Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Standard

Keeping Warm in Festive Knitted Fashion

Several years ago I revisited the art of knitting after a 30 year hiatus.    I learned to knit before I could write.  My grandmothers and aunts were all avid knitters… it was all around me all the time and soon I became interested in learning myself.    Much like riding a bicycle, once learned one never really forgets how to do it.  Not having as much time for complicated and time consuming creative projects, I find knitting to be a very convenient creative activity; it is the kind of work that can easily be taken from place to place and worked on in short intervals without losing track of one’s progress.

This year I decided to make several knitted gifts.  This is the hat and scarf I made for my favorite 3 year old to wear during the cold wintery days of December made in festive green and red… an early gift just in time for the holidays.  I hope she likes it! fullsizeoutput_fe1

Advertisements

VISIONS OF SUGAR-PLUMS

Standard

A CHRISTMAS PILLOWCASE FOR EVERYONE

 

Christmas fabrics usually go on sale in the days leading up to December 25th.  Yesterday, with that in mind,  I stopped in to a local store to see what was left on the shelves that I might be able to use. I was rewarded for my effort with the lovely piece shown above  which I brought home and quickly turned into a set of cases.   My favorite material for pillowcases is flannel, but soft cottons are also suitable.

It takes a full yard to create a pillowcase.  They are an easy project and perfect for a beginner… even the youngest sewer can have success as I will demonstrate below.

HOW TO MAKE A PERFECT PILLOWCASE

Begin by trimming the selvage edges from the 1 yard piece.

fullsizeoutput_c64

Press back  4.5 to 5 inches at the top.

fullsizeoutput_c65

Fold 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the folded edge and press.

fullsizeoutput_c66

Stitch into place.

fullsizeoutput_c67

With right side out, stitch the side seam at 1/4 inch.

fullsizeoutput_c69

Turn and press seam to one side.

fullsizeoutput_c6b

On wrong side stitch at 5/8 inches.  This creates a (modified) French seam with the raw edge contained within the seam.

fullsizeoutput_c6d

Optional:  Press the seam down and stitch on the finished edge creating a flat fell seam.  I take this step to help eliminate bulk that sometime happens with washing.  When the seam is stitch down it decreased need for ironing… if you’re not keen on ironing pillowcases.

fullsizeoutput_c6e

Turn the fabric right side out and stitch both at 1/4 inch as done for the side seam.  Follow the same instruction for creating side seam at the bottom seam line.

Give the pillowcase a final steam press stretching on the bias to square up the corners as needed.fullsizeoutput_c72

And voila, a perfect pillowcase for yourself or someone else.

fullsizeoutput_c74

FABULOUS FURNITURE FINDS FOR FABRIC STORAGE

Standard
FABULOUS FURNITURE FINDS FOR FABRIC STORAGE

I spotted a new store, NADEAU, at Washington Square and having an interest in interiors,  I stopped in to have a look round. Everywhere I looked I saw these fabulous cabinets that would be so perfect for fabric storage.  Imagine the shelves loaded up with colorful prints and giant thread spools showing through the glass providing a mix of utility and display.   I really like the red dresser which could also have many practical uses such as storing bolts of interfacing and notions, etc.   These pieces fun and visually interesting.   Any one of them would be a perfect complement to a dressed up sewing room.

Which one do you like best?

 

fullsizeoutput_bd4.jpeg

fullsizeoutput_bd3

fullsizeoutput_bd8

fullsizeoutput_bd7.jpeg

… and, I love the orange chair. So fun!!!

SaveSave

FABULOUS FASHION FINDS FOR FALL

Standard

I was out today checking out the new fashions for fall and found some very fun shoes.  Would have snapped up this mustard jacket in an instant, but my size was not available.  Hmmm… maybe I should order it… as you can see, it goes with everything!

 

A JUST FOR FUN – Halloween Project.

Standard
A JUST FOR FUN – Halloween Project.

I am not a serious quilter, but I do on occasion like to make little quilts for wall decoration.  Being that Halloween is just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to see what I could make from my left-over fabric scraps.  My goal was to create something interesting using only things that I had on-hand… without making additional purchases!

After sorting through my stash, I came up with this collection of possibilities.fullsizeoutput_ba9

Considering overall design, scale, color, etc., with size of pieces available, I selected the jack-o-latern motif fabric as the center-piece with coordinating strips for the sides to be sewn in a log cabin pattern.

fullsizeoutput_baaAfter assembling the pieces, I hand basted the decorative block to a piece of muslin to give added support for the embellishment to come.

IMG_6078

Then it was into the embroidering hoop for adding decorative features.

fullsizeoutput_bafI began by placing small orange and black beads on the bottom and top sections.  They are a little small and tend to get lost, in the photos I taken, but show quite well when examining the piece in person.

fullsizeoutput_bba

More beads.IMG_6087

Next I added cross stitches and French knots to the skeleton fabric.

fullsizeoutput_bb9

And lastly, I  finished up with orange and green primitive stitches on the last side piece.

fullsizeoutput_bbb

I added a black border and chalked in guide lines for more primitive stitching to be added.

fullsizeoutput_bbc

Once the decorative block was embellish, I layered it over cotton batting and an orange contrasting fabric.

 

 

All additional stitching, such as the outlining on the jack-o-latern and more French knots were sewn through all layers to secure the sandwiched pieces.

 

 

After all the embellishing, I trimmed the excess fabric away and machine stitched the bias binding, also made from scraps, to the outside edge of the piece.

fullsizeoutput_bbf

The binding was applied to the front and then wrapped around to the back side and hand basted into position for a final stitching down.

IMG_6108

Special attention was paid to the mitered corners to help create nice and neat finished look.

IMG_6110

With matching thread, I used teeny tiny stitches to secure the  binding and corners into position.

IMG_6109

After the binding was completed, I pressed it lightly.  If desired, small plastic rings may be sewn in the top corners for hanging if desired.

This fun little project measures 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ and will be hanging in my work station between now and October 31st.

I hope you like it!

fullsizeoutput_bc5.jpeg

 

 

Creative Solutions

Standard

Unique Hand-Crafted Gifts

Learning to finger knit was my entre` into the realm of using yarn to create .  Knitting along with a variety of other creative pursuits was part of the cultural landscape I was born into … hands were always busy making interesting and beautiful things.  With that level of  industry and interest modeled before me,  it was most natural I, too, would learn to thread the needle.

I well remember the project in which I was allowed to use knitting needles for the first time; it was a yellow pot holder with a little loop knitted in one corner used for hanging.  From there I moved onto to slipper making; they had pompom embellished toes… in the same yellow yarn.    To this day, I could make those slippers in my sleep; I was so proud slip-sliding around the house in them.  I eventually moved on to knitting hats and mittens and sweaters, but that was long ago.    My knitting work was eventually was set aside to make way for my primary focus on sewing and tailoring.

It was during this past Christmas season that I had a challenging gift selection to make for someone special. I gave it good thought, but nothing seemed particularly fitting.   It was only after considering making a gift that I was knew I was on track as it is in the making of something that the true gift resides, the gift of time and thought and effort.  And so it was that I reached into my bag of tricks, dusted off my number 9’s and knitted a beautiful, one of a kind, Christmas scarf.

Considering her smile, I think she likes.

 Success!

fullsizeoutput_886

AND

I’m knitting again.  Since making this scarf I knitted two more and have yarn for number three and four.   I’ll keep you posted.

Creating Christmas Magic

Standard
Creating Christmas Magic

!!The Festive Table!!

Having turned the corner on Thanksgiving, my thoughts move toward preparing the house for the Advent of Christmas.  There is nothing more charming to help set the stage for Christmas Day’s arrival than a welcoming wintery table replete with stars, snowmen, and candy cane stripes.  As we await the arrival of the holy day, set a festive table, light the candles and watch the glow in your children’s eyes as golden memories are in the making. December is a season of joy, wonder, hope, love and remembrance… take the time to savor each and all the gifts of the this special time of year. fullsizeoutput_5db

The Best Cranberry Chutney EVER!

Standard
The Best Cranberry Chutney EVER!

Thanksgiving – 2016

Maybe you’ve had that cranberry “stuff” than comes in a can and decided that cranberry sauce wasn’t for you.  That was my experience, until some years ago I came across this absolute marvel of a recipe for cranberry chutney.  I’ve been making it for Thanksgiving ever since as a “must have” on my menu.  Try it, it’s easy, its delicious and it’s  not only good with turkey, but with chicken and pork, as well.  It is so good, in fact, that I can’t bear to keep it to myself and have decided to share the recipe with you.  Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetite!

Begin by washing and sorting a bag of fresh cranberries, 4 cups.

fullsizeoutput_59c

Add a cup of golden raisins

fullsizeoutput_59d

Add 2 cups of sugar.

fullsizeoutput_5a0

Add cinnamon and allspice to taste.  I like things spicy, so I add extra but a 1/4 tsp of allspice and 1 tsp of cinnamon should be adequate to start… spice it up from there.

fullsizeoutput_5a2

Drain pineapple, reserving juice,  and chop to desired texture.

fullsizeoutput_5a4

Chop fresh ginger using a pleasing amount.

fullsizeoutput_5a6

Add water to pineapple juice measuring to one cup.

fullsizeoutput_5a7

Add liquid and stir.

fullsizeoutput_5a8

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Cook a bit longer for thicker consistency.

fullsizeoutput_5a9

The mixture will reduce down to a syrup that thickens as it cools.img_3879

Store in refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.  Serve cold or at room temperature as desired.

fullsizeoutput_5ab!!ENJOY!!

Projects Revisited

Standard

From Start to Finish

IMG_3443I recently went through a box in my sewing room marked “winter projects.” The box contained the best of the best projects I salvaged during our sizing down move three years ago.  I have always found it difficult to start up work on old projects.  It is usually a lack of interest as whatever it was that got my creative juices flowing has long since dissipated and the prospect of picking up in the middle of an uninteresting project seems like work more than fun.  Fortunately, that was not the case with this piece.  It had been long enough that I had forgotten I had ever started this jacket.  The fact that I still loved the red quilted fabric was good and I still liked the striped douppioni… so far so good.    After studying the pattern and the pieces that were already cut, I decided I definitely needed a third piece to create additional interest.  So off to The Mill End Store I went with swatches in hand.

 It’s really quite remarkable that I was able to find a douppioni print that complemented the stripes so perfectly, but not without considerable effort.  I was in the store for at least two hours searching, searching, and searching again every piece of fabric at least five times.  I was finding nothing suitable and finally decided it was time to surrender.   Resigned to defeat, I headed for the exit pausing only to notice a silk display… and there it was.  It was exactly what I’d been looking for; the colors were right, the scale was right, it was perfection and obviously meant to be.   And so I begin the satisfying endeavor of resurrecting an old project to new life.    More to come…

More Things Blue and White

Standard

Dressing A Table

I went to the beach yesterday to cool off from the heatwave we’ve been experiencing.  It was a lovely day with 70 degree weather and a gentle breeze.  On the way home I stopped into the local thrift store in Lincoln City and found this lovely vase with a bird motif, the perfect container for green gladiolus which are currently in season.  They make quite a statement!

Also on the table you will see a set of candlesticks which look possibly Scandinavian in design and a large platter which were also “finds” along the way.  They are atop a paisley print table runner I made to compliment my Blue Italian Spode dinnerware. IMG_2951