Friday, January 30, 2009

gifts for baby "J"

Friends of ours had their second baby a few weeks back. They had a little boy (we'll call him "J" for the sake of the post - though "JJJ" would be more appropriate), and since their other babe is a girl, I decided some "boyish" baby accessories were in order. I am happy to say I only used fabric from my stash -I had the puppy fabric from Theresa's apron a while back, as well as some blue flannel I had found in the remnants section at Joann's and used to face Brianna's bag. Oh, and I always have various brown cottons, since I love the color brown.

I used the bib pattern in the Bend the Rules sewing book (Yes - AGAIN with the book, I know) to make 2 bibs. I did not have time (or printer ink really) to actually enlarge it and print it it is really an "eyeball" of the pattern. I hope that the neck hole fits his baby head. My kids had such huge melons, but their necks were really fairly scrawny, so I think we are good. The snap tool was also a "roadblock" at first, but I eventually figured out how to read Spanish and use the dang thing. I did an easy top stitch of the puppy appliques - the idea being that the edges will fray cutely, and not destructively.

Then I used the same fabrics and made a reversible burp cloth. Since it is a totally made up design, it is a bit crooked and wonky, but it should serve it's purpose well. I'd prefer the flannel side up, if I was baby "J" being burped on mom or dad's shoulder, I'm just saying.

Lastly, every baby needs a pair of fabric baby shoes, right? (Well, Vada needed like 23, but that is BL's story, not mine) I had just a bit more of the puppy fabric and some vintage buttons found in my antique sewing machine. I forgot how easy these are to put together... and how cute they turn out.
Here is the set - just before I wrapped it up with little gifts for big sister and mommy as well. I told Dave to buy the new Daddy a beer - I don't have many crafts appropriate for men yet...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scarf of many colors and a Thrifty Friday

Since my littlest guy is sleeping so nicely...

I am able to grab a few minutes to show off my fantastic new scarf. My aunt Nancy mailed it to me from Texas and I LOVE it. I'm calling it the Scarf of Many Colors. TOO CUTE! It was a "just because" gift, which is often the best type...

I wore my new scarf out and about as Griffin and I hit a few thrift stores today. That was before meeting up with friends at the house of Mouse. No, not Disney World... this is Minnesota people. Think Chuck E Cheese.
Here are my thrifting treasures... it was a pretty good day!

A few of my favorites...
Of course the aprons - and for a buck ninety five a piece, what is not to love? I know I'm a bit obsessed with aprons of late, but these are so nostalgic. I think the red one is perfect for Valentines day! They are currently in the washer on a gentle cycle with my fabric.. I have my fingers crossed that they survive :)

I am short on serving pieces, well - of the non plastic variety that is - so I picked up this plate and bowl. I think they were under $2 a piece, so I'm happier with the price than anything else.

All the sewing notions and fabric are good finds as well. These buttons are meant to be covered with fabric... not sure how to do it, but the packaging promises I need "no tools" to do this, so we'll see. Umm... I'm not sure how to rotate the picture - sorry :)

Here are some of the fabrics - most pieces were a 1/2 yard, but the orangy/peach on the top left corner is over a yard and the blue on the right is over 2. The lot was around $4.

Not separately pictured, but shown above in the first picture, I also picked up some sheets - a flannel one to use as interfacing in all my projects, and the green one to be used for my own pair of Wide Leg Lounge pants. I also found ric rac, bias tape, zippers and elastic for cheap... Life is good :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brianna's belated birthday and a few more projects

My sister Brianna saw the Pleated Beauty tote I made our littlest sister Lauren for Christmas and wanted one of her own. Well, she already had one, the one I made myself and did not love, due to not following directions (too long and narrow), but she wanted one more functional and where she contributed a bit more. Or, I let her think she contributed. I love Tina Givens fabrics - they are so fun and different. When I found a fabric line named Cloe's Imagination, I knew I wanted to do a project with it. Since my sister's eldest child is named Chloe, I pushed her into loving it as well, and wanting it for her tote. OK, I have a smidge of guilt, but what is not to love? Peacocks? Bird cages? Lady bugs? What more could you want in a tote bag? And while I know that there are other great tote/bag patterns out there, Brianna wanted a Pleated Beauty, so who was I to argue? It is a great pattern and the Bend the Rules Sewing book rocks.

I picked up a 1/2 yard set of 3 fabrics here on Etsy and made her bag this weekend. The only veering from the BTRS book I made (besides accommodating for having 3 different fabrics instead of the 2 it called for) were adding a magnetic clasp, elongating the straps a bit and not pleating the lining. Oh, and I did not add the bottom piece of stabilizer. I used this tutorial from the Craft Apple on adding the clasp and am happy with how easy it was. The magnet itself is so strong that I am glad I interfaced it...I had to almost tear it apart to take the interior shot. I'll see my sister in 2 weeks, so posting it is almost mean, but she'll at least know it is done and waiting for her! Happy Birthday Bree~

Here is the bag...

Here is the inside pocket and clasp.

Since I had red thread on the machine (does that tell you how lazy of a sewer I am?), I was able to do another quick project. My friend Jen liked the dishtowel apron I made for my SIL for Christmas. I had a red coordinating pack of towels left (God forbid I buy just one of something) so I whipped up one for her. I opted to not add a pocket this time around, and I doubled the length of the straps. I think it needs the bow in front or is too plain. I debated about a black ruffle trim, since I had a black dish towel from the pack, but Jen wanted an easy apron she could toss in the wash and not worry about messing up... I figured the ruffles might get wonky after washing... I hope she likes it!

And last, I am almost embarrassed to post this, but I will. (Maybe someday it will help to see how far I've come... or make me wonder why I did not keep going...) I'm sure any hard core (or even soft core) knitters would laugh, but I'm dang happy to have finished 2 wash cloths now! Yes - just a garter stitch, so nothing complicated, but I'm getting the hang of it. I have been using one of the washcloths and it makes me giddy to clean up my messy kids. Yep, ridiculous, I know :) That is ok, so am I!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday projects

Since I have Fridays off, this is when I normally do the bulk of my crafting. Well, it is also when I try to do fun things with Griffin, but often those things can be combined. He loves coming to the fabric store with me, especially if I promise to make him a costume of some sort. This week, since I had just made him his Buddy the Elf costume, I was free to finish the lap quilt I had started for Rowan.

But first, we had to do something fun together. We decided to make muffins. Or cupcakes. I'm not sure what you'd call these. Griffin was calling them "muff cakes" but I don't think that is entirely appropriate. Since I'm back to a "healthy eating" lifestyle (read: Weight Watchers) this year (it is that or buy a new wardrobe people) I am trying hard to make things that the entire family can eat without blowing my points. My girlfriend Jen made these muffins and they were delish. And easy...they are a box of yellow cake mix, a can of pumpkin and 3/4 a bag of cinnamon chips (yes - cinnamon, right next to the chocolate ones, if you look hard enough). We made them Friday mid morning and both kids ate 2 a piece at snack when I'm sneaking good things into their "treats".

While I was waiting for Griffin to fall asleep at nap time (before I ventured into my craft room a whole floor away), I worked on my knitting. I have been struggling learning, but am seeing improvement. The book learning has been augmented with conversations with knitters at work, thankfully. I just picked up the bamboo needles and like them a lot more than the metals ones I had been using. I'm working on some easy washcloths. That way, they don't have to be perfect, but I won't be wasting the yarn. Doesn't look like much, but it is a start!

Now, let us talk quilts. My first disclaimer, I do not know how to quilt. I am scared of quilting and all the intricate designs and patterns that I have seen since I started sewing. I don't understand the terms (What in the world is a log cabin?) or have the gear (walking foot! It is now on my list). It seemed that there were 2 types of sewers out there - quilters and everyone else. Since I don't quilt, I guess I was part of the "everyone else" category. BUT,that didn't mean that I was not intrigued by all the cool quilts I've seen on blogs and flickr. When I made the decision to try making one in 2009, I had so many new decisions to make it was almost frightening. What pattern? What design? What colors? What material? What size? ACK!!
Second disclaimer, while I had started out promising to make Rowan a new bedspread, after reading different tidbits of advice all over the crafty Internet, we decided a smaller lap size quilt would be a good start. Have I mentioned I have not made a quilt before? I was scared people.
OK, now onto the rest of the story. Rowan is in the midst of having her bedroom updated to reflect the big girl she now is. She wants her new room to be aqua and red, so that is what we used on the quilt. I had a lot of the scraps on hand, but did get a few new pieces (Valorie Wells fabric from here on Etsy. Amazingly fast shipping!), especially for the binding and the back fabric. While I did not copy the exact design from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book, I used it to find out how to put this together, quilt it and bind it. The book was extremely helpful, especially since it was my first time attempting a quilt (have I mentioned that?). All said, I think I could have made the quilt a bit more even and squared up. My "stitching in the ditch" got a bit crazy, too... that may have been controlled if I had opted to slow down, but I am a speed demon. Sometimes my stitching veered to the left of the ditch, sometimes to the right, and sometimes I could not even find the dang ditch. I enjoyed playing around with the design - laying it out and then changing it. I hemmed and hawed with embroidering or appliqueing on it, but decided to keep it simple (hee hee) since it was so busy with the differing fabrics. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish the hand stitching portion of the binding in the company of friends and a glass of wine. Thanks Kim and Theresa for the conversation and vino to keep me going! All in all, it works to keep her warm, so mission accomplished.
Here is the front... (sorry it is on my busy rag rug. I did not realize how difficult it is to take photos of a quilt. I can't imagine how I would have shot a queen size one.)

And the back...

And Miss Rowan all snuggled in. It averaged about 16 below here last week... without the windchill. Brrr....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The many faces of Griffin

If you read my blog, you may know that my 4 year old son Griffin is a bit of a character. Literally. He becomes somewhat obsessed with his current movie or toys and wants to dress up and act like them. ALL THE TIME. Dave and I hope that he is displaying talents and skills necessary to be a great actor, rather than those associated with numerous personalities.

If you don't believe me, remember this?

Yes, it was Halloween, and it is "normal" to dress up. But, this was also Halloween. Same day, and 2 costumes.

There was also a brief stint as Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Harry Potter. Then he got this movie for Christmas.

But honestly, I did not see this one coming. He normally likes super heros and the like. Last week, on our weekly Friday morning trip to Joann Fabric, he begged for the sparkly green felt so he could be Buddy. How could I possibly not cave when he is such a good shopping partner, and so dang funny? So, introducing, Griffin as "Buddy the Elf".

I had a jumping 4 year old bumping my elbow the entire sewing process yelling "Son of a Nutcracker!". And no pattern, I just threw it together, so don't look too close at the sewing. Look at how silly he looks instead. He is cracking Dave and I up running around the house yelling, "I'm am a cotton headed ninny muggins!" and "There is TOO singing at the North Pole... especially when you are making presents!".

We still have to find yellow tights, and I just found a tutorial online here to make elf shoes, but he is pleased with the results so far.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Clean House & GG's Belated Birthday Present

You'll all be quite relieved to know, I'm sure, that my dining room is back to normal after my holiday crafting extravaganza. Even my craft and laundry rooms have been cleaned and organized. With a full 2 weeks off for the holidays, my entire house is in its shining glory. Cupboards are orderly, laundry is all done and put away (yes, a feat that took almost the entire 2 weeks itself), a trip to IKEA provided new candles and rugs - in short, things are all good. For now. I'm sure we'll manage to destroy the order and sparkly clean-ness in no time, but let me revel in it while it lasts...

What to do with a shiny clean crafting room? Well, craft, of course! My grandma ("GG") in Florida did not get the benefits of my new found sewing prowess (ha ha..."prowess") this Christmas....well, not until now. Her birthday falls on December 17th and I am a bit late, but I'm hoping she subscribes to the "better late then never" maxim. I had made her an Emmeline apron back on Mother's Day - as she is one of my few "Mothers" who actually wears aprons all the time. She loved it, and I did too, but the fabric was more of the practical/sturdy/useful variety and I've since wanted to make her an apron with more "pretty" fabric. I planned to do another Obi apron, but the contrasting striped fabric I grabbed at Joann's would not look as nice on a curved hem, so I opted for the Long Pleated Apron from Amy Butler's In Stitches book. I am happy with it.... it went together nice and easy. Well, one seam rip is fairly standard for me when I don't read the entire directions before hand. When will I learn? Check out the towel loop.

Since it had a towel loop, she needed a matching towel, right? The "GG" on the applique is our nickname for my Grandma since some of us grand kids started having babies of our own. ("Great Grandma", get it?). I did the applique trick/cheat I read about here on the Sew Mama Sew forum. Love doing new techniques - especially if they are somewhat sneaky and can help me save time.

I added in some of my most recent pictures of the kids (that BL took back in the fall and I had procrastinated sending) and sent off a package to her in sunny Florida (from the arctic tundra of Minnesota) today. Starting off the new year with a project done and out the door feels fantastic! My other resolutions are doing OK as well... though it is only day 5.. or is it 6? It was almost harder to pull the treadmill out of storage and dust it off than it was to do the 30 minute "wimpy" workout I chose. I also vowed to cut my Internet time... especially when the kids are awake. I need to find a way to read crafty blogs from the treadmill.... then I'll be a bit more motivated AND resourceful. Gotta go, Internet time is up!