Monday, June 29, 2009

A few things

I feel like I've been busy and not busy all at the same time. I've been sewing a little every day and I've come up with a few things I think you'll like. More on that on Wednesday.

I had a sewing day on Saturday and finished! my Summer of '09 quilt. I haven't have time to take final pictures yet but I did remember to snap an in-progress picture around 10pm Saturday night:

summer '09 quilt

Also, check out this skull apron I made for Ian:

reversible skull apron

He likes to make bread (he's tossing pizza dough in this picture) and he likes to wear black pants. Hence the need for an apron. I happened to have two different skull prints in my stash so I made it reversible. Also, I didn't have quite enough of the white fabric so I pieced a black strip on the bottom to make up the difference.

reversible skull apron

I think it turned out well for my first attempt at an apron. And even if he forgets to use it, it was a quick project so my feelings won't be hurt.

And in case you were wondering, he likes the black side. I like the white. He and I never agree about things like this.

reversible skull apron

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wedding gifts, part 2

I hope you guys don't mind when I show off stuff like this. It just takes me forever to make anything and I hardly ever finish a project so when I do, I want to show it off. So, if you don't mind (and I guess, even if you do), here we go.

Laura and Brad's kitchen/dining room is orange and blue, sort of turquoise, sort of aqua...I don't really know. But I found this peacock fabric from Keri Beyer and though it would be perfect. It turned out to be a bit more muted than it looked on the screen but that's ok.

I made 6 napkins backed with white this time.

cloth napkins

And two potholders:

quilted potholders

See the wavy quilting? I'd never tried it before but it was fun!

quilted potholders

And then a table runner, backed with orange:

quilted table runner

I wish I'd been able to feature the peacocks more but there weren't many on the piece of fabric I had. So, there's at least a pair on the napkin but I didn't get a picture. I haven't heard if they liked the set or not but it was made with love and I know Laura appreciates that sort of thing. (I bet Brad does too...I've just never asked him so I don't know for sure. Maybe he hates cloth napkins. Stranger things have happened.)

Patience,

I'm working on it. I always thought I was a patient person but I'm beginning to suspect I'm not. In fact, I think my boyfriend would tell you that I'm definitely not.

I'm patient in certain situations so why not every situation? Why don't I just calm the heck down?

quilted fabric coasters

I'm a fairly stoic sort of person normally and whatever happens, happens. For instance, whenever my Mendocino fabric gets here, it gets here. Sitting here, being impatient isn't going to help it get here any faster. So, I see that my life would be better with a little patience. There's no need to get worked up all the time.

Last night I was working on a project and after a few hours, I decided it just wasn't quite right. And I know what I have to do to fix it and it's going to require me to rip out a million stitches. But I know it's the right thing to do so I'm going to do it. Patiently, ripping out stitches for the greater good. No stress, just doing the right thing, being patient.

quilted fabric coasters

And I have to be patient until July 1 when I can finally blog a tiny announcement. Just something fun, certainly not something important or anything. But still, I'm excited and it's hard to wait.

quilted fabric coasters

And as you can see, I patiently waited to post about the gifts I made for Laura and Brad's wedding until after the wedding. It was hard because I knew the chances of Laura reading my blog the week before her wedding were slim to none. More fabric coasters, of course...I'll post the rest of the pictures in a bit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wedding photos, sort of

I really wish I'd taken more pictures at the wedding. As it was, I left my camera in the "getting ready" room the whole night.

wedding gown

I didn't even take pictures of the room itself...the library of The University Club, supposed hangout of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

bridesmaid jewelry

Instead, I took boring photos of our jewelry and my flowers.

bridesmaid bouquet

It was odd milling about in a private club, watching the rich, white children swim in the pool, watching the rich, white wives sunbathe by the side of the pool, watching the rich, white teens wear short shorts and swimsuits in the banquet hall where we were not allowed.

I felt like I didn't belong and I was thankful for that. I'm happy I neither have the desire nor the funds to lead that sort of life. The building was beautiful, Laura's decorations looked wonderful in the reception hall but that's about all I appreciated about the place.

Back to the wedding...my table runners looked awesome. Just thought you should know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More towels

Since the linen towels turned out to be a bigger project than I had time for, I decided to buy pre-made tea towels to finish up the other two pay it forward gifts. J and T, please don't think I don't love you as much, ok? Because I wanted you to receive your gifts sometime this year and it just wasn't going to happen if I kept on with the linen.

First we have karamat's towels:

patchwork tea towel

I purchased these tea towels from Colonial Patterns, Inc. They measure 28"x28" and have that crinkly tea towel feel. Just a heads up, though: some of the towels have little flaws, tiny colored threads woven in here and there. I was annoyed at first but now I think I'm over it. Mostly...

patchwork tea towel

I made this set for anopeneye (J...I hope you got them already otherwise...surprise!):

patchwork tea towel

Do you see the bird? That's my favorite scrap of fabric ever...and I gave it away because I'm nice like that. (In case you're wondering, it's Nuala from Jennifer Paganelli's Girlfriends collection.)

patchwork tea towel

I got the idea for these three sets of towels here. Ashley pretty much says it all so click the link.

I was dreading ironing the patchwork strips...how was I ever going to make a nice, smooth strip? I decided to use an old quilter's trick...freezer paper (NOT wax paper). Cut a piece of freezer paper the same length as your strip but .75" to 1" skinnier. Iron the strip of freezer paper (shiny side down) to the wrong side of your fabric strip. Then use the paper as a guide to iron over the edges.

patchwork tea towel tip

Then, when your edges are ironed, peel out the paper and give the fabric another good press. Then flip it over, wrong side down and ta-da...you have a patch that can be sewn onto your towel.

patchwork tea towel

You can use this freezer paper trick to make an applique of any shape and size. You can even reuse the paper a few times before the stickiness is gone.

Ashley used a zig-zag stitch to sew down her patch...I went with a straight stitch. Just make sure you sew close enough to the edge to sew through the seam allowance. Fun, huh?

Getting back to real life

Well, the wedding went off without a hitch and everything was lovely. I was having so much fun that I forgot to take many pictures. And I didn't even get one of me! I hope the photographer got a good picture of me us because I know you can't wait to see how pretty I looked the bride looked.

I do have to say, on the day of, I'd rather be a bridesmaid than the bride. I had such a fun time and I didn't have to worry about anything besides looking pretty...which I totally had covered, you know?

If you can't tell, I'm feeling a bit sassy today because even though I didn't do much for the wedding, it was always in the background, pressing on us all. But now it's over, Laura and Brad will soon be on their honeymoon and I'm free to work on all the things I've been dreaming up over the past few months.

And I can show you the pay it forward prizes I (finally) finished and sent out.

Did you ever have a great idea and then, even though it turned out exactly as you imagined, for some reason, you still didn't like it? That's how I feel about these towels I made for Regina:

linen towels

I read somewhere that linen towels are the bees knees and I thought "wouldn't it be cool to make my own towels out of linen?" So, I bought some medium weight linen, made the patchwork strip, turned the edges, mitered the corners and ta-da:

linen towels

linen towels! I really like how they look but I think the reason I'm unhappy with them is because I don't like the linen. It's springy and wobbly and that makes me sort of uncomfortable.

By the time I'd finished making these, I just didn't feel like making one for myself as a "test" towel. I know I should have made a test towel before I made the gift towels but I'm impatient. So now I might never know if Regina's towels are any good. Maybe that's why I'm unhappy with them?

But, Regina said she liked them. She also said they were too pretty to use as real towels, that they were going to be for decoration and I know they'll be good for that. Because I think they're pretty.

linen towels

I don't want to give up on the linen towel idea but I think it's going to be a while before I make another one. And that one will be a "test" towel and if it turns out well and it, you know, dries hands and dishes well, I'll feel comfortable giving more as holiday gifts or something. So, we'll see...

Pictures of the other two prizes (also towels) will be up in a little bit...with a sort of mini tutorial even.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two worlds

For those of you who don't know, which is probably everyone, my birthday is July 1. When I was younger, my family would spend two weeks at our cabin every summer, usually over my birthday. Some years I would resent this because, even though I never had many friends, it would have been fun to have a proper birthday party once in a while.

But, looking back on the days when I wasn't being moody about my birthday, I find my fondest childhood memories revolve around those sunny days at the lake.

When I was three and for the first few years thereafter, my family slept in a tiny trailer, just big enough for the four of us and the dog. My parents built a screen porch where we could sit when it rained or when the bugs were bad. My brother and I spent countless hours coloring and playing games and helping my dad cook dinner over the campfire.

A few years later we built a tiny cabin, only 25'x25'. My brother and I shared an 8'x8' bedroom...with two twin beds inside, not even bunk beds! The inside walls were framed but we didn't have the money to put up sheetrock for several years. Instead, my mom hung cheery red and orange plaid bedsheets over the walls to give everyone a bit of privacy.

My brother and I would stay up late, we'd peek through the sheets to secretly watch the movies our parents were watching. Sometimes, after a long night of sitting out by the fire, they'd come inside and cook "breakfast". My brother and I would pretend that the cooking noises woke us up. The four of us would sit around the tiny table and eat eggs and bacon, my parents laughing because they were tipsy, my brother and I laughing because we were eating breakfast in the middle of the night.

Most days my brother and I would run around the woods, exploring, building forts and having adventures. During the hottest part of the day we'd all head out in the pontoon boat and spend hours swimming and bobbing along on the tiny waves. I never liked swimming pools but I couldn't get enough of our lake. I was (and still am) terrified of weeds and even though I knew there were no weeds out in the middle of the lake, it took great willpower to stretch my feet down as far as they'd go. There's a point where the water gets cold, the thermocline. When you're brave enough to stretch your vulnerable feet down into the deep, the chill on your toes is exquisite.

The opposite happens while wallowing in the shallows. The sun warms the water to near bathtub temperatures. It's an odd feeling, laying stretched out in water that doesn't completely cover your body. It's a light and heavy feeling, the water buoys and gravity presses. The sand gets caught in the lapping waves and swirls around your skin and in your hair. It's easy to hear, with your ears under the water, the pebbles clattering against each other, rolling about in the constant waves. There is the odd sensation of belonging to two worlds, the half of you below the water is warm, safe, content. The half above is vulnerable, chilled by the wind against your still-wet skin.

I saw this fabric today:

Mendocino fabric

It's from Heather Ross's Mendocino line of quilting fabrics. I've considered buying it before. Several times I've been thisclose to hitting the "final payment" button. And yet today, for the first time, it meant more to me than just "pretty fabric". The sight of this print in particular brought back shallow water memories, swirling sand memories, torn between two worlds memories.

Have you been there before? Do you know what it feels like?

I ended up buying a half yard of 31 prints in this fabric line, an investment that made me feel a little sick and a lot exhilarated. I finally bought it because I haven't been swimming in our lake for years, because I miss the sand swirling in my hair, because I miss my other home, the other place where I belong.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Burned!

Oh my gosh, my blog is so boring these days. I'm working on stuff for the wedding and stuff for something you'll find out about soon but none of that leads to interesting blog posts right now.

I do have one thing to tell you, though.

Last night I stepped on my glue gun...while it was plugged in...and it went between my toes and burned my bare skin. Ouch! I'm such an idiot! It felt better after I drank some wine and read my book in bed and pressed an ice cube on my blister. Poor me...my life is so hard.

Yes, that's really all I have to say right now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More potholders!

Alright, the last thing I want to show off this week is a pair of quilted potholders. I think I've made more potholders in my time as a crafter than anything else. And yet I've never made one for myself...what's up with that? I use a folded up towel like a chump!

But, anyway, here are some pink ones that also do not belong to me:

pink quilted potholder

Potholders are fun because you can use up scraps on the front and the back too, if you like. I used solid on the backs just because I had a piece that was big enough:

pink quilted potholder

I use one layer of Warm and White cotton batting, one layer of Insul-Bright batting and I always use quilting cotton to make the outside layers. Then I quilt it in whatever pattern I feel like and I bind it like a quilt.

pink quilted potholder

I really like how these are mini quilts and are useful for taking things out of the oven or setting hot things on the table. I like the idea of having quilts sitting around, incognito.

I'd really like to make a pair for myself but since I don't cook much, it's not really a priority. I do like to bake in the fall so maybe by then...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Table runners

And now, a pleasantly pink table runner:

quilted table runner

When I was cutting fabric for the napkins, I ended up with a few 15" strips of fabric left over. I figured this was a good size for a table runner so I cut some white fabric into 15" strips, sewed all the strips together and ta-da...instant table runner.

quilted table runner

I had to seam the back since the runner was longer than 42" so I decided to include some fun patchwork.

quilted table runner

There's a layer of cotton batting inside and I bound the edges just like I would for a quilt. It was a fun project...now I just need to make one for myself. I have a table and what's a table without a runner? Pretty much a wasted table, in my opinion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cloth napkins

Check out these super magenta cloth napkins I made for Elaine:

cloth napkins

They're made from quilting cotton, of course. They finish at 14.5" square.

cloth napkins

These were really easy to make. Pin two layers of fabric right sides together, sew around the edge leaving an opening on one side (about 3"), turn, poke the corners into submission with a knitting needle, iron and topstitch around the edges.

And you're done! I'm making some with white on one side which I like for its simplicity but I also like the punch these double sided pink napkins have. They're twice as fun, you know?

cloth napkins

Also, here are a few of my favorite cloth napkin tutorials:

Napkins with binding around the edges.

These are like mine but with running stitch embroidery.

This tutorial is for embroidered handkerchiefs but it would definitely work for napkins too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lots to do

So, this weekend I was sitting in the balcony at the Ordway Center thinking "ahhh...life is great". Ian and I went to see the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra perform Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream and life was very sweet indeed. Until the annoying narrator scurried onstage and interrupted the music to put on a one woman show of sorts. It was confusing and annoying. Life was not sweet. Life turned very boring for a while. I know it wasn't really her fault but it surely was someone's fault. Someone thought it was a good idea.

There, I got that off my chest. Now I can move on to better things. Things like how busy the next two weeks will be.

I have five table runners to sew by Friday night. I have two more Pay it Forward gifts to make. I finished one last night and it turned out well so I'm excited. I'd like to finish the other two and mail them next Monday.

And I have to figure out how the heck I'm going to get my hair to look nice for the wedding. And I might have to take in my dress a bit...I've avoided trying it on for over a month now. I just don't want to know.

And I need to work on the quilt I was talking about on Friday. I need to finish it by July 1.

And I want to post some pictures of things I made for Elaine to thank her for the yarn winder and other lovely things she sent me a while back. She received everything in the mail the other day so today I'll show you the fabric coasters:

fabric coasters

They're made with two layers of quilting cotton and one layer of cotton batting. I think they're around 4.5" square. These were actually pretty fun to make. I don't have a tutorial or anything but if I can remember to take pictures next time, I'll show you my favorite way to get the batting between the layers. It's actually pretty tricky because the batting sticks to the fabric but I found a way that's not quite as annoying.

fabric coasters

Friday, June 5, 2009

A color study

As you can see by the photos below, I'm working on a new quilt. An idea popped into my head yesterday and now I'm trying to finish it up by the end of the month. But, more on that later.

For now, I want to show you my favorite part of the quilting process...picking fabrics and colors and how (this is not my favorite part) they can go horribly wrong.

First, I picked out red and blue fabrics and started sewing them up.

summer of '09 quilt

Hmmm...there's something I don't like but I'm not sure what. I know I haven't added all my fabrics to the mix yet but there's something wrong here. I added some tan for a bit of contrast:

summer of '09 quilt

Hmmm...better but not quite right. I looked at my pile of unused fabrics and then back at the design wall. What is it? It's even more pronounced in these pictures than in real life. Can you see it?

summer of '09 quilt

There, that's much better! That one blue fabric was ruining everything!

In the pile of fabrics I chose for this project, there were other blues that matched this one. And had I added them to the quilt, it would have been more balanced than just having one blue that didn't belong. So, the whole thing would probably have looked just fine.

But now that I'm keeping only navy/aqua, I think it looks great!

The lesson here is this: if something doesn't feel right, work with it until you get it right. It'll happen.

summer of '09 quilt

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Creating Marie, Part 3

Alright, this is the last post I'll make about the Marie Antoinette party. I just wanted you guys to see my favorite part...the silver boat centerpiece:

silver boat

This is what I was working on at the last minute before the party. I already had vases filled with feathers and golden leaves for centerpieces but then I found this wooden pirate ship at the craft store and knew it would make the perfect centerpiece:

wooden pirate ship

Kirsten Dunst wears a ship in her hair during one of the scenes in the movie and I'd looked for one for months to no avail. Then I found this ship by accident! It was from a craft kit but they were out of the kits so I bought the display model. The first thing I did when I got home was cut off the wooden sails. Then I wiped off the dust and glued some of the pieces together to make it sturdier.

Then I painted the whole thing with two coats of silver acrylic. The base is hard to see but I used a glass pie-plate, turned upside down. I hot-glued some scrap fabric to the plate and then glued sprigs of golden leaves and apples (that I'd painted earlier in the month) to the fabric. Then I tucked in some extra curly ostrich feathers.

silver ship

The ship came with a little stand that went in amongst the leaves and feathers. I was planning to make paper sails but as this was all done at the last minute and I didn't actually feel like making paper sails, I looked around for other options.

As you can see, I decided to girly the thing up even more by making satin ribbon sails. Fun, right?

silver ship back

And as a finishing touch, I tucked in some fabric flowers along the deck. I tried to keep the ship as non-piratey as possible since it's supposed to be an armada type ship. I really like how it turned out and Laura liked it too. I definitely think it was worth a little last minute stress.

And that's it! I have lots of projects to work on this week including sewing table runners for Laura's wedding and the Pay it Forward prizes. I'm really excited to get reacquainted with my sewing machine. It's been a long time!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Creating Marie, Part 2

So, on to the hors d'oeuvres!

The first recipe came from my own brain when I was lazy about cooking dinner one night. This was also a big hit at the party on Saturday. Prosciutto, mozzarella and bread (I haven't named them because I'm lazy, obviously).

prosciutto and mozzarella

Ingredients
-1 package of pre-sliced prosciutto (about 6-7 slices in a pack)
-1 small ball of fresh mozzarella (6-8 oz)
-1 pre-cooked baguette (actually, I get the kind that is mostly cooked and then you cook it the rest of the way in your oven)

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400°f
-Cut bread into rounds approximately 1/2"-3/4" thick and place on baking sheet.
-Cut mozzarella approximately 1/4" thick and lay slices onto bread.
-Pull apart prosciutto and lay pieces on top of mozzarella.
-Put pan into oven on center rack and bake for 3 minutes (this cooks the bread).
-put pan on top rack and broil for 3 minutes (this toasts the cheese and prosciutto).
-Check occasionally to make sure they don't burn.
-Eat warm or cold.

The next recipe came from Karrie (I don't know where she got it). It's a tangy pasta salad that's good hot or cold.

pasta salad

Ingredients
-1 box of pasta (I used bow-tie pasta because, well, bows fit the theme)
-1 can of quartered artichoke hearts (partially drained)
-1 jar of roasted red peppers (partially drained)
-1 small jar of pesto
-A few tablespoons of small capers

Directions
-Cook pasta and drain. Pour back into pot.
-Add all of the above ingredients, stir.
-Pour into a bowl and serve hot or cold.

The last recipe is one of my mom's specialties...sugar cookie fruit tarts.

fruit tarts

Ingredients
-sugar cookies (or ingredients to make sugar cookies...I like this recipe)
-1 package of cream cheese
-1 jar marshmallow fluff (large or small, whatever you feel like)
-fruit (grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries...whatever you want)

Directions
-Bake sugar cookies (or use pre-made cookies).
-Mix cream cheese and marshmallow fluff in a bowl (make sure cream cheese is softened before mixing).
-Prepare fruit by washing and cutting as necessary, spread fruit on paper towel to soak up water.
-Spread cream cheese frosting onto cookies.
-Top with fruit right before serving.
-Eat about a million before serving to guests.

marie antoinette party hors d'oeuvres

We also had fruit, fruit dip (pre-made from the store) and champagne.

For dinner I wanted to keep things simple since we had to save room for desserts. I made chicken breasts topped with basil, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella. The recipe says to stuff the chicken breasts but I used the basil/tomato mush as a topping instead. The topping and cheese went on just a few minutes before I pulled everything out of the oven.

The desserts came from Patrick's Bakery because my baking skills are not up to the level of fancy desserts just yet. Maybe someday? Probably not, though.

desserts from Patrick's Bakery

And that's it for food. Everything went over very well. I'm actually pretty proud of myself since I'm definitely not a cooker. Karrie helped prepare the food and she made the pasta dish but I thought up the menu. Usually my dinner menu consists of a bowl of cereal so you can see why this was a challenge for me. I can honestly say that it'll be quite a while until I have another dinner party but I'm also very happy I had this one. Now I know I can do it without panicking. And now I also know that keeping it simple is the key.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Creating Marie.

I thought it’d be nice to share some of my sources for party supplies and decorations.

First, I ordered fabric fans from Luna Bazaar. They have lots of cool stuff so check it out. The fans I ordered turned out to be a little chintzy but they worked just fine. The sticks are wood and ornately carved.

fabric fans

Next came the ostrich feathers. Anyone who saw the movie knows how important they were to the theme. I found a good deal at Continental Feathers (who shipped them fast, by the way). I ordered a dozen each of 14”-16” ostrich drabs in white and pink (the regular pink, not the hot pink). I also ordered a dozen in blue dunn in case they actually turned out to be blue but, alas, they were gray. They’re a lovely shade, though, so I’m sure I’ll use them for something else.

I curled the ends of the feathers by drawing them between my thumb and the blade of a scissors, much like curling ribbon.

french macarons

My vision for the party included eating dinner under a frothy tent so of course, I needed tulle. Purchasing tulle is aggravating because it’s used, a lot of the time, for weddings. And we all know that once you use the “W” word, you get charged twice as much. Fortunately, I found the ebay seller p-linens who had amazing prices. I bought a 50 yd bolt (108” wide) for $39.99 plus shipping. It was the best deal I could find anywhere.

tulle and fabric flower garlands

And since I thought the tulle needed something more and since I found this amazing tutorial, I made garlands out of satin ribbon and fabric “flowers”. They were really easy to make and now I want to put fabric flowers on everything. Also, check out the rest of Katiedid’s blog…she makes clothes for her young daughters and they’re so cool that I want to adapt some of the ideas for myself.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of the (really easy!) recipes I used to make the hors d’oeuvres.