Birthday Flair for my girl.

One of the items Edie had on her Christmas handmade wish list was her very own personal ‘flair’. That’s our name for the pennant flag garlands I like to make – ‘flair’. I’ve made them for various holiday events – there’s a Halloween one (pirate skull & crossbones and solid black), a Fourth of July one (made out of a dress I made myself in college from fabric I found that reminded me of the old Love American Style logo) and just a fun little party themed one with florals, more of the pirate skull and crossbones and silver lame.

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Hand made at Christmas.

I’ve had a long tradition, since at least college, of aspiring to make as many of the gifts I hand out at Christmas as I possibly can. In years past, this has led to a furious whirlwind of making in the days leading up to the big holiday (like the year I learned to knit and then knit a scarf for everyone on the list in just over a month), but at some point, it dawned on me to start these endeavors earlier in the year. Actually, that may have been the realization that I could give away things I’d canned over the summer and have them be well received. At any rate, I now attempt to have ideas I can carry out well before the calendar turns to December so that I’m not a complete hot mess leading up to Christmas. Because as we all know, when you are a mom, Christmas is serious work, especially when you are a working mother and you stay put at Christmas, meaning it is all on you to pull that magic out of thin air and throwing the compulsion to hand make a slew of gifts into the mix, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster.

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Aunt Jenny had requested months ago I knit her a scarf, so after I finished Mollie’s birthday gift, I immediately started on this one for her.  Knit of a merino wool in the hourglass eyelet pattern, it has a nice feel and stretch to it. She sent me a photo of herself wearing it Christmas day, so I think she liked it.

For some time, I’ve been kicking around the idea of printing some of my pretty bug and flower pictures on canvases – what’s the point really in taking these images if I don’t do something with them? I took advantage of some online pre-holiday specials and got at least some of my photos printed to share as gifts.  I loved the way they turned out, but more importantly, I loved receiving this photo Christmas day of the gift I sent my Uncle Kevin:
20151225_222204_001My zinnia photo, already hung, right by the front door.  I hope all the flower prints I sent out were as well received.

Edie girl, who has come to expect the mama-made gifts, had a whole section on her wish list of handmade items she would like to see. While I managed to outsource some of it to local crafters (like my friend Jen who was totally down with home delivering her lovely bracelets, as well as stumbling upon the sweetest ceramic gnome ornament from Tasha McKelvey), in the days before Christmas, I managed to pull of a flurry of giftmaking that made my girl quite content.

A cozy for her handle-less teamug, knit up out of scrap yarn while watching a movie one evening (the pattern inspired by one linked to by Food in Jars recently). A beaded necklace inspired by a trip to the bead section at Michael’s one day (where I always seem to think I can do that particular craft, get too ambitious, spend too much money only to come home and realize I bought all the wrong things, but maybe, just maybe since I pulled this one off and my friend Joanne, who does this sort of thing for a living (and does it well!) was kind enough to share some more than helpful hints, I might actually attempt this again?) that we debated about for a few weeks before I sat down one night and just did it. And last, but certainly not least, Mr. & Mrs. Gnome, a Wee Wonderfuls pattern that whipped up quick and easy. I used fabrics and trims from the stash, including the old coverlet from her bed for their hair (last seen in a pillow for purple moose, although I’d forgotten how that fabric really doesn’t respond well to being reused, as it’s an extremely temperamental knit) and while I might not be overly wild about the end result (I skipped a few steps I probably shouldn’t have and definitely got a little too loosey goosey with things maybe I shouldn’t have…), she adores the end result, which is sort of the point, now isn’t it?

I realized the other night as I went to bed, I’ve finished all the books and craft projects I’ve had lined up for months, clearing the deck for me in more than a few ways. The so-called ‘happy corner’ got a little cleaning attention post-holiday,  so that I can jump in and hopefully spend more time making than I have in the last year or so. I’m not one for resolutions, but I’ve decided I’m going to try to and spend more time with my sewing machine this coming year than I have in the past few.

Following the path.

I finished removing the quilt top from the rest of the quilt this weekend.  Saturday was a beautiful, bright sunny day and I thought it’d be perfect to shoot a picturesque shot of the quilt from the clothesline in the yard. Only the wind didn’t get the memo.  Oh well.  One of the reasons you love me is my imperfect pictures, yes?

With the back & disintegrating binding removed, you can see where the quilt is shredded.
I thought that taking the back off would be the hardest part.  But now that the quilt is ready to go, I realize that choosing the fabrics will be a challenge.  I don’t want to alter the character of the quilt too much, but considering blue is my least favorite color and blue seems to be the color most used in the quilt, that’s going to be inevitable.  When I was pulling fabric out to make a skirt, there was a sizable piece of red corduroy involved.  Pat asked where it came from.  I answered it probably came from Grandma’s (his other grandmother) stash.  Turns out it was a scrap from a blanket she made him, which makes it a natural to be utilized in the quilt repair project.  After all, what’s better to fix a quilt from his bed than a piece of an old blanket from his bed? 
I have some other pieces of fabric I’ve pulled that I want to use, but as some triangles are one offs, there is opportunity to utilize many little scraps I’ve held onto.  I suppose an assessment of exactly how many triangles I need is next, followed by rifling through my fabrics again.  I think I’ll be able to make new pieces out of the old backing, as parts of it are salvageable, which will also be nice.  I’ve got a lovely linen for the new backing, so that the restored quilt will hopefully have the same light feel as the old quilt.  I don’t know that I’m going to re-quilt it the way it was – if I do, I’m not going to quilt through all the layers, but rather, attach the back separately.  Although I’ve realized my new machine (it’s three years old, you’d think I could stop calling it ‘new’) is capable of quilting it.  
I’m a little overwhelmed at this stage of the project.  I know I just need to take a deep breath and jump in.  I plan on photographing each square before and after.  There are some fabrics that are beyond repair, some that are so sweet, I want to see if I can’t somehow salvage them.  I suspect I’m about to do a good bit of reading on vintage fabrics and quilts.  It’s funny how a project starts out one thing – “Sure I can repair the quilt your grandmother made that you love” and leads you down roads you didn’t imagine when you set out.  I love a good adventure, don’t you?
(If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new link on my sidebar for the new Facebook page for Chicken Wire and Paper Flowers. If you haven’t liked me there yet, you should go do that right now.  It’ll be fun.)

Weekend Project No. 2

I made a skirt.
I made a skirt from a pattern I drafted myself.
I made a skirt from a pattern that I drafted myself that was not an elastic waist.
I made a skirt from a pattern I drafted myself with a zipper(!!).
With sweet orange lace at the hem, which picks up the hint of orange in the leopard print fabric.
I know from experience that heavier fabrics do better with proper enclosures versus elastic waists.  I tend to shy away from zippers, although I have gotten decent at putting them into clothing.  I realized that until this weekend, I had never used the zipper foot or the button hole function of my 3 year old machine. I am definitely a lazy sewer. Both are incredibly easy to work with – you can actually lock the proper buttonhole size in, which is a function I have never had in any of my old Singer sewing machines.  I cannot tell you how much easier this makes the process.  
I’ve made my own skirt patterns before, using elastic at the waist, which means the only thing that needs to be precise is the length of your elastic. I read a few tutorials about drafting my own A-line skirt pattern, both online as well as in some of the sewing & clothing design books I have on my shelves.  It’s a fairly easy process, one that if anyone would like me to share, I will. Otherwise, I will spare you the details and just let you admire my cleverness. I added a little too much ease into the waist and had to take it in.  It is still just a wee bit too big in the waist, but that’s fixable.  And bigger is always better than too small. I think my next skirt (because there is a small pile of fabric laying out on top of my ironing board right now, with several skirts planned because did I mention I’m sick of my wardrobe and have been sick of it since last October?  Well I am). I’m going to try using some darts to see if that gives me a little bit better shaping in the waistline, which I’m going to make smaller.
While I’m at it, I think I finally gathered up the courage to take this in:
Yes, I made that too, a number of years ago.  And it’s now far too big. This pattern actually served as a model for the new skirt.  I need to take it a few inches, but then it should be wearable again.  Which is good, because it’s awfully cute.
See?  Cuteness. 

Weekend Project No. 1

Friday afternoon I broke into my fabric stash – notably the big trunk at the bottom of the pile that is chock full of winter fabrics – the wools, the fleeces, the corduroys.  (I not inclined to show you the pile either, as it’s not really a nice, neat pile, more like an corner that is piled and crammed and overflowing with ‘supplies’ for all my crafty endeavors that could be mistaken for a hoarding house.)  The shot I posted Friday is really not even a drop in the bucket – that was just what was speaking to me that day as far as wardrobe makeovers go.
This purple plaid has been kicking around in the stash for some time.  I think I got it at either an old SPCA rummage sale or Focus Flea Market (both of which are no longer to my great sadness.  More than half my house and wardrobe came from those two places over the years).  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I think it’s a wool fabric.  It’s woven and two layers – the plaid on one side and a solid purple on the other.  It’s a funky size too – a 35″ x 37″ square.  For years I’ve wanted to do something with it that would show off both sides, but couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer.  Until Friday.  I was playing around it, bemoaning to Edie that it just wasn’t big enough for anything fun, that I didn’t particularly want to put a seam in it, but maybe that was just what I needed to do when it hit me.
I cut a 6″ strip, hemmed the raw edges, added a very large button hole and voila:
 A fabric cowl.  Instant gratification.
And it’s reversible.  I pull one end through the button hole on the other end and it’s attached.  I’m utterly amazed at my brilliance.  Needless to say, I’m absolutely loving this.

Something New.

I’m sick of my winter clothes, so I thought I’d make myself something new. And I’m trying out this blogger app on my new iPod touch. All sorts of new things.

Sometimes, really.

 It’s Mid-January.  
I’m starting to get cabin fever.  I know, it’s way too early for that.  I think it’s mostly due to Edie being home sick 2 days last week with yet another bug going around, that I managed to catch as well.
It’s just a mild cold.  But the idea that I’ve got another one after the back to back ones that kept me out between Halloween and Christmas has me cranky.
Also, I’ve now spent the better part of the last 3 weeks in my tiny, dark house with my family.  I love my tiny dark house, I love my family.  But enough. 
Thankfully, the weather was warm this past weekend.  Warm enough I wandered around outside and noticed my hellebore starting to bloom.
 
They aren’t supposed to do this until closer to the end of February.  
I’d love to regal you with tales of my outdoor adventures this weekend, but not long into my soaking up the sun out there Saturday, I had a run-in with nature.  A bird perched itself on a tree branch above me and proceeded to relieve itself, all over my lap.  That was enough nature for me for the day.
I headed back inside, where I was inspired to do some cleaning – not only did I get the Christmas cookie tins and holiday china packed away, I re-organized the upstairs linen closet.  Admittedly, balling up sheets and shoving them in wasn’t working anymore, which is what prompted that bit of organizational madness.
Once I got the house clean, I have to admit, I was sort of looking for an excuse to sit and work on my two big projects – Pat’s sweater and the quilt.  I’d recently realized I’d made major progress over the holiday break where we sat and watched tv almost incessantly when we weren’t hosting friends.
 Several inches worth of progress on the sweater.  It finally is starting to look like something.

Friday night, as I was sitting and ripping out delicate little stitches, I realized I was over halfway done ripping apart the quilt.  More like, 75% done disassembling the back from the front.  That definitely went faster than I thought it was going to.
Both are projects I had pie in sky visions of being done by Pat’s birthday, which is a week from today.  The quilt isn’t going to make it – even if I do get the back fully removed, I still have quite a bit of repairs to make to the top of the quilt. It could be an anniversary gift.  But the sweater?  I think I could make that happen in the next week. The weather forecast for the week looks conducive to sitting and knitting.  And having spent a big chunk of Saturday cleaning, I think I could reasonably pull it off.