Category Archives: Sewing

Catching Up

Hello and welcome!

Once again I’ve fallen behind in blogging. In this post I am sharing some of my activities from the week of November 1st – 7th. I plan to get another post, highlighting November 8th – 14th, up early next week. If all goes as planned I will be caught up. πŸ™‚

Monday Nov 1 – I rendered beef suet into tallow. Suet is raw hard fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow. For the last few years we have been buying our beef from a local farmer. we purchase a quarter of a cow at a time. Once the cow goes to the butcher or processor I have to call them and give them instructions for cutting and wrapping the meat. At this time I ask to have the suet included in our order. Most people who buy their meat this way to not want the suet so I always have to ask.

Rendering is the process of cleaning the suet. To do this I cut the suet into small pieces. It’s easiest to cut when cold or partially frozen. I then put it in my crock pot on high until it is completely melted.

Tuesday, Nov 2 – The suet was still in the melting process Monday when I was ready to go to bed so I just unplugged the crock pot and would finish it on Tuesday. After reheating it I strained the hot fat through 2 or 3 layers of paper towel. When the hot fat (tallow) cools it solidifies and becomes white. (picture above)

Tallow can be used for cooking. (The original McDonald’s french fries were cooked in tallow), candle making and is commonly used for soap making. If you read the ingredients on your store bought bar of soap you won’t see tallow as an ingredient but it is there. It is listed as sodium tallowate which is the result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with tallow.

Any solid that are left after rendering the suet are called cracklings. While some people eat these I never have. I decided to feed them to the chickens but my husband said next time don’t bother. When I asked if the chickens did not like them he told me that the chickens would have loved them but instead they were forced to stand by, dining only on bread crusts, as Ranger gobbled up the cracklings.

weighing the tallow

Wednesday, Nov 3 – I made soap. I wanted to use some of the tallow that I just rendered. The recipe I made was an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. This is the first time I used this particular combination so I’ll try to remember to report how it turns out. It will be about 6 weeks before it is ready. I also added aloe to this batch.

Thursday Nov 4 – I did my dad’s grocery shopping. He orders his groceries online then I picked them up from the store. I then went to the dollar store and picked up a few things that he prefers to get from there. I delivered the groceries to dad and helped him with a few chores.

Friday Nov 5 – I took the boys out for their morning walk at the farm.

It was a beautiful fall morning. When we went out, around 10:00 A.M., the sun had melted the heavy frost that had blanket the area in the early morning hours. Our feet/shoes got wet as we tromped though the grass.

The breeze, if any, was gentle.

I observed moments when a single, random, tree would suddenly drop a shower of leaves.

It was and interesting phenomenon as the trees seemed to be taking turns.

Many leaves were still holding on. Fall is not over yet. πŸ™‚

Saturday November 6 – My sister visited.

I still have one sister who lives near-by and we have been trying to block off some time, at least once a month, to spend together.

Last month when I visited her house I returned two bags of books that she had given me earlier this year. They had been passed onto her by our other sister and most she had not read yet. As I packed the books to return to her I stuck slips of paper into some, labeling them “must read” or “good read” so she will know where to start when she digs into this stack of books.

We also looked at different sewing patterns and she showed me some fabrics that she had purchased but wasn’t sure what she would make with them. “Take what you want” she said. There was one flowered print that caught my eye. We agreed that it was beautiful and needed to be made into something but neither of us could decide what. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it I decided to take that piece of fabric.

That fabric nagged at me for a couple of weeks. Because it was a large print I kept thinking that it needed to be turned into a large item of clothing. I searched for patterns for full length skirts and found a few simple ones but I don’t wear skirts very often and I don’t really know anyone who does.

Seemingly out of the blue I remembered the bathrobe pattern that I had. This fabric would make a lovely bathrobe. I bought a contrasting fabric for the trim and decided to make a bathrobe for my sister.

As I was making the robe I would try it on for size and in doing so discovered that as beautiful as this print is it looks horrible on me. Thankfully when my sister put it on it looked gorgeous – elegant, like I had imagined. ” I don’t know if I love it so much that I won’t want to wear it” she said, “or if I love it so much that I will wear it all the time”.

“Wear it all the time!” I told her. That would be the ultimate compliment.

In addition to giving her the robe, I showed her the projects I have planned to make as Christmas gifts. And we solved a few of the world’s problems over lunch. LOL!

Sunday Nov 7 – It was a perfect fall day for being outdoors and I started out by raking leaves.

The maple tree just off our deck had shed most of it’s leaves.

It took about an hour and eight trips with the wheelbarrow to remove the leaves from the front yard.

The maple that stands in front of our house was still holding many of her leaves.

As were many of the trees in the woods behind our home. The work is not finished yet.

After lunch I headed to the farm with my husband and the boys (dogs) to plant garlic. Normally we plant garlic around the middle of October. This year the ground has been too wet and muddy to plant, so we have been waiting for things to dry out a bit. We had decided earlier this year that growing garlic to sell is not in our future, so we were only going to grow enough for us and to be able to share some with family. We were able to get about 250 cloves planted, mulched and fenced (so the chickens couldn’t go digging them up). This is the smallest amount we have planted since we began growing garlic in 2013 and it was a breeze compared to years past. Now we can only pray that the weather stays warm enough for the garlic to get a start before the ground freezes. It will be spring before we know if this crop will survive.

When my husband told me that our son-in-law would be stopping by the farm to winterize his bee hive I decided to take along the gifts I made for Jackson and Addy. I had a hoped that the kids would be with him, but even if they weren’t he could take the gifts home for them – just in time for Addy’s (4th) birthday on Monday.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the super hero capes I made for the kids so my husband hung them from a plant hook and held them so I could get some photos.

Addy loves unicorns so one side of her cape was made from this unicorn fabric.

The capes are reversible so the other side of Addy’s was made with this brilliant yellow, orange and white tie-dye fabric.

I wasn’t sure what Jackson’s favorite thing is currently so I selected this superhero(ish) fabric for one side of his cape.

and this outer space type fabric for the other.

I wasn’t able to give the kids their gifts in person but I received a message from my son-in-law that the kids love the capes and that Addy was pretty insistent on wearing hers to bed. πŸ™‚

If I made you a super hero cape what would you want on it?

Summer Sewing

I’m trying to develop my sewing skills and the only way I know to do that is to practice. Over the summer I made a few projects. Take a look.

The first was this red crossover tank top. It was a fairly easy project and I am pleased with the way it turned out.

This grey cardigan was a fairly easy project as well. I love the knit fabric it is made out of, as it was easy to work with and is comfortable to wear.

The red tank top even pairs well with the grey cardigan.

When I wore this striped hooded pullover at our family picnic three of my daughters decided I should make it for them. They told me what colors they would like and I told them “Christmas is coming”.

This beautiful black with yellow flowers has a cowl neck (it’s hard to tell in the photo). I’ve always liked wearing a cowl neckline. I have to give my sister credit for making most of this though. Recently while visiting I was visiting her we were looking through fabrics and patterns. She then showed me this shirt that she had mostly finished but given up on because she didn’t like the way it fit her. When I tried it on I loved the way it fit. I also loved the print.

I brought it home and finished sewing the second cuff on and hemmed the bottom. I now have some new fall attire and a list of things I need to make before Christmas. πŸ™‚

My Second Winter Project Is Finished

It’s been a couple weeks since I finished my second big winter project. I have just been negligent in blogging about it. This project is a rag quilt that I made for our bed.

This quilt was more involved than the t-shirt quilt I made for my daughter because for her quilt she supplied the t-shirts and selected the flannel that it would be backed with. Also our bed is queen size so this quilt is larger than the one I made for her.

For our quilt I started with selecting the materials. It took several trips to the fabric shop before I had all that I would need. Our bedroom is done in blues and browns so I decided to stick with (mostly)those colors.

Fabric for quilt topside
Fabric for quilt underside

One of the reasons it took so many trips to the fabric store is because I didn’t really have a plan. So I took so measurements then drew it out on graph paper.

I decided to do an on-point design (the squares line up on a diagonal) and to use 12 inch squares. Once I knew how many squares I would need, 72 squares for each layer, I finished buying fabric. The quilt would be three layers but for the middle layer I planned on using an old flannel sheet set that I had so I only needed to buy enough fabric for the top layer and underside.

It wasn’t until I had purchased all of my fabric that I added the colors to this chart determining the actual pattern. This project actually involved a lot of math. You’ll notice some of the squares have different colors in them, these were changes that I made in the design and the inner most color was the correct one.

This chart was my road map throughout the cutting and sewing process. I would have been lost without it.

When cutting the fabric I layered the three fabrics together then made my cuts.

After I had all 72 squares (x three layers) cut it was time to start sewing. I sewed the layers together by stitching and X across each square.

Then I began piecing and sewing the rows together according to my chart.

In the above photo I was almost at the halfway point.

When the sewing was finished (above) it was time to start clipping the edges as in the photo below.

Clipping the edges was probably the longest part of the project with most of the edges having six layers of fabric to clip through (the outside edges had three layers) but the task was made a bit easier by using these small snip-type scissors that I purchased on one of my trips to the fabric store.

Once all of the clipping was finished it was time to wash and dry. This causes the edges to ruffle. While the quilt was drying I stopped the dryer every 15 minutes to empty the lint filter. The first few times it definitely needed to be emptied. There was less lint the last couple of times I emptied it but still enough to clean it out.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out and my husband was wowed. He has commented several times on how much he likes it and how warm it is. πŸ™‚

I like the design on the underside as well so reversing the quilt is always an option.

Thanks for visiting.

Homemade Christmas Gifts 2020

If you know me, or have been following my blog for very long, then you probably know that much of the month of December I spent making Christmas gifts.

In early December, with a plan in mind, I ventured to Joann Fabrics to get the supplies that I would need. It was a fun outing because I met my youngest daughter there. She wanted to pick out some fabric for a project that I am now making for her. She also helped me select fabric for the gifts I would make for Jackson and Addy.

For Jackson and Addy I decided to make fleece bathrobes.

I also made them each a pair of flannel pajama pants and a stuffed puppy to match.

I was quite pleased with the way everything turned out.

The puppies were a little more challenging that I expected.

For my daughters, who are all dog lovers and puppy parents, I decided to make paw print scarves. I also crocheted them each a pair of slippers since it had been several years since I had made them any.

Somehow I neglected to take a picture of the four scarves all of which were the same pattern as the one above but in different colors. At least when I realized this I still had one scarf and pair of slippers that had not been delivered yet.

It wasn’t until I saw Addy putting on the slippers that I made for her mother that I realized that I wasn’t quite finished with the outfits I made for the grandkids. Can you guess what I’m crocheting now?πŸ˜‰

That’s A Wrap

As January comes to a close I decided to write a post about my crafting projects for the month. I picked the title then when I began reviewing the projects I realized that the title, That’s A Wrap, actually seemed to be a theme for this month.

You might remember that in the beginning of the month I wrote about the first hairpin lace project I made.

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This hairpin lace scarf. That’s a wrap.

I then decided to do a second hairpin lace scarf with a different type of yarn. I didn’t make it an infinity scarf this time and I had enough yarn leftover to make a matching ear warmer.

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Hairpin lace scarf and ear warmer. That’s a wrap.

Next I decided to make a scarf using the broomstick lace method that I have done in the past. I thought it might be interesting to compare the two to find out if I preferred one method over the other or if I preferred the results of one over the other. I can honestly say I don’t have a preference. (Do you?)

I plan on finishing up this scarf later today but might make a matching ear warmer.

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Broomstick lace scarf. That’s a wrap.

The other big project that I completed this month was making my bath robe. I think it was back in November when I wrote about my plans to make this. I had purchased the fabric and thought I would get started soon. Before got I started on the bath robe reality struck and I switched my attentions to making Christmas gifts instead.

Fortunately I waited, because making the bath robe was not as easy as I expected it to be. I am not going to go into detail about all of the mistakes that I made, but I do want to share some thoughts about the fabric that I used.

My choice of fabric for this project was Luxe fleece and to be fair to the pattern designer it was this choice that lead to a lot of the difficulties I had with making the robe. What I do love about the fabric is that it is super soft and warm and even though I usually don’t wear purple I do love the color and how it looks with the contrasting trim. I did, however, find it difficult to work with this fabric while making such a large garment. There was a lot of bulk in the way while trying to sew. The fabric is not one that can be ironed. so pressing seams in place was not an option and the fabric did tend to slip so many pins were required to hold things together until the sewing was complete. The other thing I will mention is that my small straight pins tended to get lost in the fabric so I had to do several checks to make sure I removed them all. (OUCH!) The last issue that I (we) had with the fabric is that the fabric sheds when it is cut and continues to shed until it is sewn together. Each time I worked on this project I made a big mess. Fluffy stuff everywhere! My husband actually offered to bring in the snow shovel for cleaning it up, (LOL!) but the vacuum worked just fine.

 

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My wrap around bath robe.Β That’s a wrap.

Incidentally Ranger got in on the action as well. One day last week he seemed to be getting bored while waiting for his afternoon walk. I cooked up two beef bones (one for Ranger and one for Trooper) thinking that chewing on a bone would keep him busy while he waited. We have an old table cloth that we put on the floor when we give them bones so they don’t mess up the carpet. I placed the two bones on the table cloth and invited the boys to enjoy their treat. Trooper sniffed his but walked away apparently uninterested. Ranger was niffing the bones as I returned to the kitchen to continue what I was doing. A few minutes later I walked through the living room and noticed that one of the bones was covered with a corner of the table cloth. Ranger was sniffing the other bone. A short while after that I discovered that both bones were buried in the table cloth. Apparently Ranger was planning to save them for later. LOL!

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Bones buried in the table cloth. That’s a wrap. (I wonder if he could learn to fold clothes. LOL)

As for January 2020 – That’s a wrap. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.