Won’t get another chance

They’ve rescheduled surgery for tomorrow morning, first thing, so I won’t have time to post then. 

Thank you all in advance for your good thoughts and I’ll let you know something soon as I can.  No news is good news. 

Just wanted to share a family moment.  I’ve asked that instead of having TV on during dinner, we have music.  Rob takes care of that.  Tonight, we were having Sydney’s request, chicken and dumplings and baked cream corn when Play that funky music, white boy came on (if you’re too young to know that one, google).  We interrupted our dinner while the three of us sang it at the top of our lungs.  And, then we fell apart laughing.  I had no idea Sydney even knew it, and it’s so not a song we’d normally all sing, but she started and we fell in.

All evening, in those quiet moments, I’ve heard one or the other of us humming it under their breath. 

Just now, Rob was hugging her good night and she wouldn’t let go, so I sat down on her bed and waited my turn and they started humming it together. 


A photo saves a thousand rips

Do you guys ever take pictures of your work to decide how good it is? 

I don’t know where i heard this, maybe way back on Simply Quilts, but they suggested that you take a photo of your work before deciding whether it’s working or not. 


When I looked at this block, face to face this morning, I said that the curves that I quilted into those two capital T’s at the top overwhelmed the feather in the square.  I even took this picture to show you what I thought was wrong.  But, then, I looked at the picture and I’m not so sure that they are overwhelming.  In fact, I’m thinking that I may need to clean up that feather a bit, which is not what I had anticipated. 

Getting the perspective and the distance and the focus that a photo gives is a good way to decide whether you’ve made a mistake or not. 

Even so, I’m not sure whether this is what I want.  I may still pull that quilting out and put it back in a brown thread.  Or, I might leave it there.  Or, I might just ditch around the T’s and leave it at that.  That’s the beauty of me quilting for me.  I get to do whatever I want to do. 

And, my motto is that if the quilting isn’t perfect, then put in enough that the imperfections disappear. 

I know everybody is having crazy weather.  Ours is, too.  Not as severe as most places, but it’s already planting season here.  And, it shouldn’t be.  We had 60 mph winds on Monday.  They did a great job of cleaning the dead growth out of the trees.  One tree in the front hit the house and took out one of our gutters.  And, there are a thousand little sticks all over the yard. 

There just hasn’t been time to clean them all up yet.  But, we have plenty of time, I guess, to get around to that.

Everybody be well.  Some piece of software is insisting on a restart RIGHT NOW as though anything time sensitive ever happens on my piddly pc.  Apparently the only thing that’s time sensitive here is the pc’s need to reboot!  RIGHT NOW!  So, I better publish this because we all know that the computers are really in control, right? 

Bring me a Terminator!



Nothing witty to say

I hate the days when I don't have anything witty to say.  All we're doing is waiting.  There are stages of waiting, just like there are stages of growing, blooming and grieving.  We're all at different ones.

I think Sydney is in denial.  She seems to be hoping that if she does enough stupid stuff, we'll get mad enough to cancel the surgery. 

I am on edge, likely in the angry stage.  Anything can set me off, and since she's trying anything, we're complementing one another in the worst possible way.  Fortunately, Rob, the calm voice and the one wise enough to give us time in our individual corners, is terrific at finding a common subject that we can all laugh about.  He did just that at the dinner table last night and it really took the pressure off.

Rob seems to be in the acceptance stage.  The other night, I looked at him as we were going to bed and asked "are we going to be okay through this surgery?" and he looked back, and in his best Maggie Smith voice as the dowager countess, he said "Of course we are.  This is what we do."

No more encouraging words were ever uttered by anyone.  The safety of a strong character. 

He's right.  This is what we do.  This is what our family built itself around; handling whatever happens and taking it all in stride.  We aren't always graceful.  But, we also don't quit. 

On the bright side, my desire to be distracted has me feeling VERY creative and I am just whipping out quilting like nobody's business; machine quilting, hand quilting, even a little knitting.  Idle hands are the devil's workshop, after all.

Speaking of idle hands, I cut into that brisket that I've tried to smoke twice and it was raw in the middle.  Hey, learn a new technique, win a kewpie doll.  Anyway, I tossed it in the oven with some potatoes and carrots and we had a great supper, even if it was a bit tough.  Better luck next time, player.

I used some leftover bananas on Sunday to make Cynthia's Chocolate Chip Banana bread.  Easy peasy and mine came out looking just like hers and it is to die for.  I could sit and eat a whole loaf.  Fortunately, I'm keeping my hands busy in other ways, but I'm sure I'll get around to some good stress eating before this is all over. 

Be well.  Have a great Wednesday.  Lane


A quilter’s gotta eat, too

This is a post about food.  MMMMMMmmmmmm.

I like to cook.  I like to eat.  What I don’t like is figuring out what to cook.  Many Sunday mornings, I’d look at the grocery list and think, what will we eat this week?  It made me hate to make the list.  But, I’m no good at helter-skelter shopping either.  I need a list to make sure I get all the ingredients.  I think my Mom had everything to make everything, so she just needed to keep everything stocked.  Not us.

My favorite cookbook has always been this one.


I’m pretty sure that my Mom got it as a wedding gift.  At some point, I got to go through her cookbooks and this is one I took.  In fact, this isn’t really the one she got way back then.  I used the one she got so much over the last 20 years that it was wearing thin.  So, when I found another one, in better condition, in an antique shop, I snapped it up and now my Mom’s has a special place where it is protected. 

I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a luscious glazed ham, studded with cloves?


Or lasagna?


Or chocolate cake and peppermint ice cream?


Or apple pie with cheese slices?  (incidentally, best apple pie recipe ever!)


Or whatever the heck this is?


There’s even a chapter on table settings, and who doesn’t want his guests to sit down to this?


But, it was a bit dated.  I still used it for instructions to bake ham and roast turkey and bake an old fashioned cake or cookies and that apple pie that’s to die for.  But there were easier ways to make so many things and much more diversity in our diet.  So, when I found a new edition, from the 90’s, I snapped it up.  But, beware, because the one from the 90’s is not as good; all quick fix, combine a half dozen cans and call it dinner kind of food.  That one went to goodwill.  Then, I found a new one from 2003.


$2.50 in an antique shop.  And, I can tell you, it is a wonderful cookbook.  I made a few recipes out of it and then, one Sunday morning, when I was staring at that grocery list, trying to decide what we were going to be in the mood for on Thursday, I decided to pull all that week’s meals from this cookbook. 

And, that was the start of a great idea.  What it evolved into is an attempt to make all the recipes in the book, Julie and Julia style.  I’m not working from front to back like she did, but instead, I pull a recipe from the grilling section and one from the crockpot section and one from the meat section and one from the poultry section, working those sections front to back, and if I add something from one of my other cookbooks, like something Thai or Indian, I manage to make the whole family happy.

And, we’re getting some new experiences.  We’ve had different flavored roasts, and oven fried and oven barbequed chicken, Steak au Poivre, Chicken in a variety of sauces, and stir fries.  Last night, we had Stroganoff and I’ve successfully smoked my first brisket, tho it took two tries. 

I’ve only had to skip one recipe.  Gingersnap pot roast didn’t sound all that yummy, and it had sweet potatoes and Rob doesn’t do sweet potatoes.  He had an unfortunate run in with them as a child and I have to candy them secretly, for myself, at Christmas. 

Because I’m choosing from different sections, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what this book has to offer…tho I’m not sure what we’ll do when we get to the lamb section.  Around here, you’re more likely to find goat at the market than lamb.  I don’t even know if my store has a section for lamb.  So, we’ll likely skip some recipes there, too. 

Not only is the family enjoying the experience because the results are good and diverse, but I’m enjoying it, too.  It is so easy not to have to think about what we’ll eat next week.  It’s all written down for me in order.  And, I get to try a variety of techniques (I confess, I’d never used a rub and rarely a marinade other what worcestershire and italian dressing. 

Now, I can think about how to quilt the perfect feathers in the perfect stitch length in the perfect quilt top…daydreaming…

Have a great Tuesday.  If the Syglet is nervous about Friday, she’s keeping it pretty close to the chest.  We’re being very indulgent, while still reminding her where the lines are.



What didn’t happen

Well, the best laid plans to go to Quiltcon didn’t work out.  The closest I got was this blog post.  I planned to go on Saturday.  But, that plan got lost in this.


Cleaning carpets.  We’re having a houseguest at the end of the month and with Syd’s surgery coming up, this was the only chance.  So, we bit the bullet and moved out and cleaned.

I planned to go on Sunday, but that got lost to cooking and putting the house back together.  Life just gets in the way sometimes and you have to choose and Quiltcon didn’t make it.  Basically, I could take four hours and go look at someone else’s quilts, or I could spend those four hours working on my own.

Early in the mornings and late in the evenings I got the ditch work in this quilt and got started on the blocks. 


Above are the four center blocks.


And, here is one of the identical corner blocks. 

I’m using Sue Patten’s Freehand Filler Patterns for inspiration.


Sue takes lots of common blocks and gives several ideas for how they can be quilted.  I’m not exactly duplicating her work, mostly because these blocks are so small and would be overwhelmed by it, but I am taking part of what she did and adding a bit to it. 

A big chunk of Saturday was spent shopping for Sydney.  She needed loose shorts and a nightgown in case one of the dads has to help her off the toilet.  A nightgown can fall around her, giving her adequate time to pull things up after she’s standing and we’ve left the room. 

And, lots of other stuff.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how cooking so right went so terribly wrong.

Have a great Monday.  Lane


Quilty birthday presents

I realized this morning that I haven’t taken the chance to show you what I got for my birthday.  My Mom and Dad sent me some quilt batting, in the form of a check, and I’m waiting for it to get here. 

J, my mentor, gave me this.


It’s a miniature quilt that she pieced, mounted to a miniature quilt frame.  The frame has two benches to go with it.  I don’t know what I like the best; the frame, or the tiny Amish quilt.   Both are wonderful. 

LD gave me this box of hand tatted lace and a sign that I’m either going to hang over my sewing room or over our bedroom, which seems kind of lurid.  I like it.


She also gave me a lovely aloe vera.  This one is really cool and I’ve added a bit of jade plant to it, so it should grow into a lovely combination for my kitchen window.

And, my friend Barb sent this.


She had shared a hundred I spy squares with me and I had pulled three of them and shared them as my favorites.  She sent the rest of what she had of those fabrics, along with a couple other pieces and two books.  Thanks so much, Barb!

Yesterday was our pre-op visit and there was a lot of information sharing going on.  Sydney paid very close attention.  They sent in the nurse practitioner and she’s my favorite person in the practice.  She really talked quietly to Sydney about what it was going to look like and feel like and what she would have to do and she ended by telling Sydney she’d had the same surgery when she was Sydney’s age and it had all worked out fine.  And, she talked to her about the teacher that’s been scaring Sydney by talking about her 5 knee surgeries; how that is extreme and usually only happens to people that are predisposed to it and that Sydney shouldn’t worry about it.  I liked that.  Sydney had said the 5 knee surgeries to me a half dozen times and I’d never really acknowledged it for her as anything but a fact.  But the NP heard it, caught it and responded to it in the right way.  I guess that’s why she’s the professional and I’m the nervous nanny goat.

Anyway, have a great Friday.  I have a quilt to disassemble.  Have I ever mentioned how bad I hate to do that before?  And, we’re going to need supplies.  And, I asked her this morning to think about what she’d like to do, being her last weekend of walking for a while and all. 

Now that I think about it, that might have been a mistake.



A package in the mail.

After I pin basted this quilt, I realized I didn’t have enough thread in the right color to quilt it.  I was going to buy more of what I had, and then thought about the weight of the thread, 35, and that it might look like rope on this small quilt, with it’s 7 inch blocks. 


I’m getting more picky about my quilting thread, tho I must confess that I will use just about anything that still has its strength to piece…I’m currently finishing a spool of polyester that was a hand me down, and was likely new when I was.  But, it’s darn near unbreakable, still.

Anyway, I like a 60 wt, 2 ply cotton thread for quilting.  Precencia makes a great one.  I had two 600m spools of cream colored, but they were just a bit too yellow for this quilt.  I ordered two spools of off white from Red Rock Threads, and they are the perfect color. 


Since I was paying shipping anyway, I decided to give some new needles a try.  I got a pack of their Organ brand, size 75 sewing machine needles and a pack of size 9 quilting betweens.  I took one of the betweens out of the pack and started using it this morning.  It is every bit as good as the Mary Arden needles of the same size that I was using.  I’ve had a hard time picking needles and have given up on Dritz.  A sharp needle, which I thought was my fave for hand quilting bends too fast, and a between is often hard to pull through the fabric.  Even the Mary Arden needles seemed to have a burr that caused the needle to catch, but after about a foot of hand quilting, that burr would wear away and the needle would be great for a very long time.  I generally use a needle until it gets unruly, and then I go for a fresh one.  I’ve probably got close to 25 hours on the Mary Arden that I was using.  I hope the needles from Red Rock last as long. 

Lots of people rave over the organ brand needles, so hey, I’m game.  I’ll give them a try and let you know.  I had been led to believe that they were very expensive, but they were about the same price as Schmetz and have twice as many needles in the pack.


Sydney has taken to a very vertical ringlet curl look that reminds me of Miss Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind.  By the time she took this pic yesterday, the curls had started to fall in the humidity, but when she came to breakfast, I spoke in my slowest southern drawl and asked her if we were expecting Ashley Wilkes for breakfast here at twelve oaks?


And what the heck is up with that devilish look?

Melanie Hamilton wasn’t devilish.

Everybody have a great day.  I’m going to be playing soccer mom, rushing from her pre-op appt this afternoon, back to the school to try to get her in the basketball team pictures.  The coach is not being very accommodating of the fact that she rescheduled pictures yesterday, from yesterday to today, into the middle of the only appointment available, so Rob is going to ask her.  All we need is for Syd’s team picture to be the last one taken.  If they’ll make that one accomodation, I should be able to get her back in time.  If not, I won’t be a happy dad.  We worked hard for that yearbook picture!

Be well.  Have a great Thursday.  If you see an old man, with a girl changing clothes in the back seat, flying down a highway in a navy blue Prius, please distract the police.



More about mud


Two weeks ago, I posted about these 72 hst’s made from a flowery fabric and a mud colored solid. 


My goal was to make the mud color disappear. 

I started by using a dozen of them to make a star. 


That’s the center.  The stripe became the focus fabric. 

And, then I went hog wild with borders.


I’m pretty sure that nobody is going to look at this little quilt and think about that mud colored fabric, eh?  This was going to be a Linus quilt, but I need a baby quilt, so, we’re going to repurpose and make something else for Linus. 

This is different for me.  I’m used to making blocks and laying the blocks out in a grid.  It’s been my quilting style for as long as I’ve been quilting.  It was very new for me to start with a center block and then just add border after border after border until I got a quilt size.  I have at least two other blocks that I want to do this way.  They’re Mariner’s compass blocks and will make great quilt centers. 


Except these are really pretty blocks, so the idea will be to add borders that accentuate them instead of overpowering them. 

We’ve scheduled Syd’s knee surgery for 03/01.  She’s feeling pretty good about it.  She just wants to get it over with.  The doctor, who really took the time to talk to Sydney, was very frank about how hard the recovery was going to be.  He stressed that at some point, she’d have to take over her own physical therapy and it would take her resolve to do it and she’d have to self motivate.  He explained that the surgery is the easy part.  She’s talked to a dozen school mates that have had the same surgery and each and every one has told her about the pain that she’ll have to deal with during the PT, but they’ve also been very open and reassuring about her sleeping through the surgery and about how the PT gets easier and easier and how the hardest part is the first couple of weeks post op. 

Knowing that she’s feeling peaceful about the surgery and the recovery and that she’s got her eye on next year’s basketball season makes me feel more peaceful.  It’s going to be hard.  And, I know that her resolve will shake.  But, I think she’s as ready as she can be. 

The thing that makes me the most sad is that this is going to change her.  She’ll come out of it more mature and more independent and while those are wonderful things, I’m going to miss the little girl that we still have today.

Be well.  Have a great Wednesday.  If you have small kids, push down on their heads so they don’t grow up.



Vogue 8759


If you read my post last week, then you know I was drawn to this Vogue pattern by the pattern details in the back and in the sleeves.


View C has the back split into three pieces and the sleeves have a seam that runs from shoulder to wrist at the placket in addition to the underarm seam. 

I had three problems with the pattern.

First, the two back side panels were longer than the center panel.  A more experienced sewist would have known to take that extra out at the hem, not at the yoke.  I planned it for the yoke edge and after I put it together, but just before I whacked off the extra, I realized that was going to change how the sleeve fit, so I had to take it all apart and try again. 

Second, the pattern instructions do not mention sewing the shirt front to the yoke.  At all.  You attach the yoke facing to the back and then you attach the yoke facing to the front, except in reality, you haven’t attached the front to the yoke yet. 

Third, the instructions for handling the sleeve plackets were not clear to me.  Maybe someone that makes more garments and follows more garment patterns would have done better, but I was very confused.  I winged it and ended up with the plackets looking slightly different.  Not noticeable and I haven’t pointed it out to anyone yet.


So, how about the actual shirt?

I won’t use linen again.  It’s wonderful, but it’s thick and warm and scratchy.  Also, it’s a very tailored shirt.  Had I gone to the effort and made a muslin, the arm holes would have been larger and a little extra added to the sleeves, just for a bit more wearing ease.


See how it pulls to the underarms in the back?  A little more ease would be nice there. 

The back is slimming and I could have used an extra inch and a half, spread across the side and back seams.  While I do have the v shaped back that this shirt pattern fits best, my extra weight hangs out in the front and adding to the back would have made the front a bit more comfy, especially after a big birthday dinner.


Even so, it’s not too stretched across my middle and is more comfortable untucked.  If I make it again, the bottom of the pocket would be a bit flatter and less V shaped. 

Also, I think the cuffs are too wide and I don’t care for the square points, but those would both have been easy to fix with a muslin. 


So, how did I make the pattern my own? 

The instructions would have had me leave the shoulder seam and the sleeve seam for the placket unfinished.  I don’t do that.  Sure, they’d have had me sew them down and trim them close to the top stitching, but that’s not enough for me, so I flat felled them both.  I also added a front buttonhole placket by turning my fabric to the outside instead of the inside and top stitching a quarter inch in on both sides.  I like a shirt with a placket and was lucky that my fabric is the same color on both sides so I could add one easily.

I like a shirt to give me a good daytime and night time look, so I like the top button on the front to be 1 1/2 inches from the collar button, and then the buttons can be 3 inches apart.  That way, with the top button unbuttoned, we’re not down to my sternum.  



Anyway, the only other thing I did was to make the bottom buttonhole a horizontal buttonhole instead of a vertical.  That’s the button that hits us just below the waist and the stress is definitely horizontal on that one. 

Okay, everybody have a great day.  Sydney brought home a bug and gave it to me and so I am home today.  It’s not enough to put me down, but it does include a low grade fever and my peeps would never forgive me if I passed it along. 

It’s Tuesday.  The sun is shining.  I wish I was outside.  But, I will focus.

FOCUS, darnit!



The birthday weekend

Thank you so much for your kind birthday wishes.  I had a wonderful weekend.  But, I am glad that every day is not my birthday. 

On Friday, I spent most of the day, working on my shirt.  And, working and working and working.  I was surprised at how long it took.  I’ll try to review it tomorrow, because there were problems with the pattern that a more experienced garment maker wouldn’t have thought about, but they puzzled me and caused me to rip more than one seam. 

I pulled out Ken Moore and we spent the day getting re-acquainted.


I forget how well we get along.

After about 7 hours, my topstitching got kind of shoddy.  On Friday night, Rob came home and informed me that he was taking me to dinner…no questions asked.  That sounded better than the chicken I was thawing, so out we went.   

On Saturday morning, I took off a cuff and put it back on again and took some stitching out of the yoke and put it back and then I was ready for buttonholes. Ken is a Griest straight stitch and I don’t have a buttonhole attachment, so I used my white Featherweight, Alba and a Singer buttonhole attachment. (My buttonhole attachments make better buttonholes than any more modern machine I own.)

Buttonholes went in perfect and then an hour and a half sewing on the 11 buttons by hand. Anyway, it looks good. A bit too slim, so after our big dinner that night, I was not really breathing.

A little before lunch, Rob took me to the hardware store and I tried to weigh down the back end of his truck with stuff for my garden, and then he and I went to lunch.  Saturday afternoon, we rested and got ready for dinner that night.

We had dinner with our friends LD and J.  You’ll recognize LD, but I’m not sure you’ve seen J before.  She’s been my quilting mentor and taught me many lessons about consistent seam allowance, neatness on the back of the quilt top and tight bindings. 


We had a lovely dinner with lots of laughter and talking and then we went back to LD’s and had brownies that Sydney made and ice cream and candles, and they sang happy birthday to me…I cannot tell you how many years it’s been since anybody sang happy birthday to me.  I rarely let people get that close.

On Sunday, I cooked and cleaned, and then went out and worked in the yard, and then back in to finish a few things I had started.  I managed to clean house through all the brutal parts of War Horse, and believe me, that took control not to pay attention to. 

Sydney did not think that I deserved a three day celebration.  Poo on her.  It was wonderful to answer questions with “doesn’t matter to me”, and if they persisted, “I’m not answering questions today”. 

I know that she is afraid because tomorrow, we are back to the doctor to see if we can schedule the surgery.  She isn’t expressing it like that, but I know that’s what is up. 

Be well.  Have a wonderful Monday.  Let’s go make some money! 



In a few hours…

In a few hours, I will be 51 years old.

Sydney says that’s old, but I’m having trouble thinking of it as anything but a lucky age.  I think I had to get here to realize how lucky I am to have made it, when so many didn’t. 

When I was young, there was a rash of suicides among my high school classmates who were gay.  Later, I survived the AIDS pandemic.  There were wars, car accidents, drugs, cancer, and lightening strikes.  Rob and I even witnessed a murder/suicide. 

So, when I think about what I had to survive to be 51 years old, I can’t help but think of this as a good day. 

I didn’t make a million dollars, and no one will be more surprised if I ever do.  I didn’t change the world…remember when we all talked about that in college?

I never played sports.  Now that we have Sydney, I think I really missed something there that would have taught me about teamwork.  I wasn’t interested when I was young enough to do it without injury.  But, I learned to cross-stitch, knit, crochet, and sew.  Hmmm, that says something, I’m sure, I’m just not sure how important it is.

When I turned 50, I committed to a Jubilee Quilt.  It isn’t finished.  But, I won three first place ribbons in a quilt show.  That has to count for something.

I have held a steady job since I was 15.  I’ve never had anything repossessed and I have managed to save a little for retirement. 

I have the best husband any man (or woman) could ask for.  We’ve had our trouble, but what makes a man a good husband is his willingness to fit with you to make a relationship work.  We’ve both proven our willingness to do that. 

And, lo and behold, something I never thought would happen when I was younger; I have a daughter.  And, not just that, but a well adjusted daughter; and most important, I have a good relationship with her…better than I had with my parents.  And, that’s saying something because I had a pretty darn good relationship with my parents when I was 15.

I have friends and a full life where there is more to do than there is time to do it.  I would hate to be bored.

All in all, it’s been pretty good.  Happy days outnumber sad days; who could ask for more? 

So, I’m wearing my WORLD’S BEST DAD pin that came with my birthday card and spending the day in my jim-jams, making a shirt.  My birthday requests were three favors; I want Rob to take me to the garden center in his truck tomorrow, I want us to go to dinner with our friends LD and J on Saturday night, and I don’t want anybody to ask me any questions from the time I got up this morning, until the time I go to bed on Sunday…not a “when do you want to…” or a “what would you like to…” or a “what’s for…”  Not a single question.  Doesn’t sound like too much, huh?

Hope your day is equally good. 



Happy Valentine’s Day!


From my family to yours.

Valentine’s day was my Grandmother’s birthday.  How often do I remember going to her house to celebrate, with red and pink and white and heart shaped cakes, and usually a new rosebush for her rose garden. 

I wish I’d spent more time there doing the nothings, like working with her in her rose garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved, loved, loved being part of a huge family.  My grandparents had 4 children, 2 stepchildren and raised two young nieces.  All of them married and had children and I was part of that generation.  There were a ton of us and when we all got together, there was peace and laughter and happiness.  My Grandmother was relatively reserved on these occasions, but when she spoke, everyone else got quiet.  My Grandfather was the loud and raucous one of the two.

But, there were other times, when she was ironing, or crocheting and watching her “stories” or cooking that I got to see a different side of my Grandmother.  When it was just us two, we talked.  I don’t remember about what, but I can remember that she talked.  Mostly about the old days, carefully editing the story of her life so I only heard the good and the happy, even when they were poor and doing without. 

I know her life wasn’t always like that.  She lost at least two children, maybe three.  She lost a sister and a husband before my Grandfather; lived through the depression; had babies and just worked her way through all of it.  My Dad told me once that when my Grandmother couldn’t sleep, she’d get up and wash the kitchen floor.  And in my first apartment, I started doing that, too.

But, then I stopped when I realized that maybe reading a book would be a better way to fall asleep.

Anyway, fond memory of sitting in the back yard fig tree, eating figs right off of it that my Grandmother had cut the stem off of with a paring knife.  Her in a housedress, laundry on the line.  Sun shining bright.  Loose steel gray curls.



On this Valentine’s day, I am glad that I am part of a family that says “I Love You” so often that saying it because we’re supposed to,on a certain day, feels really weird. 

Hope yours is the same.



Vogue 8759 in rusty linen

Several years ago, Peter at Male Pattern Boldness did a shirt sew-a-long that I participated in.  I learned a lot about making shirts, especially why my previous attempts were sometimes good and sometimes disastrous…it’s all about the thought you put into it, not just whipping through it and making do.

From him, I learned about making a muslin out of a pattern, and while I still have trouble doing that, because it seems such a waste, I did pick a pattern for Rob and a pattern for me and I made the muslins and I fitted them and edited the pattern, so we both have a pattern that I know will fit well.  I can make an endless variety of shirts from that.

But, before I really understood that, I bought several men’s shirt patterns.  I’m not sure why.  They’re all basically the same.  One is different; Vogue 8759.


It has some details I want to try.


Notice in view C that there are two seams that run down the back, making it a total of three pieces.  And, you can see the seam up the sleeve.  Each sleeve is made of two pieces so the sleeve placket doesn’t have to be slashed in the middle of the sleeve.  This intrigues me. 


The shirt I was planning to make in the shirt sew-a-long was going to be from this beautiful rust colored linen.  I ended up making two wearable muslins and never got back to the original linen dress shirt.  I made other shirts, but not this, even though the fabric was pressed and ready and waiting.  So, last week, while I was occupying the living room floor to cut my robe, I cut this shirt out, too. 

I am ready to start this weekend.  Just in time for a little presie for me.  Hopefully, this will be the last shirt made from inappropriate weight fabric.  This linen is just a tiny bit too heavy for a shirt, but I plan to trundle on anyway. 

Now that I’ve made several shirts and had the chance to really look at them, I’ve learned that shirts should be made from lighter weight fabric than quilting cotton.  Quilting cotton is stiff, no matter how light the interfacing is.  It tends not to mold and shape.  Lighter weight fabrics work better and are much closer to ready to wear and are more comfortable. 

I found fabric.com, so I don’t feel restricted to Jo-Ann’s shirting shelf with it’s 7 bolts of plaid fabric anymore. 


I have other fabrics to try, for me, for Rob, and for Sydney.

Now, imagine, if I could only find the time to both quilt and sew AND make a bit of money, I’d be all set.  As it is, I squeeze my garment making in between my quilting and all my other stuff and barely have time to enjoy any of it.

Okay, that’s not right.  I enjoy it immensely, or I wouldn’t keep trying it. 

I have Friday off as another mental health day and I hope to finish my shirt so I can wear it to dinner Saturday night.  Or, maybe it will just become a muslin, stored in a plastic baggie forever, because it’s too heavy to wear.  In that case, I have a lovely butternut broadcloth that would be stunning in this pattern.

One day.

Does the use of “lovely” and “stunning” in the same sentence make me look gay?

If you’re not familiar with Peter, just google “men who sew”.  He is the man that shows up.  Just about the only man.  Why don’t more men talk about sewing?  I know more of us do it.  Speak up, men!  We need you!  Put down that remote and prove your diversity! 

Be well.  Have a great Wednesday. 



The idea wall

Most of us have a design wall where we can hang our works in progress to look at them vertically.  When I need one, I can hang a flannel backed tablecloth and stick a quilt to it while I work.  But, that comes and goes.

My constant is my idea wall. 


It’s new for me.  I only put the padded fabric in the doors of this armoire last year.  And, since then, I’ve been pinning things to it.  Things I want to do.


The flag is a gift from a friend in London.  I need to return that gift, but I haven’t thought of how.  I need an idea.  The I spy block with the letters is my favorite from the ones I made for the I spy quilt.  When I ended up with one extra, I pulled this one out because it inspired me to a combination of black and off white.  The other square is a color combination that I want to use in a quilt'; purple, green and gold.  I would never have thought of it, if it weren’t for this piece of inspiration fabric (Thanks, Barb).


This is a hand pieced quilt that I made as a class sampler for a class no one signed up for.  When I figure out how I want to hand quilt it, I’ll get started, but for now, I have a hand quilting project (Dresden Plates).  The dog was just a neat block of fabric, also from my friend Barb. 


These are also blocks for a class that no one signed up for.  I want to use them as the center blocks for some small quilts.  The circle is a template for the centers of my Dresden Plate quilt.  I needed to be able to find it whenever I was looking for it, so I stuck it on my idea wall so I’d have an idea where it was.


This is the pattern for a Christmas tree skirt that a fellow blogger made.  I intend to flatter the poo out of her by imitating it.  


The flower arrangement picture is for the focal quilting of a large quilt.  I intend to trace it and blow it up and use it as the quilting motif in the corners of the quilt.  And, there’s a pattern I’d like to make, but haven’t started yet.  There will be time.  Or not.

I’m sure that over time, my idea wall will become much more crowded, and eventually, I’ll have to shuffle through the ideas and see which ones work and which ones don’t.  But, for now, they’re all there, waiting for the time to get around to them because if I don’t, ideas are fleeting and I’ll find myself one day thinking, what was I going to do today? 

My mind is a sieve.  Things just pass through.

Yesterday, I had a really hard interaction with someone I don’t like.  We all have people that we don’t play well with.  But, at work, we are required to play, whether we like it or not, and whether it is good play or not.  The people that make me the most crazy are people that can’t or won’t tell you what they want, but after you give it to them, they sure make a big fuss about how wrong it is. 

I wish I was one of those people that just takes this nonsense in and doesn’t get flustered by it.  But, I’m not.  I’ve had hard interactions with lots of people over the years and most of those people have ended up being my strongest allies and friends because we develop mutual respect for one another in our conflicts. 

I don’t think that’s happening here.

Be well.  Have a great day. 



The one where Pa gets a new robe

I get a new bathrobe approximately every 20 years.  When I was a kid, my Dad and I didn’t wear robes.  And, even today, Rob and I prefer a t-shirt and lounging pants or loose shorts.  In between, I’ve gone through long spurts of wearing a robe, so I always have one, and I wear them out.  And then I make a new one.  I always spend more than what I planned on fabric, but when you consider how long they last me, that’s a small price to pay, so I get over it pretty quick.

This is my last robe.


This robe has led an interesting life.  It was green.  I remember buying the fabric from Hancock Fabrics, two locations ago.  It was dark green plaid and woven in Pakistan.  I didn’t think I’d ever get it to stop bleeding.  At some point, it got a bleach stain on the sleeve.  It bleached out to orange.  I considered making a replacement sleeve.  Then, after living with that stain for about 8 years, I decided to bleach the whole thing.  And, then, I had an orange robe and didn’t need a new robe anymore. 

Over time, it’s been torn and mended and now, the butt is threadbare and there’s yet another hole in the sleeve and those original bleach spots have never stopped getting lighter, so they’re almost white.

Time for a new robe.

I love Leonard Hoffstadter’s bathrobe on The Big Bang Theory.  I can’t find a picture, but I did research it and it turns out it’s a Beacon Bathrobe from the Beacon Blanket company (red) from the 30’s-60’s.  I tried to find one.  $200. 


So, I decided to make one.  Now, my Mom has a story about the year she decided to make herself a coat to save money.  By the time she bought all the stuff and made the coat, it cost way more than just buying one would have, so I don’t go into things like this thinking I’m going to save a bunch.

I looked and shopped for a while.  I found a pattern in my stash.  It was the pattern from my last robe, so I knew it fit perfect.  Except I’d lost the instructions.  I looked through what turned out to be a collection of robe patterns, purchased with patterns for things like boxers and lounging pants that I wanted to make and found another set of instructions that was close enough.  I had Friday off and my plan was to cut out my robe from fabric I had on hand.  But, I needed the trim.  At my new JoAnn’s location, I ended up finding fabric that I liked better and bought the trim and spent more than I planned.  But, ta-da!


I got a new robe.  It’s made of a very blanket like fabric (like a Beacon) and it has a rope tie (like a Beacon).  It’s light enough for summer and heavy enough for winter.  I have a bit of finishing to do; tieing the knots in the rope and adding the crocheted carriers for the rope and stitching down the inside facing and adding a block of interfaced fabric to the back, between the shoulders, so I can hang it anywhere without worrying a hook will poke through. 

That took almost all of my Friday and Saturday, putting in, taking out, re-designing, deviating from the pattern, trying, ripping and trying again.  I did manage to work on a quilt top a bit, too and I cut out a shirt that I can work on a bit at a time.  That I have the instructions to! 

I worked through a lot of stress while working on this robe.  For one thing, I realized, at the end, that I am a really good sewist.  And, if something is hard to do, I shouldn’t just soldier through it.  I should look at how I’m doing it and see if there’s an easier way, like a different foot or a different machine.  But, soldiering through a certain amount of that allowed me to work through some stress I’ve been carrying, and today, I’m feeling pretty terrific about myself and about to step out into the world…which will not likely waste any time giving me a kick in the shin.

Sydney is being a pain in the…rear.  She is 15.  It’s her job to be a pain in the rear.  And, it’s my job to deal with my stress in ways that let me be okay with her being a pain in the rear.  Because I’m finally getting to practice what the therapist told us all along.  Acknowledge what you like so they’ll keep doing it.  Ignore the rest. 

What I ignore, she eventually tires of and stops doing, at least for a while. 

Be well.  Have a great Monday.  What did you make this weekend?  Lane


Words in pictures



verb, used with an object - to let fall in separate pieces or particles over a surface; scatter or sprinkle

Used in a sentence – There was stuff strewn everywhere.



verb, used with an object - to collect or organize (things) in a hurried or disorderly manner (often followed by together or up)

Used in a sentence - Those scraps were all scrambled up, so I separated the dark from the light.



adjective - moving or proceeding with little or less than usual speed or velocity

Used in a sentence – Hand quilting is so slow that the only choice is to relax and take your time and enjoy it.



adjective – content

Used in a sentence – He was so satisfied that day that the memory brought on by a photo can return him to a feeling of peace.

Just a few thoughts from my sewing room to yours.