10 November 2015


Feast or famine around here, isn't it? I either don't blog for ages or I do multiple posts in one day. Today, it's the latter.
All sewing activities have been suspended around here, some even in mid-project. Typical.
I got hooked on journals. What I really wanted to do was a sort of art journal (and art is a relative term where I am concerned, being unable to draw and paint anything other than walls or ceilings, but, I discovered, I can put paint on paper if it involves stencils, stamps etc. etc.)
But then I discovered handmade journals and so the rest got put aside and I've been cutting, stamping, sewing (by hand) and ruining manicures. Gesso, matte medium and nail polish do not get along.
Anyway, here are the results of my recent play time, courtesy to the magic of youTube videos.
Oh, and I now understand why there are so many "vlogs" involving journal flips - it's pretty hard taking pix of journals, a video would be better.

This was one of my first ones, I guess it's a junk journal. I collected various colors of cardstock, scrapbook papers, etc. etc., divided them into 4 signatures and just had fun. Procrastinated like crazy, but got it done, anyway. And it really was fun. No idea if I will ever write or paint in it, I kind of just like to flip through it.

These came next, courtesy of a very generous youTuber, they are mini travel journals and were quite a learning experience.

These have a little back pocket - for tiny treasures - and a plastic pocket that is sewn in along with 3 signatures. The cover folds over the signatures completely and ribbon holds everything closed and in place.


After weeks and weeks of late season heat, it finally is fall - with all that comes with it. Cold nights - and a few cold days - and even a little rain. Not enough yet to help with the drought, but a good start.

As always, I am amazed at the quality of pictures an iPhone takes, all of the above are unedited. All scenes from the morning after the rain.
DH refinished the deck this year, so the water beads nicely and we hope it'll last quite a few more years.

13 October 2015

By the sea

We went to the ocean last Friday, well, not so much the ocean, close to it? We visited the UC Davis Marine Lab in Bodega Bay. We had driven by many times, but since we tend to go in the morning and it is only open Friday afternoons, we never had a chance.
I did not take any pictures inside, it's a working lab, students from UC Davis come and spend the summer semester there; housing is provided just down the road. There are researchers hard at work and the tour is tremendously interesting. Did you all know that all the debris thrown into the water (like plastic bags etc.) end up in about 5 different spots in the various oceans? And that fish eat that cr*p? And it ends up in their stomachs? Even fish taken out of the San Francisco Bay have plastic debris in their stomachs and intestines. Yuck.
Anyway, we had driven by these stone sculptures many times on the way out to Bodega Head to look for whales or go hiking, but this time we finally stopped and took pictures:

We actually watched somebody assemble them on a previous trip, painstaking work that involves concrete. Not just stacking one rock on top of the other mindlessly.

I made a book

Wow, first I don't blog in months and then I write two posts in as many days.
Anyway, I have been watching mixed media videos on YouTube, lots of them,  and finally gathered my supplies and my courage and made a book, from scratch.
I used one really big sheet of very nice paper, cut it into pieces and just followed the tutorial by Diana Trout on how to turn it into a book.
I sort of held my breath while I was decorating the outside sheet, I had played with that technique this morning and it took about 5 tries before I was happy with what I got, but this one worked in one go.
So, here is my first, slightly wonky book:

It's meant to be a journal, preferably an art journal, to be written in and decorated, embellished with paint, stamps, stencils, papers etc. etc. and that bit scares me still. I think I will try things out on tags or index cards and when I'm happy with my progress, then, and only then, will I work in this book - or I might just stick the tag or card inside.
It was fun, messy, but tremendously enjoyable. I still have paint under my nails, the rest washed off after a while.

In case anybody is interested:
Tutorial for making the journal:  One Sheet One Journal. The blog post also includes the video.
And the tutorial for the technique on the outside: Ghosting technique

And now I'd better go and make dinner, also from scratch - spicy chicken burgers.

12 October 2015

More toddler skirts

There hasn't been much sewing going on here lately, these were all made several weeks ago, but, finally finished this morning - there was just a little bit of hand sewing involved:

For those days, when a more subdued skirt is called for: chambray with an elephant border.

A little more colorful - with owls.

The little granddaughter and I share a love of yellow, I had this fabric in my stash and found, what I consider, a beautiful ribbon to match. Hope she (and her mum) like it as much as I do.

And, when you want something not at all subdued - the red skirt. The little skirts on the bottom are for I's dolls, or babies as she calls them. I happen to have the same "babies" and, yes, her's have a smallish wardrobe. I need to learn to sew tops, so far, all they have is bottoms, skirts and pouffy pants aka "Bollerhosen" (in case you speak "foreign.")
This one is made from a Japanese fabric that was in my stash.

Patterns: everything with a ribbon is made from the lazy days skirt tutorial. Quick and easy.

Everything else I sort of winged, and I wish I hadn't really; sewing on lace after the side seam is sewn is much more complicated than sewing it on before sewing up the side. Lesson learned.

Fabrics: all out of my stash.
Ribbons and lace: the best ones came from Hobby Lobby; the rest from Hancock's and JoAnn's.

18 August 2015

Displaying Air Plants

Several weekends ago, we went to the Peddlers' Faire in Benicia and, among other things, bought a few air plants. One of them is mounted in a tiny sea urchin, the others are loose.
How to display them? I asked among my FB friends, googled, looked on Pinterest and found this:
this tutorial.
Trying to find an old frame proved to be impossible (we hit several antique stores), so what else would work?
I wanted old looking, weathered and it finally came to me: fence slats.
One of our fences, the one enclosing the old dog run, will be going. No more outdoor dogs, so no more need for a dog run.
So, L unscrewed two of the slats and set to work and this is what he came up with:

I think I need more plants!

15 August 2015

Bendy Bags and Seam Rippers

There's been quite a lot of sewing going on over the last few weeks, just not any blogging about it - until 2 days ago, anyway.
I made my first Bendy bag a few weeks ago.
This one came together beautifully, I read the pattern carefully and worked my way through step by step, without any problems. The only problem was the sewing machine which misbehaved and was traded away.
Number Two wasn't quite so easy, operator error. I obviously didn't pay close enough attention to the instructions, but it turned out well, too.
The third one, though, ..... well, let's not go into details other than to say everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Not the pattern's fault, partially again, not paying close enough attention and partially the material. It's ............ oh, no ................. pleather. Not really that hard to work with, but not as easy as quilting cottons.
All those problems notwithstanding, I love this bag. This one is definitely mine.

One thing I haven't quite resolved in my mind (a lot of my sewing prep goes on in my head) is the issue of thread color. I like to use matching thread whenever possible. So, that's brown for the zipper and the seams, but after changing threads back and forth several times while cleaning up the seams on the inside in the first two bags, I got tired of it and just stuck with brown on this one. I wonder how anybody else making these bags handles that issue.

I can highly recommend the pattern, it's a pretty quick project and the result is just plain good and enjoyable. Love the way the leftover zipper is used as a tab. Any problems I encountered were not in any way related to the pattern. And I will definitely make more, not that I need more bags.

As I said, I ran into problems, especially with the last bag and the seam rippers and I got to be really good friends.
My husband took up wood turning last year and after making lots of pens of various kinds and moving on to bowls and hollow vessels and segmented bowls (I really need to write a blog post about his projects), he made me a couple of seam rippers which where quick projects. He has also moved from wood to stone and used a slice left over from one of my pens to embellish my newest seam ripper.
I like that they are safe, you just pull out the whole metal piece and pop it into the opening backwards, no danger of poking yourself.
So, here are my new best friends:

Pattern used: Bendy bag by Lazy Girl.
Fabrics: mostly out of my embarrassingly large stash, except for the pleather which was bought just for this project.

13 August 2015

Toddler Skirt

I bought this cute fabric last year, planning to make a two-layer skirt for my granddaughter ............. and promptly misplaced it. Didn't find it again until a couple of weeks ago.

The most difficult part of making the skirt was the cutting out. It just about did my head in. I wanted to maximize the design and wanted to center it, but that just wasn't possible. I think it worked out and everything afterward was a breeze.
I used my own tutorial and had to actually refer to it a couple of times. It's been a while since I made a granddaughter skirt. I used French seams for the side seams, folded the hem over twice and, because of the way the skirt is constructed for the casing, there is not a single raw edge to be found.
The new machine threw a wobbly yesterday and I just about panicked, but I stayed calm, called the sewing machine store and the nice mechanic talked me through an easy fix. Whew!

Fabric used: Wee Wander by Michael Miller Fabrics
Pattern: a combination of this tutorial and this tutorial.

12 August 2015

Sew Together Bag

This, finally, turned from UFO into finished. I am late to the party, as usual. There are beautiful Sew Together Bags all over the web.

This is actually my second bag, the first one is a lot more colorful and, as yet, hasn't been photographed. It'll happen. I've also made a mini bag and can't lay my hands on it at the moment.

This particular bag languished in the "to be finished" pile for months. And I have a good excuse. Sewing machine No. 1 sort of gave up its ghost. Even after servicing there were problems, stitches skipped, it seemed much less powerful than it had been. So, it was traded in for a fancier model which also developed problems. Another trade and a big learning curve. The machine and I seem to be making friends, though, and I finally buckled down and finished this bag. There wasn't much left, only the last zipper had to be sewn in.

I frequently consulted the tutorial in sew along form from the Quilt Barn. The pattern is good, but a little extra help is called for on occasion.

There are more sew together bags in the pipeline. Partially sewn, cut out, stacks of fabrics co-ordinated. They'll all be done in time. It's not an easy project and it takes some time, but the result is so worth it.

Pattern: Sew Together Bag.
Tutorial to go along with the pattern: Sew Along.