Advertisements

Progress on the Duvet Cover


The previous owners of our house finished the basement in idiosyncratic ways- for example, when they installed the basement shower, the drain holes didn’t line up. That’s bad. They also put in a storage system in the playroom with a sewing closet. Open the doors, and there is a desk with a rectangular cut-out for a sewing machine, and little drawers for scissors and bobbins and ribbons and things. That’s good.
The result is that I can leave projects half finished and come back later, without having to clean off a table to sew.
The bad thing is that it is in the basement, which is cold and dark in the winter. In summer, it is great, because when it gets unbearable upstairs in the afternoons, we can go down and play with legos and sew. In the winter, I don’t get much sewing done.IMG_0038

But, today we have a project. So, today, we’ve cleared off the dining room table, brought the sewing machine up, and the ironing board, and we are making some bedding for Kate.

I mused to myself how I would be able to control my “control-freakiness” with Kate, and let her sew without hovering over her.  It turns out, I am not having to, very much. I helped her wind bobbins, pinned some seams on pillowcases, let her sew…and then she kind of got bored. We had 6 long panels, 84 inches by 22 inches, so we sewed them together, then sewed across the top.  Kate drifted off leaving me to zigzag the six long seams and press a hem  in the opening.IMG_0033

Thanks to my panel of experts, who advised me to leave a longer seam allowance, 1/2 inch rather than 1/4, and to zigzag the edges.  IMG_0044

For the opening where the comforter goes in, I have hemmed it, and am thinking about attaching snaps? I am feeling a little lazy, though, and have made comforter covers in the past without them. What are your thoughts? I have snaps in the basement…

Yeah...okay, probably needs snaps.

Yeah…okay, probably needs snaps.

Good-enough Twin Comforter Cover

9 yards cotton quilting fabric, 3 yards each of 3 coordinating fabrics

Cut 25 inches off each fabric length. Choose one that will be the contrasting trim for both pillowcases and cut in half along its width. Set aside.

Cut the selvedges off the long pieces of fabric, and rip them in half along their length. You will have 6 pieces that are 22 inches wide and 83 inches long.

Working with two strips at a time, pin right sides together and sew together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, then sew the pairs together to make one big tube. Pin the seam on the top of the cover, and sew it together. I lined up my seams at the edges, although as I type this, I realize I could have lined it up any which way, so the strips wouldn’t have the seams at the same place. Next time…And of course, you could make the strips any width.

Take time to zigzag the seam allowances and press the allowances to the darker fabric.

The open end is where you will feed the comforter in.  I double-folded the hem and stitched it down, leaving the center open.

This is where I should have put in snaps… and I probably will.

For the pillowcases, sew the 12 inch long piece of accent fabric to the 25 inch long piece, along the width of the fabric, 38 inches. Press the seam toward the 12 inch side- it will be covered with the folded accent fabric. Fold and sew along the bottom and side. Press a half inch hem along the top of the accent fabric and topstitch down to cover the seam that attaches the two fabrics to each other.

 

Advertisements

The perfect is the enemy of the good


IMG_0032This is my motto, or one of them, anyway.  The idea is that if you wait until every thing is perfect, then you will miss out on the good- enough moments. For example, Kate has a new down comforter. Her room is on the east side of the house, so the sun wakes her in the morning, but it means it is pretty cold at night. Especially lately, because she closes her door for privacy. This fall when I saw her layering two comforters and three fleece blankets, in addition to pajamas, I was like, “would you like a down comforter?”
Short answer, “yes.”
So we shopped at all the linens and baths and beyonds and things, (which I hate) and I wound up ordering one on Amazon (which I love). While waiting for it to arrive I started sketching ideas for duvet covers, thinking about embroidery, and patchwork, and scalloped edges.
Now…this was before Christmas, the end of the quarter at my school, while Kate was sick and, even though I didn’t know it, I was about to catch the flu (at least I think it was the flu, I felt terrible, but I hope it makes me immune, because I still haven’t gotten a flu shot.) Seriously, it was a terrible time to start a giant quilty craft project.
So, I didn’t.

But I didn’t want to put the comforter on the bed just naked, it needed a cover.
I didn’t actually buy an official duvet cover- I got a king sized sheet and folded it in half and sewed it together. It was the best thing to have done (well, I acknowledge that maybe just buying a pre-made duvet cover would have been easier, but I have mentioned already I hate shopping.)
Now that Christmas is over, and the new quarter at school has started, and Kate is feeling better, and here’s hoping, that was the flu, not just a random virus and I won’t get sick, we went out and bought some fabric.

The middle one is Kate's favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

The middle one is Kate’s favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

We found inspiration in Last Minute Patchwork Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson, where I have found inspiration in the past. It was funny, as we flipped though it, Kate kept finding her quilt, and her brother’s, and one that I started for the guest room but still haven’t finished. It is a great beginner’s quilt book.

We found one that was 2 bold fabrics, in vertical stripes and agreed to adapt it.
We hit the fabric store and Kate found three fabrics she really liked in blues and greens.
We got three yards of each, so we would have enough to make pillow cases as well. (the book has directions for pillow cases with contrasting borders, as well.)

Here’s another opportunity to work on my belief that the perfect is the enemy of the good, because I am going to let Kate sew, as much as she wants to. It will be 6 really long straight seams, and they don’t really have to be that straight, in the grand scheme of things. No school for Martin Luther King Day, so maybe we’ll bring the sewing machine up into the sunshine and work on it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

Watch for photos of progress.

Here’s a question- as I understand it, you don’t finish the seams in a quilt with zig-zag or pinking shears because they will get quilted over, and aren’t likely to fray.  With a duvet cover, should we zigzag? Quilty people? Are you there?

Pancreas don’t care


We have had a rough fall with health problems for Kate, my baby girl, who resents it highly when I call her my baby girl.
She had a severe stomach ache back in October, with vomiting that wound her up in the hospital. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis, which is unheard of in 12 year olds. They sent her home, and she trick-or-treated on Halloween, but didn’t feel 100%.
A virus bounced her back into the hospital- not the pancreas this time, but dehydration. They chalked it up to her immune system being worn out from the pancreatitis, and an overreaction. When her brother got the same virus, but milder, we felt oddly reassured.
She was better, still not 100%, but we went into Thanksgiving break feeling good- she could catch up on missed schoolwork, sleep in and get better. Then the Saturday after thanksgiving, she got another stomach ache, started puking, and was generally miserable. When we took her to her pediatrician, he told us to get in the car and drive to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora, about an hour away. Our pediatrician didn’t have the authority to admit her, but he had been talking to a GI specialist, and they would be expecting her.
A week of driving back and forth, rating pain on a scale of 1-10 and watching cable TV. She was better, but still not well. x-rays, ultrasounds and an MRI followed, then a procedure scheduled. ERCP (huh?) a tube to look down and remove a stone from her pancreatic duct, turns out it wasn’t a stone, just a stricture, a narrowing, that was preventing the digestive enzyme from draining into her small intestine. Essentially, her pancreas was digesting itself. No wonder she had tummy aches.
The pancreas does 2 main things, I have recently learned. It makes insulin, so the body can use glucose, and it makes lipase, so the body can use fat. All that stuff you know about saturated fat versus unsaturated? Pancreas don’t care- fat is fat, and when fat goes through the stomach, pancreas releases lipase.

Before thanksgiving she had chicken fried steak and onion rings. Thanksgiving day, rolls and butter and
pie with whipped cream. Black Friday, a McDonald’s hashbrown and hot cocoa with whipped cream. Saturday, chicken Parmesan and shiny breadsticks.  So delicious. But agony for her almost-maybe-healed pancreas.

So, they placed a stent, and for the first time in months, she is pain-free.

And, on doctor’s recommendation, on a low fat diet- less than 15 grams of fat per day.

All these years I have been keeping sugar out of the house, we hardly ever drink pop, we eat plain, unsweetened cereal. It turns out I have been fighting the wrong demon. It was the fat that was hurting her.

So, how do we change our diets, lifestyles, to have much less fat than we were previously, much less than most people in the US eat? I am not cutting fat out of my diet entirely- my hair would fall out, for one thing. But to show solidarity, we are switching to skim milk, and nonfat cheese, and I don’t know what else, yet. The puzzle is, how to keep a girl going through her growth spurts healthy and happy on 15 grams of  fat a day.  Most advice on low-fat cooking is also low-calorie cooking. She needs to learn to love fruits and veggies, I know that much.

So, I will have to experiment with low fat stuff- some I can just substitute out, but some I will need to work on.

I was going to post a lowfat meatball recipe…but it needs work. A lot of work. Like…I’m not even going to put the pictures in.  Any tips? America’s Test Kitchen has a “healthy” cookbook, so I’ll try that. What else?

Bottle Tree- you can grow that


IMG_0022In the bleak midwinter,

frosty wind made moan

The earth stood hard as iron

Water like a stone…-Christina Rosetti

Nothing like being an English major- these words came to mind when I started thinking of what to write for a “You Can Grow That” post- what can you grow this time of year? yes, the houseplants, the Christmas cactus, the amaryllis and the paperwhites. But outside? Sigh.

I could flip through my seed catalogs, place post-it notes, sketch diagrams of my new bed in the front of the house where the junipers used to be, but I am mostly just sitting and looking out the windows, these days.  And the view from my desk is a happy little bottle tree.

I got the idea from a craptastic garden we visited in Idaho- I guess you could say a bottle tree seed was planted there.

It used to be an unhappy cherry tree, that died. Alas. (another benefit to being an English major, I get to use words like alas, and nobody is surprised)  I trimmed it back to stubs, and placed blue wine bottles on it.

It won’t last forever- the roots are decomposing underground, and at some point it will tip over. That’s fine. Until then, I have something to catch my eye when I look out my window this winter. And an excuse to buy blue bottles of wine.

Closet Flipping


New Year's Rockin' Eve, for the work wardrobe...

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, for the work wardrobe…

A year or so ago, I saw a recommendation somewhere on the interwebs for flipping your closet- it was on Pinterest, and I tracked down the picture, but my virus protection said not to go there… so no link.

But, here’s what to do-on New Years Eve, take everything out of your closet and turn it around backwards, so the hangers hang opposite of the way they usually do. (This is probably like hanging toilet paper, everyone thinks the way they do it is the right way. Whatever.) When you put stuff back in your closet after wearing, put it in the right way. Then, on June 30, you will see what you have worn based on what direction it is hanging. Flip it again, and see what you wear from the end of June through the end of the year.
Think hard about what you haven’t worn, and why.
For example, this fall I haven’t worn any shirts that need to be ironed.
I hate ironing.
I also hate shirts that have to be buttoned and are gappy. I’m not even particularly well-endowed, but button-up shirts gap and I hate them. I don’t hate them enough not to buy them, apparently, but I hate them enough not to wear them.
I got these thinking they would be good for hot weather when school started, and I would want short sleeves, but something a little more structured than a tee shirt. Didn’t wear them.
This flipping trick is great for seeing patterns, and really knowing what gets worn and doesn’t.
Another example is this flowerdy dress.

What do you mean, flowerdy isn't a word?

What do you mean, flowerdy isn’t a word?

I bought it as a back-up dress for a wedding, in case I didn’t have the guts to wear the little black dress that I did wind up wearing. I have worn it once since I bought it, although not this year. With most “clean your closet” plans, not wearing something in a year means getting rid of it, but this is a great dress- it is a nice fit, and great for a wedding. I am keeping it.
I’m getting rid of the sleeveless button-front shirts, though.