Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baby Showers!

Today we celebrated the upcoming birth of what is sure to be a beautiful child.  Two friends from church are expecting their first baby girl soon and we celebrated with a baby shower today.  Since the majority of the gifts I've been making recently have been for either boy gifts or gender-neutral gifts it was pretty fun to be able to make something for a girl that could be girly.  And knowing that Emily loves butterflies certainly helped with the design.

At first I was contemplating making a blanket, but then I received an email in my inbox from the baby's godmother saying she was organizing a quilt for the family and wanted to know if I wanted to contribute a square or two.  To sweeten the deal she was having a night at her house where we could go and work on our squares... Sweet!

I ended up making two squares while I was hanging out enjoying banana bread and wine.  The first was a pink heart on a butterfly-print background with the words "Happy Family" embroidered in the heart.  

The second square I wanted to be simple yet beautiful.  I had some ivory eyelet scraps left over from making Wendy's dirndl (Hi Wendy!) for Oktoberfest so I thought I'd just cut a butterfly shape out of the scrap and sew it onto a green background.  

It looked so pretty that it inspired me for a future project to make a full quilt using blocks of eyelet butterflies on differing backgrounds.  Forgive the quality of the two photos, I took them with my phone at night in a dimly lit room.  

I didn't get a picture of the finished quilt today at the baby shower when Emily opened it, but it was BEAUTIFUL.  Sarah did a great job putting it all together and putting the backing on.  Maybe someone who was there snapped a photo of it and would care to send it my way...hint, hint.

Not onto the present!  Since a quilt was already being made I thought I'd go the onesie route.  I recently won a set of beautiful pink and green Riley Blake fat quarters at a giveaway going on at Melissa Stramel's Blog and thought that the solid pink, polka dot, and paisley prints would look great used together.
Awhile ago I bought several blank white onesies in two sizes to embellish and use as gifts, and so I used one from each size for the gift.  For the 6-9 month sized onesie I decided to make a matching skirt for her to wear with it.  I used the same pattern for the skirt that I used for the Cthulhu skirt, but since I had a limited amount of fabric I shortened the yoke so that it was basically just a waistband.

I decided to make it as versatile as I could so I made it reversible, with the paisley print on one side, the polka dot on the reverse, and the pink as the waistband. 

Construction of the skirt was simple. If I had taken any photos of the process I would try to make a tutorial, but since I didn't I'll leave it to your imagination how I put it together...
For the onesie that matched the skirt I made a butterfly template out of paper and then with right sides of the fabric together I machine stitched all the way around.  I then trimmed the edges and clipped corners, then I cut a slit in the center of the butterfly on the side of the fabric that would be against the onesie.  I then used the slit to turn the butterfly so that the right sides were facing out, and pressed it with my iron.  I attached the butterfly to the front of the onesie using a zigzag stitch, and then cut out a butterfly body shape in a contrasting fabric and appliqued it onto the wings shape.  With a pink embroidery floss I then secured the body to the onesie so that it wouldn't fray in the wash.  Done!

For the 0-3 month sized onesie I didn't want to make a skirt, so I had to think of something different. I made a similar butterfly to the one I made for the other onesie, but I switched which fabric was the wings and which was the body, and constructed it and attached it to the onesie.  For the "something different" to go with this onesie I decided on some butt ruffles.  I've seen this done in several patterns on diaper covers and so I figures it couldn't be that difficult.  I took a this strip from each of my three fabrics and used my serger to serge all the way around the edges.  I then basted across the top of each and used the basting stitch to gather the strip into a ruffle.  I then pinned them to the butt of the onesie and attached them with a zigzag stitch.  The zigzag allowed the ruffles to stretch with the fabric, which I thought would be a VERY good idea since the ruffles are supposed to stretch across the baby's butt.  I then made a bow out of the pink fabric and attached it above the ruffles. Done!

I really like the way these outfits came out.  The fabric I used was perfect and super soft... a great quality fabric all the way around.  

Since I was so pleased with the project I decided to do something special with the photos (and this is fun)... I enlisted Granite as my photographer's assistant and we headed outside.  I've seen a lot of photos on blogs recently where the project was displayed hanging on a clothes line in front of flowers and plants, and I wanted to duplicate that effect.  In our complex we have several different "pockets" with pretty plants and flowers so we headed over to one with our clothesline, clothespins, camera and tripod and set up.  Granite's job was to hold the end of the clothesline.  The other end we secured to a tree.  It actually worked really well, I just wish it hadn't been as windy as it was.  Oh well, I only needed to get a few good shots to make it worth it (and it was definitely worth it!)
All three pieces with the paisley side of the skirt showing...
All three pieces with the polka dot side of the skirt showing...
The backside of the smaller onesie.
A closeup of the butt ruffles.  Cute, huh?

And since no present is finished until it is wrapped with a card, I made a butterfly card and decorated a bag with a matching butterfly.
P.S. I'm linking this post to Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday.  See my sidebar for their button and go check out other people's entries!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Giveaway over at Fairy Face Designs!

While I've just recently discovered this I'm sure a lot of you out there haven't yet discovered the joy to be found in the online craft blog world.  Particular favorites of mine include blogs on quilting and general sewing goodness.  Another perk?  Giveaways!  I've been lucky enough to win two of the giveaway drawings I've entered (winning the felt camp set and the Riley Blake FQ set), and so I thought I'd pass along a little link love while at the same time introducing you all to a giveaway going on over at Fairy Face Designs.... and in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that by the simple act of me re-posting this blog post I'm getting myself another entry in the giveaway.  yay! 

So hop on over there and check it out! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catching up... Embroidery!

I've been busy since the weekend getting back in the crafty spirit... I successfully completed my portfolio for graduation and submitted it on Monday, so I've been celebrating by allowing myself the time to craft.

This week I've been working on a variety of projects.  The first is my contribution to the April stitch-along going on over at the Feeling Stitchy blog.  I deviated a little from the group design, but I like what I came up with.

The original design was a girl with an umbrella in the rain.  Instead of rain I decided to have my girl showered with love.  I also wasn't the biggest fan of her hair, so I made a change there and did something different.
I had a lot of fun with the embroidery.  It allowed me to use a wide variety of stitches that I don't normally use with the embroidery I do.

I've also gotten it into my mind to make a quilt for Granite and I.  While shopping on Etsy for fabric for a gift I found a set of Robert Kaufman Metro Living prints that I thought were fun and used them as a jumping off point for building a selection of prints to use.  Not all have arrived in the mail yet and so I'll wait to take a picture of them until then.  In the mean time the pattern I selected for making the quilt can be found here.  

I've also begun the embroidery I'm going to use on a secret project, and purchased the fabrics I'll use for it.  If you can tell by the two beagles in the embroidery who the project might be for be sure to keep it a secret!  I posted the picture of the fabric I purchased as a black and white photo to keep the color scheme I decided on a surprise as well!
I've also got quite a few different surprise projects in the works that I'll wait to write about until they're all done.  I had just wanted to go ahead and blog a little about what's been going on since I've been MIA for awhile.

Anyways, happy Holy Week everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Baby Blanket for Isaac

I've been holding onto this post for a few weeks now because I didn't want to spoil the surprise, but now I can talk about the process of making a baby blanket for little Isaac Patrick because we visited the little cutie today and gave him his birth-day present.  Yay!

The process of making Isaac's blanket started out like this: I asked Erica a few weeks before Isaac was due what kind of theme they had planned for him, and she told me dark blues and greens and turtles.  Well, surprise surprise, Joann's doesn't really carry nursery prints that fit any of those characteristics, so I had to stretch myself to figure out what I was going to do.  

After walking up and down the aisles I decided that if I couldn't create interest in patterns then I would just have to do so with texture.  I decided to focus on three colors: navy blue, hunter green, and chocolate brown.  I selected a flannel in each of the colors, different sized corduroy in each of the colors, fleece in the blue and green, and a cuddly plush in the brown. 

I took my new purchases and happily went home to finalize my design and get started.
To make things easy on myself I decided to make the blanket 36"x36", which I figure is a decent size for a baby blanket and easy enough to work with.  The design I came up with utilized a 9-square block design surrounding a center panel which would be an appliqued picture of (you guessed it) a turtle.
I sat myself down in front of the TV with my rulers, cutting mat, rotary blade, chalk line and scissors and happily cut cut cut until I had my required 108 squares.  I then carefully laid them out so that each 9-square block had one square from each fabric and no similar squares were touching each other.
While I'm always a little worried about alignment when working with 9-square blocks and making sure the corners match I have to say that I've had the easiest time with this quilt than I ever have with any of the other piecework I've done.  Maybe it's just that I've gotten to be more careful when I cut the fabrics, but these squares gave me very little trouble.  The most difficult of all of my fabric choices was definitely the brown cuddly plush since it stretched and so I had to trim many of them down to the required 4"x4" size since many had mysteriously ended up as 4 1/2"x4" squares.

After cutting everything and sewing all of my blocks together (which took about a day) I got to move onto the fun part, the applique.  

Poor Granite had to sit through all my debates about what I should do with the applique.  "Should I do a turtle facing sideways?" "Should I do a turtle looking right at you?" "Should there be more than one turtle?" "Should I do a turtle from a top view?"... and then it hit me.  I have no idea where the idea came from, but suddenly I was sketching a picture of a turtle sitting on a rock reading a book... wearing glasses... in front of a tree... with clouds in the sky.  

When I do applique work I don't ever like to just cut the fabric and hope it works, and I never really try to sew it directly on.  Instead I like to draw a picture, make it the exact size of what I want, transfer the drawing onto fusible web, attach the fusible web to the fabric, cut the design, and then fuse the design onto the backing piece.  But that's not what I did this time.  Instead I decided to skip the fusible web and just work with the fabric directly.
I worked from the background out and made the grass, tree and clouds first.  I free handed the grass while I was sewing it on, so it's a little uneven, but I liked the way it looked.  In the picture you can see a space where the grass is flat, that's the area that would be covered by the turtle on the rock, so I figured I wouldn't waste my time making it look like grass since it wouldn't ever be seen.

At this point in the design process I got excited by what I was doing and stopped taking photos.  After piecing together the turtle and adding leaves to the tree branches I embroidered Isaac's name onto his blanket using a chain stitch and then added the blocks around the appliqued center panel.  After pressing the quilt top I made a quilt sandwich using a large square of the cuddly brown plush as a backing and a piece of leftover fleece as batting (I didn't want the blanket to be too thick), and then binded the whole thing with some brown blanket binding.
I think it came out quite good.
I especially like the turtle.  Who can resist a turtle reading a good book? 
And even if you could resist the turtle, nobody could resist the brown cuddly plush backing.  Sooo soft!

Needless to say I was very pleased with the way it came out.  It was a labor of love Isaac, I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Birthday Weekend!!!

This weekend we celebrated my love's 28th birthday with a small family party at our house.  The guest list was small, just my love and I and some of his family, but that didn't stop me from trying to make it a beautiful birthday.

A few days before the party I was inspired by a paper banner I saw on the Joyful website and decided to make one for Granite's birthday as well.  I have a stack of paper I bought at the craft store over a year ago that was perfect for the job, and armed with my scissors, paper, and cricut machine I set about to make a birthday surprise.

I was very pleased with the way it came out, and because I used push pins to hang it it was very easy for me to take it down and wait until the last minute to re-hang it so it was indeed a surprise.

Another thing I did for the party that was inspired by the joyful website party was I wrapped all the utensil sets with napkins and secured them with a band of the paper to tie it in.  I had also wanted to make the little toothpick flags that was on the website but nothing on the menu for the day required toothpicks.

Speaking of the menu, for his special day my love had:
Grilled salmon with mustard dill sauce
Blue cheese with candied walnuts and raspberries salad
Mushroom rissotto
Waldorf salad
Dill biscuits
Fresh squeezed lemonade with mint leaves
Sun tea

And for dessert I made him a vegan fresh fruit tart:
I did a few other little things to freshen the house up a bit.  One of them was that I stopped by Trader Joes and picked up a bunch of irises to have on the table.  I also covered the lid of our tea dispenser with a square of linen and secured it with a ribbon.  Not only did it look pretty, but it disguised the fact that the lid of our tea dispenser is a bright purple plastic, and not very pretty.
All in all the party was very fun and I had a great time with the family.  But probably the best thing about the party?  It was relatively stress-free! (though I do have to admit, I have yet to wash the dishes)

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