Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

As promised - the cross stitch that I've been working on for far too long. All those weeks that I had nothing to post - this is why. Those of you needlewomen out there will understand the time involved in this. There have to be 100 hours of hand stitching in this pillow.

It's one of 4 that I've completed from A Beatrix Potter Christmas cross stitch book. Two more to go. I started it a few years ago and would just get overwhelmed and put it away for months and months. I pulled it out again in October when I was feeling too sick to work on my machine. (Nothing feels as nice as sitting under a quilt on the sofa with the tv on in the background, hot tea or coffee on the end table and some needlework in my lap when I'm getting over being ill.) I guess I'd gotten just far enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it was a long tunnel - there are approximately 10,000 cross stitches in this. Knowing I was at least past the halfway point kept me going and I was determined to finish it up before the holiday this year.
Details - Done on ivory 16 count aida. It measures about 10" X 10". The fringe is chenille, but I don't remember where I bought it. Found it in the stash and I'm all about using what I have right now. Before sewing it into a pillow I backed the aida cloth with muslin.
Hope you all are having a lovely holiday!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

the kids

Saturday was our, now annual, Open House with Santa.

Dear Santa,

I'd like some action figures and itunes money.

I'd like a purple Barbie car and a bathtub for my teddy bear.

I want fame and paparazzi.*

No? Okay, how about a hot tub?

(I wish this was a joke - it's not.)

For Carol - Trixie as one of the Three French Hens in her preschool's Christmas Pageant.

You should have seen their can can!

* Santa's a quick thinker - he suggested that she grow up and find the cure for a disease to become famous.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

mei mei's quilt

It's not the big quilt for Glenn (the good news is that I finished that and just need to run it through the wash). This one's for Trixie's doll bed. I'd like to believe it's for her baby, Mei Mei, but the reality is a stuffed dog will probably be tucked in under this.
It's a miniature version of the quilt I made for Ellie's bedroom when we first moved into the house. Now that Ellie has moved to her own big girl room downstairs, the room and the quilt in it are Trixie's. The trim was done with a ruffler attachment for my machine. The twin size quilt and draperies in the room are also embellished with it. When I was working on those I just made yards and yards to be sure I wouldn't run out mid project. The scraps are finally being put to good use.
The free motion quilting was done using the book, Free Motion Quilting Made Easy, as a quide. I've done a lot of this type of quilting before, but I highly recommend this book. It gave me a lot of ideas and also spells out a lot of tips that I found helpful when I was first learning this technique ten years ago. (One tip that really works is to practice drawing your design on paper before you begin quilting.)

I tried an heirloom technique on the little pillowcase using a wing needle and a decorative stitch on the machine. The wing needle has blades on either side that actually cut the fabric, creating those little holes, and the stitch stabilizes the design. (I also used tear away stabilizer when sewing it.) Had the fabric not been drapery weight, the holes would have been more obvious and a little prettier.

I still have two more gifts I made Glenn to post, but those just aren't going to happen until after the holiday.
Tomorrow, we bake.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

crafty gifts

More things for under the tree. Today's are for Ellie.

I've been on a roll with felt this year. She's getting a colored pencil roll with a matching set for her American Girl dolls. When she's a little older and takes better care of her things, I'll make her a quilted holder like one of these. In the meantime, this went together super fast and it's pink - one of her favorite colors.

The tiny pencils are from the dollar section at Joann's a year or two ago. There were 18 in the set, but a roll that large wouldn't work in a miniature size.

She was also mesmerized by the cross stitch apron that I worked on this season. This will be wrapped up as a kit. The transfer is from an Aunt Martha's pattern set. I picked a thicker perle cotton out of the stash because it'll stand out more on the fabric and hopefully, cover the printed lines better if they don't wash out well. The design was ironed onto a pale pink quilting cotton that'll be sewn into a pillowcase when she's finished stitching.

The beauty of her getting older? I can give her a present that she makes herself rather than killing myself to make it before the holiday.

I'm saving that sort of insanity for the quilt Glenn is getting. Started sewing on Sunday. Tonight I'm hand sewing the final step in binding it. I never learn. At least I'm not sewing the binding on Christmas Eve like I was doing two years ago.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

barbie's new wardrobe

The girls are entering the Barbie phase. Finally, I get to make clothes for them!
These are from a vintage pattern one of my quilting friends gave me. It dates to my childhood.
This combo is for Trixie.

And this one is for Ellie.

Trixie specifically asked for pajamas for her Barbie.
These were made with a vintage dotted swiss and a reissued Vintage Vogue pattern:

That teeny yoke has a lining. Gah. I hope the Barbies like these pj's because they aren't getting another pair.
(There are snaps hidden under the plackets on both the pj's and the dresses. I'm not crazy enough to attempt buttonholes that small.)
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Friday, December 18, 2009

ring pouch

This came about as a solution to gloves and rings not playing well together. Every winter I have the same problem when we get dressed up and I'm wearing a nice ring (or even just my engagement ring). It's too cold to leave my hands uncovered and I don't want my rings just sitting in my purse or evening bag. And while I prefer mittens in the winter, they just don't look nearly as lovely as gloves for a nice evening out.
The solution:
Super simple to make - I used wool felt and cut 3 pieces. One is 4" by 2 1/4". Two others are 2 1/4" by 2 1/4". Stack them up aligning three edges. Edgestitch all the way around. Trim with pinking shears. Add a buttonhole to the flap (or just cut a slit since it's felt and won't ravel). Sew on a button. Done.
You'll have a pouch with two compartments to store two rings so they won't scratch one another. It's small enough to slip into a tiny evening bag.
They go together fast enough that you have plenty of time to make some if you still need stocking stuffers for the holiday.

Fabulous jeweled ring from the private collection of Ellie MacGyver.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

thrifty thursday

I posted this as I found it almost a year ago. It was a kit that never got stitched up. No idea how old it is. Just a premade linen apron with a printed cross stitch design and several skeins of white floss for $.75 or so.

And now-

Here's a little sneak peak of why I've not blogged so much even after I was feeling better. Those of you stitchers out there, now how time consuming a large cross stitch project can be. Every spare crafty moment over the past couple of months was spent finishing this up-

I'll share the whole thing next week.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

mail's here!

I've been busy with a lot of elfin activity this week.
Trixie made some big leaps the past 6 months with learning to read and she's now very much into writing notes to all of us here at home. You might remember some mailboxes we made last Valentine's Day. They didn't survive terribly long, but were popular with the girls. For Christmas this year, I decided to make something a bit more lasting for Trixie.
Her official letter carrier bag:
The body is navy felted wool, originally sold as a "skirt length". The letters are wool felt with twill tape trim under them. The bag is bound with double fold bias tape and has a cotton webbing handle.
These are the mailboxes she'll deliver to. The grommets will hang on 3M hooks on our bedroom doors. They're all made of wool felt. I used a regular business envelope as a template, but enlarged it by one inch each way to accomodate larger mail. I also added two inches to the height of the flap so it could be folded over to make the portion that supports the grommets. "POST" was satin stiched on the machine and the the bottom portion of the envelope was glued together since I couldn't get it on the machine without sewing through all the layers.

The last part of the set is a cigar box filled with all the stuff we get sent from charities: greeting cards I'll never use, stationary, return address labels and Easter Seals to use as stamps. I even have some preaddressed return business envelopes from credit card companies in there and leftover envelopes from old boxes of valentines.

I think this mail will be far more fun to open than the usual bills.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

and the winner is...

Congratulations, Diane.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and threw her name in the hat. I loved seeing a few people delurk.
Diane, I'll see about getting the quilt off to you this week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

balance (and a giveaway)

I didn't mean to worry anyone being gone so long. Thank you for the e-mails of concern, I'm fine - really. Real life has just taken more time than usual and stepping away from the computer gave me some breathing room.

Sewing also took a backseat for a long time while I recuperated from being ill most of October. Chris left his job of 13 years and started a new one (a very positive, but stressful change). We then took a wonderful trip to New York (without kids!) in early November. By the time I'd caught up with kid stuff, laundry and just getting back in the groove of being home, a lot of time had gone by without any completed projects. And really, this is a craft blog. If I don't have any projects to post, there's no point in my blathering on. Now that I'm back to sewing a bit, I'm trying to find a good balance in my life - between the "real" stuff and the time I spend here and visiting other blogs. Seems I haven't figured it all out just yet.

But enough about that. I'm glad you're here and to prove it, I have something for you:

I bought the majority of fabrics for this quilt about 2 years ago - the summer before I started blogging. I loved them, but couldn't decide on a pattern to use. They sat in a pile all this time - reminding me of one more thing I needed to finish. As the months went by, I sort of fell out of love with them, but I didn't want to just put them in the stash by color since they went together so nicely. Friendship Braid is the pattern I finally settled on (from Quiltmania magazine) and got to work cutting and sewing.

I was so happy with how it all went together technically - very proud of those matched corners! However, even when the top was pieced I didn't love it anymore. I had enough of one fabric left for binding and a good green in my stash for the solid backing. The only thing I had to go out and buy was the batting. (It's one of the new bamboo battings which I liked working with very much, but it is expensive compared to my usual cotton batting.) Jan even gave me a great idea for the quilting. It reminds me of a moving blanket:

So I'm pleased with how it turned out. It's a nice size for a baby or a small lap quilt (approximately 44 X 51). But I don't LOVE it for me. I think it should live with someone who will love it.

Here's the deal: Leave a comment and I'll put your name in a hat on December 14th. It will go to the name that gets pulled that day. I'm hoping that will give me time to get the winner's address and mail the quilt before the deadline for USPS cheap shipping for Christmas. Keep in mind that I make NO GUARANTEES this will arrive by the holiday. And if you live out of the country, I'm sure it won't arrive in time.
So go put your name in and thanks for being patient. I'll try to figure out how to make this whole blog thing fit into the rest of my life.
p.s. "Hello" to my local quilting friends! I told you finding this wouldn't be so hard : )

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