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July 2008

here and there and making curtains.

Pajamas and skirts and tops are fun to make. 


But I've veered off course and need to focus on the projects needing my attention so very much.  This is the week I really get to work....

 >> On the seven white linen curtain panels for those kitchen windows.

linen for curtains

 { I don't like making curtains.  All those chances to end up with wonky edges. And uneven hems that are oh-so-obvious against the squared corners of my windows... And yards upon yards of fabric slipping and sliding around while I try by best to press those hems.   And doing this seven times.  Frustration, thy definition is curtain-panel-making. }


>> And on that bathroom and it's hundred layers of paint.  See, we couldn't just paint the bathroom. No, we've got three kinds of primer, paint, faux glaze and two coats of protectant.  So far, I'm through two of the primers.  And that is just for the vanity.  There is also a linen cabinet, window and wall trim, and a door begging for my attention.

So maybe you'll understand if things are quiet behind la Fence for a few days.  Because photos of white linen curtains and irons and paint are thrilling and all { ahem }... but finding new ways to say, I painted this! and One more panel, done! might just do me in.  I kind of want to get the zone and get it done.  Ever felt like that?  Like ripping off a bandaid for a whole week.

* the one about the salad and the grout *

There are a lot of funny things that happen when you are remodeling your home. 

Like when you are walking into your newly tiled bathroom
with supplies, like dark tinted primer for the vanity
that the guy at Lowe's who-thinks-you-paint-anything-that-isn't-nailed-down mixed for you yesterday.
Just bringing it in there, 
in case you have 30 minutes to spare and want to 'dig in.'
And instead you drop the unopened can of darkly tinted primer
and it explodes at your feet
running into all the tan grout
and splashing up onto the side of the tub
and on your shoes
and legs
and towels
and the vanity (which is actually ok because that is the only place it's supposed to be).


And taking some of the towels it landed on, dripping with paint,
and thowing them into the vanity sinks.
And finding even more towels to wipe up the paint
(I'm talking almost a whole quart of thick charcoal gray kilz)
and smearing it all over the place.

And then, after a lot of words that are not very nice,
Thank you, Lord.  For making me the painter I am and knowing that I need to clean up sometimes.  I know that I have a huge can of mineral spirits in the garage.  Please please please please help me get this paint out of my grout.  Before hubs comes home.  Thankyousoverymuch.  I think I need to slow down.  Amen.

And I poured the mineral spirits all over the mess, took my toothbrush and scrubbed. And scrubbed.  Most of it came out.  I worked up a sweat, I tell you.  This mistake was not going to get the best of me.

Because I haven't even done after photos yet, for heaven's sake. 

I also find this particularly funny because I just had the best salad (thank you amy, that tuscan salad is superb!) that made me feel so wholesome and good.  I even rinsed my lettuce with vinegar, so as not to consume anything chemical or yucky. 

And then I spent a half hour with my head in the fumes of mineral spirits.  It's all about balance, right?

Also, I need to find a new toothbrush.

: : : the end : : :

* I've had a couple emails about my sense of humor with this little mishap.  The thing is, it was a mess, but it wasn't the end of the world.  In the Big Picture, I'm just a comfortable suburban housewife with very few things to worry about on a daily basis.  This really is the Small Stuff. And am I ever so thankful for that.  xoxo.  happy weekend. *

Hello, she said, looking up from her machine. For a sec.

Thanks for all the sweet compliments on my top and skirt yesterday.  I have never sewn clothing for myself before and it is really stinkin' fun.  So if you have been holding off, I say go for it.  Buy some fabric that you love and make that darned simple skirt.  I promise you will be hooked.  So you better trace that pattern to paper first, because you will be re-using it.  ;)

new bathroom progress

There is really so much going on here at my silly house.  The main reason I am sewing up a storm is that I am putting off the finishing touches in my bathroom.  The bathroom that contractors started on over a month ago.  It's not finished because I didn't want to pay THEM to paint, which I am perfectly capable of doing myself.  And there is a lot of painting left to do.  (Besides the walls.  Those are done.)  Anyway.  One of these days I am going to do a long post about this bathroom because it has been an amazing transformation from hospital room chic to tiled spa-like comfort. 

But not today.  Because I'm procrastinating.

 Need to get better at adding trim.

Instead of priming the vanity cabinets, I made a matching cami top for my beloved thrifted sheet pj bottoms.  It's from the same pattern, Simplicity 9505.  I didn't do any modifications, although I did add trim (pre-washed) for fun.  I might skip making the ties next time and use twill tape or something hardy instead. I really don't like burning my fingers with all that pressing. But it came together nicely and was pretty quick.  Will definitely make these again.  Especially as a gift set maybe... (want one, sis?)


There are certainly plenty of vintage sheets around my house that would work nicely.   And trim.  Oh my.  The possibilities make me giddy.

to go with the pjs bottoms... I may never take these off.

Which is a shame, because I have a lot of painting to do. 

Pattern Reviews: Simplicity 2892 + 'Cute Skirts'

Simplicity 2892 is a pretty easy top with lots of variations.  I chose View D and used this printed linen blend. I cut a size 8, even though I typically wear a 4-6 for tops. This was according to the pattern guidelines for bust size (34), but I still thought it was gapey under the arms (I am really narrow), so I took in the seams a bit just under the arms and that made a big difference. 

simplicity 2892

I really like the neckline (plenty of coverage, but not stifling).  Oh, and I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side but decided I liked it anyway and left it. 

simplicity 2892

If I were to do this one again (and I might), I wouldn't use a large print like this, even though the model on the package was.  The print takes away from the gathered yoke and small ruffle inset.  See?

simplicity 2892

I kind of wish I had done this one in a solid colored weave of sorts.  It was pretty easy, although there is a lot of gathering.  I have a ruffler attachment for my machine, but I didn't use it on this one.  Gathering up all that fabric, on a curve, was most the work. 

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

And then there is the Cute Skirts pattern.  My new fave.  I WILL make this one again.  And again.  I just love it.  No zippers.  Nice flair.  Several variations.  Easy to cut.  Easy to piece.  Sold.  I wear a 4 skirt and cut this one as a 6, according to the hip guidelines.  Good fit.   A lot of reviewers have said they would lengthen it if they did it again, but I shortened mine because I'm only 5'2" or so.    This skirt did not use the gores or flounce options (I did not have enough fabric). 

(I bought my pattern from SewMamaSew, but it's sold out... you can also find it here, here, and here.)

There is a wrinkle in the front from laying on my clothes pile last night.  It is not sewn in!  This looks worse the more I stare at it.  Ack.   Also, dirty mirror.

"Cute Skirts", paneled skirt pattern

I traced my pattern pieces onto sturdier paper because I knew I'd make this again, but also because you have to cut eight panels.   I'm glad I did.  I don't normally do that, but I can see why people do. 

In hindsight, I wish I had top-sewn my panel seams.  I did it on the two sides, where it matches up(because no one needs extra fabric poking out on their hips).  But once I hemmed the skirt, the rest of the seams flattened out ok it is hangs really well.  This polka dot fabric is Spot Lilac from Kaffe Fassett and it has a medium weight.  I had bought it for Fidget but had to steal it for myself once it arrived and I saw it in person.  It's lovely.  I was able to use 1.5 yards, measuring carefully.  ;)

This week's lineup.

Hello, friends.  These { photos } are for you...


The flowers themselves were for a certain twelve-year-old who performed on stage at the Coterie Theatre Saturday night in her first official theatrical production.  It was the end of a two-week full-day acting camp and she was in heaven.  

Here's another shot.  I can't help myself, they are so pretty.


I was a busy girl over the weekend, too.  Lots of stuff for show and tell.  Simplicity 3835, to start.  Yes, this has lots of possibilities. Like Lera, I added darts.  Shapes up the back a bit.  (Thanks for mentioning that part, L, because I probably wouldn't have done it otherwise and now I don't feel like I'm too blousy in the back.xo) 

Simplicity 3835

And can I just say how much I love 'end of the season' closeout pricing on yardage when it's 100 degrees outside?  Ok.  Yes, I'll take that for $3 a yard.  Done!

Also, this week: 

  • Simplicity 2892  (Note to self:  also try 3751, 4111, and 4589. Those look cute, too.)
  • A remade thrifted skirt.  
  • And, new fabric:

good stuff in the mail :)

The polka-dotted one has already been made into a skirt.  I couldn't help it.

Happy Monday!  It's gonna be a fun week.  xoxo

I still make stuff. I do.

Work is busy this week.  Taking me away from things I like to do when it's not busy, like posting to my blog and visiting my friends.  Job security, however, is a good thing these days, so I'm not going to complain.  Too much.  Grrrr.  Ok, now I'm done.

My new faves.

So.  Last weekend I went to the lake and made some stuff.  Mostly I did some instruction (which is pretty funny considering how far from an expert I am on anything), but I was able to whip up this pair of pj bottoms from Simplicity 9505.  I shortened the length at the top (because I didn't want them clear up to my boobs like the last pair I made) and at the bottom (because I wanted to use the top of the vintage sheet for the hem). 

used the top of the sheet as hem.

I used elastic for the waistand, but went ahead and added a tie as well, just because I like them better that way.   And behold, it was done. 

PJ Bottoms from vintage sheet

And, since Fidget reminds me every day to work on it and I have been a slacker instead, I started piecing her quilt, which will have five embroidered girls sandwiched in there, somewhere, when it's complete.  The fabric color choices are all taken from the floss I used in the embroidery.  Now that I see it, I still like it, but I'm not sure if I'm going to love it. 

progress on Fidget's quilt top

I do think I am going to add a bright pink binding to it, since there is no other pink in the top and there is quite a bit in the embroidered pieces... and maybe that will push this one into the love+goodness category.  Right now I'm all meh about it. 

So.  Back to work.  Thanks for letting me vent about work and prance around with my new projects today.  I hope your have-to's are balanced by your want-to's as well...  xoxo

(And yes, I did see Batman: The Dark Knight last night.  Interesting.  HL is just as good as they've said he would be as the Joker.  It was sad and surreal and, well, something to see.  That said, I still liked Batman Begins better, as I am sucker for a backstory... but I'll take either, as Christian Bale is just yummy.)

Don't forget!  Flashback Fridays is in full swing.  Post your most special (read: embarassing) photos there today! :) Here's a link to mine.  (Sis, don't hate me for this one... )

The weekend was a world away

Really, it doesn't get better than this.

I haven't collected photos of all the projects my girlfriends and I completed this weekend at the lake.  It was so wonderful to get away and visit.  To make food that was not governed by the picky palettes of our families, but what we wanted to eat.  To stay up late and know that we could sleep in. (But get up early anyway because we were so excited to start again... ) 


To spend a full day in pjs and sip coffee and sew and confer with each other for opinions and strategies... to learn new things and make new friendships.   To sit on the dock and watch the stars and just. think.  To laugh.  To cry.  To know that this weekend was made of moments we'd remember and talk about forever.  And a blog post just doesn't do it justice. 


I made some headway on Fidget's embroidered girl quilt... I think I decided upon a strategy, for the lack of one has been most of the problem.  It won't take long now.  Which is a good thing, because that child is asking me about it every day.

Cutting table with a view.

We loved my mom's drop leaf cutting table.  Heaven.  In fact, my mom (who was down in Tampa with my dad fixing up their new place) had also brought out a 6' fold-up table, another smaller 4' table, and an extra card table for workspace (in addition to the kitchen table)... We had three machines going at all times. It was awesome.

I also have to confess that we caught a LOT of flack for this weekend.  My sister and her friends went out Friday night and poked fun at us behind our backs.  I'm sure they all think we are a bunch of old fogies, even though she says she defended my honor.  heh.  The girls at the salon where my friend Michelle works (three four throw pillows and two embroidered pillowcases) laughed their heads off at us last week when we shared how excited we were to go to the lake and SEW.  But it was fun, I tell you. 

Five Six throw pillows
Two embroidered pillowcases
Two rotary cutting tutorials
One pair of pj pants from a vintage sheet
Half of a quilt top
One eight-paneled red jersey swingy skirt
One knitted sock
One top, cut
One skirt, cut
One embroidered flour sack later,
we all admitted it was a success. 

So boo on the haters.  It's a crafting-momma thing, you just wouldn't understand.  :)

Flashback Friday, a stage in my living room, and woohoo I'm leaving town.

I was a very serious high school actress.

Guess my new 'do is making me gutsy, because I'm posting like a crazy person today.  This is for the Flashback Fridays pool over at Flickr.  December, 1989.  I played Lil in a moving production of the hilarity that is The Octette Bridge Club, a drama about a bunch of old sisters who meetup to play bridge.  I got to have fun with my part, since Lil was comic relief.  Lil  was also my grandmother's first name, so I felt a special connection with her character.  My Lil was a little silly sometimes, too.

But jumping on the stage started early for me.  A firstborn, a performer, the daughter of a guy who taught himself to play the guitar and played in a high school band called the Four Shades (wearing 4 shades of the same color or sunglasses or whatever), and a cousin to several talented performers as well.  Sister of a national dance superstar. And it was helped by the fact that my father had installed a stage in our living room when I was six years old:

practicing my tap routine.

I don't know if this is me doing the Solid Gold Dancers signature move or practicing my tap routine.  I think it's the latter.  I was ahead of my time though.  This was 1978.  I'm pretty sure Deonne Warwick and her fancy lame-spangled dancers didn't arrive until 1980. 

more tapping. I had moves, baby.

It wasn't really a stage.  It was Stage One of the first and only fireplace built in our hot and humid Baton Rouge, LA, neighborhood.  The finished project is here, right behind me in my satin and sequins Majorette uniform.  This was right before the parade.  I twirled, too.

wow. 1979.

(Lest you think my parents were some strange stage people that pushed me into this, I want to underscore here that these were ALL my idea.)

Oh, and yesterday's entry for the Echoes project. 

10 july 08

You should really take the time to check out everyone's work.  It's been fun to step out of my comfort zone and mix it up a bit. 

I'm off to the lake with my girlfriends now.  I still have to tackle the "pack!" item on my list from yesterday.  Oh dear.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

* Tall Wall Syndrome *

I love older homes.  My dream is to downsize to a 1960s ranch.  Take advantage of built-ins and solid wood construction, a nice flat yard and some mature trees. 

Something like this or this or this.

I know, I know, 1960s ranches come with 1960s baths and kitchens, but that is all fixable.  The other thing I like about those houses? 

The scale of the rooms. 

Because, although I adore the modern kitchen, bathrooms, closet space, and brand-new schools that a shiny new subdivision offers, we've all pretty much got Tall Wall Syndrome in our subdivision. You loft-ceilinged, 'small-tree' neighborhood people know of what I speak.  Ridiculous, 25-foot ceilings with no beams or exposed timber to make them the slightest bit interesting.  And, quite a challenge to paint. Who wants that much wall color anyway?  And decorating... Heavens to Betsy, have you considered how puny a 30"x30" canvas looks on a wall that is 25' high?  Gracious. 

This is not much of a before shot, but it's the same corner as my 'after'.  This ceiling slopes in, across the room and up all the way to the top of the second story.  You get the idea.  This is a 12 foot tree.  I'm telling you, these ceilings are HIGH. 

So I tell you what we did.  We added 6" trim all the way around our living room (baseboard hung upside down) to bring it to human scale.  Added some extra trim over the fireplace, too, so it all went together.  And lookee what happened. It's a paintable room with walls that do not need scaffolding!  Woohoo!

Tall Wall Syndrome, fixed.

It was pretty inexpensive and made a world of difference.  We even stuck little pieces in the corners, so we didn't have to worry too much about the mitre-ing. 

This tip or trick (or whatever you call it) is about 3 years old now, but I still love it.  And that means something, right? 

What tricks do you have up your sleeve?