Category Archives: family

A Bee in My Bucket Hat

Hmm. Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “a bee in my bonnet,” does it? But I already have a blog post titled “A Bee in My Bonnet” so the one above will have to do.

Why a bucket hat? Well, after happening upon images on Instagram of the Sorrento Bucket Hat by Elbe Textiles I was inspired to give it a try. The pattern is available as a digital download for a mere two dollars. Lauren, the owner of Elbe Textiles, donates all proceeds from the sale of the pattern to a different cause every month. What a lovely thing to do.

Here’s a picture of my newly completed hat:

The multiple stitching lines around the brim are optional. I really like the effect of the contrasting thread. I chose a swirly dotted print in spring green for the lining:

Oh, did I mention the hat is reversible? Two for the price of one!

It’s easy to see why it’s called a bucket hat:

I interfaced the brim (an optional step) to give it more shape. It’s fun to play around with the brim, flipping it up in the front or the back for a different look. Here it is with the front of the brim flipped up . . .

. . . and here is the reverse side with the back brim flipped up:


Now all I need is a matching face mask. (Kidding!)

 

 

 

 

Posted in bucket hat, face masks, family, update | 5 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Before and After

After posting pictures in January of the valances I made for our kitchen windows, I declared last year’s kitchen remodel “officially complete” and blithely added I would post before and after pictures “one of these days.” Well, friends, it’s been nine months coming but “one of these days” has finally arrived.

Our kitchen was fully functional before the remodel. Indeed, it had been updated only 20 years earlier. But there were several things about the kitchen I had grown dissatisfied with and I knew that making changes now would achieve two ends. First, the Dear Husband and I would enjoy cooking in the kitchen more. Second — and much more important — the updates would make our home more attractive to buyers, a consideration down the line when it’s time to think about selling.

Let’s start with the east wall, moving around the corner to part of the south wall:

The soffit over the sink is gone, allowing the new cabinets on the south wall to go all the way to the ceiling. The old casement windows were failing, which is what started the remodeling ball rolling. We replaced them with double-hung windows in keeping with the windows in the rest of our 1913 house. Not shown in the photos above are the sliding glass doors that take up the rest of the east wall.

Here’s the east wall with the valances in place:

Looking directly at the south wall:

The upper cupboard space gained with the elimination of the east wall soffit was offset by cupboard space lost by having a custom range hood cover installed. We also lost a great deal of lower storage space by giving up the angled corner cupboard to the left of the stove which held a very large two-tiered lazy Susan that held most of my pots and pans. This forced me to pay attention to the items I actually use in my kitchen and resulted in paring down contents not just there but throughout the kitchen.

Here’s a “before” shot of the west wall:

Apparently I didn’t get a shot of the entire west wall after the remodel so I can’t show you a side-by-side comparison. Here are two “after” shots of the west wall:

The counter-depth refrigerator makes the kitchen feel roomier. It’s wider than the old fridge but doesn’t hold nearly as much. No matter: the old one is now downstairs in the pantry. Having a second fridge is literally one of the biggest bonuses of this remodel.

By the way, after taking the “after” shots last fall I had the lovely watercolor (by my talented daughter-in-law, Jeanne Ann White) reframed. Not until I got it home and hung it on the wall did I notice that the wood frame is the same color as the stainless steel appliances:

In the northwest corner of the kitchen, the doorways from the dining room and TV room were transformed by millwork matching the rest of the house:

It didn’t occur to me to take a “before” picture of this corner because there was literally nothing there but sheetrock.

Finally we come to the north wall:

Jeanne Ann’s work is featured on this wall as well. The wood trim you see on the far right side of the photos is the frame of the sliding glass door.

And there you have it.

I’m going to do one more post, focusing on some of the decorative accents I’ve added to the kitchen. I might include a list of the pros and cons of the remodel. Yes, there are a few things about the kitchen I don’t love so much. Overall, though, I am thrilled with the outcome and would do it again in a heartbeat.

If you’re new to my blog and want to review the kitchen remodel from the outset, feel free to follow these links:

March 27, 2019:  All Quiet on the Sewing Front
April 14, 2019:  Prepping for the Kitchen Remodel
April 22, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 1
April 28, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 2
April 30, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: My Color Inspiration
May 5, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 3
May 11, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 4
May 15, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 5
May 26, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 6
June 3, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 7 — Part 1
June 9, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 7 — Part 2
June 13, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 8
June 16, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 9
August 14, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: An Update
August 24, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: the Glass-Fronted Cabinet
January 5, 2020: First Finish of 2020: Kitchen Valances

Let me end this long post by saying I am beyond grateful to have a kitchen. As wildfires fires raged through Oregon last week leaving destruction and devastation in their wake, some of my family members and friends were forced to evacuate their homes. I am relieved to report their homes are still standing but it will be some time before they can go home because the fires are still burning and the air is thick with dangerous smoke. The fires came within a few miles of Portland but the city was blanketed by smoke. Portland has had the worst air quality in the entire United States for the last few days. Rain is forecast for tomorrow so we are hoping for some relief.

I have watched in anguish the images on TV of entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble not just in my state but also in California and Washington. Wildfires are burning in a dozen western states but the west coast has been hit especially hard. Against that backdrop I feel lucky to have a beautifully remodeled kitchen.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 7 Comments

Enrobed

Last December I made the Dear Husband a new bathrobe because his old one was practically falling apart. I remember thinking, “My robe is pretty worn out, too. I should make myself a new one.”

Fast forward eight months. Eight months! That’s how long it took me to get the job done. But the wait was worth it. Here’s my brand new kimono-style robe:

The fabric is a lovely Asian-inspired toile from Michael Miller Fabrics that’s been in my stash for a number of years. I probably bought it thinking to use it in a quilt. Fortunately I had purchased a fairly large piece, enough to eke out a bathrobe. Also in my stash was a piece of blue polka-dotted fabric that was a good choice for the contrasting band, belt, and pocket trim.

Here’s what the robe looks like from the back:


Rather than make belt loops and a loose belt as the pattern called for, I stitched the belt directly to the robe on the back:

Perhaps you can see the stitching a bit better in this next photo:

The Simplicity pattern I used (5314) didn’t include pockets — what bathrobe doesn’t have pockets, for heaven’s sake? — so of course I made my own. And because the toile fabric depicts large-scale scenes of people and objects like pagodas and bridges and musical instruments, I decided to match the design on the pockets to the fabric underneath.

To do that I made patterns for the pockets out of freezer paper. After positioning them and ironing them in place, I made registration lines on the pattern that lined up with the design underneath:

Then I lifted the freezer paper pattern from the robe and matched it with the same design elements on the fabric scraps I had left over after cutting out the robe. Voilà — fussy-cut pockets.

Here’s the right-side pocket pinned in place:

(You’ll notice I added an inch-wide strip of my contrasting polka-dotted fabric to the pockets for some extra design appeal.)

Here’s the pocket stitched in place:

I did the same thing with the pocket on the left side:

I’m very pleased with the way my new robe turned out. Can you picture me sitting out on the back deck tomorrow morning enjoying my morning coffee? Here’s my dress rehearsal:

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 18 Comments

Face Mask Fail

Well, maybe “fail” is too strong a word. Maybe I should just say the final result wasn’t what I expected. . .

To be clear, the problem had nothing to do with the pattern. It’s a very good one.

I’ve been intrigued by the three-dimensional face masks I’ve seen some folks wearing. The boxy shape seems to fit the face well and allows for plenty of breathing room. I  decided to make a new mask for the Dear Husband using the 3D Face Mask from SeeKateSew, billed as “the most comfortable face mask.” I picked this print from Andover Fabrics that I bought last year to make the DH a new apron (which hasn’t happened yet):

He’s the gardener of the family and I thought this fabric would make a fun mask for him to wear when he’s outside working in our yard or tending our community garden plot.

I did make one adjustment to the pattern:

That’s my freezer paper pattern in the foreground, with extensions on the side to allow for a generous ¾” casing for the ear loops rather than the narrow ⅜” casing the pattern provides. The freezer paper pattern can be used over and over again — no pinning because the freezer paper is pressed directly onto the fabric, where it is easily peeled off after the fabric has been cut.

The printed directions by SeeKateSew are very clear, as is her website tutorial. The mask came together very easily. Here’s what it looks like from the front:


Here’s a look at the inside . . .

. . . and here you can see I added a sleeve at the top for a removable nose wire:


When the mask was done I could tell it would be too small for my husband. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll adjust the pattern to make a bigger mask for him. I’ll keep this one for myself.”

Then I tried it on:

Do you see what I see?

Those peas! They look like teeth . . . and the peapods? They look like lips. Green lips.

And see the roots on that bunch of green onions?

Chin whiskers!!!

 

 

 

Posted in aprons, face masks, family, update | 20 Comments

The Perfect Hostess Gift?

Tomorrow the Dear Husband and I will go on our first social outing since we began sheltering in place in March. The big event is a Happy Hour with good friends at their home. We’ll rendezvous on their spacious deck where we can chat (and eat and drink!) while maintaining proper social distance.

Here’s what I’m bringing as a hostess gift:


I never thought I would be bringing face masks as a hostess gift. On the other hand, I never expected to be living through a pandemic.

Here’s a look at the inside of the masks:

You can see each one has a channel at the top to hold a nose wire.

I made a new mask for myself and added a channel for a nose wire. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention and attached it to the wrong side of the mask lining. When I sewed the lining and the main mask piece right sides together and turned them, the channel was nowhere to be seen. Silly me!

I’m not going to take it apart. There’s an easier solution, which I will share in my next post.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, update | 4 Comments

More About Masks

I’m shifting gears in my mask-making endeavors. Since mid-March, when the Dear Husband and I started sheltering in place at our Portland White House, I’ve made several dozen face masks using one of the first tutorials I came across, that of ER nurse Jessica Nandino. Between then and now, I’ve tried a few other patterns and haven’t found any I liked better.

Until now:

This is PJ Wong’s design. (I haven’t met PJ yet, although we both teach for Montavilla Sewing Centers. She’s an expert on designs and projects for machine embroidery and leads several clubs at Montavilla devoted to sewing, serging, and machine embroidery.) On the Montavilla website I came across this link taking me to instructions for two masks PJ has designed: one with a vertical center seam and one with three pleats. Both designs include instructions for an optional filter pocket, and the pleated mask also includes a casing for a nose wire. The site includes pdf patterns, written directions, and video tutorials.

I tried PJ’s design for the mask with the center seam (often called a duckbill mask) and proclaimed it a winner. What I like most about her design is the inclusion of a facing, separate from the mask and lining pieces, that gives the mask a beautifully finished look — inside and out. What’s more, the facing creates a casing at the sides that allows the mask to be secured with ties or elastic or — a new discovery for me — “t-shirt yarn.” (More on that below.)

As you see in the photo above, I used quarter-inch double fold bias tape on my first mask. All I had to do was stitch the tape closed and thread it through the casing. I cut my lengths of bias tape 36″ long, leaving a length of 18″ on each side at the top and 15″ at the bottom. That leaves plenty of tape to tie at the back of the head and the base of the neck. If you look carefully at the casing, you can tell that I stitched a little bar tack in the middle of the casing to maintain those lengths.

Here’s my first effort:

PJ’s duckbill pattern comes in four sizes, small through extra large. The one I made first is a medium and felt a bit large on me so I decided to try making a mask in the small size. And while I was at it, I wanted to try a different method of securing the mask in place. To be honest, cutting bias strips and sewing fabric ties was the one thing I found rather tedious about the other mask design I’ve been using, although it certainly has other features I really like.

I had seen several references on Instagram to using t-shirt fabric to make ear loops for masks. It is said to be softer than elastic hence more comfortable around the ears. All roads pointed toward a tutorial by craftpassion.com on making t-shirt “yarn.” It was a breeze to make and now I have a small ball of yarn made from one of the DH’s t-shirts, enough for a few dozen masks. (I haven’t told him yet about his sacrifice.)

Here’s my second effort, with t-shirt yarn for the ear loops:

The ear loops are very comfortable. And look how cute the mask is on the inside:

See what I mean about the nice finish? PJ’s directions call for the facing (green fabric) to be stitched down right next to the lining (yellow dotted fabric), which is left open so that a filter can be slipped into the center of the mask. Since I’m not using a filter, I stitched the ends of the lining closed.

The next version I made was for my twin sister, Diane, who needs a mask to go with the dress she is planning to wear to a wedding later this month. The dress is a navy knit wrap with a gray leaf design on it. She wanted a mask that would complement her dress, and she asked for a mask that would hold a nose wire. I made this one for her:

Take a look at the inside:

How cute is that lining fabric? Even with the addition of the gray leaf strip at the top, which holds a nose wire, the mask is nice enough to wear inside out:


Kidding, of course. But now I may have to make a mask for myself with the lemon fabric on the outside because it goes so well with my top!

 

 

 

Posted in bias tape, face masks, family, tutorial, update | 8 Comments

Tie One On!

The face masks I’ve been making over the last several days are finished with fabric ties. For the most part I’ve been following the tutorial of ER nurse Jessica Nandino but I departed from her instructions by pressing my strips of straight-grain fabric in the manner of double-fold bias tape before sewing them onto the mask rather than after. This allows me to insert the raw edges of the mask into the center of the binding strips and stitch once through all the layers. The finished product is very neat looking (as in neat and tidy) but the ties aren’t as flat as I would wish. In addition, the process of pressing three separate folds into those fabric strips is time-consuming and tedious. Oy, is it ever!

I have a bias tape maker on order that converts strips of bias fabric into ⅜”-wide double-fold bias tape but it will be several days before it arrives. In the meantime, I decided to try something different:  I cut ⅞”-wide strips of fabric on the bias, pressed them only once in the middle, then encased the raw edges of the mask in the folded strip, leaving the raw edges of the bias strips in plain view. I chose batik fabric for the bias strips because it’s very tightly woven. My assumption was that when a mask made this way goes through the washer and dryer, the raw edges of the straps won’t fray and the finished product will still look neat and tidy.

Friends, it worked! Granted, the finish isn’t as fine but I think it looks pretty darn good. Here’s my first attempt:

This mask has been through the washer and dryer.

Here’s a close-up, looking at the inside of the mask:

If you look carefully you can see that the raw edges of the binding are just the teensiest bit fuzzy but there is no raveling. That stitching you see on the inside mask fabric is the nose dart. The nose and chin darts in Jessica’s design give the mask its close fit. It’s a feature of her tutorial that I really like. No need to make a casing to insert a pipe cleaner or floral wire to shape the top of the mask, as I’ve seen in some face mask tutorials.

For my second attempt at a raw edge binding finish I used a zigzag stitch:

I think it gives a neater finish and may prove to be more durable than a single line of stitching.

Here’s a photo of the mask after having been laundered:

Again, no raveling of the raw edges, just the slightest bit of fuzziness.

Here is the same mask being modeled by moi:

These masks are not medical grade but they’re certainly better than no protection at all. And you can add an additional layer of protection by inserting a coffee filter in the mask:

I did have to trim the top and bottom of this 12-cup coffee filter to make it fit.

Thus far I’ve been making one mask at a time because of my tinkering with the construction method. Now I’m at the point where I can move to assembly-line production. A very low-key assembly line, to be sure. I’m not a speedy seamstress but my output should increase significantly.

I did figure out a faster way to cut fabric. Jessica’s pattern represents half of the mask. It was designed to be pinned in place with the center of the mask on a folded piece of fabric and cut out one at a time. To speed up the cutting process I made a full-size freezer paper pattern and pressed it to the top layer of fabric. With a sharp blade in my rotary cutter I can easily cut several layers of fabric at a time.

Then I simply peel off the freezer paper pattern and it’s ready to be used over and over again.

When my next batch of masks is done (I’m still sewing for friends and family) I’m going to reward myself by taking a break from maskmaking and sewing something new.

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, update | 10 Comments

Strapped

In my last post I showed you some face masks I made following ER nurse Jessica Nandino’s tutorial posted on a craft website called instructables.com. Jessica’s pattern calls for cutting strips from cotton fabric but I made my first few masks using packaged double-fold bias tape in ¼” and ½” finished widths. I wanted to give ⅜”-wide tape a try, thinking it might be more suitable — less bulky than half-inch wide tape but more substantial than quarter-inch — knowing I would have to make my own. I don’t think ⅜”-wide tape is made commercially. Even if it were, I wouldn’t be going to the store for some. This is all about making do with what’s on hand.

Some of my readers were interested in my experiment so I’m showing you the result.

This is what Jessica’s mask looks like when the two layers are stitched together:

Next step is pinning and stitching three pleats on each side of the mask. Normally when you sew, the fabric you are handling is to the left of the needle. In the photo below, the fabric is to the right of my needle. This enables me to sew with the pleats rather than against them:

(When I sew the other side, the mask will be to the left of my needle, the normal way, and I will also be sewing with the pleats rather than against them. And just so you know, I remove each pin before stitching the folds in place.)

To make my binding strips I cut several strips of fabric 1½” wide, cutting on the crosswise grain (from the fold to the selvages). I could have cut bias strips but I wanted to try it first with straight grain fabric, which would give me at least 40″ lengths (no need to piece the strips). Another plus: no struggling to iron folds in stretchy bias strips.

Double-fold tape is pressed in such a way that one side of the tape is slightly narrower than the other (from the fold to the outside edge). The narrow side always goes on the right side of the fabric. When fabric is inserted into the fold of the tape, the wider side of the tape, underneath, is caught in the line of stitching from the top.

Here’s a piece of double-fold bias tape opened up:

You can see three press lines: there’s a fold in the middle, then each end is pressed toward the middle. That’s exactly how I folded my strips, with one long edge pressed a full quarter-inch and the other side a scant quarter-inch, giving me the result you see below:

My finished binding actually measures a little over ⅜” wide. Next time I’ll cut my strips 1⅜” wide.

Now I’m ready to encase the left and right sides in my binding. The raw edges of the mask are snuggled up to the center fold of the binding:


The binding is folded over the seam allowance and pinned in place:


This is how it looks from the back:

The binding is stitched from the front through all layers. You can see how the stitching caught both layers:

The ends have been trimmed . . .


. . . and now it’s time to add the top and bottom strips, which measure about 40-42″, depending on the width of fabric after selvages are removed.

I mark the middle of one strip and match it with the dart in the center of the mask (remember, there’s a nose dart and a chin dart in Jessica’s pattern). I put in three pins only: one at the dart, one where the side of the mask meets the top strip, and one between those two. The pins go through all the layers:


Now I’m ready to start stitching at the far end of the strip, holding the binding in place as I stitch very close to where the two folded edges meet. When I get to the center dart, I insert the next section of mask fabric into the center of the binding fabric and continue stitching, stopping as often as I need to adjust the layers of fabric. My stitch length is short — 2.2 on a computerized machine or about 12 stitches to the inch — because the binding strips are going to get some stress when they are tied behind the head.

I don’t bother finishing the ends of the strips because I’m going to trim them at a 45 degree angle when I’m done . . .

. . . and it’s quite likely that someone winding up with one of my masks will find the strips too long and want to trim them anyway. As long as the ends are trimmed on the diagonal, they shouldn’t ravel, even after being washed multiple times.

My experiment turned out pretty well although the straps still feel just a tad bit bulky. For the next mask I might try making bias binding to see if it makes a noticeable difference. By the way, I like the fabric on this mask so much — it’s from an older line called “Birdie” by Pam Kitty Morning for Lakehouse Dry Goods — that I’m keeping it for myself. The mask I was wearing in my last post was laundered and mailed to my twin sister in Georgia.

I hope you are all staying as safe and protected as you possibly can and maintaining social distance. It’s the least we can do . . . and it’s so terribly important. As I continue to shelter at home, I have some great advice to follow: Keep Calm and Sew On.

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, update | 6 Comments

Making Masks, Making Do

And hoping to make a difference.


Like so many other quilters, crafters, and those who sew, I am making face masks, initially for close friends and family, then to meet the growing need for first responders who may not have access much longer to official PPE (personal protective equipment).

After looking over several tutorials this week and trying a couple, I settled on the pattern you see above. It was designed by Jessica Nandino, an emergency room nurse, who posted her tutorial here.

She points out that research on the efficacy of fabric masks is conflicting and stresses that nothing homemade will ever compare to medical grade PPE. These masks are not sterile and they’re not medical grade. But they’re better than nothing. The fact that our first responders will most likely be wearing homemade masks because of a shortage of PPE is downright scary in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notice that the mask above has nose and chin darts, and it covers the entire face. The top straps go over the ears and tie in back. The lower ties go under the ears and are tied at the back of the neck. It’s designed to fit in two ways: first, directly over the face, and second, over an N95 respirator as a way to provide a protective barrier in hopes of extending the lifetime of the respirator.

Here’s my first batch:

Although mask-making is a sobering enterprise, I can find some enjoyment in choosing complementary fabrics from my stash for the inside and outside of each mask:

Jessica’s pattern calls for the straps to be made from strips of fabric. I thought I might be able to make masks faster by using commercially made double-fold bias tape I already had on hand. I tried both 1/2″-wide tape (on the pink mask in the middle) and 1/4″-wide tape (the remaining masks). Both sizes work but the half-inch wide tape seems bulky to me and the quarter-inch wide tape was difficult to work with in terms of fully encasing the raw edges of the mask in the fold.

I’m feeling a little bit like Goldilocks. Will 3/8″-inch wide (homemade) be just the right size? I’ll give it a try today and let you know.

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, update | 5 Comments

A Spot of Green . . .

. . . in honor of St Patrick’s Day. It’s rather nice to be thinking about St. Paddy’s Day and not about the self-confinement the Dear Husband I have entered as part of our responsibility to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve read a lot of posts today about how people are coping and I deeply appreciate the perspective that Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home brings to the situation. She lives in France some 5,000 miles way from my home in Portland, Oregon but we are definitely on the same page.

So back to the wearin’ of the green, or rather the sewin’ of the green:

That’s the last of the 20 roofs on my Dresden Neighborhood quilt (based on the pattern of the same name by Persimon Dreams).

I stitched all the roofs using the blanket stitch on my new Janome 9450QCP sewing machine. I confess: it was harder than I expected. Not because my machine is new. No, it’s because I’ve never machine appliquéd with a blanket stitch before! How did I get to this advanced age without learning that skill?

I had to practice — a lot — on scraps before attempting it on my funky little neighborhood. The most difficult part was stitching around the sharp corners. I couldn’t find a decent tutorial on how to do that so I fiddled with the points, trying different approaches until I was satisfied. And I matched my thread with the roof to minimize the imperfections.


See that zebra print roof above at about the 8:00 position? It’s the only roof that’s rounded and it was very easy going around it with the blanket stitch. Had I known that when I was cutting out the roofs, I would have made more of them rounded!

Uh-oh. There’s a dark smudge just to the left of the roof in the 11:00 position, made of the same zebra fabric. Here’s a close-up:


I have no idea how it got there. It definitely wasn’t there when I stitched around the roof. I tried dabbing it with a wet Q-tip but it looks like ink. The next time you see this there will probably be a chimney covering that sooty-looking spot. How appropriate.

What’s left? Doors and windows; a circle appliquéd in the center; and then it’s time to sandwich and quilt my little neighborhood.

As I was sewing the last roof on, the name for my quilt-in-progress popped into my head: Uptown Funk.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, Janome 9450QCP, machine applique, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments