Sonya Philip's Shirt No. 1 Hack and More

 I recently purchased some gorgeous linen fabrics from the Doggie Bag sale on

It's an ongoing, ever-changing source, and you never know what you might find there. 1/2 yard remnants in interesting colors will make nice scarves; 1 yard cuts for a top; 1 1/2 to 2 yard cuts in textured linens for throws or lightweight blankets. I'm not even half way through my order, and I've already made the two coverlets/throws and one top. 

The throws were easy-peasy. I kept the selvedge edges as-is. Here is a lovely reversible linen in a gorgeous indigo/cobalt blue on one side and natural linen on the other.

The sewn edge is a simple hem ~ iron 1/4", fold over and iron again, then stitch. This is heavy weight, and perfect for so many things, like cozying up in a chair outside on a chilly evening, or cuddled into while watching TV, or placing at the end of a bed. 

The second throw is textured linen/cotton, medium weight in bleached white, ISO10Bleached. The cotton makes it extra soft. When you receive this fabric, it's flat and easy to sew. Once it's washed and dried it magically changes to this fluffy, pillowy texture. Again, I left the selvedges as-is. I cut the raw edges perfectly straight, zig-zag stitched about 1/2" away from the edge, and fringed it to match the selvage edge. I'll put this at the bottom of my bed just in case I need an extra layer as the weather begins to cool. 

For the top I modified 100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No. 1 pattern by Sonya Philip and used just one yard of Fabric-Store IL019 softened linen in Elephant. The color is absolute perfection for me, a gorgeous deep slate gray/blue. It'll go really well with my new pandemic silver hair! 

I decided to have a go at creating a portrait/funnel/cowl type neck on this pattern. There was a lot of guesstimating involved as I've never made nor do I have a top like this. Since I was working with linen with no ease or stretch, I knew the neck had to be wider than my head or I'd never get it on. I measured my head and figured out what the smallest opening should be, added seam allowance, and an extra inch to be on the safe side. I thought 7-8" tall would be ample. I made it 9" for seam allowance, figuring I could easily cut it down if I needed to. The tricky part was just where to start the curve on the shoulder up to the top of the funnel. I approximated at about the halfway point, and used a French curve ruler to make a nice transition curve from top to bottom. You can see my chicken scratch notes on the neck pattern.

I used French seams for the sides; and a simple hem for the bottom, arms, and neck. I liked the shirt on, but the neck opening at the shoulders seemed a tad too large, so I tacked the top edge of the neck at the seam onto the shoulder seam. I also made a small tack in the front top of the neck onto the front of the shirt. Now it sits just about right, laying with a soft, blossomy drape. Next time I will begin the neck about 1" further up the shoulder, making the bottom portion of the neck a little narrower. 

There is ample room in this top for a long-sleeved under layer when the weather starts getting chilly. It will be a great transition piece, and goes with just about everything I own. Next, I'll get to fringing up those scarves; and I still need to figure out just what to do with that houndstoothe-like fabric. Any suggestions are most welcomed!

Owl Stitchery

With all that's going on in life, this project was like a good book that I could pick up and get lost in, a mini-retreat if you will. It's been a little sad to call it done, but finished it is. I used materials I had on hand. The base of the owl is an old washcloth with a beautiful design that I'd saved from years ago. There are scraps, a block printing sample I made, and miscellaneous threads, some gifts of hand-dyed wool I had been treasuring. 

Here is the progress for my little whimsical owl stitchery. I started by making the owl face, and placed the face onto the washcloth. I took a photo and in my notes I sketched out different lines, colors, and ideas. 

The computer sketch is above and stitching below. 

The completed owl.

I put linen and my block printing sample into the embroidery hoop, and played with the positioning of the owl and branch. I used my notes on my ipad again to try out different embellishments that might look nice. I really enjoyed using my ipad for this, and am now using this method for some of my other artwork. 

The block print sample was stitched to the linen.

Here's a computer sketch of the branches to be stitched.

The grounding branch, blossoms and dainty branches were embroidered.

I needed to decide whether to leave it plain or add flowers, so I cut out a few flowers and arranged those in different ways. 

I loved the cheery flowers, and really, I wasn't ready to stop stitching yet, so I appliqued the flowers and leaves. 

And still not ready to put it down, I added various flora. 

A tiny bit of red was needed to pull in other art that would be nearby.

Once the stitching was complete, I hot glued the fabric to the embroidery hoop, then trimmed the excess off. 

I'm planning on creating a gallery up my staircase wall where my little owl will reside and watch over us with her sweet, inquisitive eyes as the years go by. 

Wood WISE by Amorim review, our new cork flooring

The next project on our list was to replace the 30+ year old carpet in the guest room. I really liked the carpet, but it was tired and worn and truly needed to go. But what to replace it with? More carpet; luxury vinyl plank; hard wood; engineered wood; laminate; tile? They all have their pluses and minuses to be sure; and when you add in the plethora of options, information, finishes, scorings, ratings, touchability, visuals, different names, manufacturers, country of origin, environmental issues, reliability, durability....this research is not for the faint of heart.

After many months of learning and comparisons and hair pulling, we chose to replace the carpet with a hard surface and decided on cork, a "green" product without any VOC's (nasty fumes), no formaldehyde nor phthalates.  We agreed to install Wood WISE by Amorim. Amorim has been in the cork business since 1870 and is a world leader in this sector. Wicanders, another big name in the cork world, is part of the Amorim family. They harvest the cork and create their flooring in Portugal. It's manufactured in a carbon negative facility (read about that here), making it a sustainable product. They use recycled water bottles for their top, protective layer. When we're done with it some day, our floor will be fully recyclable.

Gary at I&J Carpet introduced me to the product in their showroom. Of all the hundreds of samples of flooring I had looked at, Wood WISE topped my list for visual beauty and touchability (yep, that's a word in the flooring world). It looks very much like real hardwood. It's available in many colors and styles. There is texture on the surface which I wanted to help our dog keep her footing. Poor thing often does the Scooby scramble on our existing hardwood floors. As a huge bonus, this product is 100% waterproof, so those occasional accidents are easily cleaned up.

Wood WISE planks are brand spanking new, so we could not find even one review. It frankly took a huge leap of faith for us to even consider it. After weighing all the pros and cons, and factoring in that Wood WISE checked all of our boxes, we decided to place our order.

We pulled the baseboards off ourselves. It was quick and easy and even kind of fun due to having the right tool.

If you're going to reuse the baseboards, remember to number the back of the pieces so re-installation of your baseboards goes smoothly.

Wood WISE is a click-in product, so you can install it yourself if you like. We were in a time crunch, so we hired a pro.

Our floor looks absolutely beautiful! What a transformation. I love the feel of the floor. It's warm, and soft, and very quiet. Since it's only been installed for a few weeks, I'll have to update you as time goes on to report on durability. I can vouch that for us we could detect no off-gassing. My parents came to stay for the holidays a few days after the floor was installed. My mother is extremely sensitive to any and all noxious fumes or smells, and she did not have any issues at all. Gotta love that!

For now, we'll enjoy our new floor. I'll breathe easy knowing there is no off-gassing in our home; admire the beauty of our floor; enjoy the new updated look of our room; and hope the durability is as promised.

UPDATE: I cannot believe it's been over a year since we've had our cork floor! In the past year we've adopted two large dogs. Even with the extra wear and tear, the floor looks as beautiful now as when we first installed it. We've also had a few spills, some that weren't discovered until the next day. No problem at all.  I use a non-rotating head vacuum cleaner; and mop with the suggested Bona floor cleaner.

We have hardwood flooring in most of the house.There is a difference in feel. The cork flooring is softer. It makes sense, because the cork is protected by a layer of recycled plastic bottles and hardwood floors will have a harder finish. The cork is also more flexible and padded with a backing layer of cork. It's not better or worse: It's just a little different. 

We're extremely happy with our cork floor and would use it again if we have the opportunity. Best of luck with your flooring search!