Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ooooh Baby, Baby! Baby, Baby!

Sew, do you have that song stuck in your head now?  Oooh Baby Baby....Baby Baby....  Okay, well I do.  I enjoyed the first baby quilt I made so much that it bit me like a bug.  I had to make more!  I've pinned so many tutorials and patterns lately I thought I was becoming a rockstar by hitting my 1,000th pin.  Until my best friend pointed out she has more than that in just her sewing folder alone.  Talk about making me feel tiny.  lol  My insignificant number of pins was no match for her 5k plus.  Seriously.  The girl is a pinning wizard!

Nonetheless, I was happy to stumble upon a simple little design for a quilt that was nothing but squares.  I used to think those were too plain and simple.  If you were going to make a quilt and go to all that trouble, why not add a little flair to the project?  HA!  Those simple little square blocks sure do make a girl feel accomplished.  And that's what I needed after my pinning defeat.

Sew it quilt number 2.

I've been in love with ORANGE lately.  It's like little bits of sunshine since it's been so darn cold and dreary where we live.  I'm so over winter!  Admittedly I could never be a 'California Girl' (for soooo many reasons), but I sure wouldn't mind living farther south.  Permanently.

The last baby quilt was teal's and orange patterns.  I thought it was yummy.  Then I played around with these prints and I'm not sure I don't love it even more.  Orange's, grays and some muted tones.  It makes me want to be a kid again and curl up in this little blankie.

I've been taking advantage of the kids' Christmas present too.  The ping pong table makes an excellent drafting area.  I can spread my blocks out and play around with patterns.  It's been so nice to have such a big space I almost, ALMOST, started to cut with my rotary cutter and then realized I wasn't on a cutting mat.  That was a close one.  I never would have heard the end of it.

This little lap quilt is approximately 36" by 48".  They seriously are great for snuggling on the couch even for grown ups.  I bought a kit once for a lap quilt for myself (which I still use daily!) and it wasn't this big.  For this blankie I used 6 inch squares, in 5 design patterns.  I had 8 of each color (double and then some on the gray 'circles' you see.  I made my rows 6 blocks wide and went 8 blocks tall.  I really had no idea how I was going to lay them all out.  Randomly I assumed, but then when I got to putting one of each color in a row (2 for the duplicate grays) it wasn't looking good to me.  Actually it was driving me nuts!  So I decided to just go with a traditional block layout and repeat the pattern in each row.  Wasn't what I wanted, but after I resigned myself to the fact I just needed to finish it and was getting disgusted I gave up the fight.  Then.... it came together.  After I stitched all those blocks and stood back to take a look, I fell in love.  :)  Yep.  Total bliss just 'gandering at all that sunshine.  

I decided top quilting these baby blankets could be done on my home machine.  After all, it's no different than top stitching a hem, right?  Straight lines, no problem.  HA!  I'm sure you could find someone local to quilt them together (actually there is someone I could have do it for only $15 and she provides the batting!  Crazy right?), but when I'm working away and feeling like I could conquer the world, who wants to let anyone else steal that joy away?  Especially when it's 11 p.m. and I want to FINISH what I'm working on.  Obsess much?

So my biggest tip to give you (if you decide to top quilt something on your own) is use LOTS of safety pins.  LOTS and LOTS.  Did I say LOTS?  Because if you don't you will have more puckers than you can shake a stick at, your project will be ruined, you'll cry your eyes out and vow never to quilt anything.  Ever.  Again.  Anyway, that's what I was thinking would happen.  But I fixed the first pucker or two I messed up on and learned my lesson.

And I'm glad I stuck with it.....because when it's all finished and you can say "I made this."  It sure does feel good.  Maybe when I've made a few dozen it won't seem like such a big thing.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

And that 'odd' number of blocks you're gonna end up with....well, I decided to do something a little different with the back.  A splash of color just to remind you of what's on the other side.  You know, in case you forget.  Whatever.....I mentioned I stayed up late finishing this right?  So my brain is functioning on less than necessary sleep today.

I told my sister last night when I was finishing this one up (we talk on the phone all the time), that someday when I have grandbabies they are going to have the most awesome nana, who's going to make them the most awesome things.  Someday.  Until then......Sir Theodore gets to cuddle up on his cotton throne until someone buys it on etsy.  He loves them and tells me thank you Nana.  ;)

A little selfish sewing...

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Making boutique clothing is SEW much fun and I enjoy it tremendously.  But sometimes I get a little ‘jealous’ so to speak that I’m making all these adorable things and NOTHING fits me!  ;)  Joy and I have been finding more and more designers that are making PDF patterns in adult styles and sizes and there’s a few things we’d like to make ourselves, but this selfish sew was something I knew I could whip up in no time flat and since I’ve been sick as a dog I wanted a little ‘instant gratification’.  I’d been saving these fabrics to make a quilt for our own bed, but I was on pinterest yesterday and happened to get a little sidetracked.  Imagine that.  (FYI: Pinterest is evil.  That is all.)  I starting seeing baby quilts.  And I started drooling.  And then decided to make one, weather I had someone to use it on or gift it to, or not.  So what the hey.  I’ll finish it up and stick it in the etsy shop.  Who knows maybe someone will love it as much as I do and snatch it up.  More money for the mission fund and rice and beans.  :)  Oh, and by the way….baby quilts make great lap quilts for nesting on the couch or your favorite comfy chair while watching a movie.  And I secretly have to confess that I still sleep with a lap quilt (that I made myself).  For whatever reason I love to have something to snuggle in my face and cover my head with when I go to sleep.  True story.  I even took it to the hospital once upon a time when I had to have surgery.  I packed it all the way to Haiti with me, and even take it on trips or vacations when I get to see my sister.  Something about sleeping with a little piece of home and the smell of my blankies and bed that makes life so much better.
Please excuse the poor cell phone pic, but I was so excited to snap a pic when I got it pieced together that I couldn’t wait for the finished product.  I laid it out on the ping pong table (after I interrupted the kids’ game) and took a quick snapshot.  There is something about turquoise and orange that just melts my heart.  Seriously.  Not to mention I’m such a huge fan of all things retro and it seems more and more fabrics are going back to traditional designs of old.  The retro floral prints are beautiful but those big geometric shapes and damask details are what makes my heart go pitter patter.  Someday I’ll have grandchildren.  Hopefully.  (According to my children I’m out of luck in that regard, we shall see.)  So until then, I’ll just craft up something sweet and share it with the world.  I’ll get a better picture when it’s all finished.  In the mean time, I better get back to the sewing room.  I have a dress to finish for a designer by Friday!  I should probably be past the ‘cutting-of-the-pattern’ stage by now. ;)  Yeah.  That’d be good.
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If you like this design and are looking for a pattern, good luck.  Let me know if you find any free tutorials.  I wanted a strip quilt and found a gazillion finished pics and products, but didn’t want to pay for a pattern so I made my own.  (I’ve mentioned before how much I hate math.)  I googled the dimensions for a standard baby quilt and went to work with some scratch paper and a calculator.  Who knows, maybe I’ll design and make a PDF Pattern for it and sell it online as well.  I hear there’s a market for that. ;)  Until then I’ll share it with you all for FREE.
Number of Pieces Needed & Dimensions in Inches:
  • 2 – 4 x 20
  • 2 – 4 x 11
  • 2 – 6 x 20
  • 2 – 6 x 11
  • 2 – 10 x 20
  • 2 – 10 x 11
  • 1 – 15 x 20
  • 1 – 15 x 11
  • 1 – 6 x 55
Be sure to lay out all your pieces before you go sewing them together so you have them in the right order and laying in the right direction.  Pretty easy to do from scrap yardage.  All the cuts I used in my quilt were less than 1 yard pieces.  I did have to piece the 6×55 inch strip together with two pieces, and I matched up the seam with the side seams of two of the horizontal strips.  I’ve yet to make the binding and want to find just the right piece for a backing (which you should be able to figure out what size to get for that after you piece your top together), but I’m excited and can envision just what it will look like all done and wrapped around someone’s little chunker in a snuggle fest.  I plan on just quilting it with straight stitches to match the blocks.  I’m anxious for my girlfriend to buy her new quilting machine with her income tax refund! ;)Then I’ll just pay her a nominal fee for thread and electricity and we’ll have sew much fun stitchin the days away!  Can’t wait.
If you make a strip quilt using this little ‘tutorial’ of sorts, please link it up in the comments and post pics!  I’d LOVE to see them!
*update* So I thought I’d share with you how this little jewel turned out!  I’m totally in love with the colors.  And, sadly, since I have no grandbabies yet or friends to share it with, it went up for sale in the etsy shop.  You can purchase it HERE.  Or click on the shopping link in the menu to see it and other items.  :)  And just in case you noticed (or didn’t and I’m pointing it out now….) I ended up cutting off one of my end strips and cut into the opposite one as well.  I found the perfect piece of chevron fabric in my stash to back this little quilt with and needless to say it was just a few inches short of what I needed.  Sew I chopped off the ends a bit.  I think it’s still beautiful and melts my heart every time I look at it.  How ’bout you?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Peek-A-Boo Baby!

It's no secret I have a passion for sewing.  But when you pair that with some incredible patterns and tutorials you can really be amazed at what you can create!  The brilliant minds that are behind the scenes really don't get enough credit.  They design of all things you make and get compliments on from your friends and family, and you say thanks!  I made it myself!  Which is no lie, and it's an awesome feeling to say that...but I really wish there was a way to just flip a card out of your pocket and say, "HERE!  Check this out!  You think I did an awesome job, go buy one of these patterns and YOU too can look like a seamstress genius!" lol

The only reason I say this, is because there are sew many pattern designers out there that we tend to lean toward our favorites over and over again.  The ones with precise, clear, easy-to-read instructions.  With LOTS of pictures. ;)  For us visual learners.  I despise reading instructions.  I think I have too much testosterone in my system.   You's a man thing.  Skip the instructions, don't ask for directions.  But I do put the cap back on the toothpaste for those who are wondering.

I had the privilege of testing another pattern recently from one of my favorite, if not THE favorite at the top of my list: Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop.  Amy has the most awesome patterns and they make you really feel like a pro and your kids looks stylish.  The new Baby Bundle is adorbs (as my teenager likes to say, that's adorable in adult english).  I was chosen to make the baby gown and it was such a fast and simple sew.  So fast, I forgot to take pictures of how I made it!  :(  Seriously.  I used a Gap t-shirt I had in my upcycle stash to make the cutest little pink jersey nightgown for a friend's baby girl.  And she loved it.

If you like sewing with knits and jersey, and need something simple and fast for a baby gift or to add to your own nursery wardrobe check out the Peek-A-Boo Lullaby Line!  The bundle gives you discounted pricing over purchasing the patterns individually.  And we all love a good sale, right?!  Check it out!  (And I promise....the next project I make will have pictures.  I won't forget.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Did you say FREE

Why yes! Yes I did! It seems there's not too much in life that's free anymore, but when you find something awesome you have to pass it along.  Right?  For the love of all things craftsy and fun I couldn't keep this one to myself.  When I've got sew many friends (pun intended) that love to quilt I knew I had to link you up!  Don't worry, there's tons more resources on the page for other crafts too.  Just click any of the photos to sign up for these online classes for free!  There's even an app for that you can see on the website so you can take your classes with you and watch on your ipad or phone!  (yep, I'm an apple junkie.....)

It's a short and sweet post for today.  I'm working on some photoshop projects and stumbled across these and knew I had to get them posted.  I tend to squirrel out of control at times so I must act when the urge calls.  You know, because I might not come back to it until 2017.  Happy Friday and Happy Sewing!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Back to the Basics

So I know it's been awhile.  With the new year aren't we usually inspired to do new and exciting things?  Or at least make resolutions to change things in our lives?  I've seen a gazillion posts on facebook of people making their new year's resolutions and vowing to do things differently in 2014.  I make no promises.  Nothing about new year's really 'excites' me per say.  It's just another day, like the one before it (you know....the holiday break from school! lol It's all the same).

But something got me thinking.  I got sidetracked on pinterest one day and have been dying to make a new baby quilt/lap quilt.  Something fun and easy to throw together.  Joy and I have been sewing boutique clothing for 'sew' long....and I LOVE it!  But I needed a little instant gratification.  I've been sick for an entire month, even confined to the house.  So I figured it would be fun to piece something together.  Actually only took me about an hour (I still have to put the back on it before I share pics, but I think you're gonna love it!).
And then something else....for new years eve we spent a few hours at a friend's house.  Playing card and board games!  You know, the old fashioned kind, that don't require batteries, electricity or an internet connection.  We played spoons (the most fun!), pictionary man, and Pictureaka.  Complete with dice and old fashioned sand timers.  We thoroughly enjoyed the fun and fellowship.

And then something old friend lost her grandpa.  Pappy.  Pappy was known and loved by SOOOOO many people in our community.  If you didn't know him, you at least knew of him.  His obituary talked about his life growing up, his interest in music, and his band - Dean Allnutt and the Hillbillies.  Yep.  Hillbillies.  lol :)  I have friends who are city dwellers vowing to make changes in their lives this year.  So many of them wanting to buy family farms, learn to raise goats and chickens, grow a garden.  Get back to a simpler life.

How did we get so far away from simple?  When did we round that corner of no return where our kids (and our grandkids to come) won't remember what it was like to watch their grandmother can vegetables she picked fresh from the garden.  Or what it was like to clean a chicken coop with the rats running after you.  Yes, it's true.  It can happen. I remember doing that as a kid and it terrified me.  I think it's time to put a little 'fear' back into our kids.  lol  ;)

I remember quilts on mammie's couch and button pillows, our crayons were kept in a metal coffee can with our color books under the coffee table.  Grandpa taught us how to whittle, took us on long walks in the timber to identify leaves and trees of all kinds.  He took us fishing and made us bait our own hooks.  Touching those squirmy worms was awful!  I also remember my granny buying me a 'fishing mit' so I could wear it to take the fish off my hook and not have to touch it.  lol  She went fishing.....every single day.

They lived in a house where the windows were open in warm weather and I can still see the curtains blowing in the breeze, and the smell of the wood stove in winter and the wood box in the corner.  We covered up with "na-na's" to take naps while mom was crocheting and we picked at granny while she made Christmas candy and cookies trying to steal a bite.  Which usually got us chased out of the kitchen with a yardstick, a knife (don't worry I'm sure she never would have used it on us--but it had us giggling and running scared), or her 1/2 inch fingernails would jab at us to keep us away from her work.

Someone mentioned on the photo of the obituary for 'Pappy' that all the old-timers were leaving us and things would never be the same again.  Well, I want things to be like that again.  We seem to have a new found love for all things 'vintage' in our furniture, our fashion, and our homes, men love antique cars (no matter what their age), so why not take back some of the traditions of old?  Why does it just have to be material things we 'recycle' into new trends?

For 2014 I vow, no less than once a month, to find something to do with or create with my kids that will give them a bit of nostalgia to look back on.  Some things we already do, but I want them to be bigger and better than ever this year.  I want the garden to be the best it's been and walk barefoot with my kids through it picking beans and eating fresh tomatoes with dirt still on them.  I want to go fishing more often.  Not just send dad with the kids, but be like my grandma.  Taking my 5 gallon bucket and my can of worms and just sitting with them.  Maybe, just maybe.....I can teach my daughter how to cook a little better.  She's not much on kitchen duty of any kind.  She's a farm girl for sure.  But maybe, just maybe she might take a few minutes to learn how I make homemade bread, or we can whip up a batch of noodles.  She loves chicken and dumplings and I actually love making them.  Maybe we can do it together when she comes home for a visit.  Teach the boys how to make soap with me.  I shouldn't be so worried about them using lye....after all, I don't remember any recorded disasters of people losing limbs or such from making soap.  lol ;)  I may have to reconsider letting dad teach them to drive the tractor though.

I want to make more than just clothes for other kids (can't get enough of our little boutique biz! I love it! and love that Joy and I have sew much in common and inspire one another to create such great things), but I want to make more things for my own kids and family.  Quilts.  Quilts that will be used for years and years after I'm gone.  One of my daughter's (and my) favorite quilts are the ones that my mammie made before I was ever born.  She's been gone for over 40 years....and those quilts are still the most awesome things ever.  The fabrics you'll never find again, the yarn ties on them rather than machine quilting.

I just want things to be simple again.  Lord knows they were actually harder.  But so much simpler.  Does that make sense?  I want my kids (and I need to get better too!) to read their bible everyday.  Not just when it suits them.  Actually if the truth be told my daughter is WAY better at this than any of us in the family.  My oldest son spends all his spare time when he's not working or in school at church with the youth pastor.  They have become great friends.  He even fills in teaching the kids Sunday School class when the youth pastor's family has to be gone.  My kids inspire me to be better.  To do great things.  It's never too late after all.  But the great things I want to do, may never change the world.  But they can change my family.  They can change the direction our world is going.  If more people wanted to get back to the basics.  Back to the simple life.  Back to saddle shoes and pigtails.  Gum boots and fishing poles.

I hope you'll follow along.  I promise to blog more.  I've actually missed it so much.  The irony here.....I should be writing all of this in a paper journal instead of posting to the internet where I can print it later.  But hey, baby steps, right?!  ;)  No wonder my daughter ask for a journal for Christmas.  Maybe someday her memoirs will become a book.  If not, at least it will be something simple.  Something that she can pass along to future generations.

Happy new year to you and yours.