Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wasn't that a party?

We had a lovely Christmas! This year, Santa urged us to give each other a treadmill. This meant that we did little presents in our stockings. Even so, they were fun presents. I got a truly bizarre music box that not only plays 12 of your Christmas favorites, but also generates a pretty snow storm.
Tilda bird lavender sachets
In addition, my children gifted me with a new clear sole embroidery foot for Berni -- the better to do some FM embroidery projects this coming year. They also gave me some of the new Clover quilt clips to help keep bag layers together.
Bless them, they have become really good about just going to the quilt store and having a look at my wish list.
She liked the bag!
My little owl cushion and garbage bag for Aunt Rita was greeted with delight, as were the lavender sachets I made for my choir friends.
I used the artwork offered in Tilda's Studio. I scanned the pages and then printed them out on ink jet fabric. Then, I sewed all around them to make the sachet bags, including a ribbon hanger. I filled with with lavender and a bit of toy filling. I was pretty pleased with them. They are so cute that I made some for myself, and will put them together after the festivities are over.
At the very last minute, I also made a couple of headache relief eye masks. These are filled with flax seed infused with oil of spearmint and oil of lavender. Keep them in the freezer and they are fantastic at soothing away those pesky tension headaches -- or those caused from having way too much fun at New Year's parties...
Speaking of the New Year -- here's hoping we all have a great 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas finishes

Intense concentration
Visions of sugar plums
My daughter and her housemate from school made a graham cracker and candy village this past weekend. Isn't it cute?
I made this garbage bag/pin cushion for my Aunt Rita's easy chair. I included a little pocket in the pin cushion so she can store scissors and/or crochet hook. They are forever getting lost in the chair cushions.
Cosy chair tidy
I also made her an owl pillow, from a pattern shared with my by partner in all fabric crimes, Sandra 
I am putting the machine away today -- really taking the sewing room out of the dining room -- to make way for the Christmas feasting.
My wish for all my blog friends is that you have a wonderful holiday season, the happiest of New Years, a full fabric stash, and endless inspiration! Merry and bright!

Comfort and joy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A bushel full of fun!

Apple in progress...
Friday Night Sew-In at Sandra's house was a lot of fun. 
We were joined by Susan and Dave (well, Dave didn't do any sewing -- he did the driving).
Filling in the produce
I finished up a few little apple and pear pincushions from issue five of Mollie Makes.
It is a UK Magazine that has a lot of fresh, fun and funky ideas for crafting/making/thrifting/home decoration. I just love it, and now that I can get it in digital form for far less than the printed copy, I love it even more.
As usual, FNSI involved a lot of laughter, some screaming at the embroidery machine -- which I gave up on eventually -- and a lot of lovely fellowship with kindred spirits. It was like a Christmas gift before the official celebrations.
We even managed to get some things finished.
I am now plowing through the very last few things on my list.
Then, I can put my feet up and read until the end of January.
Even doing nothing sounds like a plan at this point of the year!

Ta da! Pincushion fruits!

Susan's little houses. So sweet!

The machine worked for Sandra -- and only Sandra

This is her tall zippered pouch that has embroidery within

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Festive FNSI Finishes

Bags-- not rocket science -- but useful
Once I vaccumed the carpets within an inch of their lives, cleaned the bathrooms, got the guest room ready, and took the sewing room out of the dining room, I got to work on my gift bags.
They are pretty basic, but I have a lot going on this weekend. They are designed to be sturdy enough for the recipients to use them to cart their shopping or gifts around during this festive season.
I used heavy duty iron on interfacing to give them some structure. As usual, it took forever to measure and cut. Construction was a breeze -- I even got the turning-the-lining part right this time -- for some reason I always get a brain freeze over that part!
I am having weekend guests, some will be staying others will be coming and going. In there somewhere is a turkey dinner. Yep, I am CRAZY.
However, once the gingerbread cookies were baked and the turkey was stuffed and set to roast, I decided to sit and post my FNSI finishes (such as they were), Now I am enjoying the potpourri of the cooking, and looking around to see what other did on FNSI.
I hope that whatever way you celebrate this day -- and at all times of the year -- is filled with fun and love!
Oooo, too bad the Internet isn't available in Smell-o-vision...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Big tree -- lotta sap...

We get our tree from a local  family-run tree farm
The sawing begins

I know, you're thinking: oooo pretty!
And it was. It's truly a winter wonderland here in the northern end of southern Ontario this week. It was the perfect day to get the Christmas tree.
The little place we get our tree is a family owned farm just 20 minutes north east of our place. The prices are still relatively reasonable. A big plus is that the owners prune their trees all summer long so that they have an actual Christmas tree shape when we come a huntin' for the perfect tree.
Mr. HH had to do all the heavy lifting on his own, we had no kids to help us this year. I did help tie the tree to the car -- after all, I know my knots.
Right now, the tree is resting in the garage in pail of sugar water so that the trunk doesn't seal itself and is able to absorb water throughout the Christmas holidays.
This day -- the day we go to get the tree -- always reminds me of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I love that movie.
Among my favourite scenes is when Chevy Chase takes the binding off the tree and the branches spring into the room, taking out a window.
His comment: "Big tree, lotta sap." Never fails to make me laugh, no matter how many times I have seen that movie.
Tomorrow, our tree comes into the house and goes in to the stand -- hopefully, with little drama. Then, the real fun begins!

Tying it onto the car

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Little houses by the hearth

Hung by the hearth
It's been pretty busy around here. I had company this past weekend. My cousin and I went to the One of a Kind craft show in Toronto. I didn't find many things to buy. I found the prices were astronomical -- but there were some very talented artisans featured. I saw some interesting ideas, and picked up a a lamp work pendant and matching beads which I hope to turn into a necklace for me before Christmas.
As I tidied up before my weekend guests arrived, I found a little stitch kit that was included in an issue of Cross Stitcher, one of my favourite UK needlework magazines.
I finished them today.
These little elf houses included cross stitch and sewing and were a lot of fun to put together.
I am somewhat cheered by the thought that I have several Christmas gifts ready. However, I need to get some gift bags done to package them up. The question is -- when will I get them done? Hopefully before Sunday, when the first of the recipients come for our annual get together with some former colleagues who became our dear friends.
Tomorrow, Mr. HH and I will tromp out into the woods at a local Christmas tree farm to get the family tree. As empty nesters, we find this a bit of a weird errand.
Hung by the hearth II
We used to have a kid stand beside our top two tree choices and then assess them using a very scientific ene-meene-miney-mo method for picking the perfect tree.
Last year, we had just our son and a digital camera to compare number one and two. This year, who knows how we will decide? Also, the tall son is away at school. How will the tree get attached to the roof with just short me and tall Mr. HH?
I suggested that we could just go to the tree lot by the grocery store. The rest of the family made growling noises at me.
So, tomorrow morning, off to the woods we go. I'll keep you posted.
On the stairway garland
The tree goes up before my daughter and her housemate arrive home from university on Saturday. The girls have a week off before they write their final exam of the term. So, rather than sit around their house and worry about the impending exam, they decided to come home and have me feed them Christmas cookies.  These are cookies I have yet to bake. I will likely do so as soon as I get the house tidied -- yet again -- and ready for the next round company.  I hope you are having a merry time, and take the time to enjoy some relaxation in the midst of this busy season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another turn of the celestial wheel

Elf laundry

The sun is making its way to shine more on the southern hemisphere's summer. Up in here in the north, we greet the turn of the celestial wheel with something akin to resignation. We put up our Christmas lights and decorations because by 4:30 in the afternoon, it is getting dark. There is something very cheerful about their shining efforts. It is comforting in a way, bringing these little bits of light into our gardens and attaching them our eaves troughs.
Down the lane, we do Christmas with a full-on frontal assault. Lights, real tree, decorations, baking, making, friends and family invited over for the festivities. Oh yeah baby, it is about the only thing that makes the other five months of winter bearable.
Solar-powered Christmas
On the weekend, my dear husband began our back yard ice rink. My lavender will be under constant threat from stray pucks until April, but it has survived thus far. The back yard rink is a project of epic proportions.
A special liner arrives at the end of October, the lumber comes out of the garage, along with the special hardware to attach the liner to the boards, it takes the better part of an afternoon to assemble the whole 40 x 35 feet framework. And then we wait.
Usually, the weather becomes unseasonably warm -- and windy/rainy. Windy/rainy is bad. Leaves blow into the rink. When the sun hits them -- even under the ice, they heat up and create pits. So to avoid pitted ice, I have to skim the leaves out. Worms also manage to get into the liner. They have to come out too. Yuck!
Lavender in peril
Mr. HH turns into a weather hound. The minute forecasts predict temps below 0 for three consecutive nights, he begins pouring water into the framework. Then, nightly, especially on very cold nights, he applies a thin layer of water to the ice that has formed. Until it gets very, very, very cold. Putting on water at that point might wreck the surface. Trust me, it is science in action out there.
In other Christmas-y projects, I created a little tabletop tree from my summer potted rosemary. I used a set of solar powered lights to wrap the plant into a tree shape. It charges all day long (even in our often weak sunshine) and then lights up for about six hours as soon as it gets dark. At the moment, it is sitting on the tarp-wrapped table on the deck -- and given the puck situation -- it is probably safer there.
In other news, the Splendid Sandra has returned from her travels. She shared some scraps from sweet little quilt store scrap packs -- because I LOVE scraps. She also brought me back some lovely black and white polka dot fabric -- and Colour Catchers. I washed the scraps by hand and then hung them on the little dryer on the deck.
When I finished, I thought it looked like washing elves might put out on a line. I just had to take a photo -- and of course -- share it.
Hope everyone is having a great day! I'm off to do more Christmas presents. Fa la la la, la la la la...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FNSI on the front door -- and other places

Welcoming deer ones...
Friday Night Sew In was really quiet down the lane. Normally, I have my stitchin' pals over for giggles and projects, but they were otherwise engaged this time.
I finished up my reindeer from Tilda's Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle.
In a flash of near brilliance (if I do say so myself -- which I must because everyone else was out doing other things), I used an attachment method of own design.
We have a steel door, so hammering a nail isn't an option. Instead, I used super strong neodymium magnets. These are the little flat silver disks. (WARNING: These are very dangerous for little ones as they are a swallowing hazard).
Neo magent strip
I made a four inch long by 2 inch tube of fabric and then dropped a magnet into the bottom. Then I sewed all around the magnet by hand. I did this for all four magnets. Then, I sewed the whole magnetized tube to the neck seam of the reindeer. I am confident the deer will stay attached to the door, despite the wicked wind and snow storms that hit our front door in the depths of December.
Not quite finished, but getting there
His neck bow (which covers most of the magnet strip) is actually a remnant of a jellyroll pack. It was part of a scrap pack from a quilt store in Kingston.
I just did a row of zigzag stitches up either side -- an idea in Tilda's Winter Ideas The new booklet that arrived in my mail box this week -- I'd pre-ordered in August.
As usual, I love the photos and several of the projects are on the to do list -- especially the Santa with a little pointed hat.
(More on that later, hopefully.)
Quilting brings out the details
Once the deer was finished, I decided to do some whole cloth quilting on a little Henry Glass & Co. panel by Jacquelynne Steves called Sewing Room Social. It's going into a frame (eventually).
For the hand quilting, I used a spool of silk sewing thread. What a treat  it was to use! The thread just glides through all the layers and resists tangles and knots. I just quilted around the outlines on selected areas to define them. I am not quite finished yet, but it was such a pleasure to do some handwork while watching Grimm. That show creeps me out, but I like it. I am also enjoying Once Upon A Time. I guess no matter how old I get, fairy tales are still appealing.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable FNSI! Now I am off to visit some blogs and see what you all got up to last night.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Festive FNSI

A Canadian needlework magazine
I did this!
As I continue to ponder just what my FNSI project will be, I wanted to share some news: The festive issue of A Needle Pulling Thread will soon be in Canadian book stores. It is also available on iTunes Newsstand.
That's exciting news because my little gift card pockets included in this issue. I was working on them last May, and it is so exciting to see them in print now.
I hope people like them. It was fun to design them. I had a blast putting them together, and writing the instructions so that other people might be able to do them too.
I think I might do some more gift card holders for FNSI tonight. Maybe...
FNSI won't be nearly the festive occasion it normally is -- my partner in all fabric crimes -- the sensational Sandra -- is on vacation right now. She is leaving no Joann's unvisited. I am SO looking forward to her show and tell session sometime next week.
Though I will be flying solo this evening, I know there are a whole lot of us sewing and doing some festive Friday night finishing. Cheers to you, one and all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nanie's precious handiwork

Nanie's coverlet
My Nanie Stella was busy raising three small children, my aunt, my dad and my uncle, and was expecting her fourth child in 1934. She was 34 years old and living in an Newfoundland outport that was a half day's cart ride to St. John's.
Her life wasn't an easy one. There were no modern conveniences like electricity and the village's only telephone was in the post office.
Nanie and the other woman of the village spent their days making sure the children were cared for, the house was clean, the gardens were tended, and the men fishing in little boats out on the Atlantic had three nourishing meals a day. I never thought she had a lot of time for 'fancy work.'
Not long ago, my Aunt Rita called to ask if I would like to have a coverlet my Nanie had embroidered. The tears welled up. We have so little of Nanie. She and her newborn daughter died in July 1934 from complications following childbirth.
Delicate, precious stitches
The coverlet was one of last things Nanie made. It is a summer-weight covering for a double bed, and it is embroidered on sturdy cotton calico.
When I first saw it, I was struck by how delicate and pretty it is -- such a contrast to Nanie's rustic life. The stitches are so delicate, so neat. You can't tell the right side from the wrong side.
Nanie traced the design, likely from a magazine pattern. These magazines were published in Boston or England, sent to Newfoundland by mail ship. Over the course of year, the patterns were traded around the village. Women made items their own by the choice of fabric and floss.
In this coverlet, there are parts of the embroidery pattern not covered by the floss. It is magical to me that these ink marks were made by Nanie 77 years ago. I am also surprised that the floss colours have not faded. I think I am going to turn the coverlet into a duvet cover by adding backing fabric and some ties to close it. It will be used and loved, because Nanie meant for that to happen. I just know it.
Aunt Rita's flour sack fantasy
Aunt Rita also had another surprise for me, a coverlet she made from flour sacks in 1941. Once again, the colours are vivid and the calico as sturdy as it was when it held the flour that made my ancestors' daily bread. This coverlet is so lively that it begs to go back into use.
Later this winter, once the Christmas crafting is over, I am off to Ikea for  a lightweight duvet. I will use a cotton sheet for the backing of Nanie's coverlet and before long, her handiwork will be on display once again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pooch pouches for presents: a tutorial

Figure 1
These little pouches -- similar to shopping bag holders -- clip onto the end of a dog leash. They can be filled with small shopping bags or the plastic bags used to protect the morning paper from rainy weather.
I am making these for my friends who have dogs to walk and dog messes to clean up along the way.
This is a great way to use up little scraps of fabric. The most expensive part of the project is the swivel clip.

You will need 3/4 inch elastic and rick rack trim.
Here's what you do: (all seams allowances are 1/4 inch)
Cut a piece of linen 3 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches long.
Cut two pieces of patterned fabric, 2 inches wide by six inches long. (figure 1)
Cut a piece of lining fabric, 9 1/2 inches  wide by 6 inches long.
Sew the patterned pieces to the long sides (figure 2)
Figure 2

Figure 3
Press the seams toward the linen. (Figure 3)
Figure 4
On the right side, cover the joining seams with a length of rick rack. (Figure 4)

Figure 5
Sew the main fabric to the lining with right sides together at the short ends. Turn right side out and press, trim any excess fabric from the sides.
Measure the width of the elastic at the short edges, and top stitch line across the short edges to form a channel for the elastic. (Figure 5) .
Figure 6
Using a bodkin or a safety pin, thread 5 inches of elastic through the top and bottom short edges.
Pin the elastic on one side, and pull the elastic until one edge measures 31/2 inches across and the other measures 3 inches across. (Figure 6) .
Cut a 1 1/2 wide by 3 inches long strip of linen. Fold the strip in half and sew, right sides together. Turn and press.
Thread the strip through the bottom of the swivel clip. (Figure 7).
Sew the strip across the top, near the end of the swivel clip. (Figure 8). Pin the swivel clip about a half inch down from the 3 1/2 inch edge.
Figure 7
Figure 8

Pin the long side, right sides together, and sew. Turn and fill with plastic bags from the top (where the swivel clip is). This one fits about 10 bags.
Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charm-ing Tilda!

Charm squares gathered together

Huge button

Finished the Tilda Charm Squares bag today. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.
I also used one of the squares to make a huge covered button.
I really like the look of the Japanese bag handles on this bag.
The interior pocket and the button loop are made from Basic Grey's Blush range.
This was a huge learning curve for me, but now that I know I can do FMQ I will be doing more of it. It was fun!
I am looking forward to using this tote, and I am thankful to Wendy who made it possible for me to use the Tilda Charm Squares.
Thanks, my blogging buddy!

Bag interior

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallow's Eve

With a feather boa!
Friendly felt ghosts
We do not go insane when it comes to decorating the house for Halloween. We make it spooky cute. I made some felt ghosts a couple of years ago. They go on top of tomato cages. I plunk them down on the garden lights and they sort of glow when the lights come on.
Spooky glow...
I didn't carve a pumpkin this year. The kids aren't here and I just didn't feel like making that sort of mess.
My pumpkin is made of crystallized plastic and lights up with the aid of 3AA batteries. Ditto the candles on the little table on the porch. I also loaded up the iPod with some Halloween tunes like Monster Mash and Attack of the Killer Tomato.
The chips and candy are ready for the the trick-or-treaters.
Floating friendly ghosts