Friday, April 24, 2015


I talked to one of my neighbors about Smiley. He said he had some photos of the house and said he would share them with me...he delivered!!!!The house that Smiley lived in was build in in 1977, this is the original add for the house from the Oregonian, it was listed on June 19, 1977. 
The house was a 960 sq foot house with 3 bedrooms, the garage is about 483 sq feet...funny that the garage is more then half the size of the house. The garage is the first thing you see when you look at the house from the street. I call this typical 70's construction. Smiley had made all these different signs for the front of the house, mostly about the God, the Creators and the New World. The building in the back is where he would go and sit in the evening, maybe looking out at the garden to the south or at the sunset to the west. It was a strange looking structure that he built from scrap wood that he found around the neighborhood. These photos were taken by my neighbor Sam in 2002. He was great at documenting the area and has a lot of great old photos of the area. 
They moved Smily out of the house in about 2005 and sold it for $203,000. You can see from the flyer they really cleaned up the house. It's too bad that these old folk environments are being destroyed. There use to he a house in Vancouver Washington that had a miniature display of the OK Corral, the man that owned the house was named Lloyd "Ace" Parsons. He's listed in a book called "Strange Sites", the house was bought when Ace got too old to live there alone and it was torn down to make condos. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A quilt, pillowcases and a fence.

Last month I took a class at Modern Domestic so I could use their NEW long arm quilting machine. It's a Bernina Q 24, and it's beautiful!!! I had used used their last long arm a couple years ago to complete some quilts. Once I used a long arm I was hooked. These machines make the quilting process so simple and I really like the feeling of a quilt after it has been quilted, washed and dried. Depending on the batting the quilt will shrink just enough to make the quilt look loved. I made this quilt a couple months ago and had wanted to get it quilted so I can give it to a friend. I'm not sure where I got the backing, it was several pieces of fabric that was sewn together, I believe they were once used as curtains. Some of the fabric is a little faded but I love the pattern so much I really wanted to use it for the backing on this quilt.  When you take the class to learn about the Bernina Q24 you get 2 hours of quilting time, so you can get use to using the machine. Last monday I went in to quilt my scrap quilt. While I was pinning the backing I found a couple of small holes in the fabric, that should have been a warning that I should fix the holes and make another appointment to use the machine. I really wanted to finish this quilt so I looked past the imperfections in the backing. I started to use the machine and I had a couple of problems, I could not remember how to make the machine stop when you stopped moving the head of the machine...oh well I pushed on. Then while I was rolling the quilt to quilt the second row I ripped the backing. The rip was a the end and did not affect the quilt but it was another warning. I was almost finished...I had about a 36" x 10" area to complete and the bobbin ran out. I wound another bobbin and put it in the machine. I put the bobbin in the machine and closed the bobbin case, started to stitch and the machine froze with the needle in the down position, in the batting and the backing. I turned the machine on and off, attempted to turn the hand wheel to get the needle and pressure foot luck. I then knew I had to get a staff member to help me. They were very nice and came to my rescue only to find that I had not pushed the bobbin in all the way into the machine, this caused the machine to stop. We got the bobbin out of the machine and cut the birds nest of thread. The pressure foot was still in the down position and would not rise up. They started to pull the machine apart, all I could think was "OH SHIT...I broke a $18,000 sewing machine".  They pulled the machine apart and they were trying to get some screws out the needle plate so they could pull the bobbin case, the bobbin case had a piece of thread stuck causing the machine to stop and not allowing the pressure foot to rise back to it's proper position. Problem was the screws were very tight, in an awkward position and very problematic to get out. After about an hour and a half of trying to get the screws out and the pressure foot up, they finally asked if I wanted to come back the next day to finish my quilt. I left feeling defeated and terrible, even though everyone was WONDERFUL about the situation. I decided the next day to go pick up the quilt and finish it on my home machine. There was very little to complete I knew I could do it on my home machine. When I went to get my quilt they told me they had to drill out the screws and that it was a learning process for them, they were great, no blame and I can come back to use the machine again. Can I just say the Modern Domestic is my favorite place. Next time I there are warnings...I will take heed and adjust my plans accordingly. 

After the quilting disaster I needed something that was simple and pretty. I made some more pillow cases. I had bought some nice soft fabric at Mill End when I went to get batting for the ill fated quilt. The material for the main part of the green pillow cases is from a line called "Prints Charming" and it's super soft. I spent more time looking for coordinating fabric for the green material then I spent making the pillow cases. 

We put up a fence at one of the rental units we own. Looking out the back of the apartment you saw a RV and a bunch of junk that the tenants behind us had stacked up. It also looked out at the automotive business and Lombard street, needless to say it was not a pretty sight. Though we need to paint the little storage unit in the back yard, the fence makes the back area of this apartment a much nicer space. It was a simple fix but a huge upgrade. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I have a love of signs, especially religious signs. These are a few that I have collected over the years and used as decoration on the fence in our back yard.  

This sign came from a house around the corner from me in North Portland.  I never met the gentleman that lived in the house, I use to walk my dog past the house and look at all the interesting signs that he had painted and had up in front. Often there was a sign that said "No Visitors Today", so I did not disturb the occupant.  I never found out what happened to the gentleman that lived in the house, there are rumors that his brother moved him, that he was taken away by social services, that he had so much stuff in the house that he moved out of the house and lived in a tree in the back yard. One neighbor told me they called him Smiley, they could not remember if they called him that because he always smiled or because his last name was Smiley. One neighbor said Smiley had a wife, the other said he was not married but had a room mate. Smiley did have some sort of tree fort that he often sat in during the evening, I believe that is why some people think he was living in the tree. Once a day Smiley would go into the back yard and ring a bell that he had hanging from the tree while yelling something that was often incoherent. One neighbor said Smiley was yelling earthquake. Not sure how many of these tales are true and how many are just rumors. I don't know if Smiley is still alive today. I wish I had taken the time to meet the Smiley, he sounds like a very interesting man. When the house sold all the signs were just put in a dumpster, my neighbor Jessie saved the sign above. Jessie eventually gave me the sign because his wife thought it was weird. It's about 4'x4' sign on a thin piece of wood. The sign has some damage to the upper left corner most likely from when it was tossed out. It has a nice green patina from being out in the weather for several year. 

When I met my husband, he had moved to Portland to buy a building up on 42nd and NE Sumner. The building was once used as a Hare Krishna Temple. The Krishna's had remodeled the building opening the walls between the apartments. Only problem is they never closed out the permits and that caused a lot of issues for us when we started to remodel the building...but that is another story. The old Hare Krishna sign was still hanging on the building when we bought it. Rumor has it that Steve Jobs use to go to this temple to eat the free rice on sundays while he was attending Reed College. Steve Jobs also took a calligraphy class at Reed and some people think that he painted the sign for the Krishna's.  

These two signs were give to me by a friend. He picked them up on a couple different trips to Mexico and thought I would like them.The top sign says that Costa Rica needs to prepare because Christ is coming soon. For the longest time I thought the second sign was a religious sign too. But it says something along the lines of "no food or drinks allowed because it disagrees with our business". 

Of course everyone has seen this sign on the side of the road...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. I changed the sign to say "Believe in the Lord Chris and thou shalt be saved" because my husbands name is Chris. I put the sign up on the fence and my husband did not notice the sign till our neighbors came over and asked us to move the sign because everyone that looked at the house to rent found the sign disturbing. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Art Show, some more bags and a book

My neighbor is very talented. She has a show up in the gallery at Powell's Bookstore. She does some amazing detailed drawings. Her theme often has cats in what looks like underground environments. The show is called Curious Nature and is up till the end of April. Check out her cute tote bags, the cat is wearing a backpack and carrying a map. She details the bags with puff paint on the cat's eyes and the map. They are very cute and only $15, which is quite inexpensive for an original piece of art.   

 Yes, I'm hooked on making these bags. I made 3 bags using Violet Craft's fabric line called Waterfront Park.  One of the fabrics is line drawings of Portland Bridges. I really loved the fabric and because my husband & his best friend like to climb bridges I bought several yards of the bridges. I made a shirt for my husband but he thought it was too he gave it to his best friend John Law who is a bridge tender down in San Francisco. Since I have scrap of the fabric I made several of these cute little triangle pouches. I added a Portland Oregon specific crushed penny to the zipper. Now that's a cute souvenir of your trip to Portland. 
Last week I received my copy of the latest Alabama Chanin book "Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns". This book includes all of the previous patterns published in Natalie Chanin's books as well as 4 more garments. The thing I like about this book is all the patterns are on a CD, I can take it to my local printer and have the patterns printed out. There are also great suggestions for variations on her patterns. Things like adding pockets, adding pipping, altering waist lines & busts, adding a color strips to hem lines as well as several other great tips. There are also new stencil patterns, one of my favorite is called New Leaves. I can't wait to get that stencil made so I can make a skirt or dress made for the summer. 

One of my favorite craft thrift store is Scrap. They recently moved from my neighborhood to the other side of the river. The good thing is they have expanded.  Last week I finally went to see the new store. It's a lot larger then the old space and it looks like it's more organized, thought that may be because they just it's still clean and new looking. The fabric area is well kept there is room to walk around the shelves and there is a nice area for you to sort through all the things you have picked up, you know when you get excited at all the cool things and pick up a lot more then you need..then you need to filter it all..because you really don't need all the stuff..but you might!. I bought some really nice Hawaiian fabric, though it was printed in China. I also found some large interesting wool scraps with ice skaters and trees, some nice checkered fabric and a cute little wash board. I came home with about 6 yards of fabric and a few knick knacks all for less then $30. 

My lilac tree is in bloom, I have 4 lilac trees in the yard. This is the only purple one, all the rest are white. This purple lilac has some really large blooms and it smells wonderful. SPRING IS HERE!!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pants, Totes and a Bunny

My husband wore his pants the other day to the bar. Of course they all know I make almost all of my husbands clothes and area always amused at the loud clothes he will wear. This outfit I think was very reserved compared to others. The pants fit but there are issues with the waist. As I stated in a prior post I had made the pants too small. Now they are too big. They are kind of baggy when he tightens his belt. The issue is the beer gut, it drops down in front. We use to joke that pregnant lady pants were the way to go because they have a stretchy front. But he wanted pants, big boy pants. Not just the light weight baggy pants with an elastic waist that I have made him in the past. But nice cotton pants that look good. I decided to break down and make a muslin. I have it all cut out and I will start putting it all together...making him try the pants on every chance i get.  

I love Martha Stewart. I still read her magazine, watch her cooking show and browse her web site. I like all the suggestions she has for crafting. I have a problem with the amount of $$$ she will spend on supplies or ingredients to make something. Such as the Felt Tote Bag. She suggested making it from heavyweight felt. The bag it's self is about 36" x18", so you would need a 36" x36" piece of felt. The nice pieces I found start at $70, of course there are some cheaper fabric for about $30 for a 3x"x36"...but really anything more the say $20 for a tote bag is kind of ridicules. One comment on the martha stewart site suggested jean material. What a great idea, I tried it..see above. The jean tote is kind if rough, I think it's better if the seams are enclosed instead of exposed. I thought it would look nice but now that I look at the bag it looks messy. I bought a bolt of yellow wool fabric from City Liquidators (see prior post about Fabric World). I thought I would try to felt the wool and make a tote bag. It worked in a way but the wool fabric is a little too lose. I may need to wash the bag a couple more time to make it felt up. I do like the bright yellow color and the black bias tape together..I call this my Bee bag. I want to try some free motion stitching on the bag, an out line of a bee. I'm happy because the City of Portland has 
recently banned the use of insecticides believed to be harmful to bees on city property

Sunday we went to my sisters for Easter dinner. I decided to dress up in my bunny suit. We had a nice dinner with the family. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I bought a men's pant pattern when Josephine's Dry Goods was closing in Downtown Portland. When I bought the pattern I looked at the size it said 34-36-38-40...I thought that meant waist. No it did not. When I finally pulled out the pattern the waist size only went to 34". My husband said he was a 36. So I took an on-line Craftsy class on how to enlarge and reduce ready made patterns, it was called Create Any Size: Grading for Sewers. I found this to be very helpful. I had asked my husband over and over about his waist size and he kept repeating that he was a 36...that's what his Levi's said & they fit!! So I enlarged the pattern to a 36" waist. Well guess what...they were too small. I had completed the body of the pants and put on the waist band, had my husband try them on and he immediately stated they were too small. I said they were a 36", I said that I needed to measure his measurement came to 42". He then asked me if I was saying he's fat...what? NO...I'm saying you're not a 36". An argument occurred and he stated again that the Levi's were a 36". So when he left the house I measured the Levi's that he claimed fit him...the tag did say 36...but in fact the waist measurement was 39"!!! So I removed the waist band and the darts in the back of the pants. I did not want to give up on these pants because it was only the second time I have put in a front zipper and I was quite proud that it worked and looked decent. I had him try on the pants again, I ended up putting smaller darts in the back of the pants & I made a new waist band that was 40".  Today I had him try on the pants with the new waist band and he loved the fit. They are snug but not tight. He can wear the pants with out a belt and they will stay up. The fabric I used was from a couple years ago, I bought 4 bolts of fabric from a woman on craigslist for $60. At that price it's as cheap as muslin fabric. I don't like to make simple muslins...I like to make wearable muslins. These pants are quite loud and they are a nice medium weight cotton. Now that I understand the pattern, I can make him a pair of Jeans or some nice wool pants. The pattern is Vogue 8719, and it's a fairly simple pattern. This project took me about 10 hours total, the next pair should only take about 5 hours to make. Or maybe I will make a pair of pants for me!! 

As a reward for completing the pants I made a couple more triangle bags. These are heading to a friend that requested one...and today is her birthday. Some cute Melody Miller fabric with a crushed penny from Portland.... Happy Birthday!! 

We finally repaired out front stairs!!! I do not have a before photo but believe me they were awful, moss had grown in the cracks and the treads were rotting out. We painted the stairs several years ago in an effort to make them last and it worked. But now it was time to really fix the stairs, mostly I wanted a clean look when you came up the front stairs. I mean it's the first thing people see when they approach your make a good first impression. Rotting stairs are not a good first impression. 
Yea!!! I saw my tote bags in the store again. This time it's the illustration my niece did for me of a hedgehog wearing glasses reading a book. They started selling over the spring break and they ordered 25 more hedgehogs.  I was delivering 125 bags of the skeleton carrying books, that bag is doing great.