Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the fat quarter dolly skirt and a little felt experiment

On my recent girls' trip to Fort Smith (remember the post about the bathrooms?), I bought some fat quarters with the purpose of making some clothes for my daughter's 18" doll. Actually, it's a Gotz doll that's the same size as an AG doll, so I guess it's a German Girl Doll?? *insert groan here*

My first attempt at dolly clothes was less than stellar. Not bad, but not great, either. I started with a commercial pattern and altered it a bit. The result was just a little looser than I had wanted, but Liv loved it all the same.

Yesterday I decided that I could tackle a little tiered prairie-style skirt. Bands of gathered fabric, gathered on an elastic waistband should be too hard, particularly with my gathering foot for my machine.

Yeah, well....

First I cut the strips for the tiers a little narrower than they needed to be, which meant that I had to add an extra row. Then, I had a little too much "gather" in my gathering foot. Put those two facts together and I ended up with a skirt that was too short and had too much "flip" to it. And because the gathered tiers were sewn one at the bottom of another, with each tier the skirt got exponentially flippier.

With all the extra gathers and an additional tier for length, it ended up looking a bit like a square dancing skirt. Still, I'm happy with the results.

It's kind of a cute square dancing skirt, though, if I say so myself. I've also learned what to do and what not to do on my next attempt - smaller stitch on the gathering foot, and slightly taller tiers.

Here's a close-up of the fabric. I LURV this print!

This is what was left over. The long scrap is 18" long and about an inch wide. The smaller bits are little slivers that were left over when I trued up the edges to cut the strips.

And now for my felt experiment. I took Liv to the park today and wanted to bring a project with me while I sat on the bench. It was somewhat windy, so it wasn't really a good day to work on my felt brooches. (Sequins and little paper cutting patterns tend to get blown away.) Instead, I took a square of red felt, a few squares of pink felt, and a ball of crochet thread.

The piece is 4.5" square, small enough to complete in one sitting. I didn't have much of a plan when I started. All I knew was that I wanted the two large pink squares in the upper left corner. The rest was just improvisation with a very limited palette of stitches.

When I cut the piece, I made it the right size to put on one of my 5" mini-stretch canvases I scored from Michael's about a week ago, but I'm not sure that this will actually end up on the canvas. Whatever it ends up being, it was enough to get me totally hooked on this kind of free-form embroidery.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My studio, my shame...

No introduction needed...

by the way, if you haven't done so already, be sure to leave a comment on my Blog Giveaway!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

1000 views milestone - blog giveaway!!!

I know I said I'd post the blog giveaway this morning, but, well... life intervened. My grandfather is sick - again. He'd been home from the hospital for all of two days, and was still needing a lot of care when things took a turn for the worse. By 1:00 today, they had to call the ambulance to take him to the Emergency Room. As they were wheeling him out of the house, it literally looked like death was hanging over him.

They worked some kind of miracles at the ER that day, because just a few hours later his color had returned and things are looking better again. He'll still be in the hospital for a few days I'm sure, but things are not as touch and go as they were earlier today.

Needless to say, I'm more than a little braindead tonight. But that's not why I wrote this post. I posted here to tell you about my little GIVEAWAY!!!

When I started this blog last fall, I had no idea that I'd get 1000 UNIQUE VIEWS by early spring. Wow!!! If you think about how many people are on the Internet and how much information is there, and how much is added each day, to have 1000 unique hits to my blog is pretty darn amazing.

This little giveaway is a thank-you for all of the cheerleading and support, the kind words, the "you go, girls" and the "yays" when I post a project, the "kick the inner critic's butt" when I'm doubting myself.

I took a little longer than I had planned to get this all together, because the anal-retentive side of me wanted everything to color coordinate.

Here's what you'll get:
--Blank greeting card with vintage playing card embellishment.
--Pink and brown tagbook mini-notebook (This is an awesome little notepad to carry with you. The binder ring allows you to add it to your keychain or hook it around the strap of your purse.)
--Pink and beige paisley pin
--Three of my favorite fibers on a card: 3 yards of the brown, 3 yards of the white cotton, and 2 yards of the vintage ric rac.
--(not pictured) Half a dozen vintage playing cards for you to play with, or frame, or do with as you please.

To enter, alls you have to do is comment to this post by Wednesday, April 30. I'll draw a name at random to choose the winner.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blog giveaway - slightly delayed

I know I promised I'd have my blog giveaway posted this afternoon, but it's taking me a little longer than expected to get everything together. My daughter ended up going to my mother-in-law's house for a few hours, and my husband decided he wanted to take me out for a date... A cheap date, mind you, cause we're a little broke right now, but a date none the less...

But watch tomorrow morning - I PROMISE it will be there then!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm a lucky girl, I am!

Look what arrived in the mail for me today!!!

Joan over at Ninimakes sent it to me. Isn't she the sweetest? She had a giveaway on her blog a few weeks ago. She posted pics of where her family would be vacationing, and invited people to guess where it was. It was.... Italy. I am *still* so jealous! (Though spending a week by myself in my house wasn't too shabby, it just does not stand up to ITALY.)

She posted pics on her blog of what she would be sending, but even so I was blown away at my goodies. Everything was packaged so lovingly, wrapped in tissue paper or felt, and tied with pretty ribbons.

Since there were so many goodies, I took divided it out and took multiple pictures.

This is some antique linen, an embroidery motif, a square of the most dreamy silk, and a bit of Bondaweb. I can't wait to make my own little embroidered angel!

This is some art paper from a paper store in Italy. My knees went weak when I pulled it from the envelope. What you can't tell from the picture is that it is full sized art picture and that it is fairly heavy weight.

This is a star ornament. I lurrrv it so much!! Of course, my daughter does too and we've already had a "discussion" about where it will hang.

This is the inside of the Italian craft magazine she sent, Milleidee. If my rough translation is right, that means Thousands of Ideas. Or something like that. And it's true. There are page after page of beautiful decorating and fashion ideas, and then templates at the back so you can make your own.

And if that weren't enough, she included a note in a little handmade card. The little birdie has a bead glued on for an eye, and the heart is edged in glitter.

I feel like a rock star today. Thanks so much!!!!!!

Now everyone, go check out Ninimakes and be inspired. Craft and sewing are infused into every bit of her life, and she writes about it all so beautifully.

Oh, and stay tuned to this channel tomorrow afternoon, when I'll be posting a giveaway of my own. I'm getting ready to reach 1000 unique hits to my blog, and I'll be giving something away to celebrate. Woohoo!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Remember this?

I posted this pic over two months ago, a work in progress. (Click here for original post.)

Well, I FINALLY got the piece finished!

It turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Part of that is because I tend to overanalyze during the design process. It usually goes something like, "What about this? What about that? What if I flipped the whole thing around? What about this other thing? Or maybe the first thing instead? Oh hell, it all looks like crap..." Then I put it all away for another day.

It was also difficult for me to work from the background up. I'm a focal image kind of girl . I made this cool background, and then felt limited by it. In the end, I realized that the tree thing was not quite doing it for me, and that stripes offered more possibility. When I added the gauze, it actually ended up looking kind of like some sort of sea life. (That's some of the medical gauze that my sister gave me, from an old bomb shelter....)

Now to frame this puppy. I don't even have a place to hang it in my house. How sad is that???
Oh, and my grandfather is doing much better. Turned out to be an infection and the antibiotics are working well. He'll be in the hospital for another day or so, but he's out of the ICU. Thanks for all of your kind thoughts!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A little comic relief on a stressful day.

My grandfather had to go to the hospital today, and Liv got to hang out at daddy's office today while I brought some food up to my mom and grandmother. It was a stressful day, to say the least. At one point the doctors were asking my mother about resucitation and ventillation. Luckily, he stabilized and none of that was necessary. Needless to say, my sinus headache turned into a stress let-down headache.

But then that night after we put Liv to bed, Tony tells me what she said at the office. She was sitting on his desk, within earshot of his officemate, when out of the blue she says:

"I have other daddies that you don't even know about."

Thank God Tony has a good sense of humor and plenty of faith in me!! Otherwise I might have some splainin' to do...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The fabric closet, with pictures and a Monty Python reference

Before I show you my new and improved fabric closet, I should probably tell you how bad it was to begin with! The closet used to be our coat closet in our front hallway, but my loving husband gutted it and refitted it with shelves to house all my fabric. It was somewhat of a feat to get all the fabric crammed in there 5 years ago, but then I've added to it here and there. It has a set of louvered doors, which I despise more and more each day. Fabric would fall off the shelves and get wedged in between the panels, making it where I could not open the doors all the way. It was difficult to reach the fabric in the far sides of the closet because the folded panels take up much of the opening.

I didn't take a "before" picture, and I really wish I had. I honestly had no idea what an understaking this was going to be. Once I got all the fabric out, I did take some pictures of it all stacked in my dining room.

Keep in mind that my dining table had one of the leaves in, making it large enough to seat 8 people comfortably. The fabric was stacked this high all the way across. And two chairs were filled like the second picture shows.

I made two passes through the fabric. I purged the obvious "deselections" (to use a term coined in a corporate layoff years ago) when I pulled the fabric out. Then I categorized the fabric that was left according to use and approximate fiber content, and then purged each grouping until it was a manageable size. Finally, I containerized as much as possible, so that it will be easy to pull the fabric out of the nether regions of the closet.

These are the "after" shots:

And the fabric I purged to make this happen:

And the Monty Python reference? It's Simpson's Individual Stringettes!

Don't know what I'm talking about? Go here and read this script, and then look at these pictures again. You'll be snort laughing, I promise.

I think these are carpet fiber samples. I have no idea how many there are, but there's a box full of them! Yeah, add that to my estate sale! (Actually, I think I'm going to destash this on Etsy... Surely someone will have a use for a box full of 6-inch strands of carpet fiber...)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm back, finally!!!!

I wasn't PLANNING on taking a break from my blog, it just happened that way. Mainly cause of this:

That was the power supply to our router. WAS being the operative word. That's a hole burned in the side of it. Computer equipment doesn't tend to work much after parts get melted. And with Tony out of town for the week, my Internet was out of commission until he got back Monday.
On the other hand, I DID get a lot of relaxing done during my little break, I did go 24 hours without changing out of my jammies. I did eat cheese dip for dinner at least three times. I didn't spend 4 hours a day in my studio, but I came close.
I also cleaned out my fabric closet, which was a far bigger undertaking than I had anticipated. I've been feeling this pull to start working with fabric some more, but I could never bring myself to actually DO it. I'd get some great idea in my head, then go to the fabric closet to choose my materials. I'd usually get as far as opening the closet before all inspiration was gone.
I realized last week that the sheer volume of fabric was overwhelming me, and that most of it was fabric that wasn't useful to me any more. I had thought -stupidly- that I'd spend a few hours pulling stacks of fabric out of closet and culling the pieces that didn't strike my fancy. Yeahhh.... I spent a few hours just getting the fabric out. And once it was out I had no idea how it had all fit in there in the first place! Two days and $50 for plastic tubs later, I'd pulled out enough fabric to fill our yard trash can and gotten everything else put back all nice and tidy. Ahhhh....
And then of course, there was Drunken Bunkin', but you'll have to head over to Denise's blog to read about that...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What will your estate sale be like?

I went out for dinner with Denise tonight. We had a great meal at P.F. Chang's and then for a nightcap we headed to the Office Depot to pick up some book rings for me and to see what kind of badness we could find for our craft stashes.

Somehow during all of this the topic of conversation got around to saving items that might be worth something one day. Which reminded me of a conversation I'd had with my sister about a year ago. She had been to a sale with a particularly large volume of some type of item or another, so much that it had been broken into two sales, and had remarked, "Oh crap, I wonder what MY estate sale will be like!" which totally gave us the sillies thinking about all the strange items we'd squirreled away with some specific purpose in mind.

A year later, this same thought gave Denise and I both the sillies. I had just been telling Denise about this large stack of 1/4" thick industrial felt pads that my sister had rescued from the bottom of some barrel (literally) and my stash of unused medical gauze and tongue depressors. Denise laughed about her stash of picture frames in her garage and her box of dryer lint. What kind of strange individuals might the uninformed outsider think we were?

I suppose it's kind of a take-off on the old "what will people say at your funeral" question, but probably more telling about our quirks and our hoarding habits. So... what will people say about YOUR estate sale? Come on, spill it!

Monday, April 7, 2008

What am I going to do with myself?

Starting today, I'm on vacation. I'm not going anywhere, though, I'm staying right here in my house. Tony and Olivia left this morning to spend a week in Wisconsin with his sister and her family. Goshdarnit, I just had too much school stuff going on to make the trip. So I'm having to stay here in my house all by myself for 7 days. Life really is tough sometimes. :)

The last time they went on a trip like this, I made the mistake of inviting the help of my mother in repainting our bedroom. My mother, bless her heart, thinks every minute of every waking day should be spent doing something productive. So she was over here every day at 7:30 in the morning, and I'd have to kick her out at 8:00 that evening. Not much of a vacation, though we did get the room painted and redecorated.

This time, I've made a point of not making ANY plans. No home improvement projects, no nights out with the girls, nothing. Just me and my jammies and my studio.

So, what are my goals for this week?

1. Go at least 24 hours without leaving the house.
2. Eat cheese dip for dinner at least three times.
3. Spend at least 4 hours of each day in my studio.
4. Make at least 3 projects from my idea journal, and make multiples of them.
5. Post one blog entry per day.

Sounds doable. I think I'll mosey on down the hall to my studio and see what trouble I can find.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mama's got a brand new bag!!!

In all the chaos of the storm aftermath, I didn't post the most awesomest bag ever that arrived in the mail on Friday - with MY name on it! It was my AREtsy recycled swap from Punkinhead.

How did she know that I needed me a new purse? And how did she know I needed one that was both practical and cute as a button? I've been wearing it around town for the past few days, and I love it, love it, love it!

The long strap allows me to wear it across my chest, with the pouch resting right at my hip. The simple foldover flap makes it easy for me to quickly stash my keys, or easily reach in for my phone. Another benefit of the long strap is that I don't have to take it off when I sit down. I can just sit down with it still strapped across my chest, and just rest the little purse at my side. I'm really bad about walking off without my purse, so this is a huge benefit for me.

And if being practical wasn't good enough, it's cute to boot! It's recycled from a gray wool skirt. The flap has three pleats from the skirt, and it's embellished with lavender zig-zag stitching and stacked shell buttons. We've never met in person, but she nailed my style dead-on.

Can you tell I love my new bag? I think I'll call it my Punkinpurse.

Friday, April 4, 2008

24 hours...

Tonight in the greater Little Rock area, the big news is that there was a tornado last night. The bigger news in this part of town is that it came through our neighborhood.

I'm happy to say that we, along with all of our loved ones, are all safe and sound, and our house has sustained no damage. A few blocks away and it's a different story. There were trees down all through our neighborhood and many of the streets were not passable this morning.

This is what it looked like throughout the much of my neighborhood. I'm not sure exactly where this was taken, but this is what much of the neighborhood looked like when I went out for coffee this morning. (Power was out and I needed my caffeine! Apparently half of Little Rock had the same idea, cause you wouldn't believe the lines!)

My mother-in-law lives just 5 blocks away and she ended up with a tree across her driveway, a busted skylight, a collapsed lean to and back porch, and a bicycle planted on top of her roof. Next door to her, my 93-year-old grandmother was home when the tornado passed over her house. A large tree very narrowly missed her house and the glass of her patio doors was broken. She rode out the storm in a chair in the bathtub, with a pillow placed around her head. Her garden shed was thrown against her house her house, an transformer came down into her backyard, and my trampoline from my mother-in-law's house ended up over the fence in my grandmother's yard. Across the street, we found the glass garden globe that had been in her front yard. It was strangely unbroken.

It took until 6:00 tonight to get power back, so I spent much of the day hanging out with my sister, my dad, or my mom. Generally, I was a ho for anyone with electricity running to their house. Tonight, the heat is on and I sit in my warm house and I'm typing this blog post, and it's hard to believe that last night was truly less than 24 hours ago. And, but for the storm tracking a few city blocks our direction, how many other possible endings there could have been for that evening.

We have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This one's for you, Punkinhead...

Okay, I can't believe I'm about to tell this embarassing story about myself out here on the Internet. But I've never been one for putting my best foot forward, so here goes...

So it's well known amongst my friends that housecleaning is NOT my strong suit. In fact, just last week I needed to use the large vacuum cleaner (not the stick vac, which is my bestest cleaning friend) for an emergency cleaning situation which involved scooping up some dead bugs off of the floor. Gotta love springtime in the south. Now, I'm not one for picking up bugs in my little hands, even with a huge wad of toilet paper, and I had tired of waiting for dear hubby to do this nasty chore for me. So out came the big red mama vacuum. I drag it out and realize that -oh crap- I'm going to have to put an ATTACHMENT on this thing. So I start tugging and pulling at random parts of the vacuum cause I don't actually know which parts are the core machine and which parts are the attachments stuck around the base.

After much tugging and pulling, I have enough of the right kind of pieces to suck the little dead guys up. Now I've got to turn it on. After a quick once-over I locate the power button, and push it. Nothing happens. I turn it off and turn it on again. Still nothing. Nada. Then it dawns on me that, like most electrical equipment, it must plugged into a wall socket for it to work. Yep, stay-at-home mommy Anne did not know how to use her vacuum cleaner.

BUT that's not the embarassing story I was here to tell. That was just the warm up, so maybe you'd understand exactly how nasty our bathroom floor was yesterday morning. Cause I HADN'T taken the big red mama vacuum in there. And the bug man was coming that day. And so because I didn't want him to see the dirty bathroom, I spent about 30 minutes on my hands and knees on the floor gathering up all the dustbunnies and throwing away all stray Hershey miniature wrappers and any other strangeness left strewn on the floor behind my 4-year-old. With my daughter's help, we got it all done with about 20 minutes to spare before the appointment. Yay for us, right????

Yeah, NOT. Because it was about an hour after the bug man left that I needed to use my nice, clean bathroom. The one I had hurriedly cleaned lest my bug man know exactly how dirty my house usually is. So one with the nice white tiles and dusted baseboards. Only to find that sweet little girl had needed to use the potty and not flushed. Number TWO. And of course, it was the master bathroom so I'm sure the guy thought it was I who had not flushed. I was mortified.

Dude... Good thing the tiles were clean, right???

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Throwing in the towel

I've been a while coming to this decision, but I've realized that I'm going to take a permanent break from my crafting. It just doesn't bring me the same joy that I feel when I look around my house and see the floors are clean, the dishes are washed, the laundry is folded, and a balanced supper waiting in the fridge. Frankly, I need to quit spending so much time focused on paper and scissors, and more on the really important things in life.

I wish everyone well with their creative endeavors. I'll be checking in every now and then, in between my soap operas and my yoga classes.

Oh yeah, and one more thing - APRIL FOOLS' DAY!!!! Although that should have been obvious from the references to the clean house...