Practical Makes

Practical projects and crafts

Category: Sewing (page 1 of 2)

New Month, New Projects

And it’s August already…time goes quickly when you have lots to do!  I’ve started the next round of the garden.  I cleared out the cucumbers (the last plants were giving in to the beetles) and the New Zealand spinach (it was too much of a succulent for me, I wasn’t a fan) and started putting in the fall vegetables.  So far I’ve got carrots, scallions and beets planted.  I’m planning to add some turnips too and probably some fall radishes and lettuce.  I think the yellow beans are winding down, so I’m probably going to plant some more over there too.  The purple beans are almost ready though, so we’ll have those soon.

I’ve got more beans to freeze too and lots of peppers.  I might be canning tomatoes this weekend too!  I figure it’s about 7 tomatoes per quart (more or less) so we’ll see…  It’s tomatoes, so canning them is extra useful, but they’re definitely more work than pickles and hot peppers.  Hopefully this time my jars don’t break (I guess I’m going to be sticking with boiling the heck out of them before filling them after all).  I’m hoping we get enough tomatoes for me to can a bunch (ideally 10 to 15, but we’ll see).  At least I’m definitely getting plenty of cherry tomatoes to dehydrate!  I’ve done two batches already.  I suppose I should also remember that they just started producing and with any luck will be going right up to Halloween, which is 3 more months of production, so I shouldn’t be too impatient…

My other projects are going well, I’m almost done with the first sleeve on the tiny Patrick’s green Bowline sweater and I’m very happy with how it looks so far.  I think maybe I’ll be able to start his Campfire sweater this weekend.

I also want to finish sewing his Christmas stocking and also plan out some sewing for me and the tiny Patrick.  Maybe the grown up Patrick too… I have the fall issues for Ottobre and I’d like to pick some projects from those.

I’d like to do some knit shirts and pants for the tiny Patrick and do a cardigan and a knit dress for me from the most recent Ottobre issue.  I have fabric for shirts for the grown up Patrick too.  And I’d like to make the tiny Patrick a Halloween costume (better to  start planning now so I finish it in time!).  I think it’s time to get a coverstitch machine too.  They fill a similar role for knit fabrics that sergers do for wovens (more or less) and I think there’s a lot of knit fabrics in my future…

So I’m going to try and plan those projects out and then see if maybe I can start one.  So goals for this weekend:

  • Freeze lots of peppers!
  • Freeze lots of beans!
  • Dehydrate (and then freeze!) lots of cherry tomatoes
  • Can larger tomatoes as crushed tomatoes?
  • Bake bread
  • Knit baby sweaters!
  • Finish Christmas stocking
  • Make sewing plans

Summer Weather Means Projects

Well, it’s been a week or two, so there’s been a lot of projects going on. The biggest ones are the garden projects but there’s been some knitting and sewing too.

For the garden there are the usual summer challenges related to living here (squash vine borers, cucumber beetles, etc.). If it eats vegetable plants it lives here. So the zucchini met its demise once again and the cucumbers have had a tough time, but it’s something to learn from for next year. Next time I’m going to plant the zucchini and then just pull the plant before the vine borers get going (end of June) which should be enough time to get some zucchini at least. And I’m going to plant County Fair cucumbers next year which will hopefully stand up to the beetles better (this year I tried ones the beetles aren’t supposed to like, turns out our beetles think they’re great).

Despite the challenges we’re getting lots of beans and peppers. I canned 18 pints of hot peppers. I would have also gotten 3 more quarts of pickles but my jars broke. I’m not sure if the cucumbers cooled them down too much or if they were old. It was definitely disappointing though. Still, 18 pints of hot peppers is pretty good!

We’ve also gotten a bunch of eggplants and it looks like we’re going to be getting some squash with any luck (I also planted mini-butternut squash and crookneck squash since the vine borers have a tough time with those). And maybe even some mini-pumpkins for the tiny Patrick…

It’s also time for switching over another section of the garden. I’m going to clear out the New Zealand spinach and switch it over to fall plants (scallions and beets to start, then more carrots, lettuce, radishes and mizuna). I wasn’t a fan of the New Zealand spinach, it looks like a weed to me and the fact that it’s a succulent is just weird. So the plan for next year is bush beans instead.

There should also be more cherry tomatoes and beans to pick this weekend, which should be fun.

I’m hoping to make a Christmas stocking for the tiny Patrick this weekend and maybe make some progress on his play mat.  I’ve got it assembled, I just need to make some binding tape.  I didn’t get any extra fabric for that so I’m going to look through the fabric I’ve got and see if I find anything I like.

And there’s knitting too.  I’m up to the sleeves on the tiny Patrick’s sweater so I’d like to see if I can finish it so I can start his next sweater.  I have my yarn for his Campfire sweater and for the Waffle blanket.  I think I might save the blanket for when the weather cools off a little though…

I think I’m also going to have to knit a new hat, or maybe pull out the yarn and re-knit it?  I was comparing pictures of my replacement hat to pictures of the original and while the original was shaped mostly like a square the replacement is more like a triangle, which is probably why it doesn’t stay on…  Of course if I rip it out and redo it I may be without a hat if I’m not prompt about knitting a replacement… I’ll have to think about it.

Oh and I want to make bread this weekend.  Home made bread is always the best kind.

Summer Days

So it’s now very much summer, warm humid air, weeds and the garden growing like crazy, lots of projects to do, food preservation questions to consider…  Yep, definitely summer.  I have gotten a bunch of things done though!  First, I finished the soft book from the fabric panel, which ended up turning out very nicely.  It’s cute and using the fluffy batting made it really nice and cuddly.  The tiny Patrick approves.

I also finished my 4th of July dress and it turned out great.  The pockets fit in nicely and the fit is perfect (extra yay!).  And I have officially decided that the answer is to sew the facing down under the collar (you can’t see the line of stitching that way).  I was really careful to do everything right with the facing, even grading the seam allowances and using a pinking shears (which was tricky and annoying!) and it still wouldn’t lay flat.  I think it’s just the result of the shape of my back/shoulders.  So!  It got sewn down and that’s what I’ll do in the future.  It looks fine that way.

I also started the advent calendar.  That’s been a fun project, just enough detail to be interesting without being fiddly.  I would be working on that now, but there’s a fluffy white cat sleeping on it.  Also, it looks like the dense cotton batting was the right choice for that one.  It gives it more of a tapestry type weight that I think will help it hang nicely.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to use a dowel or rings to hang it….Probably the dowel since I think that will make it straighter, the only downside is then I’ll have to store said dowel, but if I roll the advent calendar around it, that shouldn’t be too bad.

I also did my lavender packets!   I picked some lavender flowers (a nice little mini bouquet) which was enough for 3 layers in the dehydrator without crowding them.  I set it to 95 degrees for about 2 hours and they came out nice and dry.  It also made the house smell pretty nice!  Then I cut up some of the smaller bits of fabric from my grandma and made 4 little ‘pillows’ each about the size of my hand.  I thought about adding stuffing too, but I decided flat packets would do a better job at letting the scent into the surrounding area and not take up as much space in the closet/drawer/etc.  I also only used the flowers and not the stems.  The stems also have scent but a lot less and the flowers were enough to give each packet plenty of lavender.  They’re also crazy strong.  They’re sitting on our kitchen table now and you can smell them from the next room over.  So maybe that will be enough to defeat the closet that’s permeated with 50+ years of shampoo and fabric softener…

I also finished knitting the tiny Patrick’s new fall/winter hat.  I did “Bumble” by Tin Can Knits.  It’s very cute but I think the stitch work is a little open for being a nice heavy duty winter hat.  Then again a toddler probably isn’t going to be outside outside much in really cold weather so maybe this is the best way to do it?  The best part is the pompom.  I remember making one at some point (I don’t know when, like childhood sometime) and it turning out sad and not fluffy so I got a proper pompom maker (they’re like $5) and put a ton of yarn (as much as I could fit!) into it and it turned out great!  It’s super soft and fluffy.  So I’m really happy about that.  Also I did extra repeats so it covers his ears properly!

I’m still working on re-knitting the top of my Apple Pie hat.  I think I did an extra repeat the first time but didn’t write it down, so when I made my replacement I just did the recommended length.  It spent all winter sliding off my head, which was massively annoying.  So!  I cut the yarn at the top and ripped back to wear the decreases started (since there’s only 1 spot in the pattern with purl stitches and the first decrease is purl-two-together this was easier than expected…).  So I dug out the tiny ball of extra yarn and am now knitting an extra repeat before doing the decreases.  Hopefully it will stay on this time around!

The garden has also been busy.  We’ve picked lots and lots of beans so far (and I have lots more to pick today!).  These are yellow beans (my favorite) and Romano beans (Patrick’s favorite).  I think I might also plant some purple beans so we have some regular green beans around too.  Pole beans was definitely the way to go with the Romano beans, they produce so much better than the bush bean version.

We’ve also got our first round of peppers.  I don’t think the bell peppers liked their proximity to the cucumbers or the weather but we’re still getting some.  The jalapenos are doing great.  I’m hoping to freeze a bunch of those and then start pickling them.

We’ve also gotten cucumbers!  Yay!  I’ve made two jars of fridge pickles and I’ll still have plenty for cucumber sandwiches this week!  Hopefully they’ll keep going and I’ll be able to can pickles too.

We’ve gotten the first couple tomatoes (the cherry ones) too and there are lots that are almost ready.  I’m planning to dehydrate the cherry ones (I got an egg slicer to hopefully make that more manageable).  I’m also hoping if the full sized ones come through for me this year I can can small batches of crushed tomatoes.  We’ll see…

We might even get a few blackberries to try this year if I manage to beat the birds to them…   (fruit + birds is a challenge I have yet to fully resolve, bird netting has some serious downsides after all)

I also want to make jam, but I’m going to need to get the fruit to do that I think.  Our strawberries are producing enough for snacks (even with squirrel theft) but not jam and we won’t get more than a couple from the rest of the fruit for a year or three.  So jam requires a Costco or farmer’s market visit.  So we’ll see…

Oh and I cleared out the bolting lettuce (and 4 wheelbarrows of weeds from around the yard…) and planted pumpkins and yellow squash.  Hopefully those work out, that would make me happy.

Still though, plenty to do.  Next goals:

  • Finish Apple Pie hat
  • Finish Advent calendar
  • Start USA play mat
  • Start blue dress (Hawthorn again?  Something new?)
  • Start baby clothes (probably from Ottobre)
  • Start grown up Patrick shirts
  • Freeze/Can/Dry peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans
  • Plant purple beans?
  • Clear out garden bed by the shed
  • Finish attaching tomato cage tops
  • Hang reflective anti-bird tape
  • Continue cleaning/organizing the house (my room, the closet of doom, the basement, etc…)
  • Stick to goal of one slow cooker meal a week

Cicadas, Heat and Long Summer Evenings

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Technically the longest day of the year is the first day of summer, but to me it’s evenings in August when the air is hot and sticky and summer has been here long enough everyone feels laid back and the main sound in the evening is the buzz of the cicadas that feel like long summer evenings.  Soon it will be fall, but it still feels like the middle of summer.  This may be because of the nice hot humid weather we get here though….

I’m happy to say some craft projects have made pretty good progress this month.  Not fast progress, but I figure any progress counts since there’s a tiny person who gets most of the time right now.

My hat is actually getting close to done.  I have a little more than one repeat of the pattern to do and then I just need to do the decreases, which generally goes pretty fast.  So that’s a happy thing.  I’m looking forward to having my hat back!  And this time I’m going to try really hard not to lose it!  I haven’t lost many hats/scarves/mittens and I always feel bad when it happens.  I think before I lost this hat, the last thing I lost was my favorite scarf in college.  I worked evenings at one of the libraries, and I set my scarf down in the restroom when I was getting ready to go home.  I realized it a few minutes later and went back to get it, but it was already gone…  I guess I just hope someone ended up using my scarf and my hat and enjoying them.

I also made progress on my skirts for work.  These are the knit skirts using Butterick B3134 (assorted gored skirts in woven fabric). My theory was that I could make it in knit fabric which would be easier (no zipper, no finishing, no lining, no ironing!) and would be more forgiving since my body is still changing size/shape.  It turns out I was right.  The only issue was that I forgot I should take it in more to account for the zipper, but that was easy to fix before I put the waistband on.  I also added elastic to the waistband to make it more stable (I didn’t bother with interfacing).  I started with the black fabric since I had enough for two skirts in case my first attempt needed a lot of rethinking, but it turned out great.  All I have left to do is hem it!  I just need to decide if I’m doing a twin needle hem or a zigzag blind hem.

If I finish these, maybe I can make some of my dresses, or the little winter hood or the fabric wreath… there are always more projects, but that’s part of the fun.

Summer Dresses for August

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Usually I make myself a new summer dress every year for the 4th of July. I started doing this when I wanted to enter a contest for one of my favorite sewing patterns (Colette Hawthorn). And while I never got around to actually submitting my entry (though I finished my dress!) I decided I really liked having a nice new dress right before the massive humid hot weather of the middle of summer rolled in.

Since then I’ve made myself a new dress every year, sometimes two when I’ve been really ambitious. This year for obvious reasons I missed the 4th of July for my new dress, but I think August is still pretty good!  So this year my goal is a summer dress by Labor Day, maybe three dresses if I can manage it.  Luckily I have lots of help from the fuzzy household residents. They very much enjoy cutting out fabric.

I’ve also researched how to use knit fabric for my gored dress pattern (it’s a basic Butterick pattern B3134) I’ve made before.  This seems simpler than drafting my own right now.  And since it’s knit fabric I (hopefully!) won’t have to line it and it will adjust as my shape changes (hopefully!).  Also I can just serge the seams rather than sewing and finishing them all.  Also I shouldn’t have to iron it.  And I got my fabric from Nancy’s Notions so I’m hoping this means it will be good fabric of a nice weight that won’t pill a lot.

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Waiting for the weather to break

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Still no luck with rain for us. They said the heat wave would end early if we got a good storm, but no such luck. Still, there should be a change in the weather pattern today which will finally give us our thunderstorm. And after that it will be cooler.  I hope so, I’m looking forward to taking little Patrick for walks again (it’s been too hot for him during the heatwave, and going for a walk at 2 AM would be a bit too weird).  I also hope to walk down to the farmer’s market Saturday morning.  It’d be nice to have a short break and if I get cucumbers I can make fridge pickles.  We can only have those in summer (when there are good cucumbers) and they’re amazing so I’d really like to make some.  That and cucumber sandwiches since those are also really good.

My dress fabric should also arrive tomorrow so I’ll get to start those.  I have my pattern pieces already to go, so hopefully the fabric arrives on time!  I’m looking forward to those.  I still need to pick out buttons, but that’ll be easiest to do when the fabric gets here.  I have a bunch in my collection (yay thrift store button hordes!) so I want to see if I have any promising ones in there.  Otherwise there’s always JoAnn’s or G-Street.

My other sewing project is drafting a new A-line skirt pattern.  I found the tutorials I used last time so I just need to do some math and take some measurements.  I need front and back pieces with darts (darts are the hard part for drafting…) and a waistband (which is weirdly hard to get to look right).  Maybe I’ll try doing that today.  Once I’ve got a pattern again I’m going to do a trial version, probably with the surplus trouser fabric I have.  I hate sewing trousers and it’s a good color for work clothes.  It’d make a good skirt for wearing on Fridays.  I’ll just have to make Patrick a new shirt to make up for borrowing some of his trouser fabric.  On the upside I’m much better at making shirts than trousers!  I also need to go get some lining fabric.  The JoAnn’s has Bemberg Rayon lining which is probably what I’ll use.  This will be my other independent trip out of the house.  Little Patrick isn’t quite ready for the mall yet, but I don’t have to go far so this should be a good way to get out of the house for a little while.

In terms of knitting I’m still making slow progress on my hat.  But hey, the little bits of progress accumulate over time.

Regarding my other mini-projects, the exercise bike is set up now (yay for Patrick assembling large objects from the Internet!).  So I’m making progress on getting good at biking again.  The exercise bike is a recumbent bike, which makes getting started again a lot easier!  (and I can read and bike much more easily!)

Heatwave Knitting

There’s something about summer that makes me want to come up with knitting projects (and watch Predator 2 and Yakuza, which are the best heatwave movies). Maybe it’s because the summer edition of the knitting magazine always has awesome patterns, maybe it’s because I can take my projects out on the porch and enjoy nice weather (in the mornings before it gets hot!) or maybe it’s because somehow the AC always makes things feel more arctic than real winter does.

I suppose the fact that summer has actual sunshine (unlike winter around here, which is grey, damp and cloudy) makes me want to make lots of awesome plans.

I’m thinking about a couple potential projects, a knitting project and some sewing projects. For the knitting, I think I want to try making myself a pair of convertible mittens with gloves inside.  I have a nice range of fingerless gloves and a couple pairs of mittens, but I’d like to have a pair for the coldest weather.  I would want the inside to have fingers like gloves (though not covering the fingertips) under colorwork convertible mittens.  I think that would cover the bases well and still make it easy to extract my train pass.  I like the franken mittens pattern on Ravelry, but I’m not super thrilled with the pattern for the colorwork. Maybe I can use the overall mitten pattern and come up with my own colorwork pattern?  I also really want to knit a shawl, but I’m only making very slow progress on my hat, so I’m pretty sure sticking to the hat is the better plan (especially since I really want a warm fuzzy hat when it gets cold again!).  And given my rate of progress by the time I finish the hat it will be cold weather.  And I’d really like to knit a small hat and some baby mittens for little Patrick before it gets too cold.  So maybe I should aim for a hat, convertible mittens and a little hat and baby mittens by the end of the year.  I will have time for shawls later.  After all they don’t really wear out and they don’t have fit issues so there’s no rush.

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For sewing I’d like to do those sooner.  I want to sew three new Hawthorn dresses.  They button up the front so those will work well with needing access for little Patrick, and I’ve sewn them before so they should go together well.  I will need to trace new pattern pieces given size changes, but once I’ve done that I can do all three at once assembly-line-style.  I think they’ll be fun dresses, I have one piece of fabric I picked out, and two Patrick picked out.  (I decided to get both since one was on clearance for really cheap, so yay three dresses!)  I also plan to alter these to add pockets, with of course, a button hole for the insulin pump.  It will be nice to have something pretty to wear that is comfortable and fits well.  It’s been difficult needing to buy clothes, I’m looking forward to making my own again.

Speaking of clothes, the other thing I need to do is sew myself some skirts for work.  At least those are easy to sew.  Trying to buy them is egregiously terrible since apparently the only thing people want to buy is pencil skirts or trousers.  Lets just say pencil skirts don’t suit my shape (I am not and never have been a square, if they don’t go in at the waist, they fall down, even at this  point they need to go in at certain spots to fit).  And trousers are ok, and I can find some that fit if I put a lot of time in but they generally look terrible and are really uncomfortable.  Also, skirts are much more flexible for DC weather.  They’re like wearing shorts in summer and in winter I can wear fuzzy tights and they’re way warmer than pants then.  So yeah, buying skirts is a no-go so I need to make some new ones.  I have some nice wool I was given as a gift, I just need to get some fabric for the lining and then sew them up.  I have a month though to do it.

Other than those projects, the garden survives, it’s still making some peppers and tomatoes which is nice.  We’ve also got lots of herbs which is very useful.  The slow cooker also remains useful, Patrick made awesome pulled pork.  It’s really nice producing a lot of food that can easily be turned into lunches or dinners when we need them during the week.  It’s also nice for the budget.

Speaking of food, we’ve agreed to wait on canning this year since we want to move and things are busy.  I will probably miss that the way I missed clothes I made myself, but it’s probably a good idea.  And I’ll get to can lots of things next year.  And I have plenty of things to keep me busy right now anyway…

Welcome to Autumn

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We may actually get a rainy day today!  Well, so far it’s pretty dry, just a few sprinkles, but the weather has promised us rain…  I made sure to water the garden this morning to encourage it!  It’s been about two months since we’ve had any real rain, so it would be really nice if it managed it.  I’ve got a bunch of fall veggies in the garden now (broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips) and they would enjoy some more rain.  It’s funny, you’d think the harvesting part of gardening would be the easy fun part, but it can also be a challenge.  I’ve picked the peppers, eggplants and zucchini, but it’s tough.  Sadly that’s it for this year’s zucchini, it will be replaced by lettuce and carrots.  Overall though gardening has gone pretty well this year.  Next year I’m going to actually manage some squash though!

We got plums and apples from my father-in-law’s trees when we went up to visit him, so there is now lots of applesauce (15 quarts) and lots of plum jam (9 half-pints).  I’m really happy to have some more fruit stored for this winter!  It also makes me really look forward to when we have fruit trees of our own since the fruit we brought back was only a tiny part of what the trees were producing.  Someday!  (I have plans for two apple trees, a pear tree, a peach tree and a cherry tree, maybe plums or figs if I get ambitious).

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We also canned a whole bunch of pickled hot peppers (10 pints of jalapenos and wax peppers) too.  It’s awesome to go down and see our awesome stockpile in the basement. It really brings home how effective the garden can be.  We’ve got a lot of food in the basement now, and if we’re smart in planning our meals it will have a pretty awesome influence on the grocery budget.  I could do a lot of math to try and figure out my exact return on investment, but for me, my gardening spending comes out of money I’ve allocated for personal stuff/hobbies, so the vegetables are effectively ‘free’.

For those who wonder what the actual cost would be and whether gardening is secretly super expensive it’s about $5 for a ‘market pack’of 6 plants at the local nursery or about $5 annually to grow about 10 plants from seed (assuming you have the equipment, buy nice pre-made potting soil and buy nice seeds).  At that point (assuming your garden is made up) just put the plants in the ground and you’re set.  There are some start up costs for gardening, but you can get good results with pretty minimal annual costs.  Of course there is a steep learning curve like sewing.  And making mistakes means losing plants and starting over or trying something else, but this year I feel like I’m finally starting to get it.  Also even in a bad year, your plants generally still produce a little (even my poor squash…*sigh*) and that return is enough to offset the minimal annual costs.  And when you win?  You have at minimum a year’s supply of that food, which is amazing and awesome.

Of course you’re paying for that with time, but at least for me gardening is something I enjoy, so it’s worthwhile.  Like sewing and knitting!

Speaking of which, I have sewing and knitting projects to work on too.  Since the season has definitely started  to change I’m sewing some new clothes for work (some shirts for me and Patrick and a new skirt too) and I made some fall decorations for fun.  I’m also knitting a new winter sweater.  Having unpacked my fall/winter clothes, I’ve been doing really well and knitting sweaters and cardigans.  It’s nice to know this winter will be warm!

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Christmas in July

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July has gone by crazy fast.  There was getting back from vacation, working on the garden, work projects and all sorts of things going on.  And of course various projects and craft things and goals to be achieved!  July is also a planning month for me.  It’s when I start to think about what I want to get or make friends and family for Christmas.  It may seem a little weird to start so early, but some craft projects take a long time.  And it’s much nicer to be able to do them a little at a time rather than a rush at the end.  It’s never good to end up frustrated and sick of presents when you want to feel happy about giving them to people you care about.

So!  July is my holiday planning month.  🙂

I have several different gifts I’m planning to make this year.  My father-in-law has requested more wool socks, like the pair I made him two years ago.  Or as he put it, “who gets only one pair of socks?”  So my goals is to make at least two, hopefully three more pairs of socks this year.  I have about one and a half socks (out of a potential six) done already, so that’s off to a good start.  And this is worthwhile, it’s nice to make things for people who enjoy them.  He’s also told me that the pair I already made are the warmest and most comfortable socks he’s ever had, so more of them should make for a good gift.

The biggest holiday project for this year is another quilt.  I’ve made four quilts so far, so at least I know what I’m getting into!  The pattern I’m going with is a flexible one, and I’m able to take advantage of some pre-cuts for part of it, so hopefully it will go well.  By which I mean I will be able to finish it in a sane amount of time!  I’m really happy with the fabric I found.  I picked bright colors with themes that remind me of the person the quilt is for.  It looks like I’ll also have some extra to make something fun.  Maybe I’ll make a pillow cover to go with?  We’ll see.  I have the first round of pieces cut out, so next is to sew them together into strips, and then cut those strips into other strips and sew them together again to make blocks, and then sew those together again.  And then of course make and add the border, make the backing and then assemble it and hand sew the edging to the back.  I’m going to tie the quilt the old fashioned way.  Or at least the way I was taught to make quilts.  I think tying the quilt rather than ‘quilting’ it makes for a fluffier quilt which in my opinion is the best sort of quilt.  And I got some nice wool batting from Nancy’s Notions so fluffy is the way to go!

Quilts are funny things.  They’re amazing once they’re finished, and working on them can be relaxing (there’s a sort of zen state when you’re tying a quilt or sewing together endless squares) but they’re probably the most challenging craft project I’ve worked on.  They take a lot of materials that have to be matched for fabric content, quality, weight and color (as much as possible).  The cutting and assembly portions take a high level of precision.  And unlike knitting you have to be paying attention while wielding a sewing machine or very very sharp rotary cutter.  And then there’s the fact that when you assemble it, there’s the need to move all the living room furniture to get a space just barely big enough, so assembly and tying the quilt had better be done fast.  Still, despite the challenges, making a quilt is a lot of fun, and with any luck you end up with something warm and awesome that can last for years.  So as presents go, quilts are up there on the list of things I like to be able to give.

I’m also planning to try making some things for Patrick, but I need to finalize those yet.  So that should give my plenty of holiday projects, while still leaving enough time for other non-holiday projects, which seems like a good balance to me.  🙂

For the non-holiday projects it will be a mix of sewing, knitting, gardening and preserving (like usual).

For sewing, I’m still determined to make myself some sleeveless button down shirts this summer.  Since we’re in the hottest part of summer I should get on that…  I have the fabric and everything  ready to go after all.  And there are plans for shirts for Patrick.  Again the fabric is out and waiting, so I just need to get started.  I also have some pretty fall fabric to make a new pillow cover (awesome though my Halloween cats are, it’s a little weird to start using them in September…).  And in other required sewing there are two work shirts and a skirt waiting for me.  And in fun sewing I’m hoping to make a wool Anna dress for wearing this winter.  I think the Anna dress is probably my go to pattern now.  It’s pretty, comfortable, and is very easy to add pockets to (yay insulin pump storage!).  I’ll probably need to line a wool dress which is a consideration…but the pattern itself is pretty straightforward so I should be able to manage this.  And I have two pieces of nice wool fabric waiting to be used.  Oh, and I need to make my second pair of winter PJs.  For those I’ll need to track down some fabric though.

So upcoming sewing includes:

  • Summer tank tops (B5526, have seersucker fabric already)
  • Patrick work shirts (Kwik Sew pattern, have shirting fabric already)
  • Pillow cover (envelope style, have fall fabric already)
  • My work shirts (B5526, have shirting fabric already)
  • My work skirts (self drafted, have wool suiting and rayon lining already)
  • Wool dresses (Anna, have wool fabric, need to consider lining options…)
  • Winter PJs (KW3553 + Tofinio, need to find some flannel)

Knitting is less decided.  I have the Christmas socks, which will be my commuter pattern for the foreseeable future.  But I just finished my holiday cardigan, so I need to decide if a shawl or a sweater is up next.   On the one hand, a shawl is easier to knit in summer since it’s not bulky (hot humid summers around here…) on the other hand, sweaters have lots of stockinette which is relaxing and I have several sweaters worth of yarn that needs to get used up.  We’ll see.  It’ll probably be either a grey tweed Rook sweater or a very dark navy lace shawl.

So knitting is:

  • Commuter project – Christmas socks and more Christmas socks
  • Home project – Rook sweater or navy shawl

And then there’s gardening/preserving.  We’re headed into the end of July, which is always when my gardening challenges show up.  I’ve decided though that as long as my garden gives my enough for fresh eating I’m not going to get worked up about it.  I’ve had the usual squash casualties (some from vine borers, some from what seems like some sort of squash disease).  But my back up zucchini’s are just getting going and look healthy and I’m probably going to get at least some winter squash.  Maybe I’ll pull the rest and plant some more beans or something over there this weekend.

My tomatoes are making tomatoes, but the slicers just can’t overcome the tree shade (I didn’t realize that corner got as much shade as it does).  So far I’m getting enough for fresh eating though, so we’ll see how it goes.  And there’s always the farmer’s market if they fail, and the pick your own place for canning.

 

I do have some canning I want to do yet this year though, and some more dehydrating too.

  • Can peach jam and peaches
  • Can raspberry jam
  • Can pears
  • Can pickles
  • Can salsa
  • Can tomatoes
  • Can applesauce and apple butter
  • Dry herbs (oregano, mint, catnip, sage)
  • Dry cherry tomatoes

I’m also going to try making sauerkraut this weekend.  I’m excited about this one since it’s tough to find good sauerkraut around here and if I get good at it, hopefully I’ll be able to do a big batch and can it later.  (Though I’ll have to convince Patrick to let me ferment 25 lb of cabbage…)

Oh, and one more fun garden thing.  We aren’t the only ones who have been enjoying the garden (see below).  The cats are also super pleased about our visitors.

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Summer Produce

It’s summer!  Or at least it really feels like it given that we’ve apparently had the warmest May on record.  The garden appears to be enjoying it overall though.  My squash and beans are growing really fast, and my potatoes are taller than I am in their grow bags.  Unfortunately it means an early end to some of my spring plants.  My cress bolted first, followed by the radishes (Note to self: easter egg radishes bolt super fast, I should stick to the little round red ones, they’re the only ones that worked out.) and even the broccoli gave up this week.  Amusingly enough it was the “heat tolerant” broccoli that bolted first…  It last long enough for me to get a decent head from each plant, and we’ll eat the stalks and greens in stir fry next week.  I’m planning to plant more Waltham broccoli in fall, so I have another shot at it.  And I can use the bed to grow more zucchini and yellow beans.  I already have row covers up I can use for the zucchini.  The radishes and cress will be replaced with more lettuce.

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I usually feel a little anxious about planting things, since I know I don’t always space things correctly.  So far I’m doing pretty well this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep that up.

I’ve also been productive with my indoor projects.  I made lots of burger buns for Memorial Day and froze a whole bunch of them.  And I’ve made Patrick two shirts.  With any luck I will also finish a dress and PJs and another Patrick shirt this weekend (it’s an AWS weekend so I’ve got an extra day!).

These are all using my Kaufmann Cape Cod seersucker.  I hope they make more, it’s great fabric, comfortable, light weight and in decent colors…

Oh, and we got our first big batch of strawberries.  The first round became jam (using the classic recipe this time) and a strawberry-rhubarb pie (using our first rhubarb harvest!).  The next round is getting frozen this weekend.  I stuck to a more reasonable volume of strawberry jam this year.

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