31 March 2011

duvet cover

I finished the duvet cover! It's pieced from a mixture of solid linens and cotton prints from my stash. I had originally intended for the neutral fabrics to be more dominant, but I was not very careful with my math while cutting out pieces, so I ended up with more of the accent colors than I meant to include. That's ok. This duvet is very much inspired by one I saw in Lotta Jansdotter's book, Handmade Living.

My process was pretty simple. I wanted it to all be very random, so I cut all my fabric into 7" strips, then cut those strips into rectangles of varying sizes. I sewed all my rectangles into one very long strip, which I then cut into the 80" long strips I would need to accommodate my queen-sized duvet. I then cut the strips the long way into varying widths. Then I sewed all my strips back together. I hope that makes sense. I used an old, very soft organic cotton sheet that I scavenged from the linen closet for the back side of the duvet cover.

You are probably wondering why our bed is in front of a door. Excellent question. We actually have two doors in our bedroom (four if you count the bathroom and closet doors), plus one window in a rather small bedroom. I love our cozy little bedroom but it does make the furniture-arranging a bit tricky. We eventually decided that the bed was best situated as you see above, even though it blocks the door that connects this bedroom to the bedroom next door, which is my craft room. I've been trying to brainstorm an interesting way to hang art on this wall that would integrate the door somewhat and make it appear less odd. If anyone has any ideas, do speak up. :)

I also recently re-covered the headboard I made several years ago. I had this soft striped linen that has been sitting in my stash for years. I love it when a fabric finally finds its destiny. This linen was obviously waiting patiently for me to realize it would make a perfect headboard.

Scout seems to like the new set-up. After almost two years of living together, we two humans + two dogs have finally come to a sleeping arrangement that seems to suit all parties. An unspoken rule that no more than two bodies fit in one bed seems understood by both canines and humans. So, when both Matt and I are in the bed, the dogs sleep on their own dogbeds. If, however, they spy an unoccupied side of the bed, they will jump up and snuggle in next to the remaining human. And there really is nothing more peaceful than having a warm, contented dog sighing happily into sleep next to you.

I wasn't always a dogs-allowed-in-the-bed person, but I am fully converted now. I really do wish they would learn to wipe their own feet when they come in the house though. That would be GREAT.

21 March 2011

go veggies go!

We have a vegetable garden! I think we built the Fort Knox of raised vegetable beds. We can use these well into our retirement I expect. We used the 10" raised bed corners from Gardener's Supply which are supposed to keep our corners nice and square for many a year. We edged the whole area carefully and laid down pea gravel, which just makes my little meticulous heart go pitter pat. We are starting out square-foot gardening style as it helps us think about quantity and variety. We have already put in lettuces and leeks, and sowed seeds for carrots, radishes, mesclun, and peas. We planted herbs in one galvanized metal tub, and potatoes in the second. (Um, please excuse the dog poo in the picture. I really should have picked that up prior to taking the picture.)

We also placed a Mason bee house next to our garden, tucked up under the rose arbor. Haven't seen any bees yet, but we are told if you put up a Mason bee house the bees will find it. (If you build it, they will come.) Anyone have experience with Mason bees? Anything else we can do to lure them to our garden?

The whole garden is waking up so beautifully. We have violets galore.

Outside the fence and surrounding the gravel driveway, we have the "gnome garden" which Matt tends with great care. There are four little gnomes who live here. They are not particularly industrious gnomes, instead they like to take life easy. They are surrounded by great clumps of hellebore, ferns, and daffodils. We received a White Flower Farm "Works Daffodil Collection" as a wedding present which was the most wonderful gift. The collection has a lot of variety in shape and color--and the daffs have came up so strong and beautiful. Awesome.

The gnome garden from the other direction. The hammock and all the bird feeders also live here. It's a most peaceful little spot.

The garden has been capturing most of my attention the past couple weeks (how could it not with spring emerging all around me?) but I do have some sewing projects cooking as well. I bought all four of the new Lisette patterns that Liesl has come out with. SO EXCITING. And I am sewing a new duvet cover for our bed. I am trying to finish the duvet before I allow myself to open the new Lisette patterns. Must. resist. new. sewing. patterns.

btw, there are still three more summer handbags in the etsy shop if anyone is interested!

13 March 2011

summer handbags

I'm funny about handbags--I pretty much just alternate between two bags that I've had for about five years. I'll use one for about 6 months, then switch to the other one. Six months later I switch back to the first bag. This seems to be enough variety for me, since I like my two handbags very much.

But last week I got it into my head that I wanted a petite bag for summer that would be cheerful and easy to carry. Just big enough for my wallet, moleskine, keys, and maybe a paperback book. I based my design off of a bag I made a few years ago as a gift for my friend Suzanne. I scaled it down a bit, but kept the nice pleat detail. I also gave it nice long handles so that it hangs comfortably from my shoulder.

I lined the bags with batting to give them body but still keep them soft. At the last minute I decided to add lines of quilting across the top panel, then I added a pretty wooden button. I bought a dozen of these buttons on our last trip to NYC and I have been waiting for the perfect project to use them.

I sewed up the first bag in one evening, then decided I'd make a few more for the etsy shop. I'd forgotten why I stopped sewing for my etsy shop--making bags assembly-style is a wee bit time-consuming. But I'm really happy with how they turned out, and I hope there are a few other people who will enjoy these bags as much as I plan to this summer.

Check out the bags on etsy:
--Chambray with soft dotted print
--Chambray with blue and white floral
--Denim with yellow floral

08 March 2011

two-tone tunic

I keep thinking one of these days I am going to start dressing my age, but then I get an undeniable yen to sew an uber-cute tunic in a retro floral. The retro florals, they always get me.

This is Simplicity 2922, which is one of the Project Runway patterns. I still can't decide about these Project Runway patterns. I think I like them. Some of them. You just have to get past the dreadful fabric choices and excessive embellishments in the drawings on the envelope. There are some good basic silhouettes in there, and the many variations they provide with each pattern really do give you a lot of choices. On this pattern, there were several options for the sleeves, and I really like the notched cap sleeve that I used.

This one sewed up pretty easily, and the only part I found tricky was the neckband. I can never sew neckbands like this without having the fabric pucker on me in a couple places. But it generally lies flat and the imperfections are not noticeable. The pattern called for a zipper up the back, which I decided was unnecessary in the shirt version (you can also make this as a dress). I just left the top bit of the back seam open and added a button and thread loop at the top.

The pockets are pretty cool though rather strangely engineered into the side seam. I had sewn the side seams as flat-fell seams, but I ended up having to open up the seams again with vents at the bottom to allow room for my caboose. (Twin is modeling in the picture and her caboose region is a bit slimmer than mine.) This was all complicated by the proximity of the pockets. Anyhoo, it was a hairy few minutes but it all turned out ok in the end. Phew.

Twin digs it.

06 March 2011

three wees

Twin and I made three softies from Hillary's book. I've made several of her patterns before and the patterns in her new book are every bit as awesome as the stand-alones. Everything is very well-explained and there is a great variety of projects in the book--including some more classically-styled toys like the teddy bear.

I sewed the bear and I love him so much. This is one of those projects where I look at him and I think "I can't believe I made that." His cute little belly paunch kills me.

His button joints are very cool--they are fully posable and really help him sit up straight. I'd never used a doll needle before, but it wasn't hard to attach the limbs in this way.

Twin made the storybook doll as a gift for her boyfriend's 5-year old niece. She has grosgrain ribbon hair and a freaking awesome outfit.

And a very sweet face.

The 5-year old niece has a brand new little brother so we also made a little red monster for the baby. There was some discussion about whether this is a dinosaur or a monster. I think he's a monster. Regardless, he has awesome green spikes.

We had such a good time sewing these up. We also made homemade fettucine (so delicious and surprisingly not that hard!), watched some Downton Abbey (it's streaming now on Netflix--woot!), and ate a lot of chocolate chip cookie dough. It was great.

04 March 2011

first posy

More hellebores, this time tucked in a little vase to welcome twin, who is coming to visit this weekend. Our brother has some twin friends who, though both married with families, insist on regular and frequent twin time--they call it "twineraction." This twineraction is highly respected by the husbands as vital for the mental health and happiness of the twins. Wise men. So we will be indulging in some quality twineraction this weekend. On the agenda is doll-making from the new Wee Wonderfuls book (I got it for Christmas and haven't cracked it open yet!), Sicilian pizza from our little local pizzeria, chocolate chip cookies, gift- and shower-planning for a dear friend who is recently engaged, and probably a movie or two that our male significant others wouldn't watch if we blindfolded and gagged them. Yippee! Hoping your weekend is full of lovely plans as well.

02 March 2011

garden journal

So, not to rub it in for you northern folk, but spring has sprung here in North Carolina. ahhhhhh, bliss. We've got a crop of daffodils coming up and the hellebore are in full flower. We're dreaming up a new vegetable garden and planning new flower beds.

One of my goals this year is to be better organized about documenting the garden. As a beginning gardener, just keeping track of what comes up when, what tasks I do when, and what plants I stick where is tough for me. I tried using a pretty, hardbound garden journal last year, but found it a bit bulky and generic. So this year I decided to just design my own pages and store them in a 3-ring binder. The first section of the binder is a monthly journal, where I can jot down a short entry each week about the weather, what's going on in the garden, and what I do.

The second section has simple grid paper for plans and sketches. Above is my rough sketch for our backyard perennial garden. We're slowly bringing this garden back from the jungle-like state we inherited--it's still full of phlox and sedum, and I want to fill it up with hostas, ferns, and other shade-loving plants.

The last section will help me keep track of the plants I buy--including details about bloom time, sun requirements, and all that stuff. I tend to just go out and buy whatever strikes my fancy at the nursery, then promptly throw away the tag with the pot. Hopefully this will bring some method to my madness (or at least document the madness in some small way).

I uploaded a PDF of blank journal pages that you can download if you'd like. I plan to just print extra pages as I need them and stick them in my 3-ring binder. I'm hoping the simplicity of the journal will help me stick to it!

Our first big project this year was re-edging the garden beds with river rock. I love it. We also carved out a new sitting area in the middle of the garden. Abby had trampled all the vegetation in this section of the garden so completely in her quest for squirrels that we decided to just give up trying to grow anything here. We mulched the area and added a scattering of big flagstones. With the fire pit and two new Adirondack chairs, it's a lovely spot for sitting.

Wishing you happy spring plans for your garden!