Sunday, May 29, 2011

Festive finishes and oh, yeah, I need a necklace

When life hands you scraps...
This past week I finished the three ornaments that double as gift card pockets for the festive issue of A Needle Pulling Thread, a Canadian needle craft magazine. The pockets themselves aren't complicated. The instructions to do them took way longer to write -- and then I had to tidy the templates for publication.
I can't take a photo of them because the magazine isn't due out until October, but I can say they are kinda cute. Bonus: I did all of them using scraps and left overs from ribbon embroidery projects and oddments of floss, beads and linen. Sounds weird, I know, but they were fun to do and the little pocket feature makes the gift card present a little bit special. Me, I like getting gift cards, especially for books. I really like getting gift cards in cute packaging.
This weekend, we went to my sister-in-law's house for a surprise 25th anniversary party. I wanted to make some little accessory to match a new jacket/sweater. I picked a kanzashi flower necklace made from some black polka dot fabric and the very last scraps of the gift card pocket backing. The centre self-covered button was from a bargin bin of notions at a funky little store near the family cottage. Last summer, I scored five packages of four for $1!
I love the way this flower turned out -- even though one little petal REFUSED to tighten shut. Nonetheless, I got a lot of compliments on it at the party -- despite the errant petal (there being no kanzashi flower mavens at the party). I even had an inquiry about taking orders -- which is not out of the realm of possibility.
Everything came from the scraps and stash -- I even had the necklace cord in a bag of trims and stuff, so it cost next to nothing to make. Well, okay, as some point money exchanged hands to buy the fabric which became scraps and other stuff in the stash -- but that is entirely beside the point. Let us focus on my imagined frugality...
There is a tutorial and all kinds of other stuff about kanzashi about how to do them on  Diane Gilleland's blog
Of course, when I finished the necklace, Miss B wandered by making envy noises like a Sims character. I had just enough left over to make her one too. I put her flower on a necklace wire, which makes it youthful and funky. And naturally, all the petals on her version stayed closed.
Yeah, I am the best mom ever....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A cushy life on Friday night...

Living a cushy life on the front porch swing

Front detail
Another successful Friday Night Sew In.
In our part of the world, Sandra hosted in her studio, which was awesome because she had just about anything I didn't bring right at hand.
Here is my cushion, as featured in Kajsa Wikman's Scandinavian Stitches. I redid the first of three sofa cushions which need an update.
I did several interesting things, including trying to slice through a button on the back as I was squaring up the work at the end. The scallop stitching disguises the fact that the darker fabric of the tablecloth was showing against the white of the teapot. Thank heavens for decorative stitching!
I love the idea of using thrifted shirts to make the backs of the pillows. I saves having to do button holes. I love how this cushion turned out, and we had a great time. Now, I am doing two more for the most economical sofa makeover ever. Thanks to Sandra and Amanda for making FNSI the treat it always is!
Button back detail

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Surprises on an international scale

Surprises within!
DD's feet
 I picked up a copy of Sew Hip at my local variety store. It is pretty expensive here in Canda, but I like many of the projects and ideas they feature. Taking advantage of a brief period of sunshine, I was sitting on the front porch swing when I spotted the gallery page.
"Hmmm," I thought. "Those slippers look like the ones I made dear daughter for Christmas. No. Wait. They are the ones I made DD for Christmas!"
I posted them to the mag's Flickr group and e-mail them to the mag as well. Surprise! Surprise!
I was all happy and thrilled.
Mr. D. commented that I was behaving as though I had never seen my name in print before.
"Well, I have never seen my name in a British magazine before," I said.
He had to concede that it was pretty cool on an international scale. 
Then he ordered me to stop squealing along with DD when she saw the photo. Fair enough. 
When he found out our first child was a girl, he remarked that he not looking forward to the random squealing that girls tend to do when they are delighted and happy, especially when they are with other girls. 
Cool, right?
He'd grown up with two sisters. He knows from squealing.
In other news, I found a lovely little tulip in the garden. I didn't plant it, but it is so pretty and tiny I had to share it. This image reminds me of a quilt pattern or something you might see in a kaleidoscope. I would squeal, but that would be annoying. You can though, go ahead!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Friday Night Sew In is on the horizon

FNSI is on May 20. This means I will packing up my project in my old kit bag and smile, smile, smile all the way to Sandra's house. We will be joined by our friend Amanda, who is keen on making a few cushions to tart up her newly-created garden room.
This room has been many years in the making, and dreamed about through many a brutal winter day.
After many hours of work by Amanda and her husband, the room became reality last summer.
It is a large space, covered by a gazebo roof. It has a paving stone floor. It is wired for power and has a large ceiling fan to make our very humid summer evenings bearable.
As the room neared completion, Amanda began looking for furnishings that she could make over and redo. She thrifted a chunky pine living room set (circa 1970). We're talking a sofa, chair and rocking chair. The upholstery was a sort of harvest gold, down by the old mill stream kind of velor print. But, she has vision and a mad ability to do upholstery.
She envisioned it covered in a lime green with white piping and white covered buttons. About a week after bringing it home, that's exactly what happened. The fabric was on sale, and just to make sure she had enough, she bought the whole bolt. Then, she more or less deconstructed the old coverings to make a pattern and got to work on her trusty old Kenmore.
One weekend of intense sewing, power stapling and wielding of wicked-looking long sewing needles, she had a totally recovered set. Its change of clothes has made the furniture look modern and an organic part of her spectacular garden.
Last November, I got Kajsa Wikman's Scandinavian Stitches. In it, there are some ideas for making some whimsical cushions. The garden room never far from her mind, Amanda picked the cushions as something she wanted to make for the sofa and chairs.
So, that's what we are planning to do. I need to redo the ones on my family room sofa. There are three, but I plan to redo them one at a time. We will be using the scraps from projects past and the thrifted shirt fronts with their buttons for the cushion backs.
And yes, there will be photos of our cushions. I will ask Amanda's permission to post some photos of the garden room later this summer, when the garden is in full bloom.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bento box bag of beauty...

Spring is springing!
Two things have changed around here -- spring has sprung and my daughter is home from university.
The tulips I planted three years ago have finally come up. One even managed to bloom. These were bulbs from a gift of potted tulips my daughter's room mates gave me after a long-ago visit to our home during reading week at university.
Dear daughter is working at her horrid call centre job, which means she is on the line from 7 a.m. until noon most days. She brings breakfast and a snack, packed the night before, just like when she was in school and living at home full time. The other night, she was rummaging around for a small enough plastic bag. Not an easy find since they aren't given them out for free anymore.
I heard her murmur, " I have to buy a lunch bag."
Antenna up, I said, "How about this bag?" I clicked onto the lunch bag tutorial on Pink Penguin.
"Yeah, like that one," said DD. "But I get to pick the fabric."
Fair enough, since much of it lives in her room at the moment. Off she went to rummage around. I love what she came up with -- it is so very Audrey Hepburn -- her favourite actress.
This little bag is so sweet, and it uses little bits of fabric. I can see it using up bits and pieces -- and perhaps used to package up jams or baked goods for gifts. Hmmmm....
Spotty, dotty lunch tote
The instructions are clear and it is very easy to put together -- Ayumi is a very good cyber teacher and a generous artist. She has several great tutorials on her site.
Sadly, I had many extra steps in this first bag because I didn't have any iron on interfacing and I sewed the handles (which DD requested longer than indicated) to the wrong side of the interfaced rim (I was a special moment for me. Yes, I said bad words). It suffers from first pancake syndrome in a couple of places (you know, the first pancake is never as good as the ones that come after it) Nonetheless, I love how this little bag turned out, and so did DD. I have since obtained some seriously full-bodied iron on interfacing. The next pancake, er, lunch bag, will be slightly more awesome.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bag making supplies found in Markham!

Designs for Christmas
In the last little while, I have been busy designing some gift card holders for A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. These are for the festive issue and the deadline is June 1st. Believe me, I have been challenged to think Christmas when I am so very sick of winter, but I've finished making the sketches and the patterns, choosing the colours and tracing the designs onto the linen. Now I have to do the models, taking notes as I go. Then I will write the instructions. It isn't easy, but I like the work. I only hope the editors and the readers will like the end results.
Sweets from Sandra and fabric from Markham
In order to hobble the sugarplums' dance in my head, I was browsing around tote bag-making sites on the Internet on Tuesday evening. I actually found one close to home. So, me being me, I paid a visit the very next day. It was well worth the trip!
Normally, I don't do a lot of bragging for commercial enterprises, but I have to give a bit of a shout out to Quilt a Bag in Markham ON. It's about a half hour away, and has some of the most intriguing collections available in my part of the world for fabric and bag making hardware. It is also an authorized Bernina dealer -- and so, I love it.
Phoebe and Ann do a great job of finding some lovely Japanese designer fabrics -- including the sought after cotton/linen blends full of quirky, tiny prints. They also stock an impressive great selection of threads and Moda fat quarters. There are a ton of bag samples  made up for both inspiration and to showcase the fabrics.
These ladies are also warm, welcoming and very knowledgeable. Sandra and I popped over for a visit this morning, and we had a great time browsing and buying. Before we left her place, Sandra shared some of her pretty sweets sent to her from a friend in Germany. All in all, it was a nice jaunt.
Now we are longing to fit a class or two at Quilt a Bag into our schedules this year. They don't have mail order yet, but it is in the works.
In the meantime, have a virtual visit. There are a couple of tutorials there as well -- check out the zippered key chain purse. Sweeeeeet!