Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And the Winner Is....

Ok, like I was just going to tell you with absolutely no rambling first. Yeah, right! First I'd like to say thank you to everyone who commented on my 50th post. This blogging journey has been a blast so far and I am loving it and all the wonderful folks I'm "meeting". I wish I could have just sent packages to everyone who commented -- but, well, I need to have SOME fabric to play with (cough, splutter, um, yeah...moving on here).

My able assistant was very helpful in picking names from her Daddy's hat (and sorry about the photo quality folks -- we had to wait until after dinner, and the light is getting fainter earlier these days *sigh*). And despite offers of bribes (now, had you offered bribes of gummi bears and other assorted sweets to ME to stuff the ballots so to say -- well, now that might have worked ;0) )-- she did a really great job of ruffling up the slips of paper names were written on before drawing.

Though, we still need to work on this whole "counting" thing! 'Cause before I could even read the name on the first slip of paper she gave me -- I was being handed another one. I honestly didn't know whose name was drawn first (and I kind of thought this would happen) so we actually have TWO winners! Sorry to say I did pull the hat away as she was going in for a third strike (and fourth -- she's started counting up to 12 people and likes showing off her skills -- really, my stash isn't THAT big, or so I tell my husband).

So without further ado, the winners are:


Quilting Fitzy (or is it now Quilted Cactus? :0) )

The winners have been notified by email and now for the really fun part, I get to go and play in my stash!!! Hehehehe. I wonder what goodies I'll find?

Thanks again to everyone who played along with me (and for those of you who are still lurking -- for goodness sakes why?? Really, I don't bite, and well, would be hard to over the internet anyway). Keep on reading and we'll see what I end up doing for post 100!

Oh and for anyone who is truly curious to know who that lady hiding behind the hat is -- um, me. Some careful editing made sure the fat rolls weren't showing and/or were well hidden behind toddler cuteness. If you REALLY want to know what an adult me looks like (as you can tell, vanity is NOT my name. Other faults yep -- that one, so not one of mine) you can go here and see a semi-recent photo. I'm the one in the orange shirt demoing yo-yo's. The picture's been up for a while, I've just kept on forgetting to link to it, mention it, think about the fact that I need to exercise more and eat less...oh well. Oh, and if you've got a moment, Tammy of Tammy Tadd Designs has started her own blog. Check it out and say Hi!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Surprise

One major surprise in my neck of the woods these days was the fact that for the first time in over a week it didn't rain! Wooo Hoooo! Now if we can just keep some rain away long enough for the flood waters to recede, there are a lot of folks in my little corner of the cornfields who would be thrilled! So to celebrate a bit of sun today, a lovely photo of some flowers in the containers on my porch. Earlier this winter/spring dd and I planted some seeds (guilt for mommy killing off the marigold seedling she planted at school) and they're finally giving us a bit of color!

The second surprise is that I'm done with the quilting on 'Cause I Can't Crochet! Woo Hooo! The craft groove thing worked -- I finally got the rest of it marked and quilted. Now I just need to make the bias binding (not 'cause I'm not fond of straight binding -- I actually am -- but the fabric I'm using is a stripe and it's gonna look cool as bias!), get it attached, trim the quilt, and hand sew the binding down. Sounds like a lot but I'm really hoping to have this one done with some final photos up this week!

And the final surprise for this Saturday, is that this is my 50th blog post! I honestly can't believe that I have been blogging for 6 months and I've gotten to this many posts. Confession time here, this is the longest and most I have ever written in any type of "journal". Ever. Even when I've been assigned journals for classes (which -- as a teacher I understand the assignment, as a student, they are ALWAYS my downfall!). I also never imagined when I began blogging how many fantastic women, quilters, and crafters I would "meet". To all of those who have visited with me here in my virtual corner of the cornfields, thank you so much -- you are all incredible!

And to say thanks for dropping by, sittin' a spell, and chatting over coffee, tea, or (in my case) a Diet Coke -- I've got a surprise to share with you! What is it? Not sure yet -- a bundle of crafty/quilty goodness for sure, but the exact contents are unknown yet. Leave a comment here on this post between now and Wednesday, August 29th at noon CST. I will print out the comments (or the names) and put it in a hat. When I pick up my adorable assistant from daycare, we will draw the name of the winner! (Or however many winners she manages to draw out of the hat -- she sometimes has difficulty picking just ONE of anything! hehehehe) I'll then take a page out of Finn's book and try and match the prize to the recipient from my stash. Don't worry if you think my fabric choices are WAY too bright/modern/obnoxious -- I do have some things in my stash that might surprise you! And if you tend to LIKE what you see me playing with -- oh boy, hehehe! Who knows? You might even get something handmade by little ole' moi! Hope you enjoy the surprise just as much as I've enjoyed spending time playing in blogland -- thanks so much, and here's to another 50 posts!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Getting my craft groove going...

Ok, despite the fact that I said I was enthusiastic about finishing some projects after Mom's visit, not much of the sewing variety has been going on around here. In fact, it's been pretty dismal. All sorts of ideas and no actual work on them. I've been getting cranky. But I've also been strangely lethargic about doing anything about it. (I could whinge here about the weather, the 2 year old being 2, etc. and all of it is true, but I'm my own worst critic and my complaints bore me, so I'm not gonna bore you) So, to try and jump start my crafty side again I decided to just jump into a project I hatched while Mom was here (and not one I've actually shown on my blog). And lucky you, since it worked, I'm going to share the recipe for my "cure" for my recent spate of craft inactivity inspired by an idea in this book.

1. Start with three inexpensive t-shirts. (thank you end of summer season sale at Old Navy)

2. Take one shirt, mark and cut a line approximately 1 1/2" below the armpits (these measurements are based on where an empireish waist for my daughter would be -- but I can't see why you couldn't do this for anyone just measure their body). Set aside.

3. Take the other two shirts and mark and cut a line right underneath the armpit. Make sure both sections are the same length.

4. Turn both the "skirt" sections inside out and cut along one seam line. (really -- only one please)

5. Right sides together, pin both edges of the skirt sections together -- make sure the finished edges match, the top edge can always be trimmed but it would be a pain to re-do the factory finished hem. Sew both sides using a 1/2" to 5/8" seam. (doesn't really matter here -- I used a 1/2", only thing necessary is that it be consistent). When you are done you should have a tube double the size of the tubes you started with.

6. Finish the edges with a zig zag or overlock stitch (or with a serger if you have one). (My machine has a lovely little overlock stitch foot which has come in handy more times recently -- and here I thought when I bought the machine I would never use the darned thing!)

7. Select a long basting stitch on your machine. Along the cut edge of the tube you've just created stitch inside the seam allowance. No, this doesn't have to be pretty. These are just gathering stitches. (note -- I actually started and stopped 4x when putting these in, one in each "quadrant" of the tube -- just make sure you have nice long tails of thread to be able to create your gathers)

8. Right sides together and matching side seams (I hid my "new" seams on the sides here) pin the bodice piece (remember that one from step 2?) and skirt together. (I also tacked the mid points of the skirt front and back) Holding on to the bobbin thread from your long basting stitch pull gently (kind of gently -- try not to break the thread at least) to create a gather and pin like crazy. Really. Pin that sucker down. This is NOT the time to be stingy with the pins!

9. Stitch using your 1/2" or 5/8" seam. Finish edges.

10. (OPTIONAL) While sewing skirt to bodice explain to 2 year old dd that if she touches the stitch length button one more time she is getting a time out since she is not allowed to touch Mommy's 'chine in the first place. Repeat the warning as many times as is necessary to finish the seam. Also explain that no, she can't sit in Mommy's lap RIGHT NOW -- give Mommy 5 minutes and she can have all of the cuddles and lap time she wants. Also warn her that she can NOT touch Mommy's pins -- they are sharp. Watch her reach out and just barely touch them just to see your reaction. Glare at the child while silently wondering WHY she needs to do this. Remember why you usually sew during nap time and/or when small child is at daycare!

11. Flip shirt right side out, admire work. Think about the way you are going to embellish the darling little top (this is just crying out for some yo-yo's I'm thinking) -- as small child grabs it out of your hands, declares "MINE" and starts pulling off her beloved Elmo t-shirt to put it on. Figure what the heck and go with the moment.

12. Blog about the experience later that night -- and realize that no, it isn't quite what I had in mind (I thought it would be longer and more like a dress -- though the process has potential for a comfy drop waisted dress -- just cut the bodice longer. But kind of makes me wonder at how economical it would be to do that -- sorry Mom, you may have been right here). And giggle -- a lot -- because while it isn't totally FINISHED yet (I still plan to put some of those yo-yo's on)-- and it won't be until it is washed because I couldn't get it off my child. It is sporting some mac and cheese and triple berry pie stains from dinner out with Nana and Papa. But -- still giggling that I made something my daughter couldn't wait to put on. And it beat out Elmo.

13. Remember that dd is sleeping in the next room and I need to keep the giggles down.

So there you go -- my recipe for wanting to get back to making things. Seems to have worked so far. And I'm now off to bed as it's late, and dd is going to daycare tomorrow (yeah for Mommy's day off) so I can sew most of the day after some errands get run. That is IF I can get some sleep tonight.

Update 11/19/07: The finished version of this t-shirt can be found here. I also took some suggestions of folks who left comments and tried a version using fabric for the "skirt" -- a really cute variation and you can see the results here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lead me not into temptation...

for I can find the way all by myself thank you very much! Or in other words -- I've been bad, really really bad about buying fabric and am about to go on another crash fabric diet! But oh, did I have fun along the way!

I mentioned in my last post that I went to a fabric shop that had a sale on their clearance fabric. I figured I would just look around and see what I could find. I had good intentions, but, did I mention that the sale was $3.00 a yard fabric??? Eeeek! Add to that a trip to another quilt shop since I was so close, and you have more spent than I originally planned and more projects to add on to the need to get done pile.Since I don't want to suffer from my lapse into temptation alone, I thought I would share my finds with all of you. I figure this way I can share the fun!

First up on our hit parade is this lovely burnt orange color rose print fabric. I'm thinking another skirt. I have a great long sleeved wrap t-shirt in chocolate brown that would look lovely paired with this fabric. The only question is whether to add the gores to the bottom or just do a straight a-line skirt? Hmmmn...decisions, decisions. Either way I think it's going to be fun!

I also bought some of the same print in pink. Not enough for a skirt -- but I think this one is going to be a bag of some sort. I've been wanting to do some more bags and other semi-quick finish projects lately and this may just be the ticket. Not sure of the pattern yet -- need to think about it. But some sort of bag is in order.

And to go with it, I found this fun sagey green leopard print fabric. I did get more of this than the pink -- so it will go into the bag I'm plotting and something else as well. Not sure what else, but the color just got to me. And the combo with the pink works really well for me for some reason -- then again, since I've been doing variations on green and pink and white combos for over two years now there could be a reason for that. I think I may be getting into a rut with that combo!

I also picked up this go-along for some panels and charm square packs I bought last winter. What I'm eventually going to do with all of them I'm not sure -- probably a quick and easy type throw quilt to use to decorate. Not that I've been the queen of decorating my house for the seasons lately (um -- I'm lucky if I remember what season it is usually) but hey, I can dream that I will have that kind of life at some point right? RIGHT -- or at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I also picked up this cute little pattern to make for my daughter. I thought it would be perfect for some of that cute puppy fabric I found with Mom. I figured I would add a nice hot pink ruffle (THAT I already have in my stash) and they would be great little pj bottoms with a t-shirt. The pattern seems super simple and it's by the same woman who did the pattern for the jackets I've made for my daughter and god daughter. Should be one of those fun and quick finishes I've been needing! (famous last words here -- every time I think this the project takes way longer than I think it should!)
At the second quilt shop I hit, I actually was buying some basics. Some thread, some good quality white muslin, and then I found these. Now, some of you are probably looking at this going -- um, Moda Chocolate. So what? Well -- about the same time May Britt was making her lovely little charm square bag (see her post from July 1st) I bought the same pattern. I have a charm square pack of the Chocolate line I bought last fall, but I didn't buy any yardage of the line. And, frankly, while the fabrics are lovely -- they don't really play well with most of the fabrics in my stash. In fact, I think I saw them running and hiding from my stash at one point and complaining about the noise. (have I mentioned lately that I like bright and intense color??) So, I was happy to find some go-alongs so I can make the bag with the charms I already had. See -- I HAD to buy more fabric so I could use up stash. Really. Um -- yeah, I'm not really buying this one either, but I had to give it a shot. Of course I didn't have the pattern with me and bought too much of the fabric for the lining and binding -- but that's ok. I think I'll make a couple of these up and give one away as a gift for Christmas.
So there you go -- my latest fall from grace and newest vow to finish some projects before I'm allowed to buy anything new. *sigh* I really need to get sewing. I've been cleaning and organizing the house and I haven't gotten any sewing done in over a week now. Oh yeah, and I'm still catching up on my blog reading. If you haven't heard from me or I haven't been commenting much -- please, have pity on me, y'all have so much that's interesting to say I'm a bit overwhelmed!!! But, the lack of sewing means I'm going through withdrawals. Maybe that's why I've been buying -- must. sew. need. to. play. Need to USE pretties I buy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More projects for the pile...

First I just have to say that I thought it would be a bit intimidating to catch up after a week away from reading blogs and I was right! Eeeek -- so many of you have been busy, busy, busy! I'm feeling a bit like a slug here. Despite my enthusiasm for finishing up my current quilt (1/2 quilted with everything set for making the binding too) I haven't had time to get to it. I've been running errands, reading blogs (there's a LOT to catch up on) and oh, yeah, I may have gone to a quilt shop today 'cause there was a great sale. Um, just maybe mind you. No photos of the haul though -- not yet anyway :0).

Second -- thanks for all the love about the toes! And about Mom -- she's pretty great (and no, I'm not just saying that 'cause she spoils me -- not that I mind that part -- but because it's true). As I've mentioned once, or maybe twice, Mom is great at finding projects for me (or is it helping me find projects to do that may benefit someone she likes and/or herself? Not sure here, though since I usually enjoy doing them I don't know that it matters). This trip was no exception -- so I have new fabrics and projects to add to the seemingly ever growing pile of potential projects. Hehehehe.

First up was a totally unexpected find. I took Mom over to the LQS to see my Holly Jolly (still mulling over the name here -- but since the fabric name and the name I'm probably going to give it are the same...) quilt top hanging in the store. We did get a photo but it's on Mom's new digital camera. And I forgot to upload it before she left. She said she would try and e-mail me a copy this weekend. I may have to wait for her to send me a physical copy though. Long story here -- let's just say Mom chooses not to mess around with computers more than necessary and learns what she needs to get done what she wants. She can learn more -- she chooses not to. And this isn't an insult -- she admits it! While we were there we saw this adorable little train panel. Have I mentioned that dd LOVES trains? No? Well -- she does. Absolutely loves "choo choos" and one of her favorite CD's is Choo Choo Soul (note here -- if you have young ones who like music, this is one of those children's albums that parents can actually like. Two months in and I don't want to gouge my eyes out when she requests/demands I connect the ipod in the car!) One of the biggest hits at her birthday was her Brio starter train set. And despite the lovely little bag I made to keep it in, I tend to step on the darned things more often than not! Given dd's train obsession Mom and I agreed she NEEDED this panel as a play mat for her trains. And of course, the go-along fabrics for backing and binding. I'm going to keep this one pretty simple. The border fabric may go on the back with the blue or around the front, haven't decided final size, the red will be the binding and the quilting will be super simple -- follow the train tracks! A quick and easy and a way to practice some machine quilting. And since dd has seen the fabrics (and wants to play with them NOW thank you very much) this one may get booted up in the line of must do's.

Also for dd, while we were out and about doing some shopping we just happened to be near one of my other favorite LQS's. (now how in the world could THAT happen I wonder?) While there I found this fun little print. For some reason, even though they make her a bit nervous in person, dd also loves puppies. The new neighbors across the way have a lab puppy dd asks about every day. So, a way to make something for her with a fun puppy fabric. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with this -- a bag maybe, possibly some pajama pants. I'm pondering. While there I also picked up this book. Some cute designs in there and some possibilities for future projects.

And the final project to add to the mix is one I've mentioned before. Remember my great-grandmother's star quilt top with the unfortunate backing? Mom agreed that it needed a new backing and binding and we went looking for something we liked to do the repair work. There are a ton of blues and pinks in the stars (and cheddars, and browns, and greens, etc.) but we liked the way these two looked with the top. And since I'm leaving it a summer spread with no quilting -- I thought these gave a nice light look.
So that's it for the goodies I got while Mom was in town -- three (maybe four depending on what I do with dd's puppy fabric) new projects in the que. And that doesn't even touch the damage I did today -- I have GOT to learn to resist sales. But somehow the $3.00 a yard clearance fabric was just calling my name! Arrgh! Off to catch up on some more blog reading/commenting so I can get back to sewing!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Simple Pleasures

After spending a fun week with my Mom I've been thinking a lot about simple things that bring me pleasure and joy. Being able to spend all day with one of my favorite people in the world is one of them. Long talks about anything and everything are another. Tickles and giggles and sloppy wet toddler kisses are others. Seeing my daughter snuggled under a quilt I made -- oh, yeah, that one is high up there too. And isn't that why we do this? The pleasure we get from seeing our creations used, loved, cuddled? The joy in getting a design right? Colors that make us smile? Fabrics and fibers that feel good in our hands as we cut, knot, sew, manipulate them into patterns that show not only our skills, but the joy we take in the process? I think I needed this week to remind myself of that -- and of why I make things when buying them pre-made 9 times out of 10 can be less expensive.

It's the joy in the process just as much as it is the finished product. I forget that sometimes in my rush to get the next project done -- and wonder why I'm so stressed. I forget to enjoy the steps (not that all steps are as enjoyable as others -- I can do without some of them, but that's part of it too I guess). And spending a week enjoying the time I spent with my mother (which was way too short Mom -- next visit I really want more time!) even though we were busy, busy, busy, was just what I needed to get me fired up to finish the work on 'Cause I Can't Crochet and enjoy the process not just rush to get a finished result. Let's see how well I keep to that resolution -- given that I still have a list of projects I want to/need to work on, and this past week added to the pile! (though one did get crossed off -- I finally finished Mom's pillows and they are now safely at their final destination, no photos 'cause I'm a dork that way, but Mom said she'd take some when they are in place) I'll post pictures of the new fabric goodies soon -- just need to take some photos first!
In the meantime (and so this is not a picture less post) another simple pleasure that is bringing me joy -- Mom treated me to a manicure and pedicure while she was here. Every once in awhile it is nice to get pampered and to remember that I can be a girly girl! And these flowers on my toes, with the little jewel sparkles, these are just making me giggle all over! Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Where has the time gone??!!??

Ok, I want to know what has happened to my summer -- where has all the time gone??!!?? And by the way -- I want it back!!! Ok, reality check, I know what has happened. I've gone to the pool with my daughter. I've played at the park. I've even quilted a bit. Ok, well, maybe more than a bit. Ok, quite a bit more than a bit. Although, I have to confess, despite all of my starts I have NO finishes yet. I still need to put backings on my mom's pillows, my Christmas quilt top is happily hanging at the LQS, and 'Cause I Can't Crochet has been stalled for about a week because my quilt markings (a la blue washout marker) keep disappearing on me due to high humidity!

Oh well, I needed a break anyway -- my house had become unlivable. Clutter, clutter everywhere and not a place to walk without tripping on something. I'd love to say after a week of no blogging/sewing my home is now a paragon of cleanliness. I'd be lying if I said it, but I'd love to. I simply reached my tipping point on the unacceptable meter. Oh, and my Mom is coming for a visit. Um, that might have SOMETHING to do with the sudden cleaning frenzy. And why my husband has been ducking for cover. I did get the guest room/computer room at least passable. And scrub out the bathroom. I'll vacuum the living room in the morning (hey, I did get the majority of toys and other detritus off of the floor) and live with the rest of the dust bunnies that are still hanging out. Um, yep, only three rooms done in a week -- have I mentioned how much I HATE housework and will do just about ANYTHING to avoid doing it? Yeah -- it's been that kind of week!

I REALLY need to work on my domestic skills more. I actually like a clean house. I love not having stuff lying around. But -- there are only so many hours in the day and I would much rather play with fabric! Or yarn. Or, well, just about anything other than dusting and scrubbing out toilets (and btw -- is it wrong of me to really hate having to scrub portions of the toilet that I KNOW I didn't get dirty? Excuse me, but I don't have to worry about aiming!)

Anyway -- so that this isn't a totally non-craft related post (not that my complaints about my lack of domestic goddess status aren't amusing!) here's one of the distractions from cleaning I managed to find this week. A lovely skein of hand dyed superwash wool in a yummy variegated purple/grape. It reminds me of the grape bubble gum I loved as a kid (which I can't stand to think about chewing now -- odd). The only question is -- what will it be? what will it be?

Mom will be here tomorrow -- so I will be a bit scarce until Sunday or so. I'll try and keep up with some blog reading (the idea of trying to catch up after a week away is daunting!) and maybe I'll have something to post since Mom is always great for coming up with projects and ideas! Until then, I need to get some sleep so I can fight my way through commuter traffic tomorrow morning on my way to the airport. Have a great week!