Fourteen and a quarter

Freshly shorn, on Mardi Gras break.

Intense jeans making

Apparently the Mardi Gras parades started in earnest this weekend. I can’t say I noticed. I spent the whole weekend sewing instead.

As background, I’ve been following Lauren Taylor (lladybird) on Instagram and her blog since I heard her on some sewing podcast a while back. She cursed a lot, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I decided to follow her. Anyway, she has been teaching these jeans workshops for a few years, and every time she posted the yearly schedule I’d eagerly look for New Orleans and then would be sad when it wasn’t there. So imagine my excitement when I saw the 2022 schedule and New Orleans was on it! I immediately went to the Papermaple Studio site and signed up for the class.

Blah blah blah you don’t need to know my journey to this class but originally it was scheduled for next weekend, which for Mardi Gras reasons would have not worked well at all, so I’m very glad it was moved up a week.

Because it was amazing. I wish I could express how good I felt leaving the studio yesterday with a completed* pair of jeans. (Fine, I still need to hem them. Close enough.) Not just because I had a pair of pants (frankly, I don’t even wear jeans very often) but because I was around this amazing group of women, and I got to meet this sewist I’ve been following for so long, and who, frankly, I was a bit starstruck to meet. This was one of the first social things I’ve done in, well, a long time, and it was really healing to the damaged inner extrovert in me. I needed it.

So! Why should you take a jeans workshop from Lauren if you get the chance?

  1. You will learn so many little tips and tricks that not only apply to jeans sewing, but to all kinds of sewing. (For example, I learned why my top stitching has always been horrible in the past – my thread was too heavy!)
  2. You will make friends with other sewists. This is 20 hours of intense sewing over 2.5 days. You will be taking your pants off in front of them a lot. So you can’t really not be friends.
  3. You’ll come away with a pair of jeans that fit well (maybe not perfectly, but you’ll know how to make the next ones perfect!)

PS We made the Ginger jeans pattern from Closet Core Patterns. (I also had the option of making the Ames jeans from Cashmerette, but I was happy that the Ginger jeans did fit, which I didn’t expect, as they’re not designed for an extended size range. But stretchy denim is stretchy! Not that I would have minded making a plus-size pattern when everyone else was making “standard” sizes, but at least this way we were all using the same pattern pieces and the same seam allowances, etc.)

Some pictures from the weekend:

The studio where the class was held is tucked away in the French Quarter, and is run by the fantastic Leisa. I can’t say enough about her and the gorgeous space where the class was held. We even got a little private shopping with Cole from Promenade Fabrics. (I got a bunch of this red stretch twill that is destined to become a dress of some kind.)

If you can ever take a workshop from Leisa or at Papermaple, again, I can’t recommend it enough.

Now I guess you’re going to want to see my new jeans, huh? They’re very dark wash, so it’s hard to see the detail in a picture, but I’ll try.

Bar tacks! Belt loops! Top stitching! Pretty pocket lining! Rivets!

(I don’t really have a good picture of them on because I need to hem them and wash them so they shrink up a bit, but you get the idea.)

14+2

Gross weather + kind of forgetting anyway until the evening = inside picture.

January, a recap

I kept meaning to post this month, but couldn’t really make myself do it (aside from the quilt post.) But now I am feeling more up to it.

Starting with my birthday, which I was kind of not excited about (which is VERY SAD because I love birthdays so much) because the weather was supposed to be gross, and omicron was in full force so we couldn’t go anywhere and I couldn’t do anything and I was just sad. And I was supposed to go visit Kiki, but thanks to omicron, we decided it was best to postpone it.

But it ended up being a lovely day! I did a live Peloton class (alas, no birthday shout-out but lots of high fives), the boys gave me cards they made that made me cry, and Oliver made me scrambled eggs. Then my friends Jen and Aimee came over and the weather was lovely and Jen brought me a bananas foster king cake and half a gallon of frozen margarita and we sat outside and gave ourselves diabetes but it was just so nice to sit and chat with friends.

George gave me a vacuum sealer to go with my sous vide he gave me for Christmas, and while it may not sound like the most romantic gift ever, it was very appreciated. I mean, who hasn’t always wanted a vacuum sealer? It is very fun. And Kiki gave me a subscription to NYT cooking and some fun goodies to open.

And I spent the day making a cake from scratch, then ordering a ton of Chinese food for dinner, and all in all, it was a lovely birthday.

Cards and cake and vacuum-sealed king cake!

Other notable things in January…

I got an new sewing machine! I am in love. It’s fairly basic, feature-wise (just a straight-stitch machine) but it’s so powerful and FAST and sews through multiple layers of canvas and denim like it’s NOTHING. And it was so nice to use when quilting the quilt I made for Kiki.

Hey, gorgeous!

Which brings me to the quilt I made for Kiki, that’s quilt number 3 if you’re counting. I wanted to send her comfort and coziness so I made it out of flannel. I wanted to do shades of blue, and kind of ombre, so I cut long strips and sewed them together into one big long roll, then cut them into roughly 70″ lengths, then sewed them together! Simple, but I like the way it turned out. Until I realized I really had to hand sew the binding because of the solid colors, and then I hated myself for making it so big, but you know what, Kiki’s worth it, and it only ended up taking a couple of evenings to finish up.

I just am not really into making clothes right now but I had fun making a few wristlets and a little pouch. It’s the Yarrow Wristlet pattern from Noodlehead. It was just challenging enough to be fun, but not, like, torturously hard.

Why yes, that is Schitt’s Creek fabric on the inside of the black and white one. As if I’d go a whole post without mentioning it! (Got it from Spoonflower.)

Oh, and the boys got their booster shots for the vaccine trial! Yay! That was a relief, because they also started back at soccer this week. Oh, and they took a test to maybe go to a different high school next year but I’m not quite ready to think about that just yet.

Boosted!

So yeah, that’s about it for January. I am supposedly going to visit Kiki in mid-March now. Next month I am going to a jeans-making workshop that I’m very excited about (despite what I said earlier about sewing clothes) and of course Mardi Gras is coming up, and the house float is going back up, and we might be adding to it, so hopefully everyone stays healthy and we can have a nice February! And March!

P.S. This is random but pork tenderloin cooked with a sous vide is revelatory.

Quilt number 2

After I made my first quilt, I thought I probably wouldn’t make another one for a while.

I lasted a whole month before I started a second one. But it was fine, it would be so easy, because it was just a baby quilt, for my friend Erica’s baby who is going to be born in a couple of months or so (or weeks, I don’t know, what is time?) A small quilt would be a piece of cake!

Well, it should have been.

One evening in early December, I drank some wine, then got an email from Spoonflower saying they were having a sale on fat quarters that ended THAT NIGHT so I started looking around, found some adorable pit bull-themed fabrics, and hit “order.” Easy peasy. (Erica has a beloved, adorable, goofy pit bull mix named Francis.)

Francis.

One print was pit bulls working out, because Erica and her husband like to work out. Another print was pit bulls and pizza because Erica likes pizza. Or, I mean, at least this one really yummy pizza place in NYC that she’s taken me to a couple of times. And another print was pit bulls in Philadelphia, because I remembered that Erica and her husband lived there. (Put a pin in that.)

The fabrics came, I got the rest of the fabrics I needed, I cut, I pinned, I sewed, and before too long, I had a quilt top.

Hooray! That was easy! I showed some friends.

And that was when I was reminded that Erica and her husband had bought a house in New Jersey. They no longer lived in Philly. They hadn’t lived in Philly for quite a while. I knew all about her house hunt. I knew she moved. In August 2020. So why did I order Philadelphia-themed fabric?! (I blame the wine.)

So. I went online and ordered a different pit bull fabric and painstakingly removed 11 of the 12 Philly-themed squares (gotta leave one) and while I was at it, decided to throw in a couple of other squares.

That’s better.

And then I finished it and hand-stitched the binding because that’s what you’re supposed to do and never has this tag been more appropriate.

And that’s it! I hope Erica’s sweet baby boy (and Francis, his canine big brother) enjoy snuggling with it.

And yes, I am working on quilt #3 now.

14+1

Right in the middle of our three day winter! (Not that their wardrobe really changes…)

2021 in review

I feel like maybe the last thing I want to do is revisit 2021, but you know, there were some real high points, so let’s do it.

January

I turned 46. I sat around the fire pit at my friend Jen’s house and it was all I wanted to do for my birthday – so it was perfect. Spending time with my friends was what made 2021 bearable, but it happened so infrequently, so that is what made it terrible.

February

Mardi Gras! I spent a lot of January preparing for this, the Schitt’s Creek house float that I participated in. It was one of the high points of 2021. I had so much fun making my Moira costume (and Jen’s!) and helping with the creation (mostly telling Chris what to do) and then on Mardi Gras day, seeing all the people and BEING INTERVIEWED BY THE BBC.

You know, in case you wanted to watch it.

That wasn’t the only excitement in February. The boys were also enrolled in a COVID vaccine trial (Moderna) and we learned later in the year that they actually did get the vaccine (first one in February, second in March.)

March

Really, not much happened. Well, I got my vaccine. That was nice.

April

My sister & fam came down for Easter.

Our yard renovation was completed!

May

I went to visit Kiki! We baked a lot.

Linus was hospitalized for asthma. (He’s fine.)

June

Things were looking up. We found out the boys were fully vaccinated. Was it over? We were able to take off our masks and do things! I took the boys to a couple of soccer games. We ate at a restaurant! We booked a trip to California! Life was back to normal! I call this “the golden time.” Boy were were we naive.

July

My blog turned 20.

We got devastating news in the middle of the month when my sweet cousin Molly died suddenly. I still can’t believe it.

The boys and I went to California to visit Evan and Jennifer and Ellie. It was a lovely trip, even though it was under a cloud of sadness. Things still felt normal. We went to Disneyland and to an LAFC game and to the beach, and I got to meet my best friend in person finally. (She’s 3.)

This is when the golden time ended. LA had re-introduced a mask mandate not long before we got there. Delta was coming. Thank god we went when we went, or we wouldn’t have been able to go at all.

August

We got to hang out with the Murphys, which was wonderful.

The boys started 8th grade.

We went on a terrible road trip. Thanks Ida!

September

We finally got to go home! After spending 11 days in Houston and Baton Rouge, we were ready. And that’s about all I can say about September.

October

I went to the Rosebud Motel with my friends. That was fun.

That’s about it. Oh, I did some sewing.

The boys finally got to start soccer again. Or was that September? I don’t know. One of those months.

November

KIKI CAME TO VISIT! That was awesome. We did a lot of stuff around the house and ate at restaurants. Things were starting to feel normal-ish again.

I made a quilt!

Obviously it was Schitt’s Creek themed.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving, just the five of us.

December

My sweet baby boys turned 14!

My mom turned 75 and my brother and sister came in for it.

Finally, we celebrated Christmas with Grandee and Larry and negative COVID tests.

On to 2022!

Christmas 2021

We had a nice Christmas. Quiet. Also, 14 year old boys are very hard to shop for.

As usual, I took them out individually to shop (how many years have we been doing this? I’ll have to go back and look) which was lovely. It was right on the cusp of Omicron taking off, so we were able to eat inside this time (I just remember last year sitting in the parking lot of Five Guys, which just isn’t quite the same.)

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner – steak. Yum!

Then it was time to read The Night Before Christmas and take the stocking pic.

I was quite proud that I didn’t have much to wrap that night, I’d gotten it all done. But I did spend much of the day finishing George’s present, a collared shirt with fabric from Spoonflower with keyboard keys all over it because he’s a big ol’ nerd.

relaxing with a cozy fire and my coffee before the boys woke up (or rather, before I let them out of their room)

And don’t you know, I didn’t take any pictures while we were opening gifts. Just being present (no pun intended.)

The boys got a new chair to sit in while rotting their brains on video games, and some clothes, and cases and cords and other electronics-adjacent accessories and all in all they seemed happy with their gifts.

I got a sous vide thingy, and a Ziggy puzzle, and a necklace, and a new Kindle, and some Schitt’s Creek things, and so all in all, I think I did the best of all, but I might be biased.

That Ziggy puzzle is really really really hard, btw.

We had the traditional eggnog French toast for breakfast, and I started drinking mimosas (we had a lot of orange juice, what can I say) and then we all took the traditional Christmas morning COVID tests (all negative) and then Grandee and Larry came over (also negative) and we ate air-fried turkey (yum) and cornbread dressing and spinach and homemade bread (my mom and I both made some and the boys preferred my mom’s but that’s fine) and cheesecake for dessert.

So that was our Christmas, and it was low-key and, oh, 80 degrees, so that part sucked, but otherwise, was really nice.

Evan and Jenny in Baton Rouge

My mom turned 75 on Friday (fun fact, she was born the same day as Eugene Levy) and my brother and sister flew in to celebrate. It was nice. We took her to Ruth’s Chris for dinner because we are good children.

Some pics from dinner:

and then George brought the boys and Ziggy on Saturday so they could hang out. And I drove my brother all over Baton Rouge so he could use his vintage super-8 camera to shoot footage for some upcoming movie that I won’t understand.

Some more random pics:

(Playing Trivial Pursuit with my children and siblings was a mistake.)

Until next time, whenever that will be…

Fourteen.

Feels older than 13, maybe because of the deepening voices and growth spurts going on in our house.

(the 168th monthly picture, which I forgot to take before we left to go meet their friends at the park)

Friends at park:

My first quilt

I have made scores of clothing items, from easy things like pajama pants and t-shirts, to more complex pieces like dresses and a coat and a bathing suit. But I’ve always been particularly intimidated by the idea of making a quilt.

And then, a friend on Instagram let me know that Joann’s had Schitt’s Creek fabric, and, well, that was that. I didn’t need another Schitt’s Creek shirt or more masks so the only thing to do was tackle a quilt. Particularly since there were five different prints. I mean, what else was I going to do?

The middle five fabrics are from Joann’s and the ones on the ends are from Spoonflower.

I was scared of quilt making because it seemed so precise. At least with clothes you can fudge seam allowances (usually) and it’s ok if your lines aren’t straight. But I assumed with quilts if you were off by 1/128th of an inch, then you might as well burn the whole project in a fire.

Turns out, when you’re making a quilt for yourself, it really doesn’t matter if it’s perfectly square!

a lot of squares.

Also the whole batting and sandwiching and quilting and binding…was I going to have to outsource that? That sounded expensive, especially because I had no intention of making a small quilt. Oh no, I’d I was going to make it big enough to sleep with!

two by two

And so I bought the fabric and consulted with my IG friend and got advice from someone at Joann’s and just went for it.

It ended up being about 73” wide and 100” long, which is a lot of 5” squares. I didn’t really plan my layout, just figured I’d make them random, but was trying not to put dark squares together or light squares together but by the time I was putting the strips together I ended up with identical fabric squares next to each other. So lesson learned – if you care, you have to plan ahead. (I didn’t really care.)

figuring out where to put what

I ended up using about 6 yards of the fabric from Joann’s and about a yard’s worth of scraps from fabric I’d gotten from Spoonflower. The backing fabric came from Joann’s (handy that I took up this project when the Black Friday sales were happening) and the binding fabric from a small, local fabric store.

I went through almost 1000 meters of gray thread and now I know why some sewing machines have giant bobbins. My sewing machines performed admirably, though I had to replace my walking foot, after it sprained its ankle or something. (that’s a sewing joke.)

quilting!

I decided to quilt it myself and while I maybe wish I hadn’t decided on parallel lines roughly an inch apart, I’m happy with how it looks now that it’s done. (90 total lines, 100 inches long each, that’s a lot!)

I didn’t think I’d be up for doing this again anytime soon but I think I would like to try a smaller quilt, and maybe, you know, plan the design ahead of time.

For now, I’ll cuddle on the sofa with this beast and watch Schitt’s Creek again for the one millionth time.

PS Soccer goals make good quilt display tools.