Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Things We KNEW about (kind of.)

There is a painful section of this story that I am going to skip over for this post and get to the pretty (the part I am skipping is what I considered soul killing....and there is more of that to come, but it will have to wait.  And when I say wait, it may have to wait until I die before the whole story can truly come out! hahaha)

But here are a few of my favorite things.  Please review my last post so you can remember it in it's glory.....

No my favorite thing is NOT the old pad, but I thought you might "like" to see it.  EW. I believe it was actually rubber based.  I had to take the section in the dining room out myself (the tile was actually done before the carpet) and it was HEAVY.  It was also taped together with duct tape so it was sticky.  It was the dining room's worth of this carpet and pad that gave me a true appreciation for why N's new car is a Honda FIT.  That tiny little car can hold a LOT of crap!  It also helped me make a goal to never EVER go to the Lawton dump.  Princess Leia...upon being told to go in the trash chute. Nasty.

So here is the new carpet pad and I will share an important life lesson N and I have learned. Always always always upgrade the carpet pad. For many years we had area rugs (Maryland, Hawaii AND Korea) and for many years our friends have always commented on how great our carpets are. The carpet itself was not expensive or was a mid-grade remnant we had bound. The secret was two layers of carpet pad under it. I didn't know how two layers would hold up installed so I only went with one but I got the best they had....and I have to say, it has not disappointed.
What you see here is what I call the "contrast shot."  Look back to the pic of the raspberry carpet in the last entry....the one where you can see the HALLWAY through the door.  As I chose my carpet color I was haunted by that hideous view.  Since the raspberry was nearly new and in quite good condition....and since this house is likely to be a rental in a few years I decided (and occasionally regret) to only change the avocado....but I had to pick something pretty (that felt nice) and neutral but that would not be AWFUL with the raspberry.  SO here it is: Riverstone.  I wanted gray tones rather than brown, but with the family room still being brown I needed the tile to be both. Keep scrolling, and I think you will agree that I won that round. heh.
This is not the most expensive carpet we could have bought, nor is the tile special ordered (good thing since I bought/returned tile on 4 separate occasions...original purchase, HD estimated wrong, bathrooms and then BATHROOM.  Long story.) But I must say, it still makes me happy to walk on the carpet I picked with my bare feet, and doing Child's Pose with my face in the rug is NOT a problem at all. hehehehe

The folks who laid the tile recommend that you clean it with Listerine (original flavor...NOT colored.)  I thought that was interesting but have tried it in one of the bathrooms and it is the real deal.  Try it if you have tile.

Now, by rights, I should now post pics of how it looks with our stuff in it.  Of course THAT would require a good bit of house cleaning so that isn't going to happen today because I am either going to have to do a serious tidy or I am going to have to convince myself I can show it as it is....both daunting prospects.  But enjoy my pretty carpet and tile for now.  I still have the ridiculous window treatment but I have a plan! k.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Know You Have Been Waiting

As in all parts of my life, the pictures suffer, the reporting suffers.  It is not that you should assume nothing has been happening.  Quite the opposite.  When you see posts it means I am desperately, uncharacteristically, without things to do!  (I am currently without sewing the shop, and the pears I wish to can are not quite ripe, so you see....)

In Mid-May of this year (2012) our little family acquired a house.  As our first house was very full of character and turned out to be a fabulous purchase we really had our job cut out for us.  Unlike our first little house though, this one had to be acquired by me.....alone with children in tow.  I am forever grateful for my parents who were here to rescue the jet-lagged, weary wanderers that we were and assist in the process in uncountable ways.
After much deliberation, and a little surprise, but not all that much, I decided on "The Avocado House."  A double garage, 4 bedrooms, an extra family room and fruit trees covered in tiny pears and peaches, it sounds great, doesn't it.  But there is no Avocado tree...THIS is the source of the name:

Yes, that is the living room.  The avocado carpeting was only overshadowed by the impressive Blast from the Past Window Treatment.  To be fair, the carpet must have been of incredibly high quality when purchased in the 70s (the house was built in 1973) to have survived this long.  Also, the window treatment, while massive and incredibly ugly was crafted with remarkable care.  The cut outs are corded with piping?!?!  Below is the Detail of the tile at the front door.
When the carpet guys came to replace the carpet they confirmed that, yes, it is probably original.  The area in the hallway and dining room had not fared as well as the living room and were pretty nasty.  Also, the pad underneath was something to see (and the cause of some of the trouble in the hallway as it had broken down visibly leaving large divots in the surface of the carpet.  Here are the kiddos in "House Hunting Mode."  They spent a LOT of time with their DSs on the the Home Depot....ooof, they do NOT like the Home Depot! hahah.  They are seated in the dining room under my husband's favorite ceiling fan! (He hasn't torn it out yet but it doesn't even have bulbs in it anymore and he refuses to use it.  It really isn't THAT does have painted brown flowers on it though...and ruffly edges.)
Other than the obvious carpeting challenges of color, you will note that the "dining room" is carpeted.  I remember absolutely hating the job of picking the little kid's rice leavings out of the carpet when I was a no carpeted dining area for me! No Sir!  The kitchen flooring situation made it easy to decide to do the whole area in modern tile....well, it made the design decision easy.  The practice of it?  Well that will come in another episode....I am not sure I can face it yet.

The golden metal strip covers a 1/4 inch lip separating the vinyl and the prison gray tile.....
Other than the 90's green of the vertical blinds the mostly neutral brown of the carpet in the family room could stay.  N objects more strenuously to the paneling (it is through much of the house) but I don't really see a problem with it.  The finished basement that doubled as kid bedroom central when I was a little girl was paneled so it speaks to me of home...or at least half home.  Featured prominently in the above picture is one of the....well, features of our new place.  Look carefully at the window there.  Yep, it looks right in to Bedroom #4 also known as My Office.  As the smallest bedroom (about 9X9) I don't mind, especially since it enables me to have my computer in the family room with the rest of the family but still have audiobook speakers in my office.  For those of you who don't know, in order to be counted as a bedroom, a room must have two possible exits for safety.  I do think it is funny that we have vertical blinds on the Family Room side of the window....I guess so no one HAS to look in my office if they don't want to.

The last few bits of character I feel I should point out are the surprising Raspberry carpeting (with matching miniblinds!) in the bedrooms and the interesting (and ultimately engaging) texture on the walls throughout the house. (yeah, those are gigantic Daisies.....everywhere.  I love really, I actually do.)

Now the bathrooms are a completely "other" sort of category, but here are two of them in their glory. Note 70's avocado industrial design tile and jungle green vanity top....and be sure you don't miss my turquoise dream. (It looks more light blue, but it was turquoise!) We had a plan for that bathroom that involved a cool underwater quilted wallhanging and a fishy toilet seat. We were disappointed in our hopes.....To Be Continued......

Friday, January 13, 2012

Practice Practice Practice

I have been enjoying reading all the entries in the Quilt Along over at
and suddenly started feeling just the tiniest bit guilty...because I was only READING.  As part of my effort to get organized, I emptied one of my boxes (to store Miss S's sewing gear) and came upon my heap of abandoned projects.  I realized that if I was ever going to get any better (at quilting or being organized and productive!) now was the time.  So I slapped a border on this free-form piece and decided to PRACTICE.

So here we are.  The practice from this week was stippling and I am apparently incapable of doing anything on a large scale (which isn't all that surprising considering boxpleat's roots as a doll "concern.")  This is still a pretty small piece and the stippling is a good bit smaller than the recommended 1/2 inch (closer to 1/4 inch) scale but it is continuous and gave me a good opportunity to consider both Leah Day's preferred method of lines (which I didn't really use but thought about a great deal as I charted my way over the space) and my technique and speed.  I found that I tend to quilt in a fan shape with my lines actually more like arcs until I get within range on the corners of the project.
I am pleased to note that I never boxed myself into a corner and that it is indeed continuous but it did remind me of how much I need to work on my ergonomics.  I also realized that I need to work on my speed since I like the feel of it better at a higher rate but get chicken...and then get less fluid.  This piece also had some very high seam intersections that gave me a bit of trouble.  I wouldn't have those problems on a regular quilt top, but it was also something to think about as it pulled me up short several times.  (The problem areas were readily solved by adjusting my presser foot pressure.)

This piece was constructed in the "string" method, with strips added to a backing.  Unlike a traditional string piece I then cut up and remastered my strips until I had enough breaks in the line.  I would rotary cut across a section and recombine it at a different angle. 
This is part of the reason why I ended up with big seam joins in a few areas, but it does lend itself to a nice random modern look with hard edges.  The palette is also pretty "manly" so I told N it was for his office.  You see, the secret to successful practice is to make it something you don't have to stare down every day. hahah.  I am not sure that stippling is the BEST quilt line for such an angular looking piece but it was just about the right amount of practice for one day.

On a final note, I would like to observe two things: I meant to quilt it in a variegated gold and off white thread....which I completely forgot to load on the machine AND well, both N and I like the back best. hah. k. (Sorry for the almost year long gap in any word from me, but dang it is hard to blog.  I also didn't figure out my new was speaking Korean! soon enough to get the incorrect date stamp off my pics.  sigh!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

k's 3 Panel Vintage Skirt

After reading all the responses on Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing (Thanks Carolyn!) to the question of whether or not one's wardrobe was more than 30% dresses, I got to thinking....and thinking hard about how attached I really am to my Mom Uniform of Jeans and a T shirt day in day out.  Many of the women responding indicated that they never wore pants, largely because skirts were the winning combination of comfortable and more stylish (with the added benefits that they are MUCH easier to fit and similarly MUCH easier to make.)

So why do I, owner of 30 skirts not wear them?  I think the only answer that is strictly true is habit.  So maybe I ought to change that.  Last summer I started trying to wear more skirts and I was fairly successful after the addition of my pale blue tiered skirt (First item I actually put my tag in that I made for ME!) and a few other A-line types.

While Winter is getting out her last gasps, I am ready to have some Spring, so the sewing for said season has begun.  (As an aside, I really haven't sewn a whole lot for myself since the beginning of the whole boxpleat adventure...when you work at what you love, what you love least on some level, work.  It is a pitfall that is difficult to avoid.)  On Saturday, the girl and I went to the glorious Dongdaemun which is perhaps my favorite experience of Korea.  I instructed her that we were buying fabric for Skirts and that is exactly what we did.  Her skirt is likely to appear here later, but not yet.  This is what I began when we got home.

I loved the idea of this fabric in a BIG skirt.  I should have gotten more, but that made me creative and it was totally worth it....I'll explain later.

I have often observed that what I like best about vintage clothing is the attention to detail...the little things that take longer but add a lot of punch to a design.  I decided this fabric needed piping, so there it is.  I did this piping with half a strip from a jelly roll, but I will tell you now, that wasn't quite enough for comfort.  The edge left over wasn't as wide as the seam allowance I wanted to use.  So I would have been happier with more, but I didn't have it so, oh well.  If you are going to try it though, you will need a decent sized piece of contrast!  (Especially since the ideal piping is cut on the bias....yeah I really am that chintzy.)  This design has piping on both top and bottom of the waistband and at the pocket openings.  If you don't do piping, this skirt could be made in about an hour I suspect.  (Well maybe not if you want to hand stitch the hem, but you can do THAT in front of the TV so maybe you don't need to count that anyway!)

The basic design is this:
1. Cut 3 pieces of fabric, selvedge to selvedge the length you want the skirt plus the hem depth you want plus seam allowance. L+H+5/8. I made this version out of 2 yards of the main fabric, but as you can see, my hem had to be faced with the contrast fabric so it wouldn't be too short.  I recommend giving yourself a bit more "slack;"  Do as I say, not as I do. ;)  Also remember a good hem depth will give a BIG skirt some weight at the bottom so it hangs better.
2. Cut a length for the waistband (same direction as the skirt pieces.)  This should be the desired width of the waistband times 2 plus seam allowances (2 or 4 if you are doing piping.)  2W+2(5/8) or 2W+4(5/8) for piping, split it again.  (No piping stays in one piece.)
3. Trim the waistband piece to your waist measurement including seam allowances (on both ends!)ease and desired overlap.  There are calculations for necessary ease etc which I don't know heheh, but consider your comfort, remembering that you were probably sucking in a bit when you measured, that you might be eating a big dinner when you wear it, AND that you don't want it to fall off or gap.  The desired overlap will depend on what kind of closure you want to do at the waist....big fancy buttons require more space than trim little skirt hooks. W+2(5/8)+E?+O

1. Serge or otherwise finish one edge (cut off the selvedge) on 2 panels.  Make sure that you examine your fabric design.  If it is directional, you need to make sure that the edges you choose will meet when you sew these two pieces together, some of the cute little owls you picked aren't roosting upside down!  If you want you can finish ALL the edges.  You will be tempted to just use the selvedge.  I won't judge you if you do (I have done it) but you should be aware that it may shrink differently than the rest of your fabric so might look puckered later.

2. Sew these two panels together, using your longest stitch (5) for the length of the zipper you are using.  Back stitch at the bottom of the zipper length, change to a regular stitch length (2.5-3) and sew to the end.  Press the seam open.
3. Put in your zipper.  (If you don't know how to do this, there are lots of great tutorials on the ubiquitous YouTube.  A few thoughts though: Line up the zipper coil right along the center of the pressed open seam.  I always pin on both sides towards the coil.  If you have been frustrated with zippers in the past, consider basting.  YouTube taught me, after years of zippers, that if you get a zipper longer than you need you can leave the excess above the top of your project so you don't have to deal with the tab under your zipper foot.  Trust me, THAT was a revelation.  It cut down distinctly on the swearing and improved the look dramatically.)  Since this is located in hte back, a centered application is probably called for, but you can do either style.
4. Sew the 3rd panel to the free edges. Finish the edges here if you didn't do this already.
(4.5)Pockets: If you put pockets here they are going to fall to the sides of the front. A basic pocket bag is just a folded rectangle of fabric attached to the seams for part of its length, and to itself for the rest.  You need to keep it out of the way as you finish the rest of the skirt seam.
5. Gathering.Use your largest stitch and sew along the top seam allowance in a continuous line.  Add another line 1/4 inch  above that.  You pull the bobbin/back thread for gathering.  Go slowly and a little carefully so you don't break the threads. ;)  (I usually mark centers, quarters etc on both skirt and waistband so my gathers are easier to distribute evenly.)  The gathered skirt panels should be pinned to one layer of the waistband.  Remember that your overlap (and seam allowances) shouldn't have any skirt attached to them. ;)
(5.5)Piping waistband: Before you pin the gathered panels on, sandwich the piping between your two waistband pieces, raw edges all lining up.  If your waistband  is wide, you may want to include some good interfacing, if it is very narrow you may not need it.  Decide which is the "outside" of your waistband and baste a second row of piping to the bottom, keeping the raw edges together.  When you pin your gathered panels to the waistband it should line up with the raw edges of the piping.  You can use the basting line to guide your seam.

6. Waistband. Press the seam allowance in on the loose (long) edge of the waistband.  Fold the waistband, right sides together with the folded edge of the seam allowance lining up with where the gathered edge is attached.  Sew the short ends on your seam allowance, back stitching at the ends.  Turn the waistband right side out, making sure to get your corners poked out.  You can attach the back of the waistband by hand, catch stitching the folded edge to the seam line, or you can pin or baste carefully and top stitch from the front.  Put the closure of your choice.  (I have to admit that not a single skirt I made as a teenager ever sported any closure but a safety pin. hehe.
7. Hem.  As I mentioned earlier, a good hem can help a skirt hang better.  I like to hand hem, but you could also do this on the machine.  You should be sure the raw edge of the hem is finished or rolled under before you hem.

Whew, it is MUCH harder for me to explain how to do this than it is to just do it.  Sigh!  I can see why the YouTube video tutorial is becoming such a popular format!  I welcome questions and suggestions for clarity. ;)  And, yes, I will try to put some pics in some time, but if you read often you know pictures are always my down fall. hehehehe k.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Quilt Top + Personal Achievement

At the end of the day I am occasionally bewildered where it went. There are always a million things to do and never enough tie or energy to even want to do a good many of them. We talked about log cabin blocks at Cursed Quilt this month and I figured that now was as good a time as any to "spend" some of my stash on something. So here it is:

Some of my friends may recognize this as fabric I acquired mostly on our warehouse trip to Happy Quilt. As you can see, it is not a traditional log cabin block. I like the squares quite a lot. The centers were cut 4 1/2 inches and the strips are 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches respectively. I cut this before the latest round of Accuquilt arrived so I only used it on the big strips.

The wide strips are all my prints from the palette. I decided to give it a bit of...what...contrast? with the black and cream. I didn't have a solid olive that would work so this lovely subtle print filled in for the last narrow color band. You can see that each block has ONE narrow band except for the very last block I put together which has all three, largely because I didn't want to cut more strips and I had lots of the narrow ones left. Each layout is different with the narrow strip falling in a different position. I am not sure that I am going to be able to give this one away. It suits me, although what I will do with a lap quilt I don't know. (Since the last lap sized quilt top is still unquilted form two summers ago! hehehe)

The last thing to report is my great achievement. I ate a thing from my balcony garden. Check them out....They are pictured next to an actually appropriately sized squash for comparison. These were grown from seeds that came out of an actual squash.  I am not sure if their size is based on engineering for big yield...which conditions my garden did not meet...or because of the constrained growing conditions of my pot/winter balcony...or if perhaps the mold I kept getting on the leaves was just too much for them.  It could also be that they simply didn't ever get pollinated properly and so couldn't manage.  There weren't actually any seeds in them I don't think.  At any rate, they were very cute.

The final verdict was that their texture was a bit smoother than normal, a bit starchier rather than stringy as I usually expect squash to be.  But in any case, we will hum that Primary song that no one actually seems to know "The Prophet Says to Plant a Garden" and feel satisfied.  Be productive somehow today, even if the only thing you produce is mess. k.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I finally did it!

After what has felt like millenia, I have finally posted some new "work" for boxpleat.  This is a salesroom for the DeeAnna Denton sized body, oh she of the particularly demanding figure.  I am happy with the fit on these new patterns and have decided that the current order of "work fun" is: drafting/designing, fabric shopping, sewing (construction), webwork, finishing, photography.  In that order.  I have actually contemplated sub-contracting the photography as I enjoy it so very little in the grand scheme of things.  I guess what I need to do is take a photography class to get motivated about it. sigh!

Have a look at the salesroom and tell me what you think. (Click on the title "I finally did it! above) I need some feedback so I know what to work on next....well, it isn't as if there isn't a MOUNTAIN of other things to work on, but it is nice to have some direction, you know? k.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Too Long and New Plans

I spent the Week between Christmas and New Year's cleaning my office.  I know you aren't going to believe it but you can actually SEE the floor.  All of it.

Of course that means I can't ever sew again right?!?!  sigh!  My husband keeps thinking that another cutting space would solve my floor issues, but I keep assuring him that just isn't going to help.  I *like* working on the floor.  I like sorting and cutting, I like storing projects I am thinking about out in plain sight so, well, so I keep thinking about them.

So the clean office has made me think about what it is that I really want to happen this year.  After the surprising return of my work "mojo" (that is such a silly phrase, isn't it?!?) I am feeling newly inspired to WORK.  My dear friend Pam Seeman of Paintbox Designs says she is willing to take stuff to the Tonner Convention this Spring so I have to really get ready for that!  (Of the minimalist income Boxpleat made last year 94% was from the last convention when I sent stuff to Pam! hehehe  I actually did the math.)  In pursuit of that plan, I hope to actually make some of the things that were cut years ago and that have been sitting here in my office....things from Hawaii for example.  I actually threw out a lot of things that I finally decided I really wasn't ever going to make.

I also have big plans to work on quilting donations and more pillowcases.  The box of pillowcases I sent found a home at a battered women's shelter in Loveland, CO.  Thanks to the ladies who helped with that.  I hope that the ladies and kids who get them will be comforted and encouraged.  sigh!

I also have been reviewing some of the "reporting" style challenges that are circulating around the internet. has a UFO (Un-Finished Object) challenge that sounds fun.  They also do a "stashbusting" report each week to encourage the participants to actually track their fabric and use more than they buy in any given week.  Tricky!  I actually was considering that I should try to decrease my stash of great fabrics by actually USING them before we leave Korea so I can justify stashing a whole bunch more when I am ready to leave. hehehe

Other plans include earning some money towards the replacement sewing machine that I am going to need sooner rather than later (because I can't seem to get my machine serviced here.  sigh!) Since the top of the line runs in the $10,000-$15,000 range, I guess I am going to have to think a lot about my profit margins and actually earn more than I spend. heheh

In the meantime, I hope to maintain some of the inspiration I have felt as I worked the last few months, being excited about sewing.  That is one of the things that I sincerely missed when it was gone, and was really surprised at how long it took to come back.

Happy New Years! k.