Seeing spots

Soon after my post on Wednesday we lost power to the house. The temperature inside began dropping quickly so we packed up the car and headed to my parents' house about an hour away. We've been here since. Our power is back on, and Charlie went home to get the heat started and check on things (our trees lost more limbs, but everything else is fine). I've had more than my usual craft time because there are people around to amuse Jaxon, and I've taken advantage.

I've finished one swap quilt and started the second, but I had to take a break when inspiration struck: a new laptop cover for the new laptop!

The iPhone felt left out...

Pattern: None, I've fully embraced Project Improv and just went with it.

Supplies: Charlie and I ran home Thursday to get essentials, so of course I grabbed my sewing machine and a stash of fabrics, including some sheets of craft felt. I cut circles from the craft felt, and bought just over a yard of 70% wool felt in charcoal for the body.

New Skills Employed: I used the blanket stitch on my machine for the first time. I also needed the practice sewing around circles.

What I Learned: I need to be more confident about my sewing. The blanket stitch was not looking great at first (you can compare some of my first circles to later circles above). I thought it was just my inexperience, and then maybe that I hadn't brought a heavy needle (what was I thinking, not bringing every kind of needle I own?!?). It turned out to be a bad bobbin. Once I refilled the bobbin I had no problem. Lesson learned -- always blame the machine!



Yes, this is my first blog entry on my new MacBook Pro. Hooray! The above pic includes all the laptops (minus one) that I have had from work over the past 6 years. So far this one has been super cool!**

And it's a good thing I have this new toy to keep me occupied, because we've been home from school the past two days with snowy, icy weather.

This is what we woke up to this morning:

We had a few inches of snow that was covered in a fresh sheet of ice -- the trees looked amazing -- and then we got about another inch of snow on top of the ice.

I thought it looked very pretty, and then Charlie went out to inspect some downed limbs and found this:

Not so pretty.

Looks like we will be cutting down the pine tree this spring (maybe more than one, there's one on the side of the house that is growing dangerously close to our power lines).

Good thing I have my Mac to keep me warm! The other thing I am enjoying during our mini break from school is our new built–in bookcase in the living room. When we first looked at the house six years ago, there was a floor to ceiling nook in the living room with one lone shelf:

We pulled down the old shelf (well, it fell down, really) and I painted the one wall umm....fuchsia?....raspberry?....well, see for yourself. This was done way before Jaxon was born.

This is right after he started walking.

And now, thanks to my handy husband, the nook looks like this:

Woo hoo! A built-in bookcase! I've moved most of our books out of my sewing room (once the office) and into the living room, with the art books and old Hollywood on either side of the fireplace (shelves also built by Charlie) and the rest (minus health and sewing) you see here.

I've been culling my book collection over the past year, keeping only books that I re-read regularly (or semi-regularly). I still would like to remove more -- I want the shelves to look less cluttered. So, dear readers, if any of you are interested in any books by Rita Mae Brown, Carolyn Hart, or
Lillian Jackson Braun (those have already been moved to the garage), please let me know!

The completion of the bookcase means the beginning of the sewing room reno! I don't expect it to be done before summer, but Charlie and I took the bookshelves down to his office, and I started boxing up things for a future garage sale. This will be a big job, with new electrical, lighting, window, and I will be pulling up the carpet to reveal pristine hardwoods (think positively). I'll keep you posted!

*This alternate title for this post was "My Husband Rocks" but the Mac won out. Sorry, Charlie.

**No, I don't usually have 4 laptops laying around the house. One has a broken screen, another is a loaner until this new one came in, and the other doesn't run the software I use for work anymore.


Bunnies and Burns

I've made some progress on my improv challenge, and on a swap quilt, neither of which I will be sharing with you today...

But I can share with you this sweet little bunny that went to live with our friends' daughter on her third birthday. This is from the pattern Big Footed Bunny.

Of course, she had to play with Jaxon's bunny before she left. And she reversed her dress to impress Mr. Bunny.

Oh, and a small bit of advice. Say you splurge on some linen for a special project. And your ironing diligently while your baby boy plays in the sewing room. When said baby boy loses his balance and pulls a heavy wood chair over on himself, don't leave the iron sitting plate down.

Jaxon suffered his first split lip but bounced back quickly. Today he gave us all nicknames. He's Fire, Charlie is Rain, and I'm Snowflake. Element powers unite!


Monday, Monday

Thanks for all of your advice on repairing the popped seams on the wedding gift quilt. I decided to attempt to stitch the holes closed, and if it didn't look good I would keep it awhile longer and go the applique route. One hole was along a "stitch in the ditch" quilting line. I was able to tuck one fabric under the other, fold over a "seam," and machine stitch directly over my original quilting. I found it barely noticeable so I went on to the next hole. This one wasn't on a quilting line, so I pinned one fabric under the other, folded the top fabric, and hand stitched it down just like I would the back of the binding. That worked even better! My cousin's wife seemed genuinely pleased -- but I found another mistake as we sat and talked about the quilt! It was small so I let it go.

It's hard to believe our long weekend could go by so quickly, but, alas, it's almost over! I had an extra-long long weekend -- I took Friday off to join my family's women's weekend. The weather was frigid, but we stayed in a lovely lodge with wonderful views. I took lots of projects along with me, but in between eating, playing dominos, and chatting I was only able to work on a little bit of handwork. I did some more hand quilting on this quilt, and some embroidery for another project. Here's a sneak peek of the embroidery:

HMMM...I was trying to catch the last of the light as it reflected off all of the snow outside our windows. Seems I forgot to focus...

I haven't mentioned that I am taking part in Project Improv, organized by Jacquie over at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. Each participant agrees to make something improvised for herself, as well as an improvised block for a charity quilt.

The goal: "Each of us is at a different place in our level of comfort with improvisation. The task here is to identify your comfort zone and take one step (or more) outside of it. Find that level of challenge that is right for you."

My personal goal is to create with abandon. I am a planner at heart, so I chose one area of the process to improvise. I have a final product in mind, but I am not planning the steps to get to the final product. Today I pulled all of the fabrics I had in my stash in red (I'm going monochormatic) and began cutting and sewing. Here is what I have so far:

I'm very happy with the way this is coming. You'll have to tune in to see what it will become!

Finally, I'd like to mention that my "blog-friend" Tracey at Peppermint Patcher has a new venture, Imagine That... quilts." Tracey is immensely talented, and these new quilts of hers are amazing. Please stop by her new blog and wish her well in her new endeavor!


Help! Help!

You may remember this quilt. I finished the top in May, and basted it in July. Then I got stuck. I was afraid to machine quilt it, I especially couldn't bring myself to free motion on it. I finally quilted some straight lines and finished the binding this morning. I was feeling especially hurried because this was meant to be a wedding present (yes, the wedding reception was last spring...), and I'll be seeing the bride this weekend.

I put it in the wash to soften it up a bit, and here is the result...

Two of the seams pulled. Now what? Do I try to repair it? I know what I did wrong, and I have so much more experience now, so maybe I scrap this one and start again on a new gift? *sigh*

And this is not so problematic, but my new scarf alternative* isn't quite what I had planned.

I was going more for cowl instead of collar, and you can't really see the patchwork *or* the vintage buttons. But it keeps my neck warm!

Thanks to all the suggestions for the new handbag. I've put off doing anything with it for now, because according to Jaxon it's great for "holding chocolate bars."

*The girl who waited on me at the coffee shop complimented my neckwear, but asked what it was exactly. She called it a "scarf alternative."


First of the year

I've been feeling a lot of pressure, what with all of the "first completed project of the year" posts around the blogisphere (and second, and third). I finally made it on the board!

Yes, my photo styling includes taping the bag to the chair. What of it?

I was inspired by that pattern from grandma's purse, but itching to make some more changes. I also wanted to break into the scraps my sister got me for Christmas, and I wanted to start sewing -- no waiting for fabric orders or trips to the store. I coordinated some of the scraps, used a gold-tone magnetic closure, but only had silver tone strap hardware (and I really wanted to add some bling, as plain as it is, on the strap), and used a charcoal gray zipper on the interior pocket. But it's what I had on hand! I did have to purchase some fabric for the lining -- the only thing I had that was even close to matching was unbleached muslin. I just ran in to JoAnn's and got the first thing that matched. I like this whole impetuous sewing thing -- so unlike me! I also like that this is such a different look for me, not my usual at all.

Here is my dilemma -- while I love the shape and size of the bag, and the strap length -- I have nothing that matches this bag, and I don't really need another purse. What do I do with it? Because of my impulsive sewing on this one I don't want to sell it (and the topstitching is wonky -- I cannot get used to not having a free arm). Ideas?

I survived the first two days of school. I'm glad Wednesdays are my day home with Jaxon -- this is what it looks like from our back door.


A Look Back and a Look Forward

I am *finally* ready to show you Jaxon's room, although it is a little tight in there right now with a crib and a bed! Jaxon decided he is not quite ready for the "big boy bed." We converted his crib into a toddler bed by removing one side, and he slept that way for the first time today during nap time. It went okay. I had to go in a couple of times and put him back in the crib but he did sleep. I am hoping to have the crib out of there and Jaxon in his bed by the middle of January.

I never showed you the completed quilt after I bound it.

I got the pattern in a "Quilts and More" magazine, but you can find it online here. I added 3 inches to the outside border.

I kept the same paint color, and kept all his same furniture with the exception of the bed. I just needed to swap out the textiles and the artwork.

The three frames used to hold tiki prints now hold felt letters stitched to fabric (JAX). The paper airplanes and trails are vinyl decals bought from this Etsy shop. The bed will eventually be moved perpendicularly to the wall when we no longer need to accommodate the crib. The headboard is from Craigslist. It is exactly what I had envisioned.

I replaced the tiki print with felt "airplanes" stitched onto cloud fabric with running stitch trails...

...and pieced the curtains out of the fabrics from the quilt.

So that is our look back. Now for a look forward. I won't call these resolutions, because those are made to be broken. Let's just call them "goals."

Personal Goals
1. Eat better and move more. Maybe drop a pant size.
The Wii Fit has already helped with this. I absolutely love it. I'm not sure if its measurements are accurate -- two days ago it said I gained 3.6 pounds in one day, and this morning it said I had lost 5.3 pounds (and my Wii Fit weight is a good 10 pounds lighter than our regular scale) -- but it certainly is a fun way of getting moving, and recording your progress.

2. Organize one date night and one family outing a month.
This may not seem like a lot, but we already spend a lot of time together as a family. I would, however, like to do more *special* things, like the zoo, the science museum, etc. We usually end up doing all these kinds of things on the fly when I realize how quickly the school year is approaching.

3. Finish our currently-in-progress household projects and start a new major project.
We have a lot of halfway done projects around the house, I won't bore you with a list. And the "to do" list is maybe even larger, but I'd like to start one new major project (besides my craft room in the below list). This may be our front porch, the upstairs bath, or our family room, all of which need to be renovated.

Crafting Goals
1. Finish my currently in progress quilts.
I'm replacing my "books read" list on the right (that I stopped updating in the spring!) with a WIPs list. Right now I have one quilt that needs bound, two with hand quilting in progress, three tops that need borders, etc, and one more cut. Plus lots of other ideas floating around, and lots of fabric that needs to be made into something!

2. Practice FMQ.
I haven't practiced much and I need it. I'd like to take another class just to see some more people doing it.

3. Renovate/reorganize my sewing room.
I have most of the elements ready to go, it's just a matter of time (both mine and Charlie's). Charlie is currently building shelves in our living room to get the books out of my sewing room (which used to be my office until the sewing bug got me). Once the books are out of there I won't have an excuse...

4. Pick up knitting again??
I try to love knitting, really I do. Every time I see a fabulous knit project I think I should *love* knitting. And I've tried. But I don't love it. I hear that many people who don't like to needle knit like to loom knit. I just can't bring myself to invest in the supplies for another craft. Really, I just want these. Maybe I should just hire someone to make them for me. Regardless, this will be the year I decide if I am going to be a knitter.

And that's it for 2009. We are back to school on Monday, and this is probably the most I've ever dreaded it! Oh, one more goal: to post to my blog every week. I promise to try if you promise to visit...

*Almost* the last of Christmas

Happy New Year! I didn't quite make it 'til midnight last night, but Jaxon and I were up early to welcome 2009 and we are feeling good about it!

I didn't get all my Christmas posts done this week, so I will show you a couple of the gifts I made this year.

This is a scarflet I made for my mom to give to a co-worker. I really like this one, but of course, it's in my favorite fabric. I also made one for my sister but I forgot to take a photo (Jen, can you?).

I made my grandma a purse last year, but it was just slightly too small to accommodate her giant wallet. I used this pattern, but made a few changes. I boxed the bottom (as suggested in the pattern for a smaller purse) but I still thought it would be too big for grandma so I cut about 4 inches off the top. This meant I had to lose the ricrac trim I had already basted to the top because it wasn't long enough anymore. Grandma believes that the contents of her purse are in constant danger, so instead of the cute covered button I added a zipper (from this tutorial). I am really happy how it turned out, and I started another variation of this pattern last night.

I also completed a swap over the holidays. I had commented on one of Courtney's posts about her good swap karma, and my bad swap karma. She suggested we do our own swap! We decided on a theme of trees (Christmas or other) and agreed to each make a doll quilt, a tree decoration, and a year round tree-related something.

Here is what I sent:

The doll quilt inspired by this quilt by Louise (pattern is now out!) and this stamp by Martha Stewart

These origami wreaths made from this addictive tutorial

The apron and potholder set in birds on tree limb fabric(apron tutorial here, potholder pattern adapted from Stitched in Time)

And here is what I received:

The doll quilt is beautiful -- lovely fabrics! And Courtney didn't even know I have a thing for stars! Perfect!

The tree decoration is Jaxon's favorite, he loves to point out the kitties and the trees. I think it will stay on the mirror all winter!

The bowl is fabulous -- it makes me want to try knitting again. And the blue matches my shoes!

Thanks Courtney! This was so much fun (and we're already talking about our next swap)!

This post is longer than I anticipated so check back this weekend for Jaxon's big boy room, and my goals for 2009! Happy New Year!

Related Posts with Thumbnails