25 August 2013

New Coffee Table

A while back I was inspired by this fantastic idea from the interwebs - really nice, clear instructions for building a coffee table from wooden crates from Michael's/JoAnn's plus some hardware. I'm not so in to the "vintage chic" look, but I also really like this Etsy shop that makes things out of pallets with really bold colors. So, an idea was hatched, crates were bought (and they're even made in the USA!), a can of paint was purchased (Benjamin Moore Natura semi-gloss in 'carrot stick'), and then it all languished in the garage for several months. But I finally got around to finishing it all about a month ago, and we're very happy with our new, much less fugly coffee table - having a place to put all the dog's toys and my endless knitting/crochet projects is lovely. My only words of advice are that (1) even though the crates were cheap, the wood, fittings, and castors for the bottom were a bit spendy (plus the fancy paint), so it still came out to costing probably $150 or a bit more and (2) even though the paint is "self priming," priming it first would have saved some layers, I think. Cheers!

These photos are a bit washed out - I wish our living room wasn't so dark! (and that I was a better photographer...)

In other news, I'm working on a quilt right now that I think I'm just going to keep for myself, in spite of the ever growing number of babies on the horizon. I just like it too much to give away...

05 July 2013

Clara Dress from Sew Liberated

A while ago I got it in my head that I would splurge and make this Clara Dress from Sew Liberated from none other than Liberty of London's Poppy Irma. So, I ordered the pattern, ordered the fabric (yikes!) and then life got busy again. BUT since this was serious fabric I eventually took the time to make a practice toile. I have to admit it took a lot of adjusting. Largely this is because I really like this kind of dress, but it doesn't really do much for me. But I took in the top a lot, added darts in the back, shrank the skirt some (though I could have done more...) and I think it turned out okay. I was so excited about having it done in time for an event that I spent like 4 hours one night hemming it, only to get on the plane without the slip I needed to wear under it (note to buyers of L of L light colors - the fabric is awesome, but it's also pretty see-through). So I still haven't worn it out anywhere, but I'm pleased.

I'm actually most pleased with the decision to go with fabric-covered buttons. I was almost too lazy, but I really like how they turned out.

I'm trying to think if I have other hints for this dress. All in all it was a straightforward pattern. I did lengthen the sleeves a bit, too. Oh, and I lengthened the skirt 3 inches. I'm 5'6" and I started off with one of the larger sizes and with an extra 3 inches it's still above my knees with a ~1" total rolled hem (half an inch, then half again). I think that's it!

30 March 2013

Another Quilt

A fairly large fraction of the people I know are pregnant right now (or just had babies) so many of my gifts have been a bit on the laid back end of the spectrum, but sometimes I pull out all of the stops. My good good friend is expecting a wee one (of as-yet unknown gender) in May, and so I embarked on a project that would combine two of my recent obsessions, and work with her color scheme somewhat. She went with the RH Safari collection, which has lots of lovely muted colors and beigey linen. Oh, and she's a painter (among other things). Meanwhile, I've been enamored with color coordination and pretty much all things Purl Soho, especially this quilt (from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts). I am, however, far too imprecise to take on such a challenge, nor do I have a stash quite this big. BUT, I also recently ran across this super-sized star pattern in the Moda Bakeshop, which seemed similar but much more do-able.

And so this is what I managed to pull together (sorry photos are rotated, blogger is being a jerk):

It ended up about 52" square, which was okay though a bit big. Here's what the back looks like, with its finagled fabric:

The last quilt I made as a gift (which I believe I have no photos of...) I didn't finish in time for the baby shower, but I totally gave it to the mom-to-be then took it back to finish, which was lame. I was determined not to do that this time, and I thought I totally had it together, then I realized how much hand finishing was going to be needed...

Let's just say there were several late night stitching sessions and I watched a lot of REALLY BAD television after running out of good things to watch on hulu. But, I'm really happy with how it turned out, thanks in large part to the perle cotton stitching. I bit the bullet and ordered a set of all colors from Thread Art, and I'm pretty pleased with that decision. The spools are small, so I don't feel like I'll have to be buried with them some day, and it was way easier to just have them all than try to guess the colors I would need via not great internet photos. Oh, and while I'm giving shout-outs, while lots of the diamonds were from my stash, the background quilter's linen is from Moda's French General collection, which I got at my new favorite local-ish craft store, Fancy Tiger, along with several fat quarters, and more FQs came from my favorite (and only) very local indie craft store, Fabricate. I'm still working on a wall quilt which will hopefully be finished and posted soon. Meanwhile, here's a photo of the tool holster I through together for my sewing machine a bit ago.

03 February 2013


Given that we now live where there's winter, and it is, in fact, winter, AND we don't really have a yard that gets direct sun, my non-work attention has been shifted from gardening to crafting. I've actually been pretty productive over the past while, but since most of my craft projects are gifts, I tend not to post. But I've decided that's silly. So here are a few photos of a small quilt that took me, oh, like 10 months to finish. Most of that time it spent half-quilted, sans binding in a drawer, but I finally got it together to finish it.
I bought the main fabrics (from fatquartershop.com) so long ago that it apparently is no longer available, but it's Outfoxed - Outwitted by Lizzy House. And I'd like to claim I was totally in to foxes before they were trendy, but, well, I bought fox fabric, so that doesn't really play out, does it? Here's another view:
This is the third (I think) quilt I've made, so it has definitely been a learning process. The patterns for this one and another one (that I maybe have no photos of? whoops) are from a little book called 'Lots of Scraps, It's Time to Quilt', which has generally been super useful for using up tiny bits of fabric. I'm not such a fan of lots of the colors that get used in quilts, but it's pretty easy to see how a pattern could work with a different color scheme. The biggest blooper on this quilt was trying to machine "stitch in the ditch" without a walking foot, which is apparently a magical thing (I have one on back-order right now). I ended up with some fabric stretching/folding in a couple of spots, but I think it'll be okay. One more photo:
I'm also hoping that this year will lead to learning to better use my dSLR, but so far that is just a plan... I'm working on quilts four and five right now, so I won't share those till they're done, but I did find myself feeling bad about the number of skinny strips of fabric I was putting in the trash, so I made this:
I happen to be working on very colorful projects, so getting all the colors was easy, then it's just a wire wreath frame, wrapped with some more wire for more places to tie, and about a bajillon 2-3 inch long, 0.25 - 0.5 inch wide strips of fabric. And three movies and five episodes of the Daily Show (give or take). Happy 2013! Hopefully I'll be here more often this year. Maybe.

17 September 2011

compost! it's the sh*t.

While away in the field and desperately missing my garden (among other things), but loving my new Kindle, I downloaded and read The Quarter-Acre Farm. While there were a few dumb moments, overall it was a decent read, and I especially appreciated the part about compost. As a lazivore (my new favorite term, thank you Treehugger), I don't turn our compost. Sometimes I poke at it with a pitchfork, but that's about it. And by sometimes I mean once every 6 months. Apparently I am not alone, but Ms. Warren describes her technique of simply removing the uncomposted stuff on the top to get at the good stuff below. Ah hah! Only our scrap wood compost bin has a removable front, so I just removed the front and carefully scraped out about 3 cu. ft. of lovely composted compost. I could have gone for more, but I started to worry about the pile's structural stability, plus it was hard. But I got enough to top off the one raised bed that is currently empty. And I forgot to take pictures before I got it all re-sealed.

In other news, things are growing, but not too fast at my own 0.05 acre farm. Except for the birdhouse gourd vines, which are trying to take over the world. One of the more amazing things in the yard continues to be the flowering basil, which the bees love so much it is almost embarrassing. And fortunately Rudy the dog has decided to ignore them for the time being (we will not pretend that he actually learned from last year's bee eating / face swelling / Benadryl induced sleeping event).

17 July 2011


Okay, so sometime last year my cousin sent me a link to this site with one of those "ha ha, this looks like some hippie s**t you would do" emails. Little did she know, we were in the midst of a crisis in which N was totally ready to chuck his favorite Patagucci cashmere sweater because it had a hole in the elbow. So, I said "ah hah!", ignored my cousin's tone, and went to buy a felting needle. Only my local yarn shop doesn't carry felting supplies (though they told me there's a shop like an hour away that does) and the people at Michael's across the street from my house looked at me like I was crazy. So, the sweater went in a box, and life got busy. BUT, apparently since then felting has gone viral (as has fixing sweaters - google it, I dare you) and so the last time I was wandering around our disheveled Michael's I discovered a whole new felting section. So this weekend I tried it. I didn't take a before picture, but here's shortly in to the process:

And then slightly further along:

And this is the finished product:

Not quite amazing, but kinda fun. I turned the sleeve inside to outside a few times, and I could work more on it, but this represents like 20+ minutes of pretty concentrated felting-needle poking. I'm guessing if he ever wears this he will get a lot of "Hey, there's something... wait, what's going on on you elbow?"

Garden update: Slowly clearing out, the cabbages are having babies, slugs and/or birds have a striking preference for butternut squash seedlings (over acorn and fairytale pumpkin), the watermelons are sprawling, and if the cucumbers ever start growing they may get slapped in the face by several birdhouse gourd vines. Fun!

10 July 2011

SF Flower Mart

One of the most fun and unique experiences of planning the wedding (and doing all the flowers with just help from family and friends) was taking a trip to the San Francisco Flower Mart. As a recent inductee into the world of flowers, it's pretty incredible. You can literally buy almost any kind of flower you can imagine. For better or worse, many of the flowers are not locally grown - I asked one seller where his roses were from and he proudly told me they were from Ecuador. While they were beautiful, I looked for and eventually found equally beautiful roses from California (organic? no...)

We really didn't buy that much for the wedding - I had already picked up several bunches of mini callas from the farmer's market (from the same grower who recently sold me some awesome dahlias), and we had some stuff from the garden. We did buy some yellow and white roses, several bunches of white hydrangeas, 2 delicious bunches of peonies (the same kind that are currently NOT flowering in my garden), some flowering kale, some other crazy kale, and some curly willow branches. A few of the willow branches even sprouted, and I'm keeping one in water with plans to pot it at some point (that should work, right?)

Anyhow, the flowermart opens at like 3 a.m. but they don't allow us non-pros in until 10 a.m. so I can only imagine how incredible it must be in the wee hours of the morning. Now in my next life I want to be a homesteader, fabric crafter, and locally grown florist.