Monday, July 29, 2013

stitch & complain

yes, i know what this is typically called, but i run a family-friendly show here, people, and my daughter reads what i write, so . . .

we had our second meeting of the homeschool sewing circle/handwork club one afternoon last week while ander was at camp.  it was suggested that we have a demonstration planned (last time was a pair of shorts made from bandanas); we went with a simple drawstring bag.

i had my reasons for this idea.  firstly, i wanted something that was potentially appealing to all ages and both genders - everyone needs a bag to hold their stuff in, right?  secondly, i knew i was going to need the pressure of this to get me out of my reluctance to figure out how to use the sewing machine mema gave to diana when we moved.  diana's been asking to use it, and up until now, i've put her off by saying i haven't had the time to get it set up.  this was my impetus to make the time - i wanted her to have the tools she needed for the project.

so i took a deep breath, pulled the machine off the shelf, and read the instruction booklet. i watched some youtube videos.  i took things apart, got my hands dirty, made mistakes, swore under my breath, took off my glasses so i could have a hope of seeing what i was doing, put things back together, fumbled it, walked away, came back and did it all over until i got it right.

then i cheered and ran to find diana to show her what i accomplished.  it didn't take her long to jump in and get a feel for it, too.

she made some excellent loops on her practice fabric
i didn't really organize who would be giving the demonstration.  i assumed that my friends who knew how to sew would be doing so.  i'll make sure to directly ask next time - sorry, gals, you were good sports!  the good thing about it was that everyone had a different version/idea of a bag, and everyone had a chance to decide what they wanted to attempt in that space on that day.

the simplest bag was made of a denim jeans pants leg.  only one edge to sew, add a ribbon strap, and voila - adorable!

something like this would be simple to embellish with buttons or beads, an iron-on patch.  a snap or velcro at the top could keep contents secure.
another mom had her version of a bag.  it was, simply put, quite lovely.  and way more complicated than what i had envisioned for a first project.  this is what i'd like to work up to.  she was kind enough to share the link that she used to make it.

you can't tell here, but it was lined and had a flat bottom!
we brought lots of fabric to share.  others were generous, too.

diana had envisioned making a bag from an old t-shirt she dearly loved.  she soon discovered that working with the stretchy fabric that showed every hole was not all that she had hoped for.  fortunately, we came up with an acceptable alternative - from a old bedsheet set.  the fabric was easier to work with, the decorative edging was a good guide for the drawstring fold, and there was plenty to work with.

having learned from our prior experience, we worked out what edges needed to be cut, what would be sewn.

the pinning table
given the color of the fabric, we changed the thread, so diana got her first lesson in working with the bobbins and threading the machine.  she got to use that knowledge a number of times as things got stuck.  there were several utterances of "aaaargh" accompanying the mishaps.  fortunately, her comfort level in fixing problems seemed to increase along with her excitement for how her project was coming along.  she even felt good enough to show enthusiasm for me and others on their work, too.

we were both pleased that she could walk away with something completed.

yup, i guess there's enough enthusiasm amongst our local homeschooling friends to keep this club going.  i already have a volunteer to lead a demonstration next time on making friendship bracelets with embroidery floss.  maybe i can convince diana to show what learned in camp about using gimp plastic cording, too.

and there's enough enthusiasm to keep me going with the sewing, too.  next project: a rice/flaxseed pad to microwave or freeze for muscle soreness.

Friday, July 19, 2013


(going through the unfinished posts again)

a dear friend posted pictures of her silk-dyed eggs on facebook and i fell in love.  after i told her so, and she read my blog post about eggy art in years past, she kindly invited us over to do our own.  (if you are wondering why i would create more things i would then have to pack up and ship to virginia, i planned that part well.  these would go into one of my countless well-organized holiday bins, in which i still had some space.)

if memory serves, you first take raw eggs (the fresh ones from her own backyard chickens worked extremely well for this project; the extra ones i bought from the grocery store were much less satisfactory) and blow out the insides.  yes, it actually is pretty easy.  a little gooey, but nothing you can't wipe off.  save said insides for later to scramble or bake with.  i'm thinking quiche. 

first, poke a hole on each end of the egg with a pushpin or other like device.  make the hole at the larger end a bit larger.

next, break the yolk inside with a wooden skewer or similar instrument

after a thorough rinsing, the blown eggs can be dried out by putting them into the microwave for a few seconds.

the next crucial elements are the fabrics.  they need to be silk.  no polyester blends here - the color won't transfer.  these ties, provided by my friend, were acquired inexpensively at thrift stores.  scarves and old blouses are also good sources.

wrap each egg in a silk fabric of your choice with the printed side facing the egg, taking care to place the folds and overlaps carefully according to how you would like the patterns to appear.  it makes a difference where you fasten them, too.  you may want to consider how you will be displaying them - on their sides or ends.  the section where you place the rubber band or twist-tie will have a different effect than will the areas of smooth contact.

fasten securely with rubber bands and cut off extra fabric.
wrap and securely fasten each egg again in plain white cotton fabric.  scraps from old sheets or tablecloths are fine.

now, boil the double-wrapped eggs, all together in one pot is fine, along with several tablespoons of vinegar.  the vinegar is important here - it breaks down the eggshell enough to allow the color to adhere.  no vinegar and you'll end up with color that rinses or rubs off easily, like what happened to my purple-cabbage eggs.  twenty minutes of simmering should do the trick.

after removing them from the hot water, let them cool, for goodness' sake!  remember, these are hollowed eggs, not whole ones, and they'll contain plenty of hot water that will burn you if you don't wait!

here's a perfect example of how what you see on the fabric can have a completely unexpected effect on the egg itself.  the brown of the eggshell is a nice contrast, i think.  diana was not impressed.

i think these turned out quite nicely, don't you?  they'll be egg-cellent additions to our other preserved pieces of ovoid art.

i did not forget about coloring eggs at home, though, because of my thoughts about the experience.

ander preferred to provide the base coat colors with spoons

diana was more than willing to get her hands dirty

we were all pleased to see the results of our work, transforming this:

 to this:

this is so much fun.  why do i wait until springtime to do this?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

and on the tenth day . . .

almost there.

we were due to arrive in reston, the endpoint of our cross-country moving adventure, on the very next day.  this was our last day of travel and our last day of sightseeing.

we changed plans at the last moment; i suggested trying out the historic crab orchard museum & pioneer park.  diana loves these living history locales.  ander, not as much.  he did acquiesce to wandering around for a while.  but, steve was so tired, and it was such a pleasant day outside, that the boys mostly hung out in the luxury minivan, playing with a new set of lincoln logs, while diana and i explored.  well, while she explored and i took a lot of pictures so i could go back and enjoy them later at my leisure (and yours).









day 1 - woodland, ca to yosemite bug = 180 miles
day 2 - to san marcos, ca = 394 miles
day 3 - to williams, az = 370 + 206 = 576 miles
day 4 - to grand canyon = 120 miles
day 5 - to santa rosa, nm = 78 + 239 + 206 =  miles
day 6 - to shawnee, ok = 339 + 122 =  miles
day 7 - to lonoke, ar = 169 + 218 = miles
day 8 - to mcminnville, tn = 403 miles
day 9 - to bluefield, va = 332 miles
day 10 - to staunton, va = 222 miles
miles traveled by end of day 10 =  3588 miles