Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections and Predictions

At the beginning of 2011, I skipped the resolutions and just went with a few sewing goals:

2. Return to my quilting roots.
3. Closures.

So, how'd I do??? Pretty darn well on two out of three...and so-so on the third.

I definitely returned to my quilting roots, churning out numerous doll quilts, part of a quilt for Belle's bed (yep - still unfinished and still not in a big bed...Mama is TOTALLY ok with that!), most of a Christmas quilt, and a few crib size quilts pieced and waiting for quilting. CHECK!

Closures - got it! I LOVE zippers! And while they aren't nearly as much fun, buttons are cool too.

Hoarding - Well...I did raid my stash on numerous occasions. And that would result in a decreased quantity of stashed fabric...IF I didn't keep stashing. Oh well!

Now, while you sympathize with that poor pitiful creature with the ear infection down there, I'm throwing in my two-cents on the Sew Mama Sew end of year reflections and predictions questionnaire.

Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?

A return to hand-stitching, novelty kid prints that aren't so childish, and a vintage feel to quilts, apparel etc.

What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?

I fell in love with pre-cuts. I know these aren't anything new or earth shattering, I just haven't really used them all that much before. I think I always felt a little limited by the I would want more of the really fantastic fabrics that I discovered in that little bundle of mystery. But this year, I began to appreciate having a piece of every fabric in a collection...even if just a tiny slice. I began to love the complete-ness of the concept.

Are there any trends you are over and done with?

Gray! Ok - not gray in and of itself...because what would I wear everyday if I didn't start with a base of gray??? I mean, gray as THE neutral for quilting. It's almost like you aren't cool if your quilt uses white, or (GASP) ivory! It's just been way overplayed in the last two years. Which is sad for me because I simply love it.

What do you predict for the 2012 sewing industry?

Orange. And a focus on really small scale prints. And a surge of bloggers using video tutorials to teach sewing classes to the masses. But also, a pull back from the blog world. As our sewing has seemed to head back to earlier traditions, I'm thinking that we may begin to distance ourselves from our technology a bit too. Not completely, but, as Belle says, "just a smidge."

And what to expect from me in 2012?

NOTHING! That way I can't disappoint right??? Actually, I have two sewing goals for 2012...NO MORE FABRIC! and let's finish some of this mess up already:) So hopefully, you'll be seeing some projects revisited and some massive quantities of fabric being used! And one small caveat - If I must purchase fabric to complete a previously abandoned project then that will be acceptable...but only if it be deemed absolutely necessary:)

Enough of my rambling already...go ring in the New Year with someone you love!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random Little Piece of Warmth

Lest my knitting friends think I've given up the yarn completely...I wanted to share one of the yummy little knitting projects that I've been working on sporadically.

One day a few weeks ago, I realized that my knitting projects basket was overflowing onto the table and floor around it. And, yes, my knitting habits are highly similar to my sewing habits...lots of fun new ideas, very little completion of actual projects.

So, I decided to try to finish up some WIP that were near to completion. This super yummy cowl fit that bill perfectly. I started it on a road trip, but once home again, returned to other projects and left this poor thing abandoned with only a few rows remaining to finish it.

The thing about blogging about knitting...a computer screen really does not do a plush yarn justice. There is no way you can tell how soft and delicious this is. Which is very sad for you all...unless you happen to live nearby and want to pet my neck at the playground one day:)

The yarn is Sugarbunny from Knitpicks. I used Hawk and Platinum and knit with two strands at a time to produce the tweedy effect. There's no pattern for this...just a big circle of knitted stitches. Plain and simple. I left one twist in the loop of stitches for an infinity style wrap. And you can easily twist this thing around your neck three times. It's soft. It's warm. It's gray. Is there a better combination?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookies for Santa and Holiday Wishes for You

We've wrapped and hung and baked and sung. The tree sparkles, the presents shimmer, and the cookies smell delightful. And now we wait...for Christmas, for Santa, and for the birth of our Lord.

Tonight, I send to you my warmest wishes for a very happy Christmas! I hope you find yourself surrounded by loved ones, filled with the spirit, and blessed by the Savior. And an abundance of cookies never hurt anyone:)

And in case you need a last minute gift, these little cookies are sure to delight a child in your life. My present to you...a quick almost-tutorial. Directions only, but pretty simple to follow. And you have just enough time to whip up two or three as you sit by the fire and enjoy the glow of you tree (and the cleanliness of your family room - cuz that won't last long tomorrow!).

You will need:

some felt scraps (red, white, green, brown, tan, cream, yellow, etc.)

a tiny bit of stuffing

embroidery thread

cookie cutters

1. Select a cookie cutter for the outline of your cookie.

2. Trace the cookie cutter onto the felt color of your choice TWO times for each cookie. Example - to make 1 chocolate chip cookie you would trace two circles onto tan felt. Cut out your cookies.

3. Draw and cut out embellishments for the top of your cookie. Example - to make one chocolate chip cookie cut out approximately 9 small circles of dark brown felt.

4. Use embroidery thread to stitch decorations to the top of your cookie. You can also embroider details like sprinkles at this time too.

5. Place the two pieces of your cookie right sides together and sew using 1/4" seam allowance. I did this on my sewing machine for speed and durability, but you could do this by hand if you would like. Leave a 1.5" opening for turning and stuffing.

6. Clip any corners and curves, then turn right side out.

7. Add a small amount of stuffing...don't overstuff these or they cease to look like a cookie and become more of a hockey puck.

8. Fold open edges in and whipstitch the opening closed using matching thread.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Set that Will Likely Never Be...

Did you create a holiday sewing list? I'm wondering if your vision for all the things you were going to make for the loved ones in your life was as unattainable as mine. I seriously overestimated how much I could accomplish! And even more than that, each day seemed to trigger a new idea for something else that would make someone in my life (mostly my girls) smile.

Meet Gingerbread Baby.

Are you familiar with Jan Brett's books? Each and every one is truly amazing! And many of them make a nice addition to your holiday/winter reading rotation. The Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends are two of our favorites! With gorgeous illustrations and a slightly new take on this classic story, they are highly engaging. [Insert former literacy teacher's comments on repetitive text, the value of following characters from one book to the next etc.]

And so, our Gingerbread Baby was born. After reading the books at bedtime one night, I thought to myself, "You know, Belle would really love to have a Gingerbread Baby to carry around. I think I'll make her one tonight." Was this a project on my previously established holiday sewing list? No, but it's just one quick little doll. And she'll really love it...

A few hours and a small stack of wool felt later, I snuck into Belle's room and tucked Gingie into her clothes for the next day. A fun little surprise!

If only the insanity had stopped there...

Because at this point, I realized that we were headed to the Nutcracker in a few days. And, the gingerbread cookies just happen to be one of my favorite parts. And this little gal really did look just like the costumes in the ballet. And Belle would really fall in love with ALL the characters. And, of course, I should just make her an entire Nutcracker play set...right???

Can you see how I get myself in trouble around here???

I sat for a few hours and sketched patterns for Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King. Then I meticuously traced each of those patterns (why didn't I pull out the scanner here?), so that I could have a copy of each to save. Then I cut each tiny piece. And well, you can see where this is headed.

At this point, Gingerbread Baby remains a loner, though the skirt part of Clara's nightdress is finished. Of course, once we actually saw the ballet, Belle's favorite was the Sugar Plum Fairy and I haven't even cut those pieces out yet.

So, as the title suggests, this set will never be complete. Especially not before Christmas. But maybe over time I'll finish it up for next year. But then, who am I kidding? I will have thought of a million and one other projects to do between now and then.

So, am I the only one whose brain works faster than her hands? Do you all struggle to control zillions of creative thoughts that just can't feasibly be brought to fruition? Or am I the only one who gets herself into these kinds of situations?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Very Special O-ccasion!

Once upon a time there was a very special little girl. And she loved to attend special "vacations." It only took about 300 attempts to teach her that they were special, "o-ccasions." And one day she will eventually leave out the exaggerated pause between the syllables when discussing these unique events. That will be a sad day for her Mommy!

This very special little girl had a fascination with all things girlie. Twirly dresses and ballerinas included. So, she was blessed with the opportunity to see the Nutcracker for the very first time...from the FRONT ROW!

And such a special "o-ccasion," called for a very special frock, indeed.

Red and white damask with touches of black corduroy. A fluffy black tulle tutu for volume and a party dress pattern. All the tiny details coming together for maximum twirlability and a very happy child.

Let's just say...She loved her dress. She loved the ballet. And we have watched many Sugar Plum Fairy performances since our very special o-ccasion. One holiday memory that we will never forget!

What holiday memories are you making this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What We've Been Up To...

So what have Belle, Bee and I been up to recently?

Well, we feasted with family. Our tummies have never been so full or so happy:)

But, we did save some room for dessert!

We've spread some sisterly love...and accidentally excluded all the pictures where the love wasn't so sweet!

Then we made some time to decorate this monstrous thing in our jammies. We even went back later and added a tree topper, but somehow it didn't make the "film."

We froze our cute little tushies off at the Raleigh Christmas parade on the ONE cold day we've had so far this fall. It has been seriously warm here and we are looking forward to a little chill tomorrow!

And even spotted our hometown hero along the route!

Can you guess who's driving these reindeer???

Someone knows who it is and she is being sure to show off her most winning (and innocent looking) smile.

But this one just doesn't seem to get, Bee, you're supposed to be GOOD!

We've read a lot of books and worn more than our share of costumes.

We even sported some rocking Daddy-made "crowns," at bath time.

This has to be the best picture I've ever taken...I just love it!

But, "Wait," you say. What's missing here? Oh, yes. The craftiness.

Well, lest you believe that all projects have come to an end, here's the list of WIP and completed fun stuff over the last few weeks: felt Christmas cookies, a pile of holiday bookmarks/ornaments/gift tags, a good portion of a rather large Christmas quilt pieced, a GORGEOUS dress for Belle to wear to the Nutcracker, a super-fab embellished stocking for a dear local client, mountains of glittered holiday play dough, a wool felt gingerbread baby, a partially completed Clara doll, and a partridge in a pear tree (ok - that was just to see if you were paying attention).

Now, why on Earth aren't there any pictures of those goodies. Well, you see, when one is so busy living life and crafting on the side, one somehow runs out of time to edit the 600+ photos clogging up the SD card, preventing you from photographing all the crafty goodness. UNTIL TONIGHT! All 9,000,000,000 pics have been edited, saved, and organized (and shared) and there is finally room on that card for some pics of the fun projects we've been working on.

Just wait until you see the present Belle is making for Bee for's pretty darn amazing and I'm not the least bit biased.

So, I hope you've been just as busy living life as we have. And I'll be back soon with some of the fun holiday sewing that we've been up to:)