a little weekend sewing project: silk crepe tank & brocade skirt

after being sick all last week and doing literally nothing, on saturday i remembered that, oh yeah, a childhood friend was getting married the next day, and organizing something to wear was to have been the previous weekend's activity, except i just slept all day and night instead. oops.

so, what to do? dig into the stash, and see what i could find.

i had just enough of this lovely blue chinese silk/rayon brocade to make a skirt, and magically came up with a scrap of silk crepe in a coordinating blue. i think it was from a remnant bin, or maybe the textile museum sale? in any case, there was barely half a metre of it!

i managed to locate a zipper of the right sort & size and some bemberg to line the skirt, so that wasn't too hard. the real trick: what to do with that scrap of crepe? that wouldn't take any extra effort or fabric?

the solution, was to make a super simple tank.

i did this in the quickest way i could think of with the least amount of fabric and finishing:

first, i simply folded the fabric in half, selvedge edges together.

using the folded edge as the "shoulder seam" (except i didn't have to do the seam, ha) i cut out armscyes and the neck hole (a boat neck wide enough to go over my head, no fasteners needed).

then, i sewed down the side seams, from armscye to the selvedge edge (which i used as a hem - no fraying, not visible, so no finishing required). i did a french seam, being the most sturdy-yet-nice-looking seam i know, which also requires no hand finishing.

then i rolled the edges at the neck and armscye, and finished those by hand which took all of till the clouds roll by, which you can watch for free on youtube. it's a jerome kern biopic, a bit maudlin and drippy, but gorgeous costumes, and of course lots of spectacular musical numbers. everyone is in this flick: judy garland, frank sinatra, lena horne, june allyson, van johnson, dinah shore, syd charisse, angela lansbury, van heflin, esther williams!

that's it, that's all! it was more effort getting the kid to dress up with me.


sick week productivity

ok, it is next to impossible to be productive when sick. i can barely think enough to read. fortunately, i can think enough to knit plain stockinette in the round!

so here's my sick week output:

purple zigzaggy cardigan - done.

misc winter knits - washed and blocked.

list of potential & completed entries into fenelon fair (includes above cardigan & winter knits) - started.

mindless gazing at knitting patterns for potential stash-busting projects - started yes, finished never.

here's a list of what's done & ready for the fair, which is generally the big finale of our cottage week:

  • costume - hand made for a child
  • children's pullover - plain knit
  • ladies' cardigan - knit
  • ladies' pullover - knit
  • ladies' mitts
  • men's scarf

shockingly, there is no shawl category.

and here's my aspirational list of things i'd like to do & enter:

  • children's sleepwear
  • children's mitts - knit
  • children's article of clothing - (other than listed above)
  • ladies' fancy crochet or knit sweater
  • ladies' any clothing article (sewn)
  • tea towel (1) thread embroidery
  • tea cozy
  • pillow case (1) lace trim
  • scented sachet
  • christmas tree decoration (3) different
  • christmas table runner
  • christmas gift wrapped box (not to exceed 12")
  • christmas toy
  • strawberry jam
  • other culinary items tbd

come august, we can all look back on this and laugh!


sick day cooking: rice pudding

so after spending an entire weekend in bed (recovering those chairs was my last great act) i saw the doctor yesterday and he thinks i have not one, but two viruses - one for the chest and one gastro. which would explain why an order of tom kha gai from khmer thai, my usual go-to cold cure, seems to have chased the chest cold into my sinuses, but also was waaay too much for my stomach to handle.

my stomach is on constant gurgle mode. it's quite distracting.

anyway, doc put me on a diet. toast, bananas, applesauce, rice. and plenty of liquids.

so far i've been existing solely on toast, sometimes with a bit of marmalade or cheese for variety, but last night i sent tg out on a shopping mission for applesauce and basmati rice (and various other things we ran out of while i was unconscious). so today is rice pudding day, a bit of comfort in a bowl. and hopefully a bit of nutrition, too.

and now, i'm going to curl up on the sofa with my pudding and buster keaton.

rice pudding

1 1/3 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch salt
6 cups milk (divided)
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

combine dry ingredients in a big saucepan. stir in 4 cups milk.

bring to a low boil over medium heat. reduce to low and simmer, stirring constantly, for 30 minutes.

remove from heat, stir in the remaining 2 cups of milk.

add a spoonful of rice mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm them up. then, again stirring constantly, add the eggs back into the rice mixture.

return to a simmer and cook gently, stirring, about 5 minutes.

remove from heat, stir in vanilla. chill a few hours before serving.


front porch freshen-up: recovering chairs

many years ago, tg found a couple of chairs in the garbage. they were great except for not having seats! so i cut out circles of mdf and upholstery foam, covered them with cotton twill, and voila! they looked great, for a little while.

but i learned a few things.

like, cotton twill does not stand up to being left outside in the rain and snow for six or seven years.

and, piping is not just decorative, it's also strengthening. i had just cut a biiiiig circle of the twill, gathered all the extra and stapled it under. so there was no reinforcement of any kind at the "edge" of the foam. and eventually, the fabric wore away. if i'd seamed and piped, first off the fabric on the piping isn't under much strain the way structural fabric is, and secondly, even if it does start to wear through, you just lose a bit of piping, as opposed to having the whole covering fall apart. lesson learned.

this time i did it right: indoor/outdoor fabric, and piping!

being exceptionally slow these days, i bought the fabric about 6 weeks ago, and a week after that got the chair seats measured, and a week after that got the fabric cut, and the week after that got it sewn, and then last friday i finally stapled the new covers on. whew. i have more cushion covers cut out, but they may just wait till next year.

recovering upholstered seats:

you'll need a staple gun for this, and fabric and cording.

first remove the seat from the frame. turn the chair upside down. on my chairs, there were three screws holding each wooden seat base to the metal frame. remove the screws and save for later. now you can work with the seat independent of the chair.

measure the seat. trace the shape onto a piece of paper, measure around the outside, and measure the total depth (foam, wood, everything).

cut out fabric, making sure to add seam allowances - 5/8" on each edge, with an extra 2" for the edge which will be stapled to the wood underneath. also sut a strip of fabric for piping, and cord the same length.

step one: right sides together, sew ends of each long rectangle, making two loops (one for the seat edge piece, one for the piping).

start by making the piping. fold the fabric in half lengthwise wrong sides together, and set the cord into the valley of the fabric, trimming cord to fit if necessary. sew the length of the fabric, as close to the cord as possible.

fit the edge piece around the edge of the seat piece, wrong sides together, sandwiching the piping in between. stagger the seams of the edge piece and the piping, so the fabric doesn't get too bulky. sew through all layers.

turn the seat cover right side out, and pull it over the seat. turn the seat upside down, tug the fabric firmly over the wood at one edge, and staple down. next, rotate the seat 180 degrees, and pull & staple the fabric snugly at the opposite side of the seat. continue in this way around the edge, going back and forth to opposite sides, to make sure the fabric is evenly stretched in all directions. think about it this way: if the first staple went in at 12 o'clock, the next should go in at 6 o'clock. then, you'd do 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. then 7 and 1, 10 and 4, and so on and so on.

once the fabric is nice and snug, and you've got a staple every 1/2" to 3/4" around the edge, drop the seat back into the frame, and screw in using the screws you removed earlier.