Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005 - Part 2

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!

Weekend Favorites

Posted January 16th, 2015 by

Do you remember last week when I said that I was going to try to also include my Instagram favorites? Well I figured out how to do it, but there was something I didn’t take into account: I favorite things very differently on Instagram than I do on Flickr.

When I favorite an image on Flickr, I do so specifically with the intention of sharing it here. If I like something but don’t consider it appropriate for the weekly mosaic (for whatever reason) I will choose to comment on the image rather than favorite it.

But on Instagram? Well, I am very free with the little heart button. I tap that thing for anything and everything that catches my eye for whatever reason, regardless of whether it meets the criteria for Weekend Favorites. That type of behavior is not going to work on a weekly basis. Just take a look at what this week’s mosaic would look like if I used all of the Instagram photos I liked:

Weekly Favorites - Instagram

Yeah. That’s a little bit out of control. It’s 102 photos, by the way.

Admittedly, this has been a very active Instagram week for me, and it won’t always be like this. But still. I’m re-thinking the sharing the Instagram favorites. That’s just Crazy Town!

You need many fewer images, if you have any hope of appreciating the beauty of them. They’re just too mushed together this way.

For now, let’s just stick with Flickr as usual…


The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week on Flickr. 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)

Weekly Favorites - Flickr

  1. lemon sugar by friend 2 friend via Flickr
  2. Grand Canyon ❤ by Becky~Sue via Flickr
  3. untitled by jessica wilson {jek in the box} via Flickr
  4. Trying to make good on my “learn to crochet” resolution, … by TheFairView via Flickr
  5. 42012 by interchangeableparts via Flickr
  6. 42005 by MossyOwls via Flickr
  7. 7/365 – 15 by moo o’hara via Flickr
  8. Sala De La Musica_viewable by Edith Levy via Flickr
  9. 42009 by kelly ishmael via Flickr
  10. untitled by m i c h e l e j e n s e n [photography] via Flickr
  11. 42012 by kelly ishmael via Flickr
  12. A Late Afternoon Gondola Ride by pollylew via Flickr
  13. 159 | 365 by angiel via Flickr
  14. Macro Monday – Fruit by moo o’hara via Flickr
  15. How to seed a pomegranate by katerha via Flickr
  16. Polymer Clay necklace by Cecilia Leonini, Polymer clay ImpastArte via Flickr
  17. 12-365 – 15 by moo o’hara via Flickr
  18. Covered vase by jaelsjewels via Flickr


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

  • The Fabric Economy of Facebook Groups – from whileshenaps.com. Did you know that there are FB groups that function like online stores, and you can buy fabric through them less expensively than other venues? Abby Glassenberg heard about this and investigated further. In this blog post she shares what she learned, and wonders about the implications of buying fabric on Facebook. I can’t help but wonder if this phenomenon is limited to fabric or if there are similar groups for other types of craft supplies.
  • Liberate Your Art 2015 Postcard Swap – from Kat Eye Studio. I love this idea. You send in five post cards featuring images of your art, and receive back post cards with other swappers’ artwork on them. It’s open to all media. I think I might do it.
  • the creativity club – an idea from elsie marley. Meg says, “This isn’t supposed to be stressful, or another thing on your list. This is just something to mess around with, play with pens, cut some paper, make something without a freakin tutorial.” Sounds like fun. I’m in! #thecreativityclub

I will have to think about whether I want to change the way I do favoriting on Instagram so that I can include those images here, too, or whether I’ll just keep things as-is and stick with Flickr. Or, maybe I can come up with a third option. It’s something to think about anyway.

Have a lovely Friday!

Sewing outside of the comfort zone

Posted January 15th, 2015 by

Sewing two new shirts

So I shared part one of this story, in which I sewed a shirt that made me very happy. Here now is part two, in which I sewed a shirt that leaves something to be desired.

I got it in my head recently that I wanted a red gingham flannel shirt. My inspiration pieces were things like this.


The thing is, I have never liked the way I look in button-down shirts with collars. I thought maybe I could try to re-create the look but in a more loose and boatnecky kind of way.

This, mind you, is a very different silhouette than the shirts I was using as inspiration, but in my mind’s eye it still worked really really well.


In addition to experimenting with flannel, I also wanted to try making the sleeves long. Simplicity 3835 comes with short sleeves and elbow-length sleeves, but nothing long. So I measured from my elbow to my wrist and added that many inches to the bottom of the elbow-length sleeve pattern piece.

New gingham flannel shirt.

That’s about the only part of this experiment that I can really say makes me happy. These sleeves are perfect.

The shirt as a whole, though? Big thumbs down from me.

New gingham flannel shirt.

For one thing, I think this fabric sewn up in this style looks more like pajamas than a shirt. In fact, if I had more of this fabric, I’d probably make matching bottoms and call it a day.

Also, I don’t know if it’s the camera angle or if it’s this shirt, but geez – I seem kinda busty. I’m sure that’s not helping things.

I tried to find some way to wear this that didn’t make me unhappy, but I had no luck.

New gingham flannel shirt.

By itself, it just looked frumpy. With both of the sweaters I tried, it was still unattractive, plus trying to get long flannel sleeves into the arms of a light sweater is no small feat – too much friction!

I feel like my best bet is to shorten the sleeves to at least elbow-length. I think that will help a bit, but it’s a shame because I am so happy with the way the sleeves look (as long as you ignore the rest of the shirt).

I might be able to take it in on the sides and make it more body-skimming, but the truth is I really like the loose, drapey nature of this pattern. I just wish it looked more loose-and-carefree and less frump-city.

What do you ladies think? Is this shirt a lost cause? Or can you imagine some way that I can turn it into something I will like wearing?

Sewing in the comfort zone

Posted January 15th, 2015 by

I did some sewing yesterday, and I have a lot to say about it, so I am going to split it up into two posts. First up, the success story.

My Fall, Winter, Spring Uniform

So, I have a cold-weather uniform. Fall through Spring, you can find me in either a t-shirt or sewn blouse with either a fine-gauge cotton sweater or handknit sweater over it. Whichever shirt/sweater combination I choose, it’s nearly always worn with boot-cut jeans and shiny black Danskos, which I totally forgot to put on until the photo shoot was nearly over, darnit.

(clothing credits for above: pale aqua sweater is a year old and from Target, white tee is from Lands End, jeans are second-hand Gap, details about the green sweater are here, and the floral shirt details are here.)

The sewn shirts I wear in the winter are nearly always from the same pattern. I have been sewing shirts from Simplicity 3835 since I first learned to sew, almost eight years ago now.

It’s my go-to pattern because I’ve got the steps committed to memory, I can practically put it together in my sleep, there are few pattern pieces to cut out, I can make one in under an hour, and I just really like this neckline on me.

When I first started making them, I always used quilting cottons or vintage sheets, but I discovered recently that I love them best in cotton lawn or voile. They’re very light, and not at all stiff in these materials.

So the first shirt I made yesterday was in this floral cotton lawn.

New floral cotton lawn shirt

I played it safe, using my favorite type of fabric, and not veering from the pattern one iota: a strategy which paid off for me, because I am very happy with the results.

It looks nice on its own, and it pairs well with both kinds of sweaters. I like that it’s got so much of the gray and black to it, because while those colors may be staples of my tee shirt collection, they are under-represented among my nicer patterned blouses.

I love boot-cut jeans. I wear them with everything.

But a recent sale at Old Navy convinced me to step into 2015 and try the whole skinny-jeans-and-tall-boots thing.

New floral cotton lawn shirt

I have to say, in the week that I’ve had these I have been enjoying them very much. And my new shirt looks pretty snazzy this way, too.

New floral cotton lawn shirt

I bought a big gray Scarfshop scarf online, and I think it’s going to be perfect with this outfit. It’s actually supposed to be here today, but my mail delivery is late in the afternoon, and I didn’t want to wait to post this! So my less-big but super-soft pale aqua scarf will have to do as a stand-in for now.

2015 15/365

I love it when sewing goes right! It makes me want to run right out and buy more cotton lawn, because as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as too many of these shirts!

I’m not so enthusiastic when sewing goes wrong, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to show-and-tell that, too. Keep an eye on this space, and I’ll share my adventure in red gingham flannel later today or tomorrow.

The Christmas making

Posted January 13th, 2015 by

Christmas this year was unusual for one reason: I didn’t commit to making anything. In the end, there were only three handmades under the tree, and technically-speaking, two of them were actually on the tree, not under it.

I make ornaments for my kids every year. At first they were always polymer clay, but in past years I have branched out and used fabric, yarn, and even paper. This year I went back to basics, though, and did the clay thing.

I started with the ornament for my younger son.

The Christmas Making

See the resemblance? :-) He wears that hat in the opening credits for many of his YouTube videos.

24 beach 21

I am really happy with the way this one came out, although it was a fiddly process getting all of the colors just right. In fact, it was so fiddly that by the time I was done, I had very little creative energy left for my other son’s ornament.

The Christmas Making

It’s supposed to be from the logo for the game company he started. By the way, he recently published a free PC game, if you want to check that out!

It’s not a bad little ornament. I just wish I had not run out of time and energy by the time I made it, or I might have taken a bit more care to make it better. I was under the gun at that point, though, and the polymer had to be put away to make room for the nativity scene. The drawbacks of doing your creative work in the family’s living spaces!

The last of the Christmas crafting is also for one of my kids. I recently bought a pair of satin PJ pants for myself, and my younger son (who has always known how to appreciate being comfortable and cozy) thought they were awesome.

I tried to buy him a pair online, but it is nearly impossible to find satin pajamas for 11-year-old boys. So I made him a pair.
The Christmas Making

The Christmas Making

I traced a pair of his existing pajamas to make the pattern. I do think there may be a bit of a fit issue, though. He hasn’t worn them as much as I had hoped. I may have to take a seam-ripper to the elastic waist and sew another inch or two of fabric to the top, and re-do the elastic casing.

So that’s it for this year. A short and sweet list. There’s something to be said for not turning yourself into some kind of making machine!

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