Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Wall Hanging

After I finished my first quilt I decided it would be fun to do a Christmas quilt wall hanging so I started looking around for patterns.  I came across the Little Forest Quilt on the purl bee and thought it would be perfect for my new quilting skills.  (And it's free!)

It's a great project for scraps, but that didn't stop me from cutting little bits off of large pieces of material.  What can I say, my scrap collection is small at this point.  :)  It came together so quick!

I decided to do a scrappy binding and love how it looks.  I also tried my hand at ditch quilting, and was surprised at how tricky it was.  I mean, come one, how hard is it too sew a straight line?  Apparently pretty difficult.  :)

I'm still playing around with different branches.  I can't find one I'm thrilled about.  The pattern also suggests using a large knitting needle to hang it, but I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on one, even with a 50% off coupon.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Baby Afghan - Finally Done!

These Peas Taste Funny

So the baby afghan I introduced in this post is FINALLY DONE!  I checked the calendar and it took me two days shy of six months to complete it.  What an endeavor!  Of course there were plenty of other projects started and some finished within that time.

I LOVE how the diamond pattern turned out.  I may try to make up a beanie using the same braided loop idea.  And I'm very happy with my choice of blue for the edging.  It will work great for a little boy or girl.  This is the largest crochet project I have taken on, and I am so excited it's done!

 When I initially started it I was going to give it away as a present.  The baby that it was intended for is now almost a year old, and this blanket is probably too small.  I think I'll keep it for our baby #2 whenever it decides to come along.

My husband asked me what I was going to do now that it's done.  Silly man.  I have so many other projects lined up!  Next, a slouchy hat for my sis-in-law.  I've already made one for a sister.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Log Cabin Quilt - The Beginning

A few months ago I found some fabric I loved at my local quilt shop, Village Dry Goods.  I loved it's mellow colors.  I left it on my work table so I could constantly be thinking of what to do with it.  I didn't want anything too busy.  Then I found this Monaco Log Cabin quilt on Maiden Hair Fern.  I LOVED it!!  I loved the use of the white sashes to give is a less scrappy look.  So I went to work on my quilt top.

I initially just planned on making it a 3x3 throw size.  The squares are large - 16 inches - so it would be roughly 4 ft by 4 ft.  But once I got this far I started thinking that it would be a shame if I put all of this work into it and didn't make it at least twin sized.  So I've six more squares to make it 3x5 and will soon add two borders.  Hopefully this isn't too ambitious for my second quilt!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas is Sneaking in...

I love - L.O.V.E - Christmas.  There are years when I start listening to Christmas music as early as August, because one month of it just isn't enough.  This year I resisted until Halloween day.  That's good for me!

The last few years on the day after Thanksgiving my husband and I have gone and tromped through the mountains and cut down our own Christmas Tree.  He's not big into Christmas so it's been a good way to create a tradition that we both enjoy.  I then spend Saturday decorating the tree and the house.  This year I couldn't wait that long so Christmas has slowly been sneaking into the house. :)

Here's a centerpiece I just created.  My mom gave me the lamp a while ago - I think it's from Lillian Vernon.  I bought the glasses from the DI (a local secondhand store), and the poinsettas from Joanns.  I also had the tray sitting around.  I saw a tutorial on tatortotsandjello.com on how to make a centerpiece tray from bead board and molding, but I lucked out and already had one on hand.  What do you think, do you like it?  I'm still trying to decide.  The pine cones are the cinnamon ones so my kitchen smells YUMMY!

The two pictures above are of my mantle.  I still might add a thing or two.  How do you like the flag?  My husband doesn't give much input on decorating, but he likes to have the flag on the mantel.  I can't say I blamed him.  It's well earned!

And here's a simple shelf.  I made the Joy at a church event and got the lantern at Shopko.  Love the lantern!

I also got out our Fischer Price Nativity Set and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer characters for the little one to play with.  She's loving them!! 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Rag Quilts

About two years ago I had a brilliant idea.  I was going to make Christmas rag quilts for each of my siblings families and one for my parents.  That's seven rag quilts.  It was during the beginning of my sewing experience so basic rag quilts were the extent of my skill.  Great idea, right?

Here they all are!  The four on top have actually been
"ragged" and washed.  They're throw size, about 4 ft x 4ft.
I bought the material (oh how quickly the cost added up!) and went to work.  I loved it and had so much fun at first!  Then the problems started.  I was pregnant and something - the smell of my sewing room, the heat upstairs, the smell of the material - was making me nauseous.  I tried to push through, but it wasn't happening.  So they got put on hold for a while.

I started working on them again during my second and third trimester and things went much better!  But then my baby came and time grew short.  I'd work on them here and there, but they still didn't make it done for the next Christmas.

Here's one of my favorites.
Here we are three Christmas' later, and they're all sewn together!  Yay!  I have four of them "ragged," and  I'm slowly working on the other three.  They've actually been sewn together for months, but I've had a hard time finding the motivation to rag all of them.  Any volunteers?

And another favorite.
My sibs may actually get them as presents this year. :)  Now I just have two problems.  1) I want one.  2) How do I decide who I give which one?  I need to decide quick, because I need to get one in the mail!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Great Learning Experience - Toddler Vest & Hat

A friend borrowed some patterns for infant/toddler clothes to me.  One was Simplicity Pattern #5316   which included an adorable hooded vest and winter hat.  I found some cozy giraffe print fleece at JoAnns, and went to work.

I started with the hat and it came together pretty quickly.  It was my first time working with patterns using notches, so it took me a few minutes to figure them out, but otherwise it was a simple pattern.  (Not that notches aren't simple, they were just new to me.)

Then I moved on to the vest.  It's a cute little hooded vest with pockets on the front.  It was a FANTASTIC learning experience.  It was my first time sewing a hood, pockets, working with bias tape, and adding a zipper.  I was happy with the results!

Playing in the first snow of the year.  There wasn't much, but
we made it count!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Veterans Day Post

Happy Veterans Day!  I'd be remiss if I didn't take a minute to thank all of those who have served our country.  All that have signed their name on the line not knowing how, where, or when they would be answering the call, but they were willing to do it all the same.  When I think back on our history I am amazed at all those who sacrificed so much to give us The Land of the Free.  When you look around the world at other countries, that is an amazing title to bear.  The Land of the Free.  It means so much.

My grandpa Anthony Marrone served in WWII.

My grandma married him during this time.  Who could resist that handsome Italian in uniform?  Sadly we can't find much of his clothing, medals, documents from his service, and he passed away in 1980.  My mom and I have made it our mission to find all we can.

And of course there's my favorite Veteran, my hubby.  He's been in the Army National Guard for 12 years, and worked full-time for the Guard for almost three years now.  He doesn't do it for the recognition, in fact he hate's the attention he gets from his service.  It's what he always wanted to do.  He played army as a young kid and almost always had some sort of camouflage on.  When we talk about the possibility of him changing units for a promotion or other reasons, he won't do it.  He doesn't want to leave the guys that he's served with for so long.  That's the main reason he serves, for his buddies.  If he volunteers for a deployment, it's because he can't stand the thought of not being there for them when things get rough.

I love the last line of Flags of our Fathers (the movie).
"Heroes are something we create, something we need. It's a way for us to understand what's almost incomprehensible, how people could sacrifice so much for us, but for my dad and these men, the risks they took, the wounds they suffered, they did that for their buddies. They may have fought for their country but they died for their friends. For the man in front, for the man beside him, and if we wish to truly honor these men we should remember them the way they really were, the way my dad remembered them."

This is the day he got home from his second deployment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My First Quilt

Featured in Pink Chalk Newsletter 12/17/2011

mop it up mondays feature

About nine months ago a friend introduced me to the blog Cluck Cluck Sew and put the idea of quilting into my head. I decided I would start with a quilt for my little one who was just eight months old at the time. I purchased the Juice Boxes pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew, signed up for a Quilter's Kindergarten class, and made a trip to my local quilt shop, Village Dry Goods. After making a considerable dent in my wallet I returned home excited to start my project, but decided to wait till I went to the class.

The quilt went slow with a little one underfoot and because I was working on a denim rag quilt for a brother-in-law's wedding. After I basted the quilt I decided to give free-motion quilting a shot (AH!). The quilt sat waiting to be quilted for a while. I was trying to work up the nerve to do the free-motion quilting. I studied the tutorial "Finishing a Quilt" at Cluck Cluck Sew (can you tell she got me through this quilt!) many times before attempting anything. And guess what?! It wasn't so bad! I did the meander pattern and had a few sharp corners, but overall it went well. My biggest mistake was I forgot to put the foot down a few times, which led to some unpicking. :)

Close-up of the quilting, don't look too close. :)

Here are a few tips for free-motion quilting in addition to Allison's.

  • While it is ideal to start/stop quilting on the excess batting at the edge, that wasn't always possible when I had a one year old tugging at my legs. I learned it worked best to stop on a square the same color as my thread. That way if I didn't have a smooth start, it hid the mistake better. 
  • When restarting quilting in the middle of the quilt anticipate the direction you want to move before actually starting. This led to a more seamless start/stop.
  • Practice quilting on several sandwiches sewn together rather than just one sandwich. This helps you get the feel of going over seams. 
  • Be patient and relax! 
 This is the quilt that started my addiction!!  Quilt number 2 is in the works as we speak. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baking - A 3 Strikes Weekend

It won't be often that I post regarding baking, but this weekend my kitchen seemed destined to end up on the blog.

It began with making blondies for my husband and three nephews that were spending the evening with us. This is one of my "I always have the ingredients and can quickly throw it together" recipes. I did add too much baking soda and powder at first, but I got that snag worked out and continued on. Imagine my surprise when no matter how long I put them in the oven, the top baked and the bottom was doughy. I attributed it to my flub with the powder and soda and considered it a "composition" error.

The next day I was trying out a recipe for Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread. Same thing happened. Crisp top and doughy bottom. Which was a bummer because I was really excited to see how this bread would turn out.

I was frustrated (and late for a family party). Not wanting to show up empty handed I pulled out a cookie mix someone had given us and whipped 'em up. It should have taken them 12 minutes at most to bake: 20 minutes later they were finally slightly browning.

I finally realized the problem was my oven and not me! :) Anyone feel like fixing an oven for me?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Toddler Delaney Dress - A Success!

Do you ever watch DIY shows and find yourself completely pulled in.  You watch the host do amazing projects that they swear are so simple even a five year old could do it.  As they build you up telling you how easy it is and how it can be completed in just an afternoon you find yourself forgetting that they have dozens of people on their staff making it happen and thousands of dollars to put into it.  You rush from the T.V. thinking "Yes! I'll go get the materials for the project right now!  And mine will look just like the professionals!"

A week later, after countless trips to the store and spending five times the amount of money it should have taken you finally finish the project and it looks NOTHING LIKE THE PROFESSIONALS!!  You're beaten down for the moment, but you forget all of the misery and find yourself repeating the experience a few days later.

That is how my Delaney Dress started.  It's a free tutorial on luvinthemommyhood.com.  It's adorable and a simple design.  After looking it over I thought, "how difficult could it be?"  I managed to make it difficult.  Here's a brief summary of my mistakes/redos.

1. Cut out the bodice 2 1/2 times
2. Cut out the sleeves and skirt 2 times
3. Sewed one sleeve on twice
4. Tried it on an unhappy, squirming toddler at least 3 times

Okay, maybe that doesn't seem too bad.  Here's the break down.

After printing out the pattern I was concerned it wasn't going to be quite big enough.  The pattern is made for little girls roughly 1-2 years old.  We all know that there is a lot of variation in that age range, so I can understand why it would be difficult to have one pattern for everyone.  I'm only 5 feet tall and my husband's all of 5 ft 8 inches, but somehow we got a little girl that has consistently measured in the 80th and 90th percentile for height.  So I increased the pattern to 105% on my computer and reprinted it.

After I got the bodice put together, I tried it on my little girl (1st time).  She was not happy, and understandably so as it was uncomfortably tight.  So I increased the pattern to 125% and started over.  I cut out the bodice again, but when I went to sew it together I had cut out two fronts and no back.  Oops!  Hence the 1/2 extra time of cutting out the bodice.   All this was worth it though, because it fit much better at 125%. (2nd time trying it on her.)  The increase in size is the reason I cut out the sleeves twice as well.  Once at 105% and once at 125%.  As I was sewing on the sleeves I realized this was the first time I had ever done sleeves before.  It was trickier than I imagined.  Especially when it came to overlapping the points and making it look good.

She was not happy about putting it
on so I had to bribe her with a cookie...
And the dog.
Once done I checked out my work and noticed the bodice tucked in funny underneath the arms.  I was hoping it wouldn't be so noticeable on my little girl.  Time to try it on her again!  (3rd time)  She wasn't happy about it, and the tuck was VERY noticeable and made it tight around her arms.

A little while later and A LOT of unpicking later I had that problem worked out.  Once I sewed the skirt on I realized I hadn't adjusted for the larger size enough and that it didn't have enough ruffles.  Soooooo, I cut out a second larger one.  (Did I mention I was wise enough to buy an extra 1/4 yard of fabric?  Thank heavens!!)  The second skirt worked much better and I have to say I am very happy with the end result.  I think it was worth all the recutting!  I purposely made it a little loose on her and with an extra long hem so it will hopefully last a while before she grows out of it!  (Maybe two whole months... :s)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Vacuum Ate My Ruffle

 I found an easy tutorial for a little girl's ruffled skirt Sew Much Ado.  It's repurposed from old t-shirts.  Genius!  I made a few for my little girl, then proceeding to make some for a niece.  I was to the point where the main body of one skirt was done, and the ruffles were made but not attached.  It was all laying out on my table waiting for me to finish it.

There's a tutorial for the leg warmers on the same site.
In the meantime, I got the itch to clean up my sewing room a bit.  Some days it's hard to tell if it's more sewing room, or more playroom for my 17 month old.  I was vacuuming the floor, and thought I mind as well vacuum some of the threads and scraps on my table using the hose.  I, of course, was being careful to not get too close to any of my projects.  Apparently not careful enough.  Before I knew it one of the ruffles was sucked into the abyss of the vacuum.  Luckily, my vacuum bag was so full I didn't have to dig too far to find it.  To my surprise I had unknowingly vacuumed up a second ruffle as well!

A little cleaning and they were ready to be attached to the skirt, and safe from the vacuum.

Here's a shot of the cute skirt in action.

My First Baby Afghan...Over 5 Months in The Making

After crocheting hats and headbands for three months, I decided it was time to try something new.  I was ready for an afghan...or so I thought.  I decided to start with a baby afghan, hoping it would be a little less overwhelming.  Here I am 5 months later, and it's still not done - but it's getting closer!

Better view of the loops that will be braided together later.

I chose the Precious Treasure pattern out of Touchably Textured Baby Afghans.  (It's the one on the bottom left.)  It's a fairly simple, but beautiful design.  The pattern is made up of loop rows that will be braided together later, followed by single crochet rows.

At first I meticulously counted each single crochet row to make sure that there were 140 stitches across.  None added, none dropped.  What can I saw, I'm a rule follower.  But counting 140 stitches over and over soon became tedious.  So I learned to to add or drop a stitch when things weren't lining up.  The pattern is forgiving that way.

I think I only had to restart this project once.  After I got about five rows into it on my first try I could see the diamonds were NOT lining up.  So I pulled out every stitch and started over.  Thank goodness things worked out the second time.  I wasn't sure that I had a third time in me with this one.

**Update**  It's finally done!  Check it out here.  :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Chair, 18 Eggs, and a 3-hour Clean-up

This chair is a fantastic place to start.  My mother is talented at refinishing furniture, and once my husband and I bought a house I had the space to try my hand at it as well.  My mom passed on a chair to me.  A simple project really, sand and strip the wood, recover the seat.  Not much to it…right?

My husband is in the military so it’s not uncommon for him to be gone two days, two weeks, a month at a time.  This story takes place during one of his two-week departures.  I love my husband, but the house definitely stays cleaner when he’s not around.  At the time of this story I worked 4-tens so I was always blessed with a three-day weekend.  I started this weekend by cleaning the house so I could enjoy having it STAY clean while my husband was away.

The second day of my weekend I turned my attention to more enjoyable tasks, namely the chair awaiting me in the garage.  I attacked it with amazing energy, sanding, scraping, and chipping away the blue paint and stickers that adorned it.  I was encouraged with each large chunk of paint that came away, and determined to strip away even the most stubborn of sections.

After about 1 ½ hours of work I headed inside for a drink.  When entering the house I was hit by a burning smell.  “What?  I wasn’t cooking anything?”  The smell became stronger as I went down the hallway to the kitchen.  “Or was I…”  The eggs...I had started boiling 18 eggs that would be turned into deviled eggs for a large family get-together the next day.  They had been boiling for one. and. a. half. hours...

My confusion quickly turned into panic as I rushed the rest of the way into the kitchen.  Do you know what happens to eggs when you boil them for 1 ½ hours?  Well first, the water all boils out of the pan.  Then, the eggs explode!  Eighteen eggs all over my kitchen!

My house is designed with extra high ceilings, and in the main part there are three rooms with just partial walls between them.  This would be the kitchen, living room, and a room we use as a library.  Typically I enjoy the open feeling the partial walls provide, but on this day they facilitated the eggs spreading into three rooms.  Eggs were on the ceiling, on the floor,  on the couch, on top of those partial walls.  Everywhere!

After I cried, laughed, and sent my husband texts about it I finally set about cleaning it up.  During the three hours of clean-up I tried every thing from mopping the ceiling (not such a great idea) to bringing the dog in to eat whatever he could reach (my husbands idea).  The smell of charred eggs lingered for weeks.

Needless to say the chair got put on the back-burner after this experience…