Pottery visit

While visiting my parents in Austin for Thanksgiving, J and I went to a local pottery studio and gallery.

We hiked along a harrowing stroad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroad) to get here. So many driveways for cars to hit you at…

Compared to New York stores, the studio was shockingly large inside, like a small warehouse.

There was quite the variety of ceramic items at the store, decorative, useful, and both. I liked the following items.

The vertical lines are carved into the cup. The artist used a glaze that changes color based on the thickness of the coat, so the lines ended up a different color than the main body of the cup. I also like the particular color combo.
I like the “notches” in the edge and the little diamonds removed from the side. The decoration is nice but not overwhelming, it’s just simple.
J like the size of these teacups. Unfortunately they came as a set with the teapot (plus the colors are ugly!).

New old quilt project

Sibling C and I have been working on the red and white bowtie quilt project. I finally finished sewing all the seams back together (although a second look-through showed that my initial standard for “good” may have been too low).

I assembled the back panel from some coordinating and some scrap fabrics. The brown floral fabric I mentioned in the last post is actually a large amount (maybe enough to make a dress), so I didn’t want to use it if possible. The tradeoff is that I had to do more piecing.

Planned layout for back. The big purple/green block is folded in half here, so the back would actually be larger. The blue and white and blue speckled-y fabrics are hand-dyed by me with indigo and turmeric using shibori techniques (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibori)!
The “batting”

I bought a lovely but worn hand-sewn quilt from eBay to use as filling for this new quilt. Reusing an old quilt like this used to be more common, when fabric and batting was more valuable. Old blankets or sheets, for a lightweight quilt, can be used as well. Search on eBay using the keyword “damage” or “damaged” to find good quilt or blanket candidates.

The old quilt needed some repairs to make it useable. Sibling C and I sewed up that big rip and padded thin areas with scraps of cotton batting.

Sandwiched all the layers (back, batting, and top), safety-pinned together, and rolled up around some PVC pipes.

We’re in the quilting stage right now. The quilting pattern is pretty simple, just outlining the red bowties.

Since this quilt is pretty large (maybe 70″ x 78″) we used a special setup to get the excess fabric out of the way when working on it.

Still a lot of quilting left!

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

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.

Cleaning out highlights

In the process of decluttering childhood items (toys, art, clothes, etc), I saw these two unique pieces by my little sister A:

A collage at the intersection of the love of dogs and of cars.

And one by me (I think).

A multimedia poliwhirl.

Inherited quilt projects

I have a couple quilt tops (the decorative bit that you see which made up of a bunch of different fabric scraps sewn together) from my mom’s mom. The less fancy one has what I’m calling a “dogbone” pattern (I don’t know what the official name is). We don’t know where the quilt top came from originally; my grandma didn’t quilt, so it must’ve been a gift of some sort.

~65″ x70″. Almost square which could be a little awkward.

The fancier top was a wedding present to my mom’s parents in 1952. This one is more finished, with a border and everything.

~75″ x 92″

I put these through the laundry to pre-shrink them, make sure the colors don’t bleed, and find any weak seams, but I was too rough on them… so I’m currently repairing frayed seams. I was hoping to go straight to assembly and quilting.

While resewing seams, I’m thinking ahead to what border and back to add to the dogbone top.

I could also combine borders or do two rows of border. What do you think looks best?

I was thinking a lime green patterned fabric would look really good, but there’s nothing like that in the stash.

Intro to my garden patch!

Each of the street trees in New York has a little patch of dirt around it (“tree square”). The NYC Parks department owns them, but officially sanctions adding plantings around the tree to reduce erosion and runoff (as long as you don’t kill the tree).

My local tree squares were sadly bare, so I took them over after seeing a guy down the street planting tulips! Competition is non-existent. In fact, I get a lot of weird stares when gardening ­čÖé I was fortunate that the closest tree square is quite large (around 50 sq ft), although the tree, a red oak, has lots of shallow roots that get in the way.

The main garden layout. Seeds were donated by sibling C. Bearded irises were from my mom. They should be quite hardy. Mint was transplanted from an indoor hydroponic garden setup. The sweet potatoes were grown inside from a couple sprouting grocery store sweet potatoes.

The fence was used (“for parts”) on eBay. Apparently it was from a junk yard. It was the cheapest fence option I could find.

Side view. I’ve been encouraging the melons and sweet potatoes to vine around the fence.
I planted a few squash seeds in the next tree square down the street. The one in the center is doing well (although I have to trim back the weeds occasionally to make sure it gets enough sun), but the one on the side got trampled and never recovered.

I’ve decided that I’m willing to eat street-grown food, but only in cooked form. Who knows what goes on in the tree squares!

Another ‘nother rag rug

I just finished another requested rag rug from sibling C. The first request was finished around this time last year, and a non-requested rug + instructions a few years ago.

This rug is meant to replace a solid-color rug that shows hair and dirt too easily ­čÖé The rug uses a new-to-me construction┬ámethod.

You lay out strips side to side as a warp — I initially had this on a makeshift cardboard loom. The length should be the length you want your rug. Then you take strips of fabric and twine them around each other while doing plain weave. The warp ends up completely hidden.
Used part of a sheet, several pairs of underwear (the elastic was worn out), 3+ tshirts (including one I pulled out of the trash when I realized I was running out of white), and one button-up (stained).

The final rug looks nice but it was sloooow to make and pretty difficult to keep the tension even.