Saturday, July 30, 2016

New projects

Hello, everyone.

As y'all know, the shower-stuff bags are done. (Well in advance of any concrete plans to use them!)

Cruising through the closet, and the boxes, of stash revealed a very pretty dove-gray cotton batiste. It is, of course, a little thin to use by itself in a garment. It has been underlined on the crucial pieces with white batiste, not quite so thin, but compatible,

The gray cotton will make up into a gathered skirt with a yoke, a shorter version of the skirt in the September, 2006, issue of Burda.
There was also a piece of striped linen, with little flanges on each of the stripes. That is going to become a top. (I considered making a top from the gray as well, but there isn't enough fabric to do that. Some other item will have to consume the rest of the gray fabric.) The top is from the July, 2015 issue of Burda. It needed some adjustment, as the neck was way too high in front and there was a lot of baggy at the neck all around. I'm hoping that it works out with the changes--they work on the pattern tracing fabric but in actual use there may be unforeseen issues. There may need to be a closure added at one shoulder if the neck is too small after the changes.

And that's what's on the sewing table just now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

More on the green bags

Hello, everyone.

This will likely be the final post about the little green bags. There are now three of them!

The cute green ribbon with ladybugs was not in great quantity around here. In fact, there was just enough for the first bag. I discovered a forgotten roll of rattail cord. This is satin-covered round cord that is sometimes used for stringing large-hole beads. The spool had been in the bead stash, not the fabric stash, or it would have been used on all three of the bags.

(Yes, when there is enough stash, it subdivides. The fabric is divided again, between clothing, cushion cover, and quilting. Also "other" for making toys and such.)

 The fabric here is a lightweight nylon poplin from (This is the search page of whatever they have in taslan. The orange blouse I made in 2014 was also taslan, but it's a thinner, crush-look fabric. So it's a good idea to get a swatch of the stuff before buying yardage.) It is stated to have DWR coating, but I was unable to determine which side the water resistant coating is on. (Shower bags don't get a lot of abrasion anyway. I just wanted enough splash resistance to keep the undies dry!) The fabric doesn't ravel much at all and this was the most successful and pleasant experience I have ever had with French seams. I used a #10 sharp needle in the machine and Coats & Clark poly-wrapped poly general-purpose thread. A #9 needle might have worked out even better, but the only thread I was sure would go through it is "bridal ivory" in color. I went with the matching thread. (Yes, there is thread stash, too.)

In future, I intend to make a ripstop bag just about the same size, to hold clean clothes inside the backpack. When we walked the Portugues in 2015, I acquired a plastic bag in a store and began to keep the clean clothes in it. They stayed together and I always knew where to find them. Between the plastic bag of clean clothes and the mesh bag of medical sundries (hung from an internal strap near the top of the pack) my mind was a lot more peaceful. And there is some ripstop, in about three colors, in the stash. Perhaps I'll use the Sew4Home ripstop grocery bag pattern.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A little tote sack (updated for typo)

Hello, everyone.

While we were walking on our two pilgrimages, we often encountered showers that were, well, a new experience. Or, in the case of gang showers, a long-forgotten experience!

The problem of how to keep the new, fresh clothes dry while bathing, therefore, popped up a lot. Some of the showers had lovely dressing areas inside the (one-person) shower cubicle, and sometimes even a bench to set things on. Others had one or more closet-hooks to hang things from. Occasionally there just wasn't much at all.

DH suggested that we might try using a shower bag to carry things in...something that is a bit splash-resistant, and has enough space to hold the clean underwear, the clean tee shirt, and maybe clean shorts. Plus, of course, the camper's towel!

Being well provided with stash, and looking for ways to use it, a new little project got started after the Pink Explosion quilt was finished.

among the various spec fabrics, there was a yard of taslan.
with DWR for moisture resistance!

The marking pen, and the first candidate for a drawstring.
I used French seams on the sides and double-stitched the bottom. Added some poly mesh stay tape where the openings would be in the casing. Inserted the pink cording, with the help of safety pins.
the bag assembled and candidate drawstring inserted

The first try, drawn up to test.

 The pink drawstrings were shunt shiny, but not slippery at all. They didn't just hang up a little in the casing. They locked the bag closed. Visions of trying to access a towel and dry panties inside the bag crossed my mind--nope, this wouldn't do at all.

I pulled the pink drawstrings out and started cruising through the various bits of stuff on hand. As the pink stuff had been the best cording candidate on hand, I decided to try a ribbon next, (After all, the small versions of this bag, used to hold rosaries, used satin ribbons and worked fine.)

With satin ribbon in the casing

hanging up.
While the ribbon is still a wee bit stubborn, it's not impossible to open the bag. It will do.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A hope, a memory

Hello, everyone.

We have a new occupant of our back patio area:

Behold our baby olive tree! We repotted it into a 20 inch pot--that should hold it for a year or so, by which time we should know where it will be permanently planted.

We so miss the wonderful Spanish olives.  With any luck, this little guy will produce some fruit, and we'll explore the new and wondrous world of home olive treatment.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Hello, everyone.

I was trolling around through the photo files on the computer, moving food pictures to "cooking" and flower pictures to "flowers" and I came across one that I don't think has been discussed here: my new favorite hiking socks.

My toes have always wanted to crawl on top of each other and rub. This makes painful, hard-to-bandage blisters. But these socks, which I wore almost non-stop on the Camino Portugues, solved that.

This particular pair is the Injinji Liner sock. I was still wearing the same boots as in 2014...with new insoles...and after trying unsuccessfully to wear two pairs of socks, abandoned the outer pair and just wore these. I had 4 pair of them! They did accumulate ticky-tacky from adhesive tape on the front of the was really hot, and the adhesive tape tended to melt the glue out onto the sock. It didn't matter. These socks kept the toes from making the kinds of blisters that had been so difficult the previous year.

Of course, since then I've acquired a larger sized boot. Probably could wear the regular Injinji hiking socks now. But this year it hasn't been in the cards for us to go on the Camino again. (Wipes away a tear. Sniffs.) But soon! Soon! We hope that next year we will be able to take the pilgrimage trail again. And I intend to wear socks like these when we go.

Mosquito eaters!

Hello, everyone.

I was outside and my local mosquito eaters were putting on a show of their presence.

The Mosquito Patrol, ready for work.

If you live in a mosquito area--at least if you are where these birds might reside, you really want to have a Purple Martin House. They arrive at approximately St Joseph's day (last third of March) in the spring, they chase out interlopers, they set up housekeeping and rear a brood, and they and their new generation hang around until it's time to migrate south again.

Purple Martins actually love to have apartment houses! You can have several pairs and they all live together. They even allow other birds to use the cubbyholes that they don't like. (English House Sparrows, mostly, where we are)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Update on Pink Explosion

Hello, everyone.

Y'all may remember that I needed to finish off a quilt top  before starting on the Whaley Quilt a couple of months back. That one is nicknamed Pink Explosion. (This isn't your demure little-princess kind of pink.)

It has returned to the action list and there is progress.

First there was pinning:

Then the quilting began:

And now the rows of quilting are done.

All it needs is a binding and it's done.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A new (to me) recipe

Hello, everyone.

After making plum butter the other day--well, it came out stiff like jam, but it's plum--I got inspired to try out a strawberry jam recipe on the internet. The lady claimed that her recipe, which only called for 2 pounds of strawberries, would make "6 cups" of jam. Strawberries were on sale at the store, so I got a 2 pound package and the other ingredient I didn't have already, and got down the canning stuff and got started.

Jars ready to sterilize in the canner

sliced strawberries, sugar, a splash of vinegar, and vanilla
I cooked the fruit mixture until the jelly thermometer said 220F, put it into the sterile jars, and processed it in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. All two of the jars.
The two jars on the right was all I got from the deal
Apparently the lady who put the recipe up thinks that 4 ounce little jars are "cups." The jars you see here are 12 ounce jars. I estimate that the yield of the recipe gave me an actual 5 and a half tiny jars' worth of jam.

I don't think I want to do this again. It's really kind of disappointing.

When I used 4 pounds of sliced plums, I got a little more than 4 of these tall jars. Well, actually 3 of the 12 ounce ones and 2 8 ounce ones.

Of course, I was aiming for "butter" but forgot to put little plates in the fridge to test for viscosity. So used the jelly thermometer...which doesn't have a temp specifying "butter" to use. It goes straight from "scald milk" at 150 to "jelly" at 220. And "jelly" gives a stiff result.

Got to remember to put those plates in the freezer next time. DH really likes "butter" on his ice cream. He says that jelly just isn't the same. The butters are less viscous, softer and closer to a liquid. He doesn't have to smash them down onto the ice cream to get them to spread out.

Got to remember the little plates. And got to use either more fruit or a different fruit next time!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Morning skies

Hello, everyone.

Being up in time for the display, I ran outside with a camera and caught these:

The tree ducks are up.
Weather report: for the last couple of weeks, afternoons have been about 100 (38 for my metric zone readers.) Again today, no dew. No forecast of rain either.

Welcome to "La CanĂ­cula.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Block exploration

Hello, everyone.

As always, the new project is seizing my attention and energy. Thinking up the design and choosing color schemes and looking at block ideas and so on is so much fun.

I look at Pinterest. I look at quilt block books around the house. I look at my own stuff. I think about the person who might get the piece.
And in the process there is always, always a new block that screams "make me! I'm perfect for this quilt."

Out comes the graph paper, the pencil, the Pentel Hi Polymer white eraser (wonderful for erasing pencil marks--but I do prefer the automatic-eraser-pencil shape to the block I have at the moment) and maybe the highlighter pens to help the lines come clear.
Guess it's time to locate another sheet of graph paper!

I've filled 2 sheets of graph paper so far, plus odd bits. Some of the designs are original, some are adaptations of designs in 501 Quilt Blocks, some are adaptations of designs that are already being permutated all over Pinterest...and likely other places I don't even know about.

The latest one to be actually played with is the rocket ship. The versions I saw online were mostly curvy applique shapes. I actually like piecing better than applique. The pieced ones I saw had blunt nose cones that for some reason didn't appeal to me. They were made of a pair of half-square triangles.

But there is a lady out there who had worked out how to make half-rectangle triangles. (Her blog seems to have disappeared, maybe she got busy and decided it was just one too many things to keep up with? But she had posted it in this other location also.) I thought that might be just the thing for a rocket nose cone.

Half-rectangle triangles. Note the offset of the corners on the unpressed one.

It's tricky to assemble--if you line up the wrong corners you get a kite instead.
You will note that this one does NOT have any offset corners. Oops.

Like half-square triangles, you have to allow extra seam allowance.
You have to have a strip of the wide size for triangle creation,
and of the regular size for squares and rectangles.
In the last photo, the top rectangle is assembled from a piece of wider fabric. The bottom rectangle was assembled from "standard" 1.5" wide strips. As you can see, it basically becomes a 1" rectangle at the narrow dimension. The wider one is a wee bit too wide for me, and too long, but I didn't look up the allowance for triangles before cutting the wider strip. The difference is probably just user error.

First draft of the rocket ship! This is the 4x6 version. If I wanted it to be 6x6,
I would just add another strip of space on each of the sides.
I use glittered fabrics for testing, because I've concluded that all that metallic print stuff is going to end up tarnishing a few years down the road. The star motif for the background, though, is definitely in the plan. The flame at the bottom will be in an honest red, gold, orange, or yellow. And the rocket ship will probably be either in light gray print or in dark gray print against a light sky background. It makes the rocket ship easier to see that way.

This layout did make a rocket, but the conclusion for me is that, like the whale blocks in the last quilt, some minimizing of internal seams is in order. Also, just to minimize the tricky factor--and make no accidental kites--I'll probably use the "add a bit on the corners" method that's often used for the snowball block. (Link has a video. They used a 10 inch square for the body of the snowball.) It's just more foolproof. And instead of three slices of 1.5" fabric for the body of the ship, I'll probably use a 3.5"x 2.5" rectangle. More foolproof, again.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Burda dress pattern

Hello, everyone.

As part of the continuing campaign to use up stash, I devoted a chunk of fabric to making a dress from the Burda pattern magazine. (It used to be World of Fashion but I don't know what its current name is.)

There were two versions in the magazine, a short one with pockets and short sleeves and an upright (not to say Mao) collar, and a longer one with inseam pockets and long sleeves and a plain neckline.

I mixed and matched a little while tracing my current size.

From the September, 2014 issue, pattern 101
(I dug out the magazine to caption the photo and learn that its current name is Burda Style.)

I styled it with a belt and a necklace that was on hand, the beaded one with the charcoal Cross of St. James and little pink accents. It works. I used the skirt length of the longer version and the sleeves of the shorter one, used the collar, and used the front pockets as well. Skipped putting a hook and eye onto the front neck opening...hate to be choked in my clothes.

Now getting ready to quilt up the Pink Explosion quilt and doing prep work to start another one: in blues this time, with a boyish theme. Boats, rockets, airplanes, something like that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Finished the Crystalline Wheat Chain necklace

Hello, everyone.

As you can see, I got all excited and named the stringing pattern. (How else ya gonna remember which one it is, right?)

The heart was inherited from MIL a few years back.

I think this is an encouragement to go monochrome on at least some of the beading. (Okay, okay, the freeform piece wasn't even close to monochrome. But the Dutch spiral bracelet was at least closely-related colors.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A new bead stringing design

Hello, everyone.

I was inspired by a photo of a diamond necklace in the paper the other day. The shapes and colors were graceful and balanced and I wanted to try and make something like it.

an homage to Chanel, in glass
The original, metal settings and gems, looked like it would be stiff and not drape. This version, owing to the difference in media, will drape very nicely. (Size 11 Japanese seed beads and Magatamas, strung on 6 lb. crystal Fireline. Photographed on the reverse side of my Kindle.) I'm thinking that as the chain for a pendant it would be lovely...maybe I'll use up those filigree-leaf pendants inherited from MIL a few years back...

And it's going to be over 100F every afternoon this week. (38C for my metric zone readers.)

Monday, July 4, 2016


Hello, everyone.

Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers. I am not of a mind to run out to stores today, as it's a day to be grateful in my opinion.

On another subject,  I was "strolling" through photos and noticed that cloud pictures aren't something that has come up around here. I've always been partial to a nifty looking cloud. Sometimes, I've even had a camera on hand to record the once-off shape and shade of the cloud that caught my attention.

Seen about 4:30 PM in south Texas (spring? summer? I forget)

Onrushing hailstorm in April of 2012

From a Mississippi ferry near Alton, Illinois

Looking back toward Pamplona in late May, 2014.
 These clouds proceeded to drop rain and ice bits on us a little while later.

On Ocala National Forest, Florida, in 2015. The tickiest place I have ever been.
With pretty poufs of clouds overhead.

Sunday, July 3, 2016