Monday, September 29, 2008

Williamsburg pics - day 1

This is gonna be a short post tonight, I promise. Not like yesterday when I said it was going to be a short post and then I wrote and wrote and wrote.

So we're spending the week in Williamsburg, VA. Today we went to Jamestown Settlement. There was a museum inside with a huge exhibit about the settlers, the Native Americans, the African slaves, and the traders and how all of these cultures converged in Jamestown in the 1600s. Then, outside they had replicas of a Powhatan village, several boats you could board and then walk all around, and a fort settlement. You could go in all of the houses and see how they lived. It was all very hands on. Sprinkled throughout they had people in costume who could give you information about life in the various settings.

Enough of the intro, here are the pics.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baby blanket: the saga continues

This is going to be a quick post. I'm now in Williamsburg, VA on the first night of our vacation. I'm STILL working on this quilt. I have no idea why I thought this would be a simple little project. Yeah, I do, actually. I had planned on just a quick throw-together kind of project, but once I saw little girl's design I fell in love with it and had to take the time to do it right.

Anyway, I got the quilt finished to the point of binding it and tying off the thread ends and burying them in the sandwich. There are about a jillion threads to bury, but the real problem is that I kinda screwed up on the binding thing. As in, really screwed up.

I had planned on self-binding it, with the quilt batting and the backing cut 5/8" bigger than the front. All I would need to do is fold it all over and whipstitch it into place. Except.


Except that I decided at the last minute to go this route. So many of my quilting lines go past the 5/8" from the edge. Which means that the stitching lines will show when I wrap the back to the front. Doable, though. Call it a design feature and act like I did it on purpose.


Except when I was trimming the batting and backing, I ended up cutting through all the thread ends that hung over the edge of the quilt. So now my thread ends are all only 1" long at the edge of the quilt, so it's gonna be a pain in the ass to get these all to the underside of the quilt. My darling husband has offered to help. He saw me the anguish and failure on my face when I made my discovery and quickly came up with a workaround.

No pictures yet. I want to wait till it's all done for a grand reveal.

And this has been a longer post than planned. Dear husband says I have not yet drunk enough wine, so I guess that means I'm logging off. I'll post when I have a finished quilt top.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Progress continues on the baby blanket

I've gotten the whole top pieced. Thought I'd share it with you. I think this is one of my favorite quilts I've every worked on. That's not saying that much, mind you, given that I've only completed three complete quilts and one large top.

Tomorrow I try to quilt this guy while Liv is at school. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Work in Progress: Baby Blanket

Next week we're taking a family vacation to Williamsburg, VA. While we're up in that part of the country, we're going to swing on over to visit some dear friends who live just outside of Baltimore. They had their first baby this summer, a sweet little baby boy. We sent them a custom made stuffed animal earlier, but we never really did any kind of large present for them because things were so hectic with my grandfather being sick. But now since we're going to be staying in their house for two days, I thought I'd make a little baby quilt for them.

Remember my last post about keeping things simple? I don't think this falls under that heading, though I am working on making this project as quick & stressfree as possible. It certainly helps that Liv is going to school three days a week now.

I'm actually nearly done piecing the top, but I'll make you wait to see that until it's entirely pieced. (Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon!) Today I'll show you the sketch of the basic design. But first I have to tell you the story of how the design came to be.

The design is actually courtesy of little girl Liv. I had taken a little sketchbook and crayons with me to the park one day, thinking that I could play around with some quick & easy designs while she was playing. I had gotten two of them done, neither to my complete satisfaction, when Liv comes walking up. I had just drawn a third rectangle outline, but had not filled anything in yet.

Liv: Oh, you're coloring at the park!
Me: Yeah, I'm trying to figure out a design for Baby W's quilt.
Liv: Oh
Me (pointing to the two that I'd already done): Which do you like the best?
Liv (pointing to the empty rectangle): Why isn't there anything there?
Me: Oh, I'm still working on that. I'm thinking of what to put there.
Liv: Here, let me show you what to do.

And with that, the little girl takes the crayons and sketches out the most perfect quilt design. See - I'll show you:

The big blocks of color are actually going to be made up of smaller pieced rows of rectangles. I'm going to use this as an opportunity to burn through some fabric stash, particularly a lot of blues. I somehow have ended up with a large amount of blue blender fabrics, none of them spectacular. Anyway, I dug through my fabric stash and here's what I found that works with the color scheme.

Yeah, that's my foot in the bottom right hand corner.

I'm almost done piecing it all together. When I get that done, I'll post a pic of the finished top.

Oh, and we're leaving next Saturday (as in less than a week from the time I type this). Gotta get this puppy finished up!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The child doesn't need a new dress

My little girl does not want for cute little dresses. My mother makes sure of that. Little girl has all manner of pretty church dresses, cute school dresses, and practical play dresses hanging in her closet. And yet, when my dear friend Scarlett "destashed" a yard of Alexander Henry apple & pear fabric, I knew that my little girl NEEDED another dress.
I followed Simplity 3510, but I changed a few things up - you knew I couldn't just follow directions! Instead of making the top self-faced, I used bias-binding to edge it off. Here's some detail:

I don't know if the picture shows it, but the bias tape is actually a red and maroon polka dot number. (BTW, I found out that you can get 6 YARDS of 3/8" double-fold bias tape from one fat quarter!!!) The big wooden buttons came from my button stash. Only had to keep them around for 5 years before I found the perfect use for them!
And here's a close-up of the pocket. It's got pinched pleat in the front, and instead of the top facing the pattern called for, I just used bias binding again.

And my fave picture of the day - little girl wearing her dress while riding her bike!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I will NOT make myself crazy this year...

Fall is in the air, and looming ahead of me is typically my craziest season of the year, my death march through the holidays. Starting with Halloween, we then go through Birthday Party, Thanksgiving, Liv's annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Party, before we finally end with the holiday hubub of Christmas proper. We usually also take a family vacation during this time. On top of it all, I teach two online classes at the university here in town, with all of the end-of-semester madness hitting right between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Each and every one of these occasions presents temptation for the crafty mama. Don't BUY -gasp!- the Halloween costume - make it yourself! Don't BUY - gasp! - birthday invitations, make them all yourself, and make them stunning. Have the birthday party in your house, which you've decorated to the hilt. Give party favors in handcrafted little favor sacks. No pre-printed cellophane at THIS house! Take a jillion pictures on vacation, and then scrapbook them ALL. Hell, don't limit yourself to a two-page spread, make a whole damn scrapbook of one week. And Thanksgiving. And the cookie party. Don't BUY - gasp!- the cookies to decorate, make them ALL. And invite every child you know, and give them each a dozen cookies. And for Christmas? Well, you're just plain tuckered out so just try to show up and smile for it all.

I decided this summer that I would NOT do this to myself. Buy the halloween costume already made. Jeesh! You know, it's entirely possible for the child to wear a mass-produced costume on Halloween. And it's entirely acceptable to have the birthday party somewhere besides your house, so that you don't have the added responsibility of cleaning. Etcetera, etcetera...

These were my intentions, and yet today I've already caved. I bought fabric to make a little witch costume for Liv. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I could have bought a witch costume SO easily. And yet, there I was up at the fabric store poring through costume books and thinking, "Oooh, I could make it!" And it's not going to save any money, either. $12 for fabric, and that doesn't count the tights or the witch hat I'll still have to purchase. I'm feeling stupider and stupider as I write this....

This is how the death march begins. I'll probably still end up making the invitations for the birthday party, too. And the favor sacks. And cookies for the Cookie Decorating Party. Even so, we're moving ahead with plans to have the birthday party somewhere besides the house. And I'm going to keep reminding myself that my worth as a mother isn't tied up in how many hours I spent hunched over a sewing machine or how many rolls of adhesive I go through, and what my daughter wants more than a handmade costume or a homemade birthday cake is her mama able to be present in the moment, not tired or worried, just happy to be celebrating with her all the holidays that the next few months bring.

I will NOT make myself crazy this year...
I will NOT make myself crazy this year...
I will NOT make myself crazy this year...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The phone call that ended my art day

Little girl has started going to preschool THREE FULL DAYS A WEEK. (Can you tell I'm lovin' that fact?) True, it makes it harder for us to get to the park or go to story time at the library as often, but it does mean that mama's getting some good crafting time.

On Monday, my friend Jennifer (and her sweet little baby girl) came over to play with more acetate collage. She made smaller pieces to use as coasters. (I'll be making some of these for my Etsy shop in the near future.) I decided I'd venture from the all-over pattern thing to making actual little pictures. I made two of them, but they're still kind of in process.

They both need to be cropped down to a useful size (5x7?) and I'm thinking about embellishing them further, ala Denise. The quote on the second collage is not glued down - I'm still toying with different placements for it. It reads "She hasn't really changed much, Betsy thought. She's terribly important, and rich, and she knows everybody, and she's beautiful, but she wishes he had what I've got."
I'm still trying to wrap my head around how to photo these. Between the glitter and the transparency, they're so shiny that any time I get a straight-on shot they get a glare from an overhead light or the sun or just because they feel like it.

Anyways, the day ended very abruptly. I had finished my second collage and was holding Jennifer's little baby girl while she finished up her project, and the phone rang. It went something like this:

Me: Hello?
Caller: This is Mary at school. Were you planning on picking up Olivia today?
Me: Oh, crap. What time is it?

So the glitter orgy was over and I raced out of the house like a crazy woman. Bad mama, bad bad mama, forgetting your child cause you were having so much fun with crafts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Has it really been 10 days since I posted?


Yeah, took me a little craft sabbatical. I hadn't really planned on it, but once I gave myself some downtime I just kind of had to ride it out. Between my little sabbatical and Liv starting pre-school for three full days a week, I'm happy to say that I'm feeling a lot calmer and much more in control than I've felt in a while.

With Liv in school, I've been able to work on getting a handful of unfinished craft projects to a state of completion. Like this wallet:

Isn't it PRETTY???? I'm just a little bit proud of it. I had this big idea about 2 months ago to make a wallet to match my little fabric purse. Found a tutorial, should have been easy-peasy, right?? Right??? Ummm... no.

Let's see. First, I wasn't able to make sense of some of the dimensions for folding the fabric into pockets. So I improvised. Then I decided to add in a zippered pocket to the inside. Improvised. And then I didn't have a zipper exactly the right size. Improvised. I could continue, but you get the picture... It was kind of this leapfrogging of following instructions, then improvising a detail, then following instructions again.

By the end, I decided that I never EVER would make one of these again. But the final product ended up soooo nice and it's quickly becoming my most favoritest wallet. It has three checkbook sized pockets, one zippered pocket, and 6 credit card slots. I've gotten oodles of compliments on it, and some requests from friends/family for a wallet of their very own. Hah.

We'll just have to see if I love them enough to take on the project again.

Though I did learn some very important lessons. Like, I could simplify the whole thing by binding the raw edges with bias tape rather than doing the whole sew-with-right-sides-together-and-then-turn-right-side-out-like-a-pillow thing. I think I'd get much sharper corners and I think I could avoid some of my zipper troubles by not having to estimate where the seam allowance would be.

I'm really not making this sound like a fun project, am I??? Well, if you want a beautiful fabric wallet and aren't a masochist, I'd suggest you get buy one of Dogwood's. They're super cute and really well constructed and you won't put your stomach lining through a torture test.