Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Summer sewing musings

It's been a while since I've opened up my sewing machine. The last project I did was a child's quilt, during the last few days of winter. But it won't be long now before I get it out once more-- I'm bursting with ideas!

My first project will be a cinch-- simple leaf shapes cut from bright coloured felts, sewn into a garland for a Thanksgiving day decoration. Something like this. My other ideas are a bit more ambitious.

I'd love to sew a dress from Jenny Chancey's Elegant Lady's Closet pattern, which I received as a birthday gift last year. I've got the perfect fabric: a soft tan cotton with woven-in gold and silver stripes and a bit of stretch. My eye is on the crossover bodice design. I like the idea of incorporating a diagonal stripe into it. Hopefully this pattern will be just as user friendly as the first Sense and Sensibility pattern I made. The detailed instructions on the website gave me the confidence to try more daring pattern alterations than I'd done in the past, and I ended up making three or four different versions. My red dress is my favourite, and I'm still wearing it a couple of years later.

And lastly, I'm thinking of making a quilt for our guest bedroom. Australian-themed fabric, I think. I've seen some interesting designs at the local fabric store.

I wonder how many of these ideas will become reality?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Monday, March 8, 2010

Outside My Window... Windblown lemon and lime trees, withered tomato plants.

I am thinking...that I'd like to find out more about Charlotte Mason. Perhaps a visit to handy dandy Wikipedia is in order. ;)

I am thankful for... Health and strength and daily food.

From the kitchen... John and I just finished a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. Yum!

I am wearing... Blue jeans, red blouse.

I am creating... Patchwork cards from scraps of paper.

I am going... to dinner at a friend's home tonight.

I am reading... a memoir of a woman who came to Australia from England in the 19th century.

I am hoping... to go on a walk.

I am hearing... the wind rattling the laundry room door.

Around the house... Stacks of books.

One of my favourite things... a clean kitchen.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Go shopping, cook for company.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

One of said stacks, with an (apparently) deathless flower arrangement.

Thanks to the Simple Woman for hosting this.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Monday is laundry day. After sorting the piles of dirty clothes this morning, I realized I was all out of laundry detergent. Time to go to the store? No--time to grab a few simple ingredients from the cupboard and make my own.

First, the supplies:

1/4 cup Liquid Castile Soap (can be found at health food stores)
1 cup Washing Soda (can be found in the laundry aisle of most supermarkets)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup White Vinegar

Mix together, adding vinegar last. The mixture is foamy at first, and then gradually lumps together. The mixing bowl will get quite warm as you stir!

Let it sit for a while. Now comes the fun part. Dump the mass in a thick plastic bag, place on a hard, flat surface, and BEAT THE LUMPS AWAY WITH A HAMMER!

The detergent is now all ready to use. I use 1/2 cup per full load of clothes.

Here's another, easier recipe that was my favourite until the supermarket stopped selling Borax:

2 cups soap flakes (or grate bars of soap yourself)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

Use 2 tablespoons per full load. I always put 1/2 cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle, to make sure there was no soap residue on the clothes.

Both these recipes can be scented with a few drops of essential oil. (try Lavender or Peppermint)

Why make my own laundry detergent? Well, first of all it's fun. Secondly, it's cheap. But most of all, I'm not worrying about things like unhealthy chemicals and optic brighteners any more. And no more watery eyes when I scoop the detergent into my washing machine!

I found these recipes and more here. Soon, I'd like to try one of the ones for liquid soap, but till then, I'm happy using my funny, lumpy powder. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

My first patchwork

Over the Christmas holiday, my mother-in-law helped me start my very first patchwork projects. We went to the fabric shop just to browse, really, but came out with several lovely cotton fabrics to make some much needed potholders and a cushion cover for my ubiquitous couch pillow. I was so glad to have Mum there to help me buy, because I am still a bit overwhelmed with the whole metric system. Fabric measurements in yards and inches I can understand. But metres and centimetres? Confusing!

We started out by cutting the pieces for the potholders. I'd chosen two blue fabrics from the scrap bin. After measuring the rectangles, we knew that we had enough for eight squares. I wanted to do a simple four-triangle design, so we marked and cut two squares diagonally. I started to sew them together following the 1/4 inch mark on my sewing machine, but found that the seam allowance was too generous for patchwork. That's when I realized what the 1/4 inch piecing foot is for--scant seams for patchwork! After I put that on the machine, all went well. I tried a different piecing technique for the second potholder. (Detailed instructions here) Much easier than cutting out triangles, and trying to sew on the bias.

After I'd pieced the blue fabrics together, I layered each square with batting, and secured it by stiching in the ditch. Finishing was easy: Place right sides together, sew around the edges leaving room to turn, turn, close opening.

The second project was a bit more difficult. I wanted to make a cover for my couch pillow, so that it wouldn't like like something that belonged in a bedroom. The design inspiration was a cushion that Mum made for John:

She helped me cut out all the pieces, and introduced me to a new concept: Fussy cutting. This is cutting out portions of fabric to highlight specific motifs. It's not as economical, but it does make for a beautiful finish. We did the center patchwork together, and then it was time for her to go back to Tasmania.

It took me a while to get back into sewing after the Christmas rush, but I finally decided to finish the cushion cover last week. After stabilizing the center patchwork with batting, I attached rectangles of the red fabric to fit the pillow case measurements, and made a button fastening on the end. It was fun to try another new thing: machine-stitched buttons! I couldn't believe it would work at first--I still can't get over all the exciting features of my new sewing machine. (I had to leave my old Singer back in the States--too bulky and heavy to put in a suitcase!)

Here is the finished project:



Now that I'm back into sewing, I know that I've finally settled in to married life in Australia. Happy days. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Tuesday, January 26, 2010 (still Monday in the USA!)

Outside My Window... The barbecue grill that John and I put together yesterday, using a screwdriver and spanner (wrench). I love learning new words!

I am thinking... It's about time to sit down with my Latin book.

I am thankful for... Wikipedia. I've learned some interesting things lately--most recently, I've been reading about locusts. (see "Hoping" to find a clue why)

From the kitchen... we'll be cooking outside, for Australia day! Lamb chops, veal shanks, veggie kebabs marinated in Italian dressing.

I am wearing... Coral cardigan, floral top, sand coloured linen capris.

I am creating... ideas for Valentine's day. I want to make this cute heart garland.

I am going... nowhere. Grocery shopping is already done for the week. :)

I am reading... Asterix (finished four in the last week) Asterix the Legionary is my favourite so far.

I am hoping... to read aloud to my husband later today. I'm introducing him to the Little House books, and we're up to On the Banks of Plum Creek.

I am hearing... birds chirping, washing machine sloshing.

Around the house... Blue and white in the kitchen: Dutch tile and windmill plates on the wall, a clog on the windowsill, the new hotpads I made hanging by the stove.

One of my favourite things... Affogato.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Finish a book or two, catch up on correspondence.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Melting sun

Thanks to the Simple Woman for hosting this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

For Monday, January 11, 2010

Outside My Window...bright Australian sun, and a house under construction.

I am thinking...that I've never experienced such heat before! (42.7 Celsius/108.8 Fahrenheit)

I am thankful for... a shaded clothesline.

From the kitchen... I'll be making Chapati tonight. The quickest, easiest, and most yummy flatbread I've made so far.

I am wearing... Green t-shirt. Capris. Black sandals.

I am creating... A cushion cover. My mother in law helped me start the patchwork at Christmastime.

I am going... to stay at home today. :)

I am reading... Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey. It's a book that makes me think--and sometimes makes me uncomfortable. But that's the sort of book I need, to help me grow.

I am hoping... to finish planning the week's meals this afternoon.

I am hearing... the hum of our air conditioner.

Around the house... maps on the walls: Kansas in the 1870s, Ancient Iran...

One of my favourite things... Reading at the beach with my husband.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Starting daily Latin study again, attending Bible studies, cooking for company.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Sandringham beach

Thanks to the Simple Woman for hosting this.