Category Archives: Sewing

Gardening and Sewing (and Writing)

My lettuce is reaching the end of its lifespan. Pretty soon I’ll have to start buying salad greens for lunch. The chard is coming along strong, though. The new seeds I planted in mid-June are growing well (much better than my first batch in early April). We still have a few beets left in the garden. The new radishes got attacked by caterpillars (cabbage worms, I think) but look to be recovering, though not making radishes.

We’ve been getting a good amount of yellow cherry tomatoes. The red cherry tomato plant looks like it’ll start getting ripe very soon. And the eggplant has several flowers (crosses fingers).

We harvested rhubarb for the first time this year, but only once. I would like to add a second plant. I made a very tiny rhubarb/strawberry cobbler a few weeks ago.

I’ve just finished my latest sewing project, but I can’t talk about it yet. I’m not sure what to work on next–I have everything all set for a new lunch bag, but I’m intimidated by the zipper (I’m adapting a zipper-less pattern, so I’m making it up). Recently I went fabric shopping and got stuff for a pair of pajama shorts (with pockets) and white/blue tie-dyed knit for a simple skirt (with pockets). So I kind of want to do those two projects before dealing with the zipper on the bag. So many projects, so little time…

Speaking of so many projects, it occurs to me that I don’t talk about writing much on this blog since I stopped doing my Wednesday posts. I’ve been juggling again: I’m procrastinating on the final revisions to one novel by planning another novel, which was going well until I started working on a short story instead. So right now I’m switching off between planning the novel and planning the short story, and feeling guilty about the revisions. The story needs to be done by early August, though (it’s for a contest on a forum I hang out on), so after that I’ll be back down to the two novels, which is a lot easier to juggle.

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Achievement unlocked: Pockets

I finished a new pair of pajama pants last night. These have *pockets*. The pockets are a little on the small side because I forgot how big the seam allowance was, but my phone fits in both of them, and that was my goal, so I’m declaring a success. Also, now I know how to do side seam pockets, which means I can add pockets to everything. Like the two skirt patterns I got last weekend, or skirts I already own.

This pair of pants is plain cotton instead of flannel, because I wanted something less warm. I used the same pattern that we did in class, with several adjustments to make them fit better. It mostly worked out, but I have a few more tweaks to make before I decide they’re good. They have a weird little bulge on the sides which I am fairly sure I know the cause of, but not how to fix it without messing other stuff up.

My next project is a lunch bag, since the tote bag I’ve been using is too big, and I want to see if I can figure out how to put a zipper in. Then I have a simple present to make, and then…probably shorts (i.e., these pants with shorter legs) and another attempt at a t-shirt. Though I already bought some skirt patterns and fabric for a new bag during a recent sale.


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Happy April!

It’s finally starting to seem like spring. After the joke of a snowstorm a week ago–we got so much that there are still unmelted patches–temperatures in the 40s seem delightful. Saturday I went jogging (which was a success in terms of my foot not hurting as well as being out there in short sleeves). Sunday I sat on the deck for a while after turning the compost piles for the first time since fall and pulling garlic mustard from the backyard.

I’ve found two purple crocuses in my yard. I assume they were planted by squirrels during the great crocus feast. Too bad they didn’t put them back where they found them next to the driveway.

In short: Spring! Warm weather! Next weekend, I need to Do Stuff with my vegetable garden. It needs better walls to hold the dirt in and keep out the grass. And it needs seeds. The chard, by the way, seems to be definitely dead.


By now any of you reading this via Google Reader don’t need me to tell you that GR will be killed in a few months. I’ve switched my feed reading to Feedly. I’m impressed at how prepared they were for the influx of users. No downtime, and a series of blog posts welcoming new users and app updates to improve the interface somewhat.

So far it seems pretty decent, though I have several problems with the iOS app. I can live without offline reading, but I’d like a better way to save to Instapaper than by emailing (without killing the built-in “save for later” feature).

At any rate, I’ve been reading a lot fewer blogs than I used to. I’m trying to read more books, though lately that’s been derailed again by a) all the Coursera and edX classes I’m taking, and b) discovering that my library provides magazines through Zinio. And also, sewing books. I need to work on making a dent in my backlog of novels. I’m starting to feel like Henry Bemis in “Time Enough At Last.”


Last Monday was my last sewing class. I’m not signing up for the next one because I want to consolidate what I’ve learned on these first three projects before moving on to new things. (Also, as I’ve been dropping evening activities I’m really getting to like having my evenings free. I feel less rushed and I have more writing time.)

Last week we finished our t-shirts. Mine was…a learning experience. It fits tighter than I’d like, the neckline is way too low (even though we already raised it by an inch!), and some of the sewing went less than well. On the bright side, I picked a really difficult fabric, which means that using a cotton knit should seem easier, and I’m not afraid of using slippery knits next time.

I just hope I remember how to do a neck band by the time I get a chance to try again.

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Story sale and other updates

I already announced this on Facebook and Twitter, so apologies for the repeat if you follow me there, but I made my first pro sale! “Pictures in Crayon” will appear in Daily Science Fiction some time in the next several months.

This is the 20th story I’ve written, or so. The first story I ever sold was my 10th. I wonder what I should expect of my 30th story.

In other news, I won a speech contest for Toastmasters on Saturday. I have a trophy and everything. Next weekend I have to compete again against people from a larger geographic area. If you ever saw me give a presentation in school, know that I’m laughing right along with you at the idea of me winning anything other than “most stutters per minute” or “best depiction of a tomato”. I find a lot of things about Toastmasters rather dorky, but I can’t deny that it’s been helpful.

In other other news, I finished my pajama pants in sewing class last week and have been wearing them around the house since then. Tonight we start our t-shirts. I couldn’t find fabric I liked for mine, so I have some plain black knit. My goal is to get the pattern and sizing worked out so it fits right (because different parts of me are different sizes) and then buy some cool fabric I found online and make some nicer tops. This weekend I also got most of the way through a second tote bag.


Filed under Life, Sewing, Writing

Spring (almost)

Random weekend thoughts.

It’s starting to feel like spring. I’m starting to get out of the house.

It’s light enough now that I can sit on the deck for a little after work. I have to wear a coat, but it’s worth it. Seriously: I’m nature-powered.

(And it was light enough before they stole my hour. Insert semiannual rant here.)

Saturday I pulled my bike out of the garage and make sure it’s working. It’ll be time to start biking to work soon. I wanted to go for a ride, but of course it started raining at exactly the wrong time. Sunday I biked to the library, and it waited to rain until I was on the way back, half a block from home. Nice thing about biking is I notice more: white snowdrops, bright yellow crocuses, red cardinal on bare branches.

At the time I’m writing this, biking to the pool Monday morning is still up in the air.

I also finally spread compost on the front vegetable bed. Last fall, I covered part of the bed with a huge pile of compost, but since the chard was still growing, that half of the garden had to wait. Finally got around to it this weekend. And while digging up the old rotting chard roots, I discovered that two of the stems have tiny green leaves on them. So I left them. Maybe they’ll grow.

Pretty soon it’ll be time to plant new things. I need to review my seed supply and see what I need to buy. Chard, for sure.

In non-outdoors related news: I bought a sewing machine. It does a bunch of stitches that I don’t know why I would ever use them, and it has a needle threader that thoroughly confused me when I was trying to read the threading diagram until I realized I could ignore it and thread the needle myself. And a cool thread cutter on the side that means I don’t have to keep hunting for scissors. Also, a huge button for reversing (the button on the bottom right in the photo). I will never forget how to backstitch with this thing.

Brother Sewing Machine LS-590

Yesterday I played around with the stitch length and width and thread tension dials to see what would happen, and tried out half the stitches. Also speed: it goes scary fast and makes the whole table shake.

Next weekend I can start a new tote bag, since I also got fabric for three projects: two more tote bags and another pair of pajama pants (which we’re making in class now). Next week I have to go back to the fabric store for t-shirt fabric for the second part of this class.

This also required lots of moving boxes around in the basement so I’d have space to set up the ironing board (no, I don’t iron) and Jeremy’s old card table.

Saturday, dinner was Red Wine Pinto Beans with Smoky (Maple) Bacon, which was really good. Next time I’d use less red wine. And preferably, not maple bacon, but that was what we had. I also made whole wheat biscuits to go with it, which I haven’t made in a long time. I love bread and bread-like things, and I don’t eat them much, so these biscuits were awesome.

Also, the usual writing stuff. Revised a couple flash stories, submitted stuff, wrote more on a longer story, wrote more on the current novel, did some exercises. Etc., etc.

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I sewed a tote bag

I made a tote bag! We finished them in class tonight. This is the Double Duty Bag from SewBaby, the shop owned by Ann Brodsky, who taught the class.



Inside (with pockets)

Inside (with pockets)

The bag is reversible. The strip of flowers on the striped side is pockets (three on each side of the bag). I’m using that side as the inside of my bag. Yes, the flowers on the pockets are upside down. I didn’t know how to read the pattern when I laid out the pieces.

This will be my new lunch bag. It’s a little big for that (though some days, it’ll be my breakfast/lunch/dinner bag) but I need a new lunch bag and I’m too happy with this one to not use it.

I enjoyed the process. I forget how many seams I ripped out while I made it. Also, sewing requires a lot of ironing. It’s probably good that I didn’t know that before I signed up. Also also, I apparently did not learn how to use scissors in kindergarten because I did not cut my fabric in straight lines.

Next week, the pajama pants and t-shirt class begins. I have to go buy the pattern and fabric on Friday afternoon, on my way to a writing retreat. So I might spend part of the retreat cutting out the pattern.

I’m planning to get a sewing machine and keep this up. I’m going to make more bags–if you look closely at the photos you’ll see that I need more practice sewing in straight lines. Plus, having extra lunch bags would be useful (and I have a plan for making the pattern shorter and wider) and we never have enough reusable grocery bags.


Filed under Sewing