WIP Wednesday: On and Off Track

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Well hello, Shelby the kitty!

(WIP = Work in Progress)

Many projects in process, as usual, but I also have an actual finish!  And another almost-finish!

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ALL THE COLORS!

So I wrote about the Summit Pack last Wednesday–making progress, generally good instructions, blah blah blah, everything’s fine, nothing to see here.

Then I hit the proverbial rocks.

I got to work on putting the front of the bag together and YIKES.

You know how it is when you’re sewing two pieces of fabric together and their curves go the opposite way?  Like when you’re sewing a collar to a stand or putting a princess-seamed bodice together?  And the fabric is protesting and fighting you, so you use lots of pins, but the layers of fabric actually push them out, that’s how hard they’re fighting not to make that curve.  But you cram them together and sew the damn seam, and then you have to unpick and resew the three or four places where the fabric on the bottom folded up and got caught in the seam because it is NOT REPEAT NOT going to take that curve.

That’s what the front of this is, only you do that over and over with lining and exterior pieces, all with sharp angles that other pieces have to be coaxed-slash-forced to conform to.  Oh, and there are zippers, too.

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Plenty of unpicking happened here, and easing, and unpicking, etc., etc.  There are definitely some wobbly bits and some slight gathering where my easing skills failed me, but that’s okay with me.  I can honestly say I did the best I could and more re-doing would not help.  And I don’t have any helpful advice, either; it’s just a difficult bag to make.  Absolutely doable if you have some bag-making experience and take every step slowly and carefully, but the kind of project that would probably make perfectionists twitch.

On the other hand, though, look how pretty!

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Handy Oyster card slot for riding the Tube!  And passport fits in the back of the purple unit!

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iPad fits in padded gadget pocket perfectly for reading on the plane!

Whatever, it’s a little bit wonky, but I love it.  I just put on my to-do list to make some quickie zipper pulls for this, because we are going for maximum fabulousness here.

Also!

I had another squirrel moment this week, because I am basically a big kid (you’re completely shocked to hear this, I’m sure).

I have been invited to the Seattle area to spend the weekend with my BFF, Heidi.  Which means, of course, that I need to make something new to wear.  And, because of that big kid thing, it must involve the new Hello Kitty cotton knit I just got from here.

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This is just the nicest fabric–soft and substantial, with great color.

I only bought a yard–I love it, but I’m still cheap–so I’m using the Kitty fabric for the front and back of view A (top picture).  For the rest, I dug through my knits and found the rest of the mystery knit I used for my black skirt.  I don’t know the fiber content on it, but it has similar weight and stretch to the Kitty fabric.

The instructions were a little bit of a mind bender–you sew the sleeves to the side front and side back, then attach the whole thing to the front and back–but quick and easy.  I strongly recommend cutting or marking the notches on everything to help keep you oriented, though.  Don’t be like this dork here; I ignored most of the notches because I didn’t have the mental energy to deal with them at the same time I was cutting out pieces that are a large at the bust and XXL at the waist and hip.  This made the non-standard construction more complicated than it needed to be.

The top is almost finished–just hem and sleeve hems to do.  Here’s a quick and dirty selfie in my sewing room:

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No, that’s not some sort of apocalypse happening behind me, just a big window and a sunny day.

Quite a different effect than the striped one on the pattern envelope, huh?  Less sporty, more dressy, even though it’s covered in cartoon cat heads.  Some nice shaping on this; it isn’t the usual tee shape.  We’ll see what happens when I shorten the sleeves to their proper 3/4 length.  Right now I feel like it needs something, but I don’t know what.  Hmmm . . . .

Anyway, have a great Thursday and I’ll yak at you again soon.

STH

ETA:  I have linked this post up to Needle and Thread Thursday over at My Quilt Infatuation.

I’ve also linked to Midweek Makers #73 at Quilt Fabrication.

WIP Wednesday: Bits and Pieces

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(WIP = Work in Progress)

Literally bits and pieces.  I’ve been working every day on the Summit Pack (I’m using this challenge to keep me moving), but it hasn’t felt like I’ve accomplished much.  I just appliquéd the sun onto the front pocket, though, and I’m starting to get excited about the project again.  This is going to be such a cool bag!

And that’s only half the bits so far–here’s the other half:

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So many pockets!

Good pattern so far; lots of pictures and descriptions, though I suspect a noob would be quite frustrated by a few of the instructions.  This, for example:  “To make the main zipper cover, take the zipper cover piece (uninterfaced) and fold in half lengthwise with
WST. Press, then topstitch and baste other edges closed.”  Umm . . . topstitch what and baste what?  It took me a minute, but I figured it out.  I would call this an intermediate bag pattern–some bag-making experience would really help here.

The only change I’ve made to the bag construction is to use a rectangle rather than a swivel hook to attach the strap to the bag.  I use a cross-body bag pretty much all the time and never have trouble getting one on and off, so I opted for a little more security rather than the ability to unclip the bag to take it off.

Still plenty more to do on the pack–I just checked and I still have 8 more pieces to go into this thing!  Probably not the best project to take on in my current impatient state of mind.  And, note to self:  replace burned-out bulb in sewing room ceiling fixture soonest–I swear, black corduroy is like a black hole that sucks up all the light in the room and consumes it.

Also, I printed myself a new one of these:

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This is a very simple Excel form I made for myself when I was participating in the Finish-Along.  I remembered I had it when I was chatting with this troublemaker and I thought I might use it to list all the projects I’m thinking about for the near future.  Hopefully I’ll worry less about forgetting them and reduce the sensation that my head is going to burst with all the ideas zooming around in it.

So, still plugging away at the organization, the pack, and the binding on the wall quilt.  Hope all your projects are going smoothly and you’re feeling like a sewing god or goddess (which you totally are, let’s be honest here).

Also, here’s another little bit of beauty for you.  This is my current favorite song; a little mournful, but also gorgeous.

Content warning:  contains swears.

Talk to you soon.

STH

Sunday Sevens 05-14-17

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I went out to get the mail yesterday and had to run back in to grab my camera.  Dramatic clouds after a brief hail storm.

A stressful week in many ways, and I’ve spent way too much time online following the news and thinking about the sorts of things that bring down Presidents.  The Watergate hearings are my first memory of paying attention to politics and I’ve got quite a significant case of déjà vu happening right now.

For those of a certain age who remember the last time:

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A bit of political ephemera I inherited from my father, another political junkie.

 

On the home front, a couple of fun things came in the mail this week.

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Been lusting after this pattern for a while and finally decided it was time.

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I had to order some boring black rayon/lycra knit to combine with some of my other knit pieces and I was unable to resist the lure of the Hello Kitty cotton knit.

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One of my favorite dinners this week–started with this chicken on a Greek pita with veg and topped with this sauce and some feta.

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Saturday evening sewing.  I have obviously not yet learned important life lessons regarding:  1)  NEVER use heavier fabrics like purple twill for a bag pattern that calls for quilting cotton, and 2) NEVER use contrasting thread for topstitching.

On Saturday morning, I took a bus tour through the older parts of Richland, the next town over from where I live.  Someday I really must do a long post on the history of this area (which is super-interesting, at least to me), but here’s the condensed version.

In 1942, the U.S. government chose a parcel of land in eastern Washington state to be the site of a plutonium production facility as part of the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear bomb technology.  At that time, there were two small farming communities there, the towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, plus a few Native American settlements.  The few thousand residents were paid for their land and given 30 to 60 days to leave.  The feds brought in workers from all over the country to raze the towns and construct in their place plutonium-producing nuclear reactors, plus everything that would be needed to house, feed, transport, and entertain hundreds of employees in the middle of the desert.  There was literally nothing and nobody out there, which was by design, as the project was top secret and even most of the people employed at the site didn’t know what they were working on.

The tiny town of Richland, Washington, was unincorporated and became the new home of these workers.  Saturday’s bus tour was to look for remnants of World War 2 and Cold War construction projects in the midst of modern Richland.

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Here’s the bus in front of the Reach museum, which organized the tour.  It dates from the early 1950s, and was used to pick up workers in Richland and ferry them out to the Hanford site.

 

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How things have changed–the bus has ashtrays!

 

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This is one of the H houses built between 1943 and 1945.  Each of the different house floor plans was designated by a letter of the alphabet, so they’re now called Alphabet Houses.

 

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This looks like a B duplex; the windows have been replaced and the house appears to be in pretty good shape.  There were originally about 1,000 duplexes–most are gone and many of the remaining ones are a bit run down.

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I think this is an A duplex.  Note the detached garage at the right; that would be a later addition, as none of these houses had garages.

Richland also still has a theater, a shopping center, a federal courthouse and some other structures built by the government during this period.  And the parcel of land that the government bought all those years ago was back in the news this week because of the mess they made out there and are still trying to clean up.

A big thank you, as always, to Natalie over at Threads and Bobbins for starting Sunday Sevens and keeping us all grabbing for our cameras.

Have a great week, everybody, and keep well away from any 20-foot pits filled with radioactive material, okay?

STH

WIP Wednesday: Progress!

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Hey, don’t look so surprised.

(WIP = Work in Progress)

JUST finished the quilting on this.

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I put it on the bed for photos, which obviously means it’s a new place for taking naps.

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I was hoping to accentuate the illusion of a blue background with the brown/tan rectangles floating on top, but I’m not sure it worked . . . there will be blue binding, which I think will help.  I’ll try to find a place to hang it up for final pictures.

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I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out how to do the quilting for the fewest stops and starts.  Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?  Problem is, all that accomplished was to make my brain hurt.  I eventually gave up and just started quilting, which was much more pleasant than overthinking.  Note to self:  actually doing things is a lot better–and way more productive, imagine that!–than getting bogged down in devising the perfect plan.

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There’s a lot of quilting here, but I’m liking the texture it has now.  Just for comparison, here’s what it looked like before I started on the blue sections:

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I suspect all that quilting was a good idea for the batting I used, also, as it tended to tear and lump up.

I did almost all of this quilting on the Kenmore sewing machine, but I’m afraid it is in time out right now.  First it developed a rattle.  Then the rattle became a squeak.  Now that one noise has become several, and I am not at all happy about it.  😦  I opened the machine up and checked; everything looked fine, and I could see still-good lubricant where it seemed like you would need it, but I am not terribly mechanical and am probably missing something obvious.  I switched back to the White briefly, but it’s still having tension problems, so it was back to the Kenmore to finish.

My partner will be gone all weekend on his bike (600k this time), so the plan is to do the binding on this and finally get started on the Summit pack.  I’m going to tinker with the White and see if I can get that tension problem under control.

STH

ETA:  I am (belatedly) linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday because I am a forgetful dork.

Sunday Sevens 05-07-17

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WILDLIFE!  (Well, not all that wild, considering she came out of the tree to beg for food from the people walking by.)

Busy week here, and more busy times ahead!  Plans are being made for spring and summer travels and activities, and there will be a fair bit of both.  Much sewing to be finished first.  Let’s see what’s been happening.

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Things are greening up in Columbia Park.  Look how high the Columbia River is here–a few warm days plus rain has led to some flood warnings for the Yakima River.

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Yep, over 90 on Thursday, then a spectacular lightning storm that night.

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Quilting continues, and I had to get some new marking tools and thread.

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Sewing projects continue to multiply at a somewhat alarming rate.  I found this nifty textured blue knit remnant in the stash that I can combine with the yard of cotton/lycra I got the other day.  Picked up some black duck for another cycling cap (oy, this guy and his boring black clothing).  Hunting for fabric for another cycling jersey, too.

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Favorite dinner of the week:  Chicken Enchilada Soup.  I obviously need a food stylist to arrange my avocado perfectly for me, but this was delicious.

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I swear he doesn’t actually sleep ALL the time–just during the day.  According to my partner, Pooh and Shelby do all their playtime in the middle of the night.  Then they wait just outside the bedroom door for him to get up early in the morning so they can jump on the bed for cuddles with me.

Many thanks to Natalie of Threads and Bobbins for hatching the idea of Sunday Sevens and giving me an excuse to take (even more) cat pictures.

Have a great week, everybody!

STH

WIP Wednesday: Progressing Slowly

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(WIP = Work in Progress)

A bit late this week because I am quilting-crazy at the moment and–I admit it–I chose to work on the wall quilt last night rather than doing my Wednesday blog post.  I have so many ideas swirling in my head at the moment that I am impatient to get this done and move on.  I’ve set myself a goal of finishing the quilt by next weekend; this feels like a LOT more time than I need, which means I might just make it.  😉

I did a lot of obsessing over how to quilt this and decided to do all straight lines, no curves.  It just felt . . . not right, somehow, to do curves on the blue and straight lines on the brown rectangles.  Doing a Google image search for “straight line quilting” gave me the idea to quilt these boxy things on the brown, and I like how it turned out.  I want to emphasize the illusion of the rectangles floating above the blue by quilting lots of lines (number will vary depending on patience) on the blue parts to get them to recede a bit.

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Progress has been slowed by running out of tan thread, so will get some more and try to finish all the rectangles today.

And here’s the back, which is also pieced:

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That’s the last of the tan flannel there–just evened up the edges and sewed it on.  The blue on the left is the leftovers from a shift dress I made many years ago–mid-90s, maybe?

I’ve also finally interfaced the pieces for the Summit Pack.  Cripes, I haven’t even started sewing this thing and it already feels like a PROJECT–lots of pieces and almost all needed two layers of interfacing.  But the important thing is that we all feast our eyes on just SOME of the fabrics I’m using in this thing.

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All the colors!!

Those are two Laurel Burch fabrics, plus the very fabulous batik I bought the other day, and some lightweight purple twill.  There’s also a black pinwale corduroy and some black twill involved.

Here’s a better picture of the batik which actually more or less captures the amazing color in this stuff:

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YOWEE!

Soon, Summit Pack with glorious batik, soon.

For now, it’s back to the quilt mines for me.  Have an excellent Thursday, everybody.

STH

ETA:  I have linked this post up to Wednesday Wait Loss over at The Inquiring Quilter.

Sunday Sevens 04-30-17

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Baby geese!  Many, many baby geese!

I was too fried to post last Sunday when we got home from Olympia, so I’ll try to catch up on the last couple of weeks in this post without burying you in zillions of pictures.

Last weekend was the annual Northwest Fleche ride, a one-way (fleche=arrow) bike ride to Olympia, WA.  I drove up to meet my partner and his team at the end of the ride and participate in the March for Science at the state capitol in Olympia.

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All of us old hippies on the way to the capitol.  All of these marches I’ve been to since January have been majority women, often majority middle-aged and older women.  We know a bully when we see one.

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A few short speeches before the March.  It rained BUCKETS as I was driving over there and searching for a parking place, but the rain petered out as I was walking to the capitol, thankfully.

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I enjoyed this sign.

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Off and marching.  Estimated attendance 5,000 people, which I thought was pretty impressive considering that nearby Seattle also had a huge march.

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Tacos for dinner.  Partner advised me that you really don’t want to hang out with randonneurs if you’re trying to lose weight because this is how they eat.  (Not shown:  equally impressive lunch.)

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We came home on Sunday afternoon to find that my Nature’s Fabrics order had arrived!  I waited until they had a discount code available for members of their Facebook group, then used that and the gift certificate I won a while ago.  I got these two cotton/lycra knits, plus two heavier cotton knits for leggings.  I LOVE THEM.

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Tuesday night clean-out-the-fridge-before-I-go-grocery-shopping pizza.  Sauce was a weird pesto made with leftover parsley, mint, tarragon, basil, and some broccoli.  Covered with random bits of veg, some ham that needed using, and various cheeses.  A little strange, but we ate it.

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Quilt top is finished and sandwiched!  The back is also pieced–used up a LOT of scraps on this.   More scrap quilting to come, as I’ve realized that scrap stash is a bigger problem for me than actual yardage.  (BTW, Shelby is contemplating the napping possibilities here, you can just tell.)

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I was inspired by this lovely post over at Mona’s place and filled another bag of clothing for the local shelter (partner also contributed).  The white bag in front is filled with 8 1/2 yards (plus some large scraps) of fabric to go to SCRAP.  Yay!

As always, all credit to Natalie of Threads and Bobbins for coming up with the idea for Sunday Sevens and giving us an excuse to talk about (very) random pizzas.

Have a great week, everybody, and I hope that you find some beauty in the world this week.  Sometimes it’s hard to find, and sometimes you have to make it yourself, but it’s there.  Hang on to it, and each other.

STH

WIP Wednesday: Oh Look, a Squirrel!

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Funny, that doesn’t look like a Summit Pack . . . .

(WIP = Work in Progress)

So, this is how it happened:  I was talking to a friend on Saturday and she was telling me how she’s having some interior decorating quandaries with her new house.  Then we moved on to discussing how we both have too much stuff and I happened to mention that I have all these fabric scraps that I really need to use up by making quilts for everybody I know, such as, for example, making her a wall quilt.  She LOVED this idea and went on to tell me HOW GREAT this would be for her house.

I don’t know her terribly well, so I asked her some questions about what she likes, and here’s what I have:  the area that needs a wall quilt is decorated now in a variety of browns and blues and contains some items they’ve been given as gifts, including some Western art; and her style isn’t really traditional or modern, but a mix of both.  She and her husband are both quiet, somewhat reserved people, with fairly stressful jobs, so I wanted to do something calming and simple.

A sensible person would have finished the two other projects that are cut out and sitting in their plastic bins, waiting for me to put them together.  But all I could think about was that box of brown scraps that I had despaired of ever using and my two drawers of blue scraps that would go SO WELL with those browns.

So I started work on it on Monday and the top is almost finished.

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Just two blocks left to do on that bottom row.  Sorry about the lousy nighttime photo.

This is a free pattern from Moda called Cartwheels, and it’s a good one if you need to bang out a quilt in a hurry.  If you use the suggested jelly roll and cream background, you could probably get this top done in an afternoon.  Since I’m using a variety of fabrics and cutting as I go, it’s taking a bit longer.

I like the optical illusion in this pattern of the brown rectangles floating on top of the blue, but it does mean that you have to get at least a couple of rows done before you can assess whether it’s working.  I finished the first row on this and hated it; after the second, I hated it a bit less.  And I didn’t really get the floating effect until I saw this photo, taken while standing on a chair.

This quilt really isn’t my style, but I think it’s going to work very well once I get it quilted and bound.  It has a warmth and hominess to it, and is definitely a mix of traditional and modern.  Right now I’m thinking about a blue binding, and I might have enough of one of the blues for a backing.  As for the quilting, I’ve seen a swirly design in one of my books that would enhance the motion of the blue cartwheels, and maybe some sort of straight line quilting in the brown blocks?

I’m off and running after that squirrel . . . .

STH

WIP Wednesday: All Zipped Up

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(WIP = Work in Progress)

(And, no, I’m not tired of cheesy titles yet.  Shush.)

What was that I was saying about things taking so much longer than you think they will?

Finally, finally, finally got the Sew Together Bag done tonight.  Which I want to use on our long weekend that starts tomorrow.  The Summit Pack that I was hoping to finish, too?  Haven’t even cut the interfacing for it yet.

I obviously need to either lower my expectations or sew a LOT faster than I do now.

Anyway,  the bag is finished and it is super cool.

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I love the way this comes together, but I’m afraid I did not love the pattern.  It’s listed as a “beginner” pattern, but I wouldn’t advise a beginner to come anywhere near it.  And not because it’s so complex–it really isn’t–but because there are so few pictures to illustrate the steps, and the pictures that are in the pattern don’t actually show what you need them to.  I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out if I hadn’t made so many zipper pouches (particularly this one) and bound so many quilts.  I was just reading the reviews of the pattern on Craftsy and the designer recommended to someone an online sew-along for step-by-step pictures.  Really, those should have been included in the pattern.

That said, though, there were a couple of choices I made here that made my life more difficult.  For one thing, I used bigger, beefier zippers than the designer used to make her sample, so I had to recut my zipper tabs to fit.  (I have this horror of little wimpy coil zippers, I suspect due to a couple of rather traumatic wardrobe malfunctions in high school–I carried safety pins around with me for years afterward.)

I also INSISTED–knowing full well that I would probably regret it–on using pinwale corduroy for the linings of my zipper pouches.  It’s about the lightest corduroy you’ve ever seen, but it’s still thicker than quilting cotton.

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But that green!  You see why it had to be done, don’t you??

That’s probably why I had such trouble sewing the binding on the sides.  The trusty (or at least trusty up to that point) Kenmore was NOT having it and jammed rather spectacularly three or four times.  (I am now intimately familiar with its bobbin mechanism.)  The wimpy White just barely handled it, but the whole drama ate up a lot of time and caused some unnecessary grumpiness.

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4.5 long pull coil zipper.  Tough beasties.

I think the bigger zipper was also the reason I wasn’t able to machine sew the tabs down on the bag as instructed.  There just was no room to get that part of the bag under the foot with that wide, stiff zipper in the way.  I wound up hand sewing the tabs down as securely as I could.  If they don’t hold, we’ll have to come up with a plan B, but they look pretty sturdy right now.

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In the end, though, I came out of it with a very ingeniously-designed bag that I think will fit my traveling stuff nicely.  And it’s GREEN, which is obviously very important.

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STH

Sunday Sevens 04-17-17

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They look a little wonky, but they were delicious.

Time for another edition of Sunday Sevens, a bit late this week, as I was busy with other things on Sunday–cooking, sewing, general life activities.

We don’t usually do much for Easter–my partner is not a big Holiday Person, and I have about twelve other things I’d rather be doing at any given moment than putting up or taking down decorations–but I do like to make Hot Cross Buns for us.  It’s a fun little childhood flashback for the Brit in the house, and I like them, too.  This year, I decided to shake things up a little and make these Hot Cross Biscuits (they’re really scones), with some added Mixed Spice to make them a little more traditional.  Yummy.

Also enjoyed the label on the pork loin I cooked.  Who knew Fred Meyer grocery store was so judgy about their meat?

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I’m finishing up the Sew Together Bag, but I also cut out the Cloudsplitter Summit Pack in the hope of making it this week.  After spending all afternoon just cutting fabric, I think that might be a bit optimistic.

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Just to complicate matters, I found this fabulous batik at Joann’s when I went to get the foam for the bag.  I fell in love with it and had to revise my whole plan for the bag.

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Another meal from this week.  My spring allergies have hit and I haven’t wanted to eat anything but carby things, but I got some roasted veg and chicken sausage in there, too.

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My herbs are coming up!

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And the best news of all–we have our reservations for our trip to London this summer!  Partner is doing the London-Edinburgh-London ride again (while I go check out fabric stores!) and we have time before and after to do some exploring.

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As always, a big thanks to Natalie of Threads and Bobbins for starting Sunday Sevens and giving us an excuse to take lots of random food photos.

Have a great week, everybody, and I hope you’ve got some wonderful things to look forward to.

STH