new at my house

I have a head cold so I have produced nothing this week… just sat on the couch and did a Raising Hope marathon.  Steve has big news- he finished the 3rd (and final) edition of How I met Van and Numan Future Present and Past. It is available on amazon at How I met Van and Numan Future Present and Past.

pattern review corset from The Alabama Stitch book

For many years, I have been very interested in The Alabama Stitch book by Natalie Chanin. I finally began to work on the projects. The pattern I first decided to try was the corset. Here is my first attempt:

I am very happy about this one. It fits very well and it is very flattering.  I had a little trouble with how low-cut it is. I shortened the straps by quite a bit, and it is still a little immodest for me.


Now this attempt was not as successful for several reasons. I used a more stretchy fabric. Chanin recommends using cotton jersey of a heavy weight. This was a microfiber for exercising in. I also sewed most of the corset by machine. For this reason, even though I did the pre-basting, I had a good amount of stretching. I simply had to add a modesty panel, which then gapped. So finally, I added elastic. In the end, I kind of like it even though it is not exactly Chanin’s vision.


I am extremely happy with my third attempt. I dyed these two t-shirts and used them to make one corset. I sewed it completely by hand. For size XL, it takes more than one man sized t-shirt to make one camisole. I shortened the straps by about a half inch and added about an inch to the top of the front center pane. This is creates a more modest neck line for me. I love the effect of the pattern of the original t-shirt on the front.

So all in all, it is a very flattering pattern figure-wise. It is very easy to put together although it is most successful when it is hand stitched. It took about 2 hours to put together (outside of dying), but it was very pleasant easy sewing. I did it after dinner. I will make it again definitely.




We as a family are in a waiting time.  Both boys are starting new schools this fall and the energy is one of excitement mixed with nervousness. I am working very hard on the blog book which cuts into my sewing time.  It seems I have a limited amount of creativity. 

Yesterday I did some real thinking.  I realized that I was tired of making the little strip squares.  I suddenly wondered how many I had made.  I have made nearly 150.  I decided that was enough.

Then I laid out a sample.


Wow! For once my picture is better than the actuality. I can’t manage to keep them sorted in any meaningful way beside basic color in this size.  I decided to sew them in groups of four, then lay them out to see what I have.

As I was sitting in my sewing room, bored of making these squares my gaze fell on this quilt:DSC04670

Several months ago I determined that this quilt was unmendable in its current form.  However, there are several sections that I really like:

DSC04671 DSC04672

There are two quilts here: the parts I Iike and the parts that have emotional resonance with my husband, mainly the t-shirts.  The third part is too worn to be salvaged.  So I cut it up:


More to come

alone sort of

My husband and younger son are in California so this is a post about all of the things I have learned while they are gone.  First, a warning to any internet lurkers who may be looking: my older son is here still.  He is a grown man who knows Taekwondo.

When my husband is gone, I get to sleep in the middle of the bed.  If he goes away on a plane, I get all of his pillows.  This almost balances the fact that I don’t really sleep that well unless someone is snoring loudly next to me.

If I have a bad dream in the middle of the night, and I go downstairs and tell my adult son it makes I seem a little crazy. Luckily, he already knows this about me.

I get to eat anything I want for dinner.  The same thing every night if I want.  If I make the same thing, I become a surprisingly good cook.  Especially if I get a five dollar frozen dinner.

The house makes quite a few random noises.  My curtains make surprisingly creepy human shapes.  I have a remarkably vivid imagination.

I also now know who leaves all the cups all around and who leaves pens, socks and pencils on the floor (actually that last one was more of a confirmation than an epiphany).

I have a lot of free time especially if a storm knocks out my satellite TV. So here’s what’s up:

My husband took the camera to take pictures of his trip.  So I have no pictures, but I have three main things going on.  I am bringing this blog down to my computer to work on as a book.  Second, my friend, Veronica, came over and helped me to gain control over the next block in our tropical friendship quilt.  I wish I had a picture of that work in process because it is so pretty.  Lastly, I am working on my strip quilt.  I finished the black squares and I am moving on to green.  I had enough of black and also I need to put green thread on my sewing machine.

This has certainly been a disjointed post, and to continue that theme I will add:

I miss you both, Steve and Paul.  Have a great Father’s Day! (Hopefully, you will remember that I post on Sunday. Otherwise, I hope you had a great trip.)

I also want to send salutations to my own father: Have a great day!  I’m glad you are taking better care of yourself so we can all have you around for a long time.  Your willpower this year has been fabulous. I love you and I’m glad you are my dad.

Little free library

My neighbor just opened a little free library.  Now, if you don’t know about this movement check out their website at Little Free Library.  Essentially you buy or build a small box about the size of a bread box. Then it’s like the “leave a penny, take a penny”,  but with books!  In other words, if you see a book you like take it, return it if you like when you are done or put different one in.

Our neighbor had a little party with cookies and lemonade for the grand opening.  Many neighbors came down to bring books and take books home.  I traded Swiss Family Robinson and Eastern Mushrooms for Girl with a Pearl Earring and Trout Country.  Steve also donated a copy of his book: How I met Van and Numan Future, Present and Past: Or my first impression of the future by So Cal Punk. It was a great evening of visiting with neighbors who are obviously readers!

Inchie Quilts

Every so often I browse through the quilting section at the library and see if there are any interesting quilting books.  I picked up Inchie Quilts by Nadine Ruggles with the idea of making small but personal gifts.  This book demonstrates how to make small, one inch size mini quilts, then attaching them, sometimes perminantey, sometimes temporarily, to a larger quilt artifice.  I like the idea of the user or the artist changing the quilt after it is complete by moving or changing the inchies. There are quilt patterns and instructions in the book.  If you have followed my blog for any period of time, you probably know that I rarely work from a pattern, so I have not and will not make any of the projects in this book. However,  I thought the techniques could be applied to several projects, either quilts as she uses them, or also for small jewelry pieces or cards. Both the quilts and the techniques are well documented with photographs.  The book is very well written, with clear concise instructions.

Now, for a photo of Steve’s hydrangea:

The Rest is Noise – book review

I have to be away for a few days, so I am having my husband guest blog.  For those of you who don’t know him, he is a visual artist and musician.  If you would like to see his work, his web site is Buns on Mars.  In the last year or two, he has been writing and he has his own online journal: Buns on Mars Journal.  This was an exciting year because he self published a book: How I met Van and Numan Future, Present and Past: Or my first impression of the future by So Cal Punk. I hope you enjoy his first blog here on April Sewing Journal, I believe it will be rare he will write here, but he will be a regular contributor to April Journal , my literary blog. -rb

I have recently read Alex Ross’s book, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century” and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates serious music, especially the music student who is being introduced to the Twentieth Century canon. I have read many music history books like this, and I must admit at first, the title put me off. I thought, “here goes another historian who will be exclusive with the difficulties of contemporary music.” Gladly, I was wrong. Ross is gracious with the full canon of contemporary composers and gives everyone their due. For me, it was a satisfying feeling to read about the composers that I have appreciated but of whom are given a passing glance in other history books. These books, like that of the high art coffee table variety, are usually dominated by well-known composers, and the historians, while going through the motions, sift through their worn out writing with the same, safe, predictable history. Ross not only has his perspective from his research, with fifteen years in writing this book, he gives color to the composers private and public lives. He writes about how they functioned within their musical and political culture. But more importantly, Ross is a music lover and a fluent, informed listener. And as a historian, he is able to articulate on a formal level what is happening in the music and why it is significant. Ross begins his story with Strauss and Mahler and ends it in the late 1980s with John Adams. There is enough biographical information on each composer that the reader gets a sense of the artist. For example, Ross writes about how Strauss (a Jew) lived under Nazi Germany and his relationship with Mahler and Schoenberg. He does the same with Shostakovich and Prokofiev under Stalin. Ross’s writing is succinct and lively throughout the whole book. He may give some composers too much biographical emphasis like Britten, and some too little attention like Varese, Berio, and Xenakis, (I was somewhat disappointed with this), but at least all the composers are given their due. Also Ross isn’t afraid to personally criticize some composers like Boulez, who comes off as an elitist tyrant, setting the agenda for serious music after the war. Ross’s writing gives a cultural and historical context for each composer and  why their music is significant. For example, he will give the reader an idea how other composers reacted at the time to Schoenberg’s 12 tone row, and not just a glib historical fact. Ross’s focus moves from political and personal to more serious matters, giving the reader a nice well-rounded ride. In other words, his story isn’t didactic or stuffy. There are no suspicions here, just a matter of fact voice tone and clarity in historical perspective. Ross fully tracks the continuing drama of the position of atonal music in modernism.  After you read the book, you’ll  know what Ross means by his title; he is writing about all that is important in serious twentieth century music and the rest is noise. As an afterthought, Ross has a short suggested listening list. You can find these well known examples at the library. Also, if you are not familiar with the pieces that are discussed in this book, you can find them played on You tube.

corneal abrasion

According to the care line nurse last night, I may have a corneal abrasion.  I am heading into the doctor today, and I was pretty wiped last night, so I didn’t get anything together for you here today.  However, I did have a post ready to drop over at my other blog: April Journal.  So if you would like to take a look at my review for Jeannie out of the bottle check out that blog. Yes, it is what it sounds like: an autobiography of Barbara Eden.  Enjoy!

Update: Fortunately, the nurse was mistaken (she didn’t see it we just talked on the phone) it was a huge group of broken blood vessels on the my white eye and extreme irritation. Very treatable with drops.

denim ender leader wrap up

With the holidays, I missed showing you some projects that I finished for gifts.  Here is the finished ender leader denim quilt.  I am very happy with how it turned out.  It is backed with polar fleece, then I simply brought the edges up and over and used a zigzag stitch to create the binding.  It’s funny how denim can just glow.  Since these quilts always evoke landscape for me, I did some circles for the quilting, reminding me of the drainage fields I saw once when we flew to the west cost.

I put this in our ten-dollar gift exchange in North Dakota, and my sister, Becky, won it. She traded for it, so I was excited that she was so interested in it. I have a mental image of her all snuggled up under it that night.  (I wish I would remember my camera sometimes).

On a different note, I want to let you know that I have joined the amazon affiliate program.  You may notice on the sidebar that I have added a picture of what book I am now reading and what I am currently listening to.  If you are interested in the book, the picture is a link to Amazon.  If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission. I will be doing more with this later, including book lists and reviews.

Happy New Year, and may your year be full of blessings!