Thursday, July 2, 2015

what I'm up to

Busy, busy, busy. I always envision lazy summers but somehow that never happens. Doing lots but blogging little. Sewing, traveling to see family, teaching Bible classes (I just finished a quarter with my truly awesome 4-6th graders), VBS madness.

And of course I'm working on two patterns right now, the Gold Ring ornament (5th in the Twelve Days series) and the EarlyBird NightOwl Pillow. Busy digitizing pattern pieces and making test samples for both.

I've sewn a couple of shirts for myself but I can't seem to find a good time to photograph them. Or the motivation to get shots of me wearing them. Or the courage to show you. I'll do that soon. Ish.

And my head was completely turned recently by this vintage curtain remnant on Etsy. I love the combination of the brights with the dull brown. It's a 60s print called Pompeja by Swedish designer Marta-Lena Bjerhagen. It needs to become a pillow for my couch. I'll squeeze that in between samples.

I hope your summer is going well! Or your winter, for my friends in the southern hemisphere.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

testing, testing

Very first try at custom printing at Spoonflower for the quick-sew version of the Early Bird Night Owl pillow. The colors came out better than I thought from the screen preview, though some patterns are darker than anticipated.

This is a big experiment with both the method and the cost effectiveness. So far I really don't like the results that I get sewing together the small pieces like the beak and eyebrows. Those would look much better in felt, IMO. The small size makes them kind of a pain to turn and the stuffed shape doesn't look smooth even when I carefully clip the allowances. I'm rethinking those parts.

I'm considering having the large pieces pre-printed (front and back of the bird) and then just adding felt and pom accents. That would sure be a lot cuter and easier. And you could also embellish with trims and embroidery if you wanted to. And maybe that way it would fit on a fat quarter. I'll have to check that. That would bring the cost down.

And no worries, I'm also working on the traditional sewing pattern for this in woven cottons with applique, felt accents, and poms!

Friday, June 12, 2015

painted my brown brick hearth white, check

For so long I've wanted to do this. Why O why did I wait?

I um. Didn't mention it directly to my husband just before I did it. I totally did mention it several months ago to him and received a noncommittal noise in reply that completely might have meant 'Yes, please do this, it will be gorgeous' or may have possibly meant 'Over my dead body'.

I got the bee in my bonnet a few weeks ago to follow through so I went right out to the home improvement store and got a quart of stain blocking paint/primer in one, matte finish. Thanks, Mr Paintguy. I actually needed every bit of that quart because the brick and mortar are so porous.

Here's a before shot and also an action shot taken by my daughter. I didn't even think about taking a before shot until she mentioned it right before I started in on the mortar. She'll make a better blogger than I. The brick is the same brick as the accent on the outside of our house and just looked so dated in my light/bright room. It was a light sucker, especially with that black gas stove in the middle.

And yes, I managed to get paint in my hair. The painting took a few hours because I'm super picky about getting very accurate edges.

I wanted pretty full coverage but I didn't get the brush in every nook and cranny. Before I started painting, I considered just hitting the high spots of the brick with a roller instead of a brush to create a more distressed, patchy look. I was afraid it would be too busy in the small space. I wonder if I could go back with sandpaper and knock off some of the paint in random spots? I'm kind of enjoying the white out right now though.

When Michael got home I was in our bedroom. I heard him pause in the family room. I squinched my eyes and called "Don't you LOVE it?? I think it's GORGEOUS." (go for the over-the-top sale)
Short pause.
Then he said, very kindly, as he came into the bedroom and loosened his tie, "I don't love it yet."

He later mentioned that he was going to get used to it quicker than he thought. (For the win!) Now to get rid of the man-chair.

Monday, June 1, 2015

oh my! thank you, National Nonwovens

You know very well my strong feelings about wool felts, so you also know what a stack of happy this was to get in the mail. SIGH. This gorgeous and generous fat quarter sample pack is from National Nonwovens! Oh, the things I will make.

If you are not familiar with National Nonwovens it's probably because they are primarily wholesale. They offer such a wide range of lovely felts. It took me a good while to peruse all their color cards. They have options for 100% wools, wool blends, bamboos and acrylics. And of course, wool roving. Chances are if you've made something with a wool-blend felt, it was made by National Nonwovens!

I was also delighted to be featured in their newsletter and to have my Partridge & Pear ornament set displayed at the National Nonwovens spring quilt market booth in Minneapolis. What an honor! Thanks again, Christin!

Friday, May 22, 2015

wiksten based tunic top with pockets

I've been doing some sewing for myself lately. This Nani IRO print has been burning a hole in my fabric shelf and I finally formed a concrete plan for this tunic. The fabric is one of my favorite prints ever and I didn't want to waste it on a top I wouldn't like. I made a muslin from an old sheet before I made this one.

The fabric is a lightweight double gauze. I started with the top of my Wiksten tank pattern and cut it off just under the bust. Then I drafted a gathered skirt and big pockets to make a comfy tunic. I'd prefer it just a bit longer but I didn't have enough fabric and even ended up having to add a hem facing to keep as much length as possible. This tunic would make a nice casual dress too by lengthening it even more.

I kept the fit loose so I could slip it on over my head but the back ended up looking a little too roomy. I added some shirring to make the fit more flattering but not too tight.

I have a thing about big pockets. They make me happy. I considered adding buttons to the pockets as a decorative touch but decided it was better without them in the end.

Actually, the accidental hem facing makes a nicer looking hem on double gauze than a folded up hem does, IMO. It's very hard for me not to pull or distort the hem if it is folded because the double gauze has such a loose weave. For the facing I just cut a bias strip and finished one edge with an overlock. Then I sewed the other edge to the hem RST, ironed it toward the wrong side, and secured it with a blind stitch by hand.

If you have the Wiksten tank pattern you could make this mod pretty easily. (Assuming you have already made any adjustments to the tank for a good fit first.)

Just in case you have the pattern and also have fabric that is burning a hole in your shelf:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

spoonflower swatches, check

Exploring the world of Spoonflower for the Early Bird Night Owl quick-sew pillow. These are my fabric swatches and RGB color guide.

First impression: Many more cool fabric options than I thought there would be. Bit disappointed in the saturation on the color guide though, especially the blacks. The guide is printed on Kona Cotton, which I felt was the best option for the pillow. It needs some nice, rich darks on the Night Owl side.

I'm also not excited about the hex color builds. They look wildly inaccurate onscreen to me, so previews can be iffy. Erg...

This might still be fabulous or it could be underwhelming. I'm excited to run a sample when I get it ready! I'll post the results.

Monday, May 11, 2015

ooga chakka, ooga ooga ooga chakka...thing 2 is eleven

Mixtape! It really surprises and gratifies me how anticipated these birthday soundtrack CDs are. The girls still get so fired up about them and I get such a kick out of my little birthday ritual: putting it in the player and turning the volume up to a really obnoxious level to greet them on their birthday morning. They emerge from their bedrooms with sleepy smiles and then park themselves in the living room to listen to the whole thing beginning to end. Dancing and lip synching may occur at any time. (Usually that's me.)

This one starts out with Hooked on a Feeling (this kid is really into anything Marvel and Guardians Of The Galaxy was one of her favorite movies this past year) so the unmistakable and stomach vibrating Ooga Chakka started the whole thing off in style. That movie has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a while! (And also includes a boy who really loves his mother's awesome mixtapes.)

Here's the whole playlist. It's a smattering of sounds she's really into right now (Ellie Goulding, Paul Simon, Rainbow Rocks) and memories from the year.

She was birthdayed in style and made a weekend of it with a spend the night party at her Nana's, shopping trip, family dinner and ice cream cake. I tried this one this year and it was quite tasty. I'm a big fan of ice cream sandwich cakes because of the minimal prep time. I relaxed my usual rule about subbing in real whipped cream for the Kool Whip for the sake of ease and regretted it. I don't think Kool Whip is actual food. It has a weird mouth feel. But my husband got the really short end of the stick because I sent him out to get the 'easy' ingredients and he found there was 1) no blondie ice cream sandwiches 2) no fresh strawberries. ANYWHERE. In May! What in the world? He went to four stores and two berry farms before arriving home triumphant. Poor guy.

Here's birthday girl on the left with big sister on the right modeling her mommy-made tiered skirts. You can see nothing's changed. She wore the blue skirt to worship yesterday. I plan to make more. So easy. Here's the tutorial if you are interested.

She's shown an interest in polymer clay lately so I got her this super cute book with the polymer clay included. It usually shows through that little window in the cover but we've already opened everything. It's a great way to get introduced to the techniques and each charm is a minimal time committment. You can see she's already made two charms. It's a really well-done book. I'd recommend it.

I also got her some air dry clay so she could test them both and this book to go along with it, which is also fantastic: 

She also discovered our old stash of Far Side books a few months ago. I'm a bit envious of her getting to see the genius that is Gary Larson for the first time. I remember absolutely doubling over, unable to breathe when reading Far Sides way back when. We got her Gallery Four because she's worn out the ones we have. That girl loves to laugh.