Friday, February 26, 2016

Lucia's Scrap Quilt - A Finish!

This week I was able to finish up Lucia’s quilt.  It’s now in its new home on her bed.  I used several pieces of flannel for the back so that it will be nice and warm for her to sleep under.  

I’m a little disappointed with myself on the quilting front.  I think it would have been the perfect opportunity to work on my free motion quilting and play with flowers.  It has so much going on that I think it could have withstood imperfections.  Instead I went with simple vertical lines.  It works, and I have no compaints with it other than the lost opportunity to try something new.

Overall I’m very happy with the quilt.  It used up tons of scraps and it feels joyful.  Lucia likes the big butterflies in the center.  I made them several years ago as part of a class that played with log cabins.  I really like them too and I had her in mind when I created them, so I’m glad they found their way home.

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Patchwork Curtains -- WIP

There are times when I watch my children interact with the world around them and vividly remember being a little girl myself. Sometimes the memories make me glad to have grown up, but often the little moments I remember give me the bittersweet feeling of happiness buried in time.  The world of my childhood is gone, and the people in it have gone or changed as well.  It can’t be any other way.  We call it maturing.  Without it life is stagnant, but with it comes loss as well as gain.  It’s not that my relationships aren’t still meaningful or that my life now isn’t full or happy, but the years in between have drastically changed my perspective.  Having children makes this change easier for me.  It’s reassuring to see some of my life’s themes naturally weaving through their lives as well.  They give me a sense of continuity.  They reconnect me to what really matters.  They give my life meaning and beauty as well as noise and chaos.

My little girls really want a pretty room, and they’ve been trying, but they can’t do it all on their own.  They need my help.  I need to help them with paint and quilts (handmade of course).  I need to help them find a place to put their things and weed out stuff they don’t use.  I need to help them with their fishbowls!   And right now, I need to help them with new curtains.   These things are simple and inexpensive.  But they are also luxuries.  They will make my girls feel so special.  Handwork is something I can give them that we can all feel good about.  

After doing some research with the girls, they decided on blue and green patchwork curtains.  But not little tiny squares.  They want bigger squares.  I decided on cutting six inch squares for ease, and because given the size of the windows, I think it will approximate the look they like.  I pulled the colors they requested from my stash and cut it up yesterday.  Today I’m laying it out and have begun sewing.  I’m thinking of backing it with a piece of cloth they are currently using as a curtain.  Easy and cheap, and allows for privacy when the curtains are closed.  I’ll have to think about a fun way to pull the curtains back.  But first, I need to get the curtains done for these little girls.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ironing Board Cover

I hardly think this is worth the post, but it’s a good reminder that some small projects aren’t that hard to do and can make a big difference.  I’d been limping along for some time with a nasty ironing board cover.  It was old when it came to be mine, and since then it had seen some pretty heavy use.  I didn’t want to make one because I thought it would be a real pain —actually it’s super easy— and a waste of perfectly good fabric.  I looked into buying a new cover for ease, but they are all chemically treated to reduce staining.  I seem to be more concerned about this than most people, but I’d rather have a stained ironing board than breathe in unnecessary chemicals, so I decided to recover it myself.  I used three layers of batting, some skinny elastic and a piece of fabric that I have had lying around for awhile.  It was a little red and white polka dot that I like —and bought a lot of — but hasn’t made it into many of my projects.  It has really cheered up my sewing room, helps things look neat and tidy, and was really simple to do!  Definitely a project I’ll do again.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dragon Bag Finished!

I started working on this a week or so ago.  I intended to finish it up early this week, but couldn’t find all the needed hardware locally, so I ended up ordering it.  I completed as much as possible without the missing pieces (hardware and webbing on the shoulder straps), and it waited.  The delivery arrived yesterday, and the bag was complete within about 20 minutes.  

I mentioned here that I had some changes I’d like to make on the bag.  I tried to reinforce the pocket for the water bottle with extra stitching and I did line the top with elastic to give it more support.  I also used the magnetic snap for the front pocket, which should work easily for James.  And I made him a little matching zipper pouch for all of the treasures he collects but doesn’t want to lose.  
Front Pocket

Zipper Pouch

I also made adjustments to the shoulder straps.  I liked them before.  Actually, they were maybe my favorite part of the bag, but they were impractical.  So I quilted some straps with two layers of batting and bound them with the dragon fabric.  Next time I will use bias binding, but I didn’t think of it until I’d already made the binding.  I also used webbing and the clamps that are on most backpacks to hold the straps tight.  They seem to work really well.  The red webbing isn’t an exact match, but I am happy with it anyway.  

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I made an apron for a new baby born to my sister’s friend.  The mom likes green and chickens.  Turns out, I have a green chicken print.  I actually  love this fabric, and have had a difficult time using it, partly because of the scale of the print and partly because I hate to see it go.  So far I have used it in an Easter apron for one of my sons and now in this tiny little apron for this new baby.  I still have a bit left, maybe a placemat and napkin would be a good way to use this up? 

Miles modeling the apron.  He's a bit too big for it!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Philosopher Bags

I made one of my nieces a little book bag for Christmas.  She made some keen, although pehaps irreverent, observations at Christmas Eve mass and now I can’t help but think of her as the Philosopher.  But it got me thinking about childhood, and how every kid I’ve ever met is a philosopher, an artist, an explorer, a poet, a storyteller, a stargazer, a dreamer, ect.  So, I started making bags to reflect this.  I also made one that says Matriarch for my grandma for her birthday.  I have been using some of my orphan blocks that didn't find their way into Lucia's scrap quilt.  Here are a few samples...

I started using instructions for the reading list tote in The New Handmade by Cassie Barden.  Then I adjusted and modified the pattern to fit my needs.  

For the main panels, I used spiderweb blocks, a herringbone block (there's a tutorial for this on Stitched in Color), a free block pattern from Anna Maria Horner, a miniature diamond in a square and some flying geese.  I've got some left over log cabin blocks and a couple of silly birds that need homes as well.  

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dragon Bag: Work In Progress


I made my oldest daughter a school backpack when she started nursery school.  That was when she was three.  She’s 11 now.  She still uses that backpack sometimes, even though it’s definitely seen better days.  I made up the pattern as I went, and I wrote it down for later, just in case.  For the beginning of school this year I made her a new messenger bag that was simple to make and is holding up well.  Although I have plans to make another one for my second daughter, she’s very happy with her current backpack that was gifted to her about a year ago, so I’m in no hurry there.  My older son though has  been asking me to make a bag for him ever since he saw Paolina’s new bag coming together.  Originally he thought he wanted a little messenger bag, but when he realized I had made Paolina’s old backpack, he wanted one of those.  

There are some things I really like about Paolina’s old bag, especially the back straps which are actually kids belts that I found at the thrift store and repurposed.  But I also made it with a young child in mind.  There is a pull string to open it and a loose top flap, so it contains pretty big projects, but little hands have no trouble opening or closing the main pouch.  

There are also some improvements that I’d love to make.  

  1. The side pocket for a water bottle needs to be reinforced to hold up better.  I’m also thinking of adding some elastic to the top of the pocket in order to accomodate different size water bottles.  
  2. The front pocket on the original has a snap closure, which can be tricky for little kids.  I’d like to change that to a magnetic closure on the new version.  
  3. For an older child I think it would be nice to include a zipper pocket on the inside of the main pouch.  However, I’m not sure that my 4 year old really needs this feature since it would become an extra crevice to try to keep clean.  Instead, I’m thinking of including a matching zipper pouch that can be taken out and cleaned separately.  That way he can keep his small treasures safe, and I can clean it without a hassle.  

I didn’t finish the bag over the weekend, hence the WIP title.  I did get it cut out though and should have it done by the end of the week.  I’m looking forward to getting this one finished,  he’s looking forward to taking it with him to school next week!