Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's That Time of Year

Not a lot of crafting going on this weekend, but lots of family time, which I am thankful for. We spent a couple of fun days with Jim's oldest brother and his family, including a Thanksgiving day romp through Point Park and a yummy Indian Feast to warm us back up upon our return. No turkeys were harmed at our house this year (or any other year, for that matter).

Today we picked out our Christmas tree at a cut your own farm and already have it lit and partially decorated. I think the girls might be excited. Just a little.

And who wouldn't be excited when Santa chooses to send some of his elves to play pranks on you and monitor your behavior? We woke up Friday morning (AFTER sunrise) and found that the elves had taped all our doors shut and then taped themselves to the door! There has been so much conjecturing as to what the elves will do next, it's been quite fun to listen in on!

What wasn't so fun was my 3 AM wake-up when Rachel decided that the highly anticipated elves were freaking her out and she was afraid of them. Apparently it is still undecided as to whether they are here for good or evil. They seem to be just swell during the day and questionable at night according to the six and under crowd.

And check this out....I'm a winner! Not often I get to shout that out, but today it's true. I discovered Amy Hanson's blog Sweet Sweet Life a month or two ago while flipping through pictures on flickr. Her flair for decorating and creativity is incredible. A few days ago I entered a give-away on her website for a bunch of Japanese crafting goodies centered around kids. I was so shocked to visit her site today and see a picture of her two beautiful girls holding a sign with my name on it. I honestly didn't think it had anything to do with this Colleen, let alone that I'd won, but by gosh by golly, I did. So whoo hoo and what a way to start the holidays!

Now...there are precious few days left and I've got a whole lot of sewing to do, so it's time to get to work!

Friday, November 20, 2009

In a Bind

Both the girls Christmas present quilts are quilted - ha, I almost said done...oh how I wish! Now on to the binding. I have made a ridiculously long strip of binding (of which only a tiny portion is shown in this photo because the rest was on the floor being treated as a kitten toy....argh!!) from fabrics that were used in the quilts and will start sewing tonight after the Nosy Noras have gone to bed. When it gets to the hand sewing part, I'm going to use this great idea I first saw over here - hair clips to hold the binding in place vs. my fingers holding it and cramping along the way (too lazy to pin). So I know what my weekend holds for me - I hope you have a great one doing something you enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall....In the Nick of Time

These pictures should have existed two months ago, but with just days left to think brown, gold and orange, I finished this garland. It's hung in the doorway between our dining room and living room, which is quite wide. I wish I could show a full shot of it, but it would also show all the chaos and clutter that is/was going on in the surrounding areas. Believe me, it's not pretty. The leaves were cut from felted wool sweaters that I and those who love me have been gathering up for me. I used a template from Martha Stewart for the Maple leaf, and just drew my Oak leaves free hand (her Oak leaf looked to thick to me....maybe we have different Oaks in the South) and then did some free motion stitching on them to give them veins. The rest of the garland was made with fabric strips, burlap, ribbon, raffia and beads. I'm still trying to decide if I like this or if it came across as too country cutesy. I almost wish I'd just stitched the leaves together in a chain. Maybe next year.

These were another project that I'm still scratching my head over. I was going for something natural and autumnal, but I think I got Christmas pine cone trees instead. I'm thinking that sticking them with pumpkins didn't help. And in addition to them not really looking very autumnal, I can see a lot of dried glue on them, so I'm thinking I need to invest in a can of spray "snow" and give them a good dusting. The Mr. says he's not a fan of fake snow on things, but I'm not really a fan of Christmas tree decorations in October or visible globs of dried glue. Glitter was my other idea, but I'm not sure that's the best course of action either. Either way, I need to give up on fall and focus on Christmas now, which will be easier now that I have a new iron to replace the one that went kaput the other night. I can't say it's from all the clothes that I iron, but I'm guessing it croaked after all the fabric and seams it has ironed over the past years. The important stuff, you know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Friendly Little PSA

Just a friendly little reminder that your sewing machine might appreciate being cleaned out and delinted every once in a while. Perhaps more often than I do mine. I think I was on the verge of needle felting....and it was cotton! I must say that I tend to use machines (of any sort) and forget about maintenance. My vacuum cleaner is about 8 years old...I wonder how long they can go without changing the belts, or how to change the belts...or get the belts for that matter. I will not mention how far past due my car is for an oil change or any other sort of maintenance, but it is also 10 years old and treating me poorly, so bah to it. But my sewing machine, her I love and want to treat well and take good care of her, so perhaps I should stop between projects and give her a little TLC.

And while I'm full of all sorts of brilliant information like clean out your sewing machine, I thought I'd share these gloves with you. They are quilting gloves made by Fons & Porter and set me back all of about $3 with a coupon at Hobby Lobby. They come in S, M & L, are light weight and have made machine quilting so much easier for me due to the tiny little gripper dots on the fingers and palm side. Previously, I didn't have a good grip on the fabric as I moved it around. and ......want to know something gross? I tended to lick my fingers from time to time to stop them from slipping on the fabric. I do wash all my quilts before giving them away now, so rest easy if you were have been a recipient of one. Still, not the most awesome way to go about quilting. These gloves though, so much easier!

And now, because Christmas is just a sneeze away and I have more projects laid out for me that I could shake a stick at, I think I might go make more cute little fabric acorns. Yeah, that would be the smart thing to do, I'm sure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Progress Report

Well my weekend proved to be a productive one. I took a large stack of 10.5'' quilt squares, and managed to get one quilt assembled and completely quilted. Still needs binding, but that will come. That part I can do easily at night after the girls go to bed. It was good to get one out of the way while they were gone, as I will still have the second to get done between now and Christmas.

The second top was assembled, but alas, no more batting, so back to the store I will go before Friday, when I will have another decent block of time to do some covert Christmas work. More colorful block quilts, you say....isn't she getting tired of them? Why yes, I am. This all came about when I had the brilliant idea for a mass assembly line kind of thing to get a bunch done. Since then I've grown bored with that and will be eager to move on to some new quilts soon.

I also got a pair of pajama pants made for Christmas. All her current bottoms are turning into floods. It's nice to see at Target today though, that a plain top to go with them will cost about as much as a new set of pajamas. Oh well, it's the thought, isn't it?

Work was started on a Christmas Emmaline apron for my mother-in-law.

And I cut out a whole bunch of felt leaves. I have plans for some fall decorations which may or may not make it up before it's time for Christmas decorations. Time will tell. I feel the pressure of Christmas fast approaching and wonder if I'm just digging a bigger hole for myself by thinking fall. Diversions are nice though.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What's For Lunch?

A quilt sandwich, of course! Ha-ha. This is a "working weekend" for me and I'm loving it. Jim has taken the girls to his brother's for the weekend so that I can have some peace and get some things done. I've already finished a pair of flannel pajama bottoms for Rachel and am now working on one of the two quilts for the girls. This one is now pinned and as soon as I get off this machine, I'm moving over to the sewing machine and will begin quilting. I have pinned this "sandwich" to within an inch of its life, using probably three times as many pins I ever had before. Perhaps I'm learning from my mistakes and realizing that a little extra effort on the front end saves a lot of very unpleasant work on the other end. I've also learned that pinning on a hard surface is so much easier than carpet, which I now realize was like trying to smooth something out while it's stuck to Velcro. Thank goodness for the big dining room floor (and lack of children this weekend to want to walk on it). And while I'm sure you won't find spackling buckets and paint cans in the notions section of the quilt shop, they did prove handy for keeping things in place as I built my sandwich.

So it's off to work I go with Pandora, this little gal (Coraline Jones), her brother Fluffy and my sweet Arnold to keep my company. Cute, isn't she? Want one? I've got spares on my porch.