Christmas is the time for projects!

I received a surprise sewing request from my dad. He wanted a replacement curtain for the bathroom in his RV. The old one was falling apart — probably rotten from the sun. The fabric was an upholstery burlap with an interfacing layer for stiffness.

We measured the dimensions (essentially a square with some topstitching) and I duped it using surprisingly well-matched fabric from Austin Creative Reuse . The fabric was only $5.50!

Installed, it’s essentially indistinguishable from the old curtain and from the old flourishes (bits with trim) that remain.

My first quilt project

Besides the two already-assembled quilt tops, my grandma had a collection of matching quilt blocks. I turned them into a small quilt (my first!) last Christmas.

One possible layout. A single block is outlined in red. There were also some individual white squares that I assume were meant to be turned into additional coordinating blocks.
The winning layout, although the white border wasn’t incorporated.

There weren’t that many blocks, though, only enough to make a lap quilt. Neither of the layouts I tried seemed particularly appealing (at first). I settled on the second since it wouldn’t require making additional pieces.

Sewn together and testing out border options. The seams in the blocks, between the yellow and white squares, didn’t always line up. I spent a lot of time when sewing the blocks together rearranging to minimize mismatch between yellow/white seams.
With a border, binding, and (most of the) quilting added!!! I took the quilt back to New York to finish the quilting.

Every step of quilt-making is more laborious and time-consuming than you’d expect.

Before working on this project, piecing seemed like it would take the most time. You have to collect scraps, decide on a pattern, cut and sew everything pretty precisely, and iron everything. Often people use complicated patterns that have super tiny pieces or need some fancy geometry knowledge. Check out the quilting subreddit for examples of fancy quilting projects.

BUT it turns out that piecing with a sewing machine is the fastest part! Sibling C and I sewed the binding on and quilted by hand. It took maybe 40-50 hours between the two of us.

I’m not eager to work on the much-larger red and white bowtie quilt.

Templates for the quilting pattern in the big yellow squares.

Bad lounge shorts + sewing tips

I made a pair of lounge shorts a while ago. This was before I had my sewing machine, so I had to do everything from hand. Not my favorite, but you do have a lot of control over where the stitches end up!

The fabric. A tencel dress I found in the trash.
The pattern. I drafted it badly. There were two major problems — the legs got too narrow too fast (I think straight would be better for lounging), and I made the waist have too much ease. Since these were pull-on, they need to fit over the hips, but I accidentally made the waist able to fit over the hips + hip ease.

Forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but it wasn’t that good. I gave them away sometime.

I used French seams but had a little trouble doing that with inseam pockets. And did a little research on dominant seams (whether to sew sleeve in first or sew sleeve in after doing side seam, or sew the crotch seams or leg seams first).

Bonus: A setting in sleeve tutorial

Goodwill finds!

I got a purple corduroy jacket/overshirt from Goodwill ($10) over the holidays!

Definitely in fashion now, but the similar jackets I see others wearing aren’t normally so bright. The jacket is currently in a trial period. If I decide not to keep it, sibling C is highly interested. She originally found it at the thrift store but it’s too big on her. It’s also big on me, but we’ll call it stylishly large.

I also found a nicely-patterned kid’s shirt. It fits in the shoulders but everything in the torso is a little too short. I spent too much time compared to the cost of the shirt ($5!) letting out the hem by 1/4 inch.


Natural dyeing experiments

A natural dye sampler using materials foraged around Austin and leftover from cooking.

It’s really hard to get colors that aren’t shades of yellow, orange, or off-white! Sibling C wore these socks for a few years. She reported that after enough washes, it’s hard to tell which socks go together.

Weekend trip to Philadelphia: Urban design highlight

We took a trip to Philadelphia (via Amtrak — woo!) over the summer. There were a lot of cool things in Philadelphia, like Amish pretzels, but I wanted to highlight the charming alleys. They’re residential streets with historic row houses.

The highlight is how narrow the alleys are. Technically, they’re wide enough to drive a car down but they’re so narrow that drivers have to go just about walking speed and there is nowhere to park. They are through streets, but the width keeps drivers from wanting to use them so they remain useful (and safe) for pedestrians and cyclists.

These old streets are really nice to use and the old houses give them extra charm.

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Sadly, streets like these can’t be built under modern road design requirements. (Perhaps private streets with this design would be allowed.)

Philly also has lots of street art. In an effort to reduce graffiti, the city funds murals and mosaics.