Friday, January 31, 2014

I'm starting early so I'll actually finish on time.

That's theory anyway.
See that Santa print in there? That's a vintage flannel remnant my mom gifted to me a few years back. She'd been holding on to it in her cedar chest for years and years, having originally used it to back the family Christmas tree skirt. Somehow she knew it was my favorite (seriously, how do moms do that?).

I was so excited when she gave it to me and immediately knew that I wanted to turn it into a quilt.

Then it sat.

And sat.

Waiting for some vintage fabric friends to come along.
I finally had a good excuse to go fabric shopping last September when I received an Etsy gift card for my birthday (from my mom, of course!). I found the green print first - isn't it the perfect '70s Christmas print? Then the red one came along (it was just a little piece, so it's just going to be found here and there on the quilt top). I'm not sure of its age, but it seemed to be about the right era.

After that I stalled. There really aren't that many vintage Christmas flannels out there you know. And modern flannels just aren't the right shade of '70s green.

Finally I found that striped print. It's probably more '80s and early '90s, but I like the colors and I'm not set on making a perfect, era-correct quilt. Just something warm and snuggly... and a little bit kitschy.

I think I'm on the right track.

Now, if only I could stop getting sidetracked by other (more pressing) projects. Then I could finish it well in time for next Christmas!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All packed up and ready to go.

I recently stumbled upon a recipe for happiness and thought I'd share...

1 sweet little girl
1 mama-made messenger bag
1 mama-made zippy pouch
Stuffed animal friends

Mix well, sit back and feel your heart swell as you watch your little girl tote her special things everywhere.

It's been about two weeks since I finished Miss C.'s messenger bag (construction details can be found in my earlier post) and I still love watching her carry it around. I loved the look on her face when I finally gave it to her - she positively lit up. And then she whispered, "I love it." And told me again and again later that day, squeezing my heart the way she is apt to do when I least expect it.
I sure wish I could bottle that feeling so I could save it for those moments when maybe I'm a little down on myself. For not fixing meals with more vegetables. For being too fixated on things I have no control over. For not cleaning my house often (or well) enough. For getting frustrated with my sweeties. You know, for not being Perfect Mommy.

Do you have those days too? I'm thinking I need to distance myself from Perfect Mommy. She's nice and all, but I'm better off just being Mommy. And when I forget and try too hard to be Perfect Mommy (because she's all glittery and perfect and tempting, right?), I'm going to take out this memory as a reminder that my little girl loves me. Just the way I am. 

And just being Mommy is good enough for me.
You can find this post linked up at:

Special thanks to Fabric Fusion and Rita of Red Pepper Quilts for the Hello Tokyo by Robert Kaufman fat quarter bundle that I won not too long ago in a most generous giveaway. Normally I love making things from my scraps, but this collection was destined for Miss C. It was a joy to work with and made the perfect big girl messenger bag for my sweetheart!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A ghostly patch for jeans

Last week I discovered that Miss C.'s only pair of jeans had a whole in the knee. Since she attends Catholic school and wears a uniform five days a week – and loves to wear dresses on her off days – we don't have much need for several pairs of jeans. So something had to be done to make those jeans last a bit longer.

I ran out to JoAnn hoping to find some sort of fun little patch to iron or sew on. No dice. It was either denim or a crazy-bright color assortment.

I picked up the denim, figuring I could cut it into a heart shape or something. I was looking around the house for a heart shape to trace when inspiration hit. I headed to the kitchen and grabbed the box of cookie cutters. But in my search for a heart cutter, I stumbled upon something even better!

Look at that sweet little ghost! Miss C. loves all things Halloween, but has a special love for "ghostes".
Want to make your own custom patch? It's easy!
  1. Pick up some iron-on denim patches from your local craft store.
  2. Trace the shape you want onto the front of the patch. I used a cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out any extra features if space allows. I cut out some eyes and a mouth.
  4. Iron onto your jeans using the manufacturer's instructions, making sure any cut-outs are well above or below the hole in your jeans.
  5. Surprise your kiddo and enjoy the ensuing happy dance.

Friday, January 10, 2014

In progress: A messenger bag for Miss C.

When Miss C. was a toddler, she nearly always had two things in her hand: My Bear (yes, that was his name) and her "diapee bag", which was filled to overflowing with clothes, diapers and other goodies for her babies.

My Bear and her diapee bag went everywhere we went: in the car, restaurants, the grocery store... everywhere. Because, you know, what if he needed to have his diaper changed while we ate dinner (that happened a lot!) or needed a new outfit on the ride to Ama and Papa's house (sometimes two or three outfit changes)?

And don't even think about leaving one or both behind at home. She needed them. So in the car they went.

Fast forward a few years: she hasn't carried that little handmade diaper bag in quite some time and has other favorite stuffed animals now. But she still likes to carry a bag of her special things wherever we go: on the way to school, out to dinner... you get the picture.

Now her bag is filled with pencils, notepads, word search books, and of course, her favorite stuffed animals. And though she has graduated to big girl interests, she doesn't have a good bag to carry everything in. 

After several months of paper grocery bags and gift bags it was time to put my foot down: Miss C. needed a new mama-made bag.

Of course, the minute I mentioned it she was ready to start cracking the whip! A quick rummage through my fabric cupboard revealed the perfect stack of fabric: a fat quarter bundle of Hello Tokyo by Robert Kaufman that I had won not too long ago in a most generous giveaway from Fabric Fusion and Rita of Red Pepper Quilts. I had been saving it for a special project for one of my girls, but just hadn't figured out what that would be yet... until now!

After picking the fabric, we sat down together to design the bag. It would be a messenger-style bag, quilted inside and out, with a front flap and long cross-body style strap. There would need to be a place for her pencils and erasers (I'm thinking zippy pencil bag for that). And, most importantly, there would need to be some side pockets for her babies (especially her current favorite, Squirrely). 

Every morning she pops over to my sewing table to check on my progress and every night she asks me if I'm going to work on it. The pressure I'm under here is intense! As you can see, I've finished the outer body, lined side pockets and front flap. I still have quite a bit left but I've made good progress.

Thankfully, there's another A Lovely Year of Finishes already underway (hosted by Fiber of All Sorts and Sew Bitter Sweet Designs) so I've decided to make finishing this bag my January goal. It's been a lot of fun to make so far, which I can honestly say is entirely due to the super-squeezy-cuteness of the fabric. Really, who wouldn't love it?

Whew! If you've read all of that, then you deserve a gold star. And a hug! xoxo

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cozy Up: 'Don't Need Friends'

It's been a while since I last shared one of my favorite reads, but I've been saving a good one for you.
'Don't Need Friends', by Carolyn Crimi, is the story about Rat. As you might imagine, Rat lives in a junkyard with an assortment of other animals.

All is right in Rat's world until one day his best friend, Possum, moves away. Poor Rat is heartbroken and pushes everyone else away, telling himself, "Don't need friends. Don't need 'em at all."

Not too long afterward big, grouchy Dog moves into the junkyard and Rat tries his best to remember his mantra...

Well, I'll let you guess the rest.

There's something so special about this story of unexpected friendship. Maybe it's the unexpected junkyard setting or the grouchy characters. Or maybe it's the way it teaches children (and adults!) that friendship is much more important than dwelling on the things that make us sad.

I guess all those reasons aren't really too important. All I know is that we love it. Who knows, maybe you'll love it too.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 in review

I've been reading quilting and sewing blogs for a good six or seven years now, and every year I find myself blown away by what all of you ladies can accomplish in a single year. Your year-end wrap-up posts are filled with beautifully handmade quilts, bags, and pillows all nicely arranged in photo mosaics.

And every year I think, "Wow! There's no way I could finish that many projects in single year! How in the heck do they do it?"

So this week I was going through my old posts looking for my big finishes for my A Lovely Year of Finishes wrap-up post when I realized that I'd actually made quite a few things outside of that monthly goal.

Hmmmm... maybe it's time for a little photo mosaic magic of my own! I've broken my 2013 finishes down into a few categories:

These are by far my favorite finishes. Starting from the left and working clockwise you'll see my postage stamp quilt, the String Fever quilt that I made for my special friend and her new baby, Master W.'s traffic cone quilt and the Boss Baby Quilt.

I'm just going to come out and say that I'm really, really proud of myself. Each of these quilts helped me stretch my skills in different ways. I learned spiral quilting with the postage stamp quilt, gave in to color and improv piecing in the String Fever Quilt, learned to make a quilt block pattern and freezer-paper piece with Master W.'s quilt and tried my hand at a pieced back on the Boss Baby Quilt.

Looking at these beauties makes me want to start a few more quilts right now!

Zippy Pouches
I think it's safe to say that the zippy pouch was my go-to gift in 2013. I ended up making one for my mom, Miss C.'s Kindergarten teacher for an end-of-the-year gift, a friend who was celebrating a birthday and Miss C.'s 1st Grade teacher for a Christmas gift

Sewing for Kids
Clearly, I love sewing for kids! Miss C. attended a number of birthday parties this year and I managed to make something special for each child. There are also a few other goodies for my own little ones, including a pillowcase that Miss C. made all by herself (with my supervision).
  1. Sweet little apron for a birthday girl
  2. Scrappy artist tote for a birthday girl
  3. Library tote for a first birthday gift
  4. Scrappy headbands for a birthday girl
  5. Scrappy headbands for Miss C.
  6. Big girl messenger bag
  7. Cargo shorts to boy bag
  8. Thomas treasure bag
  9. Miss C.'s pillowcase
And you know what? By the time I finished wrapping up my thoughts for this post I realized that I completely forgot to blog about all of the goodies I made for family this past Christmas (I'm saving those for another post). So there's more – eep!

I'm completely blown away that I finished every single one of these projects this year. It makes me wonder what 2014 has in store for me. I have a feeling it's going to be another awesome year of finishes.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes: 2013 Wrap-Up

Last year I took part in a wonderful little project called A Lovely Year of Finishes, hosted by Fiber of All Sorts and Sew Bitter Sweet Designs. Each month participants were challenged to set one goal and then complete it. It could be something as simple as cutting fabric for a new quilt or as elaborate as free motion quilting a bed-sized quilt. The goal was to do a little something each month so that we'd all have a lovely stack of finishes to be proud of at the end of the year.

I looked through my archives and I participated in 10 out of 12 months! And while I didn't necessarily complete a project in its entirety in each of those months, my goals for each month often led to a bigger finish a few months down the road. 

I'm so proud of what I was able to accomplish each month. In the end, all of those little finishes led to five amazing bigger finishes!

Here's the breakdown, month-by-month:
I can't wait to get started on another year of A Lovely Year of Finishes.