Friday, January 29, 2016

Stars: A Baby Quilt for Isaac

I’ve just finished a quilt for my new nephew, Isaac. I posted about it here and I hoped to get it done before his arrival, but it has taken me much longer than expected to complete.  I was sidetracked for a few months by other projects, and handquilting is time consuming for me, even on a small quilt.  

It is made of Kaffe Fasset stripes and shot cottons and it really shimmers.  I took it directly from the book, Shots and Stripes, only adjusting the size and using colors that were available to me.  For the backing and binding I used his shirt stripes in red.  In his book, Kaffe Fasset calls this quilt Twinkle, which fits perfectly.  If I were to try the quilt again, I might try a lighter background, but I’m not sure if it would still have the shimmering effect that draws me in.  It would be an interesting experiment though.  I love his fabric for its beautiful and bright colors and also for its softness.

Really the challenge for this quilt was figuring out the quilting.  I wanted to hand quilt it.  I’ve done that for each of my nieces and I like the tradition of it.  It feels like I'm giving the gift of time that I can’t give them in person since they are so far from me physically.  I mentioned in the previous post that my initial thoughts on the quilting weren’t working out.  I didn’t want anything to take away from the stars.  I did finally settle on a simple design though and I feel it works well.  

Isaac and his daddy

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Finger Puppets for a New Big Sister!

Recently my niece Scarlet got a new baby brother!  Overall I think she’s handling it well, but she has noticed that she is no longer an only child.  She loves The Little Red Hen, so I bought her a copy and made her this little zipper pouch and some felt finger puppets to go with the story. 

I used a book called Baby Stuff to make the puppets.  Some I made directly from the book and others I improvised to fit the animals in the story.  The book has some cute ideas and is a good launching off point.  I've done a few other projects from the book with my kids for their dolls. Simple, cute and easy!

The zipper pouch would have fit Old MacDonald better, but the farmyard theme seemed like a reasonable match.  

Here's our new little guy!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Quilt Finish

This week I finished a quilt!  

This quilt is a first for me because I did it entirely by machine.  I pieced the top last spring, and it has been hanging around waiting for me to make a decision about how to  quilt it.  The quilting is a bit rough, but I think I was getting better by the end.  I chose a figure eight pattern that I saw in a Denyse Schmidt book and really liked.  I’d like to do a few more quilts with that design to see if I can get it looking really smooth.  If you stand far enough back, though, you don’t really notice the imperfections as much.  

I also did the binding by machine.  It is sooo much faster than attaching it by hand, but it doesn’t look as neat and tidy on the back.  I think that for most of my projects, I will take the extra time to hand stitch it down. Overall this quilt works for me, and I am happy with the results.  

My son and I also spent some time in my sewing room yesterday making a snake out of some old socks that didn’t have matches.  I have a big bin of matchless socks and each load of laundry I do seems to add to the pile.  We have a problem, but sock critters are a fun solution for some of our orphan socks.  This week is S week at school, so he took it with him this morning to share with his class.  

Grandma and James played with his new snake!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Baby Pants

Last week I made a pair of pants for my youngest son, Miles.  I based them off a pattern I made from another pair of pants, originally used by my older son and worn as capris.  For this pair I added a couple inches in length, but otherwise just remade the pants.  I’m thinking of enlarging the pattern and adding some pockets for my preschooler, because there’s just no point to pocketless pants when you’re four (and a half).  

I was given three or four yards of the blue courderoy by one of our music teachers who was cleaning out her closets a while back and thought I could use it.  I like courderoy for pants because it gives them a longer life.  My kids are pretty hard on clothes, and everything else that crosses their paths…

Since it is Martin Luther King, Jr. day I thought I’d like to share a few of his excellent quotes.  He really was such a rare and remarkable human being.  He leaves behind big ideas that should guide nations, but also big ideas that should guide our individual lives.  We had a family discussion about him at dinner the other night and we talked about his life and his legacy and a bit about the Civil Rights Movement.  I'm glad we did.  He  gets little more than an honorable mention at our elementary school, but I think he deserves so much more than that.  He embodies courage and integrity and sacrifice, and showed such strength as he sought necessary change while honoring the humanity and dignity of all people.  

Here are some of my favorites:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…The chain of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the abyss of annihilation.”  
Strength of Love 1963

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.  Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”  
-Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967

And, finally, one that I think about nearly every day as I change my third morning diaper…

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scrap Quilt

Outdoor pictures were taken in the herb garden at San Diego Botanic Garden

I started a project with scraps a while back that I intended to make into a quillow.  I changed my mind somewhere in the process and decided to just turn it into a scrap quilt for my daughter’s bed.  

I plan to machine quilt it, which will be good practice for me.  My skills are seriously lacking in that area at this time.  I hope that I can get several quilts done that way this year.  I have another top that I really like but it has been waiting around, as I'm hesitant to try.  I haven't got the hang of negotiating the bulk through the machine.  I guess it’s all about practice.  I’m hoping that if I keep working at it I’ll find my way and the quilting won’t detract from the quilts.  

On this top I included scraps and orphan blocks that I’ve had hanging around forever.  Some of them were embroidered, appliqued or carefully hand pieced.  I think that complicates the quilting question.  I don’t want to run over the work that I’ve done, so I’m not sure if I can get away with straight line or grid quilting.  I’ll have to think about it carefully before I get started.  Anyway, I’d like to finish this up in the next couple of weeks to get it on her bed, out of my sewing room and off my list.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Handmade Toys

Recently I’ve been busy making toys to give as Christmas gifts to the young children in my family.  This year I made several things from Storybook Toys, a beautiful book with exceptional toys and reasonably good instructions.  I’ve made several of her dolls for my own children that are truly loved.  Last year for Christmas I made my daughters several outfits and bedding for their dolls.  They frequently travel with the dolls and their little suitcases full of clothes.  It always makes me smile.  As I worked on these toys, my oldest daughter asked for the Mae doll.  She has a doll named Pen-you, made from this pattern, but modified slightly because she wanted a Chinese babydoll.  She has remained attached to Pen-you for more three years now.  So, Mae will be one of my next projects.  These toys are time consuming, but if you follow the instructions they are well made and beautiful, and I think the end product is worth the effort.   

This year the puppets are my favorite.  As children, my sisters and I had a Red Riding Hood doll that could be turned upside down to reveal Grandma and the wolf.  At the time I thought it was a great idea, and I thought a lot about that doll as I made these puppets.  One of my children had a similar thought and brought it down to me from her toy bin when she saw them completed.  Jill Hamor, the author of Storybook Toys, has a similar doll, only it is a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I had hoped to make it by Christmas as well, but was too short on time.  The child I intended to make it for will turn four in September, so I plan to finish it by then.  

I made the puppets for my neice, Scarlet.  Last year I made her a little baby doll from this book that she calls Dolly and still carries with her.  After I gave her the puppets she got into the car and asked her mom why they had the new dolls with them.  My sister told me she was wide eyed when she realized they were hers to keep.  I got a call the next morning telling me she needed to sleep with them when she got home.  That's my idea of time well spent!