Category Archives: Sewing

Sewing A Fleece Pullover For Michaela–December, 2020

This pullover is for Michaela, my autistic niece. Recently, she saw me sewing quilts for her sister and Lovana. She really, really wanted me to sew her something for Christmas, too. She loves soft, fuzzy things and animal prints, so I knew this piece of fleece would be perfect for her. She dislikes surprises intensely, so I let her choose what she wanted made from it. She choose a pullover “like uncle’s.” He has a couple I made him years ago that he wears while working outside.

I used a pattern that I have had for years. I can see from the envelope that it cost $1.25 at the time I bought it. I have used it many, many times and have really gotten my money’s worth out of it. Thankfully, I had some fabric she liked, a zipper in my stash and some 1/2 inch elastic for the sleeves on hand. I am not doing any extra shopping right now, so was very relieved I had what I needed, especially a zipper that was the right kind that matched. I use the kind with the thick, wide teeth for these pullovers. That kind are usually separating zippers, but I just sew over the bottom and cut off any extra because I don’t need them to separate for this project.

Since she spends Tuesdays and Thursdays here, I used this as an activity. We try to keep her busy. So, one day, she watched as I cut it out. Another time, I had her take the pins out of some of the pattern pieces, then she got a chair and stared at me as I sewed. No pressure there:). I worked on it quite a bit over the weekend while she was not here, and only had to measure the elastic for the sleeves around her wrists and insert it. I did that yesterday, then finished it up. She tried it on. It is enormous on her, even though we cut out her size. Thankfully, she doesn’t care. She will likely layer it with shirts under it anyway.

Tomorrow, I will let her and Patsy wrap it up, because they both love to wrap gifts. Then, she will open it on Christmas and be as happy as a clam.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–And a Quick Sewing Project for Patsy–November 15, 2020

I was able to complete a quick sewing project this week. I took the scraps from Patsy’s cape and made her a hat. Sadly, I lost my old hat pattern somewhere in the sewing room. Rob found me another one for free on the internet, and this is how it came out.

We had a very old peach tree at the back of our garden. We’ve been talking for quite some time about taking it down. After all, my sister owns a peach farm and we get all we want from her. Besides, we were very nervous about smashing the neighbor’s fence since so much of it was actually leaning over the fence….you know how these kinds of projects are. They get bigger the more you think about them. So we put if off. This summer, it began to lean alarmingly towards the beautiful fence our neighbor recently erected, so we became more committed to removing it before it fell. In reality, this picture doesn’t even really show how far it was leaning. The angle is wrong. Today was the day to get it down at last!

We were jump-started into action when we were visited by our neighbor on the west side of our house. We followed him into his yard to gape in horror at another neighbor’s yard utterly filled with a part of a huge cedar tree that broke in the last day or two and smashed a shed and filled that person’s entire back yard. He felt he should show us because the rest of the tree was starting to lean alarmingly toward our shop! After some consultation with a couple of neighbors, we found that a tree service was going to be called tomorrow. But, we knew we couldn’t delay any longer in removing our problem tree. That new fence the neighbor put up is too nice to smash.

Thankfully, we had live-streamed church this morning, and God provided a window of opportunity with no rain this afternoon. The minute we were done, the skies opened up and it poured. So, it just became a nice Sunday afternoon project that didn’t ruin our Sunday plans, and took much less time than we had feared.

I climbed a very short ladder and snipped off lower branches with hand loppers and then moved to the clean-up crew. Rob used his chain saw with the long handle to cut off branches, bit by bit, from the top down. We were very careful and pulled the branches toward our side of the fence and threw the branches into the empty garden. Some raspberries and artichokes were actually smashed a bit in the process, but we uncovered them ASAP. There were a few branches that fell over the fence. Thankfully, our neighbor had removed the fancy lights, per Rob’s request a few days ago, and we were able to pull the branches up and over using a garden rake without damaging anything. He came out as we were finishing and assured us that his side of the fence was just fine, we had not smashed, ruined, or destroyed anything in our efforts.

We used pruners to cut the branches into small pieces and filled the yard debris bin. Rob cut the larger pieces into firewood with his chain saw. We left the rest of the branches in the garden and will fill the bin again several times as the weeks pass by. The apple tree will come down this winter, too, hopefully. We get no good apples from it. It’s not ready to fall on anything, so it can wait.

Now my garden will get even more sun and grow even more veggies! The raspberries should be sweeter and grow better. The roots of the tree have been taking too much water from the back of the garden, and I’m hoping this helps. Doing this job ourselves saved us several hundred dollars, maybe more if it had fallen and smashed that lovely fence.

I had planned on shopping last Tuesday, and got the things on my list. I used my $10 off $50 coupon at Safeway and actually spent about $45. I stopped off at Winco and got a 68c/lb turkey and a couple of things they sell for less there. In the meanwhile, Rob and Patsy stopped off at a different Winco and grabbed 2 more turkeys. I’m delighted to have three turkeys now. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that Rob, Michaela and Patsy were on their way home from picking up our 1/4 beef when they stopped for those turkeys! It was a larger quarter than last year. So, we played “arrange the freezer” for quite a while, and it all fit, thank goodness.

While out with her, he found ham for $1.29 at Grocery Outlet, and bought 2 small ones. One hour later, when other family members went to get some, they were all gone. They simply haven’t been on sale anywhere this fall. Since he was going out again, I had him pick up a few more groceries, including a couple more gallons of milk with long pull dates, and we should be set for the next couple of weeks. I have reserved some of my monthly budget for an Azure Standard order later in the month, if I decide to do so.

Rob chopped wood 2 more times this past week.

So, we are loaded up with groceries and wood, so plan to spend this next week cozy and busy!

Sewing For Patsy–Flannel P.J.’s–November 2020

The fall sewing project to replenish Patsy’s wardrobe continues. I made a nightgown and some shorts from a large piece of flannel I had on hand. In the past, I’ve purchased flannel from JoAnn’s flannel sales, sometimes on the day after Thanksgiving, for low prices and this piece was in my stash.

The nightgown was made from Butterick 5723. The shorts were from Simplicity 2819. These were both patterns I’ve had for a long time. The shorts were made because I had just enough fabric left over and I figured she could always pair them with a t-shirt and wear them to bed, or wear them under the nightgown.

I thought the nightgown was going to be shorter, so I lengthened it. It’s not short! In fact, it reaches between her knees and ankles after I made it longer. So, the shorts will likely not be needed under it after all.

Two things I do on shorts and pants: 1) I add a small piece or ribbon or bias tape to the center back casing. This shows the child at a glance which side is the back, like a tag would. 2) I stretch and sew a line through the center of the casing after I’ve inserted the elastic and made sure it fits the wearer. That keeps the elastic from rolling and twisting inside the casing over time.

If you try this, I’ve found that the elastic needs to be shorter than the actual waist measurement. It seems that the elastic stretches out when I sew that line through it. I usually go around her with the elastic, then take away 3-4 inches and insert that much into the casing. I then have her try the shorts/pants on and make any adjustments needed, sew the hole closed, then do the stretch and stitch down the center of the casing.

On the nightgown, I made a couple of alterations. First, I cut the top according to the pattern, but then gradually widened the sides, starting from under the arms, and by the time I was to the bottom of the skirt edge, added 2-3 inches. That actually added 8-12 inches of width over the hips. She likes her night things loose. I added about 5-6 inches to the length of View C, but left off the ruffle. I also tacked a ribbon bow to the center front so she could easily tell which side is the front. It’s difficult with this style to tell in a hurry.

I also left the sleeves free to flutter at the lower edges, rather than inserting a casing and elastic there. She doesn’t like the elastic on her arms, so I never put it in there for her nighties. Instead, I just narrow-hemmed the edges.

Sewing For Patsy–October 2020–A cotton blouse–A Friday Project At Last!

I finished up this cotton top on Friday. It was much easier than the last top I made.

I used Simplicity 8949. I was unable to buy this pattern in her size, so I simply cut everything a little bit larger. It was simple enough and it worked great.

The sleeves looked fuller on the picture for View B. I guess they were fuller than A, but if I do this one again, I’ll cut them even larger as she had hoped for ruffly, fluttery sleeves. I added some lace to the sleeves, though, and she was happy with that.

The alterations I made to the pattern were: I enlarged it. I added lace. I did a little top stitching and then tack stitching to the center front V-part. I did this so it would lay flat and hopefully not rip out as she pulled it off and on. I also put a small zipper in the back as those work for her better than things like loop and button closures. I lengthened it slightly.

I think it will be cool and comfortable when she’s warm, and layer easiy when she’s not. A long time ago, I liked to post projects on Fridays. This qualifies, since I finished it up on Friday! It really wasn’t very hard, folks. I just have been super busy this week, so that’s why it took all week. Hopefully, on Saturday, I will get a longer chunk of sewing time in on the next project.

This top was very economical to sew because I had the fabric on hand for years, and it might even have been some Lovana left behind when she moved out. Even better, the pieces of this pattern fit on the piece of fabric and there was none left over! Since I still have quite a bit of fabric on hand, I’ve been trying to use some of it and have been having trouble matching patterns with the lengths or styles of fabric I have. I got the pattern at JoAnn’s for $1.99, recently. Thread was in my thread bin from projects in the past. The zipper was a loose one in my zipper bin, so it was either torn from another garment at some point, from a yard sale, or given to me over the years. People are very generous when they know you sew and Rob also looks for notions and lace at garage sales and often gets handfuls for very low prices.

It was easy enough that I would make it again in another color. I will, however, wait until I see if she really likes it enough to wear it a lot. It’s all about comfort around here, so we shall see:)

Sewing For Patsy–October 20–A silky, Flowery top

Last weekend when we got this fabric, I had no idea of how difficult it would be to sew. One week later, here’s the top:). Whew!

She chose McCall’s 7325, view A. I decided not to put the lace on the bottom edge.

The fabric she chose is very sheer, so she needs to put a camisole under it. Knowing that helped me when I was sewing the slit in the neckline. It ended up a little deeper (well, quite a bit deeper) than it was intended to when the stitching got accidentally cut and then the fabric started fraying. You have to clip to the stitching or it won’t turn well. But, I took one tiny clip too far….easy to do. Well….with several sewing sessions, none of which were very long due to frustration and intense concentration, it’s now sewed, reinforced, and top stitched to make sure it won’t tear out!

One view had some cording for a tie. The other views had no tie at all. She didn’t need the tie for modesty, as she will be wearing a cami, but

I sewed my own tie, then inserted it because I questioned whether she would be feeling like her neckline was too wide and might even have trouble keeping the top straight if it kept slipping to one side, as tops sometimes do.

She loves it. That’s what matters. She said she felt like an angel with wings:).

We bought some cotton fabric to make another top from the same pattern. We decided together that we would change patterns. I don’t think the amount of fabric in this top would allow the thicker cotton to drape well. As hard as it was, this fabric was the right choice for this style. It’s done now, and I have some easier projects for this week:).

Sewing A Cape–October 2020

Patsy wanted a cape. She gets cold in the mornings, and thought it would be fun to snuggle in a “wearable blanket.” So, we finally braved JoAnn’s and she chose this fleece. They were having a sale for $2.99/yard, a wonderful price in my opinion. I got 3 yards, which was a little more than was actually needed. I used McCall’s 7202, view B.

McCall’s patterns were on sale for $1.99 and I got a handful. I have not been able to get any new patterns for a while, mostly because I have not been to the store during any sales, and, in truth, haven’t been going at all. Although I have quite a bit of fabric, and quite a few patterns, I have been frustrated with the fact that the patterns I have either aren’t in Patsy’s size, or don’t fit the size of the fabric pieces I have on hand. I’m hoping I now have some patterns that will work with some pieces I have on hand. I’m hoping to go get some Simplicity ones when they go on sale.

The pattern called for snaps to close the front of the cape. I bought a package of the large snaps called for, and they were $5. For snaps. So, I decided to experiment with some buttons I had on hand to see if they would work. I interfaced the front, and did not have trouble putting buttonholes into the fleece. I do find that these large buttonholes on the fleece are showing a tendency to stretch out already, and I didn’t even cut them as big as I would have on 100% cotton fabric. So we shall see how that works out.

The other change I made was omitting the line of sewing on the sides that would make sleeve-like openings in the cape. She wanted it to just flow.

For around $11 Patsy has a new cape. I told her to wear it and wear it and to not save it for “good.” I figure this one is an experiment, and the price was right! If it wears out quickly, or the buttonholes don’t hold up, I’ll make another one and use the snaps. It took a little longer than I thought it would, mostly because of the buttons and buttonholes and the fact I had not made this pattern before. It would be much quicker another time.

Now that the garden is finished except for the fall and winter veggies, I’m hoping to devote quite a bit of time to sewing. Patsy needs several new things. We went ahead and purchased a few items and I plan to sew a few, and her wardrobe should be back in great condition.

Patsy’s Been Sewing–May 16, 2020

Since Patsy has finished so much of her schoolwork for the year, she’s had a little extra time on her hands. She pulled out this skirt that she started quite some time ago and finished it.

The new skill for her on this skirt was a separate casing that was applied to the top of the skirt and the elastic was inserted into that.

She is still working on her sewing skills. In addition to sewing, she’s also been working on her 4H sewing advancement, which is a list of activities she can do to increase sewing skills.

Sewing A Dress-May 15, 2020

I used some of the cotton fabric we purchased for $1.80/yard to make Patsy a dress. She has been wanting a dress that twirls around, with lots of fabric in it. The price was right, so I used yards and yards to make this dress for her.

She chose view B, with the hi-low hemline.

This fabric is very thin, so it drapes well. I don’t think a more sturdy cotton would work very well, but I do think a knit fabric would.

It was raining yesterday, so she decided to wear the dress with a white t-shirt. When it gets really hot, a tank top will do.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020

I’m not sure if you can see the little hummingbird in the middle of the blueberry bush. He was flying around, sipping nectar, and was kind enough to sit down long enough for me to take a picture. Look at all those blueberry blooms. I didn’t have much of a crop last year. I have high hopes for this year’s crop!

This week was very quiet. We worked with Jake Wednesday-Thursday, and after picking him up Wednesday, I’ve been home every since. I used the time to read, relax, do house chores, lots of homeschool with Patsy, cut out a dress for Patsy, and worked in the garden and yard for hours.

I finished hoeing out the weeds from the blackberry (Marion berry) row. I put steer manure/compost on it. I’m almost done with the raspberries. I finished the strawberries as well.

I planted many, many itty-bitty onion plants. Rob grew more than I usually do, so we shared some, and I planted the rest. I grow varieties that are long-keepers and still have a handful in a bucket from last summer’s garden. We will eat the short-keepers first, and save the others and use them all winter. We also use them for canning–salsa, relish, and a few other recipes. Two years ago, we purchased 2-25 pound bags and used them in addition to what we grew, so I’m delighted to have the promise of so many from the garden.

Rob’s been busy building with reclaimed wood. The trellis that looks like a ladder is in its place and will hold Tromboncini Zucchini. Right next to it is a hearty cluster of volunteer lemon cucumber plants that have popped up in the last couple of days. I’m leaving them where they are. They must want to grow there!

The large framework against the shop will be moved into the garden, and placed for pole Blue Lake green beans. Most of us in my family have used up lots and lots of jars of beans during this past winter. So, I will grow bush Blue Lake, as always, but also the pole ones so that I can grow them upwards, and thus take less garden space, and have beans until frost. The bush ones come on all at once in the space of 2-3 weeks. The pole ones will give lesser quantities at a time, but will keep growing all summer. If I have any purple pole beans left from previous years, I will grow a few of those as well, since we love them sauted with butter and garlic. They are great fresh, nice and tender, but don’t can up well.

Rob’s plants are out on a table now, hardening off. There are still a few things in the greenhouse that he planted later. I will not be planting all of this. He’s already started delivering a plant here, and a plant there. I will plant a lot of them, and one of my sisters will plant many of them in her large garden. He plans to deliver hers this week. Heads up, sis!

I harvested the first snow peas.

Lovana wanted raised beds for her birthday, so Rob built them for her. Today, they took the pieces over to her little rental house and put them together, and she filled them with dirt and peat moss. Rob will get her another load of soil/compost for the second box this week. She has seeds she ordered and planted some of them in our greenhouse and Rob’s been watching over them for her. She’s been over here at least a couple of days each weekend during this pandemic, as we are determined to keep her in our “little circle.” She also helped me out quite a bit when my wrist was so bad a few weeks back, and usually cooks something totally NOT on our diets each weekend.

Like homemade donuts!

Way too yummy. I think we need to get these veggies growing, so she can cook them! That purple plant is purple cabbage. She ordered all colorful seeds–purple plants, rainbow “sunset” cherry tomatoes, etc. It should be interesting to see what she ends up with.

Lovana also had a box of “Imperfect Produce” delivered here with some items she wanted, and the rest for us to cook with. We’ve been eating those veggies and have been able to stay out of the stores. On Tuesday, we will reach the 2-week mark, and I may send Rob for a few things like milk and tomatoes.

Patsy made a recipe from a magazine. It was refried bean dip. It was good, but had way too much cumin in it, and raw garlic, grated. We both decided next time we should cut the cumin, add some spice, and use garlic powder. It was extremely strong. We should stay healthy and Patsy said there would be no vampires around here:)

We have decided to eat a few more meatless meals during this pandemic. We have plenty of frozen meat and chicken, but are trying to use some of the dry pantry staples such as beans and lentils, and conserve the meat, just in case there is a meat shortage. If there isn’t, we will likely save money and be more healthy. Win-win! We had the bean dip, potato soup, and I just made a batch of lentil taco filling, which Rob loves so much he ate it for both lunch and dinner, as a salad topper.

Patsy made a stuffed owl. It came out so cute! It’s a baby gift for one of her youth leaders.

Patsy picked flowers from the yard and Rob took her to drop them on the doorstep of the youth leader, along with the owl, and on one of her girlfriend’s doorsteps. Both were very pleased, and it brightened Patsy’s day to get to do that and read the texts from each of them.

We were supposed to collect pond water for Biology, culture it with egg, rice, hay, and dirt and let it grow under the sink for a few days. We couldn’t travel to a pond, so Patsy collected water from my sister’s old hot tub that they actually have filled with goldfish, and a friendly frog. It’s been that way for years, so we thought we could collect and culture some water. We were right! The first experiment worked just fine. The second one will be done tomorrow, and we can throw away that stinky water! We’ve worked through almost 2 chapters now, and are going very slow. I’m encouraging her to spend hours looking through that microscope if she wants to–she likely will never have a chance again to spend all the time she wants on one subject with no one to say, “hurry up” or “time to go.”

How are you keeping busy during these strange times?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 19, 2020

Rob’s tomatoes and peppers are looking insanely good! He’s starting to harden them off. It will be a while before it’s time to plant them out, but when it’s time, they will be ready. We are having such an early spring. It won’t be long.

This turned out to be a good week for me to work in the yard and garden. I weeded for hours. Several bags of compost/steer manure were spread in different places. My soil is quite poor in the flowerbeds and the garden always needs ammending.

The new compost bins Rob built are in place against the fence and quite a few buckets of weeds have been put in them already. The old compost bins he made last year have been organized. I moved any un-decomposed weeds from the top of the pile on the right to the left. Now, everyone has been instructed to leave the right hand side completely alone and not add any new scraps or weeds. I am going to remove the nice compost from that side very soon, and spread it over the corner of the garden. The slats come out of the front of the bins, making it easy to shovel the rotted compost out. Then, I will instruct everyone to put new debris in the emptied side, and let the left hand side finish.

Last fall, I dug up a small corner of the garden with an old-fashioned shovel, added a bag on compost/steer manure and planted a few snow peas and beets, along with a few green onion seeds. The beets flopped for the most part, but the snow peas are about to fruit and there are a few green onions. It was a successful experiment. I can’t wait to eat some.

I’m getting a few artichokes. They are quite small, so I fertilized them, the raspberries, the blueberries and the strawberries.

We received one day of much-needed rain. I was so happy to have one day where I didn’t have to lug water out to the garden to hand-water my tediously planted baby onion plants, tiny carrots and beets, and lettuce. It’s been so dry this spring. Later, when the garden is fully, we will run the sprinklers over it all, but the system isn’t set up yet. We have to get the hoses out, set up the sprinklers, etc.

Patsy made another mason bee house. Being Patsy, she painted it purple. The mason bees are working busily in the houses Rob built and put up. They are already filling the straws with mud and new offspring. They are also very busy pollinating all over our yard.

My sister sent over a beautiful hanging pot of flowers.

Rob dropped some baby veggie starts on her doorstep. It’s been difficult to not be able to really see and visit with this particular sister, so we’ve had to be creative with texts, visiting from a wide distance, and phone calls.

Michaela was getting very restless, so Rob took her for a drive. They drove around and dropped things on people’s doorsteps (like my sister) and looked for trains. Sadly, they were working on the tracks, so they didn’t see even one, but there’s always another day.

We had the kids over for a “party.” My sister needed to work 2 days this week, from home, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere to give her the peace and quiet she needed. Our house is the only other place they can go right now, since we are back and forth so much, we consider ourselves as one small circle, and our work with them is considered necessary. So, we got out the 2 kiddie pools we own and put water in them. They used any and all water balloons we could find from either house. We ran the yard sprinklers so they could run through them. Rob build a fire in the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and Peeps our niece, Alissa, brought over. We made ice cream cones and decorated them with M and M’s and gummy bears. They were so tired, they came inside and I put on an educational tv show about wild cats, which they watched as if in a coma, then went home where their dad said they had a great, exhausted evening, and fell into bed. I confess, I fell into bed at 8:30 as well, since we’d had Jake for 2 days and one night. The girls just joined us for the second afternoon. Of course, Alissa just joined us for the fun of it, and to help out. Since I homeschooled her for 3 years, it felt very right to have her over here for the afternoon. I miss her now that she’s getting so grown-up and busy with her adult life.

We needed to get produce, and some other groceries. One day, I went down to Safeway. I took the little handful of Monopoly tickets I had received weeks ago, not really knowing if they were even doing that game any more with how busy the stores were. They were. I was able to get several free items, such as gummy bears, French bread, and extra tickets. Some other people did not want their tickets, and so I brought them home to Patsy. She and Jake worked for quite some time un-wrapping them (bless you people who shared!). They got quite a few free items. I wasn’t sure if we were going to redeem them, but to my chagrin, I found I had forgotten something very important, and Rob had to go back and get it that evening. So, we were able to get them after all. We got a brick of cream cheese, several donuts, a box of pasta, and another handful of tickets.

Rob has done a little shopping here and there, getting things to fix things around the house, things for the yard, a few groceries, etc. I took Lovana shopping, as she doesn’t drive. I’m hoping we are all set up for a couple of weeks again, now. I’d love to go a month, but I will probably not be able to make it that long, due to the fact that I always need produce since Rob is still working hard on maintaining his weight loss.

They called and rescheduled his surgery for June 29. If the virus erupts here, of course they will postpone it again, but we are hopeful, so it’s even more important that he be the correct weight.

I was able to take the scraps from Patsy’s skirt and make a little summer sundress for my little friend, Danait. The pattern was one I’d had for years and the trim was from a garage sale years ago. There was an extremely long piece of it, bought for a very low price, and I’ve used bits of it several times over the years. I was delighted to use some more of it and to finish up the blue print fabric. The entire dress cost less than $4, and I had a lot of fun sewing it. Rob, Michaela and Patsy dropped it on their doorstep, along with a few Easter items, and visited briefly from a safe distance. I was working, but was glad they could take my love.