Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another One

We helped celebrate another birthday yesterday. Another first birthday. We met these friends over a year ago in child birth class. We were both using the same midwife and ended up splitting the cost and sharing the birth pool that both of our little ones were born in. Their little one, I, was born three weeks before N was. They are moving across the country soon which is sad since we have loved living so close over the past year. It has made the unplanned play date very convenient and was great over the winter when one of us needed a change of pace. I wanted to make something simple for her and something that was easily packable! So I set out to make a simple little dress from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing for Baby. This dress always works up fairly quickly. The longest part is the bias tape trim, which would probably be quicker if you didn't make the bias tape. The pattern calls for it in the same fabric as the rest of the dress but I love how it looks in a solid matching fabric. There's also a little pocket that is hard to see in this photo but it would also be cute in a solid fabric too.

There's a couple of issues with the pattern, first she calls for too much fabric. Maybe you do need a yard if you make the bias tape with the dress fabric but I only used about 3/4 yd at the most and was able to find scraps of solids to make the bias tape. To me this just makes more sense than cutting up a whole yard. The other problem is that there is a back opening that isn't marked in the pattern. I just left about 4-5'' open on the top. I've made one of these for N too and the back slit didn't seem to need to be a real specific size.

All in all though I love this dress. It works up pretty quickly, is short enough to not be a problem for a crawler and you can easily use it as a tunic top with some pants for a toddler making it's life span a little longer.

Happy Birthday little I, my oh my how one year flies! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Decisions, decisions

After making my nephew's quilt, I am realizing how important the back of the quilt is too. The back of his came together so nicely but I don't have any extra fat quarters to make extra windows for N's quilt. Originally I bought this Denyse Schmidt pink and red dotted material for the main panel in the back.
And it has sat, right next to the finished quilt top along with the Kona Stone Gray (that matches the window frames) and Kona Butter for the binding. Every time I have walked past it I have wanted to like it, to think that it is the perfect fit; but it isn't. A few days ago I was in Joann's and they were having a fantastic sale on their regular quilting cottons. Along with a number of other prints that went into my cart I also spied a tangerine dot print. I wasn't even thinking of N's quilt when I put it in the cart I just knew that I liked it. Once I got home it ended up next to the quilt at some point and I realized how perfectly it matched some of the other oranges in the quilt top. It also seems to go with the Kona Butter a little better too. So now that I feel like I have a better backing material it seems like it's time to plow forward. No more excuses, there's only a few weeks left until N's birthday.

Although it seems early for canning season to already be starting; it in fact has, at least in our kitchen as of this morning. For yet another birthday I am attempting to start a tradition. My brother-in-law loves strawberry-rhubarb pie (who doesn't really?). The main problem is that his birthday is in December, making both strawberries and rhubarb very much out of season. So I have set out to make pie filling that he can have in December, or really whenever the mood strikes him. I found this recipe for a canned pie filling and as soon as I saw rhubarb at our farmers market this past weekend I knew it was time. Since one of the jars didn't actually seal I'm going to make a pie and test run to see how it turned out. I think that next time I will probably use less water than she calls for since it seemed a little soupy as I was jarring it up for processing. There is something so satisfying thought about full jars of sealed food lined up on the kitchen counter.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The 1st one on the 11th

It's my nephew's first birthday today. My sister and I were pregnant at the same time, due on the same day, one month apart. Somehow we ended up both carrying our babes 6 days longer and instead having a May 5 and June 5 birthday we now have  May 11th and June 11th birthday. The downside of having pregnancies so close together is that my sister and I weren't able to be at each other's birth's. Not that I would have really been much help to Brooke, she did amazing and as the strong, powerful woman that she is managed to birth a huge (he was 10lb 8 oz, that's huge) adorable boy in just 12  hours. Really looking back on the whole timing thing now, it might have been a better thing that I wasn't able to attend her birth.

When I found out that Brooke was pregnant I immediately knew that I wanted to make the baby a quilt. The fact that I have never made a quilt didn't matter. I had thoughts of my nephew or niece wrapped up in handmade goodness and later playing on it or using it at the park for a picnic. I searched around a while a found Elizabeth Hartman's Charms Square Baby Quilt which looked simple enough and in fact was. It was a great starter quilt and got me comfortable with the basics.

Over the past year E.E. has become a little boy. It's amazing how gradual, yet quick, it happens. Suddenly a baby quilt doesn't seem right for this playful, exploratory, happy boy. So what was an aunt to do but set out to make a little boy quilt for his first birthday.

I went back to Elizabeth Hartman and decided to make the Kitchen Window quilt from The Practical Guide to Patchwork, and yes this is the same pattern I am making N for her first birthday too. The main fabric featured in the "windows" is Dan Stiles "Marine" line that he did last year or the year before. I had bought a fat quarter set which came with 8, allowing me to make enough windows to change the back a little bit from the pattern. I made three extra windows and used extra Kona in navy for the sashing so they look a little different than the ones on the front.
The quilting was the challenging part. I wanted to free motion it, but I still haven't worked up the courage yet, and clearly I had a deadline for this quilt. After looking on flickr for a while I finally decided to try Echo Quilting or Outline Quilting. Basically you highlight the squares by sewing 1/4'' inside and outside, around them. It's time consuming, and although I used my walking foot it still pulled the fabric a little in some spots and created a little bit of bunching. I'm sure that I notice it the most, and as the quilt gets used and aged it really won't matter.

E.E. did get a couple other birthday goodies that were not homemade and probably much more interesting to a one year old. But even those big one year old's have to snuggle down and go to bed at some point, may as well do it under something homemade.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Best laid plans

I had big plans on showing off a beautiful new shirt that I had sewn myself for my birthday today. But a feverish baby laughed at those plans and I had to admit that sometimes sewing just doesn't rank as high as sleep. I have made some progress on it, and probably would be further along if it weren't for some set backs. 

Issue #1 - having to take in the side seams big time. The seam on the top is the seam as written in the pattern, the seam on the bottom is ultimatitly where it ended up. That's shaving off well over 1'' on each side. 

Issue #2 - butterfly sleeves. I keep telling myself that they are going to be great once they are done and that I will have really loved that I went to all that trouble to make whispery fluttery sleeves. Right now, I am cursing the seam ripper that I have become very close with as I have sewn three sleeves and ripped out three sleeves.

Ideally soon the sleeves will be attached and I will have figured out some alteration to make it longer, oh yeah, #3, it's too short and I have not hemmed it yet. 

On to happier things. It is my birthday today and I got some lovely things. 

These oh so cute stamps, along with two other sets, from C. I can't wait to decorate something with them. 

Along with these sets of cute stationary. Why yes, that is Amy Butler and Denise Schmidt stationary. Not only do they make cute fabric they also make cute paper.
There was also a wonderful meal and other lovely gifts but it's getting late and my picture taking skills are dwindling (clearly from the blurry picture of the stationary).
Ideally next time pictures will be of a completed shirt.