Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Big Reveal: My First Quilt

Quilt Reveal - 08Quilt Reveal - 02Quilt Reveal - 09Quilt Reveal - 11Quilt Reveal - 06quilt top pinned - 07

quilt top pinned - 06

Ah, I am done!  Claire slept with it last night.  I have spent a few evenings covered with it while slipstitching the binding to the back.  (No one warned of this last, time-consuming step!)  (Okay, my fault for not reading the book all the through first.:)  I conclude it will be the soft, comfiest quilt I will ever make.  Because I am never making a quilt out of japanese double cotton gauze ever again!  It stretches and it unravels.  What I mean by stretches is that when you slightly move it, it becomes uneven.  I don’t know how to describes this better.  It is a loose weave (good for handquilting?) and when you manhandle it, it does not keep the the weave at the 90 degrees angles, so it gets all wonky.  But it is done, and I am happy with it.  I just had to include a picture of it all pinned.  Over 300 safety pins!  I will never forget doing that with a toddler and corgi hovering at the sides, wanting to pounce on it.

The fabric is from the Far, Far Away line by Heather Ross for Kokka.  The backing is also double cotton gauze that I bought from Fabric Tales.  The batting is Quilter’s Dream Select.  It is very warm!  I was surprised because it isn’t too thick.  I did a simple grid machine quilting because this was my first time.  I am very happy with the results.  There was a lot going on with the color and design, so it didn’t need a crazy stitch pattern.  The quilt pattern itself is from  It is “Sherbert Rail Fence” by Alice Kennedy.  It is 62×62 and I think I will never make something this big again!  It is a throw size and big enough for two to snuggle under on the couch and big enough to drape over a full size bed as a decorative blanket.  It is quite big enough for little Claire and she loves it.  I hope it can withstand all the years she will use it.  If not, I’ve got scraps to fix it with!


Iraqi Bundles of Love

I just found out about this last night.  Tuesday, September 8th is the last day to ship.  It’s a great cause and really touched me.  A man stationed in Iraq set up a way to get sewing resources to the people of Iraqi before his unit is removed from the area.  He said he has never seen more resourcefulness than when he first came to Iraq.  I remember some people I met in Turkey who also were resourceful and could make anything out of nothing.  I loved his “About Me” page.  He describes himself as the son of a quilter, the husband of a quilter, the brother of a quilter and the father of a future quilter.  He said in another part of his site that he has known knitters and sewists to be of the most generous spirit and that you hardly meet a quilter that has sewn a quilt for their own bed.  So, before any more time runs out, I am headed to the post office to pack up some fabrics and yarn that have been shoved to the back of my closet, waiting someday to be used.  Now I know they will definitely be used.

For the address to ship to, leave a comment at the website: Iraqi Bundles of Love.


For the past three weeks I have been exercising 3 times a week.  It’s a good effort, but it hasn’t been glorious to fit in this new habit. It’s not like when I first decided to spend Claire’s nap time on making things instead of cleaning the house or whatever I did B.S. (before sewing).  That was exciting and satisfying and opened up a new world!  Unfortunately, my favorite new occupation has not been kind to my body.  I have to admit something not so nice to you:  I have gained weight.

Gaining weight is a reason many people start exercise.  Especially when diabetes runs in the family. But not me!  What is truly motivating me is the neck and shoulder pain I have been having from overuse of my knitting and sewing and cutting muscles.  They are not in any anatomy book, but that’s what I call them.   This means knitting and sewing has become uncomfortable.

An afternoon workout always involves my "spotter."

An afternoon workout always involves my "spotter."

Before the recent pain, I could sit and knit for hours.  I used to read for hours, too.  I never get ants in my pants, I just shift positions, and I’m fine.  My sister on the other hand can’t sit for long and she is go, go, go all day long.  She is also thin and strong and has good posture.  I am soft around the edges and ALWAYS fall off the step if I dare go to an aerobics class.  A weight in my hand looks very precarious.  But put some needles in my hand and I am very coordinated.  Now, my friends and family who know me, don’t be nice and say I’m exaggerating.  🙂  It is the truth.

Now that I know the truth about myself and my inclination to do sedentary, though productive activities, I have to exercise.  And it has to happen pre-dawn because I am never giving up my naptime crafting until Claire gives up her nap!  I’ve been following the advice in this book, Your Best Body Ever by Anita Goa, which I will sum up:  do yoga, and cardio, and strength training in balance.   Do it 3 times a week for one month, then increase intensity and add a day for another month, and during the third month and the rest of your life, do it for 5 days a week for about 90 minutes.


I haven’t lost weight yet, but I have lost the pain.  I have more energy as long as I don’t overdo it.  My wicked trainer wants me to overdo it because he does when he works out (Crossfit), but whenever I try too hard, I end up on the floor and he has to make dinner.  “Know thyself” and I do.  I know that I WILL NOT exercise 5 days a week for 90 minutes during the third month.  I don’t especially recommend this book because the charts are confusing and a couple exercises require gym machines, but I do recommend the entire premise of doing all three types of exercise.  I do them all on the same day, so there is a lot of variety and one of the days I just do yoga, which I enjoy a lot.  What I recommend is my friend’s new blog “Fit Britt”.  She is motivating me a lot just by osmosis through the computer. 🙂  Check it out!

Find the right time of day (first thing in the morning) and the right book or video and you can do it!  Until my Knittercise video comes out, we will just have to do what these naturally athletic people tell us to do. And then we can show them how to blindstitch a hem.

Simplicity 2593

white rolled neck tank - 3

Simplicity 2593 in japanese double cotton gauze, AFTER washing. See the crinkles?

I first saw this pattern on Angry Chicken and put it in the back of my mind.  Then I saw it for a dollar at Jo-Ann’s and bought it to experiment with some leftover fabric from my Far, Far Away quilt. I needed another white shirt (don’t we all?) and I thought maybe this was the application in which double cotton gauze could shine.

I have been messing around with the double gauze ever since I got into sewing this spring.  I made the nightgown and saw how it stuck to my undies.  I made jimbei pjs for Claire and saw how it got almost spongy after washing.  I wondered if it would launder well as a shirt.  I didn’t want to iron out the comfy sponginess.

This pattern is very simple–no shaping or interfacing.  The only trick is to get the rolled neck to look the way you want and then hope it comes out in the wash okay.  Because you can’t iron it, really.  I conclude that the double gauze worked well.  It has a relaxed feel, like linen which is supposed to get wrinkled, and that makes it a great summer top.  The rolled neck just gives it a little something extra special, with little extra effort.

One word of caution using double gauze:  it ravels easily, which caused some difficulty in cutting and ironing and applying the bias tape for the armholes and neckline.  If you could use a different fabric for that, it would save you some frustration AND fabric.

white rolled neck tank - 2

Does it look like I tried to bandage myself? But I do like the texture.

Inner Peace

I found this on a blog that was found on Gabrielle Roth’s myspace page, and I don’t know who that is yet, but I liked it a lot.

UPDATE:  The original author of this is Saskia Davis and you can view her entire message on a poster for sale at her website.

Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
A loss of interest in judging other people.
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
A loss of interest in conflict.
A loss of the ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom).
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others, as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

I might add, boredom may occur too! Yes, I want peace. But also excitement. I haven’t jumped into any projects since staying up late with the tote bags because I am afraid of the huge mess I will make.  So, having a cleaned-up house helps me feel peaceful, but makes me afraid to mess it up again.  That means I don’t have inner peace (according to thought #1 above).  So it appears peaceful, but is not.  Hmm. . . And I am bored.  I want to get into another project.  Can I not make a huge mess that takes all day to clean up.  Let’s see what happens today!

Inner Peace AND Creative Excitement, here I come!

P.S.  I have to add, I had a great time making those bags and I did it spontaneously and feeling just about all the symptoms on the list.  I just did it when I should have been unpacking from my trip to Cape Hatteras.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures of the place, on a windy evening before a thunderstorm.


My Pioneer Spirit, with a Paypal account

There is a dilemma that I can’t seem to shake off.  My thrifty, DIY attitude does not approve of my lust for designer fabrics imported from Japan.  In addition to wanting all the cute fabrics I can get,  I want to make all the REALLY CUTE items I see on other people’s blogs.  Collin asked me this morning why I stayed up so late last night.  How could I tell him that I looked at at least 500 fabric swatches online, dreaming of spending hundreds of dollars of his military pay on imported fabric?  I could just see Collin and Obama shaking their heads at what I propose to do with the economic stimulus money.  I would buy Japanese prints like this:

Hedgehog Clover - Apricot

Hedgehog Print from

Or this cute pattern for sleepy bunnies in diapers:

Baby Binky Bunny PDF printable pattern

Baby Binky Bunny PDF printable pattern from mmmcrafts

Actually, this one is All-American, so it would stimulate the economy, right? But I’d definitely need some Japanese fabric for the inside of the ears!

There is one thing I really cannot do without and it is this cross-stitch pattern:

Gera Cross Stitch - The Giant Turnip

Gera pattern from

This would make a perfect keepsake decoration for Baby Claire.  She is learning her numbers and when she counts, she says “One, two . . . one, two” just like in the picture!  Also, this pattern brings back good memories of learning Japanese.  When I was taking lessons, I read the story “Ookina kabu” (The Big Turnip), which is actually a Russian tale.  Grandfather tries to pull out the turnip and calls grandmother to come out to help and so on.  It’s a really big turnip!  The only word I remember from it is “untokosho,” an exclamation each person said while pulling on the turnip.  I used to throw “untokosho” around occasionally to show off my vocabulary (but remember I don’t recall a single other word from the story like “grandmother” or even “turnip”!)  One day, my neighbor Yoko said, That’s what old people say when they are trying to get up out of their chair.  Well!  I decided then to learn more graceful-sounding words, but this didn’t happen since I learned most words from my Japanese preschool students.

There are some who say they are trying to live an “authentic” life by using natural items in their house or making things from scratch or buying things from thrift stores.  But to me, it is still consumerism to constantly want and buy things, no matter what the things are.  I want to be happy with what I have!   And most of the time I am, until I spend a late evening looking at all the wonderful items that abound on the internet.

By the way, I did buy the cross-stitch pattern after dreaming about it all night.

I don’t even know how to cross-stitch. 🙂

Girly Jimbei

Girly Jimbei - 8Here is a pair of Girly Jimbei with ruffles and a curved hem.  I also put ruffles on the shorts.  What is very satisfying about sewing for Claire is that she is starting to know that I am making things just for her.  She likes the special clothing and when she puts it on she smooths it out with her hands and says, “CUUUUTE!”

Girly Jimbei - 13
These take longer than the classic Jimbei because of the ruffles and puff sleeves, but worth the extra work for a little girl.  Being a girl takes time!  I wish I could throw on a polo shirt and khakis and look good and never be out of style, but I can’t.  I need a few “embellishments.”

I am going to add directions and a pattern for these Girly Jimbei in the very next post! (Update:  Making a pdf file for a pattern is beyond my capabilities at this point.  I need to learn a bit more first. Sorry!)

For a classic Jimbei pattern in Japanese, head to Fabric Tales, a very nice online fabric store.  They cut the fabric absolutely straight!  I really appreciate that.  It saves a lot of time and there is no wondering if you got the yardage you paid for.  This fabric is from Hancock Fabrics, where the saleswoman cut a little extra to make up for any unevenness, which is nice, too.

Stay tuned for my first free pattern!  I’m very excited to share something at last.

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