Thursday, March 31, 2011

Everyone loves the school playground after hours

No poison ivy here. Just good times. The kids even get to go over and enjoy the monkey bars which are strictly off-limits during recess (a few too many broken arms aparantly--bunch of babies). Lydia was most engaged with running her bakery-shop...which started off as just one window section, then expanded to include the whole structure (designating sleeping quarters and a bathroom even).

You see where this is going, right?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're building a fort - part 4

Remember how I mentioned all that brush had some poison ivy tangled up in it?

So far we've worked three full Saturdays on clearing the brush (ended up filling the dumpster twice). The first two Saturdays poison ivy made a tiny, inconsequential appearance on a few of us. One or two bumps here or there. No biggie.

The third Saturday I didn't join Scott and the kids as I was spoiled with girls-night-out-type plans all day long. Somehow, the poison ivy sensed the maternal absence and attacked. Emma, Ben, and Josh were stricken with itchy bumps on their arms, faces, and stomachs (luckily the little girls didn't really help, so they're okay). Emma got the worst of the kids, by far. That's what she gets for being the hardest worker. Scott, however, took it to a whole new level--he looked like a leper on Sunday morning. Head to toe, he was itchy. The most troublesome spot being his right eye, which was bright red and swollen half-way shut by Monday morning. He went to the doctor's office and got a shot which calmed things down. We debated for a few days whether or not to take the kids in. Their vote was a resounding NO (they'd rather deal with itching than needles any day). Since they weren't nearly as affected as Scott we let them wait it out with calamine lotion. We asked them, is it worth it for the fort? Yes, they all agreed, though they eye the cleared area with notable wariness now.

he's exaggerating, by the way

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quilt top completed

Here's the quilt I'm working on now. I used the last of those three Amy Butlers plus one Erin McMorris (from the garland), then filled in with some odds and ends I had stashed. I ended up going to get some bone colored solid to break up the beautiful patterns and for the back (still in progress). I went with rectangles in the same height, but random widths...because it seemed just a baby step above an all-squares quilt. But now I'm thinking it was a little easier because there were no corners to line up. Mmm, although I'm not really sure how the rows got off kilter, but that will be easy enough to even up later. I plan to quilt the whole thing with long vertical lines. I'm not sure yet how far apart I'll put them. I think really close together (like 1/4 - 1/2 inch) would look good, but that might take the rest of my life to do. We'll see.

Pink thread? Light brown? One of those fancy-pants color-changey ones maybe?

Plenty of time to decide, I probably won't even get back to it for weeks. The top is the most fun part.

P.S. Double-posted at amme and neb: the blog.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And the winner is...

Brianna, of Fisher Fotography, who said...

"So cute! You are so creative. You are surely becoming my craft idol!"

Talk about karma; Brianna is doing a giveaway of her own right now.
I'll bring it to you on Sunday, Bri!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Felt Circle Garland Tutorial

I liked Julie's gift so much I wanted to make another. Plus I've been wanting to do a tutorial for awhile, this seemed like a good fit. (It's the week of finally doing things I've been meaning to do!)

These are instructions for how to make a 10-ft long garland of 2-inch circles with felt on one side and fabric on the other. Like so:

Here's what you need:
2-inch circle template (or bottom of a cup--whatever)
3 sheets of felt (you can cut 20 circles out of each one)
Fabric (you can use just one print, a few different coordinating prints, scraps or yardage, whatever works)
Sewable Heat-n-bond Lite (or comparable)
Invisible thread

Using your template, trace 60 circles onto your heat-n-bond.

Trace onto the papery side, not the webby side.
You don't need to number them...I just do it to keep
myself from counting and recounting and recounting.

Roughly cut out each circle. Not all the way to your drawn line, but you have to get pretty close to go the efficient route of fitting 20 on each sheet of felt. Now place your circles webby side down on your felt and run over them with an iron to fuse. If you like wasting felt, feel free to just slap a whole section of your heat-n-bond paper onto your felt willy-nilly...that would save you the time of pre-cutting the circles, but saving materials always beats out saving time if you ask my frugal-pants.
Fusing: cotton heat setting, no steam, about three seconds.
Ahh, maximum capacity.

Step 3:
Cut out all of those circles right on your traced line. I find it helpful to cut the sheet into squares first.

Do it for all three of your sheets of felt.
Step 4:
Fuse all those bad boys onto your fabric.
First, peel of the paper backing that's left on your felt circles. 

Now you've got two options: 

You can lay out your pretty fabric with the wrong side facing up, then put your circles on top of it with the fusing side down (touching the fabric), then iron on top of the felt to adhere them to the fabric. BUT, it's a little more difficult to send the heat all the way through the felt. You have to press extra-super hard (like standing up and pressing with all your weight), and sometimes it still doesn't stick together very well.

SO, I always go with option two: lay out your circles with the fusing side facing up, making sure that they're arranged in a way that will fit on the fabric you are using. Then, place the pretty fabric on top of your circle collection, with the wrong side down. Iron on top of the fabric to adhere it to them. You don't have to press as hard since the fabric is thinner than felt.

But maybe you're stronger than me (maybe), so it's your choice.

All arranged, fusing side up.
Fabric is right on top of those circles, iron them on.
Same cotton heat setting, about 10 seconds this time.
They're stuck together forever now.
Repeat for all your circles on as many fabrics as you like.
I like four fabrics.
Step 5:
More cutting. Now cut all of those circles out of your fabric. 

Do this again if you makes it easier. Promise.
Like so.
Step 6:
Time to head to your sewing machine. You can use any type of thread really, but I like invisible thread. Because it's invisible. And also strong.

Decide if you want your pretty garland circles to go in a pattern or to just be random. I wanted a pattern. This one:

So I laid them out on my sewing desk in order.
Put your first circle under the foot and start sewing close to the top edge. Backstitch a little here, then just sew right down to the bottom.
When you get very near the bottom edge stop with your needle down. Then lift up the foot and slide the next circle under it. Foot back down and just keep sewing. It's okay if there are a few stitches between each circle. And you don't need to backstitch again until the very end of your garland.

 Just keep feeding those circles in.
Pretty soon, you have a pretty circle garland
snaking out the back of your machine.
When you come to your very last circle, backstitch again right at the end. Trim your invisible threads. Gasp and wonder at what an easy and beautiful project this was.

Bytheway: I'm using these four fabrics plus a few more for a new quilt--bigger this time.
I'll show you the finished top next week.

The display options are limitless:
Hang it around your chandelier.

Or from your mantel.
Or on a bunkbed. You may want to take a minute to tidy up your four-year-old's bed first.
Otherwise your photo will look like this.
They even look nice just stacked up.
See the invisible thread? Of course you can't. It's invisible.

Questions, comments? Let me know. Criticisms? There is no room for haters here. Move along.

P.S. Finished garland now available in the shop.
P.P.S. Double-posted at amme and neb: the blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

She can fly

Or: Emma shows off at Grammy and Grandpa's house.



...and away.

Still focused enough for meditation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost perfect baby quilt giveaway

So. I've been wanting to make a quilt for ages. It's intimidating though. Fabric is expensive. Machine quilting can be tricky (I'm told). I didn't want to spend tons of money on something and then ruin it. But lately I just can't shake the feeling, I'm itching to do it. I want to make the boys bedspreads. I want to make a big quilt for the family to use when we watch tv (it will go great with the afghan that I started almost two years ago and is currently about half way done). Ultimately I want to make a king-sized quilt for our bed. So I need practice.

I had several leftover squares from a charm pack I got for a custom order I did awhile back. The perfect opportunity to make a little baby quilt with very little investment for supplies. (Brown solid for sashing and back, coordinating print for binding and filling in the back a little, batting, spray adhesive, that's it.)

The most fun part was laying out the squares. The actual quilting was satisfying, though not without its problems. Hand-finishing the binding was the worst. Nonetheless, I'm hooked. I'm ready to do another.

As I was working on this little quilt, my kids kept asking what it was for. Ummm, really just because I want to make one. I only know one person who's expecting a baby, and it's months until she'll have a shower. It's not really good enough to sell; a couple of wonky corners, a few puckering spots in the quilting, the squares sure don't all line up just right. (practice, practice, practice)

So what does that leave me with? A giveaway. Hooray! The quilt is smallish--approximately 26x23 inches, a good size for laying a new baby down on the floor. Or just looking cute draped over the side of a crib. Or covering baby's legs in the stroller. Giveaway is open all week--just leave a comment--I'll choose a winner Friday night.

Charm squares are from It's a Hoot by Moda.

The back.

Quilty, wrinkly goodness.

You love quilts. You know you do.