Tuesday, January 31, 2017

700 Dogs and Counting

Most of E’s flying in the past few years has been for an organization we’ve blogged about before – Pilots ‘n Paws. On January 29, 2017, he flew his 700th dog. He flew to North Carolina, picked up a mom and her four puppies, and flew them to Maryland, where he met Natalie and Steve, who flew them to their rescue group in New Jersey. These dogs were rescued and fostered by our friend Pam, who has saved many hundreds of dogs.

Natalie, Steve and E

For the flight, E wore a new zippered fleece pullover I made for him. The dog bones on the front yoke made it appropriate for this flight, I think.

Happy Flying and Happy Sewing Everyone!   

Sunday, January 22, 2017

E's New Pants

A couple of years ago, E emerged from surgery with a medical device which sits almost exactly at his natural waist, sticks out about an inch, and needs to be protected from scrapes and bumps. If it were located a little bit lower or a little bit higher, he could wear all of the pants he wore before the surgery. But, it isn’t and he can’t, so we began looking for pants with a rise high enough to cover the device. (The rise is the distance from the middle of the crotch to the top of the waist band.) Unfortunately, the commercially available pants we found weren’t nearly high rise enough. Nothing to do but make a pair, right?

A few years ago, a blog I like (MalePatternBoldness) had a jeans sew-along using Kwik Sew pattern 3504 and I remembered it seemed fairly easy to follow. The pattern contains several sizes and I copied the one closest to E’s size onto pieces of tracing paper and used the tracing paper pattern to make a pair of trial pants from an old flat sheet. The photo above shows this pair as a work in progress.

The trial pair needed a lot of adjustments, mostly because I was adding so many inches to the rise. When you lengthen the rise as much as I did, the waist no longer sits anywhere near where the pattern intends it to sit and this affects the size of the waist, the size and placement of the front and rear pockets, the taper from the hips to the waist, etc. I incorporated the adjustments into the tracing paper pattern and made a second trial pair of pants. The second pair needed some adjustments, too, so I made more revisions to the tracing paper pattern. The next pair of trial pants fit reasonably well and I used the revised, re-drawn, amended, adjusted, much abused tracing paper pattern to make a pair of pants from a medium-weight cotton twill. (I also re-drew the adjusted pattern onto a clean sheet of tracing paper, to make my life a little easier the next time I use the pattern.)

Here’s a view of the front at the waist. 

The pockets are a snazzy snake skin patterned fabric. 

The yoke in the back came in handy because it allowed me to fine tune 
the fit in the back around the waist and hips. 

And here’s how they look with E inside. (They really don’t pull at the crotch. Honest! I didn’t notice they looked like this when I took the photo and I don’t want to wait for E to get home so I can take another photo. Trust me: They look fine.) 

By and large, I’m happy with these and so is E. I would recommend KS 3504 regardless of how much sewing experience you have. The pattern instructions were easy to follow and the jeans sew-along on the MalePatternBoldness blog has lots of good photos which show how to use this pattern, too.

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Pumpkin muffins, anyone?!?!?

The day after Halloween, I bought a pumpkin for $1 at Walmart and put it in the garage where it's cool. Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I chopped it into six chunks and stuck it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. After the pumpkin finished baking, I let it cool for a few minutes, peeled off the skin, and ended up with a heaping two quarts of pumpkin flesh pieces. 

After a few minutes with the potato masher, the pieces were reduced to a nice mash.

We used some of the mash to make pumpkin muffins, which are excellent. We set some aside to eat with dinner tonight, saved two cups to make a pumpkin pie tomorrow, and froze the rest to add to soups this winter. We're definitely getting our money's worth out of a $1 pumpkin. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sewing Machine Stool

About a year ago, I began looking for a stool to match a mid-century modern Copenhagen-style sewing machine cabinet. I found several which were too expensive (more than $100) and one which needed too much restoration work (the legs were painted blue and the seat had been recovered with a printed patchwork cotton fabric). Finally, a month ago, I found a stool with a reasonable price ($20) and its original upholstery. The upholstery was in good shape, but the legs needed some work.

The legs had a coat of tan paint over the original blonde finish and they’d been scuffed up a bit.

I didn’t care about the paint or the scuff marks because I was going to refinish the legs to match my cabinet. I used wood stripper and a teflon pad to remove the old paint and the original finish.

Next, I applied a walnut stain which I knew would be too dark. I wiped off most of the stain immediately after I applied it and then used mineral spirits to make the walnut stain even lighter.

I brushed on a coat of polyurethane which contained a cherry stain. If I’d wanted the legs to be more red, I could have applied another coat of the polyurethane/stain, but they were exactly the color I wanted after one coat. 

I’m thrilled to pieces with my “new” stool and I'm sure I'll use it a lot. Happy Sewing everyone!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Renovated Bird Bath

Our bird bath developed a bunch of cracks and would no longer hold water. It was a shame, because the bird bath was great. It’s made from light weight plastic and has a little solar panel in the middle which runs a pump so the birds can have a shower as well as a bath. For a while, epoxy worked to seal the cracks and stop the leaks. Eventually, though, epoxy couldn’t keep up with the cracks. When we looked for a replacement, we couldn’t find anything we liked.

Plasti Dip to the rescue! If you haven’t used Plasti Dip before, enter it as a search term on youtube and you’ll see people using it in all kinds of creative ways. It’s a product which creates a flexible plastic barrier that feels sort of like rubber. We used a can of yellow Plasti Dip (because that’s what we could find) and a paint brush to fill and cover the cracks in the bird bath. We didn’t want a yellow bird bath, so when the yellow Plasti Dip dried/cured, we used a rattle can of gray Plasti Dip to cover the entire top surface of the bird bath.

Plasti Dip was easy to use and worked exactly as we hoped it would. 

The bird bath is now getting heavy use and isn’t leaking.  The birds are happy and we are, too. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

New To Me Serger

Today, our small town held its annual "Big Flea," which gives people the opportunity to set up folding tables on the common and sell all the unwanted stuff they've accumulated in their garages since last year's Big Flea. We didn't see anything interesting until we came to a table with a serger. I've never used a serger, but I've always been curious about them. This one was a White Speedylock 1600 and it came with a box of accessories, a manual, a plastic cover, and four spools of thread. The only thing missing was a little plastic tray which is meant to snap on the front and collect the pieces of fabric as they're cut off by the serger's blade. The person selling it seemed to think it probably worked and she had it priced at $30, so we decided to take a chance.

The Bird's Eye View
We got it home, cleaned it a bit, oiled it, threaded it, and lo and behold it works fine. Now all I need to do is think of a reason to use a serger.  Happy sewing (and serging) everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hidden Gems

Last week, we were on our way into an office building when we spotted two giraffes. Giraffes??

E is a little less than six feet tall, so you can gauge how tall the statues are. According to one of the tenants in the building, the building's owner saw these on his travels in another country, fell in love with them, bought them, and shipped them to the United States. We are grateful he installed them where lots of people can enjoy them. 

Unexpected art is always a treat!