Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grey Shirt

Believe it or not, this is Jalie 2911. I originally began this shirt two days ago, intending to make it exactly like the pattern, but the fabric I used didn't have enough stiffness, and the collar flopped around and looked strange. So, I modified it and I like the result. I re-drafted the whole collar piece, cinched in the center, and now have a new shirt for winter. It looks a little Star-Trek, but I like it anyway.
I got the fabric from Wal-Mart. They had 5-yard bolts of fabric for $5, so I got the following:
The top is the very soft knit fabric that I made the shirt out of, then a dark blue twill that feels like cotton and will eventually become a new skirt, and the final fabric is thin cotton, and appears a little more purple in person. The purple will be a new dress for next summer. I loved the blue dress I made earlier this year! It was super comfortable and I wore it a lot, so I want to make another one to keep me cool next year.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I had too much to say on the subject of pillows for my last post.

We have been buying pillows often lately but cannot seem to find just the right combination of fluffy and firm. My favorite pillow ever was made with crushed foam, which can get packed into a harder ball, or left to loosely cradle your head. It was just what both of us were searching fruitlessly for. We have had a few pillow-squeezing trips*, but the pillows we bought would either compact quickly into headache-inducing lumps or deflate completely. (I have some opinions relating to pillows here, it seems.) I finally looked all over the internet for crushed foam pillows, and discovered that they can cost $120 each. Ouch. So I bought some crushed foam online, and made the pillows today. The foam was $23 with shipping for 2 1/2 pounds. It was enough for 2 pillows, possibly 3, depending on how full you like your pillow.
This is what the foam looks like:
I cut out four pieces of satiny fabric I had in my stash into pieces 22 inches by 30 inches, sewed up three sides, and stuffed them. The foam stuffing is a lot of different sizes, and occasionally there are hard bits that I picked out to keep the pillows fluffy. No one will lose an eye on these!
Then I sewed up the last side on my machine.
The stuffing travels through the air and has a lot of static in it, so cleaning up was a pain, but in the end it was worth it.
Tonight, we'll try them out, and add more stuffing if necessary.
Custom pillows for $23. Not bad!

*A note on pillow-squeezing trips: There is nothing like standing in the pillow aisle at Wal-Mart and taking down each pillow and methodically squeezing it to garner stares from strangers. Has no one ever tried squeezing the pillows they buy?

Summer Projects

Here's a quick run down on the past month:

I moved to Bushnell and whipped out two sets of light-blocking shades for our bedroom windows. I know it's hard, but guess which one was for the boys?

We had the festival, came home for a week, went to Canada to see the relatives, and a certain young man turned 10.
Then we went back to Bushnell for vacation. It was hot. But that did not deter us from petting tigers when the opportunity presented itself. The littlest Winter got bit by the littlest tiger, but the teeth did not break skin. It made for a good story, and lots of later bragging.
We came home last night, and I made these pillows:

I have more to say about pillows, so check out the next post!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day Job - Days 3 and 4

No photos today, just a quick update...
Last night I took my boys over to see Toby Mac on Main Stage. My oldest son had a fever of 102.7 but he really wanted to see Toby's 10p.m. set on Main Stage. So, I gave him some ibuprofen, grabbed our stage passes and some earplugs, and took him and his brother to the stage. I didn't really want to be there. I was exhausted and a little worried about the Sick One, Chase, but I wanted to do something special for him. I am super busy and distracted during the festival, so the best I can do is hang out with him and do what he enjoys when we get the chance.
Anyway, because of my job, I have the ability to get up on the stage (any stage, any time, really), so I took the boys up, parked them on some unused monitors, and watched the show from behind. At the beginning, Toby was directly in front of Chase. Chase kept asking, "Where is he?" and I would point, and he would completely miss seeing him. It was hilarious. He was 2 feet from the person he came to see, but didn't recognize him at all. Eventually, he caught on, once Toby grabbed the microphone and started his set.
And, despite the exhaustion, and the fact that I am not a fan, I had a good time. It was a very good show, with breakdancing, crazy lights, and good musicians. But what really got me was seeing thousands of people singing along, absolutely thrilled to be there, and knowing that they were having a great time in part because of the work I do. Sometimes there is a lot of drama involved in this job. But in the end, it is a privilege to be able to give a gift like that show to people who enjoy it so much. Even people I will never meet. And, of course, giving the ability to sit on the Main Stage to my boys is amazing, too.
How weird is that?
When we left, my golf cart was stuck in a deep rut and we had to be pushed out by a helpful stage hand. That's Cornerstone, too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day Job -Day 2

This glorious structure has been the focus of many hours of contemplation today and yesterday.
It is the pump which supplies water to the entire festival grounds. Normally, it is only about 3 feet tall, but this is what it looks like when some one is digging it up out of the ground. Again.
On the first day of the festival, yesterday, the water for the grounds went out. We called the pump company and they sent out a team. The team worked until 2 a.m. and put the pump back in the ground. Then they discovered that it still didn't work. Today another team came out and spent all day re doing what they had done yesterday, and the water is back on. We have some very easy to please campers out here. I have literally heard no complaints about the showers being out. They are amazing!

Here is Main Stage, all finished. It was christened in its new spot today by Switchfoot, in a special kick-off concert. The new location is working out well. People spent all afternoon playing frisbee in the grass by the stage, even during sound checks.
The photo above gives a better idea of the space around the Main Stage. It's a lot of room, which is something we all worried about. Lots of people fit, though.

There are some photos I haven't been able to post, but were the hi light of today. We had some enormous boxes of granola bars donated for our volunteer staff. The boxes are 4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet high, and full of individually wrapped granola bars. We have two of them out here. It was a lot of work for me getting those bars picked up, stored, and finally delivered to the fest grounds. I wanted to get a photo of my boys in the boxes with the granola bars because I thought it would be cute. We went over and I let them climb in, and started snapping pictures with my camera phone. (How many kids can say they got into a giant box of granola bars?) Another person standing there thought it was adorable, and asked if she could take a picture, and we were all set for some memory making. Then, one of our volunteers came up and started telling my boys to get out of the boxes, horrified that they were in boxes with food.
It was one of those moments of truth. I meekly told the boys to get out of the boxes and we left. I could have, for once in my life pulled out the old, "Do you know who I AM?" line. I hear that line at least once a festival, and I absolutely hate it. I could write a whole post on hearing that line! I have always promised that I would never, ever, use that line on some one, and so I didn't today. Maybe I could have said, "They are individually wrapped in plastic." But I didn't think it would go over well. Honestly, I left the tent and started laughing. What a weird situation. Me, miss by-the-book, getting yelled at for letting my kids be a little unconventional! Must be Cornerstone!

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Day Job

Quick post today about nothing sewing related...
My day job involves helping to organize a big music festival held each year in central Illinois, between a corn field and a soy bean field. We have gotten crowds of over 25,000, but lately with the economy barely chugging along, we get a few thousand less.
It is a wonderful job. For some reason, all of the craziness and chaos is also a lot of fun.
This year, the Main Stage arrived 2 days late. We have one of our biggest shows tomorrow night, and no one is sure that there will be a stage to play on, let alone power, sound, or lights. But I think it will be.
This is the partial Main Stage:

Today is the first day the gates have been open. Already we have been picketed by Baptists who are trying to save our souls from Hell because we listen to Christian rock music. They gave up around noon, which is a pity because I always want to get a photo with them, but each year they go home before I can. Apparently, if you are not saved by noon, you are a lost cause.
Last night at 7 p.m. I drove to the Front Gate and counted 49 cars waiting for the gate to open. It wasn't the longest line I've ever seen, but it was great to see so many people excited about the festival. They all were here 24 hours early.

I have the cutest little golf cart this week. Most importantly, it works.

And, my kids are having a blast with their friends.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blue Dress -OR- Is Simplicity Trying To Kill Me?

***Snark Alert!***
If you do not like to read snarky comments, please do not read this...

This is the pattern envelope for Simplicity 2363:

Normally, I do not buy Simplicity patterns, and I especially do not buy Simplicity patterns that advertise themselves with a picture of someone wearing a lovely mumu-type dress clearly made out of her grandmother's old shower curtain (view E).

However, Simplicity patterns were a dollar at Jo-Anns yesterday, and I liked view B. I am always looking for cute summer dresses, and this one looked like it could be cool in the heat, and even a little retro, if different fabric were chosen.

So, I bought the pattern and decided to get started. The back of the envelope says that the finished measurement for the bust for a size 6 is 35 inches. The tissue markings confirmed it. That would have been about perfect, so I made that size. There are no other finished measurements given anywhere else - just that bust measurement, and the length.
They don't give a finished hip measurement.
They don't give a finished waist measurement.
These measurements are standard facts every sewer needs to have.
Clearly, this is a pattern for people with a gambling addiction.
Anyway, like the risk-taking fool that I am, I plunged ahead and made the dress.
The finished bust measurement was 41 inches. 41 inches and supposedly made for someone whose actual bust measurement is 31 inches. What, exactly, were they thinking? Why would any pattern company design a dress with 10 inches of ease in the bust?
This is why I do not normally buy Simplicity patterns for women. Their kids patterns are clear, easy, and the size you make is the size you get at the end. Even their kids pajama patterns, like 2738, which I made last night, have a hip measurement. Not so for their women's patterns! They do not give enough finished garment measurements, and the ones they do give are not even close to accurate. Did they draw the one finished measurement they gave for 2363 out of a hat?

Anyway, I took the top of the dress apart, shaved off 3/4 of an inch from four panels, put it all back together, and finally got the dress I was hoping for.
Here it is:
And again:

A little loose and breezy, but wearable in the Chicago heat.
So, I don't know if Simplicity Pattern Company is trying to kill me, but I plan to treat their patterns as if they were.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend Sewing Frenzy

This weekend, I made three things. Well, actually, you could say I made 5.8 things.
First, I began a new dress. Here is a preview:
It is Simplicity 2363. I have a lot to say about this particular pattern, and Simplicity patterns in general, but that can wait until my next post. This unfinished dress is the 0.8.

Next, I made some curtains:

I made two of them, but the photo of the other one didn't turn out as good, so you'll have to trust me that I have two. I needed some sheer curtains, and the color is almost a turquoise color. I like to look at them blowing in the breeze and imagine that I am somewhere in Greece, not in Chicago, listening to car alarms and sirens and skateboarders thunking over every flaw in the pavement. (Normally, I don't even notice all of that noise, but someone's car alarm went off for over an hour right outside my window and the fire department was called. -Not by me- Two engines were sent, and the firemen poured out holding axes and equipment. The noise just stopped and the fire trucks are gone now. Car alarms are illegal in the city. Probably because your neighbors want to shoot your car full of holes to MAKE THE NOISE STOP.) Anyway, I imagine that Greece has less incidents of things like that happening. Do they even have skateboards there? Who knows.
Back on track now!

Here is one of the three pairs of sleeping shorts I made the boys:
They have been sleeping in shorts that suddenly got very small on them, which was adorable, but they are getting to that embarrassed age, so I made some larger ones. I actually made all three pairs in the amount of time it took them to take showers. It's Simplicity 2738, and there are only two pieces, so it wasn't really that hard.

So there ! 5.8 things in 24 hours! Not too shabby.
Here's what my sewing area looked like after the frenzy:
Time to go clean...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby Dress

This is son # 2 helping me to get a good shot of my latest project, a baby dress for a friend of mine. It seems like a lot of people I know are having babies right now!

Here is what is inside of the little garment bag I made to hold the dress:
I had to make a little kerchief for her head because that is something her mom will LOVE, probably even more than a bonnet.
Here are the bloomers:

They seem really huge to me, but with a diaper underneath, they might be all right.
The flowered fabric is soft, 100% cotton voile, and the off white fabric is unbleached muslin.

I enjoy sewing for babies, and something about a teeny tiny garment bag just makes the dress even more special. (Plus, it's so easy.) Now I just need a big, brown bow to finish it off.

Somebody clean that windowsill!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cow Skins Transformed!

I got a little more leather, and decided to make some more wallets, this time for a craft bazaar on Saturday. I have a love/hate relationship with craft bazaars, so a friend of mine said she'd sell them for me. I want to make enough money to buy a really nice swim suit, though I don't think they sell those old-fashioned, to-the-knees ones any more... I may have to make one.
I just burn too easily!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Laptop Case

This is my new Dell 11Z. It has an 11-inch screen and is perfect for lugging around, which I will fully experience when I move to central Illinois for a month to do my job. Last year, I had a 17-inch monster, which we call "The Beast," for my work. The screen was nice for viewing photos, but the thing weighed so much I had black and blue marks from the case smacking me in the leg when I walked. Not so with this new baby!
But, the new baby needed a case so I could bring it with me to another advertising extravaganza this weekend. I will be staying in a hotel with my husband (the kids are with Grandma). All in all, between the new laptop and the weekend away, this is turning out to be an awesome job. I am trying not to think too much about talking to 10,000 people again. It should be fun.
So, anyway, the new case- I cut a rectangle of fabric, 23 1/2 inches by 14 inches, out of some canvas I had in my stash.

Then I cut two more rectangles out of soft t-shirt knit and batting,

sandwiched the whole thing together, and sewed it up, leaving a hole to turn it right side out. Once it was right side out, I topstitched it, sewed up two sides, and put on some velcro to keep the flap down.
This was a super quick, easy project, and now I can keep my new laptop in it's scratch-free condition as long as possible.
Ain't it pretty?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big Bag

Well, I haven't done much sewing lately. Since my last post, I have been pretty busy with my day job, as well as having developed an obsession with No Knead Bread. I have also spoken in front of 10,000 people. Really. And I didn't faint or run off the stage crying or even have my mind go blank. It reminded me of all those years ago when I had to give current events speeches in History class. My teacher ALWAYS took off points for standing on one leg like a flamingo, but that's how I coped with my shyness. And yes, I even stood on two feet while I was talking to all those people. Count your victories where you can, people!
So I haven't been able to lug out the old machine and get things made. Until yesterday. I needed a big bag for holding my laptop and other work-related stuff. But, I didn't just want an ordinary bag you could find at Wal-Mart. I made the big version of the Pink Chalk Studio bag I made for my friend Joy.

I got the brown-with-dots canvas at JoAnn, and used the bird fabric I was saving for another friend's baby. (My friend would much prefer something with brown in it.) I like how all of the fabrics go together, even the scrap of polka-dotted stuff I used for pockets. The big version of this bag has a zipper pocket, two non-closed pockets, and goes across the body.

Did I mention big? Check out how huge it looks on me!
Plenty of room for a laptop, a sheaf of pens, and anything else I need to keep organized. I could also sneak in a loaf of No Knead Bread, if I wanted to. Just keeping my options open...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Decorating or, What Can Throw Pillows Do For You?

It is a dark and dismal Chicago "spring" day. Yesterday I sewed a little spring-time cheeriness, in the form of new throw pillow covers. I enjoy re-covering my throw pillows, because it makes everything else look different. Don't believe me? Check this out:
Here is my eldest son, doing his daily ration of never-ending homework.
Pretty boring. Not so cheerful. Almost depressing.
Yet, here he is with new throw pillows, and everything changes!
Isn't that better? Don't you feel spring coming around the corner? Don't you feel like you could withstand the next few months of homework? (Maybe that's pushing it too far. Even I don't feel THAT much better...)
Anyway, they are simple envelope pillows, so no buttons or zippers, and they went together really fast. I did the backs in cheap grey canvas and the fronts in some pretty canvas, all from that JoAnn trip from a few days ago.
A little more inspiration for you sewers out there:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars Night

Well, it's Oscars night! Every year, I invite twelve to fourteen of my friends and we gather to eat good food, mock the Oscars, and give our opinions on everything from the singing to the dresses at Oscar night. Since most of us are moms, we pretty much haven't seen the movies in the Oscars, unless they are animated, but that's another post.
Each year, I get out my Grandma's china for us to eat our treats off of. I think she would approve.

This year, I made spiced pecans, which I have never had before, and I am hooked.

I had to put them aside so my friends would get some, or I would have wanted to eat them all. The recipe is out of Joy of Cooking, and although it calls for whipped egg whites, which is a bit daunting to me, I pressed on, and now I am set to gain several pounds tonight because they are just that good.
I also made some chocolate covered pretzels.

This is one of those foods that is the perfect combination of white trash and decadence. You can't eat just one. I tried, and it's not possible. You also have to serve chocolate covered pretzels with silver tongs for that Oscars touch.
My friends are bringing some more food, and it promises to be a very fun evening.
And, just so you don't think I have given up on sewing all together, I also went to JoAnn today and came back with the following pile of goodies.

So far the plan is, from left to right, bag, throw pillows, throw pillows, bread towels, and dress. We'll see if I prevail.
The dress may have to go up a size after the party tonight, though!

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Knead Bread

This will be a bread post today...
I recently tried the 5-Minutes-A-Day bread, and was not impressed. This is not to say that when I made that bread, it was not quickly devoured by hordes of hungry neighbors and children, but I found the whole process cumbersome and the end result not worth the trouble.
That is not the case with this bread! As I sit here with my laptop next to my cutting board, I am listening to the gorgeous loaf of No-Knead Bread I just pulled out of the oven "sing. " This means that the bread is crackling as it cools, kind of like Rice Krispies.
I got the book by Jim Lahey, called "My Bread," from the library, and now I am on another bread kick. (On reading the book, I don't think Jim Lahey plays well with others, but can he bake!)
Here are my observations of these two different ways to make bread:
1. The crust on the No Knead Bread (NKB for short) is not terribly thick, but it is quite crispy. It's that way because you cook it in a covered pot for half an hour, then remove the cover for another 15-30 minutes. The steam produces amazing crust. The crust on the 5-Minutes-A-Day bread (5MAD) is rocklike if you wait for it to cool before you eat it.
2. The dough of the NKB is not as hydrated, which makes it way easier to handle. I felt like I was trying to make a loaf of bread out of an oozing lake of goo with the 5-MAD bread.
3. The NKB keeps better, longer, than the 5MAD bread.
4. I just plain old like the process of the NKB better. I know this is purely subjective, but if I am making the bread, I want to enjoy the process, not be stressed out by it.

I have also tried Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day," which is a great book, but I still like this one better. (His process was even more cumbersome than the 5-MAD process! Good bread, but lots of trouble.)

So, I will be buying this book and using it often.
In the meantime, it looks like bread for dinner in the Winter household!
Don't you wish you were here?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Art On The Walls

This is not a blog about sewing today. I am trying to get some art for my walls. I have white exposed brick, which I love for its texture, but I would like to put up some pictures some time soon. Finding art that I like has always seemed very daunting to me, but I am trying to overcome my feelings and just get some art. Period. How hard can it be?

I have been looking online at paintings, and here are the winners so far:
This is my favorite, by Whistler:

I like the colors and the serenity of it.

Here is another one that I like by Whistler:

This next picture was in my high school literature book. I cut it out, framed it, and had it on my wall for years. I don't know who painted it, but it is called Ruby Green Singing. I don't have it any more, but I still like it.

Here is a picture by Sargent. I like it, but except for the picture above, I don't usually like pictures with people in them. I think what draws me to this picture is the light, which makes everything in the painting glow but at the same time look very serene. I probably wouldn't put it on my walls, but the light makes me happy.

I seem to be drawn to art that is soothing. I know lots of people who like more dramatic art, with great swirls of bright color, but I like to look at pictures that bring out that "Aaaah..." sigh of relaxation. I have kids and coffee to pep me up, I need art to slow me down.