Thursday, March 16, 2023

When the Dog Bites. . .

 I was at my friend's house recently when she needed help in a hard time and I came across a potholder in her kitchen drawer that I had made long long ago. It was a funny blast from the past, but it also made me laugh out loud because her dog had clearly tasted a corner of the hotpad. 

I asked her if I could replace the bitten hotpad with a pair that matched her new kitchen better. She said yes! 

This is now the third time I have replaced my worn-out handmade hotpads for friends - I like knowing the hotpads are worn because that is what I meant them for. Satisfying all around. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Two Patchwork Pillows

I have been sitting in my bed more this winter - drinking tea, reading, journaling, you know, cozy things. In the past my whole house was a quiet sanctuary when the children were in bed, but these big beautiful children have independent social lives now and sometimes it takes place right in our house.


Which is good! Hilarious! But not quiet.

So I made myself a patchwork pillow to sit against the headboard and in the magic surprise of patchwork, I adore it. Restful yet not at all bland.

I limited myself to using my small scraps, which makes me extra-proud of my results. I used an extra throw pillow we had around, so I didn't have to buy anything at all for this project. This butterfly quilt was made by Grandma Weaver and I adore it.

I also saw the end of the patchwork living room sofa pillow. It stood up bravely to pillow fights (big kids!) and mending, but it was too worn for more mending. I took the zipper out and used it again. For the last year or so, I have been pretty determined to sew down my stash, but I had a vision for deep purple in some way for this pillow and no fabric to assist me. The striped fabric I found for pennies at the local creative reuse store is delightful in my living room. I pieced it with red and lavender and then I felt led to put baby rick rack on some stripes too. Patchwork magic again! I am thrilled. I am less fond of the other side, but have moved on to other things. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Low-waste Tee Shirt Rug

It is Christmas Eve, and the wind chill is -2°. I haven't written a post for months, as I become more middle-aged with all the internal processing and existential thoughts that entails. Possibly I will try to explain some of that sometime, but for right now, I will keep it simple and tell you about my rug triumph. (And throw in some pictures from Christmas tree acquisition, ok, because they're more fun than the rug pics). 
I needed a bath mat, and thought I could perhaps turn some of the ratty t-shirts around here into a rug instead of cutting them up for rags as I usually do. I am oversupplied with rags right now, but not bath mats! I'm calling this low-waste because I can't compost it when it wears out: one or two of the tees had some polyester content. 

I looked at a few YouTube videos of people crocheting rugs and got a big plastic crochet hook. I simply cut the t-shirts into approximately 1" wide strips, as long as I could make the strips, and then sewed them end-to-end on my sewing machine as needed. 
I found the crochet process addictive and delightful. Since I was making an oval, there were no ends of rows that invited me to stop, so I often kept on just going around and around. I started with about a six-inch ball of t-shirt yarn, and when that ran out I made another and kept going. I think there may be four or five t-shirts in this rug. It is actually somewhat heavy for its size and a little wonky in places due to the casual way I cut the strips. 
I also went back in with a needle and white thread and tacked down some of the more flyaway ends, which did not bother me at all. I'm sure a more experienced crochet-er could make a tidier rug, but overall, I am quite pleased. Phoebe has already requested a colorful crocheted rug for her room! We'll see.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Vegetable Dress

This dress turned out so differently from my vision. I'm still not sure I like it or will keep it. . . my vision was for a summer dress that was easy to wear, an everyday dress.

Yes, why did I pick fabric with a white background that needed a full lining? And. . . white? Why, Margo? The vegetables spoke to me, I guess? And the dress I made feels like a sweet, cute 1950s housewife dress - it doesn't feel like me! 

I thought by way of decoration that the skirt lining could peek out with a bit of eyelet lace, but I've gotten well-meaning shocked comments that my slip was sticking out.  Overall, I think the dress is just a bit too sweet for me. 

Funnily enough, I was at the optometrist one week, wearing the dress. The receptionist was so tickled to see there were vegetables on my dress. Then, when I brought Phoebe for her appointment next week, she remembered me (I was surprised - it's a big practice) for wearing the vegetable dress previously! 

Fortunately the side pockets I added are successful. And the blue and white is such a refreshing cool vision on the eyes in the deep sticky stink of a city in summer.

I found the bodice very tedious to fit. I needed to take in the top and let out the bottom, but since the dratted thing is lined and a multi-piece princess style, I had to rip out and the reconfigure twice the number of seams. 

All the photos on this post are by Phoebe! She did a fabulous job.

This dress caused me to think more carefully about my wishes for summer dresses. I did some research on pattern styles, and thought of the clothes I have that I like the most for comfort and personal style. Then, I purged my sewing patterns and carefully bought some different ones. Stay tuned - I fit in some successful sewing in my busy summer!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Raspberry Nightie

I cranked out a swishy yellow nightie for the growing girl.

The flowers are just so pretty on this vintage fabric from my stash. I used a size 5 pattern and just eyeballed some width and length. When I had her slip it over her head before I put the finishing sems in, we tore the armscye a bit. I'm afraid the vintage fabric might be a bit fragile. I topstitched a patch over the tear.

I did actually make the nightie too wide, so I put a pleat in the front neckline. Sewing over it with rick rack is a bit homemade-y looking, but I knew the fancier the trims, the more Phoebe would love it.

Well, it is pretty and she loves it! And raspberries. Keeping up with the bramble is a twice-a-day job right now, and the black raspberries are coming in, too. One of the fun parts of summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Walking the Estate on a June Evening

 Come view my plants with me! I'll tell you some tidbits about my plants and what's going on. 

I put some houseplants out for a bit of fresh summer air. Some of you advised me to put my spiderwort outside to get rid of its brown faded leaves. We'll see. 

Another houseplant, the big spider from the dining room. I like to think it gives the hummingbirds a little cover at the feeder. The pink geranium is Phoebe's from 3 years ago! The red geranium is mine from last year. They cover up the sugar drips from the feeder quite prettily. 

The rhubarb on the left is still going strong. The little swamp white oak grows steadily in the middle and the red raspberries on the right are exploding. I am hoping to make red raspberry jam this year. There's apple mint (meadow tea, the locals say) mixed in there, too. 

This is my rain garden full of native plants, and I adore it. I am reading about native plants and having a real epiphany about their importance to the birds and bees and, you know, people. Because we are all connected and nature needs us to do our part to fix the damage. 

My tomato plants were nibbled early on, but not recently. I suspect a rabbit family took up residence under the red raspberries and we have tried to make them feel unwelcome with bobcat pee and stern lectures. The plants are heavily mulched with grass clippings from my dad. 

Black raspberries coming on!

The main raised bed has Phoebe's zinnias that she planted from seed, pepper plants, okra seedlings that I started from seed, and cucumbers and green beans just coming up. The okra seedlings were also being nibbled, but I suspected slugs or snails. I ringed each seedling with crushed egg shells and diatomaceous earth. The damage slowed down, so I guess it helped?

In the back is my new composter gotten free from a neighbor via freecycle. My old composter sat on the ground and the mice made themselves free with it. I mean, I still got plenty of great compost but it annoyed me to feed mice so close to our house when they take any opportunity to come inside in cold weather. Behind the composter are some junk trees growing in the fences there. Their roots are not on our property but their branches sure are. One tree I have been cutting back for years. I don't want to use chemicals on them, but they look so ridiculous and they're not situated for anything useful. 

Here is Phoebe's pepper plant and my new herb bed my husband made me. I am having a hard time thinning the basil seedlings. I love the transformation of seed to seedling to food so much that I can barely stand to take any of the seedlings away. I know, I know, they need the space. . . I actually transplanted some in my front porch pot to help my mental state!

My front porch flowers make me so happy. Just happy. Life is zipping by, my children are at a hectic age, but we walked the estate here and I'm grateful. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

An Easy Calico Dress

 I made Genevieve a first-day-of-preschool green calico dress and then lengthened it as she grew taller and then saved it for the little sister who wore it to literal shreds.

Mending fabric that is shredding due to age or heavy wear is like bailing a leaky boat. I've become a savvy mender by inspecting items carefully to make sure I can truly extend their life with mending. Here the fabric was giving out at the bottom of each tuck and I had already mended a three-corner rip that had torn open again. 

So, the middle of the green dress went in the piece bag, the top was discarded, the buttons put back in the button tin, and Phoebe said sadly, now I don't have a calico dress.  

That is an easy fix!

I had a length of navy calico just barely enough for a Phoebe dress - I almost wrote "little girl" but Phoebe is just not very little anymore (and when you look at little Genevieve wearing the green dress - oh my heart! my little girls!). 

I planned to use the same dress pattern as the green calico, but apparently I had gotten rid of it at some point. I used a Style pattern a neighbor gave me when she cleaned out her sewing stuff. I added some rick rack and juicy red buttons and that is a very smart summer dress. 

Phoebe has been helping me set up garden beds and plantings all week long as she quarantines for COVID reasons. She has a pepper plant named Rosalind now. She gets to read books with her pasta and pesto and watercress lunch.  A good week to be at home wearing an easy breezy calico dress!