Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wildflowers Photography

Oh my stinkin' heck.

Some people in this world are not only fantastic photographers, but they are geniuses in the composition and creativity department.

Especially this photographer.

I said it once; I'll say it again.

Oh my stinkin' heck.

Check out the "Up!"-inspired photo shoot. Here's Part One. Here's Part Two. Someone needs to invite me to Part Three because I am just drooling over this idea!

And check out the Princess and the Pea-inspired photo shoot.

What about this senior pictures shoot? Anthropologie out the wazoo, a cute bicycle with a basket, and cowboy boots? Check, check, and check! I've got all of that now at the ripe ol' age of 33, but man, if I had senior pictures like that back when I was 17 or 18? Coolest senior ever! (Girlfriend, call me when you turn 33. If you're that cool as a senior, I can only imagine how cool you'll be 15 years down the road! Keep it up!)

And then check out the engagement session for a children's ministry coordinator.

And the superhero baby family session? (Hello, they included my beloved Blue Bell ice cream in their shoot!)

And this vintage engagement shoot?

Oh my stinkin' heck.

(I heard you say it, too.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

Seriously, this lady is a flippin' sewing genius. If I could whip up things like this, I would have no need for Anthropologie in my life. No need, I tell ya'.

The Streamer Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

Must. Get. To. Florida.

To go here, of course...

I want to go BAD.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I think I need a girl.


I think I need a girl of my own to sew for because this is just getting ridiculous. Too many fun tutorials out there, especially for the little ladies!

So we attended a birthday party last night for one of my favorite little girls who is turning four.

It was the perfect opportunity to perfect my sewing chops on yet another tutorial!

The birthday girl specifically requested a party full of unicorns, so I rushed off to my local JoAnn's and found some super cute unicorn fabric and on sale to boot. I thought it might be hard to find unicorn fabric that wasn't cheesy, so I was pretty excited when I found some that was extra cute.

The skirt came with challenges though. The tutorial was meant for a six-year-old girl although it had directions for all sizes. The first time I attempted it, it just seemed way to bulky with all of that gathered material from two layers, which I also thought might feel way too hot for the summertime as well. Yes, I said "the first time".

Although it killed me to do the right thing, I got personal with my seamripper, took the dang skirt apart, and cut off about 15" of width from both layers before gathering them up again. I shortened both layers a smidge to get them to the finished length of about 11". I also shortened the waistband as well, to help keep it looking the right length for a four-year-old and to help with the weight of the layers. To finish off the look, I ran over to Target, picked up the super cute braided strap lime green tank (on clearance!) and made a little layered felt brooch (a la Kristi, like from the pillowcase dress party) and pinned it on.

Adorable, if I do say so myself. Click on the pictures to see that rainbow ricrack up close and personal. When else would I find the perfect excuse to buy some rainbow ricrack and Punky Brewster it up a bit?

I must be getting older and wiser because I actually took the time to not only prewash the fabric (so it wouldn't shrink on my little friend) but also I finished off all of my seams by zigzagging the edges, so there will be no fraying in the wash either. Oh, my mom will be so proud. Seamripping AND nice finishing touches. Ah yes, maturing in my granny ways...

So you see, I need a little girl of my own to sew for. Either that, or as a party guest wisely pointed out last night, things are great with just the boy because if I had a little girl of my own, there would be no time to sew?!


Say hello to Vinnie.

He's staying over for a few days while his mother is out of town.

He's pretty well behaved, especially around the other two nincompoops who have yet to show him a warm welcome into our home. Thank goodness he ignores all of the rude hissing and low growls like a champ. Either that or he is part of the cat mafia (doesn't he look like you could say, "Yo, Vinnie" to him in your best mafia voice?) and those two are going down at some point. Ha.

I must admit I have a hard time looking at him without imagining him voiced by Nathan Lane like Snowbell the cat in Stuart Little.

That and I think he kind of looks like an Ewok.

No offense, Vinnie. You're awfully handsome in an exotic cat sort of way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I {heart} spontaneity.

Just last week during my daily blog-surfing, I learned of a new-to-me band called "Shotgun Party" via Danielle Thompson's uber-cool blog. Boy howdy if I didn't click on over to their website and find out that they were gonna be in my little neck of the woods on Saturday night! Thank goodness I'm married to a semi-spontaneous guy. He didn't blink twice at my request. In fact, he even helped me plan ahead by sacrificing and taking a 2-3 hour nap Saturday afternoon with the little man since we knew it might be a later than normal night.

Saturday night after dinner we packed ourselves in the car and headed north to one of our favorite places, an artsy little town 45 minutes north. It's a pretty drive from our house to B'ville, especially if you glance out your window to the west where sweeping views of the Osage Hills abound. When we arrived, we had just enough time to drop by one of our absolute favorite summertime haunts and let the boy enjoy a few rides.

If you're an Okie like me and you've yet to venture to the Kiddie Park, oh heavens, you need to drop everything and git' on up there! We love that place! This was our second trip there this summer, and I still had probably half of my tickets left from the first trip up. Being that I had only spent $10 in tickets the first time, that shows you what a bargain it is. 25 cents a ticket, and most rides take only 1-2 tickets. Some rides the parents get to go on free, like the carousel. I think we used up a whopping 5 tickets on Saturday evening. My boy chose the carousel, the biplanes, and the turtle ride (which he thinks is a rollercoaster). I'm fortunate that I have the best little man in the world -- after three rides we had to go so we wouldn't miss the concert, and he didn't complain a lick. Instead he said "thank you for the wides"! No tantrums here. Gotta love that.

So we headed one block over to Frank and Lola's, a fun little restaurant. They were setting up for the music, but it wouldn't start until 9:45pm. Since the boy had taken a ginormous afternoon nap, we were good to go. The waitstaff was so friendly, and they even brought an ice cream sundae on the house for my guy. He was by far the youngest in the house, but he certainly enjoyed the "cowboy music" and toe-tappin' and hollerin' out "YEEHAW!!!" after every song. Who knows what they thought of us, the crazy parents with the five-year-old in tow, but we sure had a good time. We enjoyed fantastic music until about 10:45, when we hopped back in the car and headed back south. It was a church night after all, ya'll...

Sorry for the blurry photo. I don't quite have knack for taking night photos, that's for sure!

Go check out "Shotgun Party" on iTunes when you get a chance. Fantastic. Their music is right up my alley, and I bet you'll enjoy them, too.

I did it.

Saturday was another baby shower day, or should I say, a "Sip 'n See".

In the South, we ladies have gotten into this tradition of hosting a "sip 'n see" for friends that have recently had babies. You get the general idea -- the guests are invited to drop by, have a sip of something and see the baby. A little less structure than a traditional baby shower, sip n' see's are a great way to celebrate 2nd-born, 3rd-born, etc. babies into a family.

Anyway, this Sip 'n See was a little bit extra special as the guest of honor, a beautiful baby girl, has had nothing short of a very special entrance into this world. After a rollercoaster pregnancy for her mama, she decided she wanted to come a little early and was born at about 31 weeks. She spent a long time in the NICU growin' and gettin' observed, so her homecoming has truly been an extra special one for everyone. We were thrilled to shower this tiny princess with lots of love and fun presents!

A few months ago I decided I would make this baby girl a quilt. I haven't made very many baby quilts as gifts, let me tell you, for a couple of reasons. Numero uno: quilting them -- I had been paying to have them done by a long-arm quilter, so that adds on $20-25 at a minimum to the cost. Numero dos: if I tried to quilt them, it was in a most basic fashion and sort of sad really, because I used my regular ol' zipper foot to "stitch in the ditch" (along the seam lines) and it always turned out mediocre due to the inevitable puckers, etc. on the back. Most quilters would poo-poo this idea because it's really not the way to get something quilted.

So, a couple of weeks before I needed the quilt back, I called up my trusty long-arm quilter only to find out no, she could not get it done in time.

Um, say what???

Yeah. And this quilt top wasn't exactly a stitch-in-the-ditch type deal. Of course not.

So I had no choice but to go out and buy a free motion quilting foot for my machine. I'd been intimidated by the idea for so long, but now I was forced into trying it. I have the most basic of all sewing machines, nothing fancy or quilt-related in the least, so I wasn't sure how it was really going to pan out. But since I wasn't about to try hand-quilting the whole thing, I had no choice.

I wasn't exactly running on loads of time, so I only practiced about thirty minutes or so on some samples before I jumped right in. I had no idea what to set the tension or stitch length at, so I just guessed. I fortunately had bought a pair of $2 quilting gloves at the store, and thank goodness for that as they were especially helpful.

Several hours and days later, she was done.

And boy howdy, was I ever proud.

This free motion quilting foot has rocked my world. I'm gonna be a quilting fool!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby showering.

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a wonderful baby shower for a friend I have known since 6th grade. We reconnected via Facebook (much like the rest of America), and it was divine timing as far as, at the time of our reconnection, she and her husband were considering international adoption, and we, of course, are an adoptive family. Fast-forward to yesterday, and we all gathered to shower her with gifts for her beautiful baby boy that she and her husband will be bringing home soon (hopefully very very soon).

I knew that I needed to make something extra special because Emily is nothing short of extra special, so I whipped out my favorite standby, a Wee Wonderfuls doll pattern. I know it's not exactly as common to give a baby doll to a baby boy, but I thought it might be fun for him to have a little buddy with his same beautiful shade of skin and hair. In fact, this is my second Wee Wonderfuls doll that was made for a little Ethiopian! And this is my first time making the boy version ("Archie") as I have previously made four girl dolls ("Olive"), and one "SpaceBoy" as well.

I'm sure this won't be the last time I attempt the boy doll because he turned out so darn cute...

But I didn't want to show up with only a baby doll, so I whipped up three little bibs as well...

I have to admit, I LOVE these bibs. I think they are so adorable. My inspiration came from Emily's last blog post where she shared another gift her friend made for her -- a handpainted canvas for her nursery of Africa. Her friend used the colors from the Ethiopian flag. I used the same idea and sewed three strips of fabric together, then ironed on the double-sided fusible paper, traced my shape of Africa on the back of the strips (traced it backwards so it would look right from the front), cut out the shapes, ironed them on to my bib fronts and then zigzagged around them in black before finishing up the bibs. Easy peasy. They can be thrown in the washer and dryer and should last through many a feeding. And everybody knows you can never have enough bibs!

Not only was it fun seeing my amazing friend yesterday, but it was a great reminder at what a small world our little city is. There were three girls there from my elementary school days, several from middle school and high school, and two of my favorite middle school teachers were even there! Talk about blast from the past. It triggered so many happy memories for me, and it reminded me of how amazing my childhood and educational experiences were. Our schools were very tight-knit, and it truly was like growing up in a big blended family. I can only hope and pray that my son has the same amazing experiences and makes some lifelong friendships as well from his school days.

Love you, Emily! I'm praying that your gorgeous little man will be home before you know it!

Doll Quilt Swap 9

It's that time again. I signed up for another round of Doll Quilt Swap. I think the last time I participated was Round #4 actually -- I sent a fun little orange and aqua number to Laura. Thanks to Doll Quilt Swap 4, Laura and I are now blog friends. I love that. And to all my non-quilty friends -- these doll quilt swaps aren't necessarily just for "dolls". I have several from past swaps that I have collected and eventually plan on hanging in my basement all together as an art wall. It's pretty cool, especially since several of them traveled thousands of miles from other countries.

All participants are encouraged to try and make a Flickr mosaic of quilts we like so our partner will have a better idea for inspiration. I'd never attempted a Flickr mosaic, but I figured it out this afternoon and voila:

1. Dresden Plate quiltie, 2. windmill quilt detail, 3. Carnival String Quilt - complete, 4. My Pillow Talk Swap from Little Miss Shabby, 5. Joseph's Coat Pillow - it's done!, 6. completed pillow for pillow talk swap 3, 7. Twinkle laid out , 8. Flea Market Fancy hexagon quilt, 9. Cathedral Window Pillow, 10. momma, 11. patchwork cushion, 12. dqs8 received, 13. finished ..., 14. Jacob's Coat Quilt-along, 15. Molly's Quilt - Front, 16. Union Jack Pillow with Liberty prints

This represents a whole load of randomness that I am really enjoying right now. But I want my quilt partner to know -- I would seriously love ANYTHING you come up with for me. Don't be limited or feel intimidated by this mosaic alone. Just the fact that someone is making something specifically for me is great enough for me. No matter what, I will love it!

Now the wheels need to start turning in my head for what I will create for the partner I was assigned. So many ideas...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Little Dresses for Africa (Part Cuatro)

This is it. The final saga. (Catch the first three parts here, here, and here.)

The dresses. Oh, the dresses!

I had mentioned before that my idea of a great birthday party would have been to have 20-30 dresses. Blow that estimate out of the water and that's what we got -- 100 dresses!

This post has been a while in the making simply because I (and my mom) have been slaving away since the party, working on finishing up all of the dresses. At the end of the party there were 38 completed dresses, leaving my mom and I 62 dresses to finish. Most of them just required a finishing step or two, but at least 20 or 30 of them needed help from scratch. Thank goodness for my mom. She's a workhorse, that's for sure, and I would've never gotten them finished by now if it weren't for her.

So here you go. The "stars" of the party -- the beautiful dresses. I am going to do my best to give credit where credit is due, but again, my apologies if I get any of them wrong. I tried to get each guest to mark their dresses with masking tape, but about half of the dresses ended up sans masking tape, and I've had to make my best effort in guessing who their creator was. Remember, you can click on any of the images to see them up close. In fact, I highly encourage you to take the time and click on the pictures. There are so many cute dresses to see!

This group was made by my Aunt Millie, her friends Stephanie and Linda, and my cousin's wife and daughter, Jennifer and Vivian.

These dresses were created by Stephanie and Linda and my Aunt Millie (I think).

Katie's dress is on the left, followed by Cassie (Kristi's friend) for the next two, and my quilting buddy, Sydney for the last three.

The first four dresses are made by me out of pillowcases donated by the world's best preschool director, Melissa (Hola, Melissa!). Seriously, she is the best, and I wish she could have joined us at the party! Then the 2nd to the right is by Erika, and the last one is by Lauren.

Ginnette made the first two dresses, followed by the ever artistic Kristen, and then the last two were sewn up by me out of donated pillowcases from my neighbor, Bernie.

The first two dresses belong to Lindsay (see, Lindsay, we salvaged that first hem, no problem!), the two purple pillowcases were donated by Amber, and the last two striped pillowcases were donated by Tiffany.

Courtney is the creator of this first mod pillowcase, and the next two were done by Christa, who was one of my brave seamstresses. She was pretty creative on one of those in how she tied a bow and sewed it in place. Super cute. The two purple paisley ones are by Brook and her friend, Alexis, and the last one is by Lorrie who was able to get her craft on even with her brand new baby strapped on her front in a sling!

I'm pretty sure most of this group (if not all of it) was done by Kristi's sweet friend, Fallon. I loved how people brought friends -- new people for me to meet, and boy, were they creative! Kristi brought both Cassie and Fallon with her, and let me just tell you, these girls went above and beyond the call of duty by collecting gobs of pillowcases! Kristi also is the beautiful gal that made all of those flower brooches I was telling you about in the first post, many of which you can see sewn to a lot of the dresses. We used every single one of them -- they were a big hit!

These were also done by Fallon, with the exception of maybe one or two that could have been Kristi's? My mom got a big kick out of those black dresses and the cute fabric that Fallon picked out. One of them has the most adorable zebra fabric on it.

I think this group is mostly Kristi's, but with one or two from Fallon. I think. It's all starting to get blurry now. Dresses are floating in my head, haunting my dreams at night...haha. Just kidding.

This is a group of Kristi's. My mom really enjoyed sewing that bright tropical colored one in the middle, and I made a flower brooch to go in the center, a la Kristi. Or at least I tried. And that red and white cutie was a thrift store find (I think) that came with the adorable bow already on it. It made a perfect little dress!

Another Kristi group. The girl found a LOT of pillowcases. There are going to be a lot of happy little African princesses!

The first one is from my mom's stash in her linen closet that I doctored up. I'm telling you what, those vintage pillowcases are the absolute softest and coolest feeling cotton. The rest of the group was contributed by my neighbor Kim, her daughter Katie, and Kim's mother Corinne. It was such a fun surprise opening the door during the party and finding that Kim had invited her mother! Cool, too, that there were three generations represented from next door. Corinne told me that it was one of the most fun parties she's ever been to. That made my heart soar.

This group is all from my mom's linen closet. Again, I cannot emphasize how soft and cool the cotton feels on these little dresses. It was fun picking out the colors and trims to match some of these prints from the 1970s, but I think they turned out adorable!

Most of these are also from my mom's stash with a few thrown in from my own closet. The blue and yellow dresses in the middle were my absolute two favorite dresses I personally sewed. I love the bias tape at the bottom and how crisp and vintage these two feel. I made the appliques just by cutting some bouquets out of a printed fabric I had in my stash and fusing them on. If they were my size I'd wear 'em in a heartbeat!

The first two pillowcases were from my stash and the rest are from my mom's. I don't know if you've noticed, but we've received quite a few king-size pillowcases, and those are so great since the older girls will get to be included.

The last group -- all from my stash. That first dress has pockets that we created from fabric. Several of the girls were our inspiration for the pockets -- Fallon had brought extra fabric to make pockets for several of her dresses, and Ginnette had picked out some of the pieces of pillowcase fabric that had been cut out for armholes and repurposed them as pockets on her two dresses. I told ya' -- I've got some creative friends!

And there you have it. The world's most awesome party, not just because of how fun it was, but because of what a difference it will be making in the lives of 100 girls. 100! I still have trouble wrapping my mind around that number! This coming week I will be sizing them, marking them, stuffing them in Ziploc bags, and then mailing them to the Little Dresses for Africa headquarters.

I know I've already said it, but I just can't say thank you enough. Thank you to all of my friends (old and new!) and family for all of your generosity. I'm so grateful to each of you. And to you, my blog readers, I hope this will spur you on to have your own fun charity party, or even if you don't throw a party, to just find a way, no matter how big or small, to get more involved with doing good in our world. There is no greater feeling than being able to help someone else.

And there's just one last surprise that I'll show you sometime this next week, a fun little thing I stitched up as my own little momento to remember my unforgettable party...

Little Dresses for Africa (Part Tres)

(If you missed out on the first parts, do go back and catch up. You won't want to miss out on all the fun: Part Uno and Part Dos.)

Ah, the beautiful women.

I don't know how many truly beautiful women you know, but I know a whole house full! The women I know have hearts so beautiful, they would knock any worldly supermodels outta the ballpark. The women I know are beautiful not only on the outside, but more importantly on the inside.

These women showed up in droves to my Little Dresses for Africa birthday party. They came bearing gifts and turned these gifts into amazing creations. My mom and I were talking about all the unique personalities that were at the party and how awesome it was to see the different talents come into play and see all of the varied color combinations and ideas of using different trims, etc., to add to the pillowcases. Each person had a different take on how to finish off their dress, and it was such a unique melting pot of ideas.

Let's also not forget the women who didn't make the pictures. There were several neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. who also contributed pillowcases even though they couldn't attend my actual party. It was a joint effort of so many different people from different parts of my life that helped us to reach the 100 mark!

Here you go, pictures of the lovely ladies who came to my party. (I tried my best while the chaos of the party was going on to get pictures of every person that attended, but there's always the chance I missed somebody, and if I did, my apologies.)

Look for Part Cuatro this weekend -- the creme de la creme, DRESSES!!!!