Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Blanket for Baby R

I really enjoy making baby blanket sets for baby shower gifts at my husband's office. It doesn't take long to make, and most people really appreciate having something that was made just for them.

This set is going to a little boy named Robbie who will be making his Grand Entrance in just a few short weeks.

I certainly hope he likes his snuggly gift!
(Sorry for the crummy pictures...I finished the blanket kind of late at night, and realized my good camera was out of batteries. Oh, and the shot of the high chair behind the blanket in the first picture is really classy, right?)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Space for Mama

I have been positively trolling the free section of Craigslist, and my local Freecycle, looking for a desk..or a table...or a large sturdy box...or SOMETHING I could use with my sewing machine!

Let me back up a bit. When my father was here visiting a few weeks ago, he looked at my MOUNTAIN of fabric, notions, patterns and supplies sitting in the corner of my living room...and my sewing machine and paraphernalia sprawled across my kitchen table...and mentioned that a desk, ANY desk, would look better in that messy corner than all my junk did sitting on the floor.

I don't know why I didn't realize it before...but he was right! I couldn't find what I needed in the pile of stuff in the corner, I was constantly shifting stuff from one side of the room to the other while I was sewing, not to mention my power cord that stretched across an area where BBJ walks all day. No - I NEEDED a sewing desk, immediately. (My criteria - free, wooden, sturdy. That's about it.)

Yesterday, I found a desk! I had already been ignored too late to get several other desks, so I didn't have a lot of hope for this one...until the sweet lady wrote back and said I could come and pick it up off the curb. Wahoo!

Even better? My sweet husband made a conscious decision to be super nice when he got home from work and found out about the desk - he bolted his dinner, folded down the seats in the car, and took off to pick up the desk for me! It was a half hour drive, and I really didn't expect him to do that, especially not with a cold AND having worked all day in an empty office. (Thanks, honey!)

I spent an hour last night cleaning up "The Corner", sorting through all my stuff...and finishing up some projects.

Would you like a tour?

Here she is. Maybe we'll call her Bertha. Bertha and her Brother (sewing machine). hehe

The top shelf is for finished projects. Below that is a space for sewing notions, and another shelf for packing/shipping supplies. I keep my thread, ribbons, etc. on the right part of the desk top.

In fact, here's a pile of finished projects! Any guess what these are? (You'll see pictures, soon - I talked the recipient of this pile of lovliness into coming over tomorrow so I can hand deliver these to her kids. I'm so excited!)

Oooh, look! I even have a shelf for the projects that are cut and ready to sew. My cutting space is in the basement, so I tend to cut several projects out at once while the kids are both asleep, and then bring them up to work on while the kids are either asleep or playing. (The projects you see below are destined to become two sets of baby blankets, with matching burp cloths. I bought 40 yards of flannel on Black Friday last year..and I'm almost out! *gasp*)

This desk makes me so ridiculously happy...I have my own little space!

So, this begs the question - where do you work? Are you like I was, with a little corner of the kitchen table staked out as your own? Do you have a corner of a room? A room of your own?? Do tell!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Spring Swap Goodness Goes Out!

I recently participated in a crafty swap on the 6 o'clock stitch. I've been waiting to show you what I sent out, but since my swap partner in India has already received hers, I can only assume that it's no longer a surprise!

When I think of spring, I think of clouds of butterflies...bright open spaces...possibilities...and simplicity.

I cut these little butterflies out of my most springy-est fabric, and then ironed them onto a plain white background with Wonder Under.

I embellished with some black embroidery floss, and gave them little feelers so they'd look more like butterflies and less like pressed flowers.

I was pretty happy with how these little samplers turned out! I've heard back from my partner in India that she has plans for hers - it's destined to decorate a cute summer bag!

What would you do with something like this??

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Birthday Present for a Princess

The other day, my sweet little BBJ (my two year old daughter) had her very first drop-off birthday party. I was so excited!! Granted, there was just time to run home, have lunch, and go back and pick her up, but...still! The possibilities! (And the sheer bravery of the birthday girl's mom!) There were four little girls invited, and they all wore their prettiest frocks, ate chocolate cupcakes, pulled strings on a pinata, and decorated itty bitty loot bags with their names and stars and castles and fairy wands...

...Oh, and don't forget all the candy that was in the loot bag. I hid that in the cupboard...and BBJ has forgotten all about it by now. (It comes in great for "incentives"!)

I knew that I wanted to make something for the birthday girl...I've got a reputation to uphold, donchaknow!

I decided on one of these:

It's based on the crayon rolls that are so popular with crafters, but I added long ties to either side, to make it an apron.

I think this turned out really sweet!

Birthday Girl has her own little artist easel, so I thought this would be a handy thing for working on her masterpieces.

Is there anything happier than a long row of brand new crayons???

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Gift for my Mother

I had the good fortune to have my father visiting with us earlier this month. He lent a hand while we ran errands, watched the two littles so Lo Gung and I could go out for was marvelous.

I didn't get much crafting in while he was here - who wants to sew when they could be talking their father's ear off, instead! However, I was able to put together a Mother's Day present for him to take home to my mother.

I found the yummiest was so soft, it just begged to be made into napkins.

These napkins are only one layer, instead of my usual two. (I didn't want it to feel like a lap quilt instead of a napkin!) You can see my *ahem* creative solution for the Flapping Corners.

If you were to number the sides of the fabric, in order, clockwise - 1,2,3,4 - I folded, pressed, and folded again sides 1 and 3. I then did the same with sides 2 and 4.

When I stitched around to keep everything hemmed and tidy, I turned a little square over each corner, to take care of the extra fabric that was in there from the (*couting in my head*) 8 layers on each corner.

I think they turned out pretty great!

Now, please be honest - what color are these napkins?! My mother and I disagree on this point. (I'm not going to tell you what color I think these are...I don't want to sway you.)

(Oh, and Mom? Feel free to chime in. :-))

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Bit of Loveliness from Texas

I recently participated in a Spring Swap put together over at The 6 o'clock Stitch. The guidelines were fairly simple - the item should be 8x11, framable, include the colors red and yellow...and remind you of SPRING.

That's it! That's all the direction we were given. Let me tell you, I was sweating bullets trying to figure out what to send out to my two partners, especially afterward, when what they had made for me!! (I'll show you, later, what I came up with.)

Can you imagine how excited I was when I received a package from one of my partners? Shean blogs over at Diary of an Unconscious Mind.

Check out this loveliness!

Aren't those birds just precious? I think they'll be perfect in my daughter's room.

Shean also included two lovely pieces of mind is reeling with the possibilities!

Then, just because she's a doll, she added this set of vintage Goldilocks paper dolls for my daughter. How thoughtful!

Shean, thank you! I love all of it!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beaded Necklace - A Toddler Tutorial

When the baby, Siu Jeun, is asleep, my main concern is keeping him that way. Usually, this involves elaborate schemes to keep my (very, very noisy) two year old...quiet.

Luckily, she has a weakness - she loves anything and everything related to princesses. If it's pink, it counts. If it's jewelry, make up or a skirt, it counts.

During a recent nap, she started begging to wear a necklace she found in my bathroom. Granted, the necklace is hers...but it belonged to my grandmother first, and I did not save it for my daughter just to have her tear it apart before she's old enough to know better.

Thinking quickly, I grabbed her hand and said, "Do you want to go make a necklace??!" Did she ever! She was so excited. I wasn't sure how I was going to proceed - we'd never done a project that required such fine motor skills before - but I was willing to give it a shot.

I have a large bag of old calendars sitting in my supply pile. I grabbed one out that looked promising (full of pictures of flowers, butterflies and birds), a pair of scissors, some yarn, some tape...and set to work.

First I set the two year old up with her own page out of the calendar and a pair of her own (safety) scissors. She happily snipped, ripped and mangled while I figured out the easiest way to turn my own page of the calendar into beads she could use. I used the calendar because of the pretty colors. I was going to use magazine pages, but my pile of magazines was in another room...and the calendars weren't.

I cut the page into 1" wide strips, then cut each strip from one corner to the opposite corner, forming two long triangles.

Each triangle was then rolled over the fat end of a chopstick and the end secured with a tiny bit of clear tape. (I could have used glue - or Mod Podged the whole thing - but when working with two year olds, immediate results are best.)

I took tape and wrapped up about 2 inches of one end of a length of yarn. I knotted one of the finished beads on the other end of the yarn, which would stop the other beads from slipping off while she threaded them onto the string.

As fast as I could make up the beads, she figured out how to string them onto the necklace. As I handed her the last bead (and, coincidentally, the last bead the string would hold as well), she said, "More, mommy! I want more beads!" Luckily, she was satisfied with simply repeating the project. The beads were dumped out into a bowl, and she proceeded to restring the necklace two more times.

All in all, this project took about 45 minutes. If you ask me, that is a rather impressive span of time for a two year old to pay attention to a single project!

*Please ignore that wayward piece of pasta in the last shot. I think it's from dinner the night before...though I don't know how it managed to escape the post-dinner clean up! I think BBJ hid it somewhere...

This tutorial is listed on Make & Tell, over at the 6 o'clock Stitch. Head on over and check out the other great tutorials!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Easy Flower Centerpiece for Toddlers

Here's an easy project to do with your toddler on a rainy Spring day!

You'll need:

(at least) 12 coffee filters
washable markers
1 dinner sized paper plate
1 dessert sized paper plate
Thick, sharp needle
a spray bottle of water

Put one of your coffee filters on the dinner sized plate, hand your toddler a pile of markers, and let her go to town! The more colors the better. When your toddler declares that masterpiece "done", hand her another filter, removing the first one from the plate first. (The plate is to catch the ink that soaks through the filters.)

While your toddler colors the filters, take the ones that are done and your scissors and get to work.

You'll have to be quick because you want to finish cutting around the same time your toddler finishes coloring. (Trust me - it's easier than convincing a bored toddler to leave your pile of markers alone!) Fold a filter in half, then again, and again, and again...until you have a small wedge.

Cut the outer corners of the wedge off, to create a point. Do that to 6 filters. For the remaining 6, cut the same way, only lower down, to make a shorter wedge.

When you unfold everything, you should have 6 large flowers, and 6 small ones. Pair one small flower with one large flower and sew them, pair by pair, in a spiral, onto the small dessert plate.

Start by anchoring your thread: Thread your needle. Tie a knot in the end of your thread and pass up from the bottom of the plate to the top, then back down - being sure to leave a tail on the bottom of the plate. Pass through needle back through the loop in the tail, and pull tight.

Your thread is now anchored to the plate and you can continue sewing.

Up through the plate and flower, down through the flower and plate. Move over two inches, and repeat, in a spiral pattern, until all the flowers are attached to the plate.

When you have sewn all 6 pairs on, lightly mist your creation with water and hang upside down to dry. (The water will make the colors spread. By misting the flowers after they're attached to the plate, the colors can also spread from flower to flower.)

When the masterpiece is dry, you will have a cluster of flowers for your dinner table that your toddler can be proud of!

Another skirt to MAKE

Oh kids, I think I might like this skirt even more than the last one I posted here. What makes this skirt so great? Well, for one - it's a circle skirt, which means that I will feel uber girly and "princessy" wearing it. (Princesses are a big part of our daily life lately - thus sez the two year old.) Also? No hemming! Why, you ask? Well, because this skirt is made from a retro tablecloth. Ha! Take that, Carol Channing!

Here's to Carol, the Original Upcycler!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Art for a Toddler's Room

I left you hanging, and I'm sorry. I just love to be a bit melodramatic now and again!

Where were we...oh yes. I called my sister to thank her for the package...and ask her why she had sent me cotton string and clothespins. "To make your own art gallery!" What perfect timing! BBJ has recently taken a liking to finger painting...and I didn't know what to do with the growing pile of colorful masterpieces.

I think the pages look just perfect all strung up on BBJ's wall.

Thanks, again, Aunt Myrnie! That was so thoughtful of you!
(If you'd like to see the beautiful hairclips, dress and skirt that Myrnie sent for BBJ, please head over to Bubba Bubbles!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Package from Home

I want to tell you a quick story. Yesterday, I was not having a great day. (Granted, my day was much, much better than the other people involved in this story...but that didn't make me feel much better!)

You see - my father ought to have arrived last night, and been here this morning when my kids woke up. OUGHT to have been. There were weather delays...and mechanical delays...and he ended up at the airport for hours, with nowhere to go. He eventually booked himself onto an early flight the next morning, and went home. I was really disappointed. His trip had already been trimmed by a day on the other end, by a scheduling conflict back at home.

To top it all off, I made fresh bread yesterday...I paid attention to every detail, and I knew the bread would turn out great. The timer went off just as my father called to give me an update on his flight status. I saw my husband hop up and I was grateful to him for grabbing the bread out for me. Only...he didn't grab the bread out. He turned the oven off, and left the bread in there. I should have checked, I should have told him...shoulda, woulda, coulda.

(The bread turned out fine, by the way.)

After I heard that my father wasn't going to make it at all on Monday, I headed outside to get the mail. There was a package headed my way...and I wanted it. Now. I told my husband that if the package was there, then I'd be happy. "And if it's not?" I gave him an ominous look, and said, "Get the jelly beans ready. I'm going to need them."

Of course...there was no package. I nearly started crying, coming down the driveway. Just as I had given up all hope (melodramatic much?) I saw my neighbor heading towards my door...with my package! The heavens opened, the angels sang...and I explained to her how happy I was to get my package. (I think she's put me down as nuts by now. Oh well.)

Inside the package were all sorts of lovely father had printed off nearly 200 pages worth of patterns that I won from My sister, bless her heart, threw in so many goodies, it felt like Christmas! There were two embroidery hoops, a parenting magazine, an earring holder made from a modified picture frame, handmade earrings from her shop, a skirt and a dress for BBJ, pretty flower hair clips for BBJ, flowers to make more clips, some adorable vintage ribbon...and a few yards of cotton string and 8 clothespins. ??? (Thanks, Myrnie!!!)

(Here's what I could round up to photograph during BBJ's nap today. The rest of the items seem to have been squirreled away by a certain two year old in the house. Don't you love the earring holder? It was left over after her first craft show. Since Myrnie doesn't have pierced ears, she was a sweetie and donated the holder to me!)

Here's a close up of the vintage ribbon. Isn't it sweet?? There must be two yards of this stuff! I think I'll give it a good OxyClean bath and then maybe trim up a few aprons with it...or baby items! Oooh....a pair of shortalls for Siu Jeun, my son! The mind reels...

Here are the lovely earrings. Isn't Myrnie talented?

Any guess as to what the string and clothespins were for?? I'll tell you tomorrow!