Friday, May 28, 2010

trees in bloom quilt :: complete

So this is what I've been up to for the last two weeks and I just finished it today.  This quilt is a birthday gift for my mother-in-law (which she would have celebrated over a week ago).  It was the hub who asked me to make one for her, and since that's a rare occurrence, I jumped at the chance to oblige.

I chose this tree design because it reminds me of her.  She is sweet and nurturing and has a wonderful love of life.  And she very much enjoys cutzie and colorful things.  I know she will enjoy the happy colors in all the leaves.

The tree trunks were patchworked into the quilt, but the leaves and sun were appliqued.  That's probably not how real quilters would have done it but I didn't have the time to figure out how to work the leaves into the quilt itself.  And since the sun was an afterthought (because I didn't like all the white space above the small tree), I had to applique that using some orange cotton and yellow fleece from my stash.  I am very pleased with how the sun turned out and I think the fleece adds a bit of extra texture.

And then comes the part that always stumps me: how to quilt it.  Instead of stippling (in which I lack confidence because I've only done it once before on this kid-sized quilt), I decided to quilt it in parts to give me more time to think.  I quilted the tree trunks first using staggered boxes; I used my darning foot and worked my way up the trunks in straight lines. 

I quilted the leaves next using a pebbling technique (very fun, but definitely time consuming) while adding a string of loops to the branches. 

Then after a full day of pondering, I decided to simply outline the trees in the white space.  I'm super excited about that decision.  I think it adds dimension and calls attention to the focal points.  Stippling would have looked great, I'm sure, but it tends to blend everything together.  I wanted the trees to stand out.

I hand-bound the quilt in a light green, large floral print fabric that I bought on a visit to a fabric store with my mother-in-law in January.  How fitting.  And because I love little personal touches, I added two of them:

A small strip of little birdie fabric in the binding . . .

And a personalized tag stitched with embroidery thread . . .

Here is the back.  This blue-green, small-flower print fabric again reminded me so much of my mother-in-law that I just had to use it for the backing.  And I decided to tie in some of the prints from the front.  Isn't it neat how you can see the outline of the trees on the back?  I wasn't sure how it would look from the back, but I really like it.

This is my seventh quilt but only my second adult-sized lap quilt.  I'm still getting the hang of my darning foot, but I was really surprised at how great the quilting looks even though the lines surrounding the trees are not evenly spaced.  I'm a perfectionist (and an engineer), so I thought I would be bothered by the uneven stitching or the accidental zigzags.  But I'm not.  Maybe I appreciate these small little errors because each of them makes the quilt handmade and personal.

This was such a great quilting experience!  I wasn't sure about quilting after my first one, but with each new quilt I gain confidence and knowledge and I can proudly say that I was a little sad to actually finish this quilt.  On to the next one then . . .

This quilt measures 55 inches wide by 51 inches long.

Just for fun (and because I love this quilt so much) I'm submitting this quilt to the Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2010! Jump on over to see other quilts handmade by fellow bloggers.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

gifts from nonna

Each of the boys received a gift in the mail from Nonna (my mother-in-law).  I wasn't home when the boys opened the box, but I hear it was pretty comical.  The two gifts came in a small, approximately 6 x 4 x 2 inch box.  When the hub told Logan that Nonna had sent a gift, he immediately and openly wished for a sewing machine.  That's right!  I'm raising him to want only the important things in life.

She made this button-up shirt from pirate fabric for Logan, and despite the fact that it's just a tad tight, he wears it a lot.  He really does need more collared shirts, so this was perfect. And the skull and crossbones applique adds the bad-boy touch that he often lives up to.

Trenton got this super cute baseball cap.  I would never have thought to make him a hat!  It's lightweight and made of cotton, so it won't be too hot for him to wear all summer.

Very nice work, Nonna.  Thank you for thinking of the boys as recipients of your wonderful crafts . . . but I'm pretty sure you never stop thinking of the boys, period.

 You can read more about Nonna's projects on her blog Sew-Sew Shae.

ps. I haven't posted in a while because I'm working on something big!  I can't post even snippets about it because the lucky recipient reads my blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a second (belated) mother's day pillow

Last month, I woke up with the idea of writing a poem for my mom for mother's day.  I knew it would be about my brother who passed three years ago.  The words flowed very easily that morning and I quickly wrote it all down.

Now let me clarify.  I am not a poet nor do I write poetry in my leisure time.  Aside from a silly rap that I put together in sixth grade about some boys in my class, I have never written a true poem in my life.  But since the rhymes came very easily that morning, I thought I would take advantage.

I printed the poem on fabric paper (or printable fabric, whatever it's called).  My original intention was to stitch the poem to the pillow, but I also intended for the "poem" to be one stanza.  I'm getting better at understanding my limits and with no previous experience with stitchery, I figured that I just better find another way. 

I'm not thrilled with the print quality and the fabric seemed to shift slightly in the printer (can you see how some of the words toward the bottom of the poem are a little squished?).  But it did accomplish what I wanted.  For this pillow, I should have tea-stained the white fabric to make it fit the Americana look of the pillow but I was afraid of ruining the ink.  We'll try that next time.

I also thought for this pillow that I would try my hand at stitchery.  I need some more practice.  This angel is my own drawing and looks more like a second grader's work of art than primitive stitchery (I think it's the head.)  Oh, and the fabric that I used picks up lint like a mushy banana dropped on the floor, so I need to be more conscious of that next time.  It think most real stitchers use linen.

The pillow is backed with natural-colored linen and I love it.  I just wish I would have thought to use linen on the front border.  The two colors match, but I think linen on the front would have pulled the pillow together better.

And I used an invisible zipper as a closure again.  I really like the look of these.  At first I thought I could just sew this pillow closed because I don't imagine my mom using this pillow much; it's more for decoration and I can't imagine it attracting enough dirt to need a wash.  But it is a special pillow and I wanted her to have that option if needed.

In case you're interested, here is the poem I wrote:

My Special Angel

God delivered me an angel,
A special one indeed.
He taught me how to live my life
By helping friends in need.
But after all the time he spent with me,
God needed him back.
For there was bigger work for him to do
Especially in Iraq.
He was called to be a US Soldier,
A protector for the human right
To freedom and a life of happiness.
He took a stand to fight.
Then God needed him back again
For there was bigger work to do,
An angel on the other side
For soldiers passing through.
My heart aches to miss this much.
It just seems so unfair.
But this I know when my time comes
My angel will be standing there.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

a very happy mother's day

Just posting briefly to wish everyone a very happy Mother's Day today.  I hope it's warmer elsewhere in the world because this is what it looks like here.

You probably can't tell but it's cold and snowing.  And it's been snowing all morning.  I rescued the flowers from our yard.  I would rather them be inside safe inside a vase than outside in the cold, blustery snow.

But I must confess the real reason I'm posting.  Look what I got for Mother's Day . . .

That's right.  It's a serger!  I can't believe it.  I told the hub earlier this week that I wanted a new watch because he said that he didn't have a gift for me yet.  I don't know why I always fall for that.  So there I was at 8am this morning dreaming of how I would look in my new watch when Logan, with some help, brought up a very large box containing this magnificent gift.

Oh how I adore my family.  And not because they get me great gifts.  But I haven't sewing for long and this gift, to me, signifies the support they offer to me and my hobby.  The hub researched these on his own and for not knowing anything about needles, thread, or what a serger even does, he did a great job.

So thank you, dear family, for the laughs, hugs, joy and support that you give me every day.  I will now be retiring to my play area to fiddle with my new toy for the rest of the day.  If you need anything, see Dad.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

one mother's day patchwork pillow

This patchwork pillow goes to a special mother-in-law who is always so sweet to me and gushes over her grandboys.  She is crafty herself, so I thought she would enjoy a pillow made especially for her.

When I saw the center fabric, I immediately thought of her.  We both share a love of young adult books, and the cute little birds, bugs, flowers and trees remind me of a children's book.  Did you notice the tire swing on this tree?

Of course, there are a million and a half ways to piece a pillow top together, but I decided to go with simple log cabin squares.  Since it's my first one, I didn't want to complicate matters.  And I just love the color combination!  It definitely screams spring and I like how the darker grey frames the squares and draws attention to the pillow; white would have done the same thing, but I think grey is a nice change of pace.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with the back of the pillow.  I thought about piecing the other side together to get two pillows in one, but ultimately I decided to keep the back simple, too, and just to go with one large piece.  More flowers on light green and I surprising like this fabric now that it's on the pillow (I debated for 30 minutes).  I could see this fabric as a major part of a full-size pillowcase.

And last but definitely not least, I included an invisible zipper!  I used this tutorial from Sew Katie Did and it turned out great the first time!  Well, next time I should try to get a little closer to the zipper teeth because my zipper isn't exactly invisible, but it's close enough for my first venture.  And I love the pale yellow called Primrose; it matches the rest of the pillow just perfectly.

Definitely a Mother's Day success.

This pillow measures 14 by 14 inches.  The perfect size for a little guy, too.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

a picnic table fit for little monsters

Logan has been asking me for weeks if he can eat lunch outside.  We have a small table with a broken umbrella on our back deck, but we haven't taken advantage of it yet this summer.  Is it safe to call it summer yet?

I thought about making a quilt for us to take on picnics in the park, but that wouldn't solve our backyard dilemma.  So when I saw these plans on Knock-Off Wood and learned that it only cost her $30 to make (including paint), I got the hub right on it.  Ana is fantastic offers all her plans for free!  I spend large chunks of time after the kids go to bed just searching through all the amazing projects she has built and adding them to my wish list.

This was a single weekend project even with two little monsters stomping around.  The hub put the table together on Saturday and I did the sanding and painting on Sunday. . . with a little help from a tool-loving 4-year-old and his intrigued but cautious little brother.

We used pine to make the table because it was more economical (cheaper) and it turned out very sturdy.  I'm not sure that I could sit on it without it tipping over, but it can hold at least 60 rambunctious lbs on one side.

And it's great for climbing . . .

The orange was Logan's idea.  Well, I let him choose between red and orange and he picked the latter.  I'm surprisingly elated with the color choice; I am absolutely terrible at choosing the right paint color.  Eventually I get it right, but it takes me a couple of tries.  I think I got this one right the first time.  It's Valspar La Fonda Copper and I'm certain this table is one of a kind.

Now all we need is another warm afternoon and some grilled cheese (and maybe a functional umbrella for a little shade) and we can really break in this table.

And I want to be sure and thank a very special husband for supporting all my ideas no matter how crazy.  He did an outstanding job with this table and I am extremely proud of him.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

happy may!

Okay, so I vowed when I started this blog that I would post only crafty things.  But this photo is just too darn cute not to post.  And it was taken during one of my kid-filled photo shoots.

We stopped in briefly to wish you a happy May because, for me, May brings a renewed appreciation for life and the energy to take advantage of it.  So have yourself a happy, crafty month filled with new ideas, smiles, and lots of fun memories!