Furry Friends

Silk Blouse With Dogs

When I participated in the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I knew I needed a dog sewing challenge too!  I was so excited when Tanya announced just that.  Finally, the perfect excuse and deadline to use my silk dog fabric that I bought at Mood Fabrics LA over two years ago.  I was putting off using it until I had improved my shirt sewing skills and had the right pattern for it.  Well, I’ve made probably a dozen button up shirts by now, and although I did not have the perfect pattern, I hunted one down for the occasion.

I searched high and low, looking at every kind of top and blouse pattern.  I checked all the big pattern companies, every indie pattern company I could find, and I scoured Etsy for vintage patterns.  And of course I fell in love with a vintage pattern that wasn’t available in my size:
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Simplicity 4610–a darling blouse perfect for my light weight silk.  Bust size 30.  And I’m a 38.  So I finally decided to suck it up, buy the pattern, and grade up approximately 4 sizes.  The design was simple enough, grading it couldn’t be too hard.

And as it turns out, grading really wasn’t all that bad.  I did it.  I drew the pattern with some alterations on Wednesday, finished a muslin on Thursday, and cut into the silk Friday.
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My fabric has a dog pattern woven into it, and the doggies are neatly lined up, so I eliminated the center front and back seams to keep from breaking up the pattern.  I knew I wouldn’t be wearing the blouse tucked in, so I also left out the front and back darts at the waist.  Loose and comfy through the waist is my ideal.
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Between the yoke and pleats, I had plenty of work to do despite the simplifications I made.
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The fabric features dachshunds, which I don’t have, but I did name my Australian Cattle Dog “Lucy” after my grandparents’ dachshund.  My aunt is an “I Love Lucy” fan, and she named my grandparents’ dachshund after Lucille Ball.  As children, my siblings and I fought over who’s sleeping bag Lucy would sleep in when we visited my grandparents.  So, when I picked out my little redhead in early 2007, my sister and I spent hours running through possible names until we landed on “Lucy.”  In fond memory of Lucy the dachshund and in the spirit of Lucille Ball, the name seemed to fit the little spitfire.

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She’s over 8 now, and 2015 started out rough for her with some medical issues.

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But all that’s behind us now.

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Now that we’ve done the cat and dog sewing challenges, who’s hosting the horse themed challenge? :)

Quilt Inspired by a Saddle Blanket

A couple of years ago, Erin (Miss Crayola Creepy) pinned a fabric on Pinterest that stole my heart.

It was “Charras” by Alexander Henry, and I finally decided to buy a few yards for a quilt.  With an ever changing plan, I went to my local fabric store to get some coordinating fabrics, and I left the store with a completely different color scheme than when I’d gone in.  Here is the result:
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The pattern is inspired by Navajo blanket designs, specifically from a saddle blanket I have lying around the house. I used this tutorial to make flying geese blocks, and then I just played around with the pieces to make the bottom two designs.  The diamond shaped blocks are made using bias cut strips.

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I quilted the blanket in straight (sort of) lines.

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The quilting part was definitely awkward with so much blanket to feed through the machine, but it got easier as I went.  I didn’t have a walking foot, and there are lots of wrinkling spots where the fabric is pulled a little.  After washing the quilt though, the whole thing seemed to fluff up a bit, and I love the way it looks.  The wrinkles seemed more fluffy and less obvious.  It may not be perfect, but I love it anyway.  Mostly I just love the fabrics and enjoy looking at them.
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The back is pieced together with a leftover strip of flying geese blocks.  I had at one point planned to use four strips of that particular block pattern, so I had made a lot of extra flying geese.  It worked out… I like the back almost as much as the front.
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I liked attaching the binding and making mitered corners.

Sewing the blocks and strips can be a bit tedious, so I’m glad I went with a simple pattern that came together quickly (before I lost interest!)  I’m already planning another simple quilt.  The planning and math that go into a quilt design is quite fun and very different from garment sewing.  It’s a good change of pace.

Right now I’m finishing up a few Christmas gifts, and hopefully I’ll be sewing an Archer this month too!  And just as soon as possible, I’m planning to make a winter coat.  It’s gotten quite cold here in Texas this week (below 30), and I wish my coat was already done!!

What are you working on this month?

Purrfect Renfrew

I had my eye on this animal print sweater knit for several months, but who wants to buy sweater knit in the summer, right? Fast forward to winter, and after many rave reviews of the Renfrew pattern, I finally picked up the shirt pattern and sweater knit.

At this point, nobody needs to hear me say how great the Renfrew pattern is.  I’m pretty sure I’m the last one to get it.  But, in case you were wondering if there is a single person who does not like Renfrew, let me just say, it’s not me.  I LOVE it.  And as I type this, I have two more Renfrew tops already cut out and ready to be sewn up.

With Jungle January upon us, it is high time I write this post.  So here she is, my animal print contribution:
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I thought for sure this was a sort of leopard print, but after sewing up the top and putting it on, I began to think the black spots were more like the hide of a Holstein cow.  I’m not saying I felt fat, but for some reason, I really didn’t like the print anymore.  Luckily, this top is so darn comfy to wear, I kept it on and the print grew on me over time.  Now I see coffee beans.

I guess I should call this the ink blot top…
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To ensure this post had enough animal print, Lucy and Jay joined me for photos.  Check out the other Jungle January makes at Pretty Grievances.

How to Bathe a Horse

Because I would like to offer a tutorial, in order to share what I know, I bring you, “How to Bathe a Horse.”  Although this blog is primarily sewing focused, my sewing skills are not quite up to par to be teaching much or offering advice just yet.  So I will share something with you that I know a little more about–my first love, horses.

On Saturday, temperatures reached 88 degrees.  I had planned to go riding, but it was a bit too warm for my liking, so I bathed horses instead.  Bathing horses is not like bathing a dog or cat.  There’s none of that “wet dog” smell, and none of the rolling and shaking all over the house afterwards that my dog is prone to do.  I rather like bathing horses.

Let me introduce you to Flash, Paige and Doc.
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These three retired quarter horses do not belong to me, but I am privileged to enjoy their company in my spare time.

With all the sunshine we’ve had lately, their winter coats have shedded, leaving a nice thin coat of hair underneath the dirt and remnants of winter.  Saturday was the perfect day to wash away the winter residue and properly welcome spring.

I tied the horses under a bit of shade and bathed them one at a time.

To begin, I turned the water on, making sure the end of the hose was not pointing at myself or the horses.  I don’t like to be surprised with water, and horses don’t either.  Once everybody can see and hear the water, begin by wetting the horse’s legs first.
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Hose water is typically cool, so it’s best to gradually work up the horse’s leg, letting him get used to the water temperature, and then drenching the rest of his body.  I don’t generally wash the horse’s head because most horses don’t like water running all over their head.  You can certainly wash their head using a sponge or low hose pressure, but I chose not to.  For a most pleasant experience, respect your horse and what he’s comfortable with.  If the horse is nervous, stop and wait till he relaxes and is comfortable with the water before proceeding.
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Get one side completely wet and then apply the shampoo.  I do one side at a time so that he doesn’t start to dry off  before I finish rinsing the soap off.  I used Orvus concentrate and spread  a small amount across the upper body, letting it mix with the water and spread downward.
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With the winter coat still hanging around, I used a rubber curry comb to spread the soap and help work up the loose hair.  Look at all the dirty suds.
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I used the curry comb on his upper body where he has layers of fat and muscle.  For his legs, be more gentle and use a sponge or your hands to spread the soap and work up the loose hair and dirt to the surface.  For his mane and tail, be sure the long hair is thoroughly wet and work the shampoo in with your hands.  Then rinse thoroughly with water, once again starting at the bottom of his leg to let him adjust to the water temperature and working up to the top of his body.  Rinse the soap off, from the top down to the ground.
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Repeat on his other side: water, soap, water.  And make sure to rinse off any soap that may have crossed over his back to the opposite side.  Once the soap, dirt and loose hair have all been washed away, use a squeegee to remove the excess water, scraping with the direction of the horse’s natural hair pattern (in other words, don’t brush against his hair;  take the path of least resistance and go with the natural hair pattern).

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Only use the squeegee on his upper body, not on his legs, and let the sun do the rest!

Here are a few shots of Doc’s bath–the soap showed so well against his black coat.

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While their coats dried, I sprayed some “Showsheen” detangler in their manes and tails, then brushed them out.  For the tail (and longer manes) start at the ends and brush out tangles, working up the tail a little at a time.

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Use a regular hair brush–combs tend to rip more hair out than a brush.  This pink brush is a cheap Forever21 model–I had bought a hair brush from a feed store (for about twice the price) and it broke the first time I used it.  Hair brushes for human hair seem to be better made.
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I like to brush their faces with a soft dandy brush, and also brush off any leftover loose hair on their bodies once dry.
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Then stand back and admire the way the sun glistens off their shiny coats.

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And then it was back to the pasture for the horses, to enjoy spring’s bounty.
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If you have a horse, has he/she had a bath yet this spring?  What do you do when the temperature reaches 88+ degrees?
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Easter in Corning: Olive City

Friday was my mother’s birthday, and I had just a few hours to make her something on Saturday before driving to my grandpa’s ranch for Easter, where I would also get to see my parents.   I pulled out the Sorbetto pattern for the second weekend in a row and made her a tank top in a floral print.  My mom loves the sun and is always wearing tank tops when the weather permits.
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I omitted the center pleat and added a faux button placket instead.  Despite careful measuring and marking, the placket is ever so slightly tilting to the left.  I don’t seem to have any talent for right angles and perpendicular lines.  Even levels get the best of me.  Perfection eludes me, and it’s a relief to no longer chase it.  So the crooked button placket stayed.
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My mother was kind enough to wear her new top for the day so I could photograph it. Here she is with me and my niece:

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My family all congregated in Northern California for Easter this year, and we had such a wonderful time!  I hadn’t been to my grandpa’s ranch in several years, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed it (and my grandpa and grandma).  The smells (dairies and farms) and sights were all quite nostalgic for me.   I spent a good part of the day snapping photos—every time I turned around there was something else I wanted to photograph.  Here are a few shots from the day:

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A Cat and His House

With weather in the upper 60’s this weekend, I was out of the house and far from making any progress on a sewing project.  Sometimes you gotta seize the day and play soccer, visit with horses, and go shopping.  It’s a rough life…

The weather forecast says rain Thursday through Saturday, so I’m confident there will be much sewing progress made in the near future.  If I’m gonna finish my man’s shirt by February though, I’ve got two weekends to focus and get it done.  Plenty of time, but honestly I’m finding it hard to be motivated to sew for someone other than myself.  Well, guess I’d better hurry up and sew his shirt so I can get back to more self-centered sewing.

Today’s hi-light was a shopping trip to Petsmart.  Mr. Jay has shredded the window ledge in our dining area by clawing his way up to perch.  We decided the best way to eliminate this behavior would be to add some cat furniture beneath the window, allowing Mr. Jay to gingerly step onto the ledge sans claws.

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He seemed quite thrilled with his new house and has ignored the window thus far.

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A little catnip might have contributed to his distraction and delight.

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The leather tassel provided several minutes of fun too.  Unfortunately Lucy is completely jealous of Jay’s fun, so it’s only a matter of time before she destroys those little leather strips in a fit of jealousy.  Just like she destroyed the cat’s mouse and the feathery toy thingy…  Jay has taken to playing with less attractive toys, like twisty wire ties, the strip from Netflix mailing envelopes, and my sewing pins when he can find one!  Of course I try to keep those tucked safely out of sight.

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Lucy is way too big for this cat house, so I think it’s safe to say Jay won’t have to share his new room at least.