Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I know -- Halloween is almost over, only another 1/2 an hour but it's been a good holiday here in the cornfields. The rain and cold front we were supposed to get in time for trick or treating didn't show up, and dd LOVED going around to the houses in the neighborhood to get her candy. ("I LOVE candy mommy!" -- which is fine, love it all you want sweetie, you only get one piece per day) And she LOVED her costume (enter the tears and fight to get her OUT of it at the end of the night).

It made me feel all warm and happy inside that she loves it so much, and a little less guilty that it is the same costume she wore last year. (I know BAD mommy -- but, well, I may have spent a bit more than I intended on last year's costume -- and it fit again this year -- and um, I just hadn't gotten over the trauma of trying to gather and put in three layers of tulle in the underskirt, or working with sheer fabrics -- let alone sheer fabrics that had little "sequins" that were part of the fabric and a royal pain to work with all for a Tinkerbell costume that didn't look like a stiff wind would make it fall apart -- and she LOVES it, really).

I may have also gone a bit overboard on those wings as well. See, the original pattern (Simplicity 4949 Disney toddler princesses if you really want to know) said to make the wings out of wrapping paper. Um, don't know about you folks but wrapping paper wings -- for a toddler. Yeah, right. Especially since last year this time my darling was going through her "if it's paper I must rip it" phase. *shudder* So -- well, I may have improvised a bit on the wings and used materials that were a bit more sturdy (let's hear it for fusible fleece and Heat N Bond lite shall we? And yes, you can, if you are careful, fuse sheer fabrics). And, um, there may be a little bit of quilting in there as well. We won't even mention what using an iridescent nylon thread to do the edge zigzags and the eyelet buttonholes does to your sanity. Yeah -- a bit overboard describes it but getting two years of wear out of them kind of makes it seem reasonable. Kind of. Of course, next year I will probably do it all over again :0).

Anyway -- it's getting late, and while I do have more to share (lots of fun stuff while Mom was here, including one my top reasons to love living in a small town and some crafty goodness including a finished project and some new purchases) I'm going to get some sleep. I'll leave you with visions of cavities waiting to happen -- and happy pumpkins set out for display (though not by me). Hope your own Halloween was happy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I hate housework

I do, I really, really do. Those dust bunnies haven't hurt anyone -- why do I need to go and disturb them? Let's forget the fact that I have Cheerios and pretzels ground into my living room/family room/main room we live in carpet (unhunh -- for any of you who have lived with a small little Tasmanian devil you tell me you've never had that happen to you). Let's overlook the fact that my husband's idea of "cleaning" the kitchen involves moving things off of the counters onto my sewing area (aka the kitchen table/dining table) and ironing board. Let's just suppose that my bathrooms look like some college fraternity has been living here for a moment shall we? Despite all of this I can muster NO enthusiasm for cleaning any of it.

On the plus side, dealing with portions of the mountains of laundry today meant I was able to finally finish my 'Cause I Can't Crochet (gee it only took me a month to finish getting the binding sewn down -- and only three months from finished top to finished quilt, not bad I guess, but the quilting has been done for two of those months). And finally finish means not only is the binding down but it has been washed and all markings removed. Yeah!!!!

And I am loving the way this one turned out as well. Though, I think I may be insane for having done the quilting myself on a twin sized quilt. It's possible to do -- but, um, not sure I will be doing it again any time soon!

I am also loving the way washing and drying it (yes, in the dryer -- for those of you about to faint, I'm sorry -- but, um, really, I wanted to do this -- and if you're really upset by the dryer part -- um, I guess I shouldn't mention that I rarely, if ever, pre-wash my fabrics) made it all wrinkly and bumpy -- which helps hide the faults in the quilting quite nicely. :0)
And really, I think this qualifies as a FWYH entry since until I finally got around to finishing the binding last night it was sitting over the back of my couch and my daughter has been trying to use it as a nap blankie on the couch for the last month or so.

Ok, ok, at least the health hazards the bathrooms represent has me thinking that MAYBE I should be cleaning. Oh, yeah, and Mom is coming to visit um, well, tomorrow since it's after midnight. And I still have lots of laundry left to do as well as attacking the poor defenseless dust bunnies. Maybe some sleep will make it seem less daunting? Oh well -- maybe Mom will be so impressed with the new quilt she gets to sleep under she won't notice the pit the rest of the house is -- right? right?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Goodies in my Mailbox

After a nice, boring, and relaxing weekend, things at casa de cornfields are getting back to normal. Or, well, as normal as they can be if I'm living here that is. So, time for some catch-up on all the things I haven't been doing while I've been producing cute aprons. You know, laundry, cleaning, finishing up quilting projects I should have finished by now -- that stuff.

One task I have needed to do is give a big thanks to some folks who sent lovely packages in the mail over the past few weeks. Look at it all -- makes me giddy just looking at it!!! Hehehehehe.

First up is a lovely ATC sent to me by Helen over at Quilts and ATCs. I won this lovely piece in a drawing on her blog and it's even more lovely in person. the colors are soft and lovely and the use of the washers is fantastic. Thanks so much Helen!

I also won these fabulous note cards from Karyn over at Trail Mix Designs. She's been busy with her new Gocco printer and been making some lovely cards and gift tags (and some are even available in her etsy store as well -- really, they are fantastic).

And as if sending the cards wasn't enough, she attached a lovely little button pendant to the bow she wrapped the cards with. Hehehehe -- I've been admiring these! I just need to find a chain! Isn't that button just fantastic?
And, if you were ready to hate me for my winning streak with these two -- hold on, 'cause there's one more. Teresa over at Fabric Alchemy did a drawing for a piece of her lovely hand dyed fabrics -- and well, I won a piece! And really, this blue is just absolutely luscious! I'm not sure what it will be used for, but -- oh yes, I will find something!

And the final piece of goodness in the mail is something purchased -- so no huge surprise that it was coming (darned those buttons to push). But really -- that Heather Ross fabric I was playing with for my daughter's dress was just too nummy to pass up. These are destined for a Christmas gift -- I'll show more as I get to the project! A special nod here to the folks at Z and S Fabrics -- they were great about getting the package out quickly even when there was a computer glitch in getting the order processed.

So, the mail's all caught up -- and now to tackle the laundry and the quilting!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cone of Silence

Ok -- does anyone else remember the Cone of Silence from the old Get Smart show? Ya know -- they were supposed to use it to talk about super secret stuff? Well, my own personal Cone of Silence has been lifted!!! YEAH!! I can now talk about all that super secret sewing I've been doing!

So, what have I been making? Aprons. Lots and lots of aprons. They are for a new pattern that is being introduced at market by Tammy Tadd Designs. If you'd like to see two of them (one in child and adult size) go on over to Tammy's Blog and check them out. Yep, the two aprons hanging on the dressmaker's forms were made by yours truly! I've also made a few others to be used/worn at market.

I love, love, love the new Lakehouse fabrics I was playing with as well. The colors are soft, fun, and a little bit old fashioned. Not my usual palate of in-your-face brights -- but oh so fun all the same. I can so see myself going crazy when these make it to the stores. Not to mention the new hydrangeas that I haven't played with :0).

And did I mention that the pattern is for both adults and children's aprons?? So, like any self-respecting crafty mommy -- I made one for my own little one. I finally found something I wanted to cut into my Freshcut stash for. Hehehehehe. I didn't have any rick rack in the house (and for any of you who wouldn't be caught dead without any in the house -- um, well, what can I say?) for the trim -- but I love how the prairie points work on this one.

As for the pattern? It's fun -- and simple -- and easy! Really. I've made 8 of them in the last two weeks -- so it HAS to be simple and fast right? I can just see holiday themed aprons popping up at my house too -- we have to wear SOMETHING to protect our clothes for Christmas cookie baking right?

So, the last of the quilt market sewing I'm doing is done, I STILL need to post about all the goodies I got in the mail, and my mother is coming for a visit in SIX DAYS!!! Ok, I need to finish binding the quilt for the guest room, and, um, I think I need to clean, desperately! I'd better get going!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What I can show

Ok, aside from the super secret sewing I've been doing, I have a few other projects I've been working on. Like most of us, I've usually got more than one project going at a time -- though, at some point the number of in progress works gets a bit much! So, in an effort to reduce the number I've been plugging away at a couple of them.

First up on my list of projects to complete are two knitting projects. I've been able to knit for over 20 years now -- notice I do not say I'm a knitter though. I go in spurts with yarn and sticks. I've made hats, scarves, attempted a blanket and realized I didn't have the patience (then again -- I was 10 at the time -- do any 10 year olds have the patience to knit a blanket?), etc. etc. -- the one thing I haven't made? SOCKS. And, well, with all the socks I've been seeing online (really -- here, here, all over the place, and oh yeah -- it's Socktoberfest!) So, enter some lovely purple yarn (oh my, I'm remembering my whole Donnie and Marie period) and a pretty basic pattern -- and you get this. One sock done and the second one cast on. I need to get back to this -- I might even have a pair of purple socks for Halloween if I get moving!

Next in the knitting love is a scarf -- I found some really cheap inexpensive ribbon yarn at Michael's over the summer and decided I wanted to make a scarf. Large needles -- and knit until your eyes want to pop out of your head. It is a great "I really don't want to have to think about this thing" project. I love the colors in this one -- nice and fall like (though not at all what I would call warm) -- and the only question I have left for it is to fringe or not to fringe. (yes -- I do know I still need to weave in my ends as well) Since the darned thing is 6 ft. long and I'm only 5'4" tall -- um, not sure if it needs the added length the fringe would add. Any opinions?

And finally, back to quilting. I also said awhile ago that I wanted to learn how to hand quilt. I asked my grandmother-in-law for lessons last spring. Um -- her answer was that the needle goes in and out of the fabric. Literally. (Tonya -- feel free to laugh) Which got me thinking -- ya know -- maybe it is that simple. Hmmnn...and really, it's not like it's brain surgery. A wrong move isn't going to mean someone's cerebral cortex is irrevocably damaged. If it's god awful -- well, it's another offering on the altar of motherly love. So, I decided to take the plunge. But what project? It needed to be small (if I was ever going to finish it -- I do know myself), it needed to be quick (if I hated hand quilting -- um, don't want to have another UFO hanging around that I feel obligated to finish someday), it needed to be easy...

Enter a trip to a quilt shop awhile ago (yes, yes, so surprising for me I know) -- and I found the perfect (for me anyway) answer. A mini-whole cloth quilt. With pre-printed quilting designs., easy, inexpensive, I don't have to worry about creating the design, all I have to do is concentrate on making my stitches. Perfect! So, in spare moments of watching TV -- I've been working on it. So far so good -- I'm enjoying it. My stitches aren't perfect by a long shot -- but, I'm learning so that's ok!

I'm working without a hoop and so far I like what I've been doing and don't have any major puckers on the back. I know, it might be easier if I had one but, honestly, I don't like the darned things. I use one for embroidery and for cross stitch when I absolutely have to -- linen is a "have to" for me since I make tight stitches but I always feel like I'm fighting the hoop rather than playing with the stitches! I've also figured out that, yes, a thimble is an absolute must despite the fact that I don't like them and that I need to find a better one than the one I'm using. This is not as easy as it seems -- the one I have is the smallest one I've been able to find -- and it's still a bit too big. ARGHHH. Oh well, here's hoping the one I ordered to try comes in soon. I'm about 3/4 done with this and the only problem now is whether when it's done I keep it -- or if I send it off to live with all of my other first efforts (Hi Mom!).

That's it for now -- three projects that have been getting some minimal attention lately. I still have photos to post about mail (I have a bunch of squishies that came -- at least, when dh finally remembered to give me the mail he had stuck in his car!) but this post is getting to be loooong. So, I will post again soon with photos of the goodies!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coming up for air...

I've been meaning to post all week but, well, today it feels like I'm finally coming up for air. Between the usual house things and chasing after my 2 yo (not as easy as it sounds -- she's quick!) and dh having a nasty bout of the stomach ick (yep -- the scientific term here) and some serious sewing -- I'm feeling like I haven't had a chance to sit still.

As for the serious sewing -- oooh, I've been a busy, busy bee. Only -- well, I can't show most of what I've been doing. ARRGHHHH!!! I promised. But -- oh, I can't wait until I can show what I've been working on. It won't be long, just a few weeks really. But I can give hints -- hehehe -- so I can say that I've been playing with luscious, beautiful fabrics (which I can't show -- but click on the link for a hint, and make sure to hit some of the older posts for more sneak peeks -- all I can say about them is WOW). And even the finishes I have that use fabrics I can show oh and other fabrics I can show -- um, well, I can't show the pattern! But, well, shhhh -- I can give you a little taste. I know, not much to go on -- but really all I can show.

Update -- YEAH I can post photos again! But -- now I have to run out and get some erands done. I'll finish posting the new goodies later!

Or at least, it would be -- if I could post photos. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Here I am trying to be all mysterious and stuff -- and Blogger has a problem they're working on. Oh well -- guess that means I will get the photo up later (promise). It also means I will probably post again later today to show the stuff I have also been working on -- not much fun to describe it if I can't add the pictures :0). And I do have pictures -- a 1/2 done project, another project that is ALMOST complete (both FWYH entries) and a newish project that I'm pretty excited about. Harumph. Oh well, I do need to get back to my celebrity stunt sewing (thanks to PamKittyMorning for the wonderful term, not sure what I'm doing qualifies -- but, hey, it sounds good). Plus I have mail goodies (most of the squishy variety) to share as well and a meme I was tagged with a while ago I need to complete. My -- maybe I'll split some of these into multiple posts and remember to get back to my computer more often :0).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another trip down memory lane...

There is something about this time of year that keeps me traveling down memory lane. Maybe it's the season as the earth winds down and pulls into itself to prepare for winter (well, if you're in the northern hemisphere that is -- hello to anyone who is just launching into spring!). Maybe it's the days shortening. Maybe it's just me. One of the things I've been thinking about lately is how I ever became a quilter in the first place.

I know one thing that happened that even made the whole thing possible was getting my first sewing machine. It was seven years ago. I had sewn before then, a home ec class in eighth grade. A few Halloween costumes. And, a few blankies. But -- nothing major, nothing that would make me think that I would become fabric and thread obsessed. I didn't even own a sewing machine -- I just used my Dad's. Yep -- you read it right, my Dad owned the sewing machine in the house. As much as my Mom taught me about crafts and a joy in handcrafts -- she's not much for sewing machines. She knows how to use one (I'm pretty sure) but, well, she'd rather do just about anything else rather than use one (sorry Mom -- the blue fairy costume isn't an example --your sister ratted you out on that one). And no, Dad wasn't a quilter either. He used the machine to mend his jeans and pants. He used it to make repairs to his "costume" (and forgive me if anyone from this group reads the word costume here) for his hobby. And there was no mistaking that though I was allowed to use it (even after I broke the older one -- hey -- it was a 1960's Singer and when those plastic cogs go, a new machine is a much cheaper option than repair!), it was his machine.

Anyway -- seven years ago Mom and Dad were packing up the house and getting ready to move. Mom had gotten a new job half way across the country. Only one problem. Remember those blankies I talked about? Well -- I had some fabric Mom and I had purchased to make a Halloween one for myself (ok -- confession here, the "blankies" are technically quilts -- I guess -- one patch quilts that are birthed with some lofty polyester batting and tied, but quilts -- and no, I don't have any photos). But -- well, no machine meant no Halloween throw. Hmmnn...and with the distance to Mom and Dad's new place, it wasn't like I was going to be able to just run over and work on it the way I had been planning. So Dad made me a deal -- if I would make the blanket for Mom (hunh?!? umm...that was supposed to be for ME!?!?) he would leave the machine with me. Given the price of shipping, the chance for damage in transit, and the likelihood of me lugging it on a plane -- in essence it was an exchange. And a pretty darned fair one. All I had to do was promise to finish it for Halloween. Since this conversation took place in June -- not a problem.

Only, you see, I didn't keep up my end of the deal. I didn't get the blanket done for Halloween that year. Shortly after they moved, Dad had some serious pain in his back. He joked about not being as young as he once was and doing too much when they moved. Eventually he went to the doctor and started physical therapy. Again, more jokes -- but the pain kept on getting worse. Then he became jaundiced. It was cancer -- but what kind? A few days after Labor Day we found out. He had pancreatic cancer. This was not the best case scenario we had hoped for. The next month was a blur of plane trips, doctors visits, hospice workers, calls to family, arrangements you never want to make, DNRs, gallows humor, and goodbyes. How my mother remained so strong, I will never know but she taught me a whole new definition of strength and grace that month. And finally, when the last "I love you" had been said -- and after giving Mom and I a last thumbs up and ok sign to let us know it would be ok, Dad died. Seven years ago today.

I did eventually finish the blanket for Mom. I even eventually made myself a Halloween throw as well as dozens of other projects and quilts over the years. I wonder if Dad knew what he was starting by leaving me that machine. I think he would approve. And even though I have a newer machine and I don't use the one Dad gave me anymore -- I have it. It's in a box, waiting. It's my back-up machine, and maybe, someday, it will be a good first machine for the granddaughter Dad never got a chance to meet. And maybe it will work the same magic it worked for me -- giving me a hobby that I love, a chance to meet others who share the same passion, and a way to be creative that feeds my soul. Dad would love that his gift has meant so much to me.

So, today, I'll take some time and sew. And I'll remember my father -- and the gifts he gave me.

Illegitimi Non Carborundum, Dad. I try -- it's not always easy.

I miss you.

I love you.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sweet Memories...

Ok, so my bid to avoid laundry was only partially successful. Thanks to a bit of a blow out with a pull-up (we're working on using the potty ALL the time -- so far so good, but, well, it takes time) today I'm doing laundry. Drat. I'll live *sigh* and as I pre-treat and shove things in the washer, I've been dreaming about what I was doing 5 years ago today.

On that lovely October day, I was hanging out in a garden with my friends, my family, and my best friend.

The weather cooperated, though I wish I had remembered the bees. Luckily my best friend is a quick thinker -- he managed to get the one that was crawling down the front of my dress out quickly. (we won't mention the snickers we heard while doing so -- or the questions later about WHAT he was doing)

The day was a nice mixture of tradition and quirky. Just like us. (don't ask how I found a bagpiper who would play the theme from Star Wars -- but it was perfect!)

And best of all -- I got to marry my best friend. We've had our ups, and our downs. We don't always agree -- and sometimes we annoy the crud out of each other. But we're still best friends. We still laugh more than we don't. He's still my shoulder to cry on and my person I want to share the good stuff with. Yeah, this marriage thing is pretty cool. And those kinds of memories, can make even doing the laundry not so bad :0).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Picture Day

Today was picture day at my daughter's preschool/daycare/place she goes to be around other children and Mommy gets time to play with dust bunnies and fabric (guess which one I prefer playing with?). So the all important question became -- what to wear? A quick mental inventory of her wardrobe let me know -- um, not much. This is not to say she has no cute clothes. She does. Quite a few. Just -- well, I may be behind on my laundry. Just maybe mind you.

So, rather than tackling the mountains piles of laundry what does any self-respecting crafty mommy do? Oh -- yeah, make a new outfit. (we won't discuss the fact that it would have been simpler and taken just as much time for me to actually do the laundry now will we?? Nope, didn't think so) Besides, it was a great excuse to try something that was a suggestion from some of the commenters on my t-shirt dress tutorial. Yeah, any excuse will do folks! So, trip to the store for a new t-shirt. Dig out some seriously cute Heather Ross fabric (and hey -- I won this stuff, so, bonus). Measure child (harder to do than you would think). Make a few guesses as sizing -- some sewing, and, voila! Of course, getting a picture of said dress once it was on the child this morning was a bit more difficult.
There, that's better -- she held still for about a second there. Cool. My measurements were a bit off -- I thought it would be just a tad shorter -- but this is good, room to grow. Room to run.

Room to sit down in the grass and show off some really cute tights. I found the tights when I got the t-shirt. They are just cracking me up. Though, honestly, this photo is a little more Wizard of Oz than I might like (or am I the only one thinking of the witch under the house here?)

But seriously -- I'm tempted by these myself. Although -- horizontal striped tights should PROBABLY be left for those with skinnier legs, and, those who are young enough to pull them off. Darn. Oh well -- I can at least live vicariously!
Oh, and I also have to rave about the fabric I used. Oh My Goodness. I've loved looking at the Heather Ross fabrics online -- fun, whimsical, etc. Now that I've played with some -- the hand to the fabric is just short of sinful! It sews up beautifully and oh -- brings a smile to your face at the same time. I'm in love!

On other quilting/sewing fronts -- I've actually been really productive the past few days/week. I did finally mail out the gifts for my 50th Post give-away. I have photos but, they're not edited yet -- and I've been working on a couple of other things that I need to take pictures of/edit for public consumption. But, it's almost time to pick up the little one so -- I'll save that for later!

Monday, October 1, 2007

It's a Sickness I Tell 'Ya...

Really, it is. So here I am all "Finish What You Have" and "Use What You Have" because, well, I've kind of been on a buying spree over the last several month and I need to use some of what I do have. I'm running out of room in my small house and the ideas are all crowding each other out -- I need to get some things done so I can free up the mental clutter! And what do I do? Oh come on, guess.

If you guessed that I bought more fabric -- um, you would be correct. I was TRYING to be responsible. Really I was. But, I went to my guild meeting. Normally, this would not be that much of a temptation. I mean, how much trouble can you get into at guild? Well, when they are having a "garage sale" to raise funds for our charity project -- quite a bit it turns out. It seems a donor gave the guild a huge stash to use for charity quilts (we make small ones for children in hospitals and for children who are removed from abusive homes). Now, not all of the stash is "child" appropriate -- and for the patterns we use, we do need to purchase some fabrics as "go alongs." So, sell some of the fabrics to guild members with the funds going to purchase supplies for the donation quilts. It's a good cause. I figured I'd buy a yard or two of fabric -- and that would be it. Yeah. Right. Um, I'm not going to give an exact number of the yardage that came home with me -- but at $2.00 a yard and most pieces being 4 yards or more -- um, let's just say a lot.

But really, how could I resist these beauties? Laura Ashley. Vintage Laura Ashley 100% cotton. The dates on the selvages are 1978, 1983, and 1985. (ok -- quick question here, when does something become vintage? I know antique is more than 50 years -- but these are 25+) One of them even had an original price tag on it -- the remnant from 1983 was $10.00 a yard. My love of a bargain just could NOT be denied now could it????

And then there were these lovely neutrals. Just plain ordinary whites and a couple of tans. Although, one of them will NOT be going into any quilts. Of the fabrics I bought it was the only one that was labeled as a "blend" fabric. It's the one on the bottom of the pile there. I did a quick burn test and well, it's an interesting blend. The wool I THOUGHT was there -- yep. And polyester. Hmmn...but, it's a great neutral color and I'm thinking a nice fall skirt would be a good thing. Maybe even the base of a bag or something (since, well, it's a 3 yard piece).

And this doesn't even cover the fabrics I bought at Tammy's on Saturday. I taught my first ever quilt class (the subject for another post entirely) and after spending 3 hours in a quilt shop, like I could walk out with NOTHING? Yeah, my will is not THAT strong. Hmph. I'll share photos later.

And as for the fabric from my guild meeting -- it was a charitable donation. Right? Right? Anyone???