Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Almost forgot about my blog!

I knew this would happen, I knew I would forget. And I did...

Summer is such a busy time for me. Its nice out (finally!), I have the garden, the birds, county fair, state fair, parties and work. Need I go on? Probably the same in everyones life, I imagine. So I have not posted much lately. In fact, nothing in July. Shame on me. 

Its not like I was busily working on my coat either. She just sat there, neglected on Red (my dress dummy), waiting to be noticed again. Gathering dust and cat hair.

I finally did notice last weekend.  It was well over 90 and humid and I don't go outside in such weather. How anybody can live in that kind of weather is beyond me. I don't go outside when it below zero either. I am not much of one for extremes. So I told my husband and son I would be sewing all weekend, don't ask me to cook, don't ask for anything. 

I got the topstitching all finished! BARELY had enough silk thread to get through it all. You get lucky sometimes. I wouldn't have wanted to reorder 1 spool and have to pay the shipping from Yawitz. It's very subtle, being tone on tone. You actually wouldn't notice it except for the fact it leaves an impression on the melton. 

Also got the body of the lining inserted into jacket. Told you, major progress. That includes the hidden pocket, tacking to the seam allowances, and hand-stitching the lining to the facing. OMG, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I just have to hem the lining, and hand-insert the sleeves. I could have machine-stitched and bagged the lining, but seeing has I was working on a vintage coat, I wanted to do it the old fashioned way. Might as well make it couture while I am at it right? It takes time, but the results are worth it, the lining fits in the coat beautifully.

Of course my house doesn't contain ONE single working AA battery, so I didn't have any pictures to take. I need to buy a package and hide them from my family. The remote, your toothbrush? Who cares!

I will try to remember to buy some tonight on the way home from work and take some pix. After all what is a blog without them?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Respect the turn of cloth

Seems like I have heard this some where before. I probably should have listened better when I heard it. I did run into a small problem with the coats collar. It could have been a design flaw or when I sized up pattern, perhaps I didn't do it right in that area. 

The coats upper collar piece didn't compensate for the turn of cloth. It was made worse by the fact that the wool melton is very thick. Didn't catch it because I have never done a shawl collar and didn't "get " how the pieces went together until construction was well along. So I had a bit of fixing to do. See the solid white line drawn on the back neck facing? 

Thats the seam line for the fabric I had to piece. Quite a bit isn't it? I ended up hand basting piece in to make sure position was right and then stitching it in place. I will have to cover that area with embroidery when I put lining. I was thinking about putting braid over the facing/lining seam or perhaps a embroidery chain stitch. I have some burgundy silk topstitching thread that would be very subtle and perfect. And then a chain of flowers over the seams of my mistake with the collar. It would almost be "on purpose":)

We'll see. What I need to remember here is to make sure to:
1. Check pattern for turn of cloth on collars. It isn't that hard, Kim!
2. Don't get discouraged, you can fix almost any mistake when sewing, just need to calm down and get creative, right?

Till next week..........I have to tack down interfacing and attach shoulder pads. See you then!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The arms are actually attached now.....

I've got pictures too! With summer practically here, I've have really gotten busy with other parts of my life and finding the time to take pictures has been difficult. But not impossible.

So here you go, this is what I did this weekend:

I got the sleeves actually ATTACHED to the jacket! Yeah! This actually may be done by the time the snow flies. I am getting the itch to sew some summer clothes so I have to finish this soon. If I put it aside, it won't EVER be done. I've done that to projects before.

The sleeve were actually quite easy to attach. The wool melton was great to ease into the armhole. I've only set in sleeves a few times before so I was nervous about this. I must have been using difficult fabrics before, because this was a breeze. I just followed the directions in my tailoring book and all was well. You will notice if you look at the sleeves some vertical lines in the sleeve cap. I have not put the sleeve heads in yet. I am thinking(hoping) that that will solve the problem. Could also be the dummy, her arms stick out a bit. I did baste in horizontal and vertical lines to hang the sleeve so I know it it not skewed. We'll see I suppose. 

Here is the armhole from the inside. I pressed the seam allowances between the notches into the sleeve. Below the notches, I cut to the staystitching every 3/4" and pressed seam open, then hand stitched the seam allowance under the arms back onto itself so it would stay tidy. This is supposed to give me more room in the armhole.

Note all the stitching on the back of the armhole. There are 3 rows here and 4 underneath the arm hole. There is one row just on the body of coat(2 underneath the notches) for staystitching. I used this in place of taping the armhole. I was worried about bulk with a 4 layer seam already. The other 2 rows are the actual joining of arm and body. Had to go around twice, didn't stitch quite deep enough the first time and the staystitching showed on the outside.

And heres a side view. Note the cool retro cuffs, they rock! I am pretty close to lining this coat actually. I just have to finish the saddle stitching on the front of the coat,permanently attach the shoulder pads, make the headers, and permanently baste the hymo in place on the front.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lightning strikes again

Wow, did I get lucky again! Hard to believe I have such good fortune.

We went to Richland Center for the Badger Poultry Club show last year and had to great honor of winning the Chantys first "best in show" with a white bantam cock. I had purchased him about 3 years ago and he is my "old man", the foundation of my flock. It's just AWESOME, knowing that the birds I am breeding are coming from good parents. But I had not actually hatched him. He was somebody else's breeding.

The family went back over the weekend to the same show. We took 5 birds, 2 Brahmas and 3 Chanteclers. All hens and cocks seeing as our young stock is gone.  All the Chants are bred by me. And well..........

Ethan, a 3rd generation cock won a reserve Best in Show! The Chants hit big twice in 2 years, talk about lightning striking twice. I am thrilled beyond words over this one. I bred this bird, yeah! I am doing SOMETHING RIGHT! Of course Ethan is too, he put on quite the show. He danced and preened and convinced everybody he was the man. 

On the baby front, I have 5 chicks out from Buck. Its a start but I would like to get about 30 altogether. 15 from Buck and 15 from Ethan. I have lots of fertiles in the incubator. Yeah! Even about 10 Brahmas, so Mikes birds will be saved also. I will have 15 chicks for sure from Bucks ladies and I have about 5 fertiles from Ethans girls. They are older, so they are laying a bit less. But I will get there!

So here are my handsome boys: The first one is Ethan, and the second is Buck, the older one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Slowly starting up again

I am coming out of my funk just a little bit. Its hard to be depressed for too long. I don't know how some people do it. It's spring, that just gets me going, everything is so ALIVE and GROWING, how can that not perk you up, right?

I started in again on the coat! YEAH!! I am not going to do anything else until it is done. I have to. If I don't, I will put it aside "for a while" and it will gather dust for the next 10 years. This is how I am. So I sewed the cuffs onto the sleeves yesterday. I know, not much, but a little bit every week now and I will be done by the time I need to wear it. If it rains, I could actually finish them and set them in the coat. Ambitious, I know..... but there could be a downpour of biblical proportions. I'm going to need that kind of time to set them in!

And finally, I got some chicks hatched! YEAH! Four, as of this morning. Hopefully two more when I get home. All Chanteclers, the Brahmas aren't laying yet. So I start the year again. I'll have young birds to carry over the winter, but thats OK. At least they will be alive.

Oh yeah, put the garden in over the weekend. Should be buried in produce by the end of July. ANOTHER YEAH!

See you soon, hopefully with pictures, still haven't taken any yet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not too much going on....

Haven't been writing as there is not too much going on lately. I suppose, it being spring, that I should be hopping. I am busy, but not working on the things that I write about on this blog.

The garden is full of weeds. I haven't put anything in the ground in two weeks. 

I haven't touched my coat in the same amount of time. I need start the sleeves and can't bring myself to start. I will never have it done by the time State Fair, I know this now.

There are only 16 chickens left at the house. It is so lonely without any young ones around. I have 8 in the incubator with a week left to go. They may hatch, but the temperature has been very erratic, I hope they hatch. I need a new incubator, but they are expensive.

What have I been doing? Working on house repairs, and moping around. Repaired the floor under the toilet after we discovered it had been leaking for years. Fixing the bathtub faucet. Working on the kitchen sink also. Fixing the waterline for the icemaker. TRYING to find a new job. Short hours, paycuts and temporary layoffs at mine and my husbands jobs are taking their toll. We're broke. I'm scared. If my job goes away, it will be hard to replace. I work in a dying industry and people who do what I do are not in short supply.

I may end up in retail again and working until I die. 

Yeah I'm depressed today, can you tell? Maybe tomorrow will be better, you never know. 


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All gone............

They are all gone.

All of the chicks my son and I hatched out this year. All gone. In one day. Because we were stupid. 

We trusted our dog. Fatal mistake for the poor birds. The dog house was undergoing some revisions to the door and we had to put them somewhere. Our large coop was empty and the dogs were to stay in there for the day. My husband wanted them to go outside though. He reinforced the fencing between the birds and the dogs. There was even an empty pen between the dogs and the chickens. All to no avail, however. Dog went through two fences and killed every single one. Puppy followed him and helped.

My heart aches with the guilt, I knew better than this. Given the opportunity, any animal will behave according to his instincts and breeding. Given the chance, a bird dog will chase birds. That is what they do. They don't differentiate between a chicken and a pheasant or a goose when you are not around to remind them.  All dogs are predators, they kill other animals for food. That is just what they do.

Please if you have chickens, learn from my mistake. Your own dog(or you neighbors) will be your worst predator.

Just give them the chance.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still no pictures!

I said I would take pictures, but I guess I lied 'bout that one. Oops..... I have been meaning to do it, but I got a little carried away with life. First the chickens, then the garden (which is not blogged on either) and then the dog. What dog, you say? You've never talked about a dog?

We have a Brittany Spaniel named Woody. Awesome pet, awesome pheasant-hunting machine. Super intelligent, easily bored when in the house. So he can get naughty when left alone. Our solution to this? Get another dog! Well there were other reasons, valid ones, honest..... My husband has always wanted two hunting dogs, and he is absolutely DEVOTED to Woody. Couldn't ask for a better dog owner. How could I refuse him? I love dogs too, truth be known. 

So, the sewing pix went out the window. I did manage to fix the facing by the collar and add some extra cloth to add length. Remember, the pattern didn't allow for turn-of-cloth and my upper collar and facing was a little short in length. I will embroider some viney stuff to cover up the seams. It'll look "on purpose" I hope that way. Also sewed up the sides and pockets. Next week, I'll be hemming. After that, the sleeves, then the lining. I'm pluggin' along!

I did find the time however, to take a picture of the canines in my life. Until I take a picture of that coat, here's one of the boys, Woody and the pup, Dash:

Time to meet the crew

I thought it was about time for the gang to be introduced to the world. I realized that I had been talking about my birds as far as breeding them without bothering to introduce them as individual birds. I do have birds I retain for breeding, but that doesn't mean that's all there is to my chicken-keeping. So without further ado, here we go:

This is Jake, my son's backup rooster. He's handsome, but has to take a back seat to his brother this year!

This is Elroy, my son's top rooster and 85 and 88. This guy is has the ladies this year, lucky roo. For some unknown reason, the girls rarely get names at my house. Maybe because there are so many more of them? I don't know for sure. The numbers come from their legbands. In order to show, birds have to be banded and it is an easy way to keep track of birds that are very similar to each other. The green spiral legband on Elroys leg doesn't have a number. I just use spirals to keep track of good birds when they are growing up. Green is a keeper, yellow, a one to watch, and a red is to be sold.

Here are the our family's special birds. These ones are the charmers in the barnyard. From left to right: Mr. Moto, a Japanese. He is our pet rooster. Girler is a Millie Fleur, Belgian Bearded D'Uccle (what a mouthful!). Brahma girl is Mike's first big winner, a reserve best in show. Last is Double D, a reserve best in show at the State Fair, and an excellent hen to boot. 

Here are some of my birds, Ethan, 34 and 39. They are all year olds, full brother and sisters. I'll be hatching and showing these 3 this year. I still have to match up the girls with my older rooster and Ethan with the older hens.
Here are 127 and 65. They are the older Chantecler hens Ethan will be matched to later this year. Proud girls aren't they?
This is the the oldest Chantecler rooster, Buck. He has a lifetime pass at the house also. A good looking bird and a gentleman also.

And finally the babies!!! If you look back on the first post I made, you would see them as week old chicks in January. Look at them now, they got big fast! There is nothing I enjoy more than feeding the young ones and watching them develop. It's the best part of having birds, the time you take just to WATCH them. They are fascinating critters. 
Now you've met them all........... at least until I hatch more!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Made some real progress this weekend

Its amazing how bored you can get being sick. If you are used to being active and getting stuff done at home, having to slow down and rest can drive a person to desperation. 

I had a whole week off of work to rest my back and all I wanted to do was work on my coat. Only thing I could do, actually. So in small bites, separated by naps and pain pills, I worked on the applying the edge tape to the lapel and stitching the facings on. I got it done too! 

I do have to put the decorative saddle stitching on the edges and fix the upper collar. The pattern didn't give me enough room for "turn of cloth" of the upper collar. The edge that is supposed to be stitched to the lining is unfortunately now halfway up the collar on the inside. I will have to patch in a piece of wool and hope for the best. Maybe some decorative hand stitching over the seams of the patch to hide it?

I promise to take a picture when I get a moment to breath. Now that I'm better I have a lot of "ketchup" to do. It looks better than I had hoped, maybe in another 6 months it'll be done!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A lesson in patience

Have made still more progress on my coat. I just haven't had to time to talk about it until now. I managed to give my self whiplash! Betcha didn't know that was possible. Neither did I until I managed to pull it off. I was moving a half-built dog house through a too-small door to the kennel. It was quite heavy and awkward. We did manage to get it in the kennel, but at the cost of my neck.

2 weeks, 2 doctors, 3 prescriptions and a missed week of work and I am feeling better. Please remind me never to do that one again. Dumb, dumb and dumber..........

I did manage to do a little bit of work on the coat in between pain pills. Good thing I had lots of hand sewing to do. Its a lot harder to hurt yourself with a needle than with a whole sewing machine. And it was good for me to, to be patient and hand padstitch the lapels. I mean, you have to patient to get better and patient to get a nice lapel. Now I don't know if mine is good or not, but I sure was patient sewing it! I still have the edge tape and bridle stay to apply.

I am faithfully following my book, "Tailoring, traditional and contemporary". I feel sometimes like I study 1 hour to sew for 10 minutes. But it is paying off, the book is very complete and thorough. I would recommend it highly as a reference.

Seriously I think this kind of sewing is good for me, it is teaching me to value a good garment over a hastily constructed one. Oh yeah.............I was the one who made the dog kennel too big for the door. Like I said, dumb, dumb and dumber!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet the girls

Thought I would introduce my girls to the world. I have posted in the past about my Chantecler roosters and I thought it was time to let the ladies shine a little. Heres one:

The girls are very gentle. They are not flighty or unfriendly birds as a whole. If anything, they are timid and shy, not aloof. They are not hard to chase down and catch, they just give up and crouch after a while. I am not a good chicken-catcher, it doesn't take much to get away from me. So of course I like my ladies, they not too much for me to handle. 

They don't show as well as the boys, due to their shyness. You need a feistier bird to show off for the judge. I have had some success with the bolder ones, don't get me wrong. I received a reserve AOCCL at poultry show last fall on a pullet. In fact she is the lady pictured here today. The boys do better though :(.  (I hate it when that happens!) I have a little more work to do with these girls, but they are coming along. I need a more upright tail carriage; 30 degrees from horizontal is ideal. Also, a little better tail spread would be nice.  The good news is the younger ones look better than my older stock. I am slowly making progress. 

I'll have to take pictures now that the snow is off the ground (these are older photos) and everybody gets to go outside. They are so HAPPY now. Even the older guys and girls were flying and bouncing off the fencing. I love springtime!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just holding my breath........

Sunday was just an awful day here. Weather-wise, I mean. March is such a changeable month here in Wisconsin. You can go from zero to 60 within 24 hours. And back again unfortunately. 

My flock had been enjoying the mild weather for days last week after being cooped up (chicken joke!) all winter. I had the bright idea to build their pens at the bottom of a slope, so they did have to deal with the run off from the melting snow as the ground was still frozen, but it didn't seem to bother them. Anything to be outside! Then the weekend arrived.

Nothing but rain on Saturday. Lots of it to add to the run-off problem. The pens are now standing in water at their ends. I can live with this as they are very large. Then Sunday came. First rain, then ice, then sleet, then snow. It was a meteorological smorgasbord. Still not a problem except for all the dead elm trees in my back yard. I forgot to look up when installing all the chicken fencing. Otherwise I would have seen them all, right?  It was raining branches on the netting I put over the pens to keep the hawks out, the fence is sagging and bending from the stress. You can see that below beyond the coop on the left:

I don''t know if any trees came down. I am into my work week now and haven't looked for myself. My son says its all fine. I'm not sure though, sometimes he looks but he doesn't see. Do you know what I mean? Today, we have had sustained 50 mph winds. Perhaps the trees, already weakened, are down now? I'll find out tonight. My husband will take down the trees this spring, its time for him to do that now. Well, actually that would have been last year..........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally started sewing

I finally got the sewing machine going this weekend! The lining and interfacing were ordered and have arrived. I did end up ordering from Ely E Yawitz. As soon as I posted that I was considering another company, their answer to my email arrived. Figures....

I got the hymo, fleece backed lining and silk topstitching thread on Thursday. It's very nice. Being used to the type of lining you get at JoAnnes or that is put in a coat you buy at the store, I was thrilled with how substantial the material I ordered is. My lining (if I sew it right!), will not rip out of this coat. I did end up getting black. Not very original, but black does go with everything, right? I used it in the pocket above. I will be using the topstitching thread for handwork, saddlestitching the front edges of the coat and the yoke in back.

So yes, I put the back of the pocket on. Twice so far as a matter of fact. Soon to be three times, seeing as I sewed tape to the back of the pocket for reinforcing instead the front, where it should be. At this rate I will be done by Christmas. The instructions on this pattern, being older, are vague. Women just KNEW how to sew 50 years ago. Didn't need detailed instructions. So the modern woman, of course got it wrong. 

I do have a book I am following, "Tailoring: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques", by N. Marie Ledbetter. A little dry, but very comprehensive. Well worth buying if you want to tailor, it'll be well worth it. I just need to read it before I start a section of the coat like I had planned. I just got excited and dove into sewing, so I will have to restrain myself for the rest of this project.  Good thing it was just the pockets :).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My son's Brahma roosters

Today seems to be a good day to show off a few photos of my son's 2 Brahma roosters, Jake and Elroy. Yes, he is a fan of the "Blues Brothers" movie. Elroy is in front and Jake is behind and to the left. They are both year-olds, so we haven't seen how they perform in the breed pen yet. Mike has had poor luck keeping his Brahma roosters around. They keep getting sick and dying, so he is looking to these two young ones to be his foundation roosters. Elroy does have about 20 chicks in my house right now.

Elroy is the better of the two. He is just a little taller and skinnier. Current fashion from what I have seen, is to have a bantam that is very short and wide, with barely any back. The hackles merge into the saddle, without any back showing, almost like a "V". A bantam should look like the larger counterpart. The standard version is a tall bird with hackles, then a back, then the saddle, like a "U". Elroy looks like that to me. Part of breeding is sticking to the Standard descriptions, not just to what is winning in the showroom. Elroy does win because he also has other good qualities, his head and his coloring. I'll deal with the coloring in a separate post, thats a subject unto itself.

A brahma head should look "worried". Lots of loose flesh in the wattles and eye area. Look at his eyebrow, it should extend over his eye. Eyes should look sunken. The comb is a pea comb. An ideal pea comb has 3 rows with bumps going down them. Brahmas don't have ideal combs, but what Elroy has here is normal for a Brahma.

He has a good head for a Brahma, they should look like this when you are looking for one for yourself. The roosters also have a good temperament, very gentle in most cases. I'm not afraid of them. 

Wish them both luck! If their chicks are good, they get to live here another year. If you're a chicken, you want to live at my house, you get treated like the special birds you are.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

They're up!

I like the color green. Makes me believe spring is coming. The onions are just now popping out of the ground, a bright, new green. Life is starting again, spring is coming. 

Take a look at picture though, something interesting to see. The pots with all the onions seedlings are "Australian Brown" an heirloom variety I saved seed in 2008. The other pots are "Alisia Craig". The seeds are from 2007. Roughly same amount of seed was planted in both pots. You shouldn't save onion seeds for more than a year. The viability just goes down the tubes. I didn't need that many of the variety so that fact doesn't bother me here. I just planted more. Its something to remember if you are depending on most of the seeds to sprout, use fresh or use lots!

Take a good look at the picture though, you'll feel better too, I think!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heir to the throne....

The reigning king in my barnyard, Buck, is now probably 4 years old. I bought him as a cockerel and he and his ladies have reigned in the barnyard ever since. They have their own special coop and the nicest, shaded, pen. His sons and grandsons could not come close to his type and attitude and were gotten rid of at the end of the year. I would keep one of them as a backup rooster and then get rid of him when the new hatch came along. They were just not up to par. That however, has quietly changed.

Last year I had picked out my new backup rooster from that years hatch. I took him to a show last fall, and he turned out to have "roachback". This is where the one of the back legs is actually set ahead of the other on the spine, so that the tail twists sideways and bird kind of "sidewinds" when he walks. A disqualification in any show and in the breeding pen. He was disposed of and I kept the only one I had left at that point as the back up cockerel. Then this happened:

My last batch of chicks hatched last year, the ones that were the most ignored, had the most losses due to predation was hiding a gem! The last cockerel hatched, the runt of litter, the one that I ignored, has quietly come on to be worthy candidate to replace his Dad. In my humble opinion, of course. Do you think I like him or what? I am just happy he was not of his hatchmates that I lost to the cat, the cold, or the raccoon. I have gotten very lucky with him. He has the type (I think) and a very nice attitude. He's "cocky" but does not attack. That I will not tolerate. Here's a side shot:

And a shot of his head. I am pleased with the comb and wattles. They are very small and tidy. Can you see why you would want these birds if you live in a cold climate? It is no fun to watch a bird suffer from frozen combs and wattles, the most vulnerable parts of their bodies in the winter. This breed will suffer less heat loss and be more comfortable in harsh conditions.

I have 3 chicks of his on the ground and will be mating him back to his mothers and grandmothers pens come late March. Wish him luck!

Cleaning up small projects this week

Not too much going on Butterick 4213 this week. I just finished thread tracing the fronts. That's it. I had picked out my fabric from Ely Y Yawitz, but had some small questions on what I was ordering. So I emailed them last Thursday from their website. It said they would reply the next business day. Well its Tuesday and no response. So now what? Do they really want my business? I am not going to buy something from somebody who is not interested in selling it. 

I am considering Greenberg and Hammer now. They don't have online ordering yet, but I suppose I can bear to call in an order. Just downloaded their catalog and am perusing it now. 

So what did I do last week? Cleaned up the small projects. Put in a new zipper in my Mom's coat. She has ripped 3 zippers out this winter!!! I hate alterations. HATE, HATE, HATE... I did a crappy job to boot, the fabric stretched from pulling out the bad zipper and made sewing in the new one painful. No pictures of that butcher job!

Finished off a very small quilt used as a dresser scarve for my husband. Used invisible thread for the first time. My machine doesn't like that thread, its very thin and holding the tension consistent was impossible. It will not go to the fair, thats for sure.

I then fixed my out-of-time Singer 503. That did work well. Shes sewing like a dream now. I like my old Singers. They work well. They are extremely tough and are fairly easy to fix. Quite unlike todays machines which are designed, IMHO, to be replaced, not repaired. The adjusters manuals (available on the 'net) are very clear. The manuals cost about $20, less than the tuneup would be. I also think if you have an idea of HOW your machine works, it makes you a better seamstress, as you know WHY you are making some of the adjustments you do.

So here are two of my girls:
The Singer 403:

The newly tuned up Singer 503:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There is no turning back....

I cut up the most expensive piece of fabric I have ever purchased.

There I said it, it's out in the open. It was easily the most terrifying thing, (sewing-wise, of course) I have ever done. That first slice with the blade, knowing that if done wrong would ruin my project, was the worst. At the end of the afternoon, all 5 yards was all cut and neatly stacked. Finally....

The fabric is a heavy, navy blue wool melton from Fabric Mart. Purchased it for the princely sum (to me!) of $9.50 a yard. That is the most, up to that point, I had paid for a piece of fabric and for a project.  Well worth it though, this is nice stuff. I cut it, per pattern instructions, in half crosswise, and stacked the piece right sides together. I laid out pieces in sections as fabric was wider than my table and I wasn't about to cut it out on floor. Not with a dog and 2 cats to help me!

After I cut out the first piece, I realized that I would have to cut this as single layers. That one piece, a cuff, was off by 1/4" from the top piece to the bottom in the width. This, I believe, was due to the melton having a nap so the layers "stuck"  to one another. Impossible to smooth both out, I tried... So twice as much cutting, having to remember to cut one right side up, and one wrong side up. I was sweating bullets over that one. Check twice cut once, check twice cut once.

I then spent two days staystitching and basting in stitching lines, dart and center fronts and backs. I want this done right, so I'm taking time upfront. Next step is measuring out how much lining material and interfacing I need. I'm going to order from Ely E. Yawitz, they have everything I need at a reasonable cost. Heard about them from Pattern Review, I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A ray of hope in the middle of winter

Ever get tired of winter? Yeah, I know, silly question. I find the month of February to be the worst. Enough of snow, shoveling, nose freezing, plastic on the windows, snow on the boots, driving in snowstorms, black ice, below zero temps., being cooped up............need I go on?

I have a cure for you! Or at least a little bit of spring early. Start your own plants for the garden this year. You can pick the variety you want to grow, its a lot cheaper, and its not hard. 

I started the garden season last week with planting onion seeds. I have not bought an onion from the store in 10 years. I like that. Onions from plants instead of sets work well for me. They grow bigger, keep better and you can get more varieties. I order all of my seeds from Jungs Seed. Great company and good seeds. What I forget to get there I just get locally. This year I started the Red Bull(red storage) and Ailsa Craig(spanish) onions from them. I also started American Flag leeks and some seeds I saved from Australian Browns, a yellow storage onion I got from Jungs 2 years ago.

Here is my seed starting/chicken hatching area in the basement. As you can see, I have lots of company when I am down here! 

And here are the onions. I plant them in 4" pots, potting soil/peat in bottom and seed starting mix covering them up. My chest freezer is wonderful to use as seed starting area. Cats love the dirt, so put your pots somewhere they can't get to!

They'll be up in a week and I'll feel better to boot! There is hope for spring yet. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Moving slowly on Butterick 4213

I am still working on this coat, I promise. I told myself that I would try to put something up here every week. It only took a few weeks for that to fall apart. Oh well......

Last week I did finish creating the lining pattern. Seeing as this pattern had lining pieces, I just resized them instead of creating them from the coat pieces. More work, but seeing as I have never done a lining before, I don't want to take chances. 

I also laid out the coat pattern pieces on the floor in a test run of the layout, something I have never done before. I have never found the suggested layout in modern patterns to be of much use anyways, they are not very accurate. I just fold the fabric in half, selvages together and move the pieces around like a puzzle. But this time, I wanted to make sure everything would fit before I cut into that expensive melton. And lo and behold, the suggested layout worked! Perhaps more thought was put into this part of a pattern on the older ones. Here it is: 

I am lucky enough to have a parquet wood floor, with 6" squares. So all I did was mark out a rectangle, 54" x 90"(2 1/2 yards), the size of my 5 yards of melton opened up flat and then folded in half. That's the tape in the corners.  I then laid out my pieces as suggested, all the while dodging the dog and the cat, who picked that particular moment to be my best friends. As it fits with about 1 foot to spare, I am very glad I cut down on width of coat, otherwise it might not have.

I was going to go to Gayfeather Fabrics in Madison on Sunday to look for the flannel backed lining, hymo and hair cloth for the interfacing. Never made it though. I'll just get if off the Internet. It's a shame you can't buy such things locally anymore. Anybody have ideas where on the 'net?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bantam Light Brahmas

Today seems  a good day to think about Brahmas. So I was doing just that. Thought I would introduce everybody to them.

Brahmas are a very old breed originating from what is now India. I am not going to bore anyone with a history penned by me, instead please read this article.  It is from a wonderful website, Backyard Poultry,  and is much better written than anything I could do.   

My son has the bantam version of these, the males weigh @ about 2 pounds and the females slightly less. They are lights, which means they are a columbian color pattern, or IOWs, white chickens with black in the hackles, wings and tail. Important features of a good bird are: 

1. A good broad skull, with eyebrows projecting over eyes, making them seem deep set. They seem to look perpetually "worried" to me. 

2. Undercolor of the body feathers should be slate colored, the darker the better. This refers to the "fluff" part of the feather, which is just what it sounds like, the fluffy stuff closest to the bottom of the feather. The dark should not extend into the "web" or top part of the feather everyone sees.

3. Feathers should extend all the way down the legs to the tips of the two outer toes. They should be soft feathers, no stiff shafts on them.

4.  Penciling, or the coloring of black on white (or vice versa) should be as fine and even as possible.

5. They have a "pea comb" and abundant feathering, making them very hardy. A pea comb is basically a jelly bean shaped comb with 3 parallel rows of bumps running down it. 

There's more, of course, but I think I have hit a few of the main points. If you would like to keep chickens this would be a good breed to start with. They are hardy, cold tolerant birds that lay well and are meaty bird when butchering time comes. They are very gentle in general, even the largest, so are good for families with children. Here is one photo of my son and his pullet (female under 1 year). He was fortunate enough to win top prize, a "best in show" at the Wisconsin State Fair. Against adults too, mind you! 

OK, that was the official nice picture. Here is the one Mom likes:

Just don't tell him, OK?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I finally did another review!

Finally, finally, finally! I have been meaning to do a second review of a pattern for a long time. I really do like Pattern Review, it is such a valuable resource for people interested in sewing garments. 

I did my first review last May as part of a contest they had for sewing a fitted shirt. It was actually quite fun and really gave a person incentive to finish a project within a time frame. I have been meaning to post another ever since. I mean, its not like I haven't sewn anything, just been too caught up in life to put it on the web. Everyone at PR was so nice with the first post, I shouldn't have been shy about doing another.  In my defense, it is such a pain to get pictures taken, though. My husband means well, but....  My son would rather take pictures of the dog.

Anyways please see the bottom right hand corner of the blog for a link to Pattern Review with my own reviews on it. The most recent is on top. Got two now, and got photos for two more on Picasa. Stay tuned for more!

Look below. My son does take funny, creative shots of the dog. Me on the other hand, its another story. I'm just his Mom after all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alterations to butterick 4213

I finished the alterations to my coat over the weekend! I think to key to a big project like this one is to keep going, even if slowly. So I will try to do some work on the coat every week, even if I am busy. This week I managed to get the sleeves put on the muslin and make the alterations I needed. Only had enough muslin for one cuff, one sleeve looks longer than the other in photo.

This coat hangs from the shoulders (I guess they all do, duh!) and is only really fitted there. Being a swing coat, it just flares out from below the arms. So beyond making sure the armholes and shoulders fit, ain't much to do. The shoulder length, a critical part, was fine.  Everything else seems to fall into place if that is right. I did need to do a forward shoulder adjustment of 3/4". I spend to much time in front of the computer I guess.  I may need to scoop out the back neck 1/4" in back, I can do that when I fit the real thing. The armhole, while high will do just fine. The older patterns are made that way and mine is no exception.

One major change, though. I took some of the "swing" out of the swing coat. Just way to much at the hem. I love the look of this coat, but I don't want it to look like a relic either. I also was worried about the fabric. Wool melton is a thicker heavier fabric that doesn't drape as well as a thinner fabric. All that fabric would just be sticking out all over the place! So I took out a foot from the hem at the center back seam, tapering to nothing at the armhole. Did the same thing at the sides except only took 6 inches out. I think I like this much better. Hate it when the husband is right, I did look like a Jedi.. He often has a funny way of expressing his opinion of my sewing, but he has a pretty innate sense of what looks good. Here are the alts to pattern: 

Next is to alter lining pattern. I have to figure out how much lining, interfacing and interlining I need at that point and find a place to get it at. I am finding that its pretty hard to come by locally. I get a lot of vacant looks from the clerks when I ask. Probably will have to order online. I'll let you know later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A little bit about Chanteclers

Have some time this morning, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about the chickens I own.  I have only one breed I am working with, the bantam White Chantecler. A bantam is a smaller size (1/4-1/3) the size of a standard breed. White, obviously, refers to the color pattern, a solid white. And Chantecler is the name of the breed. 

The Chantecler is a fairly new breed, a composite one actually, bred in the 1900s by a Trappist monk in Canada. He was looking for a hardy, all purpose farm stock that could endure the cold Canadian winters. It has Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Leghorn, Rhode Island Red and Cornish in it's blood. Check out this site if you're interested in learning more, les oiseaux.  Its in french, so you'll have to run it through Google Translate. Very interesting and thorough with lots of good birds pictured. Translation is not entirely accurate, but humorous. 

Breed is characterized by a very small comb, called a "cushion" and small or non-existent wattles. They have abundant feathering that leans toward being hard feathered, given the Cornish in its blood. They are active, proud birds, with a good amount of breast meat and they lay well. You should be able to see a hint of the Leghorn in it's demeanor and stature. They are officially considered a critically endangered breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Without any further ado, here is the main man in the coop:

This is one good looking bird, trust me. His name is Buck. He won a "Best in Show" at the poultry show in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 2008. A very hard thing to do to begin with, much less with a rare breed like the Chantecler. It is a matter of good breeding, good luck, good timing, and a judge who is familiar how your rare breed should look. It may never happen again to me. He is part of a trio I was lucky enough to acquire a few years ago. I am still using him, but will soon be passing the honors on to a great grandson who I think will be better than him. This summer should tell. I'll get a picture of him up soon. 

Buck will be retired soon, but to pet status. Doesn't happen much with chickens, much less a rooster, at my house. Otherwise, you're soon overrun with "pets", and no room for the breeding stock coming up. This guy is special, however and gets a place of honor in the coop. The only other pet rooster we have is Mr. Moto and he is pictured in the sink on the right hand side of this blog. Take a look.

That's it for now............more on the Chanteclers soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New chicks

Just a quick picture of my basement. Yes they are living in my basement! Only safe place for a chick to be this time of year. I tell folks they are just like any other animal you keep in the house, if you don't keep them clean, they'll smell. My chickens don't smell. We hatched some out this early in order to have mature birds for the county fair at the end of July and the early fall shows. There is a national show in Illinois in early September that my son and I are gunning for this year. The yellow chicks are bantam white Chanteclers and the greyish ones are bantam Light Brahmas.  More on the breeds later........