the last sale Vogue patterns had ($4.99) and paired it with a very nice drapey rayon knit.
I have not conquered knits and both the fabric and pattern will be a challenge. The front, back and sleeves all have multiple dart details. I'm doing a tunic length with long sleeves.

I didn't do anything with this but look at it. It's ambitious and I have some spectacular fabrics for it should I be able to pull it off. Silk velvet in a deep midnight blue and a lace base with what looks like a hand dyed jersey sewn and slashed on top.

Very interesting and actually quite pretty. The pattern will get a good fitting on Rhonda and I'll decide then to go for the good stuff or do a test muslin first. I'm getting better at translating how the pattern fit looks in the finished garment.

Last up for yesterdays marathon prep session is a coat pattern that has been just waiting for me to be brave enough to tackle it. Sewing Workshop Verona Coat.

It took quite a while to cut out all the pattern pieces since it also has a lining. I needed to do a pin fitting to see what size I want to construct my test garment in.

This is basically going to be a wearable (I hope) muslin.

If it works out I get a nice new "around town" winter coat and can finally use the Italian cotton wool plaid (I have been petting and loving in my stash) for a much needed good spring coat.

In other news, the horse shelter is standing proudly with 3 sides and the roof trusses up. Of course it's all frame right now, but serious progress none the less. I bought a third waterproof blanket for Dandy so the boys really will be okay without for a while yet. Most times they used the trees over the shelter anyway.

The shoulder is feeling better and I've thrown the shuttle a time or two over the weekend. I also made time for a nice fall ride. Sunday football carried on just fine without me for that few hours. As a side note, Cooper was quite sweaty and damp from our ride, that fall combination of warm day/heavy winter coat and I was worried he wouldn't dry out in time for the late afternoon temperature drop. For the first time ever I used the cooler sheet I have had for just this scenario. He stood like a champ while I threw it on. The donkeys got brushed and everyone, right down to the barn cats, got some treats and extra attention.

Parting shot: Lend me your ears....

Friday, November 11, 2011

That's Just Snappy!

Please raise your hand if you dislike sewing on buttons? It is the one thing I positively drag a part of my anatomy getting around to (Chinois Coat still awaiting that final touch), so imagine my delight when the gals at Fabric of Vision mentioned a snap setting tool. My ears perked up for sure. I like snaps! They make a satisfying sound, they have those pretty pearly tops, I don't have to hand sew them and best of all, they are available right in Ashland.

Sometimes it takes weeks for me to get over to Medford for buttons and often the selection is just so-so and dollars to donuts there is never enough of the one I like.

So, I went to town with my little setter and finished up this new pattern test run blouse. Meet Vogue 1274.

The shirt turned out well for the first run through. Certainly a wearable muslin and good thing since I used a good quality tightly woven shirting on it. The sizing is accurate considering problems I've had with Vogue patterns in the past.

The directions were pretty good although there are some things I need to change. They want all seams French seams. In my mind, unless you are working with silk or some other fine fiber that ravels heavily it's a big waste of time and makes some of the seaming extra difficult as far as getting a good clean match. If you like french seams and it makes you feel better, do them, but if you are like me and just want a good sturdy garment, serviceable and neat on the inside, just seam and serge or finish as you normally do. There is no Sewing Police. The neck facing is a poor fit and needs work/adjustments on the next version. I love the looks of this pattern but don't know how that back will behave wearing it. I can see the gathered back portion riding up under the snapped side panels.

In all fairness, a heavier fabric with more body and crispness would be better suited. I don't need a lot of asymmetrical closing shirts, but I will do this at least one more time and maybe more. I like it.

I would love to tell you I've been weaving, but I haven't. Cooper's little explosion last week while trying to get the blanket on him wrenched my shoulder and aggravated a nerve and muscle that lies under a shoulder blade. Why I just didn't let go of the lead rope is an easy to answer question. As beginners ( and I started riding when I was 4. Thanks Mom, you gifted me with that opportunity) you are taught to hold the reins no matter what and I have sailed over and off many a horse, reins still in hand even though my lungs had no air or a body part was screaming injury. I kept a hold of my horse. The same goes with holding a lead rope, although newer (and kinder/safer), techniques are out there. And I know them too. Shame on me.

So Cooper and I headed up to the round pen on Tuesday. It's been a long time since we had to do any remedial work of that kind, but it was good for both of us. I had my clicker in hand and started working on targeting, the blanket thrown over the rail blowing in the breeze was our starting point. 45 minutes later, I had a happy relaxed horse, wearing his blanket and not fussing as it went on and off over his head, over his rump, over his sides etc. We'll do this a few more times just to make sure any unexpected late night blanketing emergency goes off without a hitch. With him it's not so much the blanket itself but the noise the waterproof fabric makes.

Parting shots: Bedtime Biscuits & Little Beggars.....;)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mission Pants: Completed!

Three pairs of slacks in about one week. Much needed too. I don't wear jeans often anymore and the ones I have are pretty darn shabby looking. Suitable only for around the house or maybe an incognito trip to the local Grange for feed. At this point 75% of everything I own has been sewn by me.

The two wool pants are made from the Sewing Workshop Trio pattern. Many small modifications have been done. Pockets completely different, flat front waist band slightly extended, leg shape changed to be straighter. These are comfortable pants and fun and easy to add embellishments too. Here is the dark teal pair with a fake front vent and bamboo buttons added.

Oh, and the top is a Chinois Coat by Indygo Junction .

I had done the cut out while my folks were here and then went on to other sewing projects during their visit. It still needs buttons and button holes.

The last pair of pants is a Japanese made cotton/linen blend. Due to the patterning of the fabric I wanted to use a sewing pattern that didn't have a lot of seams. My choice was the pants from Sewing Workshops Urban T-Shirt & Pants pattern.

Again, some changes. The body of the pants has been shortened as it was so long it came up under my rib cage the first pair I made. Now they sit just below my natural waist. Pockets have been added

and I lost the front faced vent and lengthened the leg as I am not fond of cropped pants. This pattern is so easy I could almost do it in my sleep.

A certain friend brought me back some vintage donkey buttons from a trip to the Houston Quilt Market. Three of them. Are these not just the most perfect donkey buttons you have ever seen??!!

I love them and thank you. I may just have to make a little pictorial quilt to showcase them.

In other news, the towel weaving has started again. I am also planning a second towel warp for Hey Baby to be followed by a blanket warp.

Eight cords of split mixed wood was delivered yesterday. Looks like we're ready for all the cold weather this winter is promising and then some. I sure hope so. Heating season can drag on and on into late May.

Parting shot: Stinkin' Cute! ( Thank you Sharon & Alexia for that gem)

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Can you find the terrier?

Nothing says winter has arrived like a hearty stew and after two days of snow spewing forth, I can say; Winter has arrived! And stew has been made. Your basic throw it all in kitchen sink kind of stew with root veggies, the last of the fresh green beans and my personal favorite in just about anything...mushrooms.

It cooked in the crockpot all day and when Gene and I came in from a ton of evening chores, there it was, smelling good and waiting for us to heap some into bowls.

In farm news, the foundation for the new stall barn is poured and curing. It is covered with hay and tarps. Next week the building will begin in earnest. In the meantime, I have done something I have never done and that is blanket the horses. Basically rain sheets to keep them dry. Heavy denier poly/nylon cordura type rugs with no poly fill lining. Curly horses really do grow a dense warm coat but even that with a long enough period of wet weather will finally allow them to get soaked to the skin. Wet skin equals cold horses and with no true shelter available, this was a good option. Let me take this moment to mention that I should have been keeping the horses use to the sight and sound of said blankets. We had QUITE the rodeo getting them on. Once over their backs though everyone relaxed and went back to what they truly love to do. Eat hay!

The donkeys are staying snug and dry in their coats with quilted linings. The horse trailer is doing double duty this year as a run in for them and is working perfectly. The little front tack area gives me a place to hang the blankets when not in use and the trailer itself is matted and bedded with shavings making it very easy to keep clean and the donkeys themselves don't often go where they hang out, preferring certain parts of the fence line. The horses too prefer certain areas for their business.

Dennett had his 6 month blood work up, other than some adjustment downward with his thyroid meds, everything is stable or better than in June. He soldiers on and has enjoyed the last two days of snow very much. It was discovered that Pogo (the day after I took Dennett to the vet) had an abscessed anal gland. A miserable time was had by all dealing with that but he is on the mend and I still have all my fingers, keeping where it was lanced, open and draining.

Robin had his first real taste of winter yesterday and loved it. We went for a walk with Jack (who has to be leashed) through the back 40.

It snowed, they sniffed and played.

I took pictures. A great time was had by all.

I have managed to get some sewing done. One pair of wool pants is done, the second ready for hemming. The wool was a pleasure to work with.

It cut like butter and sewed up beautifully. The pocket lining used in this pair is leftover from the kitchen curtains.

I love that fabric but there was only enough for curtains. I bought the last of the bolt. One more cotton pair of pants and a blouse are cut, marked and waiting for assembly. The next batch of sewing will be all new patterns to try. I'm hoping for some winners in there.

Parting shot: Wow! All this just for me. ;)