Friday, April 30, 2010

No Placemats for Me

Lately I've been tempted by beautiful placemats.  Tempted?  Yes.  1.  I have enough projects going right now.  2.  We don't need placemats.  More on that later.  Don't you want to see the objects of my temptation?

I stumbled upon this gorgeous set in the Good Folks Sewing Flickr pool (oh, how I LOVE that pool!).  They are made and designed by Three Dancing Magpies for a swap:

Testing them out  . . .

Project 1 of Swap

Anna Maria Horner fabric + Patchwork + linen = Perfection.  Lucky swap partner!

Then, Sew Mama Sew featured this little beauty as a "Quilt of the Day" during their April quilt month:

It's made by Bloomin' Workshop.  Her "mini quilt" placemat makes me want to test out quilt designs on a small scale like this.  Hardly takes any fabric and definitely takes less time than a quilt.  I've been hankering to try quilted hexagons, which are reported to be incredibly labor intensive, but as a placemat not so much.  Tempting.

However, I do declare that there are no placemats forthcoming!  You see, placemats don't work for us.  They'd be dirty at every meal (those messy kids, never me! ;)).  I've heard that you just shake them over the garbage and put them back on the table (maybe any spills would be hidden in the patchwork?), but that sounds like more work to me than simply wiping down our bare table.  Plus, I sew at that table.  It's already enough to haul out the sewing machine, iron, ironing table, cutting mat and supplies every time I want to sew.  So, plain is my table and plain it will remain.

My Table

Nevertheless, time spent gazing at beautiful placemats instead of quilting my Meadowsweet baby quilt is not in vain.  I think that Three Dancing Magpie's minimalist patchwork row on linen would be a lovely outer for a make up roll, don't you think?  And, the mini quilt concept with or without hexagons would work well for a pot holder, which we do need.  And, that's what I love about browsing other's work on Flickr.  Inspiration comes in handy and sewing is SO versatile.  Thanks to all the artists on Flickr!

P.S.  Poor, patient Meadowsweet quilt.  I will stitch you tomorrow!

Meadowsweet Basted

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oh well...

I think I'm cured of making clothes.

Do you remember that top I made for my 5-year-old daughter for Easter?  She doesn't like it.  Not at all.  She put it away and said not a thing.  When I asked her after about a week when she planned to wear it, she suggested next Easter.  And then, she sadly confessed the truth:  the top has too much gray.  Take a look:

after a storm

What, you see purple, pink, red (all her favorite colors)?  Did you notice the natural linen trim (it's grayish)?  The ironic truth is that Aria chose this fabric herself!  Um, yeah!  To be fair, there is gray in the print.  Take a look at the back towards the center left:

Well, I'll be.  Who would have thought fabulous pink and purple could be done in by a bit of soft gray?  Aria, quite sweetly and trying to help, suggested I should sell it.  So, I will.  Why not?  She reluctantly agreed to model it for me and so we enjoyed some time outside after a thunderstorm admiring the battered azaleas.

Not exactly what I had in mind, but oh well....


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Make up Rolls for Mama & Etsy!

Makeup Rolls for Home &amp; Travel

Oooh, I love to finish a project... but a double project is even better!  My mom requested a make up roll for Mother's Day after seeing the one I made for myself out of sheer desperation.  Mom chose some of her favorite Anna Maria Horner fabrics, and I stitched it up just right for her make up stash:

Good Fortune for Mama

I simply cannot find anything like it on Etsy or elsewhere.  The concept is from a Mary Kay design I used to death that was made in nasty vinyl.  I just love having all of my everyday make up in one organized roll so that I'm not digging through a dark bag or taking one piece at a time out of the drawer.  And, when it's time for a trip, it's all ready to go with protective padding built in.

My mom encouraged me to make another make up roll to attempt to sell on Etsy.  She knows that I have to earn my fabric money, as finances are really tight for us (and most everyone these days, right?).  What she didn't know is that I've been dreaming about starting an Etsy store that would raise money for charity.  My passion for creating is a wonderful way to spend the evening for sure, but I feel it could be something more - a way to bless others.  I've always had a heart for children in poverty, so I've decided to use a chunk of the proceeds from my Etsy store for Compassion International's Child Survival Fund.  I'm very excited... and nervous.  Will anyone really buy my things?  I suppose time will only tell.  Here's my first item for sale:

Buttoned Up in Ink


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Liam’s LaUgh

Today I was sick.  While I did finish up two projects, I didn't get a chance to photograph them.  I hope to be back tomorrow with pictures and an exciting announcement.

Meanwhile, I'll  share my very first "because I want to" sewing project - Liam's LaUgh banner.

Liam's Banner

Amanda Soule's "Handmade Home" was my inspiration.  That, and Liam's woefully empty wall.  It's really a very easy project.  I used my husband's cast-off wool sweater and appliqued the letters leaving exposed raw edges.  the hardest part was figuring out how to attach it to the wall.  Amanda used a drawer pull, but my husband couldn't figure that out (least of all me), so we opted for some cool upholstery tacks.

The letter materials are from his retired crib set and some fabric I had used to recover our glider.  (Sniff, sniff... oh the days of rocking my babies to sleep!)  So nice to keep those memories around.  I read my then 2-year-old some of the words on Amanda Soule's idea list and he grabbed onto "laugh".  Perfect for him.  The word called for an off-kilter capitalization, don't you think?

The lion applique was the most fun.  Liam loves to pretend to be a lion, or pretend to be a zookeeper tending to a pack of lions.  And lately, he's had imaginary friends too.  The boy knows how to pretend!

Liam LOVES Lions

If you've done this project before, did you felt the wool backing?  SouleMama didn't say to felt the wool, but now that I've seen other projects, I'm wondering if that's what she intended.  Oops!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reluctant Gardening

All to often lately, I've been slaving away in the garden instead of stitching indoors. This is our first veggie garden and it's really not any fun yet. We've put lots of time and cash into setting things up with a super-high fence to keep out the deer and sprinklers.

Our Veggie Garden

Now comes my part... the actual planting.  At lease I have these two sillies to keep me entertained.  They know what to do with all the red clay I dig out.

Making Mud Cake

It's takes a load of self-discipline to toil in the sun when Good Folks fabric is calling me inside. Here is a peek at what I'm working on now for my mama in the nighttime hours.

Mama's Gift in progress

Meanwhile, the azaleas have taken siege.  Our humble home is surrounded with a riot of blooms.  Literally surrounded.

Springtime at home

Azalea glory

Although the azaleas are having their moment in the limelight, my favorite view is the treeline along the meadow where a hint of dogwood blooms can still be spotted.

Along the meadow

Isn't spring delicious?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sweet Spring Piecing

Meadowsweet Baby Quilt

Our yard is a bloom with rose, iris and dogwood.  Little violets cluster under the shade of the pear tree and all the trees boast bright new green leaves.   I started cutting for this baby quilt on Easter and just finished the quilt top this evening.  The warm, girly hues of Sandi Henderson's Meadowsweet collection are quite sweet for spring.

While I love this fabric, I'm not sure that this quilt is doing it justice, to be honest.  I like the taupe Kona cotton I paired it with, as I felt that cream and natural linen had a washing out effect.  However, the quilt just doesn't have the "pop" I'd hoped for.  Here is a bird's eye view of just a few rows.  Unfortunately my camera lighting ran out before I finished the quilt top:

Hello spring!

I plan to use Kona's rich red for the binding, which may be just what it needs.  And, I'm hoping that it all looks much better once bound and quilted, as things tend to do.  But, for now, I'm putting this Meadowsweet baby quilt aside for another project.  My mama has requested something special for mother's day.  I'll be sharing more about that soon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Progress: Crewel Embroidery

This weekend I spent a total of 7 hours in the car on a business trip to Atlanta.  My mom and business partner drove, so my hands were free as we chatted about this, that, the other and everything in between.  It was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at crewel embroidery.  Yes, crewel.  Odd name, I know.

I recently came across  The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy when searching for modern embroidery books/projects on Amazon.  The designs inside are as delicious as the whimsical "Birthday Candle" motif on the cover.  Most are nature-inspired, and all have a chunky look that's signature to crewel.  Apparently, crewel has been around for ages, but has lost popularity since its last heyday in the 70's.  Traditionally it is done with wool crewel thread, which is more like yarn than like embroidery floss, and on linen twill.  Katherine's book stays true to tradition but her designs are decidedly modern.

I love stitching.  When watching TV with my husband or riding along on a trip, I'd rather embroider than knit or crochet.  I settled on this twisted tree design from "The New Crewel."  It reminds me of the gorgeous oak trees that arch over roads in low country South Carolina.  After tracing the design on a piece of natural linen/cotton Essex fabric, I packed my mother's old crewel thread (there it was, mixed in with the embroidery floss she had passed down to me - what a happy surprise!) and set off.

WIP Twisted Trees

Here's how far I got with at least 6 hours of stitching!  Wow, this is NOT quick work!  Or, I'm incredibly slow...  But, I love the process, so no problem!  I have another, lighter shade of green for the other tree in this design.  When it's done, I think it'd look nice patched on a purse.  What do you think?  Any other ideas?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, Fransson!

Last night I poured over Elizabeth Hartman's  blog Oh, Fransson!.  I had seen her blog's name come up before.   Who could forget it?  But I hadn't really visited her blog until this week.  Wow!  Not only does Elizabeth do beautiful work, she blogs with such excellent clarity that learning from her is really a joy.  I learned more from reading through her 2009 Quilt-along, designed for beginners, than I've learned from many a dry (and outdated) quilting book checkout out from the library.

Elizabeth's post Color Basics for Quilting discusses color schemes with full-sized quilt examples to give you a real-world idea of how fabric swatches play out.  Her post on Choosing Fabric for the Mod Sampler quilt along, makes me want to run out and start projects in a whole slew of her fabric group examples.  And then there's the regular stuff, like Making a Quilt Sandwich and Making & Sewing Binding.  Elizabeth does some things different than most bloggers (like pressing seams open), so her tutorials provide a new way of looking at things.  I've struggled with understanding the binding process, and after seeing her pictures I know that I finally get it.

My very favorite piece of work is Elizabeth's current quilt-along, the Paintbox Quilt.  If my husband would let me, I'd make something like that for our bed.  Since that's not likely, I'll just have to dream about it...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Projects

Good folks Napkins
Before moving on to another big project, I stitched through a few small projects in time for Easter.  I fell in love with the lovely spring colors of these cloth napkins by Molly of the Purl Bee.  We never seem to have enough napkins when we host Easter dinner, so I used some beautiful Good Folks fabrics paired with lively Kona Cottons to liven up our table.  The rest of our cloth napkins are solid green, so these four pretties really dress things up.  I purchased the Kona on sale at Hancock's for quite a good deal.  They may not have much selection, but they certainly have the best price on Kona cotton!

New Napkins!

My cloth napkins are "luncheon size", which is actually quite sufficient.  Why use more delicious fabric when good enough will do? Finished size is 9.5 x 15.5". With a little care in folding, the colors really pop!

Easter Gifts

For our Easter baskets, I put my nose to the grind once again and made some clothing. Aria's top is the "Blouse with Crocheted Doily Trim" from Carefree Clothes for Girls. This, my second jaunt with sewing clothing, wasn't so painful. I'll say that the directions in this book were quite a bit more user-friendly than the minimal ones included with that Hancock's pajama pattern.  Several raw edge finishings in the blouse design also saved time.  Plus, when it came to Liam's shirt, I used a plain, store-bought tank.  Liam has a sentimental attachment to a pair of outgrown robot pajamas.  I appliqued a large rectangle of the pajama fabric across the chest and hand-stitched two smaller, cut-out robots to hide the Old Navy logo.  Easy peasy.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weekend Fabric Sales!

There are sweet deals on fabric flying around this weekend. P ink Chalk Fabrics has free shipping on orders of $50 or more (no coupon required) and Fresh Squeezed Fabrics is spring cleaning with 20% off the entire site!
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