Monday, August 31, 2009

trixie's party - decor

A host of characters was lined up on the entertainment center to greet our little guests.
There were baskets of my Beatrix Potter book collection in the living room. Ellie deemed herself the designated reader to entertain the first arrivals. Glenn played a Beatrix Potter memory match game with the girls as well while we waited for all to arrive.
These three were in the dining room window waiting for the treats to be served. I stitched them from kits about 15 years ago.
All of the Peter Rabbit china I've collected over the years came in handy. I wanted the party to have a tea party feel. We served "rabbit food" - berries, grapes, carrots and other veggies. The girls drank apple juice "tea" poured from my Peter Rabbit teapot. And, of course, there was cake.
White napkins covered all the chair seats. I was willing to risk my china and silver to the little ones. Berry stained and chocolate covered hands struck fear in my heart though when I imagined them touching the fabric on the chairs. White linens can be bleached, chairs cannot.

The centerpiece is a book, Scenes from The Tales of Peter Rabbit, that ties open into a carousel scene. The other paper decorations including the garland below are from Peter Rabbit's Party Book. I've waited to cut into this book for years... I also have some extra character paper masks somewhere in the house that I wanted to hang on the walls. I say somewhere because when it was time to put them up, I couldn't find them. I'm sure they'll turn up as I put all the other items away.

Tomorrow - games.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

the kids - trixie's party

Look who had a little party with her friends yesterday.
I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. The child I saddled with the name Beatrix was getting her Peter Rabbit birthday party. The universe must have approved because on August 29th, it was in the low 60's mid-day with a cool breeze, allowing her to wear the perfect sweatshirt that had been handed down to us by Carol's children.

You'll have to indulge me over the next few days as I blog my fantasy party. In the meantime, some cute pictures of the birthday girl with her (costco bought) cake.

Auntie Norma gave us those Peter Rabbit candle holders when Glenn was born. They get used every single year. There are only 6, so the other two kids have outgrown them. Two more years for the Trixster.

"I wish my mom would develop an obsession with The Backyardigans for next year."
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

ellie's guide to glamour

I'm not the only one who had luck thrifting this week.
The girl knows what she likes.

If I had guts, I'd wear the green flowers. Love them.
These look fabulous with pink sneakers:

Heaven help the man she marries.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

have a cuppa

Have you seen these travel mugs? You're able to put pictures or kids' artwork inside them. I picked one up last winter wanting to put some of my favorite fabric in it.
Prints like these:

Problem is - fabric is thicker than paper and not very stiff. It definitely doesn't want to go into the very narrow space of that travel mug. Starch didn't work. Interfacing would make it thicker. The solution finally hit me a few weeks ago - color copies of the fabric:

Three of my favorite feedsacks are on the left. The fabric on the right is a Japanese print given to me by Jan. I think some of my liberty fat quarters would be great for this too. You can't see it in the picture, but the copier (just our HP home printer) even picks up some of the fabric's texture. The colors aren't exact though and the very nice texture of the Japanese print showed up the least. However, I think they're a great representation of the originals.

How could I not smile drinking my coffee out of that? I wonder how I can get the string quilt on the copier...
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

thrifty thursday

Had some luck earlier this week:
I grabbed this because I loved the pink plastic case. It was labeled as being filled with crochet cotton. When I got home and unpacked it, I was delighted to find about 20 balls of perle cotton - something I'll actually use. There was another unpleasant surprise as well. At the bottom was a melty chocolate caramel. Very little thread was damaged and it washed off the case easily. Such are the perils of thrifting.

They must have just received a donation of buttons because I can't imagine that these had been there very long(AND they were half price the day I was there!):

A few other goodies to round out the day's finds:

I need to drag out my vintage hankies and see if I have enough for a quilt at this point.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

easy empire waist top

A new model for the class I'm teaching in October:
It's from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones book. This one was done in the 9-12 mos. size, but I think it runs large.
I still need to work out a few kinks before the class. I had a little trouble with some fabric pulling from the stitching on the sleeve vents, but I think I know how to solve it and make it much easier to do successfully for beginners. It didn't help that I was sewing that part around 10pm which is well past my sewing expiration time for the night. My brain has already shut down for the evening by then - I never cut things out that late at night either. I'm sure to make a mistake if I do.

The contrasting trim is far easier to do than it looks. You can almost see the vent at the bottom of the sleeve that gave me trouble.

Just a simple button closure in the back. There are side vents as well on the bottom of the tunic.
I'd love this shirt in my size.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the kids

Sunday night - a promised marshmallow roast celebrating the start of school the following day. Chris whittled enough sticks for all the neighbors. This might have become a tradition around here.
First day of seventh grade (note the attitude about my insistence that we take this picture EVERY year):

Look out second grade:

Not pictured - me jumping for joy.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

news from the garden

Please keep in mind that I'm a craft blogger, not a gardener, while reading this.

We took all of the wonderful suggestions that you gave us for good things for kids to grow and planted what we could find and also what interested the kids. Our crop was to consist of: tomatoes (in pots), cucumbers, corn, sunflowers, red and yellow peppers. At the last minute we decided to put pumpkins on the side of the house where I realized I'd never have time to finish putting in perennials.

Guess what's doing the best? I cannot believe that these were once four, 6 inch seedlings. In fact, this picture is over a week old and the vines have now covered that window. (Sob! That was the natural light that came in on my sewing machine.) I believe we have Audrey 2 growing out there and I'm expecting to be missing a child any day now. Not only that, but we have two rogue pumpkin plants growing on the side of the garage (which is not attached to the house and about 70 feet away from these plants). I have no idea how they got there. I so hope we get some pumpkins from all this because the kids and neighbors are way excited about these plants.

The tomatoes did well and we've eaten most of our harvest. Did I take pictures of those? No. I told you, I'm a craft blogger, not a gardener or a foodie.

As for our garden on the side of the garage that was supposed to get plenty of sun, enjoyed a season of lots of rain and got some compost from the landscapers - well, not such good news. The animals claimed all the corn before it was taller than Trixie. Four of the six sunflowers have suffered the same fate. Glenn did discover two cucumbers this week, so that's good news. Nothing on the pepper front other than tiny plants. At least they aren't dead.

This is not a sunflower that we planted. It's growing near the fenceline about 20 feet from the kids' garden plot. I thought it was a weed for some time and since it was growing when it was hot and humid (we did have a week of that here), I spent that week indoors ignoring yardwork. Once I finally went to pull it, I noticed that the flower head, which hadn't bloomed yet, looked oddly familiar. Glenn and I decided to let it be. This is what we got a week later.

Next year, I might just wait to see what grows on its own.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

thrifty thursday

Something I DIDN'T get at the quilter's garage sale:
I did pick it up at another garage sale, though. The basket tin was bought at a flea market years ago.
The decal makes me so happy. (It's hard to see because the cabinet is kept in a little hallway off the kitchen that gets very little light.)

Buying it solved a storage dilemna in my kitchen. This house is about 80 years old and I love it, but it has a kitchen that's a "stand in one place and reach everything" size. Not really a problem for someone who hates to cook, like me, but it doesn't allow for many places to put things I need to have handy.
The cabinet is now my home office. It came with four shelves: two were original (they have the red edging) and two were newer. I added the shelf trim from Susie to the new one to give it a little charm.

And for Susie(who aked me to post more "helpful hints"), the tin is where I've stored my receipts for the past few years. Inside is a check organizer from a discount or office supply store. I cut the bottom and top flap off so that the files could expand to fill the space inside the tin. Each tab is labeled with a month. All the receipts I collect go in the proper file at the end of the day. When the calendar rolls over to the first of the month and I need to move to the next spot in the file, I pull out the receipts that are in there from the previous year. Most are garbage and get recycled. Those that need to be saved for warranty purposes are refiled upstairs with important papers. There are only a few of those a year. We aren't buying a lot of big ticket items all the time around here. I might have one or two that I think I should hold onto for another year - I'll just put it back in that month's slot. The following year it'll get pitched most likely. Receipts from charities get filed in the front of the organizer so Chris can grab them when it's tax time.

Tomorrow - news on the gardening front.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

vintage fabric from the states

Glenn and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday. We had an outdoor lunch watching planes practice for the air and water show, a guided tour from a friend, and of course, a trip to the gift shop. I found the book in the title while browsing and had to bring it home when I opened the pages and saw the following:
Feedsacks from my collection!

Not the same colorway, but thrilling just the same.

Definitely worth picking up if you're a vintage fabric junkie like me. It's all about the pictures though - the writing is in Japanese.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

finished string quilt!

It's done! (If you don't count the fact that I need to label it and attach a sleeve.)
It's definitely complete enough to take to quilting today and hang for show and tell.

After a little research I found that many string quilts weren't layered with batting, but with flannel or something thinner because of all the thick seams in them. I used an old flannel sheet we had and backed it with unbleached muslin. The finished quilt top was exactly as wide as the muslin I had on hand. -No room for shifting.

Some of these blocks had been hand pieced and some were pieced by machine. I was so happy about that because I didn't feel bad about machine quilting it. I have no idea how I would have pushed a needle through some of those seams by hand and how long it would have taken me to finish it. I know I wouldn't be posting it any time this year if that was the case.

The feather stitch used is a decorative one that's on my machine. (For those who want to know - my machine is a Bernina 150 and I made the stitch as long as the machine would allow. I wasn't able to widen it due to the width of the opening in the throat plate.) I simply outlined all the blocks with it. Because some of the blocks weren't cut to exactly the same size, I had to jog the stitching a little at a few interesections. It seems to add to the charm to have a few wavy lines on the back. Black Kona cotton was used to bind the quilt.

The wall it's going to hang on has been prepped. I need to paint it and get a sleeve on the quilt soon so I can walk past it everyday.

This one might rival Trixie's tent for my favorite thing.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

beatrix's* gift

"They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree."

Jan gave me a great pattern for a child's play circus tent several months ago. She'd picked it up when her daughter was young and like a lot of the patterns I've bought for my girls - it never got made. I doubt I'd have made it in the manner suggested on the cover of the pattern (it looked very much like a circus tent complete with clowns on the fabric), but inside there were some variations suggested. A rocket. A clubhouse. Why not the base of a fir tree?

The actual artwork in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny reads "Josephine Bunny licensed to sell TEA & TOBACCO". This is my pc version - we all know lavender is rabbit tobacco anyway, don't we?

For tassels I used some twine or jute that I had in the stash. I have absolutely no idea why I had it, but it works. I think they're suggestive of pinecones.

A quick shot of the back. It took me weeks to make a decision about how to handle the applique elements. I knew the technique I'd use - just cut out the shapes and zig zag the raw edges to the base fabric, but I had a hard time deciding what to applique. I had visions of a bird's nest on the roof and a robin flying nearby. Flowers were going to surround the base of the tent. Then I came to my senses and realized that I could never do justice to Beatrix Potter's artwork in applique - at least not on this project. Simpler was better. I used the grass appliques from this project as my guide for the grass here. Scraps from the roof were used. Kona cotton in a deep brown was used to create the illusion of crevices in the root of the tree. I have a Peter Rabbit illustration on cotton fabric sold for applique work that I intended to put on the tent near the front flap, but have left it off for now. I couldn't get the placement right in my mind and liked the idea of Trixie pretending to be one of the rabbits more. The only thing I tried to copy as closely as I could was the sign on the base of the tree for Mrs. Rabbit's livelihood.

The pattern wasn't hard at all, but it does use a lot of fabric - about 3 yards of the green and 5 yards of the beige. A hula hoop provides the round structure. It's enclosed in a casing on the interior. What I liked most was how well the pattern was designed (by Judy N. Johnson in 1983). All the raw edges are enclosed at some point during construction so if you didn't have a serger, the finished project looks neat both inside and out.
The pattern also calls for more involved hardware than I chose to use to hold it up. I found that some office rings I had on hand slipped through the tabs at the top nicely. We had another hook on hand (again, I have no idea why) that worked to gather them all and provided a way to hang it off the playset in the yard.
It's surprisingly roomy inside. I had my doubts when I looked at the size of the hula hoop, but then again, I'm not 4. Both girls fit inside quite comfortably. The height from hem to top of the hook is about 6 feet.
It's my favorite thing I've ever made - for now.
*Yes, Beatrix is Trixie's full name, but I don't think she knew that until recently. No, I don't have a problem foisting my Beatrix Potter obsession on my children.
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