28 May 2016

H is for heritage quilt

Just over 3 years ago, Adam's mom passed away from cancer and we helped to clean out her house. Her fabric stash was pointed out to me, and I was told I could take whatever I wanted. I remember a couple of things specifically - I found a large cut of flannel that I (eventually, this past winter) made into pajama pants for Adam. And this completed quilt top. 

I was interested in making quilts, but hadn't started yet when I found the quilt top. I liked all the blue, so I put it in the box with everything else ... and promptly forgot about it because in the next couple of months after the funeral, we had a new baby, moved from Mississippi to Connecticut, and bought a house. It was a year before I dug into the fabric boxes. This past winter, I came across the quilt top again. Some of the seams were frayed, so I did some repair work to the top, and then tackled quilting it - my first! I learned how to use the walking foot on the machine, and for quilting, just followed the edges of the squares in a grid. You can see it on the back. The back is a pale lavender knit top sheet that my kids never used. For binding, I just wrapped the sashing fabric around to the back, folded it under, and stitched everything together.

I'm glad we have this quilt because my kids were never able to even meet their grandmother. This is definitely a piece of our history - I hope it helps the girls feel connected to our extended family.

17 May 2016

Paisley Pleats

Project: Run & Play has a summer sewing challenge right now, and I just happened to be sewing up some summer clothes for Cupcake!  After growing out of all of her dresses, she was in desperate need of more - for church or play.  I had already made a pleated Fairy Shirt from this free Shwin & Shwin pattern, but it was just too cute and easy to not make another.

I have sewn a few Shwin & Shwin patterns now, and have loved them all - the Pepper Pinafore and Michelle Jacket.  I've purchased a few others but haven't tried them yet.  The patterns are easy to follow, the finished projects fit well and are seriously the cutest.  Great for beginners like me!

The paisley fabric was given to me. I love it, but the greenish hue is just not my color, so I was happy to find a place to use it!  And the purple was won in a giveaway on Thread Riding Hood a while back.  I would love using stuff in my stash - I try not to be a hoarder, but my stash never seems to get smaller!

In the end, happy girl, happy Mommy.  I love to sew for her.  I hope to instill in her a love for creating.  She talks about making clothes for me, when she gets a sewing machine from Papa.  I don't think Papa knows this, but basic sewing lessons will be in her future - perhaps after she turns four.

Our conversation just now...
Me: Cupcake, do you want to sew like mommy?
C: Yes.
Me: What would you make?
C: Pumpkin pie.

11 May 2016

a pair of pink nightgowns

A pair of pink bunny nightgowns for Cupcake and Kitty.
Only four month age difference,
but Cupcake got a size 7/8 and Kitty got a 2/3. 
They are just basic peasant tops, with added length.
To get a quick start I used the pattern here
And each came together in just a few hours.
Fabulous for an afternoon of sewing. 
Quick, cute and long term wearability.
I see several more nightgowns in my future.
(Especially since I just found some flannel sheep fabric!) 

01 April 2016

Easter Pinwheel

I seem to be stuck on the letter P.  Pillowcases, pajama pants, pleats, purse, and now Pinwheel.  I also have a pair of pink nightgowns coming up.  And I'm not counting a body pillowcase (because spending $12 on one was ridiculous, so I made one in about 20 minutes), or the purple maxi skirt that I'm currently working on.  Apparently I'm scared of quilting.  I could use Quick or Queen, but that feels like cheating.  I know I don't have to make a full-sized quilt for it to count, but doing that first quilt is so intimidating!  I'll start after our vacation this month.

Even though Trina has been sewing with Oliver + S patterns for a while, this is my first - the Pinwheel Dress and Tunic.  Which I got from Trina.  Thanks!  It was more complicated than most of the other things I have made, but the directions were clear and I slowly made my way through.  

The tiny pink daisy print fabric was in the package with the pattern, so it just made sense to use it.  And I made my own bias tape!  All of that ironing takes a while - even with a bias tape maker - since my ironing board is very short I can only do a little bit at a time.  Ah well.  I love the pop of color, and have already got three other colors of bias tape in the works.  

22 March 2016

ahem ... quarterly report

Yes, actually, I have been sewing pretty steady since the beginning of the year ... and yikes, we're already a quarter of the way done with 2016! I have only one thing to show for it so far:

1. JK, my baby, turned 3 at the beginning of this month, and this was her birthday present. It's the Baby Doll Basket from Made Everyday (formerly MADE). The secret to getting it to stand up nice and tall is to use the super-stiff crafting interfacing. But, um, don't look too closely at the binding. I should have used a much wider bias tape - this barely caught both sides of the lining and outer layer. For the most part, it was really easy to do - Dana's directions are all good. The wrestling match to get it through the machine on the last binding step though ... I'm happy with how it turned out but I don't know that I'll ever make another one. I had originally planned to make one for each of my girls, but the older girls are indifferent - this is all well and good but they're not asking for their own.

2. I finished Adam's pajama pants that I messed up at Christmas - those turned out to be an easier fix than I'd anticipated.

3. In January, I sewed more rope baskets until I ran out of rope. I want to get more, and make more little baskets but there are other priorities first.

4. In January, JK rather abruptly decided to move from her toddler bed to the bottom bunk of SM's bunkbed, which was intended for her anyway, but it was a sudden switch. In moving the bedding, I realized that she has all small blankets so I need to work on getting her twin-sized blankets by next winter (she's still small enough for the small blankets). We have fleece layering blankets for all the other girls, and I thought about buying her one as well until I remembered that I had a large cut of fleece in the fabric piles ... it even has Disney princesses on it and is purple, her favorite ... It has now been trimmed, curved corners cut, and a machine-embroidery stitch all the way around the edge to pretty it up, and it's on JK's bed.

5. I have multiple quilts in progress at all stages - planning by drawing it out on graph paper, cutting and piecing, and quilting. I'm really liking making the quilts, all the stages so far (ask me again when I bind my first one) ... they're just taking a long time and other small projects take priority a lot.

And I can't even shoe-horn any of this into the Alphabet Challenge! Dang! I'm still on H.

- I've started machine quilting, so I used the walking foot. I have the quilt about 2/3 of the way done, but had to take it off the machine to do JK's doll basket. It hasn't made it back to the front of the line yet.

- I'm still working on finishing a dress (the lining is very weird), but I have now put in A ZIPPER!!! My first! An invisible zipper even, which is supposed to be harder (???). So I used the zipper foot.

24 February 2016

purses and pleats

My lotion exploded, so I had to make myself a new purse.  Always finding excuses to sew!  I'd been holding off using this cute blue canvas, but I finally had the right project to use it for!  Paired with the pink I think it is quite a fabulous little bag.  French seams and box corners for the bottom (like the grocery bags) and the top is folded over (similar to the top of a pillowcase) so no exposed seams, without adding a lining.  Sounds silly, but I'm pretty proud of it, especially since I just made it up as I went along.

But on to more important things.  Kids Clothes Week!  To go with the toys theme, the fabric is covered with drawings of fairy princesses.  And what does Cupcake love to play with?  Fairies and princesses, and she loves to draw.  The fabric (which was actually a couple of pillowcases) suits her perfectly.

I've been wanting to make the Pleated Square Tunic from Shwin & Shwin since I saw it well over a year ago.  I really like square necklines, and the pleats are adorable (and not too complicated to figure out!).  Bonus of no closure!  Basically, just a fabulous little top to whip up in an evening or two.

I'm not sure how much more I'll get done for KCW.  If nothing else, I'll get started on her Easter dress - The Pinwheel Tunic by Oliver + S.  I already made over 10 yards of bias tape for it!  Then there are a couple of nightgowns for Cupcake and her cousin Kitty before our trip to Idaho in April, and eventually I'll start on a few quilts too.  So much fun to look forward to!

01 February 2016

Recipes 2016: January

After completing my 100 Recipe Challenge last year, I wasn't sure that I would be eager to do another one right away. But I got my slow cooker for Christmas, and with our current church schedule, we have started having Slow Cooker Sundays.  So I'm at it again.  Instead of doing a separate list for this year, I'll be adding my favorite recipes to our master recipe list, and calling it good.  But so you have an idea of what's going on the list, here's what I made this month.

Our first Sunday meal was Sweet and Sour Sauce on Slow Cooker Ribs. A fabulous meal to break in the new slow cooker.  The meat was amazing and the sauce worked great. We bought a huge can of crushed pineapple (hence all the other pineapple recipes), and made a large batch of sauce, so we froze a lot of it.  

Apple Chips - I had apples and was about to return a borrowed dehydrator.  I really need to make these more often, because we were given a dehydrator, and I ate them up fast. Great snack.

Had to use up the pineapple so I made Pineapple Pudding WhipPineapple Chicken Salad, Layered Lime Tiramisu (from Company's Coming: Mexican Made Easy), Sweet Carrot Salad, and Pineapple Meatballs (Company's Coming: Slow Cooker Meals).  Pudding was yummy, with a different texture. We made the tiramisu for a friend's birthday and would happily make it again (if you are interested in the recipe please ask).  The salads were alright, but didn't hit the spot for me - maybe in the summer.  The meatballs were okay, but not a favorite.

Greek Yogurt Pizza Crust - we make pizza often at our house, and since our breadmaker died, this is definitely going to be our go-to crust recipe.  Two ingredients (or technically four) is perfect.  And it is delicious. We made some slow cooker pulled pork and it was AMAZING on a pizza.

Almond Milk Pancakes - We found almond milk for cheap and bought a lot, so we were finding ways to use it.  I usually prefer French toast to pancakes, but these were delicious. We made them three times in one weekend.  The small batch is perfect for the three of us.

Avocado Lime Ice Cream - We just happened to have all the ingredients for this (we don't usually have fresh limes), so I was happy to try it out.  MUCH yummier than the plain avocado ice cream recipe from last year. I would happily make this again.  Aaron also made a huge batch of Raspberry Frozen Yogurt, but didn't follow a recipe or write any measurements down, but it included almond milk, greek yogurt, raspberries, and a little sugar.  It goes great with the lime.

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt - the first time in forever that I didn't have a banana in the freezer (or anywhere!) so I used an avocado instead and added extra honey.  Didn't turn out horrible, but not amazing either.  I'll eat what I made (with the addition of chocolate chips and coconut) but won't be making it again.

"Tasty" shares a bunch of quick videos with fun recipes on Facebook, and we've tried Apple Fritter Rings and Honey Garlic Chicken.  The apples were deliciously crunchy. Such a fun little dessert.  We enjoyed the chicken too, but I prefer potatoes and carrots with red meat. 

08 January 2016

2016: the year of quilts

I have three targets for this year -

1. Quilts. I have at least 5 quilt ideas that I want to do - some more vague than others, but a rough idea of what I want to do. I don't have any major clothing requirements for my kids (no baptism dress until 2018), only random items that come to our attention or that they request for a particular reason. So I'm going to focus on the quilts!

2. Clearing out all the unfinished projects (UFOs! UnFinished Object) that are laying around taking up space, including emptying the mending box! Such an eyesore!

3. And it's a sort-of UFO - making and putting up curtains in the girls' bedrooms. I bought the fabric the day we moved into the house and it's just been sitting here staring at me all this time. I got curtain rods at Ikea today, so I can finally get this project done.

And yes, I will continue to work on the Alphabet Challenge very sloooowly - H and J are in the quilt category, and I is a UFO. Beyond that, we'll see what happens.

In other Operation Domestic Goddess categories ... I am determined to get one more step out of debt this year by paying off one of Adam's student loans. We are planning another garden, and will try to get the kids more involved in it this year. And we'll see if the bedroom curtain project triggers any other house projects, like painting.

31 December 2015

2015 Review

A year ago, I made a 2015 preview with a list of things I hoped to accomplish this year.  I'm happy to report that I actually completed most of them.  I was able to sew a lot and cook a lot.  I just need to make sure my artwork doesn't get forgotten.
  • Sew All 26 - E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P
  • Use a pattern - Yes!  I purchased five, and have used two - the Michelle Jacket, and the Pepper Pinafore.  I love both the finished products, and would gladly make either pattern again. 
  • Zippers and buttonholes - It took two tries at the Kaylee Jumper to get the zipper right, but that may have been because I didn't have a pattern to follow.  Both of the patterns I did use had buttonholes - still have room to improve, but I'm not scared anymore.
  • Quilt - nope. Didn't get around to this one.  But my next letter is Q.  I won a jelly roll of fabric, and a charm pack (and then ordered two more), so I have lots of inspiration.  Aaron got me a rotary cutter for Christmas, and I'm borrowing my mother-in-law's quilting ruler and cutting mat.  She told me to teach her how to quilt when I figure it out.  Quilting needs to happen.
  • Pleated Square Tunic from Shwin&Shwin for Cupcake.  I did do a version of it, but now, even at age three, she'll fit in free size 5/6 that they offer.  Looks like this one will make it on my list again.
  • The first project of the new year was a bubble dress.  This was also the start of Project: Run & Play.  I ended up sewing along with all of their projects throughout the year, except the last one.  Sounds like there will be big changes for 2016, so we'll see if I do it again.
  • Something for me - a maxi skirt, two peasant tops, and two pairs of pajama pants.
  • Paint this shirt.  Sort of.  The elephant shirt is in that style.  And there was paint - the red panda, a maple leaf, and fairy wings and I painted a shirt for me that never got photographed.
  • And even though this wasn't officially on my list, I participated in Kids Clothes Week each time as well.  
And the complete list of projects for this year:
  • bubble dress
  • 2 t-shirts (purple practice, red panda) paint!
  • yoga pants (made from three t-shirts)
  • stretchy maxi skirt for me (and Tawnia!)
  • 100+ rice-filled hand warmers with Tawnia
  • reversible knot dress x2
  • t-shirt "dresses" for Aria and Kate
  • elephant peasant top
  • knit crib sheet
  • peasant top for me x2
  • Kaylee outfit - skirt and top - surger!
  • surged tablecloth
  • green gown
  • Kaylee jumper x2 - zippers!
  • 4 reusable grocery bags - French seams!
  • birthday cupcake princess dress
  • reunion shirt
  • shirt to nightgown upcycle
  • keyhole lavender shirt
  • yellow keyhole top
  • sunglasses pouch
  • 2 diaper covers (one with ruffles)
  • Tinkerbell dress - hand-stitching! rolled hem foot!
  • Vanellope skirt (and painted leggings)
  • purple canvas pants with hand-stitched Sheepy
  • 30 minute purple pillow cover (add more overlap in the back)
  • Strawberry Shortcake hat
  • Michelle Jacket - first pattern! buttonholes!
  • mermaid skirt and top
  • football costume for my friend's dog
  • Sheepy's turtle costume
  • Frozen skirt
  • 6 pairs of pajama pants
  • 4 pillowcases
  • infinity scarf
  • Pepper Pinafore Christmas dress
  • 30+ repairs, especially to the dress-up clothes

pajammies and pillowcases

I had just enough snowman fabric for four pillowcases.
One each for Aaron's nephews, Keith (8), Tysen (5) and Andrew (3.5),
and later (so not pictured) one for Cupcake.
I won the ornament fabric in a giveaway last year (from New Zealand!)
and I had just enough for each one!
The solid is from an old sheet.
And the last one is red with white polka dots,
part of a Minnie Mouse costume I had when I was a kid.
No pattern, just compared it to a pillowcase I already had and made it up.
What did the boys do with the pillowcases when they got them?
They jumped in them and had a sack race across the living room.

I found this amazing reindeer sheet at the thrift store over the summer.
I was able to just get a pair of pants for me and Cupcake.
I traced off a pair I already had and these new ones fit perfectly. Super duper comfy.
And then I caught my husband trying them on.
So I had to make him some too. 
I was looking for more Christmas fabric, but came across this knit dragon sheet.
But he really wanted some matching ones,
and there was no way I was going to find the same reindeer sheet.
My father-in-law found a fleece double sheet set with polar bears on it.
Enough fabric for all of us!
I just traced my reindeer pants for me, added some length on Cupcake's
and traced mine again for Daddy's,
adding an inch to the length and four inches to the rise.
And there's enough leftover to make a tiny pair next year, if we need it.
Homemade pajammies are the best!