Thursday, May 20, 2010

Putting Away the Special Quilts

Today I am repairing a quilt I made for my son, Kiefer, when he was about four years old.

He's now 19, and it is way past time to put the kiddy quilt in storage.  It is in surprisingly good shape--just needs a few seams repaired.  I made it from his baby/toddler clothes and left-over fabric from window curtains I made for his room at the time.  The curtain fabric is covered with cats--which he loved.  Some of the squares have pockets from pants and shirts.

Some have the applique designs from clothing.

The solid color squares have all kinds of button representing things that he loved.

There are  sport buttons, cat buttons, car buttons, even a Lego piece button. 

I'm hanging on to it just in case Kiefer decides to have some little ones of his own. Or, maybe I'll just keep it.  Looking over the quilt, I have wonderful memories of him wearing all those tiny shirts, overalls, and jackets.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Latest Quilt

I like to make simple quilts.  More than anything else, this is because I have the WORST time choosing fabrics that  go well together.  Sticking to just a couple of colors works best for me.  I also like to use up left-over fabric.  Since I needed a throw for the sun room and there was a good bit of blue denim left over from reupholstering the furniture (pics in another post), this quilt with blue and natural denim was born. 

Even the natural denim was left-over from making valances for the sun room.   I'll post about them later.

The quilt is machine embroidered with red work designs (or I should say blue work in this case) of the flowers for each month on 10 1/2 inch natural denim squares with three inch blue strips between.

I used off white fleece from Joann's for the backing.  With the weight of the denim and the fleece, there was no need for batting.  I sewed the front and backing inside out leaving an opening to turn it right-side out.  There is machine stitching around the inside of the squares and about 1/2 an inch in on the entire outside edge.

This was one of the easiest and quickest quilts I've ever done.  I didn't need to worry about changing thread colors on the embroidery machine, I could do other work when the machine was running, and there was no worry about batting bunching or shifting.  While it is heavier than the usual cotton quilt, it drapes well and is soft and warm.

Matching throw pillows were from happy accidents.  I accidentally made duplicates of some of the flower designs.  My embroidery machine--which I love dearly (thank you, thank you Brother)-- does have a very small window.  I thought I was choosing the next design...  The newer machines are much better in that respect.  But, my Pacesetter produces beautiful pieces.  That's all that really matters; there's no need  to upgrade.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Suburban Wildlife

I've always had resident squirrels, and I've been using hanging planter baskets with coco mats in them for at least four years.  I've had the squirrels sit in the baskets while eating and even plant nuts there in the fall.  This year, however, one of the squirrels decided to do something new.  Here is the before:

Still looking good for another year's use.  Here is the after:

As I stood wondering why the basket was swinging back and forth with no wind, I watched the squirrel return, jump in, rip out large chunks of matting, and scamper back up the tree with it.  She would leave each time with a ball of matting twice the size of her head.  I didn't have the heart to chase her away,  Nor, I suspect, would it have done any good.

This isn't the first time I have had the fortune of witnessing my wild neighbors at work.  I once made a birdbath using a three-foot high tree stump and a bowl molded from cement.  It looked so nice sitting in the middle of my yard.  In the spring the yellow tulips came up, and I watched a big rabbit daintily eat all the petals off--every single petal--leaving me with green spindles.  Each year, thereafter, the tulips heads would disappear shortly after arrival.  Then, in the summer of the third year, an amazing Pileated Woodpecker managed to decimate about a square foot patch of bark in the stump leaving three large, deep holes.  All that damage in about five minutes!

Well, I wanted to attract wildlife, and I did.  What luck to see each little beast at work!  I happened to be at the window just at the time to see the rabbit snacking that first year and the squirrel gathering nest material this year.  Catching the woodpecker at work was easier.  The noisy pounding was hard to miss.

I try to share the space with the critters when I can.  The bumble bee nest near the front porch last year was more difficult.  The nest was huge, and the females can sting.  I also don't like the carpenter ants eating my house and fence.  On the whole, though, getting to watch a little wildlife in suburbia is well worth the price.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anja's Little Ladies' "Bathing Dresses"

Anja  thoughtfully does her blog in her own language and English.  She's been doing the "Make your Kids Clothes in Seven Days" challenge from Elsie Marley.  Today she posted "bathing dresses" for her girls.  She wrote that robes don't stay on well, so she's made slip-over dresses instead.  It looks like an easy and quick idea for the summer as well--with no buttons or ties!  Makes me wish I had a little girl to sew for.  Click on either of the links above to read about it and see the photos.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Local Happiness Project Group

I just signed up to organized a local Happiness Project group based on Gretchen Rubin's book by the same title.  The book is filled with simple truths about how we sabotage happiness and daunting-yet-doable challenges to make life better.  Working at a project such as this one, though, is a long-term endeavor.  I think I might better understand issues and achieve more success through discussion and accountability.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Officially it has one member right now--me.  I want to be sure people are truly interested in taking on the challenge, so I haven't specifically asked friends or family to join.  I have found that people too often agree to join some activity because they think you'll be hurt if they don't.  However, I find it's far more uncomfortable to have people not show up or slowly stop showing up at meetings or activities they've said they would participate in than if they had just said no, thank you.   Ah, there is a good topic for discussion at some future group meeting--saying no.  It's easy to say yes and much harder to carry through on the promise. Carry-through in and of itself is another challenge many of us have.

Okay!  I've got the topics.  Now all I need are a few members.  Wish me luck.  If anyone else is already doing this, let me know how it is going.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Just Plain Fun Mother's Day

I always love my Mother's Day gifts, but this year's gifts were especially fun.  Since I have a deep and abiding love of glittery hanging things, one gift was this awesome star with iridescent rays.

It's hanging over my elliptical trainer so I have something attractive to look at while suffering exercising.

Then there is this bright, blingy stained-glass peacock mobile that matches my denim furniture.  So he's at the other end of the sun room.

I also got a new member for the rubber duck collection!

He quacks and gives off a blinding blue light! (I found out about the blinding light the hard way.)  I'm torn.  Part of me wants him with my keys and another part wants him with my collection:

This picture reminds me that, once again, the sewing room clutter is getting out of control.  And thinking about the sewing room reminds me that I got Martha's new book!

(That's my rubber duck on the cover not Martha's.  Somehow I just know she's not a rubber duck collector.)  There are tons of project ideas in the book.  The problem is deciding which I want to do first.  Check it out here.  It is an incredibly nice book for the price.

And last but not least:

Not one but two Dunkin' Donut gift cards!  I love their coffee but feel guilty spending two bucks for a cup of it.  This should keep me in guilt-free coffee for quite a while.

I hope you all had a fun and blingy Mother's Day as well.

Home-made Produce Bags

Wisdom of the Moon had a tutorial for these bags on her site in January.  Since I had an overabundance of voile from making draperies, this project had to happen. 

I so wanted to do the cute little vegetable stamps Wisdom had on her produce bags!  Unfortunately, I could not find a single veggie stamp anywhere.  I finally gave in and got an alphabet stamp set instead.  I cannot--absolutely cannot--stop experimenting.  While I wish I had just gone with the nice simple, "fruits and veggies" lettering on all the bags like this center one,  I did not.

I had to keep adding more

and more, until I just got carried away.  This one ended up looking like something Jackson Pollack would have done if he had been on crack with nothing to express himself but a set of alphabet stamps and a rainbow ink stamp pad:

Cashiers (who usually seem just a bit annoyed to be dealing with my many different sized cloth bags anyway) are beyond speech when they get this bag.  They just sort of hold it up to me as though they don't know whether they should pay attention to what is in the bag or on the outside.  I don't use it unless I really have to. 

All in all, the bags are exceptionally easy to make and work well.  I used round elastic cord for most of them and textured ribbon for one.  Both of these work fine.  I think Wisdom of the Moon used string.  Give them a try, but go easy on the stamping.