Autumn is coming to a close. We had an great growing season this year — I covered the lettuce beds with fabric tents three or four nights in November because temps would be near freezing. We had a few nights where our small pond froze on the surface, but tomorrow night will be the first sustained sub-freezing temperature. I got a bit of a late start to outdoor gardening because we rebuilt the garden beds in a sunnier location, but I still managed a 200 day growing season. Adding another six weeks for the seeds started indoors, I had plants growing for 244 days — about 2/3 of the year! Moving the beds to a sunnier location greatly increased productivity, and the compost in the garden area has turned into a large pile of dirt. We’ve been adding new stuff to the north side of the pile, and I’ve been moving everything south as I turn the pile. It is impressive how much the pile of grass and leaves shrinks down as it decomposes. In early autumn, I put about 16 cubic feet of compost into the garden beds to make a lettuce and kale bed. Yesterday, I amended another fifteen cubic feet of the lettuce bed. Anya and I used two cucumber A-frame trellises and a few of the tomato trellises to create a structure and covered the lettuce bed with greenhouse plastic. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue growing lettuce throughout the winter. I also plan on planting the broccoli, brussle sprouts, and cabbage under the cover next April.
I was worried the chicks we got in August would be too small when the temps dropped, but they are fifteen weeks old today. They love being outside and fluff up really big when it gets cold. Both the coop and chicken tractor have a wide roost so they can keep their toes under their warm feathers.
In the next few weeks, we’ll build some nesting boxes and get the coop finalized. I also want to finish making packets for the seeds we harvested this year and file them into my seed storage boxes. In the next week or two, I will be making a lot of candied almonds — vanilla cinnamon candied almonds, maple roasted salted almonds, and some plain candied almonds — for us and to give away to neighbors.
This winter, I want to finish the crochet blanket I am making for our family room. It should be a thick, warm blanket that we can all snuggle under. I want to finish Anya’s new Peppermint Swirl dress. I also want to make her micro-corduroy dress/tunic/shirt to replace the one she outgrew this past year. Both will be worn in the spring/summer, but sewing is a cold/snowy day activity for me.
I finally got larger blank t-shirts for Anya. Anya and I will spend an hour or two in the evening relaxing and embroidering the shirts. About nine shirt-sized images fit on a 8.5″x11″ sheet of dissolving, printable transfer paper. I’ll create a single image and arrange all of the embroidery patterns to fill the page (needs to be black lines on a white background as the printout is fuzzy, and color or gray-scale makes a big mess). Cut out one image, stick it onto a shirt, add a hoop (I love Darice’s spring tension hoops!), and go.
I’ve tried knitting a number of times with no success. My stitches are far too tight, and it is an effort to work every single stitch. Unlike crocheting, where I can work a stitch every second or two, knitting the first row of a scarf takes me twenty minutes. I’d shown Anya how to crochet, but holding the fabric, hook, and yarn tail took too much coordination. She wanted to try knitting instead … beyond my inability to knit, I don’t see the two knitting needles and yarn involving less coordination. But I remembered using a knitting loom when I was small. I picked up a set of round looms and a set of rectangular ones. Because the loom frame holds the fabric and the yarn tail can be anchored to the loom, minimal coordination is needed.
We’ve been making hats and scarves all day. The cheap plastic ones from the local craft store are great for making thick wintery stuff — the scarf below uses two skeins of DK-weight yarn twisted together because I don’t have much bulky weight yarn. The loom is also good for making “lacey” fabrics — a large, open knit. But a loom with smaller spaces between pegs is needed to make lighter fabrics.
I want to try making a coat for Anya — the Polartec fleecejacket turned out incredibly well, even if the thick fabric was incredibly difficult to sew. I intentionally chose a larger size — 8 — so she’d be able to wear the jacket for a few years. For this winter, I thought I’d make a dressy wool coat. Totally basic black wool, but a silky purple lining, purple silk twist for the button holes — still deciding between the darker and lighter purple, and some cool buttons I’ve not yet found.
And as usually happens when ordering fabric, I can avoid paying ten or fifteen bucks for shipping if I buy for a second project. A few years ago, I found a free pattern for a peasant dress. I love the dress, but the “border” part would have been the entire dress when Anya was younger. I bookmarked the pattern to use when she got a little older. Well … she’s older. And certainly taller! Tall enough that I think a dress with border print fabric will work. Since Anya is loving unicorns right now, I thought I’d make her a unicorn peasant dress.
The pattern reminded me of one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought for Anya — this top that she wore as a dress in 2014/2015, a tunic in 2016/2017, and a shirt in 2018. The arms are small now, or she’d still be wearing it as a shirt.
It’s corduroy, but a really awesome light-weight one. In browsing around checking out fabrics, I realized it is 21 wale corduroy — so I added two different fabrics. I figure I can make a blue dress with a cream stripe and a cream shirt with a blue stripe. And what’s a dress today will be a tunic in a few years and a shirt for another year or two after that.
After cutting and laminating the fabric for the interior of Anya’s bookbag, I finally sewed it today. We still need to order the zipper online — we went to the craft store last week (and got caught in a snowstorm heading home!), but Anya’s zipper selection was only stocked in 9″. I’ll order the 22″ version online, and then we’ll have all of the bits and pieces to complete the bag.
For Anya’s new book bag, I need piping — which is basically paracord wrapped in bias tape. My last few projects, making the bias tape has been an all day endeavor. ALL.DAY.LONG. Lining up, sewing, pressing, lining up, making sure I have the seams facing the right way, sewing, pressing …
I had seen people talk about one-cut methods for making loads of bias tape, so I decided to research alternate techniques. This is SO easy, I feel a little silly about the amount of time I put into quilt bindings and piping.
You start with a square of fabric — how much fabric? That depends! How much bias tape do you want? The number of square inches of bias tape is almost the number of square inches of the square with which you start — you’ve got to subtract out the square inches lost to the seam allowance. The seam is sewn along the sides of the square, and there is 2x the seam allowance per seam. Which means we’re subtracting 4x (two seams!) the length of the square’s side times the width of the seam allowance. Subtract that from the square inches of the original square and you’ve got the remaining square inches. To find the length of the tape, divide by the width of the tape. You could reverse the equation so an input desired length of tape produces a measurement for your square. Or make a quick spreadsheet and try different square sizes until you get close. Now the fabric will stretch, and your measurements won’t be perfect … but you should be close to the calculated length.
Now how do you make it? Start with a square, bisect it so you have two right triangles. Place the triangles so the right angles are on opposite sides — the 45 degree angle on one should be nested in the 90 degree angle of the other. Sew along the bottom edge — where the pins are below. Now you’ve got a parallelogram.
Draw lines the width you want your bias tape to be. I drew on both the front and back of the fabric so i was easy to line up. Pull the long corners of the parallelogram past the center — they’ll overlap a bit. You want each set of lines on one side to match up to the next line on the other side. But not meet up at the edge — you want them to meet up at your seam allowance. This is a little tricky, and it took me a time or two pinning and checking before the met at the right spot. Make sure both of your seams are on the same side of the tube. Stitch the two sides together. Cut along the line.
And you’ve got a long strip of bias tape. Fold it! To make piping, I folded it in half around paracord (yes, I’m sure cotton piping is cheaper, but I’ve got lots of paracord already, and it works).
Anya’s little owl bag is, well, small now that she’s in school school. They’ve got a folder that doesn’t quite fit, there’s no room for her lunch, and she’s a lot bigger than she was two and a half years ago. I’m making a bigger bag for her — using essentially the same pattern, but increasing the size a bit horizontally and a lot vertically.
The first decision — what do we want it to look like? She decided on a cat — a cat pocket, maybe cat charm on the zipper, and paw print fabric. I found a cute cat fabric for the lining, but I couldn’t find any paw print fabric that I liked. So I made my own on SpoonFlower. I had my design printed on their eco canvas — it is a stout fabric and black ink showed up well.