Monthly Archives: January 2012

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Wherein SweetiePie and I are Strippers

Strippers for a day.  Our entry hall had this wallpaper that I have Disliked since we moved here 12 years ago.  The main paper really wasn’t too bad, it was the border that I didn’t like.  I think the person who put this paper here was trying to convince herself that she lived in a tropical climate — not the freezing, landlocked midwestern US.


The problem has been that our entry hall is very tall.  The ceiling is probably close to 20 feet from the floor.  So, not an easy stripping job.


And maneuvering those ladders around that glass light fixture was delicate work.  But, once we got our system in place, things went well.  SweetiePie did all the really high stripping, while I worked mid-level and below.  It took us about 8 hours with a little break for dinner.


SweetiePie is a trooper.  We work well together and she made the job fun.  We made a big mess too.  There’s wallpaper and glue everywhere.  Today’s job will be figuring out how to clean those ladders.  The easy way would be to take them outside and hose them down, but there’s a dusting of snow on the ground, so that won’t work.


Ah well, the hard stuff is done — yipee!  And we won’t be doing the painting.  Paint everywhere just wouldn’t be pretty!

Have a good weekend!


Hot Patterns Review

Hmmm, I seem to be dragging my blogging feet around here, but I have a pretty good excuse. I’ve been slaving away on my applique border! When I get home from work I make dinner and then sew a little before bed, so, not much time for posts.

In addition to my applique, I managed to get my Amy Butler corduroy shirt finished.  Garment sewing is probably my first crafty love, so that makes me deliriously happy!   I chose Hot Patterns Plain and Simple Superfantastic Shirt pattern for my shirt. Have you heard of Hot Patterns? When I purchased my fabric at The French Seam, I asked if they had any good shirt patterns. She showed me the Hot Patterns section and let me browse.  After I chose my pattern, I asked the shop owner what she thought of them — were they pretty true to size?  She said that the directions weren’t the best, but the sizing seemed to be pretty accurate.  I don’t usually read the directions in patterns real closely anyway, so we both decided this pattern should work just fine.

Hot Pattern

And it did.  But when I first started sewing there were several little annoying things (like where most patterns say cut 2 she says cut a pair, and yardage requirements were for 60″ wide fabric — nothing for 45″ wide fabric) so I was pretty prepared to give it a very lackluster review.  The shop owner was correct, the directions are definitely lacking.  If you’re a beginning sewer, you will have to consult other sources for some of the steps.  For example, as you can see below, the sleeve has a few pleats in it.  The instructions simply said to put the cuff on the sleeve.  No instructions (or markings on the cuff) as to where to put those pleats or buttons.  The instructions were a little better for the button placket, but probably because it is a pretty unique way of doing the placket.  There is only one dot marking the end of the dart for all pattern sizes.  And since the shirt sizes range from 6 to 26, that’s a pretty big problem.  Since I’m on the lower end of that range, my darts are a little too deep.   Oh, and while I’m whining, the pattern is multiple sizes on heavy paper — which is good, except that I hate actually cutting into the paper.  With normal patterns, I can fold the pattern tissue here and there to cut the patterns.  For this pattern, I used a very thin fabric and drew out and cut the pattern pieces to my size.  Pretty time consuming.

Hot Pattern

Having whined said all that, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern!  Just as the shop owner said, the sizing is pretty accurate.  (Although, I have long arms and legs — I always have to add an inch or two to sleeve and pant lengths, but I didn’t have to with this pattern – Yipee!)  I also (just 10 minutes ago) checked out the Hot Patterns website and I wish I’d seen it before I made my shirt.  There are videos for some of the patterns (three for this particular shirt, which are very helpful).  The owner/designers of Hot Patterns are British, living in Florida, so that explains away the little differences in terminology.  The woman in the video even says that she’s pretty laid back about the instructions — she likes to let you do things your way.   I LOVE the way my new shirt fits and that soft corduroy makes it wear like a dream.  I also really love the way she constructed the placket — it’s very clean and quick and clever.

Hot Pattern

So, to sum up … if you’re a beginning sewer, you’ll probably need some help with these patterns. Otherwise, I think they’re wonderful and I give them two big thumbs up. I’m a big fan now and I’ll definitely be using them again — I can see many more versions of this shirt alone in my closet.

Happy Sewing!

Five for Friday

1. SNOW!  It’s snowing here tonight.  They said we might get as much as five inches.  I’m trying not to get too excited, but.  SNOW!!!!


2. I had a VERY lucky streak in blog winnings a few weeks oops, months ago.  From Alison I won a beautiful set of Christmas ornaments.  Aren’t they pretty?  They arrived just in time for Christmas — Thank you Alison, I love them!

From Alison

3. In another giveaway, I won a pattern for the very pretty Crossroads block from Meredithe.  For some reason, when I won, I didn’t realize that the pattern included a template set.  I love the pattern and the templates are just perfect.  They’re pretty and sturdy and very cool.  Thank you Meredithe — what a fun giveaway prize.

From Meredithe

4. In yet ANOTHER giveaway, I won a gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop from Vreni.  It took me a few weeks to make my selections, but it sure was fun to do a little shopping.  I had to add a few new Cat-in-the-Hat prints to my Dr. Suess stash.  That red dot comes from Moda’s Circa 1934 collection and the bottom two pink-ish fabrics are a Dear Stella line.  Thank you SO much Vreni — it was really fun to add some goodies to my stash!

From Vreni

If you haven’t been to Alison, Meredithe, or Vreni‘s blogs, please check them out — they all have beautiful blogs and they’re lots of fun to read.

5. I’m hiking right along on my applique UFO.  I’ve finished one more border since Christmas.  Considering it took me 10+ (15?) years to complete the first two borders, that’s big progress.  Jan mentioned these John James Gold’nGlide applique needles a few weeks ago on her blog so I thought I’d try them out.  I like them!  They’re a tad bigger than the needles I have been using (just random needles from the sewing box) but, true to their word, they glide through the fabric.  Thanks Jan for a great tip!

John James

Ok.  Off for some stitching.  Happy Weekend!


Soups On!

With apologies to those of you in the southern hemisphere, I’m here to share a soup recipe. It is soup season, after all. When we had the Gingerbread Competition, I made this Kale and Kielbasa soup and MyDadLovesMeBestSister has asked me twice now for the recipe. I promised I’d put it here on the blog for her. And for me too — I love having recipes on the internet ’cause I can call them up on the iPad while I’m in the kitchen.

I didn’t realize that I loved kale until I made this soup. Sorry — the picture isn’t the greatest, but it’s the only one I managed to take on gingerbread night.

Kale Soup

Kale and Sausage Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large russet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lb total weight, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 lb kielbasa or other cooked sausage, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
1 bunch kale, thick stems and ribs removed, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a large soup pot medium over heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute longer. Add the potatoes, toss to coat, and saute for 2 minutes longer. Add the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the sausage, cover and simmer until the sausage is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook, uncovered, until it is wilted but still bright green, 3 – 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

Oh, and did I mention that I did get my jammie day watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey? I’m officially hooked along with many of you. Raise your hands if you’re a fan! Susan at Plays with Needles, posted a link to these funny Top 10 Maggie Moments, which I’m posting again, in case you missed it.  Isn’t Maggie Smith marvelous???

Only 5 more days  until the next episode!

Laundry Basket Liner

Shoot!   I didn’t mean to be gone so long, but it’s been pretty boring around here.  It’s been a long dull week — back to work after three happy holiday weeks isn’t easy!  Plus, we’ve had something every night after work this week, so, just not much excitment — or sewing.

I did manage to finally line my laundry basket last weekend.  Mine isn’t nearly as cute as the version I did for MyDadLovesMeBestSister, but it matches the other accessories in my laundry room, so I’m happy.

Basket Liner

I used every last scrap of fabric that I had from the laundry lady fabric.  I was even short a bit, so I pieced it.  The jury is still out as to whether I’ll put grommets in this liner.  I’m sort of wishing I’d done some sort of cute scallop along the bottom — I guess it’s never too late.  But you know.  Lots of other projects are waiting in the wings.

Basket Liner

This seems to be the time of year when everyone starts new, exciting projects.  I’m dying to start some too, but I really want to dust off a few UFOs first, so I’ll try and exercise some willpower.  This laundry basket has been on the list for a year.  Done.  I’ve also been plugging away at my long time applique project, so I’m hoping to actually finish it before too much longer.

Basket Liner

See? Laundry Basket already pressed into service. Now, I’m off to cut out that Amy Butler corduroy fabric — it’s a stormy snowy day so I’m going to hole-up in the dungeon. (If you peek at the Thimbleanna banner, you’ll see that the Thimbles are ecstatic that we’re finally getting a little snow!)

Have a good weekend!