Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

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sew sweet!

July 2, 2014

Back in September I was drafting a comment on Rain City Gardener’s blog about my return to sewing knits when I realized that what I’d typed was more suitable to a blog post than a comment on someone else’s blog.

Many years ago I made my first attempt at sewing with knits: Kwik Sew 3155 yoga pants.

I like to be comfy when I toss and turn in bed but warm, comfy and natural fibres don’t seem to go together in most clothing shops. One winter I decided it was time to learn the art of sewing knits with the help of my serger. (I had just gotten to the point where I liked my serger after struggling with my beasty White machine for the first few years. That machine has changed the sewing game for me and will likely be the only thing that I’ll ever thank Ralf Klein for.)

I found a cheap, not-too-synthetic knit and was amazed that I had a pair of pants that fit reasonably well in part of an evening.

My mom had been lamenting the need for a new pair of yoga pants so, since they were so easy, I passed mine on to her a few days later. I had what I thought would be a nice Made in Canada bamboo knit that I was wanting to serge up and dye. Off I went. Except the results were well… disappointing. The dyeing experiment worked alright but those pants continued to stretch and twist as I wore them. Sure they shrunk back after every washing, but it never lasted.

Over the years they required some mending and re-hemming, but they just wouldn’t give up and I wasn’t about to replace something that didn’t need replacing.

Enter my copy and adaptation of one of my favourite pairs of pants – my pRana lounge pants. My plan was to dye some raw silk to make a new pair of pajama pants so early last year I tested out my draft with the lightest cotton I could find in my stash. There was only enough to make a pair of capris. Well those super simple pants turned out fantastically. I love them so much, that I completely forgot about the silk until the end of the summer.

As it was, it took until Christmas for me to finally make them and sweet they are! (Making them was a funny story too. We were away for the holidays and I packed up everything *but* my pattern or the original pants so I made a muslin out of a sheet. They were so nice that someone else has now adopted them!) Both pair are still in their white, un-dyed state but wow, are they ever comfy! With every washing they just keep getting softer and softer too. I guess some things really are worth the wait. Should I ever need lounge or pj pants again I know just what to do!

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sweet summer

August 4, 2013

After a pathetic start to the summer season (lots of rain, and three weeks of illness) things have turned around and there are still a few weeks of summer to go!

In addition to the usual, we’ve been busy with building a new house; harvesting our first crops of potatoes, onions and garlic; enjoying summer visitors from out of town. I’ve also been getting into canning and sewing for me (rather than just for school).

July 22 - collecting river rocks

While enjoying a mini vacation I made some strawberry jam in anticipation of figuring out a buckwheat cracker recipe that tastes good. Then I found transparent apples but didn’t have time to figure out what kind of GF shell to make so I canned them all for future experimentation in the fall.

I’m slowly getting better at finding and using my camera too. Documenting the progress on the house has helped, as has the documentation of textile dyeing by others. Today I even pulled out the gorilla tripod and took shots of our crabapple jelly processing.

Aug 3 - Hand-dyed goodness

After three years of being on the fruit tree program call out list, I was finally able to help. Pickers help take the fruit from trees so that bears aren’t attracted to it and then distribute it among themselves, the landowner and the local food shelter. I wasn’t sure what to do with crabapples but since they weren’t plums and I was available I thought I should help. It probably didn’t hurt that 2 nights earlier I’d witnessed a huge black bear walking across our foundation and then up into the big old plum tree next door. Branches cracked and the whole tree shook as he picked it nearly clean. (Of course I wasn’t in the habit of carrying my camera so no proof, just the story!)

Crabapple surprise!

And I almost forgot – I went blackberry picking in my own town! Usually we rely on Gulf Island field trips for our seasonal fix but they’re abundant, juicy and more than a tad tart right here. Last year they were wizened and kind of gross, but I remember our black bear sightings went up right as the berries got ripe. It seems the same is true this year as I saw the black bear on the same day as I picked my first blackberry of the season.

I also saw this:
Aug 2 - new local wildlife sighting
which, thanks to my growing collection of field guides, I can identify as a common skimmer. (Which reminds me of another first encounter with an aquatic bug – a giant stonefly. It had been familiar to me in name only and it was so interesting to observe and learn more about it that fine spring day.

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time. to. enjoy. life.

March 25, 2011

There’s been a lot to reflect on over these past few weeks but getting outside, spending time with Kevin and making progress on some of my projects has been so satisfying.

Kevin and I have spent our weekends together and sharing activities ranging from creating a Nanaimo Bar facsimile that’s free of eggs and dairy to living outside on the beach to bike shopping. Oh, and so many heartfelt conversations too. It’s been such good medicine for my soul!

Here are a few of the highlights in picture form.

doll homework

our attempt at dairy and gluten free Nanaimo Bars

First camping trip of the season.  'Twas beautiful!

Bunnies on the run!

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last minute sewing

December 31, 2009

I love sewing, especially things that I have to figure out my own method for. The crayon rolls were a satisfying project but my favourite sewing is the kind that is done in a day, or better yet, done in a few hours.

With my new camera I want to be sure that I can take it on any and every trip so that it gets used. That means it needs a place on my pack where I can reach it, and a way to protect it from the rain when we’re on hikes. I am determined to make sure this camera stays out of both the lid of my pack and Kevin’s pocket. And it won’t be staying at home either!

When we picked up my camera we found a small, lightweight neoprene case that was just the right size. If not for the zipper it would probably be fairly water resistant. Today I followed through on my plan to add straps so it snuggly fits on the waist belt of my pack and then came the fun part – a lightweight pack cover out of sil-nylon. Sil-nylon is a royal pain to work with but it’s hard to beat for raincovers, tarp tents and stuff sacks when you’re a gram weenie.

modified camera case and rain cover

The form of my two projects aren’t my best but they are definitely going to rock in their function! And it didn’t take me months to strike this project off my list. Hiking season is still quite a few months away for us but I’m ready!

modified camera case ready for action!

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relax mode

December 22, 2009

After a week of trying to get things done and being frustrated by my sore hands I’m finally getting into the season and relaxing a little bit.

My main gift in my family gift exchange is done and in the hands of the recipient, we had a great time with friends on Sunday evening, Kev’s folks are here, and we’ve had some low key evenings with friends. Life is good again!

I haven’t been able to do as much sewing as I would like but when I got word that my mother had broken her wrist on Friday I felt compelled to move into action. (No my mother does not have weak bones or a propensity to fall.) She was complaining about the hospital issue sling and when I had the fracture that changed my outlook on skiing, hockey and mountain biking, I had a similar problem so I bought a more comfortable one. I thought I’d throw it in with the package my sister was taking home but it’s navy and white and I knew my mom would wear it reluctantly because it’s so darn obvious. Taking into account her love of green and corduroy I fashioned this:

mom's sling

It should get to her tonight.

In addition to cleaning up the house, I’ve been trying to make some of our blah areas look a little nicer. Last week I covered up our reference library (which is heavily used in the summer but sits dormant through most of the winter) and made a home for our candles and the plant from the kitchen. Since my wrist and thumb have settled down I was finally able to replace the pieces of our window trees that have disappeared since last December and today I also made a swag for our door.

transformed bookshelf

snowy trees

trees and SNOW!

Following in my mom’s footsteps we always have a swag of conifers and cones at this time of year but since we haven’t made it to the u-cut tree farm and I don’t believe in paying money for branches our door has been empty. Whether we’ll have a tree or not remains to be seen so I waded through the knee deep snow to clip a sampling of twigs from our backyard. It’s small and simple but it works for me!

door swag

Oh, and how could I forget baking!  There’s been chocolates that Kevin and his mom can eat, chocolate almond bark for the rest of us, caramel popcorn, caramel coated puffed sorghum, cosmic power cookies and more…  These treats alone would be too sweet so we’ve also been enjoying salsa and corn chips, veggies and hummus and of course, oranges.  I hope you and yours are enjoying a happy holiday season too!

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almost home

December 10, 2009

Today we finished our first semester of school with a little festival. It’s been a trying week. It seems that we all felt the pressure to create a great festival and of course there are a lot of other worries at this time of year as well.

In two days I’ll be home, reunited with Kevin for a good, long holiday. I’m so looking forward to some quiet time together and getting things done around the house too.

At the very least I need to make and mail a gift for my brother-in-law, sew the binding on my brown quilt, make four crayon rolls, finish a knitted sweater that’s been collecting dust for 4 or 5 years, paint the kitchen, clean out the closets, prepare for a party and for hosting Kevin’s family at Christmas. And I still want to spend time with everyone there too. I know the time will fly but I’m so glad I’ll have three weeks to try and do everything while staying calm and taking time for rest.

Here are some photos from corners of my temporary space.

warm calming light

a corner of my desk

plotting my next sewing adventure

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packing = sewing

August 23, 2009

Before I finish packing for school I need to finish sewing since I won’t be taking my machines with me.  First, a baby gift for a good friend.  I just fancied up a MEC shirt.  I did the cutting and pinning while visiting with the in-laws to make sure I’d have a chance to get it done before I go.
baby t

Then since I liked what my cousins made for back to school (in JULY) so much, I had to follow suit and make my own pencil (sewing) case.  I knew I would line it and put in an off-set zipper because I prefer not to have things roll away.  When I came across the tutorial Heather at ‘beauty that moves” used for her cash envelopes I knew it was just the thing.  I cut and pinned the fabric at the in-laws too and finally had time to put this one together last night.  I made a few changes to accommodate the off-set zipper but generally worked from this tutorial.

sewing kit

The case is packed with my hand sewing essentials: measuring tape, different types of needles, thread, embroidery floss, thimble, scissors and a seam ripper for school and evening projects.  (I’ll also take some needle felting and knitting work with me but I’m trying to pack light and fit everything into my 2 bags.)

Heather has made some other things I really like including bulk bags.  Last year I cut out muslin for last minute Christmas bags that never got made so I decided to reassign them to bulk bags.  Washing and re-washing flimsy plastic bulk bags really gets my goat.  I wish I’d come up with this solution earlier.   Nearly everything in our pantry is in a container unless it came in a ziploc style bag so these are just what we need for hauling home dry beans, wild rice, quinoa, millet, lentils etc. While these aren’t as pretty as Heather’s I’m so glad to be giving up a few more plastic bags.

bulk bags

There’s another baby due to arrive shortly after I leave so I still need to finish up some things there but my serger, which did fine with the bulk bags isn’t so happy now.

That in a nutshell is what I’ve done today.  I just need to make and attach the binding to my quilt and I’ll be ready to go… from a sewing perspective anyways!