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In my quest to make a month of shirts for Jacob, this one represents the half-way mark.

#15 - Half way to goal!

#15 – Half way to goal!

This shirt is made with gorilla fabric Jake selected years ago and I’ve kept in my stash.  In hopes of making another casual shirt, I asked him if he still likes it.  He gave a resounding “YES!” and plans to wear it to work on ‘Casual Friday’.  What fun!

To change things up, I decided instead of assembling the shirt with my vintage Kenmore (circa 1972) machine, I’d use the Singer 301a (circa 1951).  My theory is the older the machine, the nicer the straight stitch.  I wasn’t disappointed with the stitching on this shirt.  I even used its old buttonhole attachment and it worked wonderfully.  The only drawback to using this straight-stitch-only machine is there’s no way to attach buttons by machine.  I hand sewed them.

The shirt is made with the same KwikSew pattern I’ve used many times but with my own ‘sharks tail’ collar.  All seams are flat felled.  It’s another well-made shirt.

I have several choices when deciding which will be the next shirt.  I have flannel and chambray for long sleeved shirts or fabric for dress and casual shirts.  I’m currently undecided so I’ll continue hand stitching the Urban Renewal quilt top until the decision is made.  I never run short of projects!

Last week, I canned 12 more jars of sugar free hatch pepper jam.  We like it so much, we are eating it quickly and after Jacob took home a jar and tasted it, he has requested more.  Strangely, he especially likes it on pizza!  Thus far, Bob and I eat it with breakfast and on fresh baked, warm bread.  Good stuff!

Shirl

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis week on Facebook, I posted this picture of my progress on the Urban Renewal (Inner City) quilt top.  I was overwhelmed by the positive comments and ‘likes’ it received.  I also received quite a few inquiries about assembly.

I’d LOVE to see boatloads of quilts made with this pattern so I thought I would show a picture story of the steps I’m taking to make this top and the thought process behind my choices.  It may not be the easiest or most efficient method but it is the one that works for me.

I wanted to use up many of the already cut fabric pieces I had left from assembling my Grandmother’s Flower Garden top.  After making a queen size top, I used some of the leftover pieces to make a baby quilt top.  Yes, I’m frugal!  I STILL have pieces left!  I took light, medium and dark hues of individual colors and trimmed the hexagrams to the trapezoid shapes I need for this new quilt. I also cut new paper pieces (1.5″ on each short side) from used printer paper for assembly in the English Paper Piecing technique.

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1.  In this first picture, you see the trapezoid papers set atop the fabric pieces. I add holes (with a holepunch) to the center of each paper to assist in removing the papers after assembling the top.   Notice the fabric is cut 1/4″ all around larger than the papers.  The fabric doesn’t need to be cut perfectly as the outside edges are turned under and basted around the paper.  The papers should be precisely cut, each to the same size and shape.

 

 

 

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2.  In this picture, you see basted pieces in three green hues.  Each 2 matching pieces need to be stitched together as shown.  To do this, I place the pieces atop each other, right sides together, and whip stitch together along one angled side to make a boomerang.  These three boomerangs will make one ‘Y’ unit.

 

 

 

 

 

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3.  This top is not made in blocks, but in ‘Y’ units.  Each unit is made with 3 boomerangs, whipstitched down each long side.  Be certain to lay out each hue identically with the other units.  On my top, I placed the lightest hue on the top, and the darkest on the right.  This gives the 3 D effect to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

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4.  Make a bunch of ‘Y’ units, all with light, medium and dark hues.  You’ll be amazed at just how many it takes to assemble a top.  I became bored after making several dozen units so I would assemble them into diagonal rows, being careful to distribute my colors as I wanted them in the top and making certain the hues were positioned correctly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5.  Though there’s not a great variety here, this is a sample of how to assemble diagonal rows.  There is no need to snip the little ears from the units as they will swirl on the back without leaving a hard bump.  I assemble enough of these diagonal rows to make the width of the quilt top.  My top is currently 52″ wide before adding borders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the near future, I plan to add Kona black trapezoids and hexagrams to fill in the edges of the top.  My thinking is it will provide the sought-after 3 D effect all the way to the borders.  At this time, I have not decided if I will include a pieced or solid border or two.  I will begin auditioning options soon.

Shirl

 

I’ve never lived in a location quite as dusty as this.  Maybe it’s because I live in a farmhouse that’s over 100 years old or maybe it’s the multitude of dirt (sand actually) roads in the area but this is the dustiest house imaginable.

After losing sleep because of wheezing and coughing, I decided in my fight against dust, to eliminate the carpet in my bedroom.  Believe me, it’s no great loss and raw concrete floors may be ugly but they’re much easier to keep clean.  I’ve spent the week not only pulling up carpet and padding, but vacuuming the cathedral ceiling and walls, cleaning windows and sills, washing all furniture front and back before lemon oiling, washing the ceiling fan and curtains.  The room looks much cleaner and I’m wheezing less.  Now my back hurts.   SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bob and I decided to take advantage of the hatch pepper harvest from New Mexico this year and purchase some for making jam.  We both love pepper jam but since I’m diabetic, I avoid eating sugar.  Up until recently, in order for jelly or jam to ‘set’, sugar was required.  Fortunately, a new pectin has been developed that sets without sugar.  Yippee!

Bob bought enough hatch peppers for a double batch.  He also purchased jalapeño peppers for added flavor and some kick.  It smelled wonderful as it cooked and we were pleased how it tasted before canning.

I was able to put up 8 jelly jars of jam.  That same evening, for dinner I made omelets and we cracked open the first jar of hatch pepper jam to spread on fresh baked bread.  Oh my stars!!!  It’s delicious!  Although I added 8 jalapeño peppers to the mix, it’s not hot.  It’s wonderfully sweet and peppery!

Bob has purchased an even bigger bunch of peppers for another batch of jam which will include enough to share with family.  If I don’t get a chance this weekend, I’ll make jam on Monday.

I was able to do a little sewing between canning and cleaning.  I’ve made another gingham shirt for Jacob.  This time it’s forest green gingham with a bias pocket and outside back yoke.  The collar is a cut back style with rounded tips and white backside.  The collar band is also white inside and out.  It has antique mother-of-pearl buttons and a tuck-in tail.

Jacob is on his way here for a weekend visit.  I’m looking forward to seeing him, feeding him well and giving him new shirts.

Happy weekend!

Shirl

After a few weeks of accomplishing little, I’ve finally got some energy back. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  I’ve managed to make shirt #13 (since March) and have cut out another.

This shirt is grey, white, red and pink stripe seersucker with a stark white collar band and no collar.  There is also a white accent on the pocket, horizontal-cut yoke and rounded, tuck-in hem.  The seams are flat felled and top stitched for lasting wear.  I hope he likes it.

While stitching, I’ve decided to try and make enough shirts for Jacob to wear a different shirt each day for a month.  If that is the goal, I’m nearly halfway there!  If I don’t poop out or if he doesn’t stop me, I hope to reach that goal by late Spring.  I hope it’s not too ambitious.  We shall see!

As I type this post, the pressure canner is singing its jiggling song.  I’m processing 7 pints of split pea and ham soup.  Along with a grilled cheese sandwich, a pint of split pea and ham soup will make a super easy dinner this winter when a hot, hearty meal will be appreciated.  If my energy holds this week, I plan to can some chicken soup too.  Bob stocked our freezer near full of chicken he found on sale so I’m anxious to process some for easy meal preparation.

I much prefer opening jars of my own soup (canned with love) than opening anything commercially prepared (with chemicals and preservatives).  Mine tastes SO much better too!

Shirl

After getting multiple estimates to re-roof our home, I hired Bobby Shoemake Welding and Roofing, Latexo (Houston County), TX.  There were many promises made by Bobby directly to me concerning when the job would start, who would actually do the work, written warranties, etc..  As it turned out, none of these promises were true.

Materials arrived and a crew of ‘English is their second language’ men began the work.  Because of our complex roof line and his personal experience with this metal product, Bobby had promised HE would be the only person installing our roof.  He never showed up to work or supervise the job.  Since I wanted the job done and had no knowledge of this crew’s lack of experience, I didn’t halt the work.   My mistake!!  After looking at the new roof for 2 weeks, I can see this crew didn’t know how to install a metal roof, made ridiculous, unsightly shortcuts and butchered the job.

Also, after multiple claims from Bobby Shoemake that they ran short on trim and he has ordered more, the job remains unfinished.  Trim has not been installed on the front/east part of the house or on the west end of the attached carport.  Bobby promised two weeks ago it would be finished to my satisfaction ‘within a few days’.  It hasn’t happened.  After multiple requests, I still have no written warranty for workmanship or materials.

At this point, I’d be shocked if Bobby Shoemake made good on his promises or finished the job.  It seems completely ignorant not to invest an hour of time and a few strips of trim to finish in hopes of having a satisfied customer.  I’m always surprised at the total moronic stupidity of some people/companies of the benefit of positive word-of-mouth advertising.

My next step is posting in multiple places online my opinion of Bobby Shoemake, his lies, his shoddy workmanship and non-existent ethics.  Until now, he has had no web presence.  I’m resolving that in hopes of informing his prospective customers what to expect from this dishonest roofer.  Fortunately for me, I have personal access to a great number of his local potential customers.  I also know how the court system works and have no fear of it.  I vow to hit him where it hurts most….. his pocket.

Hey Bobby Shoemake, you’ve jacked with the wrong person!

Shirl

08/28/14 UPDATE:  Will wonders never cease?!!  Without any communication or notification, the crew showed up this afternoon and installed the remaining trim.  I was shocked to see them here but glad the roof is done.  I still hope  to see Bobby Shoemake for final inspection and to provide warranty paperwork.  We shall see.

As of late, I’ve done no shirt making, gardening, canning or cleaning and little cooking or quilt piecing. I feel worthless.

I don’t know what’s happened to my energy. I generally want to accomplish something each day or work toward a big goal. Lately, I’ve had no spark; no ambition. I don’t know if it’s the hot August weather or if my thyroid medication needs to be increased. About every two years, my meds need adjusting and I suspect I’m due. I really hate looking back on my day/week’s accomplishments and seeing nothing!

Charro Beans, Navy Beans, Mexican Chicken

Charro Beans, Navy Beans, Mexican Chicken

With my last bit of oomph, early last week I did some canning. I canned another batch of Mexican Charro Beans, a batch of Mexican Flavored Chicken and a batch of Navy Bean Soup. Jacob will be visiting this weekend and I plan to use a jar or two of the chicken to make enchiladas accompanied with charro beans. I hope it’s good. I have plans the next time chicken is on sale to purchase lots and can different flavored cooked chicken to use in different recipes. Also, when I canned the navy beans, I included a jar of cubed ham. I’ve read on the Net that ham alone cans well. I know it doesn’t freeze worth a flip so canning would be an excellent option. We tend to purchase Smithfield hams often and it would be a real bonus if we could can some to avoid getting sick of eating it all up (whether we want to or not). I’m hoping it maintains its juicy pork flavor. Small jars would be so handy to include in omelets, potato soup, beans, ham salad, grilled ham-n-cheese sandwiches, etc.

I’m still waiting for the roofer to return and install two pieces of trim. If he doesn’t return in the next few days, my next blog post will voice my feelings….LOUDLY!

Have a great weekend while trying to stay cool. If we had a pool, I’d be in it!

Shirl

New roof - almost done

New roof – almost done

What happened to my peaceful, quiet, predictable life?

Roofers arrived a week ago and continue to bang, pound, yell, cuss, etc. starting VERY early each morning.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t sleep through it and since I do my best sleeping in the morning, I’m walking around sleep deprived and emotionally spent.  If things go according to plan, the job SHOULD be done today.  I certainly hope so!

Since tomato canning has ended, I’ve spent time this week thinking about pressure canning.  With thoughts of making meal preparation easier, I’m planning to can ingredients to include in my own recipes and new ones.  I love this adventure and the ease of taking a jar of fresh food (without chemicals or additives), heating it and eating!  Nothing commercially canned comes close to the flavor of home canned foods.

Black-n-white gingham seersucker

Black-n-white gingham seersucker

This week, I prepared Mexican Charro Beans (using 2 lbs. of dry pintos) and pressure canned 7 quart jars.  I only had to partially cook them before putting into jars and pressure canning.  They smelled terrific during the process and we plan to try a jar this weekend.  I made up the recipe so I hope it’s good.

Next, I plan to can some flavored boneless chicken.  It will be so handy to use for making enchiladas, tacos, chicken spaghetti, chicken salad, etc. and will drastically cut meal prep time.

I only did a little sewing this week and made this black and white baby gingham seersucker (phew!) shirt for Jacob.  It has a shark collar and the inner yoke, collar stand (inside and out) and backside of collar are made of batik from my stash.  The pocket and outside yoke are cut on the bias for interest.  Though it’s near impossible to photograph, it turned out nice and should offer him years of wear.

For the next sewing project, I’ve begun developing and altering a pattern for a casual shirt with a very different (not so classic) construction.  If I don’t give up, it should be ready for a first fitting soon.  Fingers are crossed.

We’re enjoying a visit from Jacob this weekend so there’s joking, laughing and good eating all around.  Here’s hoping your weekend is equally as joyous.

Shirl

UPDATE:  I opened a jar of Charro Beans to serve with our BBQ pork rib dinner.  OH MY STARS!!!  I’ve eaten Charro Beans at darned near every Mexican restaurant I’ve ever visited, and (not to pat myself on the back) these are the best I’ve EVER tasted.  Both Bob and Jake loved them and want me to can lots more.

Brown/cream seersucker

Brown/cream seersucker

…I’m tickled my son is well dressed with shirts that fit beautifully and he’s proud to wear. 

He is visiting with us this weekend and I presented him the three latest shirts.  He mentioned he now wears nothing but mom-made shirts to work.  He’s demoted his purchased knit shirts to weekend wear until I make enough casual ones to fill the bill.  He admitted his first choice for weekend wear is also mom-made shirts.  I’m so glad he acquired another this visit.  He certainly knows how to push my buttons and encourage me to make more.  At this point, I could construct them in my sleep!

Shirt #11 is brown stripes on cream colored seersucker with rounded button-down collar, horizontal cut pocket, yoke and collar accented with a paisley inner collar band.  It has a rounded shirt tail hem and antique mother-of-pearl buttons.

In the stash, there is currently fabric for making 5 more office shirts and several casual ones.  I’ll continue to make them until Jake tells me to stop or I get sick of the process.

This week, I decided I want to try my hand at making a blazer for Jacob to wear to some of the meetings he attends.  I’ve selected a medium weight midnight blue denim for a casual but dressy look.  I hope it will look nice over jeans for casual wear or khaki, gray, black or blue slacks for a dressier look  After ordering and receiving all the supplies and fabrics (denim, lining, interfacing, sleeve heads and shoulder pads) I’m ready to study several purchased patterns for hints, tricks, techniques and instructions in hopes of a successful endeavor.  Thus far and sadly, I’ve found little help in searching the Net.  Guess I’ll just figure it out or make a ‘wadder’.

Tomato production continues and I’ve canned 7 more pints this week.  Each evening, I persevere constructing units to add to the Urban Renewal quilt.  It’s an extreme labor-intensive project and a good test of patience.

Yes, life is simple here on our hill.  We like it that way!

Shirl

Same o’, same o’ going on around here this week.Gecko shirt  I continue making shirts.

This one is a gecko and pebbles print Jake picked out several years ago.  He’s always been partial to gecko prints.  Since he mentioned wanting more weekend/casual shirts, I decided to make this one.

This shirt features an all over print (no contrasting fabric), rounded collar and straight, vented hem.  The buttons are antique mother-of-pearl I purchased a couple of decades ago.  I bought the buttons by-the-pound and have a Tupperware container full.  They are truly wonderful; unlike any made today.

The more I look at this shirt, the more I think it would be perfect if one wanted to hide in a red ant mound.  Camo!

I don’t know why it seems these casual shirts are much easier to assemble than the office shirts… it’s the same pattern!  The only difference is a straight vented vs. a rounded, shirt-tail hem.  Both take equal effort.

I’m glad to have the ‘break’ in making office wear.  I do enjoy patterned, colorful fabric and plan to make several more ‘fun’ shirts.

Next up is an office shirt made with brown/cream stripped seersucker.  It’s cut out, the mother-of-pearl buttons are selected and it’s ready to sew.

I was able to can 6 more pints of tomatoes and the kitchen double windowsill is full of more.  Tomorrow morning I will go out and pick even more.  It will be time to can again in a day or two.  Looking forward to it.

Shirl

Hope all U.S. citizens enjoyed their long Independence Day weekend.  It felt liSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESke a mini vacation here and I loved it.  Bob cooked 3 whole chickens and a rack of baby back ribs on the smoker.  I made potato salad and fresh bread to include in our feast.  Much of the smoked meat will be frozen to use in recipes later.

After watching a few modern TV shows and noticing how popular men’s gingham shirts are, I decided a style-conscious guy can’t have too many and in a variety of colors.  I dug in my fabric stash and found a red 1/4″ gingham remnant.  There wasn’t much but upon laying out the pattern, I found with using contrasting fabric for the inside yoke, collar underside and collar bands, I could barely make the shirt if tuck-in tails were eliminated.

Upon checking with Jacob to see if he would wear a non-tuck-in shirt, he said, “Yes!” so I proceeded to make it.

After cutting out the shirt, there was only a 4″ square of fabric remaining …. not enough to replace any piece of the shirt if an error was made.  I rarely mess up while making shirts but I figured it might happen on this particular one.  Thankfully, it didn’t!

This shirt features a rounded, button-down collar and the outside yoke and pocket cut on the bias.  I think it turned out nice.  When Jacob first saw it, he exclaimed, “Picnic shirt!” and tried it on.  It fit perfectly and he took it home.  He messaged yesterday that he had worn the shirt over the weekend and he loves it.  My fear of it being too short were eliminated and I was happy to note he likes this ‘Cafe Camo’ shirt.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Since deciding multiple gingham shirts should be in a well-dressed man’s closet (and finding an awesome sale), I ordered and received blue, hunter green and tiny black seersucker gingham fabric.  I cut into the blue immediately.

I received an ample amount of fabric which opened more possibilities for cutting the pattern.  This shirt includes a bias panel on the right side, a bias yoke and lining, contrasting collar band and pocket accent.  The collar is narrowed and shortened for a ‘shark collar’ look.  I hope he likes it.

Our tomato garden has continued to flourish.  Since we have more fresh tomatoes than we can eat (though we try REALLY hard!), I’ve decided instead of letting them rot, I’d can them.

Our tomatoes are so flavorful.  They are 100% organic (REALLY!) and absolutely no chemicals were used whatsoever in the garden.  We are fortunate there are much fewer bugs to harm the plants this year.  Praises go to late frosts!  The only fertilizer we used was compost we produced ourselves.

I love cooking with fresh canned tomatoes and when I find them to purchase, I can up to 50 quarts per year.  Thus far, I haven’t found any in our area so I’m hording the ones we have.

This was a tiny canning project (2 quarts and 1 pint) but I’ll appreciate theseSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES jars when I use them in our favorite recipes (Mammie noodles, gumbo, spaghetti, etc.).  As more of our tomatoes ripen or if I’m fortunate enough to find some to purchase, I’ll can more.

Shirl

 

 

 

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