28 March 2008

Minimalist...at heart

I finally moved my fabric from the master bedroom closet to the one in the sewing/guest/holiday storage room. There are 7 folded piles of scraps--labeled so because each one has been used in at least one project. Never mind that some of those pieces are over 5 yards long!

fabric stash 1

fabric stash 2

And here is my To Do pile (and Paxil the Magical Mutt). I whittled it down to single project before A2 was born by sewing frantically everyday, knowing that I would not be able to return to it for months. But, the pile keeps growing. And there's even a piece missing, 2 yards of fabric just delivered from Japan.

to do pile

I'm getting a bit nervous. If there are too many planned projects, I get overwhelmed and stuck so that nothing gets completed at all. It's, thus, utterly inexplicable why I would continue to add to the list by buying seemingly endless amounts of yardage. I'm well aware that my fabric stash is minuscule compared to others, but it's far too large for my liking. I'm determined to work my way through that To Do pile before buying any more fabric!

And speaking of the Magical Mutt, here he is again. He weaseled his way into my shot of the Statice now covering the lower hillside.


27 March 2008

Indian Hawthorne (Raphiolepis indica)

Those who've been in our home instantly recognize that we poured our effort into the yard while meticulously preserving the previous owners' early 80's design sense. And why not? It's far more fun to dig in the dirt than to scrape off all that rose and blue bow wallpaper off the bathroom walls. Besides, nothing screams high concept like perfectly matching floral wallpaper and draperies!

The yard was pretty lifeless when we first moved in. Other than the spring-blooming Indian Hawthorne in the back and near the pool, there weren't any flowers at all.

Indian Hawthorne swings

Indian Hawthorne pool

But I liked that they are profuse bloomers, happy in full sun, tolerant of heavy pruning, and native to SE Asia--which makes them highly suited to be among our other tropical fruit bearing trees. So we planted a huge number of them along two sides of the front gate.

Indian Hawthorne gate

And strangely enough, even when we try to plant an ornamental, it ends up being edible. I've since learned that their fruit can successfully be cooked and turned into jam!

13 March 2008

Appliqué tute on a ringsling

I liked the butterfly on this panel so I traced it onto the paper side of a scrap of Therm O Web Heat n Bond (i.e., adhesive side is facing the fabric panel).


Then I put the tracing on my fabric so that the adhesive side was facing the back of the fabric--though I'm using dupioni silk so that's not really a consideration here--and ironed using the silk setting without steam. I made sure that the Heat n Bond sheet was smaller than my fabric so that I didn't get melted adhesive all over the iron or the ironing pad.


Next, I cut out the butterfly shape using regular scissors--no need to dull my good fabric shears on the paper backing. Here it is pictured after being cut out, with the paper peeled off revealing the adhesive, positioned right side up on the right side of the ringsling, and being ironed down. Again, I used a moisture-free silk setting and ironed from both the front and back.


I opted against a zigzag or satin stitch because I didn't think the delicate antennae and spurs could stand up against it. Plus, I thought a little fraying at the edges would eventually give the image an organic feel. So I simpled tacked it down by a straight stitch.

Here's the final product--I made it so the portion at the rings doesn't show the reverse fabric. Sorry the image is so fuzzy.


And here's a closeup of the shoulder, sewn with SBP-inspired overlapping pleats.


12 March 2008

Daylight savings...

...costs us far too much. It was proven to be ineffective in the 1970's and again recently because heaters are cranked up in the cold, dark mornings and air conditioners are cranked up during the warm, bright evenings.

My poor boys do not fare so well. The other day, I walked into A1's bedroom and discovered him wide awake. He had spent the entire 2.5-hour nap time playing with his dinosaurs! They were perfected arranged in a straight line (never mind all that sand on his floor).


Fortunately, our evening grandparent visits are now beautifully lit and the colors are so saturated on these photos of their flowering fruit trees. Here are three of which I'm particularly fond--can't wait to start eating more homegrown goodies!

f/8, 1/125, ISO-200, 92mm

f/4.5, 1/125, ISO-280, 105mm

f/5, 1/125, ISO-200, 105mm

07 March 2008

Those wacky planets

Some things never change--like the local Natural History Museum. Those exhibits have been the same since I first saw them in the third grade! But some things do change. "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants"? C'mon, I was perfectly content with "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies". Okay, I'll accept Ceres and Eris as dwarf planets, but the demotion of Pluto (the only planet discovered by an American--smells like an international astronomical conspiracy to me!) totally bites. So my real concern is that when those questions start flying from the boys, I'll not know the answers. Or worse yet, I'll offer an incorrect one.

04 March 2008

New toys

Though I very much enjoyed my first sewing experiences in junior high Home Economics class, I didn't return to it until two decades later. Now I absolutely love it and it seems the only things I buy for myself are sewing-related.

I've been wanting to sew more clothes, particularly by drafting my own patterns instead of using pre-fab ones. So here we have a Burmester set of French curves.

French curves

How could I have gone this long without a walking foot? I'm in the process of making a ringsling with a pleated shoulder where almost 30" of quadruple-layer fabric is folded down into 4" and my new foot is making things so much easier! I don't have to push and tug the fabric and there are no skipped stitches, broken needles, or hand cranking. Hooray!

walking foot

This foot happens to have an open toe so I can do decorative stitches as well. Since it worked so well, I'm wondering if I should scratch my plans to get an old machine.

I had wanted a hardy metal one to substitute my computerized, plastic Babylock for tough jobs. I found a nice $40 candidate simply labeled "Black Singer in Cabinet" on Craigslist. Upon further inquiry, I discovered it was an operational 201-2! And not just any 201, a Centennial 201! Alas, my beloved carseat-hating, bloody-murder-screaming A2 would not tolerate the drive to pick up the machine and I had to pass. I beat myself over this loss regularly. And now I cannot bear to buy anything less than a 201. There was a lovely 99 for $50 in much better shape but I am so fixated on getting a 201 that I didn't bother asking about the 99.