Quilt Design Wall: Before and After

design wall after

After

design wall before

Before

When I moved at the end of last summer, the sewing+office room in my apartment changed to separate sewing room + office room in my house, smaller individually than the previous space with more square footage altogether. I rarely use the office, though, which also functions as a guest bedroom when I have overnight guests. (The one weekend I had one overnight guest.) (Maybe more will visit sometime?) The largest benefit was being able to keep a full sewing room wall free to turn into a quilt design wall.

I browsed assorted tutorials online, bought 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ foam insulation boards from Lowe’s and gray flannel from Joann Fabric, and buckled down one night during my week of at-home vacation to make it happen. My version started in a similar manner to this one at Sew Can She, except I attached the individual pieces to the wall. I started attaching the first large board to the wall with removable tape (I’m renting), said “yeah no that’s not going to happen”, and happily went at it with a hammer and nails. The flannel ended up being just the right amount and the last piece of foam is on the opposite wall holding my rulers.

Fabric sticks to the flannel on its own and I use retired pins for security with bigger pieces (the foam board pins easily and protects the wall). I took the photo above the morning after I finished the board – it varies depending on active projects while the blue and green nine patch blocks multiply.

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January 25, 2016. Tags: , , , . Links, Pictures, Projects, Words. 1 comment.

Banoffee pie with raspberries

banoffee pie slice

I recently learned that I can make dulce de leche by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two hours and my life was forever changed. I ate a lot of dulce de leche during my semester in Uruguay (after gaining 10 pounds I was told “Now you look like an American!”) and ever since then I’ve wanted to recreate some of the fancy cakes that had many layers including cake, crispy meringue, dulce de leche, whipped buttercream, berries or chocolate, and by now a lot of nostalgia that will make the dessert extra delicious. Extra delicious, or disappointing because it’s not how I remembered it. As they say, you can’t go home again or eat a perfect slice of cake again from the Disco supermarket bakery down the street from your student housing in Montevideo.

I first saw this magic technique on ktmade’s banoffee pie post and I said out loud at my desk to nobody in particular “wait, really? That’s so cool!”

My pot was only deep enough to cover the can by three quarters of an inch so I set an alarm to go off every ten minutes to remind me to check the water level, adding more as necessary. I wouldn’t want this explosion to happen to me. I simmered the can for 2.5 hours and it turned out excellent. I ate some with a spoon throughout the next day and turned most of the rest into a banoffee pie.

Premade graham cracker crust baked for 5 minutes at 350, most of the dulce de leche, two bananas, a package of fresh raspberries, and quite a bit of Albertsons store-brand whipped topping, that completely processed confection made from hydrogenated soybean oil, corn syrup, and 1960s American dreams.

banoffee pie banana layer  banoffee pie raspberry layer

banoffee pie finished

October 26, 2015. Tags: , . Links, Pictures, Recipes, Words. 1 comment.

Doggie dinner station: Before & After

doggie dinner station before doggie dinner station after

My dog is a sloppy drinker. She splashes water and doesn’t have the excuse of prodigious jowls or floofy ears getting in the way or youthful enthusiasm that cannot be restrained. She’s just messy.

More than a year after getting the little weasel I finally made a doggie dinner station placement using a piece of this home dec fabric roll I got at Goodwill. I also moved it to a dedicated spot in the dining room so it’s not directly next to the garbage and recycle anymore. Same floor, just different lighting for a different appearance.

Doggie Dinner is the magic phrase and soon she’ll probably learn “supper” too, which is what I say when I want to talk about dinner without drawing her attention.

blue and white goodwill home dec fabric

October 22, 2015. Tags: , , . Dog, Pictures, Projects, Words. 1 comment.

Spring quilt retreat: Farmer’s Daughter block

Lucy's baby 2014_11

This is the 2nd top I made at the spring 2014 quilt retreat. The block is Farmer’s Daughter, which is similar to Butterfly at the Crossroads. As usual, I learned this traditional block from The Quilter’s Recipe Book by Celia Eddy.

Lucy's baby 2014_11 closeupLucy's baby 2014_11 back

September 15, 2015. Tags: , , , . Pictures, Projects, Words. Leave a comment.

Before and After: Balcony Plants

In 2013 there was a single Lack Ikea table on my balcony with a spider plant that I had transplanted into a slightly bigger pot that basil was sold in and is not meant to be permanent. I don’t see any pictures of the original almost-dead little spider plant that I saw on the Lowe’s clearance shelf and said “I can save you!” The balcony also had a pack of lettuce that failed to grow and a big planter of dirt.

balcony before (spider plant before)  balcony plants

Two years later that spider plant has outgrown its actually-a-pot-this-time and would like another one, and the round planter has two basil plants that are doing ok. The Lack table is at the bottom of a pile of plants and shelves.

The balcony has assorted tables, shelves, and chairs. It has a hummingbird feeder, a seed bird feeder, and a bird bath. Some of the plants are thriving and others will get a chance at a better life at my new house soon.balcony plants cornerbalcony plants bird feeders

balcony plants low pots

August 1, 2015. Tags: , , , . Links, Pictures, Words. 2 comments.

Before and After: Front Door Planter

There are multiple sets of photos on my computer taken over the years with the plan to post Before & Afters. I’m moving to a house in a week and there won’t be many Afters for these. As I like to say, some problems resolve themselves if you wait long enough.

Before pictures on the left, After pictures on the right.

door planter before side viewdoor planter after side view

The ponytail plant didn’t make it so I bought a spiky $1.50 plant on a whim. It thrived even through a summer so I bought another when it appeared on the left-for-dead clearance shelf. The bit of white showing through between the plants is a seashell from my childhood. I had a shell collection as a kid and it’s the last one I’ve kept.

door planter beforedoor planter after

On a less successful note, the sweet little ivy plant is not growing well in the planter and it hasn’t exactly died either. Yet?

ivy before ivy after

July 31, 2015. Tags: , , , . Pictures, Projects, Words. Leave a comment.

Bridesmaid Dress Before and After

a beautiful bridelittle black dressI

How to wear a pastel yellow bridesmaid dress again: dye it black and hope for the best. I don’t have a true Before picture of this dress because I shortened it by a couple inches before realizing I hadn’t taken any photos. I added the straps myself, using wired satin ribbon. After the wedding, I removed the ribbon and dyed the dress black, which came out more of a dark gray. The polyester zipper and the thread I used for hemming didn’t take the dye, so I colored it in with a permanent marker. So classy.

Full disclosure: these pictures are from fall 2013 and I still haven’t worn the After dress anywhere except my balcony to take pictures. Turns out I don’t have many occasions to wear a “if you squint maybe it’s not a bridesmaid dress?” dress in my regular life. If this dress isn’t in the giveaway pile yet it’s headed there soon.

chuppah bearer

Several years ago one October I was helping a friend find a bridesmaid dress for a small, low-key wedding. We looked through rack after rack of dresses at inexpensive stores like Ross and a Macy’s outlet.

“This is so frustrating, I won’t be able to find anything pale yellow, that’s not a color in stores in October, and buying a new dress is expensive!” She was frustrated. I agreed that it was not at all cool that they asked her to find such a specific color and just a few weeks before the wedding even! She looked sheepish. “Um, well, actually they asked for my favorite color and when I said yellow they requested that I wear something in light yellow because the three women in the wedding are each wearing their favorite color in a pastel version. And, um, that conversation happened over the summer.”

She found a lovely cotton short-sleeve dress with eyelet hem detail for around twenty bucks. To alleviate her concerns about whether it was wedding-y enough we made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and she bought some satin in a pale bronze champagne color. I sewed a sash for her waist; she and the dress both looked great. She found the whole process stressful and costly and vowed that when she got married the people in her wedding would wear whatever they damn well please.

Fast forward a few years: She was engaged. The chuppah bearers were her friends, more or less bridesmaids. We were asked/instructed to wear $100-150 David’s Bridal dresses, short, in canary, with “a strong preference for satin or chiffon” (adding the note directed at me “I totally disregarded your advice there re: either direct orders or not stating a preference, but you’re not the boss of me anyhow”). The official bridesmaid were the couple’s collective sisters, and they were assigned long David’s Bridal cobalt blue satin dresses.

A friend and I went shopping together. We both chose the same strapless cotton dress, and I added ribbon straps to mine.

April 10, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Pictures, Projects, Words. Leave a comment.

Fate of the beanie babies

2015_03_12

What I Wore to Work Today: March 12, 2015
Blouse:  Ann Taylor
Pants: Goodwill
Shoes: Payless

Last summer my mother mailed me a beanie baby she found, Ziggy the zebra date of birth 12-24-95, thinking my dog might enjoy playing with it. For some reason Asha doesn’t like it — she’ll chase it, start to pick it up, and then leave it. Something about the smell or or weight or texture, maybe? A different beanie baby gift this spring passes muster, Strut the chicken date of birth 3-8-96, so it’s a mystery.

asha toy basket

Somebody carefully archived these two toys in mint condition, daydreaming about the piles of money they’d make one day on their investment. Twenty years later, these beanie babies are hanging out in a small dog’s toy basket, not even on the Top 5 Favorite Toys list. Bird then Chipmunk are in the lead by far, as you can see in the pictures below. Then Mousey, Duckfront, and a tie between Duckbutt and tennis balls. The original duck was too big to interest her so I cut and sewed it into two pieces. Edited to add: I found a Before picture of the poor duck on my phone!

asha bird and chipmunkasha bird and chipmunk sleeping

asha duckfront and duckbutt beforeasha duckfront and duckbutt

April 5, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Dog, Pictures, What I Wore to Work Today, Words. 5 comments.

Spring quilt retreat: yellow, gray, and seafoam green

chico quilt vertical

A year ago I attended my first quilt retreat at the Triangle Y Ranch in Oracle, AZ. I loved it and vowed to attend more retreats in the future and to create my own “quilt retreats” at home where I dedicate two days to sewing and only sewing. It’s easier at an isolated camp setting with minimal cell service and unreliable wifi than it is at home with the usual home distractions and demands: a weird little white dog that needs walks and meals, laundry and chores that sit waiting for attention, internet that’s always right there…

I brought a small stack of new fabric in light greens, blues, and yellows. “I’ll help carry the rest of your stuff!” the other women said when I arrived. I had everything in one bag and my sewing machine in my other hand, there was no “rest of my stuff”. They delighted in my minimalism. I finished three baby quilt tops over the long weekend.

This quilt is made of six blocks that I arranged to create secondary pattern stars. I didn’t have enough fabric to make it a full 3×3 so settled for 3×2 in proportions that I wouldn’t choose on my own, The Quilter’s Recipe Book by Celia Eddy is fantastic and I highly recommend it, especially for new quilters. I gave this quilt to somebody at my improv theater and he asked if I had confirmed the crib size with his wife since it was exactly the right dimensions. Nope, just the universe doing its thing.

chico quilt back

chico quilt horizontal

March 22, 2015. Tags: , , . Links, Pictures, Projects, Words. 1 comment.

Weird stinky jacket

2014_09_02 hands on hips

What I Wore to Work Today: September 2, 2014
Jacket: Goodwill, $1 Thursday refashioned
Tshirt: Target
Skirt: Ann Taylor
Belt: Target
Shoes: Payless

I bought this jacket from Goodwill for a dollar. I cut off the fringe on the lapel and the pockets. I wore it once and then sent it back to Goodwill because it turns out it had a weird smell and I wasn’t particularly fond of it even if it didn’t, you know, smell weird.

And yes, we jumped forward six months, you noticed that too! And I got a haircut in July. And I started seeing somebody who skateboards and left an old board on my balcony until I finally threw it away when it became clear that no, he wasn’t actually going to do something arty with that board and if he did want to do an art project he’d have another old board a month or two later anyway.

2014_09_02 tan tweed jacket before

March 6, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Pictures, Projects, What I Wore to Work Today, Words. Leave a comment.

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