Block of the Month Quilt – January & February

I saw an amazing block of the month quilt on Craftsy which seemed like a perfect Texas design for our some-day house.  Since I have never kept any of the quilts that I have made (except for a Christmas tree skirt), I am finally going to make a quilt for us.  The block of the month concept also seems feasible with doing a bit each month, and leaving time for the 2 baby quilts I have in queue for the first half of 2017.  Each month consists of a main block, plus additional quilt pieces that you complete, with the entire top complete this June.

The background fabric that came in the kit is darker that in the advertisement photos online (more of a taupe than an off-white), but I decided to make it work anyways.  Looking back at my pictures, the background fabric looks much lighter in my pictures than the actual fabric, so maybe its just the way it photos.

The kit arrives!

I started on the quilt during the last weekend in January (a bit behind), but the blocks start out with the easy ones first so I was able to catch up.   January consisted of 2 star blocks plus 4 ribbon borders that I finished in a day or so.

Stacks and Stacks of Triangles


January Blocks #1 Finished
January Ribbon Blocks Finished!


The February blocks ended up taking me more time.  The blocks themselves got a bit more complicated, but also involved templates

February Block #1 Finished!

The second set of templates were not measured correctly by the kit-maker in the original pattern – which I did not know when I first made all of my cuts.   I downloaded new templates, which still were not quite correct.  On my third attempt, I decided not to use templates and just to make the blocks myself and did a bit of trimming as I went to make the blocks the correct size in the end.


8 Diamond Point blocks finally finished!  4 with a seam all the way through the diagonal for aligning with the quilt’s horizontal seams


Two months done, and time to take a quick break for a baby quilt!


The deadening of sound

So one of the downsides of a fiberglass body is noise and vibrations due to the panels being extremely light and them being… well… fiberglass.  My solution to this issue is to cover as much surface area in sound deadening and heat insulation material and seal absolutely all seams and gaps that I can.  The pictures below are of the start of it. The system is a 2 part system with the first layer being a heavy butyl rubber and heat barrier and the second being a dense foam for more deadening and insulation.

Kristy has decided that she will take over the interior upholstery and sound deadening and is so far doing a hell of a job.  Although I am not sure she is using the lift properly.


She has also declared the black on black carpet/vinyl not up to her specs, so stay tuned for some potentially custom amateur upholstery work.



Children’s Teepee DIY

Its Christmas time, which means in our house we are rushing to finish projects.  The weekend before Christmas, I was finishing a quilt to send off to Wisconsin, planning out a children’s teepee project for our niece and nephew, and the body panels of Drew’s hot rod arrived by 18-wheeler on our tiny Heights street.  The teepee was started a mere few days before Christmas, but it all came together nicely.

I used a few online tutorials to get the pattern for the teepee project.  My main materials are two curtain panels from Target, which were less expensive than 9 yards of thick fabric.  I saw many other blogs where painters canvas was used, which would work – but isn’t that colorful.  I also made all the bias tape from fabric that the kids’ mother gave me from her previous classroom decorations.  Drew took care of the dowels – 5 x 1.5″ x 6′.

My cutout dimensions of each fifth of the teepee was  parallelogram  37″ wide at the base, 9″ wide at the top, and 55″ high.   For the door fifth, I had to cut a half out of each panel, but that allowed me to reuse the curtain seams as the door opening seams.  These measurements include seam allowance and account for the space needed for the pole pockets – which I sewed using a French seam method and are on the inside of the teepee.

fullsizerender-copy-8I also made a quick banner using the same yellow fabric and felt – I just felt like it needed something extra.

It was a success – the kids really liked it and would watch movies and play inside for the rest of our holiday week.


Baby Quilts of 2016

It seems like I didn’t sew so many baby quilts this year – only 4!  But time was limited amongst my other projects and other hobbies I picked up this year: branching out into flower arranging, starting a gigantic cross-stitch that I won’t finish until I’m 65,  and traditional archery (I know, that one came out of left field – but we spend a lot of time hanging out on ranches after working all day so it is something fun to do to relax).

In addition to the flying geese paper-pieced quilt that I was oh-so-proud of, I made some themed quilts (more for their mamas than the babies really).

First was a blue nautical themed quilt for a baby boy.  His sister got a pink nautical themed quilt in 2013.   I used a free pattern on Craftsy for a full sized quilt, but I revised the dimensions so that it would fit a crib size.



Second was one of my own designs for a couple who thinks a lot about Colorado and misses it while in Houston.   It is all squares and triangles, but makes a picture, like the Pirate Ship quilt I made a few years ago.  This quilt has mountains, sky, and a sun.  As it was for a little girl, I especially liked the coral bias tape and the pink backing.


Lastly was one that was special to me.  My grandmother is a great sewer, although she never quilted, she makes clothes and many other things for her children and for us when we were little.  She even taught me how to cross stitch when I was little since we are both lefties.  Earlier this year my Aunt and Uncle helped her clean out all of the fabric in her basement in Indiana and all of the cotton was put in two overflowing boxes and dropped off in Texas.

When my mom and grandmother visited in April, we sorted all of the cotton by color, threw away a bunch that wasn’t very good anymore, and heard stories of my mom and grandmother say what the fabric was from – jumpers for toddlers in the 60’s, grandpa’s pajamas, dresses.  That was the neat part.

Well I took the sorted fabric, which has all kinds of fashion statements from the last 7 decades, and cut enough squares to give one quilt to each cousin when they have a baby – so be ready!  (Luckily I have a relatively small family).  First is for Audie & Josh’s baby Luke.  He is almost one so I am a bit behind.

This quilt is simple squares sewn into cross shapes, but I think that the memories of all of us jumping around the sewing room watching my grandfather’s trains make a loop around the washing machine and the clothes she made our Cabbage Patch dolls will be better than a fancy quilt 🙂




Special Delivery

November 2016

Its been a while since I posted, the holidays got in the way of me making progress on the build.  Something about family and friends wanting to actually see me, foolish stuff like that.  I decided that my garage was getting a bit too clean and empty around September, so I put in the order for my second stage kit.  November brought the arrival of a special delivery in a pretty sweet truck.20161218_090237

Unloading was easy with the help of Kristy and the truck driver, especially since the fiberglass body only weighs about 60-70lbs.  This thing is going to be light and fast!


Factory five was nice enough to send me the 3rd set of exhaust pipes and mufflers for some reason, luckily they wanted them back so I got rid of one box pretty quickly.  When I had my dad and brother around, we fitted the body on to see how it looked, and I can say that I am pretty excited.


It looks pretty mean in person, and extremely low to the ground.  Unfortunately since I didn’t have the body and hood to fit up, I had mounted the brake reservoirs in a spot that the hood latch would clash with, so they had to be relocated.  It doesn’t look as clean now, but still looks ok.  I was limited in where I could penetrate the firewall due to the frame behind it.


That’s Kristy in the picture working on the interior which she has decided to take an interest/big part in which will be the subject of future posts.


Medieval Kirtle for Ren Fest

For my now nearly annual Ren Fest costume, I decided to go a bit more medieval.  I had learned a lot about historical costume making from draping a replica of Eleanor de Toledo’s burial dress a few years ago, mainly that we currently think of sewing two pieces of fabric together on a two-dimensional plane while people prior to the advent of the sewing machine in the 1800’s did not.  When I was able to finally grasp this concept (only on try #3 of the bodice), I was able to create something that fit like it was supposed to.

I wanted to expand upon that historically accurate context and methods – but go a bit more “High Medieval” with a replica 14th century shirt & kirtle.   I still used my sewing machine to put everything together, because there is no way I had time for hand sewing.  To make-up for all of that machine sewing, I still sewed all of the eyelets by hand, mostly with a glass of wine and a comfortable lawn chair in the garage while Drew worked on the car.

Based upon my trials & tribulations of past Ren Fest garb, I have some lessons learned that I employ to all my costumes.

  1. It’s Texas and hot – so pick fabrics accordingly.  I chose a lightweight green linen for the kirtle and cotton for the shirt.   Yes, cotton isn’t the leading choice for fabrics at the time – but medieval Europeans would probably have used something else if they lived in 90+ degree temperatures with outrageous humidity.
  2. EVERYTHING has to be well constructed (Ren Fest can get a bit ridiculous).  This means well finished seams, some additional backing for wear and tear on the bottom hems, and water resistant.  This is just added time to plan for in the construction process.
  3. It is Ren Fest, so you need some embellishments that are not historically accurate.   Previously accomplished with hoop skirts and fun fabric, this time I choose some not-so-historically-accurate trim and made my shirt have some dramatic sleeves with drawstrings that I could pull up easily (again – its hot).


The shirt is a fairly basic rectangle construction with side gores and underarm gussets.  This is actually the 3rd such one that I have made – my last one was an 18th century chemise and I was amazed at how similar the construction was.  While I did not drape a pattern, the shift is custom to my size.  The width of the main body is based on your body width plus a few inches for ease and seam allowance.  The seams on the sleeves sit below the shoulder and the sleeve length is based on arm length, with the width again based on arm width plus a few inches for ease and seam allowance.  The gussets are 3.5″ square.   I did add the flare of the elongated sleeves.  On top of each sleeve I placed two drawstrings made of the same cotton.  This allowed me to pull the sleeves up and out of my way.

To finish all of my seams, I undercut one side and folded the opposite side over the raw edge and stitched.  This gave a finished look and also provided the strength needed for Ren Fest shenanigans.  I finished the neckline and hem with bias tape.


There are A LOT of resources online for designing and constructing an accurate kirtle.  Here are some of the very well put together blogs that I used:
1330 AD Cotehardie   •  The Medieval Tailor

And fellow costumers:
Fashion Throughout History – Medieval Pattern Drafting  •  Grey Kirtle Diary

However the resource that I used the most is The Medieval Tailors Assistant: Common Garments (1100 – 1480), 2nd Edition, by Sarah Thursfield.  This book had great instructions and context for constructing historically accurate garments from this time period.

Since I needed to drape the pattern for the fitted kirtle on myself and not on the dress form, Drew made a very good assistant.  It took me three tries to get the fit how I liked, so he had to do a lot of assisting.

I started with 3 scrap fabric rectangles, pinned together in the front as I wanted a front opening on the finished dress.  The only other tools needed are a fabric marker and pins.   We pinned me into the scrap fabric by pulling in the side and back seams – no darts or anything fancy, just 4 pieces of fabric fitted only to me – and then marked lines for the actual seams with a marker.  I transferred the cut lines to paper, then back to new pieces of scrap fabric to check fit.  After I was satisfied with the pattern that I had, I added a seam allowance and cut my green linen.

img_2547From the hips downward, I drew straight lines from my natural hip on the pattern onto the fabric to create a wider skirt.  I did not add any gores, but as my skirts ended up wider than the width of the fabric I needed to cut small triangles and piece together the skirt in order to complete my straight line from hip to floor.  I lined the bodice front with spare cotton for added support.

Sleeve patterns were a bit trickier.  I followed the instructions in the book and ended up with the right fit the first time.  One difference that made construction odd was that the medieval garments had the seam of the sleeve attach at the back of the shoulder, verses under the arm like modern clothes.


My 6 piece dress all sewn together:


For finishing, I added trim to the insides of the hem, sleeves and neckline for support.


I purchased some medieval inspired trim from Continental Stitchery Trims which matched the color perfectly.

And for a blog cross-over moment, my eyelet sewing in Drew’s workspace.


After some accessorizing (belt, wooden mug, pouch made from deer hide, feathers), my costume was ready to go!  I liked the book so much that I even made Drew a costume.






Listen to her purr

November 6, 2016

The next steps after the exhaust were to get all the wiring connected (that I could at this stage) that was required to run the engine, namely the starter, distributor, alternator, ignition and all the ground points.  Also finally got the right sized serpentine belt, which looks good.20161027_195335

The wiring went fairly well, with just a bit of research being needed.  Having siblings and a father who are much more electrically inclined certainly helped in the process.  Spark plug wires have never looked so good.20161029_180107

Next step was the cooling system.  Unfortunately since I have ordered this in 2 stages, stage 2 contains the grill which is what supports the radiator.  Since I didn’t want to wait, I rigged up a solution that will do until I get the grill at the end of the year.

Still a bit of difficulty in routing the water pump bypass line and where I am going to tie into the manifold, but it will do for now.

Got the engine cranking, primed, and filled with oil and water.  We were about to try to start it up, but decided to get a oil pressure gauge to make sure we were still seeing enough oil pressure which delayed us by a week.  Once I had the pressure gauge rigged up dad came over and we gave it a shot.  First couple tries we were having issues with fuel not being pulled in since the lines were all empty.  Priming the lines sorted that problem but highlighted another… fuel leak!  After avoiding blowing ourselves up and fixing the leaking offender we had the beast up and running!  Ill see if I can upload a video on facebook or somewhere else, but she sounds good and runs pretty smooth.  I think I need to adjust the timing a bit, but everything seemed to be running well.






Exhaust Install

October 2016

Its been a while since the last update, been working on getting the exhaust in and finally got it sorted after some corrections from FFR.  wp_20161014_21_28_19_pro

I must say that working on the exhaust on the lift has made it much more convenient for fitting everything in, especially since FFR has designed a pretty impressive system that sandwiches the exhaust completely in between the top and bottom tubes of the lattice frame.


Initially I had an issue with the first pipes fitting since I apparently got an old run of pipe which had the flange welded on the wrong end.  I spoke with FFR and they promptly sent me out a new set of pipes which all fit pretty well.  You can see the mirror polished stainless steel which looks pretty awesome.  I am sure anyone looking at the underside of the car will appreciate it.  6 mounts and some cutting and grinding to make sure they were flush with the frame top and I had the exhaust in.  I think I still have a bit of adjusting to do since they arent as far back as I would like, but we will see how they fit on the body.

I have the pipes centered up in the rear instead of split because thats the only way I can clear the IRS mounts.  However, I think they look pretty good close together like that.  I have about 3/4 of an inch between the mufflers and the floor panel, so hopefully it wont get too hot, but the insulation should help with that.

Next up, finish some of the wiring and start this bad boy up!

Shiny parts make more power

October 8-9, 2016

This weekend was an accessory weekend.  Got the pulley system installed and the alternator and A/C compressor in… it all amounts to a lot of shiny polished aluminum and chrome!

I needed to measure out a serpentine belt, so I rigged one up with an old ratchet strap and will use it to find me the right size.



Also got some more of the wiring connections in and tried to finalize the fuel system.  I learned how to make up braided stainless hose connections without any of the special tools required, just need to figure out how to fit in the fuel lines with radiator hoses and bypass lines.  You can see one of the flexible lines that I made up and ran attaching to the fuel pump in the picture below (I also installed one of the headers to start fitting up the exhaust but didn’t make much project because the brother and friend decided to interrupt with beer… jerks…


On Sunday I got the fuel tank and aluminum shelf underneath it installed, a bit of fitment issues, but I think it will be ok… its only full of flammable liquid.


I think I am about ready to order phase 2 of the kit so I can get some seats and a steering wheel, but first… get this thing running!

Engine Install!

October 1, 2016

So a pretty big milestone for Delores occurred, engine install time!

Last minute (one week) before installing the transmission, I decided to change from a mechanical clutch to a hydraulic clutch to avoid the issue with trying to push a clutch fork with a cable.  Something about physics and only being able to put tension on a cable.  Went with a McLeod hydraulic throwout bearing, some people reported leaks, but it was on a different model and from several years ago.  The unit appears to be well build out of billet aluminum, so after some trial, errors, measurement checks, and spacer removals, Dad and I got the TOB installed on Friday.


Saturday morning started early and Dad was nice enough to stop by to help out.  The install went surprisingly quickly and easily.  I guess it helps that there is nothing else installed and that there are no body panels to get in the way.

Final step was to have someone pick up the transmission and lift it into place since our lift is a bit short on reach (see dad in the final pic).  We got it all mounted up except that the transmission was about an inch and a half too low.  Thinking at first that FFR had messed up the frame, we were pretty bummed, however I remembered 2 random spacers that I didn’t know what they were for.  Turns out they were a perfect fit!   So FFR had it all perfect, we just shouldn’t have doubted (however the instructions were a bit vague).  Final pic is it looking pretty good, my power steering needed to be rotated down a bit and the mounts needed a bit of widening, but other than that it was smooth as it could be.