Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Complete at last!!!

I realize I had a blog post a few weeks ago stating the Quilt is complete at last, which it is. But it was a quilt from my class....not THE quilt. 

This is THE quilt. 

Little Miss O's REAL quilt. And it is done. finally. After almost 2 years.  

Let me explain.

I have professed my love of all things Basic Grey in blog's past (They of the amazing scrapbook papers and stickers and such) I made my little girl a baby scrapbook using their paper collection called Blush, which features beautiful pale turquoise, pinks, whites with a little brown and brick red thrown in featuring different flowers and little birds - it is perfection! I loved using their papers, they were perfect for talking about my baby girl.

Then I found out that Basic Grey made lines for fabric for Moda ....and that the Blush collection of papers was made into a collection of fabrics! That the colors of the fabric line perfectly matched the rug in her room was a complete bonus! 

I did not know how to quilt at this time, so I bought a cute jelly roll of Blush fabric. A jelly roll is 2 1/2" strips cut the width of the fabric (usually 42"-44" in width) rolled up into a cute little roll. There were 40 strips in the roll. I thought  that would be good for a twin size quilt right? 

Now, I am good at math, but I didn't do the math then. If I had, I would have seen right away that this was nowhere near enough... But I didn't do the math. I think I was too taken in with the cuteness of the jelly roll. Look how cute it is!!

I found the perfect quilt pattern in Elizabeth Hartman's book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker. (Highly recommend this book and Elizabeth's blog Oh Frannson by the way...) The quilt is called Small Plates and it was perfect for working with a jelly roll. And it was when I read the fabric requirements for the quilt that I realized I needed more, A LOT more fabric! 

That was when I was completely thankful for the inventions of the internet, Etsy and Google, as I was able to track down more pieces of my dear Blush fabric. Plenty to make the quilt. And two pillowcases (made to hold her over while I worked on the quilt!) And I have more...but I have plans for more accessories....we'll see...

As you can see from the quilt, it is made up of 80 blocks, with a 5" square piece of fabric framed by a different fabric. 40 blocks have the same color frame, the "main" color of the quilt. I knew I wanted the pink to be main color of the quilt, but I needed to figure out which fabrics would be framed inside those pink borders as well as what fabrics to choose to border and frame for the other 40 squares. That was a lot of planning.

Luckily, it was summer and we had lots of play dates and my friends were awesome about helping me and giving their feedback. I plied them with baked goods to thank them.

I sewed the blocks by hand, since my sewing machine was not working at the time and I was eager to start. All 80 of them. Luckily, the blocks were portable, so they went everywhere with me! To swimming lessons, piano...stitch, stitch, stitch!

After that, I had to figure out how to lay them out. Thankfully, my amazing quilt teacher Judy and the awesome ladies in the quilt class helped me with this daunting task! Judy advised me to make diagonal stripes of each border color, which I loved! Unfortunately, this meant I had to make 11 more blocks in the colors I needed. (which is fine, because I made a sweet quilt for my dear cousin's baby girl out of some of the other squares- see below - cute, right?)

After that, I used my machine to sew the blocks together. 

Now, it was time to make the quilt back! 

Something I love about Elizabeth Hartman's designs is that she is very thoughtful. Her back design is beautiful AND uses the leftover strips from the front on the back middle panel. I picked my favorite two fabrics for the large pieces and used strips of grunge turquoise to break it up. So pretty, right?!

For you that do not quilt or haven't thought much about them, quilts have a front, a back and batting in the middle. Once you put all the layers together, you have to pin them all together (Again, my quilting friends helped with pinning using a LOT of safety pins- THANK YOU LADIES!!) 

Once you have all that done, THEN YOU QUILT IT! 

The "quilting" part is actually the process of sewing a design while joining the three layers together! The rest of the work is actually called piecing. I had never quilted a quilt this large and used my machine to do it. It was a challenge to maneuver such a huge amount of quilt through the machine, but I got it done with a lot of helpful advice from Judy.

After all that, there was still the bias binding to make and then apply to the quilt. I used the chocolate colored grunge fabric. The binding is the edging part that makes the quilt look polished and finished. You sew it on by machine and then wrap it around and sew the other side by hand.

And there it is. After almost two years since I started accumulating Blush fabric and planning, it is done. Now, I have made MANY other things in these two years, but I practiced with my class making the class quilt and built up the practice and skills before I did it on this quilt. I wanted it to be perfect! 

And it was so worth it! Look at what Little Miss O did when I gave it to her. 

And then, she broke it in with a handstand. 

I just love it. And so does she!

When I put it on the floor to take a picture, Boomer walked right over and sat down on it, so I guess he likes it too! 

Here is a close up of the back quilted. Judy helped me figure out what design to quilt on it. The pattern called for free motion all over loop pattern, but I haven't ventured into free motion yet. I LOVE the design she suggested. And look how beautifully crinkled it got after I washed it. 

Quilting is a LOT of fun but a tremendous amount of work. I am in awe of people who do this all by hand!

Thank you again, dearest Judy and my fellow quilters! This quilt would not be done without you!

Quilt on!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Get Outdoors and Look All Around You!

We have had a few visitors to our porch the last few weeks. In the corner of our porch, we watched the beautiful baby birds being fed by their mom and taught to fly. They flew away just a few days ago.

On the other side of our porch, there was a nest made entirely of grass. We had never seen this before- usually the nests are made of all sorts of materials (as the one is above) but this one, was entirely grass.

Unfortunately, the babies in this nest didn't make it. We found the nest a few days after this picture was taken on the ground with the eggs smashed.

The kids had some questions about why the nest was on the ground. Did it blow off or did an animal have something to do with it. Since we didn't see it happen, we could only speculate. They were sad about the broken eggs and the baby birds that would not be born but we had the three babies on the other side to cherish and we had some incredible conversations.

Kids love to be outdoors and explore. Sometimes we are in a rush and I scurry them out the door...but lately, I have been trying to build in more time, time to observe and look around. Maybe it's because they are getting older, or because the weeks seem to be going ever faster....but I am trying to be more in the moment and to really enjoy our time together.

An extra few minutes to walk to the bus stop gives us a little time to check out how our flowers are growing. Speaking of which....look how many tulips we got this year! The kids and I started planting bulbs a few years ago when their school had a bulb sale. It has now become a tradition to order new ones each year and plant them together. What fun we have in Spring as they bloom and transform our yard! They love to point our which are the ones they planted and chose. My kids even picked a tulip bouquet picked for me for Mother's Day!

A few extra minutes at a boring old errand and it may lead to inspiration! (See my previous blog post titled "Why it's important to take your kids on errands for some of the inspired Pet Shop Haiku!) Sometimes taking the extra time is all it takes to get kids talking...

So even though it may be rainy or you may be in a rush, try to take some time this weekend to give yourselves a little extra time as you head out and about. And don't forget to look up! Or you may just walk by and miss spotting a baby bird!

Explore on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amazing news - Sewing Camp for kids! Read on!!

Hello Dear Readers!

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a sewing camp at the Pulitzer and Panetta Creative Studio in Huntington. The camp will be on Monday July 29th through Thurs Aug 1st, with two sessions- one for older sewers and one for all ages over 6.

Here are the details of the camps, which I will run and have Miss Naomi, a fantastic sewing assistant with me to ensure that everyone has the attention they need throughout the class!

You can call the studio up & register anytime! The sooner the better for all who want to take it so we can make sure we can run the class! We need to have four students to run each class, but I am sure we can get that!

Lots of other camps are offered too, so check them out. My children have been going to classes and camps at the Creative Studio for years and love them!

The Pulitzer and Panetta Creative Studio was voted Patch's #1 Summer Camp in 2012!So excited to be a part of them now!

Here is the official camp descriptions:

Sew Cool Accessories $245  + $25 materials fee  Monday July 29th through Thurs Aug 1st 9:30am-12:30pm

Ages 8+

This camp is all about making something with your hands that is uniquely your own!  KIds will explore the three major types of fabrications, learn how they are made, how to select the right one for your project and how work with them. Different stitch types will be taught hands-on as they will learn how use a pattern to create an adorable iPod/Phone holder uniquely their own. Kids should have plenty of time to make some other chic accessories.

No prior sewing experience needed. Material Fee includes copy of The Keep your Cool Smartphone Case pattern for each student, plus all the designer fabrics and trims needed for the projects.

We will be using the adorable Keep Your Cool Smartphone Case by the incredibly talented Liesl Gibson of Oliver and S. Kids can use it to store their iPod's, smart phones and hold their keys.

This pattern is perfect because it allows each child to express themselves creatively while learning sew many different sewing techniques in one project!

The studio has a lunch club available from 12:30 to 1pm for students who want to stay the day! After lunch will be:

Make Your Own Stuffed Creature 1pm-3:30pm  $225 + $10 materials fee
Ages 6+

Have your ever looked at a stuffed toy and thought “I can do that?” Now you can! Design your own “Ugly Doll” type creature from sketch to stuffing! Kids will learn different types of stitches, allowing us to embroider & “paint” with thread and stitching. With each project we will work on cutting, pinning and hand sewing skills. No prior sewing experience needed.

This is an example of two of the projects made by these children in the Make Your Own Stuffed Creature Class. Kids draw a sketch. From there, I taught them how to make a pattern from their design. We talked about what colors to use, they learned different stitch types and chose which ones they wanted where. They cut out the pieces and sewed them. To finish it off, they learned the blanket stitch to sew them together and stuffed it.

Look at their faces! They were so proud to hold their finished projects and show their classmates!

A recent study showed the benefits of children sewing: Sewing’s multitude of choices—color selection, fabric options, design and proportion—help stimulate creative thinking skills. Completing a project fosters a sense of accomplishment. Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills develop through the use of the hands, and exercises in following directions along with problem solving skills are all added benefits of sewing experiences for children.

Plus, it's SUPER FUN! : )

If you have any questions, please let me know! Hope your little ones can join us!

Sew On!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

To all you moms out there, may you have a fantastic day enjoying your loved ones!

I was treated to a yummy breakfast of crepes! I received beautiful cards, drawings and specially planted seedlings decorated by my little ones.

LMO also decided to spell out MOM for me with her Magformers. Magformers are incredible blocks that have neodymium magnets encapsulated within the super strong plastic. Unlike other magnet toys, you can connect the Magformers regardless of the orientation of the north or south pole of the magnet, which lends to more creative building opportunities....Will show other creations they have made at another date.

Even our dogs were wearing cute little collars which read Happy Mother's Day (the idea of our little miss) Thank you for making me feel so loved!

Since my mother has not received her gift yet (since it is still in progress- sorry Mom! You know it's coming!) I thought I would show you what last years mother's day gift was for my mom. A little quilt.

It was a quilt we were making last year in my spring quilting class. It was called a twister quilt, and I was amazed when I saw it!

For our little twister, the first step is to select the size and amount of squares. As you can see here, we had 25 squares arranged five by five. You then sew these squares of fabric together and then add a border. That's what is shown below. Of course, you can spend A LOT of time picking out which fabrics to use and where to place them.

After you sew the boarders on, you use this tool called a Twister tool, which is an acrylic block with lines on it.

You put the block on top of the piece you have made using the lines as your guide (the lines go on your seams) and then use the block to cut it into pieces (again!) This pattern started by using the seam on the border, so the new pieces you cut have the border in them. 

You have to be very careful to keep the pieces in the right order and then you sew them together again. To this a border was added and after quilting it, added a bias strip edge and viola! Isn't it cool? I just love the pinwheels it creates.

And here is the back. A pieced one of course!! used up some of the leftovers from the front and a few new pieces. I just LOVE it!! Mom did too! 

I used Basic Grey for Moda's fabric line called Eva. The colors are incredible- deep plums, all shades of purple and amazing limes with touches of pinks.The center square features a beautiful peacock while others feature paisleys, stripes and other pretty patterns. 

 Crafty side note: I am totally obsessed with Basic Grey. I have been using (hoarding?!) their scrapbooking papers and embellishments lines for years now and when I started quilting I discovered they put their amazing designs on fabric! SWOON! Now I am using (collecting! stashing!) their fabrics too. Their "solids" are actually a grunge version of a solid, just like they did for their papers. It adds interest while still being "read" as a solid within a quilt. 

Funny side note- my hubby walked in as I was working on this and he said "So you bought fabric, cut it up, have sewn it together, and then cut it up again just to sew it again? Why are you making this much work for yourself?" I replied a resounding "Yes! Isn't it cool!!??" You get it dear reader, yes?

Once the current Mother's Day project is complete, it will be up here. Luckily, my mom isn't a stickler for due dates ;)  

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my mother-in-law, my family and friends and to all of you! 

Create On!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why it's Important to Take your Kids on Errands

Now I know what you are thinking. Why would I take the children along if I could go alone? It is SO much faster to do things alone, right? Get in the store and get out. Not having a child with you means they won't be there to ask for something.

Believe me, I do get that. I remember the looks I used to get as I pushed my double stroller and dragged a shopping cart behind me. There were times I was asked incessantly for something. But I learned from the experiences that it pays to engage my kiddos. They would have to learn to run their own errands too.

So we invented games. One of our favorites to play while food shopping was "Name that Veggie!" I would hold up an item and the little ones happily called out "Carrot!"  "Fennel!" and even the obscure "Rutabaga!" We got some looks for that too. Looks of surprise and smiles from other shoppers. In fact, for those of you with little ones still, may I recommend the INCREDIBLE book, Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. 

I would have taken pictures of my own copies (yes, we have two copies!) but they are seriously well loved!

Lois Ehlert makes the most incredible images in her books using collage. We brought this book with us so many times to the grocery store and the kids would look through the book and we'd name the fruits and veggies. I always found if I engaged engaged them in what we were doing, we all had fun. Plus, as a bonus, they tried new foods! 

Aren't they amazing pictures! We have read many Lois Ehlert books. Another favorite is Planting a Rainbow. That's a great one to bring the garden store or to look at seeds or while you are walking around the neighborhood. You can point out all the flowers you find!  Definitely check out some of Ms. Ehlert's books while you are at the bookstore or library!  

There are lots of other things you can do to engage your child. Give them a list with pictures if they are small or have them help you write the list when they are bigger. Or they can check things off as you buy them. Now that they are getting older, my two like to help me by going together to the next aisle over and getting something. They know to stay together and they are within earshot, but they feel very grown up. 

Besides the benefits of having the children see the errands as a family task and not "Mom or Dad's job", there are other pluses. I have great conversations with my kiddos while we are doing a task together. They really open up when we are doing things together. Much less pressure than sitting face to face. 

As they got older, we tried different things. After returning bottles, if they could figure out how much money we would get back from returning a batch, they could keep the money we received back. They loved that! 

I would let them order or pay for things. Little Miss delights in ordering her sliced turkey at the deli counter. She takes her own number and orders while I get my produce. That time invested in teaching the kids to help has paid for itself and it has become a time saver now! 

Well, just yesterday my DH brought MAP to the pet store to get our dear doggies some food. While they were there, inspiration struck! MAP started writing Haiku after Haiku. Luckily, my boy is never without a pad of paper and a pencil. (we keep them in the car in a little bin with a few books that we rotate every few weeks)

I was quite impressed when he brought them home for me to read. Here are a few of my favorites (he wrote 11 while he was there!)

Fifteen birds in a cage
Chirping a cacophony
My, how loud they are

Two tiny sea stars
Clinging strongly to a tank
They are motionless

A lone restless bird
Rocks a ladder back and forth
Quite vigorously

A gerbil dozing
Next to a wheel for spinning
It looks very tired

Young birds in a cage
Lightly feathered, they don't chirp
Oh, they are so cute!

So, next time you have to run an errand, bring along one of your children with you. You never know what can happen. 

Shop On!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the 4th be with You!

Get it? haha! I have seen this phrase a few places (Amazon, Disney and Lego are both having special May the 4th promos) and since both my little ones are completely *obsessed* with all things Star Wars right now, it had to be done.

So we have the cute blog title but now what to say about May the 4th? Well I guess we should see how far we've come in our journey across the Star Wars galaxy...

We have watched the Star Wars movies and we are working our way through the Clone Wars episodes.

The Star Wars Lego sets have been made and played with over and over again by the kiddos. And new sets have been fashioned with endless creativity. Take this one created just yesterday of Luke Skywalker training on Dagobah with Yoda. Come on, you've watched The Empire Strikes Back!

And if the Lego sets you want are retired or out of production, your piggy bank funds are running low, or they don't exist...just make it yourself. 

No toy was left out of the Star Wars craze! 

Tinkertoy Droidekas attacked these two young Padawan learners in their own kitchen. Luckily, they had been practicing the art of the lightsaber.

Zoobs were used to make an awesome AT-AT Walker, also seen in the Empire Strikes Back, but those were a boring shade of grey. This rainbow Zoob version is much cooler. If you don't have Zoob's, youshould check them out. They are a lot of fun and as you can see, offer endless building opportunities. 

An inordinate amount of  Star Wars books have been read, including this one he got from us for Christmas, which he loves.

An R2D2 hat was knit and worn constantly!

Threw my favorite boy a Star Wars "Stay Later" party (not a sleep over, but they all stayed later than they would have normally been able to, so it still felt like a special treat! ) Bought LMO a Darth Vader costume so she could have a special appearance at the Star Wars Party. How cute is she? Love the blow up light sabers! My DH found them at Party City. They made the party! And kept injuries down. You knew that SOMETHING was going to be turned into a light saber...might as well provide a soft alternative.

Done, done and done.

Now what?

Well, leave it to LMO.

I teach a sewing class at their school and it has been so much fun to see the kids skills grow through the year. This semester, I decided to take it up a notch. I had the children draw their own doll - using the idea of an "Ugly Doll" to show them how to make a basic shape and give it character with color and stitching. From their sketches, I showed them how to make pattern pieces and make their own creations exactly how they imagined them.

They are doing some incredible work too! To see such detailed and creative work out of the hands and minds of the elementary children is just so inspiring. They are so excited. I am SO excited! Will show more once more are completed!

So someone decided that she had to make her version of Yoda.

Little Miss drew him on paper, made the patterns out of tracing paper and has decided how to put it all together. Look at that face. Love the mouth. And those eyes. Note his light saber on his belt...
She loves to sew! (proud momma alert!)

And now....(cue the star wars theme....)

Done, Yoda is.

Two sides sewn together with a pretty impressive blanket stitch and stuffed and very loved. Her new constant companion.

Wonder what they'll make next?

May the 4th be with you too!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Eek! A Mouse!

Made you look!


Made of the softest mohair with a pale pink cotton nose.  Perfect for babies head year round.

Available now at Rexer-Parkes.

Just a short little post today....

But stay tuned. More to come tomorrow.

Squeak on!