Wednesday, April 29, 2009

crocheted handbag

I wish I could take credit for the work on the bag, but my Grandma Bev did all the crochet work. She even lined it. All I'm responible for is the easy yo-yo work on the front.
I was going for an Anthropoligie vibe. Some of the scraps are vintage, some just appealed to me because of color or print. What do you think, blackbird? Does it even come close?

It does seem to match just about everything, so I know it'll get used this summer.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


These jeans make me a little teary-eyed. A friend passed them down to Glenn over 11 years ago. The girls both wore them. We passed them on to sweet, little Nate. Considering he was at least the 5th child to wear them, it's no shock the knees finally gave way.
Not long after he outgrew them, his mom was invited to a baby shower that had a wonderful theme. The mother-to-be requested that all the gifts be used - either something your own children had worn or played with or something you picked up at a resale shop. It's so nice to know another little one will wear them.

The patches are thrifted, vintage, iron-on cordouroy patches that I cut into shapes and zig zagged for more stability. (So easy to do on pants that still snap on the inside seam.)

Chicks in New York pay top dollar for frayed hems like that.
Wear them well, Theodore Penrose.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

the kids

First, thanks for all the nice comments about the stairs! I'm so thrilled to have that job behind me. It was a big one, but not very technical or hard to do. About all you need is a staple gun and some time to do the same. Oh, almost forgot - you'll need some advil the next day for your arms.
The kids have asked for a vegetable garden this year. They got the wrong mother.
Still, we're going to give it a go in a very limited way. We have one spot that gets enough sun - next to the garage - which has now been turned over to them. We're going to limit what we grow to the seedlings we can buy from the youth group sale at church. I've put a rain barrel on the side of the house so they can get water without running the hose. This really is going to be up to them. I do great with gardening stuff for about a month - from now until it gets hot. Them I'm out. Needless to say, I stick to drought tolerant and native plants because they don't get much help from me.

Any suggestions as to what would be easy for them that we should scoop up at the sale? We're also going to do tomatoes in a pot near the back door and some basil in a pot for dad to cook with. I'd like it to be a positive experience for them, so the easier the better for now.

This was Trixie's idea of helping.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

staircase redone, check

Look how lovely- beige commercial grade carpeting that came with the house. So did the stains about halfway up the steps, though I'm sure the kids have left their own marks.
What I found after ripping it out (there's just no chance of refinishing that mess)-

And now-

Aaaah. I still get a little charge every time I round the corner to go upstairs and see it in all its stripey glory.
The runners are from Dash and Albert. I ordered two 12' runners to make sure I'd have plenty to work with. The installation started at the bottom of the staircase. The first runner ended on a riser about 2/3 of the way up. The second runner overlaps that one and reached the top stair with about 5 feet to spare. I ran two rows of zig zag stitching where I wanted that one to end, then cut the excess off in the middle of the two rows of stitching. That end was folded under before I put in the final row of staples. I sewed some rug binding tape(looks just like twill tape, but wider and is a deep beige color) to the zig zagged edge of the remnant, folded it under to hide it and ran a straight stitch to hold it in place.
It's the right length for the kitchen. Bonus!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

thrifty thursday

These came to me courtesy of another expert thrifter, Susie Sunshine.
We're not sure why this one is missing the center. Maybe it was an embroidered piece that the original quilter wanted to save.
It's hard to see, but there's a lovely orange tone to the print in this one. I love orange.

This lavender block seems destined to be paired with one of the feedsacks I got in the fall.

I have a lot of luck with linens around here, but I've yet to find some orphaned blocks like these. Thanks, Susie!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

back saver

This came from a reader's tip I saw in Threads some time ago.
Why I didn't try it when I first read it is beyond me. The tip was to place 4 coffee cans under the legs of the table you use for cutting. It raises the height just enough to reduce back strain. I can tell you, it works. I'm not sure I'd be as comfortable with this trick if my table was on a hardwood or tile floor though. The carpet grips the open end of the can a bit which I think is safer. However, I wouldn't really lean into the table too hard. I'm no longer dreading cutting out patterns or rotary cutting parts for a quilt because of how much pain I'll be in the next day.
*I think the original tip also called for filling the cans with plaster of paris to make them heavier and therefore, more stable. Perhaps I'll get around to that in a few more years.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

mail call

I forgot to post this around Valentine's Day. Around January, the kids got really interested in mail - at least the girls did. Ellie's love of writing isn't limited to signs right now. We get a LOT of handwritten notes, as does her teacher. To encourage her, we put mailboxes on our doors.
They each decorated a shoe box.
Ellie got busy with letters right away.

We pulled out an old toy to serve as the central post office (though that didn't last more than a few days - they preferred to deliver stuff straight to the proper mailbox instead).

The boxes were hung with 3M velcro picture hangers. One sticky side went on the back of the boxes near the center top, the other half on the wall. They sort of lock together when pressed into place. The lids held onto the front of the boxes just fine without any glue or tape which made getting into them to retrieve mail very easy. Slots were cut into the boxes on the top or the side to deliver the letters.

Most lasted about 2 months before getting too banged up. I think I'll consider some fabric pockets I can hang on the doors as a more permanent solution since they enjoyed them so much.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

drapes hung, check

I'm working my way through a list of home projects that have been put off til spring.
I can finally check living and dining room drapes off the list.

It took nearly 6 years to make a decision. I went with a striped silk from Restoration Hardware in goldenrod. They're much closer to the wall color than they look in the photo. For several years I thought I should make them, but realized I was far too nervous about cutting the lengths properly. To me, that's the hardest part of long drapes.

That view out of the dining room window reminds me that I need to get working outside too. We really need a tree out there to block the view of beige siding. The joys of living next to new construction...
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Friday, April 17, 2009

queen of thrift

This quilt is the reason my dining chairs aren't finished, the stairway project is half done and some blouses for the girls are just laying on the basement floor patiently waiting for me. Sometimes I just have to ignore what's supposed to get done and let a project make itself.
The center portion is from a pattern called Puss in Boots. It struck me as the perfect way to use up nearly all the scraps I had in large florals (most of which are Amy Butler). After making handbags or samples for the shop, I've been filing them away with fat quarters or in the scrap bag. The problem is that even though I find them beautiful, they just aren't the sort of fabrics I reach for when quilting. Year after year they were gathering dust. After cutting and piecing all the center nine patches I had far too many pieces left over. Instead of the single fabric border called for in the pattern, I pieced all the leftovers and I'm thrilled with how it looks. I'm even happier that it used up nearly all of the scraps.

The floral border quilting was done with free motion quilting on tissue paper. The design is one I'd saved from an old quilting magazine (the ones that you find in those pullout center patterns).

All the floral fabrics were scraps from the stash, the blue background fabric was thrifted and even the batting was pieced from scraps. That's not the only reason I named it Queen of Thrift though. It's really named for the recipient, Carol, who truly is the queen of thrift. No one knows her way around a thrift shop better. (So Carol, I'm hoping this makes up for the fact that I can never seem to remember your birthday on the actual day. The way I figure it, I get a few more years of bad memory out of this one!)
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

thrifty thursday

Some pretty little guest towels I found last week. I figure eventually I'll have enough for a quilt.

I love the spiderweb stitches on the last one.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

my turn!!

I'm hoping my common threads friends can turn these:
Into something gorgeous to hang here:

Click the Common Threads button on the right to find out the details.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

puppy love

Doll quilts are great little practice pieces.
I've been meaning to do more improvisational cutting. While it doesn't look that involved, just running a rotary cutter through fabric with no ruler, no measurements doesn't come easy for me. I used a small stack of charm squares from the pampered pooch line by Moda, paired them up, ran the cutter through them, and sewed them back together.

Next on my list of things to practice - free motion quilting in this back and forth pattern. Those turns aren't very easy to make. Well, I can make them, but not with an even stitch length. I need to remind myself to slow down more as I'm headed into them.

I'm getting better at labeling them right away too.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

easter monday

No sewing, just a few pictures from our dinner yesterday.
The napkins are supposed to look like bunnies. The kids figured it out. Good enough for me.
Cupcakes for dessert. I'm not much of a cook - these were made from a box mix and I managed to nearly ruin that. I misread the amount of water needed and put in too much. However, with nothing to lose I threw in a little extra flour and sugar and no one was the wiser. I'm pretty pleased with the save.
If I were a good cook, I'd have toasted coconut for the bird nest on top. Instead, these have smashed miniwheats from the kids' cereal cabinet.

A few pictures from the hunt:

The girls are wearing their bo peep skirts and new sneakers. The general consensus this year was for a relaxed, casual get together. I think this is going to be our new tradition.
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