Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Christmas recap, part 1

I've *finally* downloaded the hundreds of photos from December and January to my desktop, done some editing, and uploaded a bunch to my Flickr page. Wow--that's a lot of work! It's already been a month or more since everything was gifted, so I'd like to whip through this as quickly as possible. Here are the notes:

coaster sets 1
I made coaster sets (6 each) plus little "boxes" for my grandparents and my brother and future sister-in-law. These are the criss-cross coasters and are easy peasy to make. Everyone can use some holiday coasters, right?

potholders 1
I made potholders for my brother and future sister-in-law to match the apron I gifted them in the fall.

bag holder 3
I made a plastic bag holder/dispenser (my second one) for my future sister-in-law; her birthday is in early January, so all of her gifts were bunched together.

Nana apron and potholders
My nana-in-law got an apron (my second take on this pattern, from Seams to Me) and potholders.

cup cozy 1
My intern got a coffee cup cozy (made using this tutorial) to go with a Starbucks gift card.

tea wallet inside
One of the things I gave my office secret santa was a tea wallet made from this tutorial.

trivets 1
Everyone else got one of these trivets, which were made according to the pattern in Stitch magazine (it was in the Spring 2010 issue). They are stuffed with lavender and smell divine.

Whew! That's the bulk of what I gifted, but there are a few more things I'll get to in my next post. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Merry making

Our big Christmas present to ourselves (with some $$ help from my folks) was a new couch. Actually, mostly just "a couch," because prior to that we had my pre-college futon. Only. Which was (and is) falling apart. We've done some redecorating and moved the futon into my craft space, where it *just* fits, and have really been reworking the living room. It now feels less college-y and more grown-up, which is great, since we're thirty-ish and it's been a loooong time since undergrad! (I should note here that part of what took so long to get the couch was the fact that we live in an old New England home with skinny, windy stairwells. Getting a couch from Ikea, in pieces, was necessary; even then, it took some doing to get it into our third-floor apartment!)

Tree skirt full

Anyway, part of the living room remix project involved a Christmas tree upgrade. This was our 8th (!!) married Christmas together, and for the first 7 we had a little 12" fake tree from Target that we would load all of our ornaments on. We couldn't leave it on the floor, so put it up on a TV tray, but then Iris would knock it over, so when we were at Kohl's around Thanksgiving and they had 4' pre-lit trees on sale, we jumped on it. I made this tree skirt for the new tree to help dress it up a bit, and I love it!

Tree skirt ties

All fabrics are from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush line--the quilting cottons. The skirt is based on the one I saw here, but was even easier to make! For whatever reason, the first time I saw the tutorial I thought the skirt was gathered in the middle, not that the wedges were cut out. So when I made mine, I did a little math (radius! pi!) to figure out how big, but I think I ended up cutting 18" squares (I started with fat quarters, so that was easiest), sewing them along one side, and then gathering the top. The trickiest part was basting the skirt! For backing and binding I ended up using a flat sheet I'd already cut up for pattern drafting; it just happened to match perfectly! I made the binding out of the sheet as well, and that was the biggest pain in the ass but the final look is worth it. The double-faced satin ribbons came from my stash and I love that touch; it makes the whole thing feel so luxurious. I still haven't quilted the segments to the backing, and now the whole thing is put away, but I think next year I'd like to do some hand-stitching, just on the side seams, to help hold it all together.

5 gingerbread 3

This year I also started what I hope will be a new tradition for me: ornament making. When I was a kid, every year my mom would get us a different ornament and write the year on the bottom/back. I re-joined Crafter's Choice a few back (what can I say? they made me an offer I couldn't refuse...) and one of the books I got was Fa La La La Felt, which is really really fantastic! After some hemming and hawing, I decided to make the gingerbread house ornaments for a few select family/friends, plus one for our tree, of course!

gingerbread ornament hanging 1

I followed the instructions mostly as written, but added seed bead "sprinkles" instead of little felt circles. I also didn't stitch the white "roof" down in the scallops--I figured all the bead stitching would hold it in place. I added the year to the back and some cute ribbon to hang, and that was that!

3 stockings 1

I also made these mini stockings from the book as part of my gift to my brother and future sister-in-law. They just bought a big house, which will need a BIG tree with lots of ornaments! I thought it would be nice to give them some to start out with, and add a few each year. These were easy to make but took a LONG time because of all the different embroidery stitches. Still, it was good practice; I think it took me as long or longer to decide how to stitch them than to actually do the stitching!

So, to recap: Gathered tree skirt = sophisticated, Fa La La La Felt = cool, ornaments = great gifts! Unrelated, I'm now on Pinterest if you want to follow me, and I have invites available if you want one of those, too!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Catching up

Well. That was an unexpectedly long break! A lot of stuff happened with my day job after my last post, and then was the mad dash to finish everything before the holidays, and then my parents were staying with us for a week, and then it was back to work! So, now is time to play catch-up on projects going back to November. Ugh. I'm not one to make resolutions, but I'm hoping to be better about carving out bloggy time this year.

James guitar 2
On to the projects... This first one was a birthday gift for a coworker of mine who loves guitars. I thought it would be cool to make a soft version of one of his guitars. As with my latest tattoo, though, it couldn't be just any guitar. I was very sneaky and with the help of another coworker decided on which guitar to make: a Gretsch 6118 Double Anniversary, in Two-Tone Smoke Green. Yowza. You can see photos of my inspiration here. I think I came pretty close, no?

James guitar side
The guitar is made of wool felt, an upcycled linen shirt, and an upcycled (accidentally felted) buclé wool skirt, stuffed with poly-fil, and the strings were machine-stitched using metallic silver thread (left over from this project). I thought that was a pretty cool touch. My coworker loved it, and he knew exactly which guitar it was as soon as he saw it, so that was a big win for me!

tiny bird 2
This second project is another of the tiny bird in a nest (originally blogged about here). This was a housewarming gift for a friend to give to a mutual friend of ours. Bird in a nest = best housewarming gift idea ever, I think! This birdie was also well received and turned out very well, though the legs are a pain in the neck to do, and I always underestimate how many fabric strips I need for the crocheted nest.

Okay, that wraps up the pre-Christmas gifts. Next up is some decorating/Christmas crafting, and then actual Christmas gifts. And though I said I'm not one for resolutions (I'm not--I always break them), I think it would be good, in this space, to officially put out into the universe that I would really like to try to hold myself to completing one block each week for my Dear Jane quilt. If I can do that for the next three years, I will have the center squares done... Oh my, it sure is a marathon, isn't it??

**Edited to add: I saw this yesterday and think it's a fantastic idea!