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 🙂 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 🙂 The rug uses a new-to-me construction method.

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.

Brewing project

We use alcohol a lot in cooking, mostly for deglazing things and marinating things. The last batch (not shown, but here’s a prior experiment we tried) is close to running out, and buying alcohol through grocery delivery services is a bit complicated (I’m not sure if they just ask you if you’re 21, or if you have to slide the delivery person your driver’s license under the door and hope they don’t run off with it).

So I’m starting a new batch! I’m vaguely following these instructions.

We used some arborio-style rice we got for cheap from our food rescue grocery delivery service
Add the koji, a culinarily important mold used in making many different Asian fermented food products (miso, sake and other rice alcohols, rice vinegar, soy sauce).
After about 3 weeks.

After a week or so of fermenting, the koji sank, indicating (I hope) reduced density of the liquid due to increased alcohol content! Apparently rice takes longer for the yeast to ferment compared to simple carbohydrates, like sugar, so you’re supposed to let it go for several weeks in total.

Cool hand-dyed yarn and sweater from a blog I like

I really like this blog. The author has cool hobbies – veggie gardening, chickens, native plants, fiber arts, natural dyeing, beekeeping, vintage clothing making, and vintage “reenactment”.

The post that originally caught my attention was one about knitting a Fair Isle sweater from naturally-dyed yarn! It was quickly followed by another about a sweater vest. I can only hope to make such beautiful garments in the future!!

Swiss darning

Swiss darning is like this. You can use it to fill in holes in a knit while still retaining stretch, unlike “sewn” (regular) darning.

A few months ago, I found a cashmere Loro Piana sweater and a felted wool hat in the trash. To those of you with offended sensibilities, they weren’t deep in the trash, they were in a little paper shopping bag beside the trash. Although I like dumpster diving, I’m not up for rummaging through gross stuff. I mostly look for things on the top or left out on purpose (i.e. the person knows they are too good to get rid of but doesn’t want them anymore).

It seemed that the sweater had been thrown out because of a few holes – totally fixable, of course!

Too small for me.
First attempt, on the sleeve. Gauge is too large.
Second attempt, on the shoulder. Much better! This is probably as good as it gets on machine knits. (Hand knit items have a larger gauge that’s easier to work with.)

I’m going to give this sweater to sibling C. I hope it gets a lot of good use in its second life!

Quilted pajama top for sibling C

My sibling C is perpetually cold. She needed a new winter pajama top and requested that it be quilted, so I threw this together (it’s so much faster to make items for other people – I care much less about getting them perfect).

The pattern was made based on the previous pajama top (which I also made. It was based on commercial pajamas). Amazingly, we already had all the necessary materials. It took about a week to make, I think.

For future me, you already have a pajama top pattern! No need to make another 😭

Batting was sandwiched between the lining and outside. Sibling C did the actual quilting (by hand), I cut the pieces and sewed the garment together. The batting is smaller so that it doesn’t make the seams bulky.
Pink cotton flannel for lining, cotton batting for fluff, cotton plaid for the outside. The flannel and plaid were both previously purchased from creative reuse stores.
The quilting gives a bit of a muscle-man effect… 💪
The original top had darts on the back. Those didn’t turn out well with the extra-thick quilted fabric. I’d remove the darts and make the back piece a bit narrower next time.

Overall, it turned out really well! C says it is super warm. It is nicely color-coordinated and I even got some of the stripes to line up!