Tuesday, August 10, 2010

poppy pouch

Another gift for the generous Poppy.
I spotted this ribbon at the Portsmouth Fabric Company. Check them out online or in person. It's one of the best fabric stores I've been in. When I told them this was to be a gift, they offered me the use of their sewing machines since I was on vacation. I passed due to time constraints, and it's a good thing I didn't know I'd have access to a machine ahead of time.
Once I had to have the ribbon I needed to search for some coordinating fabric. These are from the Kaffe Fassett collection.
The pattern was based on one of my Vera Bradley cosmetic bags. To make it a little easier I quilted the exterior fabric on fusible fleece. The zipper pull is made of beads from my stash.
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Monday, August 9, 2010

cushion for a cottage

A thank you gift for a generous hostess, who loaned us her lovely cottage for our vacation-

I'd intended to sew this up before we left and was going to leave it there for her to find when she arrived. The storms that knocked out our power before we left changed my plan.

The hankie was in my stash of vintage linens. Can you believe something so perfect was right here? I added a solid pink fabric and white piping from the stash as well.

After several attempts at putting the hankie on with monofilament thread and the machine, I gave up. The fabric was too delicate and it kept bunching up. I also wasn't happy with either a zig zag over the scallops or a straight line inside of them. The best solution was a simple whipstitch by hand with the monofilament. It's almost impossible to see how the hankie is attached and I was able to follow the scallops exactly.

Sadly, our hostess' time at the cottage is done for the summer. I think it might look cute on a screened-in suburban porch though.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

vacation day four

This is the end, I promise.
We headed back to the beach and spent the entire day there.
The kids met several other children who lived on the coast and knew all about what was living in the plants. We got there at low tide which was perfect for exploring.
All manner of critters were found. Crabs, shrimp, clams, mussels, snails.

And of course, there was much digging to be done.

You have no idea how hard it was to resist a little push after I took this picture.

That's it. No pictures of the 17 hour drive home. You're welcome.
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vacation day three

Ha, I'm like the relative with a captive audience and a boatload of slides!
Next up was Portland Head Lighthouse. Ominous sky. It rained just a bit before moving on.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

vacation day two

Day two was spent in Portsmouth and Kittery, ME.

If you get a chance to go to Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth it's wonderful. There are homes representing eras in Portsmouth from the 1600's to the 1950's. Actresses representing the women of these households interact with the guests. Upon entering the garden of the governor's home, the girls met his wife. She invited them to join her while she weeded. She showed them how to use her special tools and let them go to work. I wish they'd spend that kind of time in our yard. I get about 5 minutes max. They sat and chatted with her for a good 15 minutes. Later she gave them a tour of her greenhouse and I'm now on the lookout for Venus flytraps and Sensitive plants to add to our own pots here at home.

We then headed to a Submarine museum. Guess who liked that place better?

Chris got claustrophobic within seconds. I had no idea just how cramped subs are. I was busy gasping for air. The smell of hydraulic fluids is overwhelming even after years of being decommissioned.

More tomorrow.

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family vacation day one

I promised these to family and friends ages ago. Sorry for the delay guys.
Our first day at the beach in NH.
Look mom, I found you a heart shaped rock!
Look mom, I found you seaweed!

Glenn spent most of his time exploring the rocks.

Who knew there was such a perfect example of the fossil record in NH?

More later.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

smock it to me

This block is headed to Sarah from Common Threads. She gave us three neutral fabrics and asked for texture and a pop of color from our own stash.
I immediately thought of origami and headed to the library to check out every book they had on folded fabric. As I passed over every project listed, I spotted this pattern for smocking in Folded Fabric Elegance by Rami Kim. I was in love. She has several more patterns, but I was drawn to the suggestion of basketweave in this one. I knew I wanted it to be the centerpiece of the block with very simple sashing in the other tones. The green (which looks far duller in the photo than in real life) is from my stash.
Here's the smocking before it's pressed:

And here's the back before pressing. You can see the 1/2" grid of dots I drew. Those are the basis of the technique. From there you follow some simple diagrams bringing the dots together. It's not difficult, just a bit time consuming with a lot of knotting between each stitch. Once I got going, I found a groove and soon didn't need the diagram.

I've got to find some other ways to use this technique. I think it'd look wonderful done in linen as a pocket on a dress or tunic.
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

big plans

I've avoiding talking about why blogging hasn't been a priority for a couple of months. You see, my mind has been racing as we've discussed some big changes to our home. Below is our kitchen in all its 1926 expansiveness. Which is to say it's about 8' X 8' with enough room for one person to be in it at a time. The plan below doesn't show a pine cabinet that backs to the stairs, giving me a bit more storage. The mudroom had been functional as long as the weather didn't dip below freezing. In the winter, boots, coats and mittens just freeze rather than drying out. It's also gotten a bit "bouncy" on it's posts (which are no longer anywhere near proper building codes). Let's just say we try not to have too many people in there at once and I ask the kids not to slam the door for fear the thing will fall off the house.
After a lot of thinking - do we add on, do we just fix the mudroom and the seepage we're getting in the basement, do we move (the option I LEAST wanted)? We've decided to add on. Several months ago this was a much smaller project in our minds. I can hear all of you who've started that way in renovations laughing your heads off at me right now. Yes, the project has grown, much of it due to building codes, but the gist of it is below. (The lines in the drawings curve because I set the plans down on the grass to take the pictures. I assure you, our architect wasn't drunk when she rendered these.)

The kitchen will get much larger and will accommodate a very loved 8 foot pine table that we bought soon after we were married (it's been in my studio for the last 7 years because that's the only place it fit in this house). I'll also have a computer center where the kids can do homework and I can see what they're doing (it's next to the cabinet pantry in the plan). The mudroom will be warm in the winter AND have a bench with a place under it for boots and hooks above for jackets. I'll even have a dishwasher for the first time in nearly 20 years.
But wait, there's more! There will have to be a new foundation under this kitchen which gives us another basement room. I'm thinking playroom for the girls. We'll also be able to capture space above the addition for a larger master bedroom closet. Other less glamorous, but important changes include fixing leaks in the basement, putting in a new sewer and sanitation line(the original line failing is simply a disaster waiting to happen), adding a drain in the yard (due to the recent monsoons we currently have a lake back there) and upgrading the heating and cooling system in the house. All the basement work will involve gutting the whole area that's my studio and putting up drywall and new lighting.
I'm very excited and very overwhelmed already. I've spent the last several days purging and packing part of my studio. Every item must leave the basement, kitchen and dining room. I'm sure I'll eventually need to remove all the stuff from our closets upstairs as well when construction gets to that point.
For now, I'm putting the packing of the basement out of my mind because I have to pack my suitcase tonight. I'm headed to NYC early tomorrow morning to meet up with Susie Sunshine, Poppy, and blackbird. At the end of the weekend we'll head to the Hamptons courtesy of Jen with Carol joining the crew. I might get a few posts scheduled tonight. I might not. Doesn't matter, I'm going on vacation with girls.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

grandmother's wildflowers

The baby hexies are finished! I know I said I would post this well over a month ago. Lets just say I severely underestimated the time it would take, and the time I would have available, to finish it.
"Grandmother's Wildflowers" is a take on the traditional grandmother's flower garden quilt pattern. While the technique and all the handwork I did was traditional, the open spaces aren't. I was inspired by a quilt in "Pretty Little Quilts" that had individual hexagons missing allowing the wall to show through.
I have one of my fellow quilting friends here in town to thank for the arrangement. I played back and forth with several ideas, even several different layouts, when Kathy sat down and began moving them in more of a color order arrangement. Bingo! A few minutes later I had them grouped the way I liked. I debated a bit about whether I should add a few more, but decided I'd stick with what I had.
All of these hexies are vintage fabrics that were precut and strung by an anonymous quilter years ago. Like the rest of us, she seems to have had a few UFO's in her stash. I bought them at the garage sale and can now consider them vintage project number 2 that's been completed from that huge find. (The first was the string quilt blocks.)
Every stitch in this mini quilt was done by hand - from basting the hexagons over paper, to the stitches joining the backing to the top. The back is a vintage feedsack. I would not use a feedsack again for a project of this type. The weave is too loose and I had to put in twice as many stitches to secure every loose thread in the weave as I finished the project. The quilt is tied in the center of each hexagon with matching embroidery floss.
And here's a quick shot of my next vintage UFO. More handwork, so it'll be a long time before I can post a finished quilt for this one. I have twelve of these dresden plates to applique to blocks. The long drive to New Hampshire a few weeks ago took care of 3 of them.
Step by step...

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

thrifty thursday

Take a deep breath, Carol. One of your favorites:
faux bois
Wish I could say I found the planter super cheap at a thrift store. It came from a great vintage finds store nearby and while it wasn't thrift store priced, it was good enough for me.
My african violet now has a new home.

I wish it looked a little better, this plant has bloomed nonstop since I put it in this window 7 years ago, but I think it's adjusting to its new home.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

big star, little star

I'm officially caught up with the bee again.
Jessica asked for maverick stars - the wonkier the better.
I went with the largest size(12.5) above - and below, the tiniest size she requested (3.5").
I liked the idea of a miniature version of the first one I made. It might make for a fun I Spy game when the quilt is complete - finding the mini me star.

Just to give you an idea of the size difference between them:

As much as I like tiny projects, making sure I didn't cut off those star points and still had enough fabric showing wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I love how cute it is though.
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back with blue

Long absence, short explanation: summer, busy, storms, power outage, vacation, insomnia, tired.
I do have things to show you though:
Two blocks for Common Threads- Above is Amanda's. Hers was a geometric challenge for me. Took a little sketching first, but I wanted to get those cross blocks to "overlap" in the background. It required more piecing than making two mini blocks and just sewing them together.
Below is Jess's. Hers was done in a manner I've finally grown confident in using - improvisational piecing, I think it's called. I took a quick look at her inspiration photo and just started cutting and sewing. No sketching, no measuring until I was close to the size she requested. The inset pieces of solids are the direct influence of my common threads cohorts. Same goes for the "off" angles and general wonkiness of it all.

I'm off to pack my bag for quilting group today.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the new 'do

The girls and I were out at a local coffee shop a few weeks ago. A friend who hadn't seen Ellie in a while commented on her long hair. She asked if Ellie had been growing it to donate to Locks of Love. (The short answer is no. Ellie's been growing her hair proudly after several years of self-inflicted haircuts that nearly drove me out of my mind. Who knew a pair of Hello Kitty craft scissors could do so much damage?) That lead to Ellie asking what Locks of Love was on the drive home. After hearing the explanation she was quiet for a moment. Before we'd pulled in our driveway she announced, "I'm going to do it. You won't change my mind. Make the appointment mom."

So I did. For the next day.

She definitely made the 10 inch requirement.


Sad as I was to see it go, this is perfect for the summer. She told me last week the bangs are the next thing to go.

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