Monthly Archives: August 2008

Project update

Irish hat Irish hat

Irish hat

Brim for the Irish hat

Brim for the Irish hat

The Irish hat is almost done! This is the hat I started when I went to Ireland in March this year. Most of the embroidery thread and embellishments were purchased in Ireland. I did use my American seed beads, as I have too many and it was really silly to purchase seed beads in Ireland. Now I have to choose the lining fabric and sew the hat together, and then I’ll be done!

Wedding wallhanging

Wedding wallhanging

And this little… wallhanging I guess, is the best description, is coming right along. About 3/4 of the seams are embroidered and embellished now, and I’ve started adding “stuff” to it. So far just bells, which tinkle nicely as I manipulate the fabric to reach a seam or turn it to facilitate the embroidery. It will eventually hold a wedding photo in the center.

Small bag

Small bag

I’m also working on a small piece that was supposed to become an eyeglass case, but after a little disturbance with a Sharpie marker, it’s going to become a small bag instead. Really, it’ll make a better bag than eyeglass case. Lesson #57: Do not use Sharpies to mark your ground fabric! And I should have known better.

More on these projects…

Just so you don’t think I’ve been plodding through the same old projects all summer… I spent Sunday afternoon playing with my three dollar, basic Versa-Tool Woodburning Kit, that I got from Value Village (secondhand store) awhile back. People drifted in and played for a bit, so it wasn’t a big crowd scene. And considering that the Versa-Tool is REALLY hot, that was probably just as well! Good plan to use it outside too, because a) burning stuff stinks, and b) I probably breathed in a ton of carcinogens anyway, but less than if I was inside. I used an old picture frame with the glass still in the frame as a, um, a light frame I guess. I taped a stencil pattern on one side (face up) and a piece of polyester organza fabric on the other, and cut out a seahorse stencil and a Chinese character stencil. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with them yet, but I just signed on to this project, so I think the two might be a match.

You can also cut shapes out of polyester fabrics; I have two huge boxes of ’70s vintage polyester scraps from a friend, so I played with those too. I also experimented with some embroidery stabilizer and Peltex. Oh, and polyester felt! I made buttons with single and double layers of felt. They’ll be cool with some embroidery.

A dog and his boy

A dog and his boy

I also fooled around with my crayons and pastel crayons, and doodled on cloth and stabilizer, and layered some organza onto stabilizer and then some more crayon… it was just play time, no goals, no final piece to show off. And watching little boy Sawyer draw on fabric (and his face), throw balls for Gizmo, eat too much cake and too many pretzels, and enjoy summer’s last gasp.

Playing catch up…

My sewing room

My sewing room

That I haven’t posted much this summer is kind of an understatement. I was busy in June with the NICOP field trip, and in July it rained and rained and rained. August was the fair, and then it dried up, and it’s been too nice to be inside. Those could be my excuses, but the real reason I haven’t posted is that I have been wrestling with what to do about the cabin?

I live in a less-than-400 square foot dry cabin. It is Too Small. I have Too Much Stuff. So should I build a sewing room? And should it be an addition to the cabin, or a separate building? Or should I buy another house? And rent the cabin out? Or sell it? Will I be able to sell it, since it needs a new foundation and it’s seven miles from town? Can I get a loan? Or should I fix up the cabin, keep it until the gas pipeline gets going, and then sell it during the boom years? What do I do? Who can I trust to predict the future for me?

I looked at cabin after cabin. Too small, too close to the neighbors, the yard’s too small, it’s too dark, it’s too expensive. I finally found a cabin I really liked; it was only four miles to work, on five acres, double the square footage of my current cabin. But the taxes were double what I pay now, and the heating bill made me choke. And the house payment… no more sewing goodies for me if I bought that cabin! And what if I can’t sell mine, or I can’t keep it rented? How do I make the house payment? Could I even get a loan?

So I sweated and wrestled with the numbers, and decided against that cabin. I started looking again. Talked to a realtor. Put the cabin up for sale. Changed my mind. And finally came to the conclusion that I just did not want to spend the money or assume the risk of buying another cabin right now. To the library for books on storage solutions. Lots of ideas, little drawings, measure, measure, measure. Paint; gotta paint before I put up new bookshelves.

I’ve emptied out the cabin and put almost all my sewing stuff into the shed. There are several paint splotches on the wall so I can choose between pale green and pale pink. And I like the empty cabin! It’s much more peaceful, so I am back to my original thought of a separate building for my sewing stuff, at least for the coming winter. And I can get by with the shelf units I already have, and build shelves in the shed instead. Less expensive. Easier.

My garden in four foot square boxes

My garden in four foot square boxes

Now it’s time to move things around, wash a wall, let it dry, paint it. Play tiddlywinks with the stuff pushed to one side and start all over again. I’ll do a few more things to make the cabin liveable for one more winter, and keep thinking about the different options. I would like to move closer to work, shorten the commute, depend less on the car, and spend less money on transportation. But I have a beautiful big yard with lots of room for Mr. Dog to run after tennis balls and frisbees. Neighbors that stop by and say hi when I’m in the yard. Plenty of room outdoors for painting/dyeing/printing on fabric and playing with the woodburning tool and all kinds of art projects. My own little bit of woods out back, and places to walk without a leash.

Lots of reasons to stay, and I will still think about moving. Someday.

Vintage finds

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time; I finally scanned the Needle Arts magazine covers and some inside pages of the June 1935 issue, so now I have no excuse.


I found the top three booklets at my local Value Village (secondhand store). I thought I was just getting the one on zippers, but when I opened the package I was delighted to find the booklets on collars and bedspreads as well. The how-to booklets were published by Singer Sewing Machine Company in 1960, and the sewing machine in the booklets is similar to the one I inherited from my mother (probably purchased in 1955). The information and instructions are just as valid today as they were almost fifty years ago. I can’t wait to use the collar booklet to make a new collar on a refashioned shirt!

I don’t remember where or when I purchased the two issues of Needlecraft: The Home Arts Magazine. They are delightful to look through though. I really enjoy the graphic design of the illustrations and the ads. Lots of wonderful projects too; I wish I could get the embroidery designs for some of them. Even the back page, advertising Lucky cigarettes (yuck!), is stylish and classy.

I just love the little house on page 9 – one is a toaster cover, and the other (in the lower right corner) has pockets to hold string and notes. And I just realized that it’s backwards! Not sure how that happened. And the bells on page 16 – little gift sachets. They’d be fun to work; I could come up with that one I think. But the apron – isn’t that adorable? No way would I have worn that when I was 16! Or joined a “junior needlecraft club”. The hostess linens on page 5 are way too nice to put on the table; I can just see myself tipping a glass of red wine over all my work. The state flower quilt on page 22 is similar to a design I bought 30 years ago (and it’s somewhere…), but of course Alaska and Hawaii are in my packet of flower designs. I was surprised to see some of the states identified by the first three letters, not by the two letters we use today (some are labeled with two letters, or occasionally four). I’d forgotten that that was how we used to abbreviate state names.

I would love to get more of the needlecraft magazines, but a quick search on the ‘net established that hey are going for at least $10.00. I really doubt I paid that much; but I don’t want more badly enough to pay the price. If I stumble on some though…

The Ribbon Flowers booklet is a gift from a friend. It’s a vintage 1960’s how-to book, making-obviously-ribbon flowers. You’re supposed to spray the ribbon with some kind of glue to stiffen the ribbon, but in lieu of the spray glue, I’m going to try iron-on interfacing or something similar, just to practice with. Hopefully I’ll come up with a better solution after I make a flower or two. I think, if you select the winter rose image, the image is clear enough that you could make a flower, but if not, let me know and I’ll post a larger image.

And lastly, the small red box is one I found in my mother’s things when my sister and I sorted through all that stuff after she passed away. The tiny letters have never been used for printing; I think because the small tweezers included with the little kit are so hard to use. They’re extremely stiff; I finally gave up trying to use them and dug out the tweezers I use for digging out splinters. The letters are tiny and difficult (as in “impossible”) to get into the small wood strip meant for holding the letters so you can print with them, so I’m going to look around for another solution. Maybe a clip of some sort to hold the letters? I just thought these would be so cool for printing words onto a piece of fabric; you could print a poem or a quote…

Tanana Valley State Fair 2008

Well the fair has started! and now it’s over. I’ll be picking my entries up this afternoon. Rain, rain, rain-it rained every day at the fair. Didn’t seem to keep people away though. I didn’t spend as much time at the fair as I usually do, because I was busier at work than usual-Skip’s going to Russia to do some field work, and I was helping him get ready, so I couldn’t leave early to go visit the fair. I must admit though, that the fair is boring. It’s the same old thing, year after year. I know exactly where a booth will be, how the fair is laid out, and what I will see before I ever get there. It hasn’t changed in the twenty years I’ve lived in Fairbanks. There is a certain comfort level in the sameness… but I pass over stuff that I might spend more time looking at, if it was unexpected.

refashioned sweatshirt

I have five entries. The sweatshirt is my sister’s; she sent me the materials and sweatshirt to refashion about a year ago. My sewing table is a huge mess, and that’s my excuse for not starting it sooner. She very kindly did not bug me about it. I’m really pleased with it; I would like to make one for myself now. It got a second, with a very nice review from the judge.

cell phone holder
The cell phone bag is a purchased felted bag that I embroidered with my own design, using silk ribbon. It placed second. More

Dragonfly quilt

Dragonfly quilt

And this little wall hanging is a small paper pieced crazy quilt square, set into a black background. It was a birthday gift for a friend last fall, and she was gracious enough to let me borrow it back and enter it in the fair. Happily this entry placed first and was also class champion.

The outside lid

Of course I put my sewing basket in the recycling section. I was really disappointed to only get a second with it, but apparently considerable weight is given to re-purposing an item, rather than just refurbishing something. The first place entry (which I searched long and hard to find) was an old gallon tea jar with a spout, turned into a planter; pretty much no work at all. Live and learn! More

Needle felted jeans
The jeans are my practice project from a felting class I took at A Weaver’s Yarn. Unfortunately I’ve gained a few pounds since making them and they’re not currently wearable. But they did place first in their class, so I have more incentive to lose five pounds. I really enjoyed doing the felting and dressing up the pants, and I’ll be felting on more garments and maybe even a wall hanging or ?? More