Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What I’m Reading

It’s been a long time since I have had a reading post, so get ready for some one or two sentence reviews.

Once Upon a River—Bonnie Jo Campbell

A beautiful lyric book by a great story teller. It’s a coming of age book rolled into a gorgeous account of river life. Highly recommend

The Tiger’s Wife—Tea Olbrecht

This is a difficult book to categorize. It’s fantasy and fictionalized history with strong human and animal characters. Highly recommend

The Girl in the Blue Beret—Bobbie Ann Mason

The history behind this story was very interesting. It’s about how the Belgian resistance helped downed Allied pilots get across the European continent to safety in Spain and one pilot’s efforts to rediscover and thank those who helped him.

Buddha in the Attic—Julie Otsuka

The second person plural narration took a bit of getting used to, but it covers the period of time from about 1925-1945 when Japanese women came to the US to marry. Their lives were not what they expected to say the least. Recommend

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter—Carson McCullough

This is a masterpiece of southern literature. The writing and story are superb. It is hard to believe that the author was in her early twenties when she wrote it. The characters are perfectly drawn. Highly recommend

Shanghai Girls—Lisa See

This is the first of the two books about the Chinese American sisters portrayed in Dreams of Joy. It chronicles their early lives in Shanghai and their emigration to the US. An easy summer read.

Sex on the Moon—Ben Mezrich  is the more or less true story of the NASA intern who stole 800 lbs. of moon rocks from a lab in Houston. Good listening while traveling.

Treasure Mountain by Louis L’Amour and Void Moon by Michael Connelly are pure adventure. One is a western, the other a crime novel. The only change is the characters and setting. Easy summer reading or travel books.

The Uninvited Guests—Sadie Jones

I think this review sums it up: Downton Abbey meets Twilight Zone. I did not like this book many others loved.

Our Man in Havana—Graham Greene

Set in Cuba in the last year of the Batista regime, this book chronicles the story of a vacuum cleaner salesman who becomes a reluctant spy for the British. It was funny and enjoyable.

Homer and Langley—E.L. Doctorow

The story of two brothers who become recluses in their once fashionable 5th Avenue home.  Homer is blind and the over the 50 plus years of the story line, his brother Langley sinks ever deeper into mental illness. It is loosely based on the true story of the Collyer brothers chronicled in the book Ghostly Men by Franz Lidz. If you like E.L. Doctorow, you will like this book.

Best of the Bunch

Once Upon a River, The Tiger’s Wife, and the Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Although I have never been a regular Project Runway viewer, I am fascinated by the process, particularly those that involve transforming an existing garment into something else (usually for the better.)

I picked up some vintage Lilly Pulitzer wide legged pants at a thrift store last summer. I loved the fun alligator print. I wore them once, but they were not particularly flattering, so they were moved  from my closet to a bin in my studio for sewing project.

Enter, Patti, the reckless seamstress. I was never able to pin her down long enough to teach her to sew when she was growing up, but she has flair and since she never learned the rules she is absolutely fearless. She says she hears Tim Gunn inspiring her to “make it work

Here are the before and after.

before after

Check out her blog for step by step of how she did it. Other refashioning projects coming soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sewing camp finals

Salina came today for her last session with plans to make a backpack. No lunch bag for this fashionista. I found the instructions from a Martha Stewart blog, and just happened to have some orange nylon. We did alter the pattern to add an interior pocket. She did a great job! We are already making plans for next summer’s camp.
inside backpack

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Haitian skirt update

I’ve had a great time making these skirts for the girls of Haiti. Kudos to Rebecca for championing the project and making a way for them to be delivered by container to Haiti.
While making the skirts I gave my serger a workout, I even learned how to gather using a regular serger foot and adjusting the differential feed. Next serger project, figuring out how to use the elastic foot.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sewing 102

Last week she cut out her tie dyed PJ pants, and this week she overcast all the edges (boring) and stitched the pants. They fit! They are a soft fabric and will be perfect for her birthday sleepover this weekend.
finished pants
We still had some time after lunch, so she made a cat pillow. It was a fusible project, so it didn’t involve any tricky sewing. I have come to love Pinterest while sewing with her. A quick search turned up all kinds of cat pillows, many with tutorials. If you look closely, you'll see an owl pillow over her shoulder.
cat pillow
She’s coming back next week to make a lunch bag to take to school in the fall. Back to Pinterest for some variation on this one.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cartoon Fun


Had to laugh when I saw this, and then the next day this one.

Satureday's strip

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sewing 101

Meet Salena, my most enthusiastic sewing student ever. With just enough prior experience to know she was interested, she took to sewing like a duck to water. Here she is piecing her pillow top with my Singer 401.
sewing with 401
She was very excited about my steam generator iron.
Here she is with her finished pillow.
She’s cut out a pair of pajama pants to sew next time she comes. I am as excited as she is.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Make tiered skirts for the girls of Haiti

When I read Rebecca Sower’s post on her project to make colorful skirts for the girls of Haiti, I knew I just had to make a couple.
two skirts
I didn’t use a formal pattern, but I did borrow these instructions. If you decide to make one, here’s how I cut the tiers for the larger skirt. This is a very forgiving pattern.
First tier 6” wide 30” long
Second tier 5” wide 45” wide (or width of fabric)
Third tier 6” wide 60” long (one width of fabric plus the 15’ I cut from the first tier to make it just 30” long)
I turned under a very narrow hem and attached lace to one and rick rack to the other.
I made the smaller skirt with a 20” 3/4” wide elastic waistband, and the larger skirt with a 21” elastic waistband. It took me a couple of hours. Fun sewing.