Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nature Strikes

DH cleared a path a while ago from our property to the vacant property behind us, which is what I cut through every day when I walk the dogs on the goat road. This is how I usually see these plants.

But over the weekend, I noticed some were turning bright red in the middle, and one was especially magnificant, with a huge bloom in its center.

On today's walk, those you see with red centers in this photo all now have the blooms too.

I'm not really sure what these plants are. I believe they are some type of Century plant/agave. If they are, the plants will die after the blooms. But for now, they're gorgeous to see at the beginning and end of my daily walks. The photos can all be clicked on to see bigger versions.

I haven't been back to my sewing room since I showed the test muslin for the Diana Mode tee. I've been busy working on icky paperwork and taking care of the poochies.

The dogs are exhausting me because Dani isn't feeling well and I've had a lot of top and bottom end cleaning up to do. Last night she was a very sick little girl at both ends and I spent most of the night half-awake with her snuggled very close to me (her choice) and ready to jump up and aim her toward papers and towels when needed. We're off to the vet again this afternoon. She was there on Tuesday for a tapeworm treatment. I'm pretty sure what's going on now is something else.

But she's feeling much better today. Good enough to go tearing off into the neighbor's yard with Chili, and then me chasing them. Twice. And of course the telephone rings at that exact moment with a call I'd been waiting for. Did I mention the neighbor is a very nice elderly lady who tries to be patient with my pooches but she's really a cat person. I think fencing in part of the property is in our future. It's been one of those days.

The paperwork is mostly done but I'm going to abandon the remainder for the evening and hide out in the sewing room, if I can get a volunteer for Poop Patrol. Anyone?? ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Answering Some Comments

Some paperwork and other not-fun stuff is calling my name which means there won't be any sewing going on here for the next 2-3 days. So, I thought I'd make this post a response to some comments. After that, it might be doggie pics again. ;-)

1. "The neckline is also too wide for you." The neckline itself really isn't too wide fit-wise, but because the shoulders are, the sleeves droop down and pull the neckline out of place. Plus, I need to adjust for square shoulders too, and that will help the back neckline which is also affecting how the front neckline sits. And finally, when I'm holding a camera in the air, the neckline shifts so the pics aren't exactly representative of what things look like without a camera in hand. All of this to say, really, it isn't quite what it appears.

2. "Would you mind explaining just where/how you would put that fusible tape to keep the gathers in place?" I haven't quite fully thought this out yet. When/if I do, I'll take pics. But I'm thinking I'd fuse the tape just over the stitching line, with most of it in the seam allowance, or something like that.

3. "I think the sleeve cap should also have some gathers to balance the cuff gathers." Hmm. No. ;-) I like the style of the sleeve as it is, and with double gathers I think I'll end up looking like a linebacker.

4. "I've been looking at Ottobre 2/07 Top #5." I like that top too, and it may make it to the top of my list. I'm not sure, though, that I want to start from scratch again yet. I'm more inclined to take my TNT pattern and morph it into a vee-necked version of this Diana Mode tee, if I decide to do a vee'd version.

5. "I have this issue at home and in Dutch, which I can read. Want me to have a look for a second opinion on that back facing?" Katharine, that would be great if you have the time. I'm just wondering if there are instructions for what to do with the mark on the pattern, and also curious if the bust dart is mentioned at all?

6. "I will introduce myself and stop lurking, cause I'm hooked on Debbie and her doggers, so I'm always checkin' in." Thanks for de-lurking Laceflower! And thank you for the nice comments (that goes for everyone too).

7. "I've never heard of Diana Mode #23. Is this a magazine? Where can it be seen/found?" DM is a German sewing magazine, like Burda. I believe it's also printed in other European languages, but not English. But that's about all I know. I buy copies on Ebay when I find them.

8. "Can you take a picture of what the sleeve pattern looks like?" Here you go:

9. "And I thought my daughter was unique by buying a $10 plastic pool for the Chihuahuas." LOL! We probably would never have thought about a little doggie pool except there are many at the dog park and Dani and Chili *love* them. They're cheaper here in FL though — $7.99 at Petsmart. ;-)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ho Hum

The jury is still out. There are some fit issues at the shoulders and back neckline, and the armhole is a little too low for my preference, which are contributing to my indifference about this top. But I'm also thinking the gathered sleeve is maybe not such a good look for my arms. I don't know. I still like the sleeves, in theory. Maybe when the shoulders are narrowed so the sleeve head hangs where it's supposed to and a little more width is added to the bicep/band, I'll like it more.

I'm also indifferent about the scoop neckline, which you can't see on me very well in the pics below since I'm wrestling a camera with one arm (the gathers really do hang symmetrically when my arms aren't up in the air). I wonder how much trouble it would be to draft a vee neckline instead of this one. I think it would be easy enough to do in my Pattern Editor software, so maybe what I need to do is start with my TNT tee and copy the sleeves since otherwise there's nothing extraordinary about this top compared to my TNT tee.

One thing I know for sure, don't use a knit with poor recovery for a final version. It's really a bugger to keep the gathers from stretching out flat. With "real" fabric, I would stabilize the gathered areas with some Design Plus fusible tape.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Slow Sunday Sewing

Not a whole lot of progress on the muslin for the Diana Mode top, but that's OK. A slow day feels very good.

So here's where I am — neckband attached to bodice front, neck facing to bodice back and shoulder seams together. After dinner, I'll tackle the sleeves.

One oddity while tracing the pattern was a surprise bust dart. Nowhere on the line drawing or in the photos did I see a bust dart. In my world, it's a teeny-tiny dart so for the muslin I'm just going to ease in the excess when I sew the sideseams. Another glitch was the back neck facing. The pattern piece is partially marked for what I thought was a facing to be created from that mark (and I still think it is). But now I'm not sure if drew it correctly or if I was supposed to add seam allowances at the back neck edges or whatEVER because it didn't fit on the neckline as I was expecting. (Normally, I'd eliminate such a facing altogether, but I think it will look good edgestitched and topstitched down with the same spacing as the front neckband.) I'm glad I'm doing the test sew because it lets me figure out these things as I go without worrying about wasting the good fabric. Another option is a crash course in sewing German but that isn't likely to happen.

As for fit, so far so good. I traced a 46/48 (that's the actual size, not an "in between" tracing) and I'm sewing it exactly as traced with no alterations so I can see how Diana Mode patterns are drafted compared to how I'm drafted. ;-) I can see that I will need to add at the hip for a different fabric but this cotton rib has more than enough stretch to compensate for this tester top. The bust looks pretty good too, but I'll reserve final judgment for when I put it on my actual body and not Zillie's. It does seem like this pattern is drafted for a cup size larger than B, and maybe even larger than a C. Does anyone more familiar with this line of patterns know?

(Hmmm. Two posts in a row completely about sewing and nary a mention of dogs or remodeling. Oh. Oops.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Did I Say TNT?

Hah! I'm so fickle when it comes to patterns. But I am going to stay true to a simpler-style tee as the next make. Just not so simple as to be plain.

I've been liking all the interpretations I've been seeing made up of Simplicity 4076, View B (below). This pattern was so very close to the top of my To Do list.

But then, after a leisurely evening of perusing my latest pattern and magazine acquisitions, I saw a tee pattern in Diana Mode #23 which caught my eye even more. It also has a gathered scoop neck, but the neckband is wider and shaped. And I love the pieced and gathered sleeve detail.

It would be great for the summer wardrobe to have this top in 2-3 different colors (and my stash will definitely support that plan), but for now I'm going to concentrate on a knit "muslin" which can maybe double as PJ top so I can test the fit. I'm guessing that for an out-of-house version, I'll need to do an FBA, increase the hip and bicep width, and maybe lower the neckline a little but maybe not because it may not lay flat once it encounters the 3D terrain. ;) From my centimeter-to-inches conversion of the Diana sizing chart, it seems that these patterns are drafted for a slightly shorter height and center back length than Burda so I may not need to adjust shoulder-to-waist length. The muslin will shed more light, so that's what I'm off to do now.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Surf's Up

This is what a pudgy pooch who is not entirely thrilled with the new puppy pool looks like after forced entry. ;-) She really does like being wet, just not what it takes to get that way.

And these are two pups who are estactic about their new heat relief option.

Especially since most of the day consists of activities like this (eat my dust!):

Or this (hunting lizards in the ferns):

Or this (so fast, they're almost invisible on digital "film"):

Same pups after a dip in the pool. Sheer bliss.

Today is officially the first day of (school) summer vacation. Woo hoo!! I'll be taking the dogs for their daily walk in just a bit to burn off some of that energy and then I'll be spending the rest of the day up in the sewing room. Yay! But you didn't really think I'd not have some gratuitous pup pics to share first, did you? ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hopefully Soon To Be Sewing

Things are starting to calm down around here and I can start to think about what's next on the sewing horizon.

Our guests left Monday evening, new pooch Dani is settling in quite nicely, and DS#2's last day of school is tomorrow. I just finished putting the final touches on our real world job stuff and now there's only a couple of things I need to finish up before I can lose myself for a few days in the sewing room.

Tonight, I'll curl up on the bed with patterns and magazines and try to whittle the want-to-make list into 2 or 3 priorities. However, I really need some simple tees since mine get worn a lot here in Florida and last year's makes are starting to look like last year's makes. ;-) I'll probably pull out a TNT pattern or two for those. I also need new underwear, but the thought of that project isn't thrilling me this week so I'll put that off for a little while longer. And finally, there's a pair of DH's pants to be hemmed and also finishing the armholes and rehemming my graduation dress. I don't like things hanging over my head, so to speak, so I'll probably start with those just to have a clean slate.

Thank you everyone for the supportive comments about our new family member. I'm a sucker for furry beasts and I'd probably have 10 times as many if it were financially and otherwise feasible. But it's still rewarding to be able to save one at a time when we can. It's amazing how quickly a pet becomes a family member and you can't imagine a day without them. It's also amazing how LOUD two dogs running around the house for a game of canine tag can be. Pepper is doing her best to stay off the racetrack. ;-) But she obviously isn't minding too much.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

3 Dog Night

It's official. We're now a 3-dog family. Like that was any big surprise, right? ;-)

A visit to the vet this afternoon let us know she was not micro-chipped and is free from heartworms and intestinal worms, although they gave her a dose of dewormer for good measure. As far as they could tell without x-rays, she's also "free" from puppies so her round belly is hopefully just a puppy belly. She's now had her shots and is "legal." The vet estimated her to be between 6 months and 1 year old. She was so well-behaved and sweet at the vet's office, even when they were drawing blood and sticking things in places that didn't thrill her. We'll take her back next month to be spayed, after she's settled in here a little more.

We had been tossing around various names, some of which were suggested in the comments, but keeping it light until after the vet pronounced her healthy. The boys really wanted to stay with the Red Hot Chili Peppers theme they have going, but "Red Hot" or "Red" just didn't fit despite how much we wanted them to. I came up with "Dani" (after the RHCP song "Dani California") and we all liked it. So, Dani California is her full name but we'll call her Dani. Thank you everyone for all the suggestions. We truly considered them all.

BTW, for those who weren't sure, Dani is the black/white pup on the left in the photo from the previous entry.

Uno, Dos … Tres???

The excitement just never stops around here. ;-)

Yesterday, DH drove DS#2 to school — since his usual driver has now graduated and, well, we've never figured out the correct bus or times since we moved to this house. On the way back, DH was supposed to stop for milk.

On the way to school, DH saw a small black and white dog weaving in and out of the traffic on the small country roads. He felt really bad for the dog but continued on to drop DS at school. On the return trip, he saw her again as he was pulling into the corner store for the milk. When he went to push open the door on his way out of the store, the dog was staring back at him with sad eyes.

He scooped up the dog and then asked the group of older men sitting outside at their usual morning coffee drinking table if they knew anything about her. The men told him that a short while earlier they had seen a truck stop and push the dog out of the truck in front of a nearby trailer park. DH decided to bring her home to keep her safe. (I have a personal rant about people who dump animals, but I'll save that for now.)

So there we were — me, my mom, and Bob (her "companion"), sitting at the table with our own morning beverages and in walks DH. I was expecting him to be carrying a gallon of milk, not a dog!

She came with a small collar, but no tags. She was horribly infested with fleas (we bathed and treated her immediately), and she's very sweet. Pepper isn't 100% sure of her yet, but Chili has been enjoying a new, young playmate and they've been racing around the house non-stop. Only on the first floor though, as she is afraid of the stairs and will not go up or down them.

I don't know if we'll keep her. I didn't have time yesterday to deal with Animal Services and I don't want to turn her in only to be euthanized if she's not claimed or adopted. Before we go that route, I need to find out if they'll let us take her back if she goes unclaimed.

But THREE dogs? (Gaylen, tell me it will be OK!) And this one who will certainly need a couple hundred dollars' worth of vet services, if only to be spayed, probably dewormed, and her belly button hernia taken care of. (Yes, she's got a chick-pea sized protrusion at her navel spot which will need to be fixed.) Who knows what other health issues may be lurking. We don't even know how old she is, although she seems to be young. Will she get bigger? Is her round belly a sign of worms or of an impending litter of more pups?

So, does anyone have any suggestions for a name that goes with Chili and Pepper? We can't keep calling her "new pup" if we keep her. If. Yeah, right. ;-)

Saturday, May 19, 2007


It's definitely been a whirlwind couple of weeks and it's not quite over yet, but it's calming down and I don't have anymore pressing deadlines so I can start relaxing.

My mom arrived Wednesday evening, after a 2-hour delayed flight. I had planned to cut out my dress before leaving for the airport but cleaning and straightening the house took more time than I was planning and with the delayed arrival, a late dinner and some visiting with our guests, I put the cutting off until Thursday morning. I did manage to get both patterns cut before we had to leave the house around noon to do the Team Mom meal duty thing for DS#2's football game that night. He's #78 in the pic below.

DS' team won (yay!) and then we had to get back to and wait in our school's parking lot for nearly an hour before DS was released. No sewing that night, which meant I'd have to do it all Friday (the day of DS' graduation). Nothing like a little pressure, eh?

But it was easy sewing so I figured I could get it all done by the afternoon. And I did, but not without a couple bumps in the road.

The first "bump" was that after trying on the nearly complete but unhemmed dress, it was about 6 inches too long. Not because the pattern was too long, but because the fabric hangs heavy and it grew. It's a wonderful rayon knit, but it has slinky-like qualities in drape and stretch. The dress flares at the hem so I couldn't just hem out the extra length. I decided to toss it in the washer/dryer and work on the cardigan and to reevaluate after the laundry cycle. The worst case solution going through my mind would be chopping the dress in half, taking out the length from the middle and then sewing top and bottom back together with a seam that would be hidden by the cardi.

Luckily, the dress shrank enough in length in the wash that it was going to be wearable without any surgery. Long, but still wearable. (I'm thinking now that I never did prewash this length of fabric, so I can't ever dry the cardi in the dryer since I hemmed it to the length I want it to always be.) The extra length meant I couldn't wear the lower-heeled shoes I had been planning on but I did buy a Plan B pair last week with a higher heel (about 3") in case my Zappos-ordered Plan A didn't work out. Boy was I ever thankful for having that choice at the 11th hour.

As the night wore on, I could almost feel the dress getting longer. It was growing again after hanging on me. So it's now on the dressform for a few days so it can finish any more growing and then I'll hem it again shorter, sacrificing a bit of the flare. It's a great dress to wear though. Very swishy and comfortable. The rayon knit was perfect for the style, for the warm, humid weather last night and for sitting in the stands for hours watching the ceremony and waiting for the 593 names of the graduating class to be called. I know I'll be wearing this again and again over the summer.

The other "bump" in the road was that by the time I washed/dried the dress, sewed the top, and then fiddled with length and shoes, I was out of time to finish the dress armholes. No one was going to see them, so I just wore it with the raw edges. I'll turn those under when I do the new hem.

The cardi went together without a hitch and turned out great. I had some hand-dyed-by-me foldover elastic left from another project that matched this fabric perfectly. I used it on the neckline edge so that the cardi would have some contrast from the dress underneath and to add some flattering vertical lines. I pressed the elastic in half and then used my coverstitch machine to attach it all in one pass.

And now for a few more graduation night photos. The first is of DS and his brothers.

Next, DS and his girlfriend.

And last, DS and two of his close friends. The young man in the middle also graduated last night but ditched his cap and gown right away.

DS looks happy, doesn't he? ;-) I know DH and I are thrilled, and very proud. It's hard to believe this day has come and gone already. It's zipped by fast but the years have all been so fun and enjoyable. I'm a little sad that my first "baby" is nearly all grown up, but he won't be leaving the nest quite yet. DS will continue working full-time at The Cheesecake Factory (restaurant) over the summer and will then drop to part-time when he starts community college in the fall to train to be a fireman/paramedic. A new chapter begins.

I Made It!

Whew! It's been a busy last few days, but my mom and her sweetie arrived, the dress got made (hastily), DH's oldest and his friend arrived, DS graduated, and I'm off to bed to sleep very soundly. More details on everything (especially sewing!) soon, but for now here's a photo from tonight's activities, which can be clicked on for the bigger version.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Painting Cheat

First, thank you everyone for all of the wonderful compliments. It was a lot of work and in less than 2 weeks (whew!), but it's all worth it, now. I love my new dining room, I love having that room open and accessible again with light shining in from the window, and I can't wait until we sit down to our first dinner in there. Of course, I may never get up …

Next, while it's still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share a little tip for "painting" around existing crown and chair rail. The gist of the hint is … don't. ;-)

Until the dining room, all of the crown we've done in the house has been new and installed *after* we painted the walls. But in the dining room, the house came with the crown and chair rail and we were not planning on removing it all before painting, although we did remove some before the new wall was built and in the end on this project removed almost 3 walls' worth of crown because it really needed a good sanding and cleaning up. But for what was left, that meant that the "line" of red paint butting up next to the white trim was going to have to be perfect because of the high contrast. I'm a really, really straight painter but the job was proving to be a major headache because 34-year old caulk is bumpy and thus very hard to paint so that it turns out looking straight. I mean, technically, the painting *was* straight but it didn't look like it. Ick.

So, I stared at the source of my headache for a while and came up with another plan. We'd add a row of narrow trim just under the crown and just above the chair rail. We would paint the new trim white while it was off the wall and then paint the wall with red very close to the existing trim line but not all the way up to it. The new trim would then cover up those bumpy old caulk imperfections and the transition from red to white.

This photo shows the new, fluted trim under the crown molding:

This photo shows the original chair rail, before we started painting:

And this photo shows the same wall now finished and with that same narrow fluted trim just above the old trim:

It all looks like it's always been there, doesn't it? It was wonderful to relieve myself of that headache! I love it when a plan works, especially since we've had quite a few "learning experiences" in this house. Anything to make this job easier is good in my book.

Yesterday I got my hair cut and did the grocery shopping. Two more things crossed off the pre-guest list. Today I'm going to spend the morning cleaning and then after lunch I'm going to cut out the dress. I have to get to the airport by 6 PM, so that gives me a few hours to do the cutting and maybe even start sewing. Hopefully my next post will be truly sewinig-related.

Project Dining Room: 99.99% Done

Just a quick update while I stop for lunch during my days of 3,427 Things To Do.

The dining room is mostly done. I still have to (1) finish painting one set of doors, (2) recover the chair seats, (3) hang more pictures, (4) buy a rug. Those things will come, but not until after graduation and after our company leaves. And a long rest. ;-)

The trim work went pretty well, except DH turned into the s-l-o-w-e-s-t painter in the world so we lost more time waiting on that than I was planning. And then unpacking the china and crystal, washing it and putting it away took a good chunk of time. But it's done now and looks great (if I say so myself!). Once again, I unpacked some things I had completely forgotten we owned. The yard sale pile is growing by leaps and bounds.

I'm hoping I still have enough energy tonight to start my dress. Around that, I have to get my hair cut, buy groceries, and clean the house — which is still in semi-disaster state from the dining room project. So that means unpacking a few more boxes and stashing stuff. (If you look at the kitchen counters in one of the pics below, you can see the stacks waiting to be dealt with.) It's going to be an interesting next couple of days. I'm looking forward to just sitting still during the graduation ceremony. ;-)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I think I can, I think I can

I'm beginning to think we might just make the self-imposed deadline of having the work in the dining room done by tomorrow (Sunday) night, especially since we're ignoring Mother's Day until next weekend when my mom is here.

Here's the progress from a couple of hours ago. The last sheet of the underlayment (is that a word?) is down and I've now got about 1/4 of the floor left to go.

DH has been putting the finishing paint touches on the trim while I do the floor and I think we'll be able to start on it after dinner (take-out again). We took the trim around the window back down because we decided it made more sense to put it up *after* the floor was in place instead of trying to guess dimensions. After the window trim is up, we'll do the chair rail, then the crown, and then the little extra trim we bought. Everything is cut and ready to go except for a couple of pieces of chair rail that had to be replaced so it should go a bit quicker than the family room. Oh, and the baseboards have to go up too. Lots of trim work, but I really do think we can get it done. I hope so, because my sewing room is gathering dust.

And in completely unrelated news, last night DS#1 won the Best Supporting Actor award at his school Drama Troupe's version of the Tony's. That's two acting awards he's won in the last few weeks. I hope he continues with community theater after graduation since he seems to love it so much. Me? You couldn't pay me enough to get on a stage. The performance gene comes from DH, who is an accomplished singer and has done his share of amateur acting.

Back to work!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Snail's Pace

Is May over yet? I feel like it's zipping by and we're not moving as fast as I'd hoped. We lost a bit of time yesterday trying to track down and special order a replacement curve for the wainscot trim. We took down each piece last year, numbered them and thought we had them all. Except now we're missing one. And then Chili decided the little curvy pieces should be dog treats and kept stealing them and chewing on the ends. It was both cute and annoying at the same time. But how can you stay mad at this adorable little face??

I did finally start the floor tonight. Two whole rows — woo hoo! ;-) But I'll start in again in the morning and work until I have to leave at 1:00 PM to do the Team Mom football meal thing. And there's the game tomorrow night.

DH has all the various trim painted and waiting in the garage, and he's working on framing the window as I type. Over the next couple of days, he'll work on the chair rails and crown while I do the floor. I'm still hoping to be done with the dining room by the end of the weekend, but I know that will be really pushing it.

Here's what it looked like about 10 minutes ago:

I promise, this blog will return to sewing next week. It has to. I have a graduation dress to make.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Another Busy (and non-sewing) Day

Continuing on from yesterday, Home Depot refunded my money for the bad red paint. At first, the manager on duty was only going to refund for the full can. But I politely let him know that DH and I spend thousands in that store every year and he really should reconsider unless he wanted us to take that money across the street to the brand new Lowe's. He was very nice and reasonable and didn't have to think twice on that. ;-)

We got our money and then went back to the lumber department to look for some trim to add under the crown and over the chair rail so I don't have to paint perfectly straight lines in that high contrast between red and white. Ironically, Home Depot didn't have what I wanted and we found it at that Lowe's across the street. Oh well. We'll be back to Home Depot before the weekend is over, I'm sure.

So the red painting is done and looks great. The white below is also done. Today, after I run DS to/from a doctor's appointment, we'll start in on putting the wainscot trim back on. I'm hoping that will go quickly (hah!) and that I'll be starting in on the floor by late-afternoon. Our guests will be here in SIX DAYS so the clock is definitely running and we're trying to catch up.

Meanwhile, more of my non-sewing time shopping arrived yesterday. I finally broke down and ordered some of the knits on the Fabric Mart site.

The first 3 are poly ITY jerseys. I have no idea what ITY means (anyone??). They're very nice, even if they're polyester. Drapey and thin, but not too thin. The last is a rayon/spandex knit and it's wonderful. The pattern looks bold in the photo swatch but in real life, it's much more understated. It's available in 4 colorways and if you've been contemplating buying some, I say go for it! Seeing the fabric made up in this review on PR is what put me over the edge for finally ordering it. I'm even contemplating making the graduation outfit from it instead of what I'd originally picked. Except I can't prewash right now as my washer is flashing a repair code. ARgh. But the repairman will be here tomorrow morning so hopefully the laundry room will be up and running again soon. Love those extended warranties on major appliances!