Archive for the ‘Other Stuff’ Category

Crackpots: The Next Generation

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

On Christmas morning, this was my present from James, which he made at school:

IMG_2264It looks like a cloth bag with sticks in it, right?

Well, that’s kind of what it is — actually, it’s a cloth bag with sticks and stones, that makes a tic-tac-toe game:

IMG_2258But the real treat is the cloth bag.  See, the art teacher sewed the channel for the ribbon tie across the top on her sewing machine, but then James himself sewed the side and bottom seam in a simple running stitch (click the photo to see it in more detail):

IMG_2263Not bad, eh? Especially for a seven-year-old.  I’m impressed!  (I also love how he backstitched at the end of the seam: I don’t know if he was told to do that, or if he was copying what he’s seen me do at my sewing machine, but either way it’s adorable.)  Maybe for his birthday I should put together a simple sewing kit for him to work on a few projects… 🙂

Changing of the Seasons

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

by Nancy

The leaves are changing, and the fall soccer season finished up this weekend. Both boys had tournaments in different cities, so it was busy, but the weather was beautiful. We were even treated to 5 hot air balloons flying over Nicholas’ game this morning.


I came close to reaching my goal of finishing the letters of Nicholas’ name…





I just have the s left.


Beginnings of a Soccer Watching Quilt

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

by Nancy

Now that I have some good soccer ball fabric, I’ve been able to put together the beginnings of what I hope will be a warm soccer-watching quilt. I cut some 5″ squares of the soccer ball fabric and laid them out with the first three appliqué letters to see how it might look:


I think I’m going to need to lay out all (or at least more) of the appliqués blocks in order to decide how I want to arrange the other blocks – in some kind of pattern or randomly? So, to that end, my goal for next week is to appliqué one letter a day so that by next weekend I will have all of Nicholas’ name finished.

In other news, we returned to school this past week after fall break. Everyone was a little tired the first few days, but we got back into the routine and things are going well. My 2nd year students are, for the most part, getting a handle on the dative case. We made a foldable in class Tuesday to practice for the speaking part of their Unit Test, which they took on Thursday.


This weekend is homecoming for IU. They play Michigan State in football, which isn’t likely to go well, but we did have beautiful weather on Friday afternoon, and I was able to go for a long run.



Fall Break

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

by Nancy

We’re on fall break next week, so I’m looking forward to having some sewing time. I’ve been thinking about making another reusable shopping bag. I started looking through my scraps and found some fabric left over from Mira and Audra’s quilts. That led me to the blue flower fabric, which is extra from Anna’s quilt, and I have quite a bit of it and some coordinating fabrics. We’ll see what I end up doing…




My week started out well – when I walked into my room Monday morning, this was waiting for me on my desk:


My laminating order was finished!!! My school just switched over from do-it-yourself laminating to “we’ll do it for you so people stop breaking the laminator.”  I couldn’t be happier – I’ve always been intimidated by the laminator and afraid of being the one to break it, so I hadn’t tried to use it yet.  Now I can just leave it up to the pros.

Later in the week we found out that our new photocopier was even better that we had first thought:


It punches holes!!!  I’ve never heard of a copier doing that.  Wow! For people like me who do guided notes and hole punch them to encourage students to keep them organized in a binder, this is fantastic!  As you can see, we’re still plugging along with the dative case – the last part, dative prespositions!

Fall arrived almost overnight this weekend.  On Thursday it was 80 degrees, and by Saturday morning it was in the low 40s for Nicholas’ soccer game.  The leaves are starting to change, too.



Week in Review

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

by Nancy

Phew! Things have finally calmed down at school enough for me to write a blog post.  Here are the highlights of the past week…

On Sunday Andrew had a soccer game in Batesville.  I’d never been to Batesville before.  As we drove into town, Andrew looked around and said, “In Batesville they make hospital beds and baskets.”  Eric replied, “That’s caskets, not baskets.”  Sure enough, Batesville is known for making caskets.  In fact, they have a soccer tournament called the Batesville Casket Cup!



Monday morning got off to a great start when I walked in to the world languages office and found we had a brand new printer/copier. I was so excited that I took its picture and tweeted it right away. Of course, later that morning, the internet and the phones went down, making it impossible to send anything from your computer to the new printer/copier, but at least we could make copies!

On Tuesday one of my students gave the best reason I’ve heard so far in my teaching career (ok, so during my first 2 years of teaching in 1999-2001 students didn’t have cell phones) for possibly needing to use a cell phone in class:  He was expecting a phone call about a cattle transaction. Disappointingly, the call did not come during my class.

In German 2, we’ve been plugging along with the dative case.  We started talking about dative verbs and put our first four up on the Outlaw Verbs wall.


Due to school and soccer, I haven’t had a lot of time for quilting or other crafty activities.  Since finishing Anna’s quilt, I haven’t started any big projects.  I did spend some time this week working on pressing and cutting up scraps from my scrap basket.


Inspired by this quilt on Pinterest, I’ve been making some simple 6″ blocks using my 2.5″ scrap squares.


Both boys have had a lot of soccer games, and I’ve been doing some crocheting on my granny stripe afghan, both on the way to the games and at the games. It’s getting big enough that it keeps me warm while I’m working on it, which is a plus as the weather gets colder.


I’m making granny squares that follow the same color order as the stripes.  My plan was to put the granny squares on the edges of the blanket, lining up the colors of the granny squares with their corresponding colors in the stripes, but the squares are a little bigger than the stripes, so it may not line up exactly as I’d planned.  Still, I think it will look nice.


Second Sewing of the New Year

Friday, February 8th, 2013

My second sewing project of the new year was another tailored wool jacket. I finished it in January. The fabric is an olive green wool twill from the depths of the cedar chest. There are tiny bits of tan and rust in the twill. They’re not visible from a distance, but they give the fabric some depth. I think this kind of very pronounced twill is called cavalry twill. I ignored the part of the pattern that said, “Not suitable for obvious diagonals.”

As with the gray jacket below, alterations were the major work of this project. There is not a single piece in this jacket that is made from the original pattern. That includes things such as the collar and the collar stand. I made two non-fitting changes to the pattern. First, I decided that the collar was too large for a short person so I decreased the depth of the collar. I did this by making a 1/4 inch fold lengthwise in the collar pattern. Then I straightened the cutting line from the neck edge to the collar point. If I had just cut off 1/4 inch from the outer edge of the collar, the collar point would have been farther from the lapel edge. The other thing I did was to change the way the undercollar was cut. The pattern called for it to be cut in one piece on the bias. To keep the bias direction the same at both collar points, I cut the under collar in two pieces, with a seam at the center back. I cut the interfacing for the undercollar the same way.

The front, undercollar and collar stand were interfaced with fusible Armo Weft. All the other pieced were underlined with French Fuse. The back stay is poly cotton. The shoulder pads are four layers of poly fleece and the sleeve heads are lamb’s wool. As with the gray jacket, the roll line was not marked. So I had to make my own. It is taped with twill tape.

This pattern called for a sort of crescent moon-shaped collar stand that went from one roll line around the back to the other roll line. It does not show at all. The pattern called for the upper (inner) side (toward the body) to be interfaced. That did not make sense to me. The under (outer) collar stand is the part that holds up the collar and keeps it from collapsing onto the jacket back as the collar is folded back. So I interfaced the under (outer) part of the collar stand.

The pattern also called for the darts to be topstitched. Since I didn’t want to emphasize them, I omitted the topstitching.

The jacket was lined with a poly charmeuse. The pattern and color look nice with the wool, but that stuff was nasty ugly frustrating not as nice to sew with as the wool. I’ve been spoiled by the wool.

Here is the pattern. It’s from 1998.

Look at the tall, thin models. I do not look like that. But I think my photographer was kneeling down so the lower part of my body looks a little larger than it does when I look in the mirror. After all, my eyes are higher than the, er, lower part of my body.

First Sewing of the New Year

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013


This gray jacket is my first sewing project for 2013. It’s a tailored jacket with a shawl collar and sleeve vents, and it’s fully lined. The gray wool tweed fabric had been in the cedar chest for a while.

Here are the sleeve vents.
sleeve vent

I hadn’t made a tailored jacket for a while so I needed some reference materials. The Bishop Method book is from 1959. It’s the same book (but not the same copy) that my mother used when she took a tailoring course and made a gray suit for me in 1959 or 1960. There’s lots of valuable information in that book. The other books are newer, and they show methods for using fusible interfacing. That’s primarily what I used.


The fronts, including the undercollar, were interfaced with Armo Weft. All the other pieces were underlined with French Fuse. The chest reinforcement is French Fuse. The back stay is made of poly cotton. I made the shoulder pads from poly fleece, making my own pattern so they would fit this jacket. The sleeve heads are made of lambswool that must have come from my mother’s stash. The lining is polyester.

The pattern is from 1989. Check out those shoulders!grayjacketpattern

One resource I did not have available was my favorite alterations book. Someone else checked it out of the library. The nerve! I’m third on the reserve list. As a result I was left on my own to make the many, many, many alterations. I made two muslins. Of course, I shortened the jacket and the sleeves. I lowered the back neck seam, adjusted the collar to match, narrowed the shoulders and the upper back, enlarged the biceps, and enlarged the waist and hips. By the time I was finished with all that and more, I had to draw a pattern for the lining.

And in keeping with the retro nature of this project, it was sewn entirely on my 1964 Singer. The Baby Lock was temporarily indisposed but has recovered by now.

This was a challenging, but very satisfying, project. I enjoyed re-learning lots of tailoring techniques.

Back online!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Hello, crackpots!

Well, we disappeared from the internets for a week or so while I worked out some kinks on our web hosting, but we appear to be back online and functional now.  We’re also upgraded to the most recent version of WordPress, so you may see some slight changes to the “back end” when you go to write a new post.

Now I’m going to work on migrating my professional blog, and hope that it doesn’t go dark for a whole week, since it’s an important element in the portfolio for my pre-tenure review, which is being considered by the Rank and Tenure committee right now. Eeeep!

Also, I will be working on a way to have the posts automatically indicate who wrote them.  Real soon now. I promise. 🙂

My $8.50 Quality Of Life Enhancement

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

This is my new toy: a tabletop ironing board, which I’d been waiting for “Back To School” time to buy because that’s when they go on sale. I finally found one at Target yesterday for $8.50 and snatched it up.

This represents a significant enhancement to my quality of life because it means that I can do piecing without hauling out the full-sized ironing board which a) takes up the whole room, b) is rickety and constantly in danger of toppling over when Youth go careening through the room, and c) makes a horrific shriek when being folded or unfolded.

It’s also a good reminder to me that I am no longer a starving grad student, and if spending $8.50 will improve my quality of life so much, I should just spend it already.

Testing new version of WordPress

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Hi folks – I just upgraded the software that runs this here blog to the latest version. Apparently there’s a particulary vicious worm of some sort circulating around the interwebs that’s targeting blogs, so it was necessary to protect the security of the blog.

A bunch of stuff under the hood has been changed, and when you go to write a post, things will look different. I’m confident that you can figure it out, but let me know if you can’t find out how to do something!

Oh, also, we lost our nice quilty image in the header up there. I don’t know what happened with that, but I’ll try to sort it out when I get a chance.