Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodybe 2013

I am not one to wish time away. It's limited, it's precious, and there certainly is never enough of it. I feel bad when I say during the week that I can't wait for the weekend, as though weekdays have no essence, no value, no fun of their own. However, I will say today that I am finished with this year and ready for a new one (see how it's pretty much the last minute and I don't really have a choice in it anyway?). It is the first year in my memory where it's easier to recall the negative, as there seemed to be so much more of it, and bright spots more difficult to find. I won't recount those negative happenings here. I just wanted to say that I am looking forward--forward to a new year, to new projects, new friends, and new ideas. Please know that, even though my posting has been more sparse this year (especially recently) than others, this blog has been my happy place. That is due in large part to all of you--knowing that you're there and following along in my adventures, sewing and otherwise, providing encouragement and ideas and laughs. I am more grateful for that than you can imagine.

So here's to a new year. I welcome its coming and look with hope towards what it holds. Which better be freakin' good, because I'm too young for ulcers. Happy new year!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shop Sale

Hello, dears. I was able to sell a lot of things to the ladies in my aerobics class in the run-up to the holidays, but I still have a bunch of stuff left that I'd like to clear out so I don't feel guilty making more. If you'd like to stock up on some bits, or buy some seasonal goodies to stockpile for next year, head on over to my shop and enter the code 2013GOODBYE to save 25% off of everything! EVERYTHING! I've got some bags, some quilted table runners, some pretty trims, and other goodies over there. This sale is going on for one week, so grab it at this price while you can. Thanks, kids!

You don't even need to do your hair! Just keep on sitting on the sofa and click away!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Few for Friday - #52

Well, folks, here we are. One year of posting random photos for your viewing...I'm just going to go with pleasure. This is the final one as it's been a year and it hasn't brought me the photographic enjoyment that I thought it might, but I have loved checking in in a random sort of way, so I'll have to think of something to replace this. As you might expect, this week's photos were full of Christmas. We had four snow storms before winter actually started, and then the first day of winter was in the seventies. Not very festive. But for Christmas it dropped back down to biting cold, which is how I prefer it. When I drink hot chocolate when it's warm out it's gluttony, but when I do it when it's freezing it's for pure survival. Musn't freeze to death, you know. Even though I'm indoors. Well, I'll just get on with the photos before I forget that's why I stopped in :)

This is the train my dad bought so A wouldn't give him a series of minor heart attacks every time he touched his old vintage trains. The train is bad enough to hear as the whirring is kind of loud, but when you hit the audio button with the whistles and music it can make you feel right loopy. But Christmas is for kids so you have to endure, I suppose...

 This is the corner hutch in the kitchen. It's my favorite part of our decor. It's a mish mosh of stuff that doesn't have an official spot, so it becomes bright and eclectic. I love it. Probably because it's so simple and I don't have to figure out what plugs in where and what bulb blew and so on and so forth.

 I absolutely MUST read this book every year. Especially since I bought this elegant looking little volume this year. I simply didn't have time until the day before Christmas Eve. But I finished and I feel like all is right with the world. I must read this book and watch 'A Christmas Story' or it's just not Christmas to my mind.

 I've done a LOT of laying around this week. And when you're laying around doing nothing you notice weird things. Like how this little animated boy appears to be quite pleased that he decapitated a snowman. This is years and years old, and I've never noticed it before.

 And this blanket. The full picture woven in is of an angel hugging Santa. But today I zeroed in on this macabre little element that looks like someone murdered something in the snow. I had to refold the blanket as it's quite freaky if you look too long at it.

I'm hoping your holidays were grand. I got some new accessories for my camera, a delightful bee necklace :) and a Kindle Fire. I have been so busy solving some very important hidden object mysteries. Best take the break now, because I've already got lots of curtain sewing on the horizon (which will be great for the post-holiday quietness that is January).

Have a good weekend. I'm going to continue with my very busy periods of sitting and crocheting.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I spent my afternoon watching the classic movie channel, and in the words of Andy Hardy I say to you "I wish you the most of the best!" And in the words of Judy Garland I say "Let your hearts be light." And now I will turn off the TV and pull up my chair to the dinner table, as I've obviously had too much TV time today. Merry merry Christmas to all of you!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One of My Mostest Favoritest Bags Ever

A couple weeks ago my mother says (kind of out of left field) "You know Pat? Who I work with? Well, you know her daughter? I kind of said you'd make her a bag." Foreseeing some time on the horizon (due to a snowy/icy Saturday on its way) I said OK, especially because her daughter is a sweetie who happens to have Down's Syndrome. Her favorite color is purple, which made me think "Uh oh" for a few reasons. Purple is not one of my favorite colors, I always have a tough time matching it up (like I have blinders on), I had no time to mess about with online shopping and holiday shipping nonsense, and Joann's has a meager purple selection. Sewing anxiety ensued. So I recruited my mom to go with me to pick things out (because if I had done it on my own the project would have ended up looking like it was for a 2 year old or an 82 year old).

Now, this order was quite specific--a quilted messenger bag sized just right to hold an iPad in a case (so at least I didn't have to worry about the bag also being protective). You know what made me a little nervous? The stupid flap on the bag (because I've never done one). You know what was easy? The stupid flap on the bag. So I cut and interfaced and quilted and cut and sewed and pressed and measured a zillion times, and had a finished bag. Wanna see?

Didn't that turn out nifty? I love the quilting on it. I've never done that before, but I'm going to try and do it more in the future. It really makes it look a lot more professional, and the size of the pieces I used didn't take much time to stitch up.

I interfaced the exterior pieces, and then made a sandwich with cotton batting and plain muslin. I stitched my favorite diamond pattern, trimmed to size, and then sewed as per usual. I did the same for the flap, but I also interfaced the fabric that made up the underflap, as it would have the mag snap in it.

You know what made me most nervous? Placing the snap. About a million of my zillion measurements and bouts of fussiness had to do with the snap placement. It could be a touch lower, but that's to my eye (and I'm quite pleased with it as a first try at doing something like this).

My favorite part of this bag is the back--

I think it's because of that hint of the contrasting flap at the top. There really isn't much too complicated about this bag. It is essentially two rectangles sewed together and the bottom edges boxed for a one-inch depth. The strap is also one inch, to keep it perfectly boxy looking.

The bag is pretty blurry, but those faux berries are crystal clear, hahaha. The lining is perfectly sweet, and I would have loved it on the outside, but it's so light it would just be asking for a dirt disaster.

There are no extra pockets in this bag, which certainly cuts down on the time (I hate making pockets--I don't know why, they're easy. It's just a part of the process I don't care for). After making myself nervous about the precise size of this bag (almost into inaction) I noticed a book I had sitting nearby. It was almost the exact size of the measurements I had so I used that to check as I went along. There's just the right amount of wiggle room in this thing. And of course, it doesn't have to hold an iPad. It's a good size for a small handbag too (though a little bit more depth would probably be better for that purpose).

I just absolutely a gazillion times over loved making this bag. And the final touch? The adjustable strap (with twinkly hardware).

I used woven fusible interfacing on the straps, but no fleece. Normally I pad my straps, but when it's an adjustable strap it makes it quite difficult to work it through the slider. This adjusts nice and easy, but is still sturdy. I'm not too worried about it not being padded as it won't be carrying a lot of weight.

I had a good time with this one. It looks much more complicated due to the details, but it's pretty much a simple tote with a flap. I actually ended up liking this shade of purple, especially with the sparkly hardware. It was so cozy combining quilting with bag-making while ice and sleet pinged off the window and the house smelled like Christmas and I sipped my tea as I stitched. It was such a perfect day for sewing.

I'll be linking up here this week (if I remember, that is):

Saturdays: Show and Tell Saturdays

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Few for Friday - #51

I don't have the actual numbers in front of me right now, but I am almost positive that I have spent 99% of my waking hours since Thanksgiving engaged in something that could be categorized as work of a sort--either the regular day job, sewing/crafting for gifts, or the holiday hullabaloo that is shopping, decorating, wrapping, tree trimming and the like. The moments to sit and do nothing have been very few and very far between. This bugs me, because I try to get so much done early so I have time to chill out and enjoy the season. But you know what happens when you finish early? You have a lot more time in which to take on other tasks. I'm blaming it on adulthood, which I was never asked about, by the way. I'd still be back in 1984 if I had my druthers.

Anyway, I've only got two pictures to share with you today as it's been all go here all week. I imagine it's been the same for most of you, so if you're here and reading this thank you for fitting me into your busy life :)

Sneaky peek of my next project to share with you. I'm trying to think of the last time I loved almost every second of a project and I'm having a bit of trouble. I must work on new things more often.

 When I pulled up to work this morning, the field was covered with geese (which hasn't happened for a long time). I loved their honking noises, and wished I could tie red ribbons around their necks so they'd look nice and festive. There's just something so Christmassy about geese. This was about a third of them all. And the field was still covered with them when I left work. I'd love to know if they were there all day...

So that's it. That's all I've got this week. Very exciting, I know. And with that I'm going to go snuggle up in bed and try and squeeze in some reading time before the busy continues tomorrow. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Orchids: A Review

Last week or so Pantone announced that the color of 2014 will be 'Radiant Orchid.' This was nice and coincidental, as I had just been asked to review a book on orchids, simply called "Orchids."

With photographs by Fabio Petroni, and text by Anna Maria Botticelli, this is certainly one beautiful book. The flowers are all photographed against a stark white background, and the effect is such that you think you are looking at exquisitely detailed paintings.

Some of the pages simply have beautiful photographs, others have accompanying text.

The book is divided into four sections: 'Enchantment,' 'Passion,' 'Grace and Elegance,' and 'Extravagance.' Different species of orchids that exemplify those terms are showcased within those sections, with a bit of prose that goes into more detail about each.

Honestly, that's pretty much all I can say. The photos are absolutely magnificent, but the words are for orchid enthusiasts. It read very dry and scientific to me (lots of 'wingardium leviosa' types of words that I skimmed). If a person is a gardening or botany or orchid fan, they would find this volume both beautiful and informative, whereas I found it beautiful and not very interesting, in a "lay person" sort of way... When the book was described to me, I was under the impression that the text would be poetry and prose and quotes that seemed to fit the theme, as opposed to my high school biology textbook (which it seemed more like).

I looked up a few other facts on these flowers, such as there are over 25,000 species of orchids. To put that in perspective, that is over double the number of bird species, and four times the number of mammal species. Which is why you can get an orchid that looks like this--

--as well as like this--

--and like this (I think this one looks like a slipper).

Not what you picture when you think of orchids, right? Well, neither is the vanilla bean, I bet. Yep, vanilla is a member of the orchid family. File that away for when you need some small talk that will lead nowhere, hahaha.

My favorite tidbit to learn was that, for the most part, if you bisect an orchid it will be pretty much symmetrical. Just like a face--draw a line down the center and it will be the same on each side. A line I read that I can't find my source for now said "When you look at an orchid, it looks right back at you." I love that.

Some orchid varieties will bloom for a few hours, and others can bloom for a few months. But the thing that gets me is that orchids can take years to bloom after germination. Years. Like seven or eight of them. Seeing as it drives me insane when it takes me a long time to finish a quilt I don't think that orchids would be a flower I'd be successful with. I'd probably forget I planted it, hahaha.

Anyway, to sum up, this is a beautiful book in every way. BUT, if you're not an orchid lover the text may leave you feeling a bit yawny. If you know someone into these flowers, or into gardening, this would actually make a really nice gift.

I am now going to go and try and get the picture of the orchid that looks like a giant spider out of my head...

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own based on my own experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giveaway Winner!!!

Hello all! Just a quick post today to announce the winner of the fabric remnants giveaway.

I fed some numbers into the random number generator, and it spit this back out at me:

I carefully counted, dismissing any comments that weren't entries and removing any duplicates, and landed on:

So, Pam, congratulations! I'll be in touch, and as soon as I have your address I'll get this box of yum winging your way!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Last weekend I managed to get my sewing act together and sew up three makeup bags that I had on order. Other than stitching the gap closed and giving them a neaten-up press I finished all three in one evening after work. I was quite please with myself. I kind of strutted around and punched the air when the last one was turned inside out. If I ever commit some action that has the potential to change the world I don't want to be in my presence--I have the most exaggerated reactions to the tiniest things.

The finishing touch for these bags was some ribbon for the zip pull. Apparently it's quite tragic if there isn't a dangly bit from the zipper for people to tug on. I really dislike sewing up such a skinny strip to feed through, so when I saw a large pack of assorted color ribbons at Joann's the other day I snatched them up for just this purpose.

Anyway, you've seen several of these bags before, and I've even shared the tutorial. But I really amused myself with the fabrics for these (and even named them in my head) so I'm going to share anyway. To be totally honest the outside fabrics were part of the request, but the linings were left to me. They're not a big deal, really, but they're still tickling my fancy.

The first one is obviously some sheet music. Let me say this before I forget--see how nice and neat my zipper looks? Usually that doesn't happen. THIS time I followed a tip I saw online somewhere that I now forget, but they recommended using your quarter inch foot for zippers. My quarter-inch foot has a little piece that you can butt your fabric edges up against, so I aligned everything and sewed. Delightfully straight zippers resulted. If I tweaked my needle position I could get it even closer, probably, but this was just how I wanted for these. Keep this in mind if you tend towards squiggly zippers. Now, back to the bag--

Sheet music. With some pink ribbon. But then lyrics would be needed, so I dug out a texty print for the lining:

These texty prints never make sense when you go to read them. I'd like to hear a song sung from them, just to see if anyone goes "Wait...what?" Anyhoodle, I called this one 'Music and Lyrics.' Duh, right?

OK, for the next one goats were requested. Goat fabric is not something that is produced in abundance, but I was fortunate to find a few examples. This particular fabric was a bit heavier in weight than regular quilting cotton, but not so heavy as home dec. I interfaced it anyway, because I'm neurotic about strange things.

These little goats gave me a smidgen of joy to sew with for a silly-esh kind of reason. I previously told you I am rereading my favorite book series, and now I am reading the James Herriott books (those about the English country vet? Thoroughly enjoyable, you should check them out). Anyway, I had just read one of his tales on lambing season on the farms in the Yorkshire Dales, and these little skippy goats made me think of that, as well as the sheer pleasure he must have had doing his job.

You may think "Oh, a matching green lining" but this is quite obviously the meadow where the goats scamper about.

And the ribbon isn't yellow because I didn't have another that matched just right, but because obviously daisies and buttercups and daffodils and dandelions grow in that meadow where the goats flit about. I called this one 'Is That the Vitnery?'after an oft-repeated line in the books.

The next one I had a bit of a time finding fabric for. Do you know it's not easy to find fabric for Dr. Who? I found an Etsy shop that keeps a supply that they have made over on Spoonflower. It was pricier than I would normally pay for fabric, but I had no other options. Plus these bags don't take much in the way of materials so it's not like splurging on that bit would break the bank on the other bits.

I don't know why the fabric looks faded in the photo as it doesn't in real life (I couldn't get it to show properly no matter what settings I used). I like how the background isn't a mere check, but shows the effect of gravity on the space-time continuum (man, I am a giant nerd). The lining gives me such a kick:

Ooooo, outer space on an acid trip. The blue swirls and the sparkly stars were so cosmic I chuckled in the store when I saw it. Because I'm pretty sure that when they do get time travel down you might see a sight like that along the way. I named this one 'Time Warp.'

I'm going to have to explain the linings to the folks I made these for, in case they feel the need to explain them to the people they're giving them to. What's actually more likely is that I have given way too much thought to a few fat quarters.

So am I there yet? Am I in need of mental help, or do you think I still have some wiggle room?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Few for Friday - #50

Well. I just got my arse handed to me in Monopoly. Rachel, Z-man and I played a game, and I thought I had a shot, but it was just a long, slow descent into poverty. Due to time issues Z was declared the winner, but he was probably going to win anyway as he had hotels on half the board. I'm trying to think if I've ever won a game of Monopoly, and I feel inclined to say no. I am really awful at that game.

This week was one of those weeks where you kind of get absolutely nothing done. I have one last bag that absolutely MUST be sewn by the end of next week, and I've got the fabrics for it and the idea all mapped out. It's just the cutting and stitching I'm having trouble finding time for... In the midst of that busy-ness where you don't get a thing done, I did get a few pics. These were all taken on Tuesday as the rest of the week is a blur and that is the only day I stopped to look around...

 We were supposed to get a bit of snow mid-morning, but I awoke to a mess. The streets were icy and it was coming down fast (even though the snow totals were pretty low in the end). I was deciding which day this week I wanted to take off to use up my vacation days, but I figure Mother Nature decided for me so I took off.

 It was a fabulously cozy day. Tea-drinking, baking, baby playing, afternoon napping, gift wrapping--it was a day I needed, really. I felt totally refreshed the next day. I got enough done that I don't feel stressed about the holiday to-do list.

 By late afternoon everything was cleared and shoveled. It has been super cold the rest of the week. Like copious amounts of tea and soup kind of cold.

 My mom and I have been wanting to make some of these birdseed ornaments ever since we got something similar as favors at my cousin's bridal shower. So we made a bunch of them while the snow was falling. Slightly messy, very easy, and the birds around here love them. There are some basic instructions here, and the same thing but a little more detailed here (this is the one we used).

So that was kind of my week. Busy and fast, but a bit relaxing at the same time. This weekend, however...I'll be stitching away. Because I'll need to get that bag done if I want to decorate that tree... Man, I love December. Have a good weekend, kids! See you soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Lovely Christmas Outing

Ever since we headed downtown a few years ago we've tried to have a Christmas outing of some sort. The last two years, our outing has been a nice Christmas dinner at different restaurants. Things just got too hectic or the planning too complicated to do any more. I'd love to hit the Christkindl Market again, but that day has a lovely warm place in my memory, and I don't know if any other visit could measure up to it. Plus there's always the appeal of something different...

So that's what we did this past Saturday. We went to a village, but a very different one. This year we headed about an hour away to Peddler's Village. They were having a Christmas festival so we thought that might be fun. I'm not sure where this whole festival was located, but all we saw was a few guys on guitar singing Christmas songs and some folks selling hot cider. Anyway, walking around a village of beautiful shops with lights twinkling and Christmas in the air is my kind of day, whether there is a festival going on or not.

I have always thought I'd be the perfect person to live in a town that boasted shops that looked like the above. And I would be. As long as no one else was in those shops while I was. I don't do well with elbows and squeezing, and tropical temperatures that make me wonder why a warm coat was necessary.

Many of the shops had a prohibition against taking photos. Many of them were so pretty and warm and bright and colorful, but I wasn't allowed to take photos of anything. I suppose that was a good thing, as there really wasn't room to stand at a strange angle to take an interesting photo of a gazillion ornaments.

It was pretty cold compared to previous days. I think my excitement kept me warm, as I get excited like a little kid, but according to others they were freezing their arses off so it must have been chilly.

One of the most expensive shops (other than the leather shop) was a kitchen store. I got away with spending only a dollar and change on a cookie cutter. But everything else was expensive!!!! My mother was in that store a few years ago, chuckling at the fact that they had a $300 peanut butter knife for sale. There is no typo in that sentence regarding price or product. I guess I should be amazed I spent so little on something there.

My sister and her husband and the baby met us up there. We met them after they had taken A-train to see Santa. The official report is that he threw an absolute fit. I don't know about all that, because when I saw him he was smiling and eating a candy cane... :)

We finished off the afternoon with a lovely cozy dinner. I was quite tired and almost fell asleep on the ride home. I may have, if Alicia and I hadn't been trying to remember which Shakespeare plays are about what and which we had to read in high school. I don't even know how we started on that conversation...

So are you wondering if I bought anything fun? No? OK, then. I guess I don't need to share.... But I will :)  My mom and I got separated from the others and went into a store that sold German crafts. They had a few gnome statues, and some nutcrackers and beer steins. But I bought a cuckoo clock.

Now this isn't one of those precisely mechanized clocks with a bird that comes out on the hour (I wasn't going to be that extravagant with my money). But I loved the gingerbreadness of the little house up top:

--and the folk-artness of the section where the clock is--

According to the sign the man and woman in the house are supposed to be predictive of the weather, but the weather hasn't changed much since I hung it up so I don't know if that's true :)

At certain times of the day this lady will start to swing, side-to-side. I thought that part might be broken and was wording an email in my head, but later that night I heard a tick-tocky sound and there she was, swinging away. As this isn't a standard cuckoo clock with a tweeting bird that pops up, I have two sound options. One is Westminster Chimes, and the other is what sounds like a recording of a cuckoo in a forest. I turned off the sounds, as if I wake up in the wee hours to that sort of noise I will surely smash this in a fit of rage and I love it, so a quiet prettiness on my wall it shall maintain.

When I came out of the store I was practically skipping down the path and grinning like a fool. My dad took one look at me and said "What's the matter with you?" I proudly proclaimed (like a kid who just learned to tie her shoes) "I bought a cuckoo clock!" He chuckled and said "Oh, OK" in that way that translates to "I completely understand." I think. Otherwise it was "Maybe we did adopt this one and I'm remembering it wrong."

So what about you? Do you have any holiday traditions with your family that make you glow from within?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...