Time for a CLean Up

Originally, my sewing room was going to be just that, my sewing room, but with my move home from the office I had inhabited for 20 plus years, I dumped a lot of boxes into that room. It also became my home office, which meant I was piling things around my sewing projects. Not very conducive to creativity of efficiency! With the finish of the 4th of my Slendid Sampler lap quilts imminent, it was time for a thorough sort and cleaning.

Lots of stuff to put away, and lots of clutter. Also some decisions to be made concerning things I kept because I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do with them.

After a bit of sorting and throwing, putting away, and reorganizing, I have changed my space a bit. Now my “office” area is separated from my cutting area instead of sharing the same space. 

The sewing area is basically the same, except for a thorough dusting and thread pick up. That stuff gets EVERYWHERE!

While the closet area has little outside change, I did resort all my scraps and stash by color and reconfigured the drawers according to the size of each color. 

Now, my current projects are hanging, a good reminder to finish them up! Today is the day to wrap and make cards for the three wedding gifts I’ve been working on, which will give me more room in the UFO/staging drawer. Of course when I opened it I found some UFO’s and planned projects needing my attention. First on the list will be Splendid Sampler D, then putting together those cross stitch panels into a lap quilt. It seems I acquired most of my UFO’s from my MIL and my mother…the cross stitch panels and two other baby quilt panels were in the UFO’s, along with three cross stitch kits that should be sewn and returned to MIL as a finished object. I noticed that I have acquired quite a few flannel scraps, so it is time to do some thing with them. 😆 As long as there is fabric, threads and yarn, I think I’ll be busy.

But first, I need to finish a consulting project that started this week. Thankfully my space is ready to work in!

Photo Challenge-Thrift

Yesterday provided the perfect illustration of thrift. I participated in an open house hosted by the area home schooling group, and of course, they had a theme…I don’t do themes, and designing displays makes my stomach hurt! Enter Girl #2, who doesn’t have enough to do these days! Sunday afternoon we built this display using things we found around the house. The only purchase was some candy in the bowl. She had a vision, and I was able to handle the mechanics of it. (I can do some really cool stuff if I don’t have to also provide the design!) So, I think this is a good illustration of Thrift.


The display board is thrice used; we covered it with some ugly brown calico stuff my MIL sent years ago, but worked well for a cowboy round up theme. Red gingham is the camping table cloth…ugly stains covered by assorted table items. A bandana was cut into some of the pennant pieces, then used in the boot, and on the vase, which holds some wheat I took from the garden earlier this spring. “Saddle up” is made of twine we found in the garage and double twisted….you get the idea. Amazing what raiding the closet, a fabric stash, glue and a printer can create!

Linking with Wild Daffodil 

Fantastic Bake Along – Whole Grain Bread

It was my turn to select the recipe for the monthly Fantastic Bake Along, and I had a difficult time choosing what to make,  but finally settled on a staple at our house, whole grain bread. I must credit DH with this recipe. He is quite the Rennaissance man, and decided to create his own perfect bread recipe several years ago. This came from his love of warm, home made bread, and his scientific nature, as well as his interest in economics. We are all the beneficiaries! You can get the recipe here, there is a hand made version and a bread machine version.

We do the bread machine version most weeks, and usually make one loaf a week. We haven’t bought bread for 4-5 years because of this recipe. 😄

For the Bake Along I did a loaf by hand just to be certain there were no big glitches, so it was a little new for me too.


First, we proof the yeast. If you are a novice, this is important, because it allows you to make sure your yeast is alive before you go to all the effort of mixing and kneading. I seem to continually struggle with the right temperature (my warm is often too hot), so I am a firm believer in this step. If the yeast is alive, they start looking sort of puffy. If you killed them, they dissolve, but nothing changes.

While I wait the 5-7 minutes for that, I grind my whole wheat flour. We have a hand grinder on the kitchen counter, and it is easy to do the 1/4 cup for this recipe. If I didn’t have the germ, bran and flax, I would do another 1/4 cup of  whole wheat to replace it. If you like more whole wheat than white flour, you can usually go up to half white and half whole wheat without much trouble, but it will require some adjustments on rise time, and you may want to up the yeast to a tablespoon to help things along. Below, you can see the different add ins. Clockwise from the top is wheat bran, whole wheat flour, flax seed and wheat germ. Bran and germ add more fiber, and the flax is a natural aid to joint health.

I mix these in first, then start adding the white flour. Don’t know why, but all my 4-H books say to use a wooden spoon for mixing bread flour. Anyone know why that is?

I prefer to mix just enough flour to get the dough pulled from the sides of the bowl, then knead the rest in. Kneading bread is an experience everyone should have, it is very cathartic! I always set the timer, then I can just knead away and be lost in thought!

Knead your  bread until it is elastic…smooth is a little difficult with whole wheat, so if you are a novice, just stick to the the timer. The kneading is what develops the gluten and allows the air bubbles from the yeast to form tiny air pockets in the loaf. That’s what makes your bread light!

Kneading is done, now we have the first rise.  Put a dab of oil, maybe a teaspoon into the bottom of your dirty mixing bowl, and use your lump of dough to cover the bottom edges of the bowl. Turn the dough over to coat both sides (just a bit of glisten is what you want), cover it with a cloth and put in a warm place.  The day I did this it was COLD! At 45 minutes my bread had barely risen, so I turned the oven on to 150 degrees and finished it in there. I don’t recommend this, but ND and MN 4-H bread guides actually tell you how to do this, because in the winter, it can be impossible to get a decent rise!


It took longer than the original 60 minutes for my bread, so I had to eyeball it…double in size from when I put it in the bowl.  So, now I turn it out, and punch it done to get rid of the air pockets. As I smash it, I shape it into a rectangle of sorts. Some people use a rolling pin, but I just smash it well with my hands. Next we roll it up and pinch all the ends so that they stay sealed when it does its second rise. Looks kind of ugly, but it will be on the bottom of the pan, and the second rise will plump it up so it looks smooth.


The ugly looked pinched loaf.

Looking better in the pan.

Ready for the oven!

Baked and out of the pan

A look at the texture…I cut mine too warm, a common problem at our house!!

And, here’s the links to the others joining us this month! Do check out their adventures too!

New Vintage Towels

Early this year I posted about a towel pattern I was using for some wedding gifts (here). There were three weddings this summer, but with the loss of Hancocks, I also lost my source of some sweet pre-hemmed cotton toweling fabric. In trying to come up with an alternative that would truly dry glassware and crystal, I contacted my friend Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home, because she had mentioned that in a box of vintage linens she had acquired there were plenty that were worn or had holes, etc. that she couldn’t use. She sent me a cast off table cloth, and I have now cut it up into usable pieces to create some dish towels suitable for china, crystal and everyday use too.

I started by slicing the tablecloth in half, and then cutting out chunks that I could use for the towels. When I could, I just cut off unusable portions, rehemmed and voila! In a few other instances, there was a hole or a worn place, which I covered with embellishment, in this case some hexies in coordinating prints.

I opted for mitered corners on the towel portion. This was simplified by a very generous starching, before applying the iron. I did a double turn, then unfolded the corners, cut on the diagonal, folded the corner first, then refolded the sides and the miter nearly made itself. Another good press, and it was ready for the hem.


For the towel tops, I cut coordinating fabrics (online wedding registries are very handy), used some midweight interfacing, and sewed the pieces together. See the photo below to see how I clip my corners, and the resulting turn.


I have a wonderful corner tool that I’ve had for 30 years or more, and it does a great job. None of the photos above have been pressed! Amazing how a decent clip and a marvelous tool make you look so good!


Now it’s time to attach the towels. First I press under 1/2 inch on the print, then either fold or gather the towel. In some I did pleats (starting with 2 inches and adjusting as necessary) and in others I did a simple gather. Pleats are a little easier to work with, I think.


I set the towel into the top, re-pin it, and then top stitch the entire print section, taking care to make sure the towel is well set inside.


The final step is to mark the button hole on the back of the towel, so that it is front side up when buttoned, and choose a matching button to complete the project.

This has been a great way to breathe some more life into vintage linens. By cutting around the stains and holes or placing embellishment on top of them, they can be used by another generation!


Peace Sweater # 12

My goal has been to have this sweater finished in time for the county fair, which would guarantee it was ready for wool contest, and give me time to focus on the pants that would be sewn to go with it. I got a little side tracked with the sleeve problems, but knew that doing the finish work would be perfect for this past week while at String Camp. I had hour long breaks between accompanying groups, and this was the perfect thing to work in in between. 

That meant I had to get crackin’ on the blocking, which is quite simple when done in the Norwegian wool fashion. No washing, just steam on a towel on the ironing board, with a few pins for the necessary hems that might curl. I decided to block in sections, so I did one piece each day, allowing each section to cool before turning it. I could hem the completed piece while the other was finishing, then sew while yet another piece was on the ironing board.

That worked perfectly, and by Friday morning I found myself knitting up the collar stitches! Saturday I picked up two lovely buttons on sale and Sunday I finished the collar. Today, I had a long list of things to do, many that I wasn’t very excited about, but I was determined to persevere, and here is the partial result of my “sticking to the knitting!”

I’m not 100% on the zipper yet, but I’ll do a little press before I do any ripping. I have crocheted my loops and will attach them along with the buttons while I wait for Girl #2. We are going to Denver tomorrow for her visa interview. Alas, that means that I’ll have to visit the Denver Fabric Warehouse to buy some wool to match this sweater. Oh well, I’ll try to bear it!😉

Pattern: Dale of Norway Peace DG1501

Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Fingering in White  and Wonderland Heather


SAL Aug 5

In addition to the great news from Nordic Needle allowing me to enter this into their annual contest, I made some excellent stitching progress this month. I am nearly finished with the second round of Kloster blocks! Here is where I was last check in.

And here is where I am now.

Check out what everyone else is up to, and welds two new members, Heidi and Connie.

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherineMary MargaretTimothyHeidi and Connie.

Mini Messenger Bag

img_1194I found this cute little messenger bag on All People Quilt here. I thought it was a perfect size for my elementary aged girls who are completing book recitals this summer. They have been working on this book for 2-3 years, and I thought I’d mark the occasion with something special and individual. The bag measures about 8 X 7 inches, and is simple to put together. However, after constructing one I have some suggestions that I will share.

I cut strips of coordinating fabrics in the each girl’s favorite colors, and a 9 inch square piece of batting.

The original directions have you sew the strips onto the batting with raw edges, assuming you will cover every one with trim, but I didn’t want to be that committed, so after determining my layout, I sewed the strips on, right sides facing, so that every edge is finished.

Once that is finished it is time to embellish. I used bits of lace, rick rack and ribbon. I audition the ribbon and buttons first, then sew on the ribbon. After that, I raid my embroidery threads, and Girl #1’s left over beads to see what works.

Next, we square up the patchwork to 8 1/2 inches and sew on its facing, leaving an opening of about 2 inches to turn it. For this piece, I have elected to NOT press first. Instead, I turn and pin, then go back to the machine to do the 1/8 ” top stitching, pulling the pins out just before they go under the foot. This seems to give me a more exact edge than if I press first.

With the main decorative item finished, we can move on to the main body of the purse, which is really a pretty quick sew. I used the fusible batting, and highly recommend it for this project! After fusing the batting to the bag material, it is easy to do the bag and lining at the same time, since the steps are identical.

With fabrics placed right sides together, stitch three sides together (two long, one short). All these seams need to be pressed open. DSCN1225I used my point presser, and  had them done in less than five minutes. Doing it on the flat would be more challenging.


The next step is to make the square bottom, which is actually very simple.


Start by matching up the side seam and the bottom seam to make a triangle. Pin the seams so they don’t shift, and do the same on the opposite side. DSCN1226Now it is a simple task to lay a triangle flat and draw a line, one inch from the point.

DSCN1227Sew down that line, and Magic–you have a square bottom. Check it before you cut that seam allowance to 1/4 inch. I didn’t the first time, and messed up. I was able to fix it, but but it would have been much easier to do it right the first time!


Now to attach the lining to the actual bag. First press under 1/2 inch on the lining, then nest it into the bag (wrong sides together) There will still be 1/2 inch of lining sticking up above the bag. Just fold it over and top stitch.

Now we attach the flap to the bag.

Measure 1 1/2 inches from the top edge of the bag; this is where you line up the flap edge. Make sure your bobbin thread matches your lining, as the stitches will show. I chose to sew a rectangle on the flap, matching the top stitching on the three edges, then finishing my rectangle by sewing across in an area where the thread would be easily concealed.

The final step is to construct the straps and attach them. The directions have you cut two 2 X 42 inch strips, but the entire adult length strap measures 49, so you don’t need such a long second piece. Start by pressing under 1/4 inch on both sides of the strap. Next, you tuck you batting under on fold, then turn the fabric over. You will sew this edge down; I opted to do a 1/8 inch seam to close the strap, then do another on the other side.

To sew the strap onto the bag, measure in 3/4 of an inch from the edge of the flap (on the back) and place the straps. Sew them securely. I opted for a rectangle with an x as in the picture above.

The biggest challenge in sewing this bag is probably making sure that you don’t sew it closed! Ms. Necchi has a free arm, which came in very handy, and made it quite smooth and trouble free.

If you want to try this little bag either for yourself, or a little friend, download the pattern from AllPeopleQuilt. Their instructions are quite good, though I wish the diagrams were placed within the text. I would think it quite a simple thing to size this bag up or down according to whatever you wish!