Monday, June 1, 2009

It's official

I had a sneaking feeling when I started washing out my baggies. But I pushed it back, reasoning that I was only washing the gallon-sized ziploc baggies.

Later when I was cleaning out my fridge, I found myself looking at the tail end of some salsa I made and thinking, "Hmm... Half a cup of salsa. That might be just exactly what I'm wanting for a snack one day." And then, as if on autopilot, I pour the salsa out of the larger container and into a smaller one. But I didn't break out a grease pen and label the contents, so really I wasn't being over the top.

And then tonight. I was going to refashion two old tees into one cool new tee, but I miscut and I was faced with two large rectangles of knit fabric that needed to go into the trash can. Except instead of throwing them away, I start cutting them into 7" squares. I stacked two squares and serged the edges together to make a dishrag. I got 5 double-layered dishrags from the old tee.

As I was admiring my thriftiness, I realized that there was no more fighting it. It's official. I have become my grandmother.

Over the years we've made fun of my grandmother for all of the above acts of thriftiness, so I have to laugh at myself when I find myself repeating them. I suppose it's in the blood, the need to stretch the usefulness of all that you have at your disposal - whether it's a wad of food or a bit of fabric. She raised two babies during WWII rationing, and did so for several years in a house with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. This woman knows about thriftiness, about repurposing, and making do. So while I laugh at myself for washing out baggies and hoarding little morsels of food, I also find a certain bit of pride in seeing my grandmother's traits in me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I need to find me a denim jacket I can make a jacket like THIS one at HodgePodge Farm.

Seriously. I NEED that jacket.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Yellow halter dress from hell

So Liv loved the dress-shirt-turned-kid's-dress I made her. So much so that she asked me to make another one. I had another shirt that I snagged at the same time I got the shirt for the first dress. I was all ready to repeat the process when she said that she wanted it to be a sundress for summer.

I was all planning on just making a simple elastic band across the top with thinnish straps over the shoulders when I saw the pieces left over from the first dress. (I'm not the best at cleaning up after my sewing self.) In particular, what I saw was the collar I had cut off.

At first I thought the collar would be really cool placed across the top of the elastic band, like a wide shirt collar across the dress. Then I realized that the points of the collar are shaped for the collar to be in a circle around your neck, and that when you straightened out the collar the points overlapped. No good.

But then... but then... inspiration. What if the collar wrapped around the neck? What if the collar was the strap of a halter dress? Yes, yes!

And with that, I began the project I now know as "The Yellow Halter Dress From Hell". Without any instructions or any templates or any patterns to work from, there was a lot of ripping and resewing, re-ripping and re-resewing. But in the end, I came up with a dress that I really, really love. Even better, Olivia loves it too.

The fit of the top is a bit off in these pictures. I realized the day after I took these photos that the reason it seemed too bunchy at the top was that the collar was too long. I had already taken one bite out of the back when I made the dress, but I went back and took out another tuck. Now the fit is perfect! (But the dress is dirty so I'm not retaking the photo...)

Here is a close-up of the front. The tab in the front is actually a bit of one of the cuffs. The collar is stitched down on one side, and buttoned down on the other. To put on or take off the dress, you just unbutton the one side. The buttonhole is actually the original buttonhole on the front of the collar. The bow is just something I made with a bit of the extra fabric from the sleeve. It snaps on and off (snap is hidding by the cuff-tab) so it doesn't end up in a wad after being laundered.


Monday, May 11, 2009

More of what I've been sewing

Here's another peek at what I've been sewing lately. This dress was made from a man's dress shirt. Isn't that just the cleverest thing? I can't take credit for the idea - I used this tutorial from MADE.
Liv loves it so much - she wants me to make a yellow one next, except she wants it to be a sundress. I've got some ideas knocking around in the skull, but haven't had a chance to actually try them out yet.

Oh, and gotta share a few pics from the Mom's Day celebration at Liv's school on Friday.

First some pics from the little music program. Nothing says childhood like songs with accompanying hand motions!

And then Liv presenting her Mom's Day gift to me.

And the two of us on the playground.

Altogether a very sweet day at Liv's school.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Some of what I've been sewing: baby dress & matching shoes

A couple of weeks ago, Tony's cousin & his wife welcomed their first child into the world. A red-headed girl named Avery. I wanted to make something special for this little bitty girl, so I grabbed up some fat quarters with soft colors, ultra feminine prints. I ended up with a handful of prints from Anna Griffin's Fiona line. (The exception is the celery and white polka-dot. I have no idea who made that print, but it coordinates so perfectly.)

For the dress, I used this tutorial from Made By Petchy, but followed RedInstead's tutorial for the neckline so that the ties would come up from the armhole rather than across the top. (This makes a safer neckline for a little baby, as it does not involve a drawstring casing around the baby's neck.)

I also made a pair of shoes to match using a free pattern from New Conceptions Sewing Patterns.

Here they are from the front. I pieced the front of the dress because I didn't have enough of one type of fabric (fat quarters, remember) to make the whole dress. Then, because of a piecing foobar, I ended up having to recut the back. Except I didn't have a big enough piece of fabric to match the front, so I ended up raiding my stash for another print. Here's the back:

And a close-up of the little shoes cause they're just gosh-darn-it-cute.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

What to do on a rainy day...

Make a clubhouse.

No, make that a movie theater.

And invite all your Webkinz to watch a movie with you.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My poor, sad, neglected blog

I haven't posted anything here in several weeks. I'm a bad blogger. Bad, bad, blogger. Not that there hasn't been anything going on worth blogging about.

There was the trip to visit my SIL in Wisconsin, a few sewing projects, the madness of prepping food for Codie's wedding, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... But in the business of actually doing all these things, I didn't have the focus to actually WRITE about all these things.

I've got a couple of cool projects up my sleeve, which I'll be posting in the next few days. Okay, next few weeks is probably more realistic, given that now we're entering into the last few weeks of the semester.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I think I created a monster...

...though I don't think I mind in the least.

Tony just walked in the room from tucking Miss Liv into bed, and reported that she had tried to curl up under her dolly quilt. And then he says, "I think I may have started something I shouldn't have... but I asked her if she liked that quilt so much, did she think maybe she needed to make a girl-sized quilt with mommy. And she said yes."

I'm not sure what makes me happier. That my girl wants to make take on a girl-sized quilt, or that my dear husband is so supportive.

Life is good,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Buttercup, buttercup

Wye is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. In Wye, there's a small Methodist Church that plants a hillside with daffodil bulbs. Every spring the entire hillside turns yellow with buttercups and they host their annual Wye Mountain daffodil festival. It's kind of a local tradition for parents to take their kids to the festival and to snap some pretty spring phtos.

Yesterday evening we did just that with Liv. Tony had to work late so Denise went with me. The drive was beautiful, leaving the city behind and winding deeper into the hills. The weather was perfect - 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We got there just before sunset.

Happy Spring!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tutorial: Shamrock pins for St. Pattie's Day

Liv and I made these fun shamrock pins other day in honor of St. Patties day. It's really a simple idea, and it can be adapted for just about any holiday. They look like they've been coated with UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) but really it's just a thick spray glaze.

What you need:
--chipboard (I pulled a cream puff box out of the recycling bin. Yummm....)
--newspaper scraps
--die cut machine that can cut chipboard. I used a Sizzix with a retired shamrock die. Really, I don't suppose you *need* a die cut machine, but it does make it super easy to cut shapes from chipboard.
--Decoupage medium. (I used Aleene's, but that's just because my Mod Podge wasn't handy at the moment.)
--acrylic craft paint
--Deco Art Triple Thick Brilliant Gloss Spray (I love this stuff!!!!)
--pin backs
--strong adhesive for gluing pin backs. I used E6000

So here's how you do it:

1. Cut the newspaper into thin strips. You don't need very many, just enough to cover the piece of chipboard.

2. Coat the chipboard with the decoupage medium and lay the strips down, covering with a second coat.

3. After you've covered the whole piece of chipboard with newspaper, paint the newspaper with a thin coat of acrylic craft paint. I used several different colors of green and mixed them together here and there. You should be able to see the newsprint faintly through the paint.

4. Wait for the paint to dry. This could take a while so go do something fun while it's drying.

4. Now here's the fun part. Use your die-cutter to cut out a bunch of shamrocks from the painted chipboard. Then, spray the shapes with the Triple Thick glaze. You'll end up with some very shiny shamrock shapes.

5. Now, just glue a pin back on to the back of each shape.

Voila! Shiny pretty shamrock pins.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday night is dinner party night

We have a new and old tradition in our family - Tuesday night dinners. When I was a kid, Tuesday night was one of my dad's visitation nights. He'd take my sister and I out to dinner while my mother was at night school. We continued our dinners long after my mother got her degree, but finally as my sister and I became adults it was harder and harder to keep it up.

Fast forward 15 years. My father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. He'd most likely been experiencing symptoms for years, but we just chalked it up to his natural ditziness or his habit for smoking something he probably ought not. We realized that we didn't have that many years of good times together, so we restarted our Tuesday night tradition. With the addition of my sister's husband, my husband, my husband, and my daughter, it wasn't financially feasible for us all to go out to eat. So the Tuesday night dinner party was born.

Last night my stepmother was out of town and my sister and her husband had to work, so it was just my father and my immediate family. We hosted at our house. Lemme tell you how my last night went:

With my stepmother out of town, it was iffy whether he would remember our dinner or not. So I waited until early afternoon to even invite him, and then 10 minutes before he needed to be here I called to remind him. If he had remembered to come, he would have already left. Naturally, he forgot. I told him to come on over, that dinner would be just coming out of the oven. Now, it should take no more than 20 minutes for him to get to my house, so I was a little concerned when 40 minutes later he still wasn't here. He probably just took time to get dressed before he left, I think. So I call his house and get no answer. Good, he's left.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law calls me to get the update on my grandmother. I hadn't told you that part yet. It was about midafternoon when I got a call from my mother saying that my grandmother had fallen outside her house, and that she'd been laying on the ground calling for help for 30 minutes before a neighbor saw her. (No broken bones, by the way. We think she'll be okay.) So, all the while I'm trying to get dinner together and trying to order things so that my father will remember to show up, I'm playing phone call clearinghouse receiving updates from my mother at the emergency room and then passing that information on to all interested parties.

So I'm on the phone with my mother-in-law giving her the update on my grandmother while Tony is shuffling around all the food in the kitchen either finishing up the cooking or trying to keep it warm. And that's when my dad calls. "Hi hon," he says, "It looks like I've gotten myself lost."

So I quickly end my conversation with MIL and proceed to find out how far off track my father is and give him real-time directions all the way to my house. AAAAAAAHHHH!!!! It was at that point that my brain started to explode.

Anyway, the dinner worked out really nice. My father was on good behavior, we think because it was such a small group. Sometimes at our "dinner parties" he can be overly self-centered or thinks it's fun to get my daughter all riled up. The previous week he had said something very hurtful to me, and then had no memory of having said it. I was a bit nervous about this week, but we ended up having a lovely time together as a family.

After dinner, I went over to my grandmother's house and sat with her while my mother ran a few errrands in order to get settled in to stay with her for a few days.

So that was my Tuesday night dinner party night - stressful, but filled with feelings of kinship and the interdependence that is part and parcel with such closeknit groups.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Remember the doll quilt?

We finished it last week.

I'm so proud of my little girl. Not only was she integral in the design process, but she stitched every single seam of this quilt. I'm afraid at times I was a little bit of the quarter-inch-seam-Nazi but by the end of the quilt she really got the hang of how to feed the fabric through in order to maintain the straight seam allowance.

We pieced it together in rows, then attached row to row to make the rectangle. Her eyes lit up when she saw the pattern taking shape, and she let out a little gasp. "Oh!" When the top was finished, I sandwiched it and pin basted it for her, then let her do the quilting. I used a edge-stitch foot to help her keep the stitching as much in the ditch as possible. She did surprisingly well.

As a reward for finishing her quilt, Denise and I took her to our local quilt shop to show off her creations. The ladies oohed and ahhhed and gave her a round of applause, and generally made her feel like a rock star. And then we bought her more fabric for her stash. She's got good taste, I think.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dude... These are our curtains

This was Thursday's Daily Swatch over at True Up. AND it's the fabric in our living room curtains. How seriously cool is that?!?!