Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anniversary Gift

My husband's brother and sister-in-law reached their 25th Anniversary last week. Their children, along with many of my husbands 13 siblings and parents, my sister-in-law's 3 siblings and father, assorted spouses and children, and friends of the couple gathered yesterday to reminisce and celebrate. We had fun looking at hilarious old photos of the couple... their wedding album was particularly enjoyable. They had a "rainbow" wedding with the bridesmaids in various pastel-y colors but matching gowns. The men sported many a mullet and humongous glasses. Oh, the 80's were a frightening time.

As a gift, I revised a pillow pattern from Alicia Paulson's Stitched In Time to make a pillow from family photos. Too bad I had not seen all the lovely wedding photos I could have used until afterwards! I could have made a blackmail pillow instead! As it was, I could only find 3 different family photos of the couple. Because I get one every year from them for Christmas, I thought this was odd I finally realized that my children had stolen the others. My sister-in-law does daycare for me, and has since both kids were born. The kids love her and love spending time at her house, so they carry around her family photos and want them to "live" in their bedrooms where they could see them all the time. I was lucky to find the few that I did! I scanned these and printed them on printable fabric. Then, because I could not seem to make a decent collage in photoshop (extremely frustrating), I ended up sewing them together for the pillow panel. I used a few of my favorite fabrics - Tina Givens Chandelier and Amy Butler Lotus-, framed the photos with some of the vintage ric rac that my mother in law gave me, and added a little patch for embroidering their anniversary date. Hope they enjoy it!

The photos really look darker then they show up in these shots. I'm not thrilled with my embroidery, I did not think it through and added the panel to the photos before embroidering it. Then I was too nervous to use a hoop and possibly damage the photo fabric. Live and learn...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Serging at Midnight

Well, it may not have been quite as late as midnight, but I did get on quite a roll last night. I posted a while back about getting a fantastic serger for Valentine's day, but honestly I have been a bit wary of it. OK, not wary, downright terrified. Then my husband made an annoyingly accurate comment about how expensive it was and that it was being wasted. I hate it when he is right... ack. So last week I used it on the internal seams for Theresa's apron and for Rowan's new skirt. A little confession- I turned off the cutting blade for these two endeavors. It helped me get over my fear of doing any permanent damage to a project. Baby steps... then yesterday, while babysitting Miss V, I used my serger to whip her up a skirt to match Rowan's. I used the serger for adding the trim, making the elastic casing, as well as the seams. And it worked! And nothing terribly bad happened!

Here are the girls in the matching skirts. (I'm hiding the adorable Miss V's face since I've not asked her mommy yet if I could post her pic...)

With a bit of practice under my belt, and small boost of confidence, I got antsy last night to do some more serging. Here are my late night projects...the first two done so late I could not get a picture with a child wearing them! The third picture, Rowan took this morning since I slept in my new pants :)

Griffin got new pj pants... made from thrifted fabric and by tracing a pair of his existing pants. I saw this fabric at Goodwill and had to pick it up for him, since he loves froggies. All the sewing was done on the serger except one turn on the top and bottom to secure the hems and hold in the elastic. Oh, and I used my normal machine to attach the label :)

Rowan saw this shirt from last week and wanted one of her own. I had enough of the pillowcase left over to make her one, so I did. Kind of felt like a pioneer - using every part of my pillowcase and letting nothing go to waste! I adapted the Shirred Pillowcase Top tute from Betz White to fit a 6 year old. Because I did not have the opportunity yet to pick up new elastic thread, the shirring is really just skinny elastic zig zagged to the fabric. I used some remnants for the straps and ruffles. Just a quick disclaimer, we will NOT be appearing anywhere in matching Mother Daughter ensembles. While I used to love this idea back in 1982 when I perused the JC Penney catalog, I don't think it would fly for either of us now days. Rowan looks cute when matching a 1 year old, not a 34 year old.

Last, I have been coveting my own Wide Leg Lounge Pants from Amy Butler's In Stitches since I made a gazillion pairs for others last Christmas. I remember thinking how much better these would have been to make, had I had a serger. Turns out I was right. They were amazingly quick and easy. I changed the pattern a bit and did an elastic waist...I knew I would not want to bother with a tie.
In order to save the cute trim from the thrifted sheet I used, I started every seam from the bottom and sewed upwards. I had a little trimming to do on top to make things even out, but was able to forgo hemming this way as well as keep the piping and cuff. Like Griffin's pants, everything was serged except the elastic casing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Double Layer Skirt - She likes it! She really likes it!

I got the itch to sew last night and after scrolling through my "favorite" saved tutes, I found the Double Layer Skirt tutorial on the Everyday Chaos blog. Using Bridget's great tute, I crafted up a skirt late in the evening. While the tutorial was great - easy to understand and very adaptable for different sizes- I had a few glitches occur (when don't I?). So I modified things a smidge. When my top layer was a little too big, I went with it. I added a bow and turned the place where the top layer met to the back. I think it looks a bit like an apron is on top of her skirt now - which is right up my alley.

It gets the "good spinning" approval as well.

The fabric is from Hancock - bought on a whim a few months back because I loved the mom and daughter scenes on the toile. Well, I'm a sucker for toile in general, but this was too sweet to pass up, especially in my favorite color combo.

A quick disclaimer - while Rowan may look happy wearing hand made items in the pics I post here in blog land, she normally would not choose the to wear things I make her. Makes me a little sad, but for some reason I keep trying. Maybe because the little girl stuff you can build is just so dang cute- skirts, dresses, headbands, etc . So, while I hung up a new skirt in her bedroom around 11 pm or so last night, I did not anticipate that she would wear it without a fight, let alone love it as much as I did. Fast forward to today. I'm out the door HOURS before the hubby and monsters on the days I work at the office. So a few hours into my morning, I called Dave to see how things went getting them to our sister in law's house for daycare. When I casually questioned if she noticed her new skirt (ahem...not really casually...) he told me she had loved it and even wore it to daycare today. I may have gotten a bit teary... she likes it - she really likes it! She picked out her big girl halter top and put in her own pig tails to complete her look. She wanted to wear her tall brown winter boots - but Dad would not let her. Honestly, winter being months away and all, I still may have, since they would have matched so nicely. Oh, and while my natural inclination prior to taking a picture of either of my children would be clean them up a bit, I'm WAY too excited to show exactly how she wore it and loved it today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Birthday Apron

We are celebrating my sister-in-law Theresa's birthday this weekend at her cabin. She requested an apron as her gift - how cool is that? I used this apron as a my inspiration... and Amy Butler lotus fabric, some vintage ribbon that was in my husband's (and thus sister-in-law's) family, and a pile of homemade bias tape.

To finish it up, I added a matching ruffle to some rubber gloves. I looked for a more neutral color, but it was either purple or day-glow yellow.... so purple won out.

Here is the pocket detail with the vintage ribbon. I wish I had a bit more ribbon, but this was part of the stash I received from my mother in law. I love the idea of incorporating it on Theresa's gift - keeping it in the family.

Since I've been on a bit of a kick lately, I added a little flower to the bodice corner as well.

My sister is driving down to watch the kids so I can head to the lake. Along with the apron and gloves, I'm bringing Lemon Zucchini cookies (from here - they are amazing), some chicken salad (a different sister-in-law's recipe) and a delish chicken adobe pepper dip (recipe from a niece) that I just may blog about if it ends up as good as I remember! Have a great weekend all....

Shirred Pillowcase Shirt

Yesterday, after finishing up the Buttercups and an apron for my sister in law (to be posted later), I just wanted to keep sewing. Whether this was due to the kids being tucked in for the night, or because my sewing hutch is so beautifully organized now, I'm not sure, but I got an itch to do "one more project". I first tried to add another row to a quilt that I'm working on, but when I added it backwards, I quit it immediately. I simply folded it up and put it away - saving the seam ripping for another day. Then my eye caught on my stack of thrifted pillowcases...and I remembered seeing a tutorial online for a shirt made from one. I googled it and decided I had all the requirements so the game was on.

The Shirred Pillowcase Top tutorial is from Betz White... and I found it here on Craftzine. The only part that scared me a bit was the shirring - but it is something I have been wanting to try. Ummm.. one piece of advice to share on shirring would be to buy new elastic thread. Unfortunately, I relied on some thrifted elastic thread that I had on hand and it did not ruffle nearly enough (read: at all). To save the project, I ended up sewing a strip of Fold Over Elastic all the way around the interior where the shirring was supposed to be occurring. It worked well enough and the tutorial was quick and easy. It came together in less than an hour and I think Rowan may get a matching one out of the scraps. I am excited to try the shirring again with new thread, now that I've given it a shot!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Buttercups - in triplicate

I whipped up a few Buttercup bags for a friend to offer at a silent auction tomorrow. When I couldn't find my own enlarged version of the bag (that I made this and this from), I decided to buy the one on Rae's site. Only $10, for both the small and large sizes and it also includes a commercial license to sell these guys... which is a possibility! Anyone interested in one? They go together quickly and easily and really are pretty. I made 2 in the normal "bitty" size and one in a slightly larger size. Each time I've made one of these I've changed a few things. This time I turned them at the top seam instead of inside the lining (then it closes with the top stitching) and attached the straps inside as well. I tried for some piping on one, and all of them got a vintage button of some sort as well. Of course, now I want one of these for myself. Here are all three of the bags -

Here is the first one. They all have cream colored corduroy as the lining. It helped keep them sturdy enough and I did not use any other facing.

I found the button in my thrifted vintage stash and it looks great with the Amy Butler Lotus fabric...

OK... you've seen this combination before. As you may have guessed (from this and this and this) I'm a HUGE fan of these Tina Givens fabrics...

It is probably hard to tell in these pictures, but the one with the Birdseed fabric is the enlarged one.

Here are all 3 again...

Before I could start these last night, I got a wild hair and cleaned my entire sewing hutch out. Folded all the fabric, organized the diaster pile of patterns and tutorials and even got the fuchsia thread out/off of my serger. It felt relaxing to sit down to an organized area this morning. I even found the missing twill tape I've been looking for. I was finally able to use it along with this tutorial and make up my own little labels. Amazingly easy, and they only took about 20 minutes, which included about 5 minutes where I frantically searched for my iron on printer paper. I've commissioned my little brother to come up with a label design for me to use and then I'll probably get some labels printed up professionally, but these will do for now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clothespin Bag

I believe I mentioned a few posts back that the installation of my new clothes line occurred while my Aunt Nancy was visiting the week before last. What I probably did not go into was the fact that Nance drove her umbrella clothes line all the way from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota just so little old me could hang up my wet laundry, reduce our energy use and help save the Earth. Oh, and have nice crunchy towels as well - think of it - dry off AND exfoliate! Ha! Against Dave's wishes, Nancy and I sunk a piece of PVC pipe into the ground and cemented it in good. After a day we were able to pop the clothes line pole right in and we were in business. Now I can move the clothes line out of the yard if need be, though I can only think that it will be necessary when the snow falls.

I found tons of clothespins at thrift stores last week as well, so the only thing I was missing was something to put them in. I looked all over online and saw tons of tutorials for clothespin bags, but nothing that was really speaking to me. I did fall absolutely in love with these ones here and here on Etsy, but could not justify the cost when I had all the materials and know how on hand to craft one up myself.

So... I mocked up my own pattern (which included taping 2 pens together to get my necessary Seam Allowance - it is OK, you can laugh at me) and threw a quick clothespin bag together last night. Then, when that one only held like 10 pins, I elongated the bag a bit and threw another one together! Second times the charm. I took pics while I was sewing and possibly may post the pattern/tutorial, but am having trouble scanning the image and keeping it true to size, so we'll see. For now, check out my cute clothespin bag from some thrifted goodies (fabric, bias and button), a child size plastic hanger and a dishtowel (the interior fabric and flower).

The flower is on a safety pin, and it has been moved around a bit to find the best possible placement... I like it in the above picture best - plus it helps hold the hanger in place.

I have done at least a load of laundry a day now for about 6 days and only used the dryer on Dave's work shirts 2 times. I've been asked if it bugs me to spend all the time doing the actual hanging and honestly that is the best part... I am able to relax a bit, be outside and keep a closer eyes on the 2 hooligans I call my children. Oh, and I love how amazing our laundry smells!

I come from a long line of clothes line dryers, so these will make good gifts for my family members. My dad is getting the next one of these, since his clothespin bag fell apart while we were hanging swim towels on the line a few weekends ago.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recent treasures

I thought I'd post a few pictures of my most recent finds from garage sales or thrift stores - or various family members! I love finding treasures in things others don't want anymore- I think it appeals partially to my desire to recycle and not generate more stuff.. and a bit to my innate "need" to shop and acquire things. Lord knows I still end up buying new enough, but I give the re-use/re-purpose movement a valiant effort.

Here is an old typewriter my Aunt Nancy and I found at a garage sale. I love the bracelets people make from the keys/letters, but can't bring myself to ruin this! I think I'll just keep it out on our buffet like this for now...

My Auntie Kym brought me this treasure - an antique portable Singer. And it works! We just need to figure out how to thread the dang thing! (Matches the typewriter too!)

This is a large, busy shot just to show the new (to me) frame around the guitar . $1 and some antique white paint to match the mantle and shutters... Dave hates it, but it makes me happy...

I did not know what this was at first, but thought it looked fun. My aunt said it is an old nut grinder... but I think instead of nuts, it will be full of thread or buttons soon.

Speaking of buttons, I picked up these buttons, jars and huge embroidery hoop while dropping stuff off at Goodwill yesterday. Defeating the purpose I know, but I like to think of it as swapping...out with the old, in with the new (to me).

Last up is one of my favorite finds lately. I found a huge stack of 5x5" fabric squares at Goodwill a few weeks back. Seriously, I bet the stack was about 9-10 inches tall and full of fun vintage prints. I have been thinking of doing some quilting, but the cutting part sounds so putsy and the precision required so daunting, I haven't gotten up the energy and/or nerve to start one. Not only do I have the cutting part done now, but I can also not wreck any of my favorite fabrics while I practice lining up the squares nicely. I am working on a lap quilt, or maybe 2 small baby quilts first off - and am only using about a 5th of the fabric! I think a tiered, patchwork, twirl skirt for Rowan may be next up with these squares.

Just thought I'd show some of my favorite finds thus far... I'm sure there will be more to come.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nancy's trip and Rowan's Room

It has been a while without posts, mainly because my Aunt Nancy and her family were home from Texas for a few days, so we crammed in as much time with them as possible. We started off her trip home with a day of thrifting and garage sales. It was fantastic. I'll post about some of the treasures later... but rest assured we bought up tons of things that normal people probably don't want :) We then all headed north for some time in Duluth with the larger family. We stopped into my moms for a quick night at the cabin (think campfire, beer and good guitar playing with not so good accompanists trying to remember the words to American Pie... ha!). Brooke drove up for a day and took family photos for Nancy, as well grad pics for my little sister Lauren (arg, when did she get so dang old?), while we were there. As usual, BL did an amazing job - they are quite awesome! Take a gander here and here to see some of the shots. While in Duluth we also had a family picnic, played some volley ball, did some crafting and hit some more garage sales.

My Grandma and Aunt came down to our house for a days then to help me tile a bathroom and make Rowan's room into a "Big Girl" room, per her request. Dave thinks it is quite odd that we like to do house projects while on vacation at each others houses, maybe we are wierd? Oh well. Grandma and Nance also organized my cupboards, washed my laundry, cleaned out the laundry room, helped to install a clothesline and helped me purge a ton of things that resulted in 4 trips to Goodwill! Not bad for 3 days work, huh? The tiling was a nightmare (luckily done much more by my Grandma and Nance), and Dave has to finish a few spots, so I won't post about that now. As for her room, Rowan was tired of her "baby room" with the sage green walls and fairy and dragon fly wallies. Since these have been in her room (in 2 different houses) since the day she was born, I gave in and allowed her to make a few new choices to make her room one fit for a "big kid". She chose aqua blue for her walls and we painted all her mismatched furniture - a combo of hand me down, thrift store, and new stuff - white to make it match up a bit more. I also cut down the legs of her loft a bit - it was too high and she kept hitting her head on the ceiling. Think me with a dremmel tool, D&G sunglasses on (couldn't find my safety goggles) and a bunch of sparks flying. It turned out great, but I was a little concerned for a while that my grandma was going to dump a bucket of water on me, as she was sure we'd start a fire with all the paint fumes and sparks! Last, I crafted up a quick (albeit imperfect) memo board for all her pictures and what not. I took an existing poster frame, some fabric, some mis matched ribbon, an old sleeping bag as batting and threw it together. Here are some shots of her room...

The memo board, as shown by Vanna, er, Rowan...

Her unmade bed (in her newly lowered loft)... and what big girl room would be complete without a bean bag chair and a guitar?

We painted this shelf from Ikea - and yes, I do realize it can be purchased in white as well. I thought of that with every damn brush stroke.

A view from under her loft. Dresser and nightstand got a coat of paint as well.

Up next, a few crafting pics. When my aunt is home we like to mass produce some craft. Last year we did bottle cap and spoon bracelets. The year before was the bead/wire wrapped silverware year. We did some quick glass jar hanging candles this year. No real "right way" to do this, so the kids had fun beading to their hearts content.

The crew, drinks in hand, crafting in the garage due to rain in Duluth. Yep, sweatshirts and rain in July, gotta love the northland!
I raided my recycling bin to get all the jars - they were really pretty hanging from my grandma's apple trees.

On the last day of our time with Nance, we took the monsters to Valley Fair for a day of fun and what not. Rowan was quite the daredevil, going on all the big rides and roller coasters. Griffin was a bit more restricted, being under 48 inches and all, but he had a blast in the water park. It was a fun 10 day so with the Fraziers - I miss them a ton already! Thanks for all the help Nance!!