Just popping in and out (or apparating) during our little staycation to share a couple of awesome gifts I received for being a good girl this year!
Jaxon got mommy a gift (with daddy's help)...
...it wasn't on my wishlist...
...but the elves heard me tell a perfect stranger at Target how cool it was...
...and daddy put it together late on Christmas Eve so Jaxon could surprise mommy...
...and I decided to take photos of it with my new "photo studio in a box" and tripod (and my not-new-to-me camera). Let's see if my photography improves!
We have been keeping busy but finding plenty of time to relax in the modernJax household (mostly during the time I *should* have been writing christmas cards). I've been crafting away, particularly enjoying handwork so I can hang out with the family and enjoy the Christmas tree.
I finally used the last of my Scrappy Holiday Blocks.
I pieced the blocks into this quilt at my retreat and attempted to machine quilt the tree, but really hated it. Ripped it all out and started over with hand quilting. Much better.
I planned this as a gift, but one of the blocks bled in the wash. I'll wash it again and see if the dye comes out.
I've been making lots of treats, my usuals like Buckeyes and fudge, but also these little snowmen. The edible marker didn't work quite as I had hoped -- next time mini Chocolate chips.
I made a batch of cutout cookies and our friends Rose and Evelyn came over to help decorate. The kids had very distinct decorating styles.
And while the kids decorated cookies, Rose and I decorated wreaths. I was a bad hostess and took no process photos or photos of Rose's wreath. I took a couple of quick snaps of mine the day after when I finished.
And finally, we took Jaxon on the North Pole Express, and he was quite excited!
He seems so peaceful when he is sleeping. Here's hoping a peaceful holiday to all of you, my friends!
Notice the absence of "quick" from the title? This one will take some time. I've been loving handwork lately so this was right up my alley. This isn't so much a tutorial as a "how I made this." If you'd like to make it and need more detailed instructions, let me know!
Almost forgot -- I made up this pdf if you want to play along!!
The pillow front was inspired by an illustration from a 50s Christmas card. The "hair" and the holly berries are yo-yos (I made 33 small and 6 large). The fabric is "Have a Sheri Berry Christmas" and the yo-yos are made from part of a charm pack.
Once I had a bunch of yo-yos I cut a piece of fabric 1" larger than my pillow form in both length and width. I drew a face and wrote "Happy Holidays" with a water soluble pen. I cut my holly leaves from another charm and used steam-a-seam to attach it to the fabric. Then I stitched the face, words, and around the leaves using coordinating thread (I forgot to do the words and the leaves until after I sewed it all together. WHOOPS!).
Using the rest of my charm pack, I laid charms around the outer edge until I was happy with the placement. Then I sewed them together (adding an extra charm to the end just in case)...
...ironed-on some lightweight interfacing, folded in half, and pressed.
Pinning the raw sides together I stitched along one side, starting and stopping 1/4" from each end. I did this on all four sides (joining the two ends as if they were quilt binding).
Then I took the excess at one corner, folded it together...
...and laid it flat to create a pleat. Sew over the 1/4" gaps you left to create the pleats.
I made an envelope-style back (there are lots of tutorials out there for this)
Voila! Jaxon informed me that it isn't comfortable because of the "bumps." PERFECT!
We've been celebrating the Christmas season, making sure we also have plenty of time to relax! My goal for winter break is to do one crafty thing and one domestic thing (cleaning or baking) per day. I've been successful, but part of the problem with Jaxon being home with me is as soon as I clean a room it gets messy again!
I also haven't done Christmas cards yet, and with only 10 days til Christmas I'm not sure if cards will happen. We'll see.
We spent an evening at Franklin Park Conservatory with some friends, where we decorated cookies with Mrs. Claus, and enjoyed meeting Santa and Dasher and Dancer. I was also amazed at the entries in the Gingerbread House competition!
On the crafty side of things, I've had plenty to keep me busy. Two of my recent projects include...
...a sunglass sleeve for my sister (I have a bunch of pre-quilted fabric a student brought me from Japan and I'm not sure what to do with it. This was a great, if small, way to use it)...
....another yarn wreath. I wanted to make it argyle, Jaxon wanted me to wrap it in lights (and he can be persistent!) so I made felt "lights." That kid has some good ideas! More yarn wreaths to come...
...and a mouse costume for Jaxon's preschool winter program. I think it was a success, he's been wearing the tail around the house since!
A little break from the quick gifts posts...to put up our Christmas tree!
We always put up the vintage aluminum tree, but before Jaxon was born we used to have a live tree as well. Then Jaxon became a human tornado and we decided to forgo the live tree for a couple of years. Now we are back to the tradition of visiting our local tree farm! If you have never been to a tree farm there are a few things you should know:
It's helpful if you have a snowfall a day or two in advance, even if it mostly melts off.
This helps with anticipation.
When you arrive at the tree farm they most likely have different varieties to choose from.
We somehow always choose the variety that's grown the farthest away.
Select a tree cart, and make sure it is sturdy enough to hold your tree.
If it can pull a four year old you are probably fine.
It might be chilly this time of year, so be prepared to keep warm.
But maybe not by laying in a trench. Even if you are pretending to be a mouse.
Once you find your tree, carefully cut it down.
A helper can be, well, helpful.
Once you've felled your tree, place it on the cart and steer toward the baler.
A traffic director might be necessary.
The helpful attendant will put your tree on a shaker to get out the loose needles, and then send it through a baler.
Then you can throw on the car and go home!
And if you are as lucky as I am, you'll get the tree up and then spend your time cleaning up regurgitated pine needle (STUPID CAT).
I also finally got the table topper hung, yay! It's the perfect size for this wall (that I have never known what to do with because the thermostat is right in the middle), yay!
And a little sneak peek of something to come....
My guild had a challenge for our November meeting: use the provided Christmas fat quarter to make something.
I've had this block kicking around in my head since the first time I made this gnome. So I put it together.
But then what? I could make it into a doll quilt, but I am out of prime wall space. And kind of out of time. Quilting and binding? NO TIME! So I went for a super quick pillow. My paper pieced block has lots of seams, and I don't want too much stress on those poor seams, so first I'll protect them with some iron on interfacing.
You don't want something too stiff, just enough to keep everything together. I use Pellon Val-U Fuse, mostly because it isn't stiff and I had it on hand.
Make sure your seams are all flat, and apply the interfacing to the back of your quilt block.
Cut your backing fabric to the same size, lay your block and backing front sides together and then layer a piece of batting on either side. You should have a sandwich --batting bread and fabric in between. The batting will keep your pillow from looking lumpy. Stitch all the way around leaving a hole for stuffing.
Stuff and hand sew the hole closed.
And if you choose to make the Santa and elves block (enlarge one paper piece pattern 150%), don't get addicted!! I ended up making Santas for my Fabric Postcard Swap!
This one is great for a fashionable friend/teacher/family member. I'm a big fan of Kate Spade style, but not so much of the Kate Spade price tag.
I first came across the Bee Line sweater on the "What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear" blog. Super cute, no?
This sweater retailed for $295, and even if you wanted to spend that much, it is no longer available. Here are some closer shots for detail.
Pre-made Bee Applique**
Coordinating embroidery thread (I used DMC Pearl Cotton size 8)
Basic embroidery tools (scissors, needle)
* I got my sweater from Target.com. I have other Mossimo cardigans and they are soft, keep their shape, and are a great price. I went with grey thinking it would look great over a black dress. You could go for the inspiration look with the same sweater in black, or if it's for someone really special go for some inexpensive (in the scheme of things) cashmere.
** I got my bee applique from eBay.
Follow the instructions for applying your applique. Mine was iron on. You may want to try on the sweater to get the best placement.
Using a chalk pencil or water soluble pen draw a meandering line from the bee, across the body of the cardigan and off the edge of the opposite side (the line continues around the back on Kate's cardigan, I stopped at the side seam). If you are confident with your embroidery skills, you can just free hand this. I found it to hard to draw a guide line on my sweater so I did it without a guide. Again, you might want to try the sweater on for placement. You may want to avoid any crazy loops around the bust area, unless you want it to look like the bee has circled the wearer's boobs. Up to you.
Using a running stitch, embroider over your guide line. Some hints about embroidering knits: If you need to use a hoop make sure you are not stretching or warping the knit. I found it just as effective to lay the sweater flat on a table and stitch (just make sure you don't stitch through the front and the back of the sweater!!). Don't pull your thread overly tight -- your sweater will begin to pucker. When you get to the button placket, unbutton the sweater so you don't stitch the placket shut. Knot off your thread and then start again on the other side of the placket.
And you're done! In under an hour you have a cute gift for a fashionable lady. You may want to add a tag instructing the recipient to wash on delicate or hand wash, and lay flat to dry.
Original Kate Spade Bee Line Sweater: $295 plus tax and shipping
Hand Crafted Bee Line Sweater:
- $18.00 plus tax and shipping (I bought $50 worth of merchandise and got free shipping) for Cardigan Sweater
- $2.75 (free shipping!) for Bee Applique
- $2.49 (currently on sale for $1.74) for Pearl Cotton (I had this on hand so I am not counting it in my total, and you would use less than a yard)
Total: $21.97 (after tax)
Savings: about $275 (although that implies that I would have bought a $300 sweater, which I wouldn't)
Making a gift for yourself: Priceless (sorry for the lame Mastercard reference, couldn't help myself!)
I tried to get a shot of me in the sweater (Don't judge me, it's a gift or myself!!), but Jaxon lost part of my tripod so I am relying on Charlie for photography. Here's the before work try:
And the after work try.
At least Samantha looks good!