Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teacher's Edition

 This year, we are going crafty for our teacher.  Instead of a paper plate to hold her cookies, she is getting a book purse.  (without crumbs, the cookies will be in bags inside.)
 The main reason behind the book purse is that it's a Teacher's Edition of an old Reading and Grammar book!  It was screaming to be made into a book purse for a teacher.  No really, it was.
 I basically sewed a little bag and glued it in.  I added a little pocket and the handles are sew in with some sturdy grosgrain ribbon.  And how nicely does the lining fabric go with the whole thing?  I mean, really? 
I went back and forth on the whole actually giving her the book purse thing.  Is it more of an end of the year gift?  Are we taking things too fast?  She'll be our teacher for two years, our school does looping in the lower grades, so you can beat she's getting a bookshelf throw quilt next year.  Do other people feel awkward giving homemade gifts to nonfamily or is it just me?
Anyway, my son was all for it and seeing as she's his teacher, he got to make the final call.  On the inside cover of the book, where I done glued it together, I wrote the year and to/from, just for my own little fun.  I like having little secrets in things I make.
So here's to hoping she thinks it's neat and not weird. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Throw Quilt?!

That's right, it's not a bed quilt or a baby quilt.  This is my first official couch snuggling sized quilt.  Technically, I made an old lady lap quilt for my Mom and I made a biggish lap quilt for my Grandma Birdie, but this is my first quilt intended for the couch or the floor.  While I was hand quilting it, I took a few opportunities to test it out...and now I need to make more.
It's pretty much 60 x 65 inches.  It seems small to me, but I'm also working on a twin sized quilt so I tell myself it's just a matter of comparison.  It's plenty big to do it's job.  
 I backed it in a purple polka dot.  I needed to have a bit of me in there.  The fabric was a collection (gasp!) of precuts (double gasp!).  Not my usual, but certainly fast. 
I hand quilted it in a bit of a zig zag pattern.  It actually took me three false starts before I decided how to quilt it.  I'm happy with this decision, this quilt is really about the fabric rather than any pattern so this was a nice way not to detract.  
 And of course if I was taking a quilt outside I had to hang it off something.  I think it's a rule.  Maybe my compliance will keep the quilt police off my back about the binding; it's a machine stitched roll over with square corners.  But it took a total of about thirty minutes.  If even that.
 And since we're looking at cuteness in the backyard, here's last Spring's robin nest.  We've had a nest of robins each year we've been in our house.  Did you know Mama and Dad Robin bring the little ones food after they've left the nest?  Did you also know they can't fly when they leave the nest?   Yeah.  Consequently, until they fly away, my own kids aren't allowed out of our nest.  I really don't want a baby robin loved too much. 

linking up: tgiff and whoop whoop

Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't Tell

mirror image shot, don't worry it's a lefty bandolier
Oh my goodness.  This is what I've been secretly working on lately.  And I am now so in love with the idea of a bandolier.  Seriously, if Martha can bring back ponchos, I can so rock a bandolier.  I mean it, next time I'm hitting Disneyland, I'm so wearing a bandolier.  Can't you just picture it?  No more trying to figure out what to do with your bag on the rides that don't allow them.  Problem solved!  Bandolier. 
This one though, isn't a Mom bandolier.  It's part of my oldest guy's Christmas; he's six.  And a lefty, which caused me more stop and think moments than just about any other project.  No one wants a backwards bandolier.  It holds darts for his nerf gun.  Now he has a mobile stash for battles with Dad.  This is why I sew; what kid doesn't need a nerf bandolier.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Death By Polyester

For starters you need a little Mormon culture lesson.  We have tablecloths.  By that I mean our congregations have a stash of maybe 20 or so tablecloths that we all have access to.  We use them for church dinners or the annual Christmas party, stuff like that.  We also borrow them for wedding receptions and the like. 
Today a friend is getting married and having a reception.  Cue the tablecloths.  Yesterday, his sister-in-law called me with a problem.  The tablecloths were a mess.  They hadn't been folded last time they were used and it was the biggest wrinkly nightmare ever.  She had tried rewashing them and every other trick in the book; but to no avail.  It was down to ironing. 
I took a share of them and spent the whole day ironing.  No really.  I took a break for lunch and to get my oldest from school.  I ate the frozen pizza my husband cooked and I kissed the kids at bedtime, but other than that I was ironing.  It took about an hour per tablecloth.  It was nuts.
At one point I thought I should have been doing squats or something while I was ironing, ya know, two birds with one stone.  But alas, instead I ate miniature tootsie rolls and turned my sewing room into a steamy little sauna.  But I now have major confidence in my ironing skillz, it's like my xmen power.  And I'm really familiar with the steam function on my iron.  And you can bet I will iron and fold those tablecloths when I'm done, if ever I use them.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Yeah, not so much.  More like walking a bit faster than usual...ish. 
So my Hustle goals were:
  • organizing my sewing room to be ready for and accommodate the big table
  • finish my youngest's quilt top
  • and make a quilt for the in-laws Christmas

Well, I nixed the in-law quilt.  Their style is not mine so a stash quilt will never work for them.  So I suppose that's one goal down.  In a lame retroactive way.

Youngest's quilt top stalled while I was anticipating the gloriousness of assembling it on the big table, so it's still doable but not done.  The biggest hurdle will be block placement, I'd wager.

And the organization?  Done.  Score.  The big table is in and is way rockin' the sewing room.  Really, it's the stuff of awesome.  I am in the market for a thread rack, but I imagine between my bday and Christmas I'll be able to make that happen.

So I suppose I'm hustling of a sort.  I have one out of three two done.  Here we go, 50 days left.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Sewing Table: or why my husband is the coolest

My sewing room was really the guest room; when we moved in, this room was where we put stray furniture that wasn't bound for the nether regions of the basement.  Aside from my little desk, there was a night stand, a hideabed couch, a little table, that kind of stuff.  Mostly it all hugged the walls and with the addition of my little fabric shelf and my treadle machine it was pretty full.
When we decided to go big on the new table (4x8 feet) we knew we had to move the couch, thus cementing the not a guest room status.  How unwelcoming of us.  We pretty much figured the room would be eaten alive by the table, but our only real visitor is my mom and she can handle sleeping on the floor in the girl's room.  And it officially would became my sewing room.

 For my birthday later this month, my husband made me a sewing table.  A gorgeous sewing table.  And he let me paint it purpley; he even kept his stain the wood opinions to himself for the most part.
 The first step was finding an acrylic insert that fit my machine.  Now as you can see, my machine did not cost more than my first car.  Heck, my machine hardly costs more than a couple months of diapers!  I half expected the company to laugh and send a "honey, call us when you have a real machine" kind of email.  But they didn't!  They made me one!  And sent it pretty quickly all things considered.  I got it from Dream World Northwest and it is a beautiful fit for my machine.

 The whole sewing surface is flush thanks to my husband and his figure things out skills.  This was his first wood working project and he figured it all out.  He routed out a lip in the table top and the insert fits in just right.  My machine sits on a shelf that we adjusted until it was just right.  By saying "we adjusted," I of course mean my husband was under the table with a wrench and I was up top running my hand over the sewing section calling out instructions.  Here's a shot of the shelf underneath and the bolts that raise and lower the shelf and my machine.
 The table even wins points for cuteness.  We got the legs and supplies from Lowe's for the most part I think. 
 One of the fun parts of having it made just for me is I could specify everything about it.  I put my machine far enough back that I could have some room for pinning in front and plenty of room for stashing scissors and pins to the right.  My turtle lamp even got a nice home.  His shell lights up when he's on.  I super love my turtle lamp.
 One of the bonuses of the giant table is a place for the girl.  She tends to wander when I'm sewing and will sometimes be coloring, sometimes getting into everything.  Mostly getting into everything.  But no more!  She now has a real coloring spot!  And it's big enough to really color!  And (!!) it's six feet away from where Mom's sewing.
why yes, she is an astronaut, we're very proud
Once we had the couch and desk out and the table in, we both just kinda looked at it for a minute and then confirmed to each other that yes, somehow even with the giant table the room seemed bigger.  Grandma is not sentenced to the floor of a kid room!  She gets the floor of the sewing room! (The queen sized air mattress fits even if the couch bed is syonora.)

Also with the shuffle, I decided that it was time for this to be visible.  My great-grandmother made this doll quilt for my mom when she was about four.  Those squares finish at about an inch.  I only just noticed the section in the bottom center that's in upside down.  There's some points of the quilting that don't match up either.  I like that I found them.  This is an heirloom, absolutely none of us care if it has quirks.  For all I know Josephine Wilson hated those upside down squares.  But I like them.  It's a good reminder to me that my husband is right when he says I'm the only one who will ever care about the quirks in my quilts.  Just more proof my husband is the coolest.
linking up tgiff and crazymom

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Just A Sneak Peek

 The table is finished and in the room.  I've even sewn on it; pretty sure I had a dorky grin the whole time.  The room around the table is...well, a sty right now.  So once I get the shelf up and it's camera ready I'll post the rest.  Until then, just a couple glances.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


My table is built.  Here I am pretending to sew in the basement.  Ignore the fact that it's resting on sawhorses, the next step is painting so it's just hanging out until then.  (okay, am I the only one who loves a good pun?)
 And in non pretend sewing, I picked up a layer cake of good fortune by Kate Spain and am bricking it out for fun.  I'm still swapping blocks around, but it's mostly starting to settle, don't worry, the bottom left will get some darker blocks soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival

My last couple festival quilts were for nephews.  I haven't had any new nephews, or nieces for that matter, so I had to branch out.  This one was for a brother.  It's not my latest and greatest, but it's pretty stinkin' awesome, says me. 
Behold, the Scrabble Quilt.
way too big for my house! no room to lay flat enough to not be wrinkled
 My brother was going to be turning thirty and I decided he needed something significant to mark the occasion.  He's not married, so I didn't have to factor in a wife's sense of style.  This one is all him.  I've since vicariously decorated for him, but this was the first time I did, I think.

 I am a detail person, so after bringing my Scrabble board fabric shopping and a lot of math I got to it.  I wanted the game area to be the size of the top of his mattress, a CA King.  (Yeah, it's that big.)  I couldn't quite make it to scale.  I decided to have the white sashing finish at 1/2' rather than 5/8.'  The squares finish at 5 inches. 
with my Scrabble board
 The little triangles gave me some trouble.  I had originally planned on piecing them into the sashing.  But with two little kids and then one on the way, the pieced triangles didn't happen.  They are all appliqued on.  By the end I was very much done with the triangles.  I counted them at one point, but I really don't want to know how many it was.  If you wanna do the math, here ya go: the red and dark blue each have twelve and the pink and light blue each have eight.  I zig zag stitched each one onto my quilt top.
I love seeing all the seams on the back of a quilt top
 Once it was assembled, I bust out my gigantoor hoop and got to quilting.  I'm a hand quilter and it wasn't exactly a fast process.  I think it took me a few months to go around every square.  And because of the sashing, it really was around every square, and I had to flare around all those stinkin' triangles.
I was torn on whether or not to include the DOUBLE WORD SCORE type stuff or not.  I decided not.  I went for subtle Scrabble; Scrabbelegance if you will.  I did put the star in the center though, it just needed it, the whole balance of the thing just felt off without it.
It's a CA King size bed quilt, which means it's gigantic.  I couldn't really find a place to take pics of it, there was snow outside, and I was way too excited to wait for my husband to get home to enlist his help.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures.  Someday I'll have to visit it, I mean visit my brother.
I only just this week figured out how I'll someday do the game tiles.  Felt! I had been brainstorming a zillion miniquilts, but then I decided felt is so the way to go.  And it will hide seams on the back piece so I don't have to worry about cheaters.  I decided that when my brother gets married, I'll send them Scrabble tiles. Now I'll just have to come up with some kind of little trays...

quilt measurements:102 x 102 inches
special techniques: applique, hand quilting
quilted by: me! by hand
best category: bed quilt
entry number: 140

be sure to head back to the festival to check out more, but remember to check your watch occasionally, just sayin'...

and for an added bonus, here's the pic my brother sent when I asked him for another for the festival.
See why we vicariously decorate?  Apparently I need to make him a headboard next.  Sigh.  Brothers.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Not

The table.  It's coming right along.  In all its 4 by 8 foot glory.  Pretty much I decided, why not.  It will super dwarf that room but really, why not.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Made A(nother) Dress

Round Two of making dresses for the Girl.  When we bought the fabric I just kept telling myself she's four.  When I showed my husband he pointed out that I have a skirt "just like that."  To a boy, yes, but technically my polka dots are pink on pink.  The white seems more in your face for whatever reason.
After sewing with it, and getting to know it, I am totally in love with it.  It is so us.  The girl loves it.  She has a Minnie Mouse doll that is very important and she loves that they now match.  So much so that she has decided to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween.  So I guess it's a twofer; dress and costume.
The pattern was a simple Butterick from JoAnn's.  I think it cost less than a dollar.  It was pretty simple.  My favorite part is totally the pin tucks.  I added some length, it hits an inch or so below the knee when she stands up straight, which isn't too often, she's usually in motion.

And a quick Hustle update.  Yeah...  So I've shelved the quilt for my in-laws idea.  It was too much me and not them.  I was trying to use what I had and what I have is just not their style.  So it's not totally never gonna happen, but it ain't happening before Christmas.  Unless of course I get hit by guilt between now and then and decide I HAVE to make one!  Here's to hoping I can resist midnight sewing on the 24th!

linking it up! tgiff and whoop whoop and crazymom

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Help! I Have a Question

Remember I mentioned my husband's gonna build me a fancy schmancy sewing table?  Well, my question is how big do I want it.  We bought a 4 foot by 8 foot (sorry metric users, I have no idea what that is in meters) piece of wood.  I'm keeping the eight foot, but the question is the 4 foot.  Do I keep it four feet deep or do we cut it down to just over three feet (a meter-ish, I know that one).  I plan on keeping it at least three feet so my cutting mat fits well, but four feet is a bit of a stretch.  Really, I mean that literally.  I can't quite reach the back without standing and leaning across.  Do I ever really need to reach the back?  Should I take all the space I can get?
Do any of you have big 'ol tables and love them or are they just a bit ostentatious?

With the humongo table came the acknowledgement that the guest room is really my sewing room.  I was a little embarrassed to have taken over an entire room just for little me, but my husband was the one who said it out loud and is okay with it.  So I guess I can admit it.  My name is Amanda, and I have a sewing room.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm Hustling

Kelsey Sews
I'm doing it.  I'm joining the hustle.
Here's my goals in no real order and potentially conflicting.

My husband is making me a big 'ol sewing table for my birthday (it's a big one, I'll officially be starting the end of young) and I am setting the goal of achieving organization.  A place for everything and all that.

I need to get at least the top done on my youngest's twin sized quilt.  Otherwise he will be scarred for life.

My in-laws are Christmasing us in quite a big way this year and I wanna make them a quilt.  (it's like a disease, the "i should make them a quilt" fever is getting stronger every year; i suppose it will get me in the end when i'm buried under an avalanche of gift quilts.)

And I need to make my daughter's dresses before the daily asking makes me crazed.

I Haven't Made It Yet

It was coupon commotion over at JoAnn's recently so I took the girlie one and we looked at patterns.  Yes, that's right, I took her with me.  Our daughter is what one would politely call opinionated.  Others might call her very, very, very, very, stubborn and unyielding.  So my husband thought it best to bring her along to avoid her younger cousins getting some handmedowns in mint condition.  Admittedly, a wise precaution.
So we looked at patterns to decide what "shape" dress we wanted.  I pretty much go on the theory that if I say it enough times I can brainwash my kids.  I did not want her thinking we were making the dress in the picture so I talked plenty about choosing a shape.  We managed to agree on two patterns.  She loved the hunt to find the patterns in the drawers, especially with the added excitement of the number labels on the drawer front being only a jumping off point rather than an accurate account of what was in the drawer.
Then we were off to fabric.  I showed her the back of the pattern that lists what kind of fabrics work with the pattern.  And I reminded her as we walked past the taffeta and chiffon and fleece and terry cloth.  We made our way to the cotton and went immediately to pink and purple. 
You know the fabric that you see and just wonder how it came to be made?  The stuff that is so much too much that there's a whole bolt sitting on the shelf?  Well, apparently it was made for four year old girls.  After what felt like eternity, we managed to compromise.  I think I won a bit more ground on the purple which makes up for the ground I lost on the pink. 
We came home with a bright pink with decent sized white polka dots; think Minnie Mouse.  The purple is a medium value with a smaller white floral. 
In the parking lot on the way out she told me she wanted to wear the pink dress when we got home.  I told her it wasn't ready.  The next morning she woke up and told me she wanted to wear the pink dress to church.  I had to tell her again I hadn't made it yet.  Same thing yesterday.  And again today.  I'm noticing a pattern forming. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trust Me, It's Funny

Hand stitching around the heart
So aside from the Muppet pelt pillow, which I made despite my husband's doubts, I also made a blanket that he went on record as considering over the line.
My husband says my family has a cavalier attitude towards death.  I disagree.  I think we just have a really certain belief in what comes afterwards.  I attribute it to my mom's dad mostly, but it likely goes even farther back.  "You can't kill a Swede" had to have come from somewhere.

backed in flannel
In a nut shell, we believe that we will be resurrected and get our physical bodies back.  But not the old, practically bionic ones.  Rather the record setting backstroker one. 
My mom's hip dislocated again, and as I was told it didn't warrant another walker bag, I got creative.  I made my mom an "old lady lap blanket."  And I put words on it. 

my first ever reverse applique project
This is where I "cross a line."  I was so certain that I was right that I went ahead and made it, but then I did start to worry so I ran it by some siblings and they agreed; it was funny.  So I went ahead and mailed it to my mom with the big star quilt.
And I was so right!  Not only did she think it was funny, she knew her sister would "get it" too.

Can't you just see it in fifth joint replacement post-op recovery?  Really, it's funny.  Trust me.

linking up to tgiff and whoop whoop

Told You My Mom Would Regret It

First, I think we may need to establish something.  Recently my mom's magazines have all been showing ways to decorate that I've been doing for years and was generally scoffed at.  So just keep in mind that you will eventually see these at Target.  At least that's what we tell my mom.
Behold, I give you the Awful Pillow.
 That's right, I used blue fur.  Let's remember that this blue fur originated with my mom.  I can't remember it ever not being in her stash when I was a kid.  Whatever it was used for was before my time.
I made it round with a side panel, originally planning to tuft it in the middle.  That is so not happening, in part because I can't find my really big needles (probably not good, I'm sure I'll discover them someday, hopefully not in a painful way) and partly because I used the old pillows guts and Houdini himself would be impressed that I managed to shove them inside.  This pillow will not be tufting.
 My kids love it.  My husband even admitted that he did like it, quite a turnaround for his original "you aren't really going to use that are you?"  O, ye of little faith.  Maybe I should start showing him my mom's decorating magazines. 
Wanna know the worst part?  Seeing as it's now a part of our family room, I have to stop calling it the Muppet pelt.  That fabric has been the Muppet pelt for over twenty years, but for the sake of my children I'm trying to at least take it down a notch to Muppet fur.  Maybe someday it will be simply the blue pillow.
I made something else my husband was unsure of, I'll show you that next.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Well, I made the "awful" pillow. And it's fantastic. The kids love it. Even my husband had to admit that he likes it. You don't get to see it yet because I made something else that I might get in pretend trouble once my mom gets her surprise I'll show you both. So until then you can let your imagination run wild with awful pillows.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Made a Dress!

Lately I've been thinking that I should make our girl some dresses.  Mostly for an end to the frustration of trying to find a dress that fits her, forget about trying to find one with sleeves! She wears a t-shirt under her sleeveless dresses and I for one would not miss hunting down a white tee on Sunday mornings.  Consequently, my resolution to make her some dresses.  Plus, she likes wearing dresses in general so it's a win/win.
I so have no plans to take the troops to JoAnn's to flip through pattern books for all eternity, so this plan was waiting for a someday trip alone.  Enter Peek-a-Boo Patterns.  She's offering a free girl dress pattern (size 3 mo to 8) on her site.  It was cute and I had fabric so I thought it was the perfect dress to start the revolution.
I made it longer as per the girl's request, and my madchen is skinny, I expect it's a bit fuller in general.
It's a pretty distinct dress, so I won't be making another in different fabric, but if I did make it again I would tighten up the neckline a bit, 1/2 or a full inch.  And it seems to run a bit small.  I went up two sizes from the sizing chart and could have given the girl more space for getting in and out.  Seeing as this was my first dress from a pattern, I figure that's really just something I'll figure out as I go.  My mom recently told me that she ignores zipper directions and just puts a zipper in "her" way. 
For a first go at a dress, it's certainly wearable.  It's doesn't look "home made" in a bad way.  And it's purple, even if it was awful, Pie would love it.
linking to tgiff and whoop whoop

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Big Star Quilt

All bound and washed and ready to go.  Here's the thing though, so I used two almost whites in my surround.  I didn't quilt have enough of one so I used some of another fabric I had that matched well enough that it wouldn't be noticeable to the casual observer.  Then I washed it.  Ironically, the fabric that absorbed a teensy bit of almost a pinkish hue was the fabric that shouldn't have.  Really, they didn't become a name in solids by changing color.  So yeah, now my two creamishes aren't a practical match.  You'd have to be a pretty casual observer to not notice.  But, c'est la vie, that's the end that will be tucked by the bedframe and hidden.
See, the rest looks fine.  And it crinkled up nicely, just the right amount, it totally says snuggle up and get cozy; which is always what I go for.

linking up to tgiff and whoop whoop

Friday, August 31, 2012

Operation: Pillows

First a little update:  I'm about a third of the way on the binding for the big star quilt.  Last night I got all settled in to bind it but while I was looking for something mindless to semiwatch as I went I discovered netflix had more Jane by design episodes and binding did not happen!
Have you checked out yet?  That's right, Lizzie Bennet.  It's awesomeness in five minute segments.
And here's another site for you to mosey on over to.  My jungle quilt is in the contest this week at Quilting Gallery.  Check out some neat leaves quilts and vote for your faves.  Especially if one of them is my jungle quilt.  It's this one.
And now onto my finishes. 
Operation: Pillows began with the couch.  It's crazy comfy but it's that brown/green color that is hard to pin down.  The matching pillows weren't doing it any favors, and so, they were gutted.  I'm only two in so far, but I have only success to report.  The couch is officially hidden by its pillows.  The genius of a pop of color, my ambiguously colored couch has become a neutral that recedes! 
My pillows do bring up the quandary of whether there is such things as too much polka dot.  I'm thinking not, but just to be safe no more polka dots.  The fabric I have in mind for the next one is much worse.  I think my mom will regret ever passing in on to me.  It will be awesome.  My husband is a doubter, but oooh, it will epic.
I plan on also having a yellow one.  Yellow is my official out of nowhere color downstairs.  My mixer is yellow and it's the odd man out, a yellow pillow will make it officially my accent color.

linking to tgiff and whoop whoop

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Big Star Quilt

 My sister's old bedroom is now one of three guest rooms in my parents' house. It's also first in line for a makeover. My parents took down paneling, painted and did other stuff. And I'm supplying the quilt.
I love the points.  It's it gorgeously pointy?
 I don't have a name for it really.  We call it either the big star or my mom's quilt.  Technically I could also call it the quilt made with fabric I originally bought for my sister's eventual children, but calling it the big star quilt is a little less confessional. 
It's handquilted again, of course.  I quilted around each square in the star and went with diagonal quilting in the negative space.  I didn't want it over-quilted.  The diagonals are quilted with a creamy white, my red marking pencil is still showing so it looks kinda pink.  And wrinkled.  For some reason, it got more and more wrinkled as my shoot went on. 
 Sometimes I wonder just how camoflage he thinks he is...

He throughly approves of the quilt.  Just wait til he sees it with binding!
 Maybe he needs one of these instead of his planets?

linking to fabric tuesday over at quiltstory