Friday, August 31, 2007

tie top

Several weeks back, I bought some yardage of a knit that seemed similar to a cotton sundress I've been wearing this summer. At the cutting counter, I realized--oh no!-- that it was, in fact, a very synthetic fabric. As she was cutting it, I wanted to run, but decided to follow through with the purchase. I had intended to make some sort of dress, but, synthetic or natural, I had no idea how to sew with a knit. Well, in theory, I know that you need a serger, but that's about it. So the fabric sat. And sat.
Then yesterday, I was putting on one of my favorite sleeveless tops (I bought 2 of them I like it so much!) and noticed that the fabric was really similar and that it looked like pretty simple construction. I was wearing one, so I got out the other and traced it. I took a look at my sewing book, and saw that I could use a zigzag stitch, so I got to work. It came out a bit tight, but I think I'll definitely make another because we're nowhere near the end of tank top season here in FL.

It was super simple. Here's how it went if you'd like to give it a try:
1) Trace a tank top that you like the fit of. Just make a straight, horizontal line at the neck. Cut 2 from your knit fabric.
2) Cut 2 strips from coordinating cotton fabric. Mine were about 4.5" x 30".
3) Zigzag stitch around the armholes, then turn under and straight stitch.
4) Make straps by folding cotton strips lengthwise, right sides together and stitch. Leave an opening for turning. Turn right side out and stitch opening shut.
5) Lay strap on top of knit fabric, along neckline, right sides together. Center, pin, and stitch. Repeat for other side.

6) Sew sides by placing right sides together and zigzag stitch from bottom of armhole to bottom of shirt.
7) Since my fabric doesn't fray, I stopped here and left an unfinished waistline, but you could always hem it the same way as the armholes. Put the top on and tie the straps--you'll see that the armholes are adjustable, so this design is pretty forgiving.

OK. I hope I didn't miss anything. I saw a similar pattern for making a tie-at-the-shoulder top from a t-shirt in this cute book I found at the library--I Wanna Make My Own Clothes. This book is geared toward teens and is all hand sewing and fusing. I would have loved it in middle school. Anyway, I'm sure this top has been done many times, but it made for a satisfying afternoon of sewing for me!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a complete meal

With E working 2 jobs, by default I've been put in charge of meal planning, a responsibility I'm ambivalent about. I can plan meals according to what I'm in the mood for, but I often get complaints that meals aren't 'complete.' Luckily, E long ago got over his hang up about meat being necessary in a meal, but apparently the meals I plan often lack the requisite side items, or I attempt to serve sides as mains. So when I announced that tonight's dinner would be bean salsa, it didn't fly. We combined meals--tomorrow's lone egg sandwiches and tonight's salsa, which together received a passing grade.

The salsa is a family favorite--I remember my brother making it when he visited us in Japan. And the egg salad wraps, from Ellie Krieger, are a new addition to our rotation. Oh, how I miss the convenience store egg salad sandwiches we ate in Japan. The konbinis and bakeries made river-side picnics so easy.

A large, slow-going sewing project is in the works. I'm tempted to put it aside, though, to do something in the color scheme of this quilt over at craftlog. Although we've got no signs of fall yet, I'm thinking of replacing my beachy decor with something with more brown. It's so funny that I used to think my mom was crazy for doing one of our houses (early 1980s) in so much brown--'the color of dirt', I said until not too long ago. Now it's one of my favorites.

Monday, August 27, 2007

singing watermelon

When I was younger and sang in the choir at church (all the kids had to--no solos here!!), my dad always said, "just mouth 'watermelon watermelon,' and it'll look like you know the words." Man, am I singing about my watermelon now. No, I haven't tasted any yet, but I'm just so delighted that there are fruits growing. This is one enjoyable part of gardening that I didn't expect. Besides the food that the garden produces, I'm just so satisfied by watching it grow from seeds. I don't have the greenest thumb, so this garden is turning out to be really rewarding.

Oh, and I've also been DVRing this show called The Whole Picture, attempting to hone my digital photography skills. These shots are experiments in focusing, based on the zoom episode I watched today. Most of what the show's host goes over is pretty basic, but I would love to take better photos, so I'll take any help I can get!
While I've gotten excited about my garden, it's been fun to watch E's enthusiasm for some recent projects of his own. He and his dad have installed rain barrels, so that we can save and use some of our rain water for the lawn. This involved hanging gutters, which meant he could finally hang this copper rain chain I gave him last Christmas. It's been raining this evening, so I know he's gonna be like a kid, running outside to check the results of the rain when he gets home.

He's also got an idea to screen print t-shirts. Anytime my guy wants to do something artsy crafty creative, I'm game! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

patchwork pillow

This past weekend, I was feeling the need to sew, but without anything I needed to sew. I remembered the day we bought the futon sofa that's now in my room. In the store, we saw a vignette with a bunch of cool accent pillows. I started to buy some to go with our new piece of furniture, but I stopped myself, thinking "I can make that." But how often do I say that, and then never make it! The same thing has been happening with skirts. I've seen so many cute cotton skirts lately, but can't bring myself to buy them. Thankfully, this hasn't happened with all shopping--after all, I know my limits, so I still *allow* myself to buy shirts and such--things I know I can't make. How often does this happen to you--skipping a purchase with the intention of doing it yourself? And how often do you follow through?

Here's a little pillow I made to go on that sofa--it matches the fabric on my chair cushion. But it turned out looking better on the bed in the guest room.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

masking the problem

I'm grateful that, for the most part, we have good neighbors. We enjoyed having several empty houses around us for a while-- a couple empty for several years. But in the last 3 months or so, we've had 5 sets of new neighbors move in--the 3 closest across the street, one next door, and, most recently, one behind us. This guy behind us likes to leave his porch light on, which shines right into my window at night. So I've woken up a few times, and layed awake thinking, "Should I say something?" "Should I put up another window covering?" Hmm. Last night, though, I think I came up with a solution--a sleeping mask. I already have one that I bought when I lived in a 3rd floor apartment--windows lined right up with the street lights. But it's grungy, and the elastic is shot. I patterned my new one after the old one, and it looks like it'll do the trick--neighborly confrontation avoided!

A couple of interesting links:

Block Party Press makes pendants and other jewelry from polymer clay. Her distressing technique gives it sort of a metal look. She also has a blog--I like the "be inspired" feature.

I came across Rosa Loves in a local arts publication. They design t-shirts to support specific fund raising projects. The story behind each design's project is printed inside the shirt. Promoting awareness through art.

I'm hoping to start on some new projects, but my supplies-buying plans were foiled by car trouble. Maybe this weekend...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

good reads

You may have noticed that I changed the books in my sidebar last week some time. I decided to add a 'now reading' heading because a friend and I recently realized we've been reading several of the same books, and how great it would have been to talk about them while reading. So my thought is that if you've read what I'm reading, maybe we can share ideas or something. The only problem is that I've blown through so many books lately, I haven't thought to update the blog before moving on to a new title. I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns before I even added it! Along with ATSS, I returned these to library today: The Namesake, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which was in the sidebar until I updated it today. All excellent reads. I've noticed lately how I'm drawn to read novels set in other cultures and countries, so if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. After Plum Wine, I don't have anything lined up to read.
I just added these cloth napkins to our growing collection. They're especially handy for snacking--when you don't really need a plate, but need something to catch the crumbs. Like Alicia, I was going a little nutty with the bias tape, but after doing these and the baby quilt, I think I'm over it, for a while at least:)

Friday, August 10, 2007

little guy

Finished up this little quilt this week. It's for a new little guy--Jude Hiroki--isn't that the cutest name? I started to make it all patterned strips, but decided to tone it down with some solid blue pieces, the same blue I used on the other baby quilt I made. The boats, umbrellas, and ladybug fabrics are all from superbuzzy, where there's a sale going on now!Again, used the walking foot, which made it so much easier to quilt. I tried using the bar attachment to help with spacing the curved quilt lines. Maybe I was using it wrong, but it just seemed counterintuitive. I had to have the bulk of the quilt under the machine to get it to work--so it didn't really work. Oh well, wonky lines are fine by me.
Another hot one today, but since E and I both had the day off, we hit the pool this morning and then sought shelter in a cold theater for the Bourne Ultimatum. Car chases in tiny cars and even scooters--what fun!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

a sunnier day

Thanks, guys, for the sweet comments on my tree post. I am quite optimistic about planting some new trees, especially since I think we might be here to see them get BIG.

At first I thought the AC was struggling because of the extra sun hitting our roof with the tree gone, but now I'm realizing it's just extremely hot outside, shade or no shade. I checked the thermometer this afternoon, and in the shade, it read 98! So I hunkered down with all the blinds shut, curtains pulled, fan on, hoping to get some relief. Unfortunately for today's goal, the way I designed the new curtains for my studio lets lots of sunlight in, normally a good thing, but today I was wishing for heavy, lined drapes instead!These panels were a clearance find at World Market. I'd had this gauzy striped linen for a long time--2 remnants from Joann. The panels were such an awkward length, so I cut them and added the linen near the top to let light in even when they're shut.
I hope this heat doesn't affect my okra. We enjoyed the first harvest last night, fried in left over breading from Japan night's agedashi-dofu. Crunchy+slimy--yum! And E, I thought you didn't like okra!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Feeling a little quiet lately. Still coming to terms with the loss of our beloved tree. Looking for reassurance that removing it was the right or necessary decision. Dreaming of new trees to plant in its place.

With giant limbs falling regularly, it was obviously in decline, and with hurricane season upon us, we couldn't take the risk. Still, I miss the shade, not only in our yard, but over much of the street, stretching into several neighbors' yards. Is it silly to cry over a tree?

I'd had my eye on Julie's prints for a while, and now that I only have the memory of my tree, I finally ordered two of them with a plan to maybe frame them next to a photo of the tree. I love the connection she made between home + roots. Even without the tree, even when you're not home, those roots will always be there.

I have been able to do some creating lately, and I'll share those projects when I find the more positive outlook that should accompany them.