Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I've been up to...

Wow, I did *not* intend to be MIA, but I guess it happened anyway. I was sick for a while, and I've been off work since the 24th, so I've been hanging around home being super lazy and not crafting and certainly not blogging. So, in the interest of trying to get back in the swing of things, here's what I've been up to for the last two weeks:

1) Hanging out with these cuties. Bellow has been what I call a kitty muffin by laying in that basket, pretty much every evening while we're watching TV (which, lately, has been The Wire on DVD). I have been harassing Iris's naps by bringing out the camera. She is my beautiful little girl.

2) Drinking bloody marys like they're going out of style. Like, right now (which might explain why I'm posting!)

3) Going to the aquarium! Rob's best man from our wedding was in town with his lovely wife for a short time, so we took them to the aquarium and then to lunch at the first restaurant in America before they had to head out. It was a really nice time with some really wonderful people, and it made us miss our friends from Wisconsin quite a bit.

4) Shoveling! We got a good 8"+ today. Rob and I were out twice today and will need to do another big shovel tomorrow. We have the entire driveway to do, plus the sidewalk, and our house is on a corner lot, so we have to do double. Not too fun, but nice when we don't have to get up for work and can just come in and dry off with some hot chocolate.

5) Not crafting much. Not really by choice (I'm finally getting over my cold, which hung on for a good two weeks). Today I finally hit some productivity: I finished up a Lady Scouts project from a few weeks ago and I hit the mending pile. I hemmed 4+ pairs of pants and attached some buttons for Rob. It was a long time coming, but now that is done. I also started a new quilt on Sunday, but haven't gotten past the cutting stage yet. Pictured above are the fabrics for it, all from Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party line. LOVE these.

This is post #100! Believe it or not. Sorry for my absence lately, but my laziness is necessary right now. I do promise a lot more posts in the near future, detailing the super secret gift to my folks along with some of the great stuff I received (and, oh, it is great!) Happy pre-New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gifts for dudes, part 2

As I posted yesterday, dudes are hard to craft for. But what dude doesn't like robots?? That thought led me to create these: robot shrinky dink keychains! The picture above is the before, and the one below is the after!

Each robot was hand-drawn by me. On the white plastic I used Sharpies and colored on the front and the back, which was a bit of the mistake, since the color on the back of the plastic stuck to the paper when I removed them from the oven. I did what I could to touch them up after the fact, but I didn't redo any of them. This represents hours of work, people! The green robot on the bottom right was done with colored pencil on the clear plastic, and for the other two clear ones I used Sharpies as well. The colors bled a little because the plastic surface was rough, but they seem to have turned out okay, and the colors are really vibrant. 

On the backs of the white ones I colored the backs of the robots. This red one had to be touched up, but it looks pretty good here. I hope the boys don't notice. 

So, this pretty much wraps up my Christmas crafting for the year! I still have some things I haven't shown you yet, just in case they ruin the surprise for some, so that will be coming up yet, starting next week. I also have to make a catnip mouse for Bellow, and wrap presents for friends and for Rob, but all packages have been mailed! Well, except for my swap quilt, which I am really behind on this month. Maybe not the best idea to do that in December as well, even though I was in good shape with the crafted gifts. Oh well--live and learn. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gifts for dudes, part 1

Like many crafters, I have a hard time making stuff for dudes. Even though all the dudes I know are pretty cool and pretty supportive of ladies in general and crafty activities specifically, I don't know what to make them. I'm a big believer that things should be useful, and I also do not like to make utilitarian gifts that are put on display and never used. That's not why I made it! 

Anyway, I have a number of dudes in my department at work and a couple of dude friends that I needed to make gifts for this year. Here is part one: stitched Moleskine Cahiers notebooks. This project comes from the wonderful Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. I just used scraps, a paper needle that I reserve for these occasions, and a zig-zag stitch. I didn't press the scraps first, but I really should have. Oh well--next time. 

This is what the inside of the front cover looks like. Kinda cool. The notebooks seem pretty sturdy, so I hope all those holes I poked in them don't compromise the integrity of the cover too much. It probably took me as long or longer to pull the threads to the back and knot and clip them than it did to do the actual stitching. 

Here's a close-up of one of the notebooks. I probably should've stitched much closer to the edges of the fabric scraps--another thing to adjust for next time. 

In addition to the half-dozen books for the boys, I also made some for myself. This is my Dear Jane quilt journal, wherein I document everything about the making of my Dear Jane quilt (which has been stalled since July). I also stitched some scraps on a larger notebook wherein I glue pages of tips and inspiration from my quilting magazines before I pitch them. Pretty easy gifts to make in a couple of hours, though I must warn you that the thread trimming does become tedious. I'll be interested to see how these hold up over time. Anyone know? 

Dude gifts part 2 coming tomorrow... 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wasp bag #2

I did a lot of things last weekend, but the first thing I did was spend five hours on Saturday morning making my second Wasp bag! I love this pattern! I love my bee bag from earlier this year but am starting to wear it out, plus I was feeling the need for a winter bag (though not sure how wintery this one is).

The outer fabric is Peapod by Jessica Jones from J. Caroline Creative. I fell in love with it when I saw it on Jessica's blog and knew I needed to make a bag out of it. Choosing the perfect lining fabric was difficult, but the ladies at my LQS were lovely and found this reproduction of a vintage Christmas fabric by...someone. Moda? Andover? I don't remember. But it's perfect, right? And it helps make it all feel more wintery, though I think I would feel completely comfortable wearing this bag all spring and summer, too!

Seriously, how cute! I love those pleats. It's a great detail and gives the bag a great shape. I probably said this before, but this pattern is really well constructed. It feels so professional. 

One of the other things I did this weekend was go to the Boston Bazaar Bizarre--it was my first time! I was ridiculously excited. I did a really good job of not spending a ton of $$. I bought a little acorn from Heidi Kenney, who I love, and my friend Jenn and I also chatted briefly with Faythe Levine about Handmade Nation (the book and the film), so that was awesome. I tried really hard to not be too groupie-like, but these are my craft-world celebrities!

Anyway, back to my new bag. The pattern calls for a button here, on this teardrop shape on the handle/strap. I added one on my bee bag, but I don't have one on this bag...yet. I haven't found one that matches the colors yet, but do you think I need one? Or is it fine as-is?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

STUD November swap twin finished

I finally finished my own twin to my November swap quilt. I quilted it over Thanksgiving weekend, but just finally washed and dried and photographed it. I really like how it turned out. The fabrics look a little bit busier than I'd intended, but I think the overall effect is nice.

Here's the back, with my embroidered label and my little hanging corner tabs. All I need to do is cut a dowel to fit and tack it up in my stairwell. I have a growing little collection!

Here's a detail of the quilting on the back. Love those curlicues! It's a good thing that I finally finished my twin for November, since today I finished the tops to my December swap quilt nd my own twin. Stay tuned for a sneak peek...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Techno travel roll

Hello all! I am still so excited and happy about the Give-Away Day! I haven't won anything yet, but even if I don't, I found a number of cool new-to-me blogs, and I hope some of you who visited on Wednesday will keep coming back! 

Here is a Christmas gift reveal. It's the "techno travel roll" from Stitch magazine (get it! now!) and it's for my brother. Like many crafters, I have a hard time deciding what to make for dudes and tend to end up buying something instead. When I saw this project in the magazine, I thought it would be perfect for my younger brother. He graduated from college a year ago and is working his first "real" job right now, but it's far from home and his college friends, so he has already made a number of short flights back to visit them (he has yet to come East to visit me, though!) He also has lots of gadgets, so this seemed perfect. 

I stuck my cell and new iPod nano and cord in the roll for modeling effect. The instructions for this were very straightforward and simple, and I like that the finished project is useful and clean-looking (design-wise). I hope my brother actually uses it! For construction I used a quilting-weight cotton and a little heavier weight cotton canvas--it's sort of upholstery fabric, but not quite that heavy. I wanted to make the roll really structured, so I ironed some medium-weight interfacing onto both fabrics. That was probably a mistake, as I ran into quite a bit of trouble with the side seams (as mentioned in this post). But I think my machine and I have made up, so it's all good. 

Anyone else have ideas for good and useful crafts for men? 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A winner, and: I won I won I won!

First of all, I just want to say thank you to everyone for stopping by yesterday and commenting! Give-Away Day was SO fun, and I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of crafty blog love that my little beehive got! I really should've mentioned in yesterday's post that the pattern for the pincushion is from the lovely Pretty Little Pincushions, which comes highly recommended by me! So if you didn't win, definitely add this book to your Christmas list so you can make your own beehive! 

As you can see above, I already used the random number generator to choose a winner. It was comment number 239, which is.... MaryAnne at Thrifty Craft Mama! Congratulations, MaryAnne! 

So, as I already mentioned, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of blog hits and comments I received yesterday. Thank you for all the crafty love! I just so happen to have cut out felt for another beehive, so I will be reading through all the comments and choosing another winner, to be announced later this week! 

Edit: I have made it through all 352 comments and, on a whim, I'm choosing Holly of Stupid Is the New Awesome, just because she got my Spinal Tap reference and I liked her blog. So, Holly, I will be making another pincushion this weekend and sending it to you! Congrats! 

I'm sure that a lot of people who win stuff say that they never win stuff, but, seriously, I never win anything, so I was really surprised and happy to find out that I was one of the Craftsanity Amy Butler winners! (Of course, it was really hard not posting here immediately, but I wanted to wait until the loot arrived and I could show you photos of all the great stuff I won!) I listened to the Amy Butler Craftsanity podcast and left a comment and I was lucky enough to be one of the random winners! Woohoo! 

So, what did I win? A copy of Amy's new book, Little Stitches for Little Ones, Amy's Cabo Halter pattern, and a stack of eight fat quarters, a mix of fabrics from her Daisy Chain and Midwest Modern lines. 

Now I ask you: What should I do with all this delicious fabric?? Besides hoard it, which is what I tend to do... 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give-Away Day!

Happy Wednesday! It's Sew, Mama, Sew Give-Away Day! Be sure to click over to Sew, Mama, Sew to see the master list of everyone giving crafty stuff away today. It's not much, but pictured above is my offering: a wool-blend felt beehive pincushion (I love making these!). It's completely sewn by hand, stuffed with Poly-Fil, and has a little flax at the bottom to give it some weight.

The pincushion also comes with five custom-made bee pins, hand drawn by me and made using Shrinky Dink plastic. They turn the cute factor up to 11.

So, would you like this? It can be yours! All you have to do is leave a comment below. Comments will be closed at midnight and on Thursday I will draw a random number to choose the winner! (Please, US residents only.) Thanks for visiting, and good luck!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November swap quilt received

I have been very delinquent in posting about this! I'm so sorry! Pictured above is my two-color quiltie received from Soukies for the November Swap Til U Drop mini-quilt swap. It's blue and white--how perfect is that?!? 

Not sure if you can tell in this "detail" photo, but the fabric for the snowflakes and for the white borders is sparkly! Too cute. 

I also received a little accordion book and these stickers. All this on the day before Thanksgiving! Lucky me. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Long weekend crafting

I took full advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend and got a ton of crafting done, including making a huge dent in my Christmas to-craft list! Of course, I can't show you everything yet, but here are some peeks at some of what I accomplished over the four-day weekend. First, I quilted my twin to my November swap quilt. I had run out of backing fabric so I wasn't able to complete them at the same time. 

Then I spent about a million hours embroidering tiny felt labels and blanket-stitching them to more felt. I had to do 8 or so, and I am SO thankful to be done with these! Sometimes assembly-line crafting can be a drag... 

Yesterday I spent way too long wrestling with my machine, breaking needles, and swearing to get it to stitch through too many layers of heavy cotton and interfacing. 

On Friday I made and attached my first scrappy binding! It looks pretty cute with just the binding clips on, so I'm excited to see the final project once I get all the hand-stitching done (hopefully by the end of this week)! 
What did you do with your extra crafting time? 

Be sure to stay tuned this week because I have LOTS of things to post about, and don't forget that I'm having a little crafty give-away on Wednesday for the Sew, Mama, Sew Give-Away Day! Happy December, everyone!