Sunday, August 22, 2010

The wind is a-changin'...

Fall always seems to bring about change, and with fall approaching (come on, hurry up now, get rid of these nasty hot temperatures, please) there are many big changes comin' round in our little household.

One of those changes I just found out about on Friday. I'm still a little bit in shock, but super excited.

I am officially an Anthro girl.

I rarely talk about fashion on here, but it's something I really enjoy. Don't get me wrong, some days I don't try at all and look like poo on a stick, haha, but most of the time I love mixing and matching it up and trying out fun new outfits. Anthropologie has been a big part of that for me. I have shopped there since 2003 (I think), and thanks to some serious sale-shopping at other Anthropologie stores around the country, I've been able to slowly build up my closet full of fun finds. And now I will be an official part of the team for the new store in our little city. But like I said, I am still in shock about landing a job there. I'm sure there were loads of applications. At the last-minute, I zigzag stitched up the side and bottom of my resume in bright pink thread in the hopes that it might make it stand out a bit from the rest. And I wore my cactus cowboy boots with an Anthro ensemble in the hopes that it might show my quirky and proud Oklahoma roots. And then I kept it all a secret because I had no clue if it would all pan out.

But yay for it panning out! I'm very excited.

Of course, this recent development should help in distracting me from the fact that I am now the mama of a KINDERGARTENER.


When did this happen?!

I know it sounds crazy, but I am seriously having a hard time wrapping my mind about this idea. It just cannot be true! And for this usually-not-your-typical-emotional-girl, the last few weeks I've felt a bit more emotional than normal. My baby is growing up. Dang.

It really does seem like yesterday that we arrived at the airport to our own little "welcome home" party with that chubby, cutest-thing-you've-ever-seen little 11-month-old guy. And if it's already gone this fast, it'll practically be tomorrow when I'm handing over the car keys and ordering his cap and gown.


Can't someone just hit the "PAUSE" button for me, pretty please?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free-motion Series: Quilt #5

Okay. I don't like to play favorites.

Really, I don't.

But I might, just might have a new favorite.

This baby quilt might be my favorite, and I might have been a leetle bit sad to pack it up and mail it off across the ocean yesterday.

But not really since it is going to my super-awesome brand spankin' new 1-week-old little nephew (nephew #7; I also have 2 nieces). And I think his parents are really going to like it.

Want to see?

I thought so...

(Click on the pictures to see the details!)

Here's the front:

Here's the back:

Here's a teensy part of the hand-embroidered label I made.

I can't show it all to you because I doubt his new proud parents would want all of that info on the world-wide-web for everyone to see, but you can see a part of it. Basically it said:

This "Castle Peeps" quilt
was lovingly made for
_________ _____________ ___________
______ ___ 2010
______________, _______________
by his aunt, Valerie ___________
in ___________, ___________

It took me several doggone hours to stitch that up by hand. I listened to a Sunday afternoon's worth of NPR and had a towel handy to wipe my super sweaty hands. (That's a story for another day, my sweaty hand issues. I can rust needles with the best of 'em!) But I'm so glad I made the label because it is crazy cute, and that nephew is going to have a reminder of how much he's loved by his crazy auntie.

The free pattern for the quilt, "Villagers Rejoice!", was found here. The fabric line is from the new "Castle Peeps" by Lizzy House. You can find it for sale in lots of different places online, but I got mine for 35% off! Score! I switched it up only a teeny bit and made the outside borders all white (Kona white) because I personally liked the simplified look of it and how it showed off the castle on the front better. I also made sure to try and position one of the flags to look like it was coming straight out of the top of the castle tower peak. It looks that way on the original pattern picture, but there is no reminder to try and do this in the actual pattern instructions.

I had told my sister-in-law and brother-in-law that I wanted to make them a baby quilt and sent them lots of links for several different fabric ideas. They had mentioned liking the "Castle Peeps" fabrics, but I never got a full confirmation. When it went 35% off (a rarity for relatively new fabric) I made the executive decision to order it. They were being surprised by the gender of the baby, so I forged ahead with the yellow and green combo, but I have to admit I was secretly excited when a boy popped out because I think this looks a teeny bit more boyish than girlish, although it would work for either. And the fact that he was born in a land of real-life castles? Too cool. They'll have this baby quilt as a small reminder of that. My brother-in-law is a military man so they may not be there for more than a few years, but what a gorgeous and amazing experience to get to live in such a neat place across the globe.

Once again, I chose stippling for this quilt with white thread, not wanting the quilting to take anything away from the pattern. I had NO puckers on the back (yay!), but I still had a couple of places where the fabric got a little bunched up. Darn it if I can't figure out how to avoid that problem completely! But when I washed it all up and threw it in the dryer to get it all nice and crinkly, the bunching became invisible.

So now I am a happy peeps myself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Over yonder...

Last Friday I spent the day over yonder in Oklahoma City with my boy, my mom, my sister-in-law and three of my nephews. We had a great time as usual, and this time my sister-in-law had the brilliant idea to get a babysitter for the afternoon so she, my mom, and I could go for a visit to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. There was an exhibit we wanted to see which was fantastic -- all about Hollywood and fashions from the movies ("Sketch to Screen: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design"). Since I am a huge fan of shows like Project Runway, I knew this would be a great exhibit.

I would love to show you pictures of it, but unfortunately the security guards roaming at will were going to have none of that. So I have no pictures. Trust me, there were some cool costumes to be seen, from Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat to Elle's pink suit in Legally Blonde (hello, tiny!) to Superman's famous tight suit. Some of the costumes were insane, like a 1930's or so Marie Antoinette costume that weighed umpteen pounds, was covered in hand-sewn beads and sequins, and was literally six feet wide across the bottom. I was astounded at the workmanship on some of these costumes.

I was, however, able to take pictures in another wing of the museum where the Dale Chihuly works are.

If you don't know Dale Chihuly, you've been missing out. Gorgeous stuff. I first learned about him up in Tacoma, Washington at the glass museum there, and I've been a fan ever since. That museum was my first taste of glassblowing since they have a working studio on site, and it's one of the reasons I was inspired to make a date two years ago for my husband and I to try it out here in Tulsa. (I highly recommend it; you can read up on our experience here.) One of these days I hope to see one of Chihuly's exhibits where his glass sculptures are featured in outdoor gardens.

Enjoy the pictures...

And what would a good visit be without bringing something homemade? My little three-year-old nephew wanted his own nap mat and cover just like his bigger brother will have at kindergarten, so, being the good auntie that I am, I obliged and made him something his little horse-loving-self would love...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Free-motion Series: Quilt #4

Back in May, I whipped up a fun little birthday present for my second cousin who was turning 11. She enjoys cooking with her mom, so I figured an apron would be the perfect gift. I used this tutorial, fudging my way as I went by making it a little bigger all the way around -- at age 11, she is already almost as tall as me, so I figured if it fit me, it would work. I picked two coordinating fabrics (actually three if you count the solid pink) and made it reversible, adding her monogram as well to each side. It turned out adorable, and the bonus is that it fits her mom as well. Word on the street is that both of them have worn it!

Anyway, I'm telling you about this gift because it really does have something to do with Quilt #4.

I had leftover fabric from both this apron and from another flag pennant banner (or whatever you call those things) I had made for a friend's nursery, so I made up a little quilt top. Instead of the usual stippling, I tried out the "loopy flower" quilting I had seen here. I figured this quilt top was girly enough to handle it! My flowers don't look quite as perfect as in the tutorial, but regardless I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I used bright pink thread -- the flowers kind of disappear more into the quilt top, but you can see they stand out against the white of the quilt backing. I also had leftover black and white houndstooth which made for great binding.

This quilt doesn't have an intended home yet, but it is a great start to building up a "gift stash". When I need a baby quilt for a girl, this will fit the bill and it's already done!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free-motion Series: Quilt #3

Isn't it darling?!

(You might have to click on the photos to see the fabric better. I should've taken a close-up shot. Just so you know, it's a square quilt, even if it looks rectangular in the photos. It's because my unwilling models weren't available to hold it up for shots, so I just laid it on the bench under the magnolia tree. Oh, and it's in the shade, so the colors in the photos are a bit off. Oops.)

This baby quilt is for the soon-to-be-born third daughter of my good friend Sacha, making her big debut sometime between now and Monday. Let me just tell you, I nearly squealed with delight when I found this fabric a couple of months ago. Sacha raises chickens in her backyard, and I knew she would love the quirky French chicken fabric as much as I did. And the best part was that I got it on super sale -- gotta love it when that happens!

I knew I wanted to fussy-cut the little chicks out and make some wonky log cabins, so this is what I came up with. I love the color combination (of course I do, they are some of the colors found in my own house), but I didn't realize that it would blend in her new nursery as well. Hurray for that! The quilt is about 35.5" square, somewhat smaller than other baby quilts I've made, but honestly, it's a great size for different stages -- it could be a wall-hanging, it'd be great for tummy-time on the floor, and it could be carried around easily by a toddler. I didn't wash and dry it yet to make it all nice and crinkly, so hopefully it will only get softer with time.

I also tried out a style on this quilt -- pebble quilting -- instead of the stippling I'd done on my first two efforts. Dang, pebble quilting goes through thread like no one's business, and I seriously thought my arms were going to fall off from all the circular motion, but I LOVE how it looks. I love the contrast of the straight lines in the log cabins with the circular quilting. I also like that it makes me think of eggs on that chicken fabric. And I especially love the fact that there were less puckers on the back with this quilting. I will definitely be doing more pebble quilting in the future.

And in true Sacha fashion, since she is one of the coolest cats I know, she sent me home with a sack of fresh eggs, collected straight from her backyard while I was there dropping off the gift. First fresh eggs (as in, laid that morning) I've eaten that I know of, and now I am hooked. Dee-lish!

Free-motion Series: Quilt #2

I finished quilting my 5th quilt yesterday with my new free-motion foot.

Money spent on foot: $35

Money saved: ballpark estimate of $90 so far
(estimating that 5 quilts times $25 would have totaled $125 already)

I'm seriously loving my free-motion quilting foot. Why I was intimidated by the thought of free-motion quilting for so long is beyond me. Once I tried it and got the hang of it, it was no big deal. Or should I say a big deal since it has rocked my little crafty world!

So I figured I should do a little show-and-tell series of the quilts I have made and quilted all by my little self since I bought the foot only a month and a half ago. You've already seen Quilt #1, so we'll start with Quilt #2.

This one is for me. All for me. Do you recognize what it is made from?

Go here to refresh your memory. (Don't worry. I'll wait.)

It's a fantastic little souvenir from my Little Dresses for Africa birthday party!

When the armholes were cut from the pillowcases, most of the scraps were not usable because they had seams up both sides. But for the scraps that didn't have the seams in them, I saved them, ironed them out flat, and cut squares from them. I also used the scraps from pillowcases that were cut down in length to make smaller-size dresses, as well as the scraps from the extra fabric used for making pockets, etc. for embellishment. In total, I ended up with 144 squares, so I sewed them up in rows of 12.

I love it. Love, love, love it.

And I let my little man pick out the binding fabric. He chose this orange-yellow print from my stash. Pretty good choice if you ask me.

It is super soft since a majority of the squares were from vintage pillowcases, and every time I look at it, it brings memories of one of my favorite days ever.