Thursday, February 28, 2008


That's excatly how I feel I'm getting things done around here.

I had high hopes for the weekend. Then Trixie climbed out of her crib, so that had to come down and we began the big girl bed transition, which has been going remarkable well. Unfortunately, she's no longer contained during the time I like to sew and post.

More snow (a lot more snow) arrived - along with some very cold weather which turned the basement where I sew into a freezer even when I ran the space heater. And in all honesty, the pile of unfinished repairs and projects down there was not a welcoming sight anyway.
Just in case that wasn't enough to keep me from getting much done, I tripped over a laundry basket on Monday. My right wrist caught all of my weight. Not broken and much, much better today. Not so good for sewing this past week though. (Note to self - need to make more rice pillows in smaller sizes to keep in the freezer for the next time I make a boneheaded move like that.)

So I present you with a project I completed in December. He (or she?) is all hand sewn- most of which was done backstage while Glenn was in Bah Humbug! The pattern is from Wee Wonderfuls. I was hoping if I put him out there, he'd inspire spring to hurry up.

Friday, February 22, 2008

a weighty matter

After my rice pillow bonanza I've found myself with quit a bit of rice leftover. If you know me, you know I won't be cooking it anytime soon. What to do with the extra?
Pattern weights.
(Or if you're one of my kids and I'm not looking - they make great bean bags.)

I love anything that makes the drudgery of cutting out a pattern go faster and if I can eliminate pinning, great. The shapes of fabric pieces from my scrap drawer determined the final shape of the weights. I figured different shapes would work well for going around curves and holding down corners of pattern pieces. I might even add some long snakelike shapes to go along the edges of longer pattern pieces.

They worked well. With any luck I'll have a top to show you next week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

bee mine

I'm going to count this as one of my resolution projects. I found a ziploc bag in my sewing area with all the materials I needed for the project along with the inspiration/directions from a Mary Englebreit magazine article on Sailor's Valentines. The bag had been there for about 2 or 3 years. In my defense, I put a lot of projects aside like that when they just won't come together as I envisioned. Then something will come to mind or a particular item will be available and that's what I needed to make it all work. This seemed to be one of those times.

Overall, I'm happy with the colors and the placement of everything, but I think I need to open up the bottom seam and put a gusset in. Because of the way the pillow pulls in the bottom center, it's nearly impossible to see the "Mine" stitched on it. A gusset would also make it sit upright better. I might even be able to put it on a cabinet rather than leaning it on a chair or the sofa(where it gets abused by the kids).

The fabrics are velvet upholsery samples on the front with wool felt on the back (and eventually on the gusset). The buttons are shell and were purchased at Hancock Fabrics about two years ago (I think the brand is Shellz). The bee is out of a sack of vintage stuff I thrifted. I didn't care for the googly eyes he came with, so I replaced them with beads.

The ribbon and beads are out of my stash. No idea where or when I got them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

posie dress

Since I posted Trixie's dress yesterday I thought I'd include this one today. A tiny bit of that fabric was used here as well. (The fact that I now have a use for a one inch square piece of fabric means I'm not even throwing out the tiniest scraps. This is not good.) I worked on this about a month ago, but had to wait for it to get to its new home lest I spoil a surprise.

The pattern is by Posie and can be found in the book, Softies.

I didn't measure it before sending it off and I'm too lazy to go get the book and measure the pattern, but I think this is about 6 inches tall. I can officially call this a "use what I have" project since everything came out of the stash, including the wire for the hanger. My favorite bit has to be the vintage millinery flower on the collar.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

ready for spring

Despite the subzero windchill outside, I'm moving forward with warm weather clothes for the girls.

This one's for Trixie. The fabric matches the pants in an outfit I made for Ellie last summer. It's a reproduction feedsack print I've had in the stash for too long.

The ric rac and buttons are vintage thrift finds.

The great pattern was sent by Susie. I love the "church" notation on the front. I imagine some little girl wore a few of these on Sundays.

Friday, February 15, 2008

warms my heart

Wise Craft posted a great tutorial to make these easy rice pillows just in time for Valentine gifts.

You can warm them up in the microwave to keep someone cozy.
(Ellie and Trixie's were made with a thrifted sheet.)
Or you can pop them in the freezer to cool a feverish head.
I seem to have finished these just in time for cold and flu season to hit our household.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy valentine's day

Some sewing from a couple of years ago.

I saw a gingham version of this in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. The ruffler attachment for my sewing machine got used a lot for this.

The leftover fabric from that project was turned into a valance for the kitchen window. Clearly, I should have bought more fabric. It's not exactly a full gather. The stripes are done in a mini ric rac. The edging is medium ric rac set into the seams.

Another pattern from the same line of fabric. More ric rac. Another apron. Not a shocker around here.

Pocket detail - Look, a dark haired little girl. Wonder why I picked her...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

have a heart

Not too appetizing, I know. Sadly, this might be the only thing I cook from scratch this week.

Ellie and I made up a batch of valentine play dough yesterday.

The idea is from Family Fun Magazine (though I can't remember the year and it isn't on the page I saved).

After fixing several hearts that Trixie "helped" with, we finally had 21 of these for tomorrow.

A word of caution: I didn't think ahead about how heavy 21 of these would be, nor did I consider how easily they might be smashed. Looks like I'll be carrying them into class tomorrow.

If you're interested, the recipe is an easy one. I used the one from the magazine that said it would make 25 hearts. Our cookie cutter must have been on the small side because we could have easily made over 30. Soon after we finished I found a nearly identical recipe from Ellie's old "messy business" art class. It cuts the recipe in thirds, so I'm more likely to choose this one in the future(and you can make the play dough smell nice with the kool aid!)

Play Dough

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup water

2 tbs veg. oil

food coloring or 1 pkg. of kool-aid

Add all ingredients together in a pan over medium low heat on stovetop. Stir constantly for 5-10 minutes until play dough starts to form. When it becomes too hard to stir, remove it from heat. Let cool and knead into large ball.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

big thrift score

It's not just about vintage fabric and buttons. I've been on the lookout for a new dining set that fit our family of five better than the one we'd been using. (I still love Great Grandma and Grandpa's table, but it only fits four people comfortably no matter what we do.) I also needed something that wouldn't break my heart if it got trashed by the kids. (The other set survived for 70 years and then my kids got ahold of it. Loose joints, trashed seats, and a cat portrait carved in the finish are only a few of the indignities that set has suffered in the last 4 years.)

Nothing new appealed to me, nor did any of the prices.

I lucked out on this one. It came with the china cabinet, two extra leaves for the table, custom pads for the tabletop, the two pedestal table and six chairs. $799.

What the picture doesn't show are the various scratches, the hideous fabric on the seats, a missing wood detail on one of the pedestals or the milky stain on the tabletop's finish (which will always be covered by a placemat). It's also unlikely that the cabinet was a part of the original set - the woods are too different as are the carved details. However, the set is perfect for us right now. We all fit comfortably, there's room for guests, and I won't freak out when it gets the inevitable dings.

And yes, I'll be recovering those seats sometime this spring.

Monday, February 11, 2008

too cold for a parade

-25 wind chills
We went to Chinatown anyway.
Lion dancers cleared the route of evil spirits.

Oh, it was very, very cold.

The kids lasted long enough to see the dragons bring good luck.

Then it was back home where I'd planned to finish this up. Good fortune is already mine. When I looked inside I found that I must have made the cookies last year and forgotten. Now I just need to decide what fortunes to write on the twill tape "papers".

Friday, February 8, 2008

impromptu thrifting

Stopped at my mom's this morning to drop something off and the girls begged to stay for a bit - without me. I think Ellie's exact words were, "Don't you have something you need to go do, mom?" Well, if you put it that way. Yes, I do.
Made a quick stop to a nearby thrift shop and picked up a few goodies.

Some black leather samples for future doll shoes.

A vintage toy pattern for Ellie to practice her embroidery and sewing skills. (To be started after I practice my patience skills a bit more.)

A vintage school reader that was going to be cut up for another project until I realized that it's the perfect level for Ellie to read right now. She may get it first. I had to grab it because I rarely find Asian children depicted in an acceptable way in vintage books. I have to settle for any little girls with dark hair (also hard to find).

And this was the find of the day - 5 ziploc bags of buttons for $1.00 each. They obviously came from the same source because when I started to look at them I saw similar buttons in each bag. They're all grouped together on a platter that's about 9X12. The pile is an inch deep in the middle. Money well spent. I'm finding one gem after another in these.

The sun is actually shining right now, so I'm going to plunk myself in front of the dining room windows to soak it in and sort my new treasures.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

gung hay fat choy

Happy New Year!
We'll be celebrating as a family this Sunday at the Chinatown parade, but we got an early start this year at Nate's shower. These were the favors for his Lunar New Year themed welcome home.

Small brown bags from a restaraunt supply store were filled with some Asian goodies - Korean tea, Chinese rice candy, Japanese gummy candy and cookies. The closure is out of my scrapbooking stash with "fu"(happiness) stamped on it. The paper twine is from IKEA.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

shoe bags or wine bottle covers?

I wanted to make up a little something for the girls I got together with a few weekends ago. Since they were all traveling (or were headed on a book tour this spring), it seemed that shoe bags were a good fit. Someone thought they'd hold some bottles of wine as well as shoes. Whatever floats your boat.

The two pair here were for Jen. Hot pink and daisies fit. The drawstring area on all of them has been done with thrifted bias tape. It's been edgestitched to the outside of the bag to create channels for the ribbons or cording. I chose two colors so one pair could be differentiated from the other.

Carol's were made from some vintage fabric I picked up at an estate sale. The blues are very her.

Blackbird and Susie each got a set of these (though Susie's haven't been mailed yet - I know - I'm sorry.) I thought of them when I saw the text on this fabric (which is actually a thrifted sheet). It may be the fact that they were once a sheet that made me feel they were perfect for Susie. (I just tried to find her post on her skirts sewn from a neighbor's bedsheets and her archives are not available - horrors!)

I even attempted some very basic Chinese knots at the end of the cording. I had imagined something more ornate in the knot department, but it wasn't to be. The more elaborate designs simply wouldn't hold up on a project like this.

Now that you all have your travel accessories, there's no reason not to come visit again soon.

(Special note to Poppy - I haven't forgotten you - I have something different in mind and the right fabric has not presented itself as of yet.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

sleep tight, Nate

This weekend was Nate's shower. I made him a quilt for his crib adapted from the Denyse Schmidt Quilts book. The pattern is "What a Bunch of Squares". I love the modern look of this quilt and the square elements in it. (What do you expect from someone who likes to take notes on graph paper?) Because I was totally changing the size, I ignored her templates and just cut the fabric to work with the size I needed. The picture of her queen size quilt served as my guide.

The squares are purposely off set in this quilt. I found very quickly that making them look randomly wonky or off-kilter is a lot harder than it looks. The templates would have made it a lot easier.

The fabrics have some meaning behind them. The navy is from the crib sheets I made for him right after he got home. The chambray is from a favorite Laura Ashley dress of mine. (I can't exactly make him a little floral dress from the others.) The greens were chosen to bring in the celadon shade of traditional Korean pottery. The whites are from various projects or thrifting trips. The patchwork backing is a little nod to Nate's kind of preppy dad, Chip. (The backing fabric was bought pieced - I didn't do all that work.)

A few scraps were sewn onto the card to finish things off.

Snuggle in, little guy.