28 November 2006

gratuitous puppy cuteness

This is my mom's new pup. 3 month old wire fox terrier. I should admit that the snuggling of the stuffed lamb was staged for the picture. Because he just wasn't cute enough already.

Re-entry after the lovely holiday has been a bit rough due to a busy week at work and a marathon plane journey. Twin and I have some seriously bad airplane karma. I must have tortured poor defenseless little airplanes in a past life. Twin sends her love to Delta over on her blog. Fu-unny.

I've scored some serious loot in the past week in the way of fabric and patterns. These purchases were entirely rationalized by my vague, undefined plans for making holiday gifts. Funny that all the patterns are in my size, though. ;)

21 November 2006

wip and bye bye

Flying south as fast as a big ole jumbojet can take us. This colorful, possibly ill-conceived but nevertheless very cheerful project will be waiting for me when I return. For now, it's all about turkey and pie and hanging with my family.

A happy, homey, peaceful Thanksgiving to all. (or have a happy, homey, peaceful plain-old thursday, if you live elsewhere!)

iPod cozy tutorial

Somebody mentioned they'd like to know how I made my iPod cozies, and I am most happy to oblige. After all, I am quite bossy. I love telling people how to do things. So here's the skinny. It's quite straightforward and I took lots of pictures, so I hope everything's coherent. If not, just shoot me an email!

I've made these for the Mini, my 2004-era iPod and the new slimmer video iPod, so I've listed those measurements in the chart below. If you're unsure, make it a little large—you can always take the seams in until your iPod fits nice and cozy.

1. Piece the exterior. If you want an accent on the outside, seam together your pieces with 1/4" seams. Keep in mind that the dimensions in the chart above are for the total size of the exterior AFTER piecing, so you'll need to add allowances for any piecing seams.

2. Make the exterior sandwich. Place the batting on the wrong side of each exterior piece. Pin your elastic, folded in half, about an 1.5" from the side seam. Sandwich together the two exterior panels, right sides together.

3. Sew the exterior. Backstitching at beginning and end, sew around 3 sides with a 1/4" seam.

4. Sew the lining. Place lining right sides together and sew around 3 sides with a 1/4" seam.

5. Clip the corners. Of both exterior and lining.

6. Turn the exterior right side out, then place it inside the lining (which is still wrong side out). The right sides of the 2 pieces will be together. Line up the side seams and pin around the mouth.

7. Tricky part. Sew around top with a 1/2" seam, leaving a gap of about 1.5" open. Backstitch at beginning and end, and be careful not to catch your elastic band, which is hanging out inside there, in the seam. Turn right side out, then stuff the lining down into the body.

8. Edgestitch around the mouth so that it will lie nice and flat.

9. And now your iPod is all cozy.

19 November 2006

MSL december, page 183

"Oh, Bobby, Christmas morning! What do you think you will find inside your beautiful Christmas package?"
"Gee wilikins, Jane. I don't know, but I suspect it will be an orange, or maybe a Meyer lemon. This is, after all, 'Christmas Morning in Citrus Hues.'"
"Oh, careful, Bobby! In your excitement, you have nearly wrinkled your pajama set! Mother will scold."
"But Jane, I can't help it, there might even be a grapefruit in here. I'm just so excited, so excited, so excited, so excited ... so excited ....... sooo ... exciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ... ii ... i ..... i..
"Oh, Bobby, honestly. ..... MOTHER! Bobby's battery needs to be reset again!"

*I adore Martha Stewart and her magazine and the holiday issue is gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful as always. But was anybody else a little creeped out by this Stepford scene?

18 November 2006

i come by it honestly

My mom made these beautiful placemats and napkin rings a couple weeks back as a wedding gift. I absolutely love the way she used the ribbons to secure the napkin rings. And the china is a piece from the bride's wedding set (found here, if you'd like to know). My mom is an incredibly talented seamstress, as was her mother. When I was a kid mom used to sew clothes for us, but there was one Christmas that she made dresses for my sister and me and we absolutely hated them. I can't remember why on earth we hated them so much—and I cringe at the thought now—but we basically dissolved into temper tantrums when she tried to put us in them. After that she didn't make so many clothes for us. Which is sad and a shame and I want to beat up my little 5-year-old self and tell her to be nice to my mama and value those things which are made in love just for her. But all I can do now is say a belated thanks and my, those dresses were just beautiful. (They were red with embroidered smocking on the front, weren't they?) And thank you for the inspiration and the teaching and hey I'm going to be home in just a few days and I can chop all the onions and celery and apples and veggies and help you tie up the turkey's bottom.

And mom also did the flower arrangement in the photo. Yeah. I know, right?!

15 November 2006

dove ornament

I made this little dove as a prototype for my contribution to the Holiday Ornament Swap. I think it's a no-go because it was pretty time-consuming. And he's wonky. He kind of lists to one side or the other in a drunken fashion. Poor little dove.

I have a renewed respect for soft toy makers. Because it sure ain't easy. My first attempt had an itty bitty nub of a head and a huge long tail. Twin laughed. I laughed. There was much laughing.

I took the picture in my neighbor's yard this morning. Note the Christmas lights. No, he's not early with his decorating. Those are from last year. Because really why restring them every year? Unnecessary bother.

It's been gray and rainy in NYC. This evening walking home it was foggy and heavy and just threatening to begin raining again. I love the way the low cloud cover is like a dome over your head that reflects all the city light back down toward the ground. Like we're living in one of those snowglobes. With smog and lights and people swirling about, and the tall buildings on all sides reaching up into the clouds. Pretty cool.

13 November 2006

iPod cozies

I'm up at 4am because I can't sleep. I'm turning into my mother. Which, you say, is inevitable and right and good. We all become our mothers. And I shouldn't complain, my mother being an absolutely lovely woman—a princess among women, even. But her bizarre sleeping patterns, where she'll get up and plant bulbs in the garden or bake a cake at three in the morning, is one thing I could have done without. But then again, I do feel rather productive. Maybe I'll bake a cake.

But first I'll tell you about our new iPod cozies. Mine is the gray, Twin's little pink Mini gets the polka dots and stars. I've always been of the opinion that accessorizing iPods is kind of, well, silly. They don't really need the protection. Mine's been going commando for about 2 years now and all he has to show for it is a couple scratches. Now, I don't have the fancy-shmancy color screen, so a scratch is no big deal. We're old school over here, with the girth, heft, and gloriously petite memory of the grandfathers of the Nano.

But even ancient iPods like a little flair and a bit of coziness to keep them snug. I used a light cotton batting to make them cushy and a contrasting lining for a bit of cheer. The moleskine-inspired elastic band works well--it can also keep the headphone cords wrapped up nice and neat. Our iPods have never looked so good.

And before I head off and bake that cake, I'll add that we are officially in Beta now. My overall impression is two thumbs up. Publishing is easier, and the tags are excellent. I had such fun yesterday going back through all my old posts and indexing them. The wee little librarian inside me was just giddy, I tell you. So sorry if you had a zillion old posts pop up in your Bloglines. But you can now, if you are so inclined, read my archives by category. Oooooo weeeee!! For instance, I discovered as I was indexing that I have a strange fixation with marshmallows (literally, obviously, not metaphorically) so you can now see all posts associated with my marshmallow obsession.

I'm not really sold on that whole layout editor thingy, though. I tried it briefly, but switching over to it requires you throw out your previous template. And I couldn't re-create the look of my blog in the new template. It looked strange and different and I felt all wobbly inside. (I wanted it to look like it has ALWAYS looked, I don't want it to CHANGE. I hate change.) And it's harder to futz with the html because they've made the html all but incomprehensible with that automated layout business. So if you're like me and enjoy messing with the html in a purely amateur way, you might be a little lost. I certainly was. Anyway, long story short (too late): if you use Blogger and you're thinking about switching, do it. We can only hold on to our low-techie ways for so long.

Actually, screw the cake, I'm gonna grab a few winks before I have to go to work. Enjoy your Monday!

11 November 2006

simple scarf

I made this simple wool scarf from an old skirt that I've had hanging in my closet for years. It was a long, nearly floor-length A-line skirt. It was beautifully tailored and made of very fine merino wool in this fantastic plaid. But I never wore it. Literally, I don't think I ever once put it on. The style of the skirt just wasn't me. Dilemma. Do I repurpose it in some way that I can enjoy it? Maybe somebody else could get more use out of it as a skirt? I was loathe to cut up such a finely-made garment, and more than a little afraid to go at it with scissors, lest I completely botch the whole thing. Then I realized I was overthinking it, as I generally do. Cut, cut, sew, sew, and I've got a scarf that I know I will use all winter long, as well as a few scraps left over for some other little project. It feels a bit luxurious, but we all need a bit of luxury, yes?

10 November 2006

three good things

They always say bad things come in threes, but this week good things have come in threes for me:

1. I spent the afternoon wandering B&J fabrics with a friend. A project brewing. Nothing bought (gasp!) but many plans laid.

2. I discovered a great eBay seller store for vintage sewing patterns. She has a fantastic selection, and she organizes her patterns by size as well as decade. Fantastic because it always seems like the perfect pattern, the one I absolutely must have, without fail turns out to be about five sizes too big. So I bought a few patterns. Just a few ; ) I'm feeling the early '60s. What about you?

3. And best of all. I met Susan last night for dinner. So wonderful to meet one of my "cyberfriends," as Twin and I jokingly refer to our blog friends, in person. Susan is the keen eye, gentle voice, and creative spirit behind sulu-design. And in real life she is every bit as kind, interesting, and reflective as you might expect from reading her lovely blog. A kindred spirit, I think.

Wishing good things to all my cyberfriends, in whatever number they arrive!

08 November 2006

getting all organized

I am still learning to be a savvy apartment-dweller. I don't like clutter and I am quite an organized person. And while I might wish for the zen-like calm of a sparse minimalism, the fact remains that I have got a lot of stuff, and not a lot of space in which to put said stuff. It comes trickling out of closets, clutters up shelves, and generally intrudes on my sense of serenity. And so my relentless quest and endless love for containers:

Exhibit A: Trim box
From the Amy Butler pattern. It's got trim on it, see. I was also going to label it "trim," but then I realized that was unnecessary and redundant and also possibly silly.

I had started organizing the trim by color on the little cards, then stopped because I was planning on posting this for all the world to see, and I didn't want y'all to think I was completely nutters.

Exhibit B: Thread box
From the Container Store, the mecca of storage and one of my favorite places in NYC. Now it doesn't seem quite as nutty to arrange thread by color, which is good because I must confess that organizing spools of thread by color is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

Yeah, and that's pretty much all I've got so far in the way of exhibits. But as I said, this is a quest, and not one easily accomplished. All in good time. Having mastered the Amy Butler box pattern, I can see rows and rows of them in my future.

And lookie at my "studio" (aka the west wall of the living room/dining room). In the recent Massive Rearranging of the Apartment Fall 2006, whence we barely escaped with our wits or limbs intact, I somehow managed to acquire an extra bookcase for my crafting supplies. I didn't even have to pry it from Twin's grubby little paws. She actually volunteered it, nobly squeezing her library into one fewer bookshelf, that I may have a place to store my small but growing amount of sewing supplies. This is sisterly affection and sacrifice, no doubt about it.

And if you don't think I'm just a leeeeetle bit nutters after reading this, oh-ho-ho, just wait for it. There's lots more to organize around here.

06 November 2006

who knew my elbows were so sharp?

I've had "put elbow patches on most favorite sweater" on my to-do list forever. I'd noticed that the threads were wearing thin. And after getting it back from the cleaners last week, I pulled it on, my most coziest sweater, to feel a bit of a draft at the elbow. Yes, 'twas too true. My elbow was poking straight through.

But this is a sweater to be saved. Must save it! Must darn it, mend it, patch it, clean it, and meticulously de-fuzz it because it is the sweater most special. Wonderfully warm but not bulky, lovely creamy color, given to me by my auntie. I wear this sweater all winter long.

You knitters out there would probably be horrified by my darning job. (Is that even the right terminology? To darn is to mend a knitted piece?) I just kind of tugged the endy bits of the frayed yarn and tied them together in a knot. Then I covered it with a nice cushy wool patch. Because apparently I've got some mean sharp elbows.

04 November 2006

really, truly, no joke, yes, it is fall

We had the most beautiful walk through Prospect Park this afternoon. The same route we always walk (the beeline that twin makes from house to library and back again), but it felt new and different thanks to a nip in the air, crunchy falling leaves, and an enormous, glowing full moon rising.

A weekend for apple cake and fuzzy slippers and a wee bit of blog re-decoration. Twin says she liked my old banner better, but I'm feeling this new one.

A cozy weekend to all.

02 November 2006

bebe quilt

The baby quilt is all wrapped up and ready to go. I finished it last weekend, but it has been one of those weeks. You, know. One of those. Finding daylight in which to photograph the darn thing ended up being more difficult than actually finishing it. The gray rainy half-light this morning had to suffice and it does not really do my handiwork any particular favors. Ah, well.

I had never machine-quilted a quilt before. So, yeah that's WAY easier. I didn't do anything too fancy. I alternated straight lines of quilting with zigzags for each of the strips. The walking foot cooperated nicely, I think it helped that I wasn't doing anything too curvy.

I wasn't sure about the bright orange binding, but now I like it. The reverse side looks like one of those blankets that movers use to protect furniture. Hmmmm. We'll pretend that was completely intentional and call it "industrial" and "modern."

I had great plans for accompanying accessories and big-brother gifties, but that's just what they remained. Plans. So just the blanket. I guess that'll do. And I hope it keeps a wee little baby very warm this winter.