Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cousin Bags

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been working on some little bags for an upcoming trip with the women in my family.
These didn't really turn out like I saw them in my head. When I made the first one, it had a bottom like you see on these (with the box shape) but the zipper ran straight across the top. They just looked so awkward though, so I changed the top to reflect the boxy shape of the bottom. Then they looked really dorky, so I added the little ribbon loop. They still look a little odd to me, but I'm very pleased with the little bee on the back of each one and I think the ribbon loop added a little something.

I have no idea what the cousins will use them for. I'm going to use mine to hold camera stuff (batteries, extra cards, etc.) On the theory that you shouldn't gift an empty bag, I'm going to put some snacks, lip balm, and bandaids in them -- a little beach survival kit, so-to-speak.I feel like this green floral fabric should be my thrifted white wool blanket. After all, my fabric was free -- can't get much more thrifty than that. It would certainly be more versatile if it were plain white, but I can still envision several projects for this fabric -- not that I'm crazy about it, but because I want to use it up. I didn't use much of it on the outsides of the bags, but I managed to use a fair bit of it on the linings. The women in my family are probably going to get sick of seeing it!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

And the Winner is...

This little beauty is definitely the winner in the most beautiful dress category. Just look at the colors in that bodice! Oh to be young AND a princess...


Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Favorite

As I mentioned in my last post, on Feb. 19th, Portobello Pixie challenged anyone interested to write about their favorite "design". It could be anything, she said, it didn't have to be something sewn. I thought this would be fun and fit right in with the category of things that I already post as "my favorites."

About 6 or 7 years ago I saw an article about painting chairs in different ways. And somewhere in there, I was thinking about those special plates that you can order that say "It's Your Birthday" or "It's your Special Day" or something like that. I've always loved the idea of making a big deal over a kid's birthday. Or the day they get their braces off. Or have a stellar report card. Etc. And the thoughts collided and I thought it would be fun to have a chair that the kids could sit on for "their special day." Then, the idea expanded a little more, and I thought it would be fun for others in the family to be able to sit on the chair -- for Father's Day, or Mother's Day, or a promotion at work, etc. So, I thought it might be fun to paint a "Celebration " chair.

I started looking for chairs and soon found three chairs at an auction for $7.00 each. They were so odd looking, but I thought I'd see what I could do with them, and the chair to the right is what happened. I painted the three chairs exactly alike and gave one to my mom and one to my sister. So now, no matter who's house we're at for a party, the honoree sits in the celebration chair. The idea has grown a little too, for birthdays we've added a banner, placemats and one of those goofy stuffed hats with candles on top to the collection.

Here's a closer view of the front and back of the top of the chair:

A year or two later I was asked to paint some chairs for charity auctions. These pictures were taken before the chairs were sold and long before I had a digital camera, so they're dark, but you can see how the idea can be extended to different style chairs. The first chair didn't have a solid piece of wood running down the middle of the back, so I put the special days on little pieces of wood running along the top of the chair.
PeaSoup blogged the other day about a cape that she'd made for her child's classroom. When a child has his birthday, he gets to wear the cape and a crown all day at school. How I wish I'd known about that when my children were still in school -- just another thing to make their day SO special!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sore Bums All Around

Here's how my day went. I promise it really happened like this. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The morning started out with a bunch of sore bums at work. We had warm weather yesterday, which melted some of the snow, which made the parking lots wet, which froze overnight, and made lots and lots of black ice this morning. Allsorts of people fell getting out of their cars. I was lucky and caught myself between two cars before I went all the way down.

This was a travel day for me, so around 11:00, I left work for the airport. All of this weather inversion stuff created a very heavy Pea Soup sort of fog. And the drive to the airport was beautiful -- still heavy fog and lots of frost on the trees. They were all fuzzy looking -- sort of like we'd had a Yarnstorm or something.

So, fog means delays. Or in my case, and true to my traveling form lately, when I got to the airport, they announced that my flight was cancelled. To which I exclaimed, Turkey Feathers! So, they loaded us all on a bus for a 4 hour ride to O'Hare. In spite of the female college basketball team on board, everyone apparently fell asleep, 'cause they were all quiet as a Mausi -- you could have heard a Tree Fall (or maybe that's a pin drop -- whatever.) Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my handwork -- no Thread and Scissors (that's thread and clippers -- they don't like scissors on a plane, you know) at all. So, I spent my time perusing a downloaded version of Molly Chicken's archives and thinking about the little challenge that Portobello Pixie threw down on Monday -- to post your favorite project (which I fully intend to do when I get home this weekend.)

We arrived at O'Hare, about 10 minutes too late for my flight to Newark. So, I had to sit around for 2 1/2 hours. That was ok though -- I love O'Hare. Watching the people. And I usually don't see anyone famous, but tonight Mike Ditka went whizzing by in one of those beep-beep-beep airport carts with a cellphone glued to his ear looking all disdressed. Once we boarded the plane, the pilot announced that air traffic control said it would only be 10 minutes before we could take
off. And, he says, they're pretty reliable. "Stop Kidding Around!" I say to myself. Everyone knows ATC tells whoppers. We sat on that stupid plane for an hour. Finally in the air, they're selling snacks. What's that all about? A bag of M&Ms for $3.00??? I'm thinking about taking Milk and Cookies next time and selling them to my neighbors for 50 cents. Would you buy cookies from a stranger? Nah, I didn't think so -- it's a Barefoot Daydream of mine.

So, now it's past midnight and I'm finally in the hotel. Such is Life on the Run.

But Wait. There's More. I. Missed. Lost!!! Flibbertygibbet!!!! We are not Be*Mused!

And to think, when I woke up this morning, all I wanted was to be was one Creative Little Daisy....


P.S. And just 'cause I hate to post without a picture, here's just about the only picture I have with me on my hard drive...TheEmptyNestChild in a box imitating a Scottish Lamb. (Sorry, couldn't help that one -- love her site and what's a girl to do at 1 a.m to squeeze her in????)

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Quiet Weekend

We had the perfect kind of quiet weekend with no outside commitments. I was perfectly content to enjoy the snow from inside and work on projects. It's always fun to see that critters are snooping around outside. If this had been summer, we'd never have known that we had a visitor. I enjoyed it while I could because all this beautiful snow will probably be gone by this weekend, as we're expecting temperatures in the 50's (10 - 12 celsius, I think?)

I played in my sewing room a lot this weekend. Four or five years ago a man at work gave me a bunch of partially used bolts of the fabric you see to the right. He and his wife had recently divorced and he was getting rid of the evidence -- she had decorated much of their house in these fabrics. They don't really go with my decor, but a girl can't turn down free fabric! A year or two ago I made three big tote bags for my mom, aunt and myself for a trip to Scotland. I'll soon be taking another trip with the ladies plus cousins, so I'm working on some little bags for everyone. They're not really turning out how I envisioned them, but it's been really fun to play.

I've also admired the name tapes that so many crafters out there are using, so I decided to play a little with my embroidery machine and these tapes are the result. Given the huge variety of thread colors and ribbons, the possibilities for these little tapes are endless.

Other than that, it's been slow, but very relaxing around here. I spent a little time reading blogs too. I love these bags -- I love little details in sewing -- piping, pleats, gathers, buttons, etc. and these bags show some of them off beautifully. I also finished up reading the archives at Yarnstorm -- this site is so interesting and chock full of eye candy! Hope you have time to do some snooping reading too!

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Favorite Baby Gift

TheManoftheHouse has a cousin who just had a baby (well "just" means before Christmas) and I'm "just" getting around to making her gift. So, I thought I'd show you how I make our favorite baby gift -- a tied quilt.
All the babies in our family (my DadLovesMeBest sister and mine) had at least two of these quilts when they were little. They all loved them, and son2 was particulary attached to his, well into his childhood. He called the little ties "nubbies" and he used to twirl them between his fingers as he fell asleep at night.
Here's a picture of the closest thing we have to a baby, wrapped up in the baby blanket:

So, you'll need:
1 1/3 yds of fabric for the top of the quilt
1 2/3 yds of fabric for the back of the quilt
1/4 yd of 4 different contrasting fabrics for the prarie points
Quilt batting
2-3 skeins of pearl cotton in a coordinating color

Preshrink your fabric. You need to cut a square of fabric from both your top and bottom fabrics. Measure the width of your fabric (after shrinking probably somewhere around 42".) Cut the length of your fabric the same as the width so that you have a square.

You need to cut 3-inch squares for the prarie points. Cut 2, 3" strips of each of the 4 contrasting fabrics, Also, cut 2, 3" strips from what's left of the backing fabric. You will now have 10 strips of fabric. Then cut 3 inch squares from each of those strips.

Fold each square diagonally. Press. Then fold diagonally again and press.

Now you'll have lots of small triangles to line up along the edge of the quilt.

Pin the triangles to the right side of the top of the quilt. Tuck the folded edge of a triangle between the edges of the triangle next to it. I've tried to figure out how to put the alignment of the triangles into words and I'm giving up -- a picture being worth a thousand words and all -- look and the picture to figure it out! ;-)

Here you can see how I align the triangles in the corner.

Sew 1/4" seam to attach the triangles to the quilt top.

Place the quilt bottom fabric on the quilt top fabric, right sides together. Stitch from the quilt top side, and stitch on top of the existing 1/4" seam, leaving a 10" - 12" opening in the middle of one side. Now, I don't have a picture of this next part, but leaving the quilt wrong sides out, place the batting against the wrong side of the top of the quilt and pin. Turn the quilt over and stitch from the quilt's bottom side, on top of that same 1/4" seamline (and don't stitch through the that 10" opening.) That makes three times sewing on this seamline. You could have put the batting in the mix during the 2nd stitching, but the batting would have been on the bottom side of the quilt and I prefer it to be on the top side. (It's hard to explain, but stitching three times makes for a nicer looking quilt from the top side.)

Turn the quilt right side out. You now have a quilt sandwich. Pull the prairie points out and gently press along the edge.

Hand stitch the opening closed.

Now, it's time to tie the quilt. Thread a tapestry needle with your "thread" of choice -- you can tie it with whatever you want -- Son2 loved his quilts tied with yarn. You can also tie the quilt wherever you'd like. I prefer to tie the quilt every 4". Sometimes the print on your fabric will "tell" you where to tie it (e.g., in the middle of every circle, on the tail of every puppy, etc.) When it doesn't, as in this case, I make a 4" square template out of cardstock and just place it along the quilt and move it along as I tie. That's 'cause I'm lazy and I don't want to take the time to mark the quilt. For you more motivated types, mark away! Move along the quilt in horizontal lines and grab stitches every 4".

Continue making rows of stitches until the quilt is covered.

Clip the threads between each of the stitches.

Tie each "tie" in a square knot. This is the best knot if you want it to stay tied.

After all the knots are tied, go back and trim the tails. I like to cut the length using my middle finger as a guide.

Voila, you have a finished quilt!

Wrap your baby up and watch TheEmptyNestChild freak out 'cause there's a new baby in the house!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. (For some reason TheManofTheHouse seems to think I should be spending time with him, so this will be quick!) Thought I'd show you what I gave all my little Valentine's today. I got the idea here. XOXO,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blizzard Warning?

We're under a blizzard warning, but as you can see, it's looking pretty tame out my back window. (It looks foggy in the picture, but it's really a very fine snow falling.)

Anyway, the upside of a blizzard warning is that everything in town is closed and even though our place of work didn't close, we came home a little early. Which gave me the chance to take a few pictures of the friendship quilt that I posted about a few days ago.

Here's a close up of one of the blocks -- this person loves fairy tales!

I also remembered to bring home my handwarmers that I just made. They are the knitting project that I was working on a few weeks ago. I took them to work and forgot to take pictures. My hands get really cold at the keyboard at work -- TheManoftheHouse just rolls his eyes when he walks into my office and sees me wearing them. It's my office and I can wear what I want to! You'll just have to imagine my right hand in the picture, I haven't mastered the fine art of snapping the picture and having my hand appear in the picture at the same time. (Aka, I'm too lazy to get my manual out and look at the delay option on the camera.)

I sure hope you're all staying warm!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Housecleaning Roulette

As I mentioned in a previous post, my bookgroup read The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt this past month. I didn't finish the book, but in chapter 2, there's a passage that reads:
On one occasion I set about testing this notion by concocting a game called "photo roulette," the object of which was to walk around the city taking photographs at unplanned moments -- whenever a church bell rang or at every sighting of a dog or cat -- ...."
This made me think that we're usually so busy that we don't take time to notice our surroundings. And at the same time I'd been thinking that I haven't posted very many pictures of my "corners". AND, I was cleaning the other day to get ready for my quilty peeps. So, when I combined all three of those items, I decided to play my own little game of housecleaning roulette. I decided that, while I was cleaning, I'd set the timer for every 30 minutes, and wherever I was, I'd stop and take a picture of something that was near me. (Don't worry, there's no way I'm going to post bathroom photos -- so I cleaned the bathroom at the beginning, before the first buzzer.)

12:35 p.m. Just moved into the bedroom and ready to strip the bed. I didn't have a picture to put above the bed, so a few years ago, I put our monogram there instead. (I know, I know...Emily Post wouldn't approve -- TheManoftheHouse has his initial first. But it's my wall and I can put the letters in any order I want -- it's not like it's stationary or anything...)

1:05 p.m. In the middle of dusting the bedroom. A corner of the bedroom. Very uncomfortable old rocker, but it rocked my babies to sleep for many years, so I'm sort of attached to it. It's currently rocking my quilts that need bindings. (They've only been there for a few years -- maybe I could get those done as part of my "complete 3 unfinished projects" winter goal???)

1:35 p.m. OK. By now I was done with the bedroom and bathroom and took a little break to check e-mail and I'm in the computer room. Here's a little bunny that I got for Christmas.

2:25 p.m. (Sorry...the break went a little long ;-) ) Picking stuff up in the family room. I'm by the bookcase.

2:55 p.m. Dusting in the family room. (Which begs the question....do you dust then vacuum, or vacuum then dust?) When I look up I see my little sock knitting bag that I have to keep on top of the wall unit so TheEmptyNestChild won't get into my yarn.

3:25 p.m. I'm now in the kitchen area where our table is. (This is my favorite room 'cause it's the easiest to clean -- do the floor, dust the pie safe and it's done!) The Pinochio came from a school fundraising auction one year -- I don't remember what the theme was, but there was a big Pinochio as a centerpiece at each table.

3:55 p.m. Now in the kitchen. Note the gingerbread house still sitting there. You'll be happy to know I finally threw it out! (And who was the rocket scientist who thought tile on countertops was a good idea? How can you roll out pie crusts or cookies or anything?-- someday when we're out of tuition hell, it will be replaced!)
By now this post has gone on long enough and I was almost done anyway. Sorry so long...I probably should have split this into two posts.... Set your timer and see what's around you!


Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Nice Day With Friends

My quilty peeps came to sew for the day. We're the remnants of a friendship quilting group that started 19 years ago. There were 12 of us and we would meet once a month. We all took turns hosting the meeting. Each hostess would provide drinks and snacks and give everyone in the group a quilt block pattern and maybe some fabric so that they could complete one or more quilt blocks for the hostess in the following month.

So, for example, I hosted the very first ever meeting of our little group. I chose the bear paw pattern. I gave everyone a packet with the pattern, some fabric for the background of the block, and some embroidery floss. Then I requested that they each choose a blue and red fabric from their stash to complete their block. I also requested that they each embroider their name, the date, and something they "loved" (with the condition that it couldn't be their spouse, children, etc.) It's fun now to look back and remember that one of them loved wee babes, one loved books, one loved jukeboxes, etc. And, interestingly enough, no one chose the same thing!

We learned a lot that first year. We were all at a similar skill level except for one girl. I remember the block she made me had the seams cut so close to the stitching that the seams frayed and came apart. We tried to be a teaching group with demos and lessons, but even though we discussed 1/4" seams many times, she still cut them too close. Everyone was afraid to say anything to her for fear of hurting her feelings. She was only with us for that first year though as they had to move for her husband's job.

Anyway, after 5 or 6 years, we got tired of doing blocks every month, so we just got together and worked on our own projects. Over the years someone would drop out and then someone new would join. It seemed like the newer members never lasted long though -- I guess it's hard to join a group that has a history together. Now we're down to only 7 of us and we no longer meet monthly. Up until this last year, we always drew names for homemade gifts. We try to get together at least twice a year -- sometimes just for a Saturday and other times for an over night -- but always to sew together.

And, of course we eat too. Everyone brings a dish or two to share. That's fun too, because we always end up with a nice variety -- we never end up with all salads or all desserts, it's pretty balanced. This year, I added the little felted needle cases that I made a few days ago to the table setting.

Did you notice the little salt cellars? My mother found these at an antique shop and gave them to me for Christmas this year.

You know it's been a good day when the binding is done, the sun is setting, and the thimble is upside down.

Have a great weekend!