Thursday, November 29, 2012

Handy tip for those with paper cutting machines

One of my favorite new toys is a Silhouette Cameo. It cuts vinyl, fabric and paper, and is totally addictive. I'm using it to make this year's holiday cards. However, the design I chose leaves a lot of little itty bitty pieces of paper behind on the cutting mat after the card is removed. Getting those little pieces off is a royal pain; it take a lot of time and those little pieces get up under your fingernails... Ouch!
So I decided there had to be a better way. And I found one! Take a look...

I hope this helps your crafting!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A little baking.. er, sewing

This is a project that has been patiently awaiting its turn in my sewing room. I got the idea a few months ago, bought the fabric, and promptly let it all ferment. Finally, yesterday its turn came, and now I can cross one more thing off my UFO list (or would it be the USO list, for Un Started Objects?).

I wish I could remember where I first saw these, but I thought they were just the cutest thing. The cherry fabric really isn't "right", but it's what I found.

The lattice strips are woven like a real pie, and stitched down just to the Insulbright layer under the cherry "filling".

The back is padded with a layer of drapery interlining called "bump", which is 100% cotton. The layers are then joined with a strip of the same crust fabric.

The "test" potholder I made was quilted through all the layers, which made it very stiff, which is why these are just quilted through the top to keep the lattice strips in place. The strips are just tubes of fabric, turned and pressed with the seam down the middle of the back (love my Fasturn!).

These will look fun in my kitchen! And they were really easy to make. I got four out of a yard of the crust fabric and half a yard of the cherry fabric. They're about 11" in diameter. The strips for the lattice and the binding were cut at 3" wide.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Uncomplicated sewing

Sometimes it's nice to just be able to put together a pattern and not have to think too much about it. This was one of those times. There's been a lot going on at the home front, so I wanted to escape to the sewing room and make something for myself that wasn't too taxing, yet was still gratifying.
I really love the blue chambray sheath dress I made for myself earlier this year, and wondered whether the pattern would work for a knit. So I redrafted it with a flared hem and made it up in a medium-weight knit from my stash.
Verdict: Yep, it works for a knit, with a few modifications. I stabilized the pocket piece with a fusible stabilizer to prevent future baggy pockets, and also stabilized the pocket edge with a decorative stitch to make sure it didn't stretch out. And since I didn't have thread that matched exactly, I used a contrasting thread for both the decorative stitching and the hemming.

Front view:

And the back view:

Here's a close-up of the pocket edge:

I did the stitching on my trusty Viking 1+, which I recently set up on its own table in the workroom. Now I've got six machines set up and ready to sew, which is probably overkill, but I do love having a choice of machines.
The only real issue I had with this dress was with the neck and armhole binding. I used a strip of the same knit fabric, and it doesn't lay flat. I'm going to attribute that to the fact that I didn't stretch it out enough as I was sewing it. But no matter; it's quite comfortable and I plan to wear it a lot. It has some ease in the top, as I plan to wear it over turtlenecks (as shown here) during the coming cold months.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Inner Beauty... Revealed!

This post has nothing to do with sewing and everything to do with health.

Are you over 50 years old? If yes, have you had a colonoscopy?

(I'm sure I've lost about half my readership with that last sentence alone...)

Why I had one

I have no family history of colon cancer, but have at least two friends who have had it. I knew getting a colonoscopy was a good idea, but the idea of one just skeeved me out.
This year we hit our insurance deductible, so we decided that if we wanted to get any kinds of optional testing or procedures done (that were still deemed appropriate by our doctor), that now was the time to do them, since they would be fully covered. I'm 52 now, and my doctor had suggested having a baseline colonoscopy done in the near future. So I called the gastroenterologist I had seen for my gall bladder and scheduled the procedure.

The Prep

Everyone makes a big deal out of the prep. I was even dreading it. But honestly, it wasn't a big deal at all. It wasn't painful, or even too uncomfortable... just inconvenient. My doctor puts his patients on a fiber-free diet for the five days prior to the procedure, which was really the worst part. The prep itself consisted of taking two pills, then mixing up some laxative powder with a half gallon of Crystal Light and drinking it over a period of about two hours. And the morning of the procedure, another dose of a different laxative. So yes, I was in the bathroom a lot, but like I said, it was just inconvenient.

The Procedure

I was out like a light during the whole thing, so don't remember any of it.

The Recovery

I woke up in the recovery area and in a few minutes was sitting up drinking ginger ale. Twenty minutes later Bob was driving me home.

The Verdict

I have a nice, clean colon!! It really is amazing how technology can let the doctor see the entire length of the large intestine.

See that dimple on the lower left? That's the opening to my Appendix. He got to scope all five feet of my large intestine.

Is it silly to be happy about a nice, clear, totally polyp-free large intestine? Well, I am.

Here's my point

So many people get the willies when they think about getting a colonoscopy. I can understand that; the thought of undergoing the procedure really taps into one of our cultural taboos. But it's not the horrible experience it's made out to be!! The staff at the center where I had mine done couldn't be nicer, and several of them congratulated me on getting it done so early. And now I know that I have a healthy digestive system, so that's always a huge relief!!
I highly encourage all my readers who are 50 or older to just go ahead and schedule a colonoscopy. You'll be glad you did. And if it means just one of you gets to catch a problem early on, this post will be worth it.
Who's with me?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Really, REALLY different sewing

One of the wonderful perks of living near Washington, DC, is that we can be members of the Smithsonian Institution, which gets us invited to neat events at their museums. Last Thursday, we went to the Udvar-Hazy Center, the annex of the Air & Space Museum, for a reception honoring the installation of the space shuttle Discovery.

The shuttle really looks magnificent... and so big!! You can walk under the wings and tail and get a fantastic look at the details. We also got to hear a presentation by Valerie Neal, curator of the shuttle display. She was an amazing resource and told great stories about what it took to get Discovery to the museum. Then she took a few questions, and one of them was regarding the white material that covers the sides and top of the shuttle.

The first time we saw Discovery close up, we joked that it looked like it was covered in papier mache, like a kid's science project gone supersized. But when Neal explained what the material was, I darned near fell off my chair.


Yes, high-tech quilts, but for all intents and purposes, the shuttle is covered in blocks of quilted material. The fabric was spun out of silica, and the batts were quilted with quartz thread! I'd never heard of such a thing, so I looked it up when I got home and found this document from the NASA archives, going back to the early 1980s:

(Click on the picture to open the PDF document)

Who knew that quilting played an important role in the space shuttle program?