Friday, August 26, 2011

in which I wax eloquent about fall

Rachel Hauser of the lovely Stitched in Color is throwing a little party, and you're invited! It's all about fall, and sewing, and inspiration, and, well...color. Check out the Celebrate Color page to see what it is and to get inspired. 

I've been thinking about fall all day. About the colors I associate with it, yes, but also about what it is to me. 


Fall, for me, is about a feeling. Living in Florida (aka the land of one season) means that we don't get fall colors. Or chilly grey days. Or big piles of leaves to kick through. So one has to be...imaginative...when getting into that fall spirit. 

For me it all starts right about this time. It's the end of August. It's hotter than I think is humane, school is about to start, and the boredom of hiding in an air-conditioned box all summer long has pushed me nearly over the edge. And then, one morning, I open my blinds and something has changed. The angle of the sun is slightly different. The light filtering through my window is not the intense glare of white summer sunshine, but the mellow golden light of fall. The shadows are softened, grey-edged and blurred. This is when I get my first urge (which I will, for now, resist) to pull out my pumpkin spice candles and light them. I tell myself, "Self. It's not even September. Get over it." But the golden light is still winking at me from between the blinds. It's calling me. Promising...something. But that something is going to be good, I can tell.

Soon the sweltering sticky humidity begins to fade somewhat, and I start feeling like there's an end in sight. Soon I will want to go outside and do outside things. The giant swing in the front yard is swaying in the breeze, and I'm already thinking about buying some pumpkins to put on the front porch. Maybe this year I'll spring for some of the pretty ones like Cinderella, Long Island Cheese, Full Moon, or Fairytale. I love how they look together: off-white, pale green, and of course--every shade of orange. 

Something about fall feels rich to me. Plums. A glass of good red wine. Deep red cranberries peeking out of the crust of orange scones. My stand mixer is running non-stop and I begin to feel like I live in my kitchen. The air has, through the alchemy of autumn, turned from a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen to a fog of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Everyone in my house gains five pounds just from breathing it all in.

Sure, there are lot of things going on--costumes to be sewn, schoolwork to be graded, crafts to be crafted, and Thanksgiving to be planned for. But that's all just icing on the cake for me. Take away my candles, take away my turkey and stuffing, I don't care. That golden sunlight will still be there, teasing me from behind the blinds, inviting me to breathe it all in--every last cinnamon-filled lungful.

a few firsts

Yesterday I wanted to sew something quick and fun and sort of outside-the-box (for me). So I raided my scrap bin and went to town on this little potholder.

A first for me

Now it may not seem like much to all you, but I rarely make myself pretty things for use around the house. I usually give those things away and stick with my ugly but functional household objects. So I'm pretty happy about this little potholder because it represents a shift in my thinking. Lately I've really been feeling that while it's super awesome to give away most of what I make, I should make pretty things for my house, too. I want my kids to be generous and to think about others and how they can bless them. But I also want them to know that the same consideration is given to them and the environment they live in. So here's to turning over a new leaf!

Also, if you look on the sidebar over there you might notice that I have 100 followers. For some people that's so not a big deal, and I know that really popular blogs can have thousands. But for little ole me, it's kinda cool. I've never done anything to promote people becoming followers so I feel like if they (or you) did it's because you like something here and that makes me smile. SO. I've got a little celebration in the works over here in honor of all of you. Stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Altogether Amazingly Awesome

That's been my day today. 

First of all, I drove out to Clearwater to visit my old college and meet up with a former teacher of mine. This fall I'm going to be teaching an introductory drawing class to high school students in our homeschool co-op, and I wanted to talk with my drawing professor to make sure I was planning the year out right. It was so weird to be traipsing about my old school after nearly 12 years, with three kids in tow. But at the same time it was pretty cool and really made me miss my studio art days. My teacher Mr. Grass was the best teacher I ever had and he was so helpful to me. He even gave me some props from the art department to use in my class. And he played with my kids and showed them all the skeletons and skulls and animal bones so they had a blast. When we left my oldest said, "Wow, I can't wait to go to college so I can learn about science and art." A boy after my own heart. Ha. 

Then I got home and guess what was in my mailbox? Yep! My doll quilt!

In the mail today...

I think I displayed quite amazing self-control by NOT ripping right into the package before taking pictures. 

a pig in poop.

Check out all this loot!! Oh my gosh. I got TWO quilts. TWO! And a pretty little comp-book cover that I adore. I literally jumped up and down when I opened my package.

DQS 11 received

This little quilt was at the top of my list of ones I wanted, and I especially love the little pointy border because it's so unusual. And you know me and gray and bright colors....yum.


And the bonus quiltie is every bit as awesome! Heather Ross, wonky geese, green and orange and pink...AWESOME.

More DQS loot

While my partner Anna was stalking me she found out I was a fellow Christian and decided to make me this book cover with crosses on it. It's so adorable. I feel so blessed and lucky to have received such a lovely and generous package!

Lastly I leave you with a picture of my growing collection: 


bun-bun's bid for freedom and lightning 2.0

Things have been pretty hectic around here lately, and there hasn't been a lot of time for sewing or making things. Plus there was something else that was bothering me and making me in a not-so-crafty mood.

Monday morning I went outside to let out the chickens, feed the bunny, etc., when I noticed something odd. The screen door to the pool deck was wide open. And the bunny was nowhere to be found. The sound of hawks screeching filled the air. I burst into tears. It was just a bad morning. The day before we'd been playing with her inside, and she was being so funny...all I could think about was this as I searched the yard for any sign of her:

She lounged like this on the gumdrop pillow for ages, half upside down and looking like some kind of bad taxidermy experiment. It was hysterical.

Needless to say everyone was upset by the awol bunny. My husband (who left the door open) felt guilty. The middlest made his usual comment of "Well, we can just buy another one" (always pragmatic, that one).

And then last night at about 8pm, a knock sounded on our door. Our neighbor was standing there holding a VERY muddy, hideous looking Guinevere. We were so happy! She got a bath (and a lot of junk picked out of her fur) and seemed none the worse for the wear. Although...maybe some mongrel bunnies will be born next month? There are a LOT of manly little bunnies in our woods. Maybe she left cause she was just lookin' for love in all the wrong places. 

Anyway, with the bunny back safely I felt like sewing again, so this morning I finished up Lightning 2.0. Yay!

lightning 2.0

I opted for multi-colored hand quilting, and bound it up in some green Farmdale fabric. Love! I'm so glad that the tutorial gave me an excuse to make one for myself. :)

lightning 2.0 detail

Hope you're all have a good week! We're starting homeschooling next week so things will likely be pretty crazy around here. But I'm SO ready for fall.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lightning Zigzags {tutorial}

Okay so here it is--my very first tutorial. Try not to judge me too harshly.

Ever since I made my round 11 quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap I've had quite a few people as me for a tutorial or pattern for it. Well I didn't have one--I just figured it out on the fly. But I thought this might be a good way for me to cut my teeth as far as tutorials go, so here you have it.

First of all some notes. All seams are 1/4". This tutorial is for a doll-sized quilt since most inquiries were about that size, but it could easily be translated into bigger blocks for a real quilt. Okay, here we go!

Okay, now you need to cut your fabric. You will need to cut your background fabric into 42 3.5" squares. Next, cut the zig-zag fabric into 2" strips. I used Kona Ash for the background and some Good Folks scraps I've been hoarding for awhile now. The strips were various lengths but I found I didn't need much--a fat quarter of each fabric will leave you with LOTS of extra fabric.

All cut out? Good. You're ready to sew. Lay a strip of patterned fabric across the background fabric at a diagonal. The exact angle isn't important, especially if you're going for a wonky look.

Set your machine for a quarter inch stitch, and line your presser foot up with the edge of the patterned fabric. Sew, sew, sew.

Flip the fabric over and press. Note--you will need to press the seams so that the strip is folded over, not the backing. You will need the square to stay square for a little while longer.

See what I mean about the square? Okay good. Now keep it flipped over. 

Now it's time to trim the excess strip fabric away. Using the square as the template, cut along the edges. 

Flip it over and check it out!!

Sorry. I feel like such a tease now. But you're really almost done! Flip the strip back over so it's like it was when you first sewed it on...

...and do what the picture tells you to.

Now, repeat the process 41 more times. This doesn't take as long as you'd think, especially if you chain piece.

All done? Good. You should have some nice little stacks that you can proceed to play with until you find a good layout. Here's mine:

Now, about that layout. I'm sure you can figure it out by trial and error, but here's the pattern I used to get that lightning effect:

Got it? Now you're ready to sew it all together, and you end up with this:

Tada! You're done! Now you're ready to quilt and bind, baby. 

Hope you like this, let me know if you all have any suggestions!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

blah blah blah

Hey guys.

Whatcha been up to? 

Me? Well...not much. At least not much I can show you. UFO week stalled out when I realized that I am still lacking fabric, batting, etc. and have no money with which to procure said supplies. A few projects I am working on (that don't require a trip to Joann's or a visit to Etsy) are hate to admit it but....Christmas. I know I know!! But see, last year I really wanted to be working on a Christmas quilt during December, and I was so burnt out from sewing presents that I never got around to it. This year I'm determined to finish as many gifts as I can throughout the fall so I can spend more time in December making crafts with the kids and hopefully, starting the aforementioned quilt. 

Sneaky peeky of one of the things I made this week? Okay. You twisted my arm.

Sorry for the blurry pic but my camera is being an idiot. Anyway, this week has been busy busy with cleaning and gift-sewing and more cleaning (ugh). My brother is coming to town tomorrow, Saturday we have our church sewing day to make shorts and dresses for orphans, and Sunday me and my peeps from church are working on a little something that I can't discuss here because it's classified. For now. 

Oh yeah, AAAAANNNNND...I'm working on my very first tutorial! Yeah! I'm super excited about it, not because it's anything all that special but I've been meaning to try my hand at this for ages and never seem to get around to it. Hopefully it will be up within the week with all the craziness going on around here. Woot!

Friday, August 12, 2011

UFO week--Mal's big boy bed

Remember this? 

Mal's new bed, unfinished

Yeah. It's been sitting in my husbands shop, taking up space, having things dropped on it--it even had chicks roosting on it at one point. Mostly because once it was built I couldn't decide how to finish it. Paint? Stain? Plain with some varnish?

Eventually I decided to use some Ikea "antique" stain. I applied some to a piece of wood to test it and was not impressed. I didn't know what to do next. I stalled. I ignored. Eventually, in a combination of trying to be helpful and trying to get this thing OUT, my husband stained it for me. Which just left the varnishing. I did a coat yesterday and sanded it this morning. Since it's a toddler bed and will only be used for a little while, I opted against multiple layers of varnish and left good enough alone. Tada!

As you can see he's really enjoying this. The first thing he did when I put the mattress on was to flop on it and yell, "SLEEEP!!!!" at the top of his lungs. Then he went and got every single blanket from all over the house, piled it on, and burrowed in, and said, "Cool mama." Ha ha ha. 

I also put the Charley Harper quilt up there because it seemed to fit so well, plus my boys asked for it to be in their room. I think because the nerve cell looks vaguely alien and they're obsessed with aliens and monsters. I have no idea who they got that from. Wink wink. Nod nod.

On a side note, look at his face in this picture. This cracks me up--every time I say smile he does this face. I like that in his mind, "smile" means squint your eyes and look mischievous.

Anyway, UFO #2--Check. Next, the crazy flare jeans I had all but finished except the waistband. Off I go!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

UFO week(s)

I'm bound and determined that by the end of August, all of my unfinished projects WILL be finished. I feel mentally like I can't take starting school with all these half-done things hanging over my head, so...rather than enjoy my last few weeks of summer vacation (it's too hot to enjoy anyway) I'm going to crack down on myself and get stuff DONE.

First on my list: The Charley Harper Quilt. Started in...uh...March. Finished quilting it last night and bound it up this morning. Check!

Charley Harper finished

Charley Harper detail

I love how it came out with that thin black binding. For a long time this hung unfinished on my wall because I wasn't sure I liked it, but now that it's done I really truly love it. I especially love all the weird puffy parts because it adds to the "organic" charm.

Next on my list: varnish Mal's bed. I built it in April and am just now getting it finished. No pictures because it's between coats, but hey! I'm getting there!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Never again. EVER.

It's pouring buckets outside. Generally this is my favorite kind of weather, especially when I've got a good book and and thick blanket to burrow under.

But when I've got a dreaded project to finish, a downpour is downright depressing. 
Wait--don't go and think I don't enjoy my do.Good Stitches sewing. I've really enjoyed trying new blocks and styles I wouldn't have otherwise gotten around to auditioning. But. The triangle block. Stinks. I'll tell you why:

DGS Triange Quilt Top

1. It's a triangle. Which means that you're missing a ton of the space that that a 12.5" block would take up. So when you ask your circle to make two triangles, they are basically making 1 and a half squares. So your quilt comes up woefully short.

2. While my team made a brave effort, equilateral triangles ain't easy to pull off. Every single triangle I received was off by margins either small or large (including mine!!) which made putting it together a literal nightmare. 

3. I wrote "triangle" and "top" in the same title, and now all I see are skimpy bikinis all over this thing.

However--I do like the way it came out, even with all it's...quirks...and despite my not particularly enjoying the process. I think my circle did a good job with my lame idea and I know that the boy this is going to is not going to see all the faults and wonkiness. So I'm just going to tell myself to shut up now, and go read a book and enjoy the rest of this deluge before it's over and done!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coming up roses

I don't know about you, but I am having one of those weeks. Or few weeks to be more exact. The only thing keeping me mentally afloat is the ability to distract myself. And you all know how I go about that!

This past week I spent some time working on my do.Good Stitches quilt (that thing is quite literally taking me forever) and getting two half-yards of what I was missing to finish up my Summer Sampler blocks. I also turned that cute cross-stitching I was working on into this hideous mug rug:

Should I bother?

Ugh right? I don't know what I was thinking with these colors. It reminds me of a how a two-bit salon from the 80's might have decorated. Just throw in a little teal. Yuck. Unfortunately, there's not that can be done to salvage the Super Mario cuteness. So I'm throwing in the towel with this one. Grrr.

I also wanted to try my hand at a clutch with a flap and loop handle. I didn't really think I needed to pay 8 dollars to download a pattern for what couldn't possible be that hard, so I drafted my own pattern. I used magnetic snaps for the first time, and was pleased at how easy they were to install, although I did put them too high up on the flap. Oh well. Live and learn.

coming up roses

I'd wanted to put a cute decorative button on the front flap, but couldn't find anything I liked. Then I saw this pendant at JoAnn's and thought, "hmmm." A little heavy duty glue, a few hours to dry, and sure enough it was just the little addition I was hoping for, and the turquoise is the same color as the zipper. Happy accidents!

patchwork pouch

I've had this little purse frame for quite awhile, and yesterday in the midst of a very obnoxious day I just had to sit down and try out a framed pouch. I used this very popular tutorial to draft the pattern, and although I definitely did not get quite the result I was hoping for, I have a much better idea of how to go about it next time.

I keep telling myself I'm going to finish up all my UFO's before the kids start school again, but that doesn't seem likely to happen. I can't stop adding new little projects every five minutes...I think I have a problem. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Counting days, counting stitches

Only a few more days till my husband comes home, and I find myself keeping busy to make the time pass more quickly. 

Today I felt the need to put in some old Stargate dvd's, park on the couch, and hand-stitch. 

power up project

This is my first time doing cross-stitch...pretty much ever. I mean I had one or two attempts when I was 9 years old or so, but I was too impatient for anything that wasn't quick. Cross-stitch is not quick. At. All. 

Working on such tiny stitches with nothing but a printout of some pixelated images was definitely not as relaxing as, say, a nice back-stitch or some hand quilting. But I find cross stitch lends itself particularly well to this kind of image, and the end result is very satisfying.

I can't say yet what this is for, but I can already say that I won't be keeping it. Which is a little sad for me, but I'll get over it. Most of what I make I give away anyway. 

Happy Wednesday!