Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Red Dress

Last fall my college roomie was in town to photograph a mutual friend's wedding. We try to coordinate family pictures whenever Melissa comes to Illinois, but this year Matt was in Seattle each time that she was here. Knowing that her visit in October was going to be my last chance at pictures for awhile, I decided to have her shoot me and Addy. (And the prints made a great Christmas gift for Matt!)
As soon as we set the date, I started debating what Addy and I should wear. I loved this dress kit from the first time I saw it, and I decided that this was a good opportunity to buy it! I think it turned out really cute, and it photographed so well.

Some of my favorite shots:
All photos are courtesy of Melissa McClure Photography.

The dress turned out great, we had a fun day with Melissa, and Matt loves the photos!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The calm after the holidays

Wow, it feels like forever since I've blogged. Back in December I wrote up most of my Christmas gift blog posts and set them to publish after I knew the gifts were safely in their new homes. And aside from 1 gift, I think I've shared all of my creations. It sure was nice to sit back for a few weeks and watch my posts publish like magic. :) But now I have new things to share!
First up, a set of ipad pillows. As with all electronics, I hate having to buy accessories. I only bought a cover for my phone after I broke the first touch screen. Same goes for the ipad...I made sleeves for our ipads rather than spend $30 for 5 cents in plastic. But that doesn't solve the problem of propping the ipad up. I happened to wander across this post, and then later Diane emailed me to tell me that she wrote up a tutorial! I had to modify the size for my ipad, but that just entailed working with a larger piece of fabric! (I cut my fabric to 10" wide x 12" tall.)
 The car print is for Matt, the owls are for me. Both are Robert Kaufman prints.
Now I can easily follow a tutorial while I'm sewing!
One other change that I made from Diane's pattern was to stuff my pillow mostly full of poly fil. I used dry beans in the front bar for extra stability, and then I poured 1 cup of dried beans in to the main pillow area. I spread the beans on the bottom of the pillow and finished filling it with poly fil. I did try stuffing it with beans because that would eliminate the poof that poly fil creates, but it was so heavy! I think the poof will be squished down a bit with use.

Another project that I made recently was a basket for Addy's new bike! Matt's parents bought her a cute little bike for Christmas, and the first thing she wanted to do was carry her dolls and other toys around with her.

Fabric is Castle Peeps by Lizzie House. The pattern is a tutorial here at Noodlehead. If you haven't seen to her blog yet, go check it out!

And finally, I have to share Addy's gift from my parents:
Now our days are really filled with sewing! We've already made a very simple skirt, a fleece hat, and a (no-sew) fleece scarf. Between the bike and the sewing machine, Addy has been keeping busy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Addy's gifts, part 2

Again, I was inspired by From An Igloo. This was actually the first idea that I got from Christine's blog, the dolly backpack. She gave away a copy of the Dolly Outfitter's pattern for the backpack, and though I didn't win I did take advantage of the coupon code to order a copy!
This is a really great, straightforward pattern, and I think I will get a lot of use from it in the future. These backpacks would make great gifts, they sew up very quickly (I did most of the work on Christmas Eve!), and you can omit the doll carrier portion to create a regular backpack! I have to admit, my favorite part of the pattern is that the zipper casing/gusset fits perfects. To me, that is a sign of a well-written pattern!
I did change a few things - I did not use prequilted fabric, I used heavy interfacing in the doll straps rather than batting, nylon webbing for the backpack straps, and I made the straps and doll "pocket" piece with enclosed seams. That may not make sense unless you have read through the pattern, but it was just a small change that I made.
I used Castle Peeps by Lizzie House for the backpack.
I also stole borrowed Christine's idea to fill the backpack with doll clothes. I actually only included 3 outfits, one of which was store bought. But for a 3-year old, those 3 2-piece outfits provide lots of (mismatched) clothing combinations! I would like to make a few more things for her in the future, when I'm under less pressure. :)
The first outfit that I made was a skirt and knit shirt. The knit is from JoAnn's and the skirt is made from some left over Innocent Crush velveteen!
The second outfit is a pair of knit pants and matching shirt. Both knits were designed by Patty Young.
I found the skirt and pants very easy to sew up. The shirts were a lot more tedious, although I may try the same pattern in a woven rather than a knit. I just don't find knits very easy to work with (all of these pieces were sewn from Simplicity 5733). I'd also like to try making a few generic pieces like skirts and pants that will fit dolls of different sizes.
The backpack and clothes were all a big hit, which makes it all worth it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Even Santa gives handmade!

Addy is on the fence about Santa. It's probably partly because we don't harp on the whole idea of Santa. We don't do the good girl/bad girl thing or threaten her to behave, and talking up the Santa thing just seems odd to me. It's also probably partly because I made many of her gifts. She knows my fabric stash too well, and she assumes that I make most everything in our house. In fact, she used to try to tell Matt that I made the plastic plates that she eats off of!

I have From An Igloo to thank for most of the gifts that we made Addy this year! For her main gift, Matt made this doll bed and I made the bedding. I had seen the bed months ago, but it wasn't until From An Igloo blogged about her doll bed that I remembered the project and what a great gift it would make for Addy. As a bonus, Christine blogged about the bedding that she made - that meant I could sew from her measurements which saved me some time!
For the pillowcases and quilt I used the City Weekend collection. The bed sheet was made from a woven that I had in my stash. I used a charm pack for the quilt, and decided to make it reversible! I also quilted it in a more modern style, with random straight double lines.
I'd like to pick up a fat quarter of one of the pink prints so that I can make another set of pillow cases to match the other side of the quilt.
I was a bit nervous that this gift wouldn't be a huge hit. With Matt living across the country, I never really found my holiday groove. In fact, we didn't even START this gift until 3 days before Christmas! But she loves it, and it's definitely something that she will play with for years. In fact, I made an extra sheet for the bed, and one of Addy's favorite things to do is change the bedding when her babies wake up!
Next up, more doll-relating gifts!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pay it forward 2011: January (AKA Giveaway Winner!)

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway! I loved reading all of your comments, and I'm really excited to have some new readers!

A few days ago while I was working on a small batch of mug rugs I starting thinking about this giveaway. I waited a long time to do one, partly because I was nervous. But it was fun! So for the rest of 2011 I am going to continue in my "pay it forward" theme and have a giveaway each month! In fact, I already have the February giveaway prize done! And in true pay it forward fashion, the winner will receive two prizes. One to keep, and one to give!

Now for the winner of the January giveaway!

True Random Number Generator  9Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Comment #9 belongs to Amber, who has an adorable blog, Sew Wonky.
Congrats, Amber!

And to everyone else, thanks so much for joining in my first giveaway! Stop by again in February, if I don't hear from you sooner. Now go check out Amber's cute blog!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My most favorite handmade Christmas gifts of 2010!

A few years ago I was chatting with Stephanie about Christmas gifts, and she mentioned the idea of drafting a family tree and having it printed on Spoonflower. Sounds like a great idea if you can draw. Or if you can use the fancy illustrator computer programs. Unfortunately, I have neither of those skills. Lucky for me, I can applique and quilt though!
I drew all of these applique pieces myself (this is honest to goodness the extent of my drawing capabilities), but many of the images were inspired by pieces that I found on flickr, such as this and this.
This family tree was for my mom and step-dad.

 Most of the fabrics are batiks. I machine appliqued all of the pieces, then hand embroidered the names, quilted them and bound them. I quilted the background in a small meandering and finished off the borders with straight lines about 1/2" apart. I should be able to add names to the tree if I hand embroider carefully!
I think my favorite part of this tree is the black batik border. Although I also love the color variations in the leaves. And the birds. OK, I can't pick a favorite part!

And this is the family tree for my in-laws:
 I love that the heavy trunk of the tree leant itself to the heart "carving". And at the base of the tree, my in laws.
This quilt was assembled and quilted in the same way as the first. The major difference is that I added our last name to the tree. It seemed to fit well with the design, whereas the first tree worked better another way.
Again, I have so many "favorite" parts of this quilt....the shape of the tree, the cute little acorns, the border fabric.
The two trees are so different, and I love them both! I don't think I could pick a favorite if I tried.

Don't forget to hop over here to enter the giveaway! It runs through Saturday, January 15.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I've been tagged!

Yesterday morning I was greeted with a very sweet surprise. Lee at Freshly Pieced included my blog as one of her nominees for the Liebster Award! I had never heard of this award before, but maybe some of you have! The Liebster award is a way to spotlight the "little guys" - blogs with fewer than 300 followers.

I love the idea of this award, and it's helping me to find some other "little guys" to follow! It has also changed the way I look at the blogging world, because I've realized that a lot of my inspiration comes from the "little guys".

Here are a few blogs that I'd like to nominate for the Liebster award:

Felicity at Felicity Quilts - I first found Felicity's blog after she blogged a super cute Christmas mug rug. Check out her 2010 projects!
Amber at Sew Wonky - I just found Amber's blog, and it is full of cute projects!
Megan at Canoe Ridge Creations - I love the bright colors in this blog, and check out Megan's Amy Butler quilts! A girl after my own heart. :)
Kristie at OCD: Obsessive Crafting Disorder - Kristie is getting pretty close to 300 followers, but I had to add her in here. I love everything she creates!

Hop on over to these blogs and get inspired! Just don't blame me when your to do list doubles. :)

And thanks so much to Lee for nominating me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Owl Love

My sister showed me these West Elm owls a few weeks before Christmas. Her sorority mascot was an owl, so she has a small collection of owl trinkets. From those simple ceramic owls, I got an idea for an owl pillow. My original vision included a slightly stuffed applique owl in varying kona neutrals. I used the owl applique and embroidery designs from this quilt pattern (because let's face it, I can't draw!).
My first attempt at the owl was a big flop. I cut a piece of batting from my owl template and then cut a piece of kona slightly larger. I clipped the curves and pressed the raw edges of the kona around the batting, and then appliqued the piece with a narrow zig zag stitch. The zig zag edge didn't turn out well, and I didn't want to hand applique the piece before I knew if I'd like the outcome. So I turned to simple fusible applique without the batting. I also decided to cut all of the owl pieces from a light grey (kona ash). Layering the pieces and machine appliqueing them gave the owl just enough dimension, while the pillow was subtle enough to look nice on a couch.
To finish the pillow front, I free motion quilted in a scallop pattern that reminds me of owl belly feathers.

And since this pillow was a gift for my sister from Addy, I added hand embroidery to the back. I can't decide if I like the front or back more!

I included an invisible zipper (my new favorite finishing trick!), which makes for a really clean finish.
It's a good thing that I don't have the right place in my house for this pillow, because that would have made it a lot harder to give away!

Head over to Stitched in Color and check out the Bloggers Pillow Party where I'm entering this pillow!

Blogger's Pillow Party

Also, hop over here to enter the giveaway! It runs through Saturday, January 15.
Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011: Projects, Resolutions and a Giveaway!

I thought I'd take a little break from showing you the Christmas gifts that I made, and tell you what I hope to accomplish in 2011!

There are lots of sew-alongs popping up, and I've really had to use restraint to not join every single one. I'm hoping that bloggers will continue with them throughout the year, because it's just silly if everyone starts at the same time!

If you find yourself with gobs of free time now that the holiday frenzy is past, here are a few that I've seen:
Postage Stamp Quilt Along @ p.s. I quilt (I really wanted to join this one, but my plate is already full!)
Sliced Coin Quilt Along @ Don't Call Me Betsy (Another fun one, I'll be bookmarking this to try out later in the year!)
One Yard Wonders Sew Along @ Pink Chalk Fabrics (I have this book, it's got a lot of great projects in it!)
Ticker Tape Quilt Along @ deeroo designs/Old Red Barn Quilt Co. (Great scrap buster!)
Lots of Apron Tutorials @ Sewing in No Man's Land (Check out her freebies, all of her patterns are free and they are adorable!)
Blogger's Pillow Party is a fun little contest going on over at Stitched in Color. I'm hoping to enter something!

And the last one I'll share with you is the Birdie Stitches Hand Embroidery BOM @ Little Miss Shabby. I'm not sure why I didn't see the Little Miss Shabby blog before now, but she's got tons of inspiration over there! This is the only sew along/quilt along that I've committed to for this year. I have my first block pieced and embroidered, and while I was at it I pieced the other 11 blocks.
(Ignore the blue marks, my marker lines haven't dissolved yet.)
The piecing is from the Sunkissed line by Sweetwater (LOVE them!!). Solid is kona in ash. Floss is DMC.

So, that was my first 2011 commitment. What else is keeping me busy?
Quilt up 1 quilt for my Mom
Quilt up a wallhanging that my Mom made Addy for Christmas, and didn't get a chance to finish.
Finish Start this coat. I'm giving up on the hair canvas b/c my wool is very thin. But I need to rework the front panels b/c it's huge in the bust. Did I mention that I already cut the wool AND finished the bound button holes? So yeah, I shoved that one in a closet to start on Christmas gifts.

Use the City Weekends line by Oliver + S to make a baby quilt for one of Matt's coworkers.
I picked up this fat quarter pack from my soon-to-be lqs, Quilting Loft in Seattle, WA. To say that I love this shop is an understatement. I've never seen so many modern fabrics, patterns, books, and samples all in 1 location. The prices were a bit higher than I'm used to, but about equivalent to those at the 1 shop in Chicago. As soon as I saw this fq pack I thought of the woman at Matt's work who is having a boy, so I had to pick it up! I also picked up a charm pack of City Weekend (which I already used), a yard of some fun boy/car fabric, and another charm pack of Fandango. This quilt is first new project on the list after I quilt the two projects above.

The last part of my sewing/quilting new year is to sew more from my stash and be grateful for the amazing things that I have. I go through waves of spending lots and feeling guilty about what I have, so this year I'm really trying to stick to it! And to share what I do have with others, I pulled out a pile of quilts to donate.
I found Margaret's Hope Chest, and they are the first group that I'm going to contact. I still need to dig through my plastic totes in the basement because I know that I have more to share!
I've also joined a group of crafters on Facebook who are going to "Pay it Forward in 2011". I'm sending a handmade gift to the first 5 people who commented on my Facebook status, and in turn they have to do the same!
My non-quilting resolution is to spend more time playing with my daughter and less time interneting during the day. That meant that I had to whittle down my blog reader list. In lieu of following so many blogs, I've started adding contacts in Flickr. It's a great way to keep up on what others are doing! Here's my photostream, if you'd like to add me as a contact. :)

Just one more thing before the giveaway details. ;) For the central IL locals (or visitors!), I have to share my recent visit at the Treadle II in Bloomington, IL. I was in this shop years ago for a shop hop, before there was much modern fabric out there. The owner is a really sweet woman, and the shop is FULL-floor to ceiling bolts of fabric, and racks of craft and sewing notions and supplies. I don't usually stop in there, because honestly I expected it to be full of calicos like I remembered it. But last week after we dropped Matt off at the airport I decided to take another look at the shop, and Oh.My.Goodness. There are no samples (or room for them!), but she has more modern fabric than my 3 local shops combined! She orders charm packs of EVERY line that Moda puts out, and from many of them she also gets jelly rolls, layer cakes, and yardage! I was hoping to find some old FMF or Heather Ross in there somewhere, but she must have a really great client base because most of her fabric is from the last 3 years, I'd guess. So, what did I pick up? Well, I had some charm packs in my hand as I waited in line to pay: Plume, 12 Days of Christmas, Hideaway, Sugar POP, and It's a Hoot. While I was waiting, I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Hartman's new book. I've seen it before, but I thought I'd flip through it once more. This time I started reading some of her tips, and couldn't put the book down. She has a lot of great techniques, and I was surprised by how much I learned from just reading a few paragraphs while waiting in line. So into my pile of goodies it went!
I've already read the entire book, and I have plans for a few of the charm packs. So although I bought more than I should have, I'm feeling pretty good about my purchases.

And now, the giveaway! My 100th post came and went, and then my blog anniversary came and went. I had plans to do a Halloween giveaway, and then I ran out of time. So, here we go!
I joined the Sweetwater Label Crew when they started it up a few months back. The January labels included a pattern to make covers for the little "brag book" photo albums, but those aren't really my thing. So I added the labels to the fronts of a few moleskine journals! I kept one to stick in my purse, and I have the other two to give away!
All I ask is that the winner "pay it forward" and share one of the journals with a friend.
And because everyone likes a little fabric, I'm going to throw in this charm pack:
The charm pack you can keep for yourself. :)

To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment.
Tell me what projects you have in mind for 2011, any resolutions that you've made, what you'd like to see here in the new year...whatever is on your mind!
One comment per person, and if you don't have your email in your profile, please leave it in your comment so that I can contact you. Don't know if your email is in your profile? Here's how to check.
If you need to leave a new comment, please delete your first comment.
You don't have to be a follower, although I do love my followers!
The giveaway will be open for one week. I'll pick a random winner sometime Saturday night, January 15.
Good luck!

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who joined me in my first giveaway! I'm going to do monthly giveaways through 2011, so stop by again to see what's going on!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All wrapped up!

I forgot to get a shot of all of the gifts under the tree this year. Bummer, since this was the first year that I ditched the wrapping paper for reusable bags! They were super simple to make, and fun to use. I'm planning on stocking up on some of the fun kid prints from JoAnn's when they go on sale, so that I can start using cloth bags for babies, birthdays, and all of the other gift giving events in our lives!
Here's the first stack that I made. I think I made up about 22 bags in total. About half of them were for our immediate family, so I have 11 left for next year. I can't wait to see how many are reused!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some Nicey Jane Pillows

I ordered a charm pack of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane line awhile back, and didn't realize until it arrived that the line only had 20-some prints in it. So I tucked it away with the other charms that I' Then a few weeks ago I went digging through my stash for some inspiration. I chose 9 prints from the pink colorway and 9 prints from the blue colorway to create pillows.
Each pillow was pieced as a simple 9-patch. I quilted the pink pillow with simple straight lines 1/4" from the seams. This pillow is a gift for Matt's grandma.
I decided to give the blue pillow to my good friend, Leslie. I'm not sure if it will go with anything in her house, but the colors and prints in this pillow made me think of her. I spent a lot of extra time on this pillow, because I wanted to do something special with the quilting. I settled on a free motion paisley print and I just love how it turned out! I'd really like to see this on a whole quilt, but it sure is time consuming.
The pillows were a big hit!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The cubbie hole quilt

The entire time that I was arranging and piecing this quilt, all I could think of were the cubbie holes at Addy's preschool where the kids put their coats and backpacks. I actually have this similar, but more complicated, Aardvark pattern in my stash. I used that pattern as a starting point and simplified it to work with the yardage that I bought. I started with 10 half-yard cuts, and I used just about every little bit of it!
I bought a bunch of the Verna line by Kate Spain when I stopped at a quilt shop near my mom's house, and as soon as I got it home I knew that the fabric was perfect for my friend Suzanne. She just finished up her last year of medical school, so of course a quilted gift was in order!
 Backing is Kona with a small pieced detail.

Finished measurements were about 60"x80".
Quilted in a small meandering pattern.