Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005

Sewing, take three

Posted January 27th, 2015 by

Remember the red gingham shirt and all of the great advice you gave me? I very much appreciated our conversation about that, and all of the suggestions you had. In the end, though, I decided that I wasn’t feeling experimental enough to implement any of them. (Not now, anyway. I may revisit them!)

I really just wanted a red gingham top with 1/2-inch checks, that would be lightweight and flowy, and that I could wear easily under sweaters.

In the end, I decided to leave the flannel top as-is. It is wearable, even if it doesn’t evoke the feelings I had originally wanted it to evoke. Instead, I decided a trip to the fabric store would solve the problem. My local shop has very lightweight gingham for less than $4/yard!

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any 1/2-inch checks at all. The choices were 1/8, 1/4, and 1 inch. I already have tops in red 1/8″ checks and navy blue 1-inch checks, so it seemed like my best choice would be some other color in the 1/4″ size. I chose black, although I would have definitely gone for orange if they’d had it.

More sewing.

This new shirt falls right back into my comfort zone, with the elbow-length sleeves I’ve done before, and the same lightweight fabric I’ve used in the past. It sits on me just as I’d hoped the original red flannel one would have.

It’s perfect, if you don’t count the fact that it’s the wrong color or the wrong size checks 

More sewing.

I’ve put away the sewing machine now, so unless I happen to stumble upon the perfect lightweight 1/2-inch orange gingham fabric in my travels, consider this itch scratched!

New scarf

By the way, check out my new scarf. Look at the size of this thing! It’s 24″ x 108″, which is a fabulous size. I can wrap it around three times and still have enough left dangling. I love it.

I feel like I’m a little late to the Scarfshop party. I saw so many blog friends buying them a few years ago, but I never managed to buy one myself, until now. They come in so many beautiful colors, that I am a little bit surprised with myself for getting a gray one. If I ever buy another one, though, it’s totally going to be “mint.”

And, oh, now I wish I hadn’t looked at the website, because I see they are on sale. At full price it was easy to say that I wouldn’t buy another one this season, but now? Very very tempting…

A mint scarf would be really cool with an orange gingham top. Uh oh. I feel an online shopping trip coming on! 

TWiP: Repurposed content

Posted January 24th, 2015 by

This Week in Pictures

Some of you have left comments recently telling me that you enjoy this weekly feature. Thank you! Me too 

The beauty of it for me is this: I spend time each week taking these pictures, writing what I am up to, and sharing on social media, which is nice but where does it leave my blog? At its busiest, this blog was the hub for everything I was up to. I miss that, but I don’t really have time to write full-blown posts every day anymore.

The perfect solution seems to be this one. I can repurpose that material I’ve been publishing all week, and keep my blog updated in one fell swoop. I love it!

And it’s great for those weekends when I’m too busy to write introductory blurbs (not the case, incidentally, on this particular weekend – right now I’m sitting on my bed, sipping coffee, listening to music, and looking out the window at the snowy trees).

On those overwhelming days, it’s perfectly acceptable to just say, “I’m so busy! Look at what I did all week:” and leave it at that.

Anyway. All of that to say, I love this feature and I’m glad some of you do too!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: 2015 17/365 – I spent the day at a very enjoyable family gathering, during which time I probably should have taken my camera out of the bag. But I didn’t. So my daily picture is instead of what I did after the party: pajamas, pretzels, knitting, and an episode of Midsomer Murders.


365: 2015 18/365 – Ice storm this morning, complete with warnings from the local OEM to stay off the slippery roads. Personally, I have no problem hanging out at home in my pajamas all morning…

Instagram: It’s an icy Sunday and nobody’s going anywhere… Who wants a sugar cookie?


365: 2015 19/365 – Well, despite my best efforts not to be moved, that “magic of tidying up” book made me fill up three big garbage bags of my clothes and shoes to be donated yesterday. I can’t remember the last time my closet space was used this efficiently.


Instagram: Hello, Tuesday morning.

Instagram: OK, maybe I didn’t fill the *whole* trunk, but I do think I am sufficiently stocked up for the next little while. 

365: 2015 20/365 – The USPS sort facility in Kearny NJ *finally* spat out a package I’ve been waiting for. That place is like a black hole for First Class Mail sometimes…


Instagram: Adventures in justification: sewing is the least important thing on my to do list, but I *can’t* get out of my gym clothes and do all of the other stuff on the list until my new shirt is ready to wear. Therefore sewing must come first. 

365: 2015 21/365 – One last shirt sewn today. That’s three new ones total for this season. I think it’s out of my system now. Whew.

Instagram: What? Doesn’t everybody take selfies perched on top of a cabinet to get the best light? PS. Finished #sewing my new shirt. PPS. The USPS finally delivered my new Scarfshop scarf yesterday 


365: 2015 22/365 + Self Portrait Thursday – This is probably my last new shirt before I put the sewing machine away.

Instagram: Love that blue hour 


365: 2015 23/365 – You know you have a problem when your paper straw collection requires an organizational scheme.

Instagram: Me: we’re Instagramming! Him: you’re Instagramming, I’m tolerating. #teenagers

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted January 23rd, 2015 by

We had Monday off this week, so Friday feels like it has come very quickly!


The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week on Flickr and Instagram. Click on the titles below the mosaic to get a better look at the images and see more from the photographers who made them.

(Follow me?Flickr | Instagram)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

  1. Mmmmmm! #fruit #healthy #berries #bre… by craftyhope via Instagram
  2. A red bird sits. #theredthread #winte… by saurand via Instagram
  3. We have company. #hellooverthere by meathwoman via Instagram
  4. Frosty morning, #Lowell by smithdrygoods via Instagram
  5. My lovely friend @nicolewise40 asked … by zuzu365 via Instagram
  6. Rough patch … This was an outtake f… by tarawanders via Instagram
  7. Dropped G off at a test day for a pos… by sunshineandgrey via Instagram
  8. humans by kristinemay via Instagram
  9. Good Morning! Belgian-chocolate coffe… by soupatraveler via Instagram
  10. Earlier in Cambridge :: Cake for elev… by xantheb via Instagram
  11. Clementine cake #mystillsundaycompeti… by gailo_oliag via Instagram
  12. I’ll have a cappuccino. by cindyloughridge via Instagram
  13. Rustic Rainbow Choker by MargitB. via Flickr
  14. Weaving circles :: There are no strai… by resurrectionfern via Instagram
  15. Another sneak peek at our #farmgirlvi… by fatquartershop via Instagram
  16. the most gorgeous orange sherbet cake… by designlovefest via Instagram
  17. 365.8 by rachellake via Flickr
  18. faces egg side 5 by jaelsjewels via Flickr
  19. 20/365 – 15 by moo o’hara via Flickr
  20. New curtains! by JonaG via Flickr
  21. Sadness flies on the wings of the mor… by Kat Eye View via Flickr
  22. Art in corners = home by sunshineandgrey via Instagram
  23. green day. by sfgirlbybay via Instagram
  24. The best days include a bench! #parkb… by saurand via Instagram
  25. After reading so many books last year… by lindsaycrandall via Instagram


Here are a few interesting things from around the web that grabbed me this week:

  • VIVA LA COLORCOLOURLOVERS! – a photo project with xanthe berkeley. Xanthe’s Instagram photos are always catching my eye, and her use of bright colors is quite often the reason. Join Xanthe this winter as she focuses on a new color each week. There are still a few days left to snap something red!
  • Create a Personal Starting Ritual to Kick Start New Habits – a tip from Lifehacker. Having a hard time making a new habit stick? Why not preface it with something you enjoy? LH gives this example: “Getting dressed and having coffee transitions you from sleep to work. By establishing a more favorable personal starting ritual, you can make it easier to start a task you’re not yet in the habit of doing.”
  • DIY dipped kitchen jars – a project from This Little street. These are so adorable! I want to make a million of them.

Happy Friday!

Watching water boil

Posted January 22nd, 2015 by

Our stovetop tea kettle sprung a leak. I had no idea they could even do that! Putting aside, for a moment, the question of how icky the insides of that kettle might be (and by extension, the water I have been making my coffee with [ugh!]) I am left with a dilemma: what do I replace it with?

BW 25/30

I’m pretty sure Neil had this kettle before he had me. We’ve been married almost 20 years, so I would have to say it’s been a pretty good workhorse up until now.

I figured replacing it would be a fairly simple task: I’d hop online, pick out a cool color to match the kitchen and be done with it.

But no. There are a million different kinds of kettles out there, people! And they’re made out of a million different kinds of materials (porcelain, enamel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, glass…), and those are just the stovetop kettles. Kitchen counter space being at a premium, I was all set to get another stovetop kettle, but I’ve been reading reviews and it sounds like electric might be a better way to go. They are more energy-efficient, they boil more quickly, and you can get ones that control the temperature so that the water is the best temp for your particular type of tea or for coffee. That appeals to me, since I like all kinds of hot drinks.

Morning 6/31 - Restocking

No matter what kind of kettle I pick, though, they all seem either super spendy, or they have terrible reviews. So before I drop $50 on a gadget to boil water, please can we talk about this?

Specifically, how do you boil water? Do you like your current method? If you use a kettle, is it stovetop or electric, and can you recommend the brand/style you have?

I did not expect replacing the tea kettle to be a “major purchase” but I was really surprised by the prices I was seeing. I have to be reasonably sure I am getting something that is going to last a while and will be a good fit for my kitchen. Thanks for helping me! Right now I am boiling water in the microwave, which is do-able but not ideal.

TWiP: Stitching

Posted January 17th, 2015 by

This Week in Pictures

Some weeks I don’t seem to get anything creative done. This is not one of those weeks. I’m knitting a sweater that is coming along nicely in the evenings, and by day I’ve been sewing.

For me, sewing at this point is really more about the finished product than the process. I don’t really love doing it, and once I’ve stitched up everything on my current list, I will be more than happy to pack the machine away again.

But then, I’ve always been somewhat of an end-result kind of person, impatient to be done with the process of making. It’s actually very surprising to me that I could enjoy knitting and crocheting so much. I mean, there are certainly faster (and cheaper) ways to get sweaters and blankets. I suppose as long as there are new stitch patterns to try, and new puzzles to work out, it will continue to captivate me.

Sewing, though? I think my sewing heyday has come and gone. At this stage, I just want to make things that are super easy and require as little fussiness (and as few pattern pieces) as possible.

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


365: 2015 10/365 – Neil and I found the down comforter in the attic last night, and this morning I woke up under a fluffy warm cloud.

Instagram: Tea and a book, under a fluffy down comforter. Happy Saturday morning ☺

Instagram: Good mail day


365: 2015 11/365 – It’s Sunday, and I think it’s going to be all about the knitting today. Got a new sweater on the needles, and I’m eager to see the pattern progress.

Instagram: I love how fast it goes with bulky yarn


365: 2015 12/365 – I brewed up a new CD to listen to in the car.


365: 2015 13/365 – Fifteen inches has gone pretty quickly. I love it so far. Cables are cool :-)

Instagram: It’s official. @guster wins for coolest-looking CD.


365: 2015 14/365 – I’m really not in the mood to put this stuff away. I have to keep reminding myself that there can be no sewing in the dining room until the Christmas stuff goes away. I have fabric for two new shirts calling my name, so I think that may be just enough incentive…

Instagram: The good news is that the Christmas stuff is off of the dining room table. The bad news is that I’m about to clutter the place up with my sewing machine and assorted paraphernalia… #shortlivedcleanliness

Instagram: I think a red gingham flannel shirt will hit the spot nicely…

Instagram: Of the gingham and the floral, I made the floral top first. And then I changed out of my dumpy clothes so I could wear it. Now I wish I had somewhere nice to go

Instagram: That moment you realize there is such a thing as too much gingham. #sewing


365: 2015 15/365 – I sewed two shirts yesterday, and I’m happy with this one. It fits in with my usual cold-weather uniform, plus it will work well in the summer with a pair of shorts, too. (P.S. Look at me, joining 2015 with the skinny jeans and boots, LOL!)


365: 2015 16/365 – Almost done with the back of my sweater (and my second ball of yarn).

Instagram: I *had* to have this fabric for kitchen linens. Its only taken me three years to sew four napkins

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr. (Or Instagram, too!)

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

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