Sewing Presents

It is getting close to Christmas, and I am way behind on my Christmas sewing. Yesterday I finally got cranking. I decided to make some microwave bowl cozies, and I got six of them done. It requires a special batting that is 100% cotton, no polyester at all. The 42 x 36” piece I had was cut into 12 squares, 10” each. Each cozie needs 2 pieces of batting and 2 pieces of fabric. See how the bowl fits? I made 3 of the green/orange fabrics and 3 of the coffee fabrics.


I also made some bibs for my grandson. These should have been made months ago, but I was having trouble finding the ribbing that goes around the neckline. I finally found some at a local quilt store of all places!


I am going to write my directions down here because I modify the ones I have found online. I use hand towels, not finger tip towels. I fold them of the way to make the center of the neckline. In this case, it was 10”. I then cut a circle out using the a CD for a pattern. I also cut 13” of ribbing. The ribbing is sewn into a circle using a 1/4” seam. I then quarter mark both the ribbing and the towel, applying the ribbing with a faux serger stitch on the Bernina. I used to use my serger, but the sewing machine is much easier for the small openings. I also top stitch the ribbing to make sure it stays turned over correctly.

I will take one of the bibs and one of the cozies for tonight’s American Sewing Guild meeting. We are having a holiday dinner instead of a regular meeting, but Sew and Tell always happens! Over the next few days I will make some more cozies, and that should do for Christmas sewing.

Grand Teton National Park

We left Baker’s Hole on Sunday the 8th. We have been camped at Gros Ventre campground in Grand Teton National Park since then. We intend on staying until Friday. It might snow then, so that means it is time to leave! We have been enjoying it here. We took the bikes into Jackson and peddled to the Fish Hatchery, a round trip of only 7 miles or so. We also did such exciting things as laundry and grocery shopping. There is a new laundromat in Jackson that we tried. It is all front loaders (four different sizes!), very clean, and lots of big dryers. The only disadvantage is that it is expensive for the washers, but the clothes were really clean so I guess it was worth it. We have had dinner in town at Bubba’s BBQ which was pretty good. Of course, being as it is in Jackson it cost more than it would in any other place.

One of the treats we gave ourselves was an evening at the Bar J Chuckwagon. We had a blast. The food was good, but the show was tremendous! It was an hour and a half of comedy and music. It was soooo much better than the one we went to in South Dakota.

The stage at the Bar J.

I was also able to do some sewing. We have had trouble with inverters (changing 12v to 110v), but we actually found a Radio Shack with a nice selection. That let me connect my Bernina 440 to the electrical power in the trailer without using the generator, a big plus. However using the iron requires the generator, so I haven’t pressed the borders on this one. It is an appliqué kit from AQS called “Lunar.” I used a fusible backing then used a button hole stitch with invisible thread. I like it!

Ignore the unpressed borders. And it is straight – promise!
Close up of the appliqué stitching.

Today we went to Jenny Lake and took the scenic boat tour. As many times as we have been to GTNP, we have never taken the boat so it was a new experience. The smoke has disappeared mostly so I got some great pictures of the mountains.

The Jenny Lake boat.
The top of Grand Teton is covered in clouds but still gorgeous.

We are having scattered showers which has cooled things off. The solar is still keeping things charged nicely.

Sew and resew and resew again

I am making a baptism outfit for my grandson in preparation for his baptism in July. I bought some gorgeous fabric from a local store called Tissu’ – wonderful, fine denier broadcloth that is just slightly transparent. It is a bit heavier than the Swiss batiste I made other gowns with, but this outfit will be a romper with a button on skirt. I am doing lots and lots of pintucks since those are so lovely without being “fussy.” However things have not all gone well. First I got out the romper not quite on grain. Of course I didn’t figure this out until I had 10 or so rows of the pin tucking done. It is really important that pintucks be done on a straight grain since they have a tendency to wrinkle if off grain. Ok, toss that one away and cut another. I was extra careful with the grain line this time, and the pintucks (21 of them), and I got as far as putting the back and front together. The next step was to put the neckband on. I had cut it per the pattern, but it was about a 1/2″ too short! Cut another neckband, and I have a hassle putting it on because the instructions say to use a 5/8″ seam then trim to 1/4″. It is much harder to apply a bias strip with that large of seam allowance. Then I found out the  width wasn’t enough to finish the application! Signal much cussing and gnashing of teeth. There is no way I was going to be able to take the band off so I cut another romper front and started from the pintuck step again (the third time!). Last night I got this far.

Excuse the pins. I was using them to hold the neck binding together while I hand stitched it. Today I put the sleeves on. It sounds like such a small job but it took me almost two hours, but the sleeves and side of the romper top are done.

I love the little cuffs on the sleeves. Next comes the placket on the romper bottom followed by putting the top and bottom together with the waistband between them. I will stop then. I will be seeing the grandson next week, and I will try it on him before I finish it completely.

Not much else got done today. I am being quite lazy. Kevin has been working on the sprinkler system. He finally decided that an additional sprinkler was needed on the north side of the house, so he dug into the line and did it. He is also working on the drip system in the rose bed at the front of the house. He is definitely NOT being lazy.

Today was for onions and sewing

I make an onion dip that is really amazing. It is made with dehydrated carmelized onions, sour cream, and garlic powder. You mix 2-3 handfuls of the dehydrated onions to 16 ounces of sour cream, and add 1/2 – 1 tsp of garlic powder. Mix well, and let sit in the refrigerator for 12 hours or so. As the onions rehydrate, they absorb some of the moisture in the sour cream so the resulting dip is quite thick. Part of the trick is how to make the onions themselves. I chop 3-4 pounds of onions, then carmelize them in a skillet (my cast iron works great for this). When the onions are light brown, add 1/2 c white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook another 5-10 minutes to evaporate the wine, then add another 1/2 c of wine and deglaze the pan again. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated. Dehydrate for 12 hours or so at 135 degrees. If you plan on using them quickly, they can stay at room temperature. I leave them in the refrigerator if I don’t use them in a couple of weeks. Here are some pictures of the process.

Ready to take off the stove. The onions are a lovely caramel color.
On the dehydrator tray.
The final product. Obviously less volume than about 4 pounds of onions!

I also did some preparation for sewing. I have my grandson’s baptism outfit cut out and the interfacing fused on the waistband. I have the most beautiful fine broadcloth that should work beautifully. Tomorrow I will practice my pintucks on scrap fabric, work a bunch of them on the romper front, and hopefully start construction. We decided to leave here on next Wednesday instead of a week from Friday for our next trip, so I have a few less days to get the romper finished. I can do the skirt later, but I want to make sure the romper fits; this kid is growing like a weed! We decided we are going to Fossil Butte National Monument (spending the night on Green River Reservoir), then someplace in the Bighorn National Forest, followed by a night at Devil’s Tower KOA to clean tanks before heading near Spearfish, SD for a vacation with our kids and their families.

Yesterday Kevin went back to the surgeon who did his knee surgery. The surgeon says there is still swelling and a small MCL strain left over from the surgery. That is the reason he still has pain and stifffness. It is nice to hear an explanation, but fairly frustrating too. He has been riding his bike as much as he can since that is a good rehab exercise.

Springtime in Utah

We got home on Monday afternoon. I tried to time it so we wouldn’t hit bad traffic, but I obviously didn’t delay long enough. Bumper to bumper doesn’t really bother me (I just zen out), but it is tedious. We ate a huge lunch of chicken fried steak at Bella’s in Wells, NV again for lunch, so we just did some snacking for dinner. Unpacking isn’t as hard now. I have decided to just leave the trailer refrigerator turned on and keep all the basics there. Butter, maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc are just going to stay stocked and not move to and from the house each trip. We just moved our clothes and toiletries. Of course we also had to start laundry right away. My Samsung washer and dryer at home are better than anything found in a campground laundromat.

On Wednesday I went back to my family practitioner for a re-check of my right knee. The Celebrex just wasn’t beating the pain. I got a steroid injection, and two days later I am much improved! I am hopeful of more walking and biking in the next few weeks. Kevin and I are a matched set. His left knee is the problem and my bad knee is my right. We have to get better before the family trip to Black Hills in a couple of weeks.

I took a fun sewing class last night at a local quilt shop. It was on making bowls from laundry line, the cotton or cotton/poly stuff. I have made the, before, but I really wanted to know how to make some that had smoother starts and finishes. I made one for Kevin to use in the trailer to keep next to the bed. I used blue variegated thread to spice up the stitching plus some lovely strips of a blue batik. I also made a smaller one which will be used for something eventually.

I like the strips of color. The bottom is about 7.5″ so a good sized bowl.

I have also made these as trivets I use in the trailer. The sloppy ending on these was what made me want to take a class. The new bowls aren’t perfect, but they are much better than the trivet made before class! See the fuzz at about 7:00 o’clock? These are also about 7″.

This just came out of the washing machine.

We finally turned on the sprinklers for the lawn and garden yesterday for the first time this year. I don’t believe in spoiling my plants with lots of water; I want them to work for it! The flowers are doing beautifully.

Front garden has iris, roses, and a service berry tree I try to keep pruned to a shrub (I need to take it back more soon).

The back garden is mostly xeriscape plants.

See where something has been bedding down in the middle? We have a neighborhood cat I have seen on my security cameras wandering around at night. Since we don’t have rabbits, I figure the cat is doing the damage.

This evening we are having friends over for dinner. I am making layered green chili chicken enchiladas (using my new oven), pinto beans with chipotle peppers (Instant Pot), and I made a flan (also with the oven). The flan is definitely an experiment I haven’t ever done before. We will see how it works. It looks good, but I haven’t cut into it to see. The friends are bring a salad, and I have two bottles of Sangria to go along with the meal.

Edit to add that the flan was a success! I will definitely be making it again.

Cleaning up the sewing room leads to distractions

I took my Carpenter’s Square quilt to my long arm friend yesterday and got a nice tour of her lovely, very clean sewing rooms (yes, she has two!). Sigh. My sewing room is a mess. I decided to at least sort a bunch of stuff before I start on my next project, and I did get a good start. However I also got distracted with sorting scraps. I decided to make some more rice bags for my hands since I had a piece of cute fabric just big enough. I have arthritis in my thumb and forefinger joints near my palm, and they get sore and achy on a regular basis. I had some other rice bags, but they somehow disappeared. I made two of them, one with a 3×5 finished size and the other 4×6 finished. I think I prefer the larger one. They are just two rectangles sewn together with some elastic on one side to keep them on my hand. I fill them with dried rice, then heat them in the microwave 20-30 seconds or so. The rice heats up and provides nice relief to my sore hands.

If you decide to make rice bags, be sure to use 100% cotton fabric, not something like polyester fleece. You also don’t want to heat the bags too long or they could burn since they use elastic. In fact, even 100% cotton and very dry rice can burn if left too long in the microwave so be careful.

After leaving my friend’s house I headed to a class on my Bernina V8 Embroidery Software. The dealer I use is 45 miles away from my house – a good hour drive. They are very knowledgeable though. I have been using this software for 12 or more years, and I really just need to learn the new features. It is still beneficial to go to a class for beginners since I pick up little tricks I hadn’t caught before. Last night was about variations on automatically digitizing a graphic, meaning converting a graphic into embroidery stitches. Wow, the software has improved significantly in this area since the previous version! The class doesn’t get out until 9:00 so it means a late night drive home. We won’t meet again until after we get back from our Yosemite trip. That reminds me that the NPS announced yesterday they enough road repair done to open up the road we need to take you Monday. Yeah! No change in travel plans needs to be made.

As for my continual experiments with Instant Pot meals, we had boneless country pork ribs two nights ago. I cooked them in high pressure for 40 minutes, and I should have added another 5 minutes. We live above 4000′ elevation, and I am still learning how to adjust the standard recipes for the altitude. I had added about 10% additional time, but I could have used 20%. They were still good. I can’t say the same for the “boiled” eggs I tried! I loved making hard boiled eggs in my old pressure cooker, but the Instant Pot is a slightly lower pressure system. My first two tries resulted in very soft eggs, but I finally discovered that 14 minutes at low pressure makes a nice hard egg like I enjoy for breakfast. I finished the last one I made for lunch, so I need some more.

Volunteer sewing with American Sewing Guild

Big sewing day today, and we got so much done! The local American Sewing Guild activity ended up making 70 completed medical dolls. We had between eight and ten sewing machines and sergers going from 10:00 – 4:00, plus between five to ten non-sewers turning and stuffing the doll bodies. There were another 19 doll bodies completed just waiting on clothes. I took a number of doll bodies home with me to finish to go with clothes I have already cut out. It should keep me busy for a while. Others took doll bodies and cut out clothes. I would imagine we will eventually donate another 30-40 completed dolls.

Here are the 70 completed dolls.

Notice how plain they are? The children are able to color the dolls to look like them. Here are a couple of examples. That is why we try to have lots of shades of doll bodies. We can’t make dark ones because the crayons don’t show up on them. The darker tan is the compromise.

The dolls go to Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC. A big thanks to Floyd and Lizzie’s Sewing Center for letting us use their space. They also contributed quite a bit of muslin for doll bodies.

Spring has definitely come

It has decided to rain and rain and rain here. We blew past the average rain for March, and there is a lot of snow in the mountains. Today is dry with puffy white clouds and a brilliant blue sky. It sets off the snow covered peaks in a very picturesque manner. My daffodils have decided to riot, the yard is a brilliant green (I bet we don’t need to water for at least a month!), and the mulch is fully down in the back yard flower beds. I still need to buy another 10-20 sacks for the front flower bed, but I will wait until tomorrow.

We have just been busy doing regular “stuff.” We ordered a new Samsung gas range/electric oven combo. Since we don’t have a gas line, we first had to find the right contractor for that job. Hopefully we will have both the gas line and the range installed in a couple of weeks. Kevin has been doing taxes, and it is a huge job. We have income from Utah, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Income from the pensions, farm, oil, and the wind mills do not have any state tax taken out before it comes to us so it is painful. This is also the first full year we have both been retired, and we discovered we hadn’t had enough federal withheld either. Sigh. We have corrected that so hopefully it won’t be so bad next time. I did get some embroidery done for my daughter/grandson. 

Isn’t that fox adorable? Everyone loves my burp cloths. I use high quality prefolded cloth diapers, and they are the most popular baby present I make. The fabric is cotton and the thread is polyester so they can be washed in hot water with bleach. I do not believe in giving impractical gifts!

I have also been informed I am now to make Clay’s baptism gown. My daughter picked out a tailored style with a romper and a detachable skirt. Poor baby is being baptized in July in Iowa – think HOT. The detachable skirt will only be used for the service, and then he can be a lot cooler. I will use some heirloom techniques on it, especially pintucks which I think are very appropriate for a boy. Probably a Victorian embroidery of trinity crosses and a lot of entredeaux too. It will be a blast. Here is a picture of the romper; I will just wing the long skirt. I am using the version shown in blue and white, but I won’t be adding the faux overall straps. Oh, and there might be some religious embroidery where the chest buttons are. I will decide that later. I am also making the entire outfit out of a white broadcloth.

I almost forgot the other thing I made. I altered some high quality queen bed sheets to be 6 inches shorter so they fit the “short queen” bed in the travel trailer. We had sheets we bought at an RV supply house, but they weren’t very nice sheets. We put the altered ones on the bed, and they fit great except that I need to make them narrower. I forgot the sheets are made to fit very deep mattresses, and ours is only 8″ tall. I should be able to get that done before we leave.