December 13, 2011

The Reason for the Season

Like Mama quilters everywhere, I'm basting underneath the Christmas tree late at night. And quilting while Sprite busily tangles spools of thread or during her blessed but all too short nap time. But stitch by stitch fabric becomes a quilt to cover my Grandma with love and maybe, just maybe, make her hated wheelchair a happier place.

December 01, 2011

Knitting in the Sun

Today was the sort of magical cool-but-sunny first of December day that makes Florida an incredible place to live. So, I sat in the sun and watched Sprite play while I knit. This linen scarf in my favorite feathers and fans pattern was originally intended as a Christmas gift. It doesn't look like it's going to make it, but it's several repeats longer tonight anyway. And my spirit is lighter.

November 30, 2011

Tag, You're It

A partially hand made Christmas is feeling more realistic this year, and so I've been working on a few small things.

First up is this little Taggie Blankie for a sweet baby boy. I used two pieces of gorgeous fabric I've been hoarding since a quilty friend sent them to me. Fishing is the big theme in his life, and I think the turtles will add a bit of variety without straying too far. And I think this cuddly blankie was just the right project for those special fabrics.

I had planned to quilt it, but half way through the top stitching I realized that was the wrong plan. It wanted to be soft and drapey. With flannel giving it a soft weight, that was what I had, and extra stitching was just taking away from it. So, I ripped out the top stitching and used an invisible ladder stitch to close it up.

Now, I just need to wrap it up!

November 23, 2011

All Treat

But, before the wedding, there was Halloween. Sprite made an incredibly cute Lady Bug. Here she is just before heading out to Trick or Treat with the neighbor girl.She was really confused at first, but caught on quickly. She wasn't all that in to taking the candy at first, but she loved being able to run up to each door and knock on it. As long as the neighbor was there with her, at least. Safety in numbers you know. And she caught on to the candy by the end of the night; Grandma taught her about peanut butter cups. The Halloween candy is now safely out of sight. Frankly, I need to find a moment to get it out of my house, so that I stop eating it, too.

For anyone who is curious, the costume was fairly easy to make. For the dress, I just added a skirt to a black onesie, by gathering the fabric and then sewing it on.

The wings were made by drawing out my own pattern on to four pieces of interfacing, ironing the interfacing on to the fabric, and then cutting all four out. I then cut two batting pieces of the same shape and size by just laying those pieces on top of the batting. Next I layered two pieces, right sides together, and then a piece of batting on top. I sewed around, leaving space to turn at approximately where I expected to sew it on to the onesie dress. After I turned it, I needed to gently press, and then I sewed the opening shut. (I didn't bother with top stitching.)

The wings were then loosely sewn on to the dress with a running stitch. I kept my stitches mostly in the seam line and they were nearly invisible. You have to keep it loose, though, or the stitches will pop when you put the dress on her.

Completing the ensemble - a little red tutu to fluff the skirt out, black stockings and sparkly shoes. That was all she wore to the Halloween party, but on Halloween itself the weather was crisp so I put a long-sleeved onesie underneath it. I couldn't find black at the time, but white really worked just fine. Oh, and I gave her a little purse to use as her candy bag. I had a black headband for her, but she wasn't interested in wearing it.

It really only took a few hours to make, even learning how to deal with the slippery fabric, and she looked a treat.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

November 22, 2011

Done and Done

For the first time in over a month, I am home and not packing for the next trip. It's been a grand fall, but I am awfully glad to be home for awhile.
But, in the midst of all that, the wedding quilt did get done. And on time, too. The machine quilting was just about as much of a disaster as I expected it to be. I had serious tension problems, even after testing it on a sample sandwich and reading all the tips I could find, and rip out lots and lots of rows of quilting. It got alot better as I went along, though. I think the problem was my choice to pin baste, even though I saw that as the recommended method on several sites. I like pin basting when I'm hand quilting, but I think it caused too much drag when machine quilting. There was definite distortion in the quilt, even after I ripped out the worst of the too tight quilting.
But, the bride (a quilter) and her Mama (also a quilter) loved it, distortions and all. No one is more generous about a quilt, particularly one where you're trying a new skill, than another quilter. And since I picked a pattern I knew she loved and fabrics that I knew she would love, what was a little distortion in the scheme of things.

It was a funny moment, when she picked up the present, too. She peeked in the gift bag - the best I could do travelling cross-country the day before - and immediately said "this one's from Cara." I guess none of her local friends are quilters! That's just as well, because the card was back in Florida.

So, that's one project done - and the bride and groom were happily married off a week later in a beautiful celebration, so that's done, too. Now, on to Christmas!

October 26, 2011

Sneak Preview

When my model is feeling more cooperative, there will be an actual post written from somewhere other than my phone, with photos not taken on my phone.

But for now, let me just say - So Cute!

October 24, 2011


We interrupt our regularly scheduled slog of hand sewing binding to bring you this Halloween Costume Construction.

I bet you can guess what Sprite will be this year.

October 08, 2011

October 05, 2011

Tie Dye Extravaganza

I tried my hand at another kind of craftiness last weekend, hosting a tie dye party for 20 of our friends and family.
We ended the day with lots and lot of amazing art work. T-shirts, pillow cases - and my Mom even brought fabric to dye and use later in a quilt. (Smart!)
There was even a "will it be a girl?" onesie.
And, Sprite is now ready for Halloween season with this quirky little Jack O Lantern. I was disappointed when my tie dye was off center, but it turned out to be a happy mistake.
We even had tie dye cupcakes, which I made using the simple rainbow cupcake found everywhere on the internet. (I originally saw it here.)

It was quite simply the best party we've thrown. Because it was a potluck and I had the set up ready ahead of time, I was able to really enjoy my friends and have my turn at the tie dye. Everyone had a great time, and there was very little I needed to do to keep things moving after I gave the original tie dye instructions. My Mom called it a festival, and she wasn't far off. A huge spread of amazing food, lots of good music thanks to Pandora, quilts on the grass and children running wild - and everyone went home with at least one cool piece of tie dye art. We will definitely be doing this again.

September 22, 2011

Quite well, thank you.

Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?
Blossoms on two of the tomato plants and the jalapeno, lots of growth on the green beans and even a new navy bean plant that sprouted from a bean taken from our pantry... the littlest gardener has high hopes for this fall's garden.

September 21, 2011

Half Way There

The top is done, borders and all. I found a pretty blue for the backing, which I still need to piece. And then, its time for a deep breath, lots of basting and some machine quilting. I'm hoping I can be ready for that on Saturday, when the OMQG has its monthly Sew Day. I could use the moral support - and the advice.

September 08, 2011

Tweet Painting

Inspired by something I saw on pinterest (dangerous place that), I made this little piece of art this afternoon. It was just a practice piece that didn't have a home when I painted it. But, when I brought it in I realised it works perfectly on the bare nail in my sewing room. Serendipity.

Obviously, I didn't use vinyl letters like the original creator. I cut out my image and glued it down with tacky glue. This technique may take some perfecting. I definitely had bleeding in a few places. I also had trouble getting the paper off after painting, and in some spots the canvas primer came off. Because I'd used an image that doesn't require precise edges, it was easy enough to do a careful touch up with white paint. If I ever do one with words, I will definitely use the vinyl letters.

Also, I love the idea of doing this with your kids. 14 months? Not so much. She was much more interested in banging on the canvas with her toy than painting anything. We'll do some together when she's a little older.

September 07, 2011

New Adventures

The quilt is chugging along, 5 out of 7 rows together now. I know I hate putting the rows together, so as I get each row finished I'm attaching them. Almost ready for the borders.

But, in the meantime, I've finally got a garden box. I did quite a bit of research and got some expert advice, but in the end we kept it really simple. Hopefully, not too simple.
With my father-in-law's help, I built a simple 4'x8'x12" frame (no bottom) and filled it with five layers of cardboard. I've been saving boxes for awhile for this! My garage looks much cleaner now that I've finally used them.

The toddler made sure we included lots of love in the garden.
We then collected rich compost from the county dump. You need a shovel, a truck and a strong back, but this is incredible stuff.
And we filled it to the brim with nothing but rich, earthy compost. Yum.
And then, with Sprite's help, I planted three types of tomatoes, petite peppers, jalapeno peppers and bush beans. Yeah! I'm going to try starting my garden from seed later, but since I was cutting it close for a fall garden I went with transplants for now.

Decisions I might come to regret include not sinking posts for the box and not using a weed mat. I deferred to my father-in-law on the posts, and I do have reason to believe he knows what he's doing. I'm just hoping we don't get a hurricane that proves him wrong. And, I decided not to bother with a weed mat having read the layers of cardboard were sufficient. The cardboard will decompose, though, and while the grass should be long gone I'm not clear on what happens with the nematodes. If they find their way in to my garden, I may find myself digging it out to put a weed mat down.

But, for now, Sprite and I have an exciting new garden.

August 28, 2011

On The Needles

There's also a sweater for Sprite underway. She picked the yarn out herself, pulling it off the yarn store shelf and refusing to exchange it for any other. That was a surprise; she usually wants them all. Perhaps she's part cat, because she finds yarn very enticing. And, of course, with one good tug she can (and has) undone hours of work. But, the sweater is coming together anyway, and with the bulky yarn I actually make a lot of progress despite my limited knitting time.

I'm not in love with the sweater, though. I think, despite the fact that I'm drawn to it in the skeins, variegated yarn is a mistake when I'm making a sweater. Perhaps the busy color scheme distracts from the pattern of the sweater itself? I'm not sure, but I am noticing that I only like muted variegated yarns when I'm working on something larger than, say a sock.

But, my girl still plays with the yarn every chance she gets, and I suspect she is going to love the sweater. So, I'll finish it and then try the pattern again in something a bit quieter.

August 27, 2011

Moving Again

Between a few difficult weeks with Sprite (though, we did get 9 new teeth out of it) and the fact that taking blocks apart and re-working them isn't nearly as much fun as making them in the first place, work on the wedding quilt slowed down to a snail's pace. But, a month later all the blocks are finished, I've settled on a layout and I've even started sewing rows.

I'm much happier with the new blue. Everything flows nicely now, and the quilt was just what I envisioned. It was worth the extra work to do it right. And now the pace has picked back up as I get to watch the quilt come together.

Its sure to stall in a bit here, though. I *think* I've decided to machine quilt it on my sewing machine. I really should be able to on this new machine, and its only a lap size quilt. But, its really intimidating all the same.

July 25, 2011

Lots of Steps Forward, A Few Steps Back

The wedding quilt has been making itself. Ten minutes while Sprite re-organizes my fabric, fifteen during her nap, twenty while she plays with Daddy... suddenly I have most of the blocks done in a week. Maybe its that awesome new sewing machine.

Unfortunately, the blocks were flying from my awesome machine so fast that I was near the end before I laid them out to take a look. The photo here is just a random layout, with minimal fussing, of the blocks I'd finished. I'm almost in love with it. But, the distance between almost and just right is pretty big. Everything is perfect except one fabric choice. The light blue that seemed to go so well when I stacked the fat quarters up doesn't work at all in the actual quilt. It reads as a white, and its actually alot more jarring in real life than in this photo. Aargh.

I've toyed with lots of ideas to fix it. I could embroider on those blocks - their names, their wedding date, hearts. Or maybe the right color quilting thread would make it work... But, in the end, I think I have to re-do those squares. Its too big a risk to take, finishing it and hoping the quilting will take care of it. And while I may do some embroidery on it, I really don't want to do that much. This is a wedding quilt, meant to celebrate the love of a very special friend. One that has made a quilt for all the other girls in our group as we married and for our kids as they've come along. Now its her turn, and this one has to be just right.

So, I'll be hitting the fabric stores and then spending some quality time with my seam ripper. Its a good thing I'm making such great progress. November is still a ways away, right? (Nobody remind me I still have to quilt this thing, please. I'm hanging on to the idea that I'm ahead of schedule.)

July 17, 2011

Back In The Saddle

It's been six months since I've done any substantial sewing. But recently, Sprite turned one, sporting a GrandmaMade dress and an attitude.


And with her new independence (and my new role of stay at home mom), has come just a bit more freedom for Mama. She's content to let me do my own thing for chunks of time, as long as I'm willing to pause and make the appropriate animal sounds when she brings me her toy.

So this week, we picked out some pretty fabric and I made her a summer dress.

This is the same Reversible Sundress I made last summer, and so I already had the pattern prepared. With that head start, the dress took me less than three hours to make, even with the need to stop for play breaks and to admire her fabric choices. (She entertained herself in large part by pulling fabrics off the shelf and spreading them about. Occasionally, she'd find a favorite and bring it to me to admire. Or perhaps she was requesting the next dress?) It was simple and quick, a great chance to get to know my new sewing machine - the one I received for Christmas and hadn't even threaded yet. But, oh it felt good to sew something.

And Sprite is such an appreciative recipient. When I held it up to her to check the size, she hugged it to herself and then grinned down at it before grinning up at me. She happily wore it all day Friday, protesting when her grandmother took it off her before dinner. And as pretty as she clearly felt in it, I got that special glow from seeing my kid wear something I've made her. Something I not only actually managed to sew, but that I think she looks cute as a button in.

Emboldened by the success, I bought fabrics for a new quilt the very next day. Its intended for a November wedding, so lets hope I find the time to work on it. Saturday was the OMQG Sew Day, and I slipped away for a few hours and did the cutting. Tonight I set the machine up with a neutral thread and set out my first strips for piecing. Here's hoping tomorrow brings a few sewn seams!