Monday, September 30, 2013

Sewing for Moi: The Ruby Top

It's Monday, and I'm exhausted.  And, I know it has everything to do with the crazy weekend I had here.  Friday was my birthday, and I got to go out to dinner AND to a concert with Mark.  I wanted to pinch myself all night because it was so great.  We saw Langhorne Slim & the Law (great band!) at the Haw River Ballroom (amazing venue!) in Saxapahaw, NC (can we move there now?!).  It was a gorgeous Fall day and night.  It was perfect.   I felt like I was 25 again.

Saturday, after realizing I was still in fact, 37 (boo!), we packed up the kids and headed out for a camping adventure nearby with two good friends and their families.  We were all having such a nice time until Lyla woke up in the tent around 9 pm and refused to go back to sleep.  Mark and I spent most of the night in and out of the tent, the car, wandering around trying to find somewhere, some way to get her to sleep.  It was a long night, there were lots of tears, and not nearly enough sleep for a baby and a couple of washed up parents.  You win some, you lose some, I suppose.   

So, that was our weekend.  But, the real reason I'm here is to share my new Ruby Top with you.  Sewing for me - this is new!  Well, the other times I've tried to make things for me just didn't work out.  But, I absolutely love how this top turned out. 

The pattern is the Ruby Dress and Top, another great one by Made by Rae.  It is really a quick sew and not surprisingly, the fit is perfect.  I find all of her patterns to be so accurate on fit, which is why I was so willing to give this one a go.  That, and the fact that I found the main fabric for $5.50/yd.  Kind of a no brainer there.  The main fabric is this print from Chicopee (still $5.50/yd!) by Denyse Schmidt.  The bodice fabric is a very soft black corduroy I picked up at Joanns a while back.  

I followed Rae's video tutorials to make the lined yoke version.  The videos were actually what sold me on buying the pattern - so many great tips just in those videos.  I love to "watch" others sew and notice all the details, like how people pin and manipulate the fabric.  I'm such a dork.  Anyway, I originally made the dress version, but decided to chop off about 10 inches or so and make it a top.  I just found the top to be more flattering on me.  I think if you follow the pattern for the top, it would be a bit shorter than my version.  A few other things I love about this pattern: all of the seams are hidden with the lined yoke version, she includes an awesome seam finishing guide (I used the flat fell seam on the sides), plus so many other tips throughout.  I will definitely be making more Ruby Tops!  Although I love this top, I'm not a huge fan of quilting cottons in clothing, so I want to try it in linen or even some rayon.   

Ruby Top - Back

And, that my friends was how I started my 37th year.          

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Quilt for Fall: Finished Arrow Tail Quilt

A Quilt for Fall

Arrow Tail Quilt Cozy

Arrow Tail Quilt

Arrow Tail Quilt Back

Arrow Tail Quilt Tied

Arrow Tail Quilt Front

Arrow Tail Quilt

Arrow Tail Quilt 

I finished tying and binding my Arrow Tail Quilt (links to full tutorial here) while we were vacationing at the beach.  And, what a perfect quilt to bring home and usher in Fall.  I almost enjoyed photographing this quilt as much as I did making it.  I took these pictures on a giant wood pile in our back yard with the late afternoon Fall glow filtering through the trees.  With a little help from some friends, I'm trying to work on my photography, and editing in Lightroom.  I thought this quilt deserved a proper photo shoot, so I did my best! 

For the quilt, I chose to use the beautiful collection Rosette by Juliana Horner (for Fabric Traditions for Joann Fabric stores).  So many kind people have complemented me on the colors in this quilt.  I so appreciate that, but all credit goes to the brilliant designer on this one.  I liked this collection when I first saw it online, I loved it in person, and I absolutely adore it in this quilt.  

I chose to hand tie this quilt instead of machine quilting it.  I tied it with a creamy pearl cotton at every "point" and in the middle of every arrow tail piece.  I thought tying would be so fast, but it actually took me a good bit of time.  I'm kind of a slow poke though.  At times I questioned whether it was the best way to quilt this, but in the end I love it.  This is such a vibrant quilt and the fabric is very soft, so I love how the minimal quilting highlights these features. 

The back of the quilt is my favorite print from the collection - Garden Main Floral.  I bound it in the Posy Navy print from the collection which I think makes the whole quilt pop.  This quilt is a large baby size measuring around 40" x 60".  It is a nice lap quilt for me.  

A few folks have joined the quilt a long on flickr and have gotten started on their own Arrow Tail Quilts.  Yay!  I pop over when I can to see if anyone has posted questions or comments, but please know that I'm just an email away if you have a question or want to share your progress.  If anyone finishes a quilt using my tutorial, please, pretty please, share it with me (and kindly link to my tutorial).  I'd love to share some finished Arrow Tail Quilts here.  Happy Fall!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Birthdays & Bygones

Little Miss Birthday Girl

The Cake

Cousins Help

Cake Time 


I find it so hard to blog about my children on or even close to their birthday when their birthday involves any sort of party or hoopla.  It is always a bit stressful to me to prepare for birthdays, big or smallDon't get me wrong, I love to celebrate, but all of the cooking, and cleaning and making - all that self-inflicted stuff - can wear me out. 

Last week was a roller coaster of a week.  We were all suffering from a bit of the post vacation blues, but of course so filled with excitement to celebrate our little one's first birthday.  We wanted it to be perfect, but we knew there was everyday life to attend to as well.

In the midst of celebrating we had to say goodbye to our sweet cat, Clark.  He had been sick for a long while and we knew he had reached a really poor state, but it was still so hard to make that decision.  Ugh, so hard. : (  Pets can be so loyal, and that sweet cat was certainly loyal to our little girl.  He always wanted to be near her, and would perch himself by her chair at every meal.  So it goes, I guess.    

There was nothing better to lift us all up than celebrating this beautiful girl.  This first year with her has been the most amazing, wonderful gift to all of us.  She is such a good sport, rolling with us through our busy lives.  She is curious, much like her sister was, and so brave.  Not surprisingly, she handled her first birthday like a champ - cake, people, excitement, all of it!  We are so excited to watch her grow up!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Feeling full of fresh air, sandy, sunkissed, and so very, very blessed.  Hoping each of you are enjoying this lovely weekend with your families!

Psst...I'm laurelk76 on Instagram if you want to keep following along. : )   

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Sewing Space

This past summer, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of owning our home.  Although sometimes we feel like we're busting at the seams, we do love our cozy little home.  Since we moved in, we've had about 200 square feet of workshop space that was unfinished.  We always called this room "the cat room", as the previous homeowner (who happened to be a coworker of mine) referred to it.  And, appropriately so, since it was where our pets tended to hang and make a mess.

Now that our four-legged friends have declined to just 2 and our two-legged family has grown, we felt it was time to finish the space.  We have not finished filling or decorating yet, but it is essentially the new home of our office and my sewing space!  Moving our office things in there and getting rid of a few older pieces of furniture also let us convert our former office to a playroom - double bonus!

Anyway, I wanted to share the beginnings of my sewing space here today since I'm so over-the-top excited about it!  I've always done my sewing in the kitchen...cutting on the kitchen counter and sewing at the table.  Actually, it wasn't the worst scenario, with the kids always close by.  But, I was constantly - for every meal, mind you - putting my things away and getting them back out.  Not to mention the closets that I took over.  Needless to say, I'm loving having some space of my own.

First a quick before and after - unfortunately, I only took phone pictures.  But, you see?  BIG improvement, yes?  Bye bye duct tape vinyl floors, hello wood and natural light. 

        Sewing Space BEFORE  IMG_1786

Now, let's take a more formal look around!  This is the entrance to the room.  The door to the left is our main house entrance.

Sewing Space-1

We have two transom windows on the wall opposite the door.  This wall is adjacent to our driveway, so these higher windows allow us some light in the room without having a lovely view of our cars.  They are definitely my favorite thing about the room!  The door to the back goes to our backyard.

I wanted to have just three pieces in my sewing space - a shelf for fabric storage (check), a cutting table (check), and a sewing table.  

Sewing Space-2

This shelf holds most of my fabric and yarn and my patterns in binders at the bottom.  I love having all of my fabric out and on display!  I grew up in a beautiful old house that my parents completely renovated and if I remember correctly, this shelf was in the house when they moved in (some 38ish years ago?).  They painted it this olive green color at some point.  It definitely has a worn and loved look.  I admit, I would like to paint it but I don't know if I can!  Oh, and that little girl down there is definitely not interested in pulling out every ball of yarn....nope.

Sewing Space-3

So, this is my cutting table.  This is all new and I LOVE it!  I got the idea after finding this table and DIY tutorial by Karen Ackva using mostly IKEA products.  The tutorial is fantastic and she tells you exactly what to buy.  I made just two modifications to Karen's design.  She uses 3 Expedit shelving units for the base, but I just used 2 since my table backs up to the wall and a third unit would really not be accessible.    

Also, for the top, Mark got a heavier piece of plywood and had it cut to fit.  He sanded it and stained it for me and attached it to the top of the Expedit units at the back with some brackets.  He's a keeper!

Sewing Space-4

I'm a total organizational nerd, so I just love how much I can store under this table.  Scrap baskets, drawers for all of my notions, books, etc..

Sewing Space-7

Sewing Space-6

I have enough space on top for a large cutting mat and a small table top ironing board. 

Sewing Space

This is just a peek at what I wish I was working on right now.  At the moment, I'm buried in the Birthday Girl's book!

Want to Make 

On the opposite side of the room, we have our desk and the space where my sewing table will go.  I really want a rustic little farmhouse table, but finding a cheap one has proven difficult.  So, I may get this - a pop of yellow would be nice, I think!  Last but not least, we need to find a comfy chair for kids or a cat.

I usually sew at least a couple of nights a week and Mark does a lot of work from home in the evenings after the kids are asleep.  Although he insists on calling this "my studio", I have visions, hopes (?) of us sharing this space in the evenings maybe listening to some podcasts and working away together.  I'm sure he is laughing at me right now. : )

So, that's my space...I feel so lucky to have it!  Thanks for taking this long look around with me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In the Works + On My Mind

Just a little bit ago, I'm having dinner solo with my almost 1-year old talking some crazy loud gibberish in her highchair.  I think she just continues to babble until I/we gasp like a bunch of goofy teenagers..."OMG, did you just say {insert any of our names or co-names here - Mama, Dada, Joe, Maggie, Bubba, Sissy...}"?!?!?!  Giggles ensue all around.  There is a long pause as she looks at us as if to say "What?!?!, What did I do to deserve all this excitement?!?!".  Then a big giant toothy smile.  **sigh**  We ALL are loving this age, minus the "almost 1" part (sniff).  Why?  Whyyyyy do they have to grow up.  Because it's fun, I suppose.

Birthday Book

So, with the birthday coming, I'm working on just a few very special things for her.  We are keeping things simple, people - three kids...we've learned!  But, "simple" - now that I can sew - is a whole different ballgame.  Let's discuss: the Birthday Book!  If I can actually make my way through a year of photos and pick 10 or so and write some thoughtful words to go with them and manage this all on a reasonable emotional level (fat chance), that pretty little diddy up there will be a soft book for her.  It's something I've always wanted to make.  I've come across so many of these handmade books online, but most recently, this version by Soulemama comes to mind.  I bought these printable fabric sheets for the pictures and words.  The cover is an embroidery panel I started shortly after she was born.  I ordered it from Charlotte Lyons - I just think her samplers are SO amazing and so very sweet.  I stitched the house to look like ours and added Lyla's name to the top.

Birthday Geranium Dress In the Works

Next...the dress.  Every little girl needs a special birthday dress, yes?  I'm doing my best to recreate this dress I made for different prints, of course.  It is also something I've always wanted to do.  But, instead of winging it and hoping for a miracle, (it really was a miracle that Maggie's worked out so well as I knew so little about sewing clothes back then)  I'm using Rae's Geranium Dress pattern as a base and attempting to add my own mods...including a slightly longer bodice with a contrasting band, and a double layer skirt with a ruffle.  This is my fourth Geranium Dress so I feel pretty sure I can make this work.  The fabric is, of course, Little Folks by Anna Maria Horner.  I'm taking my time on this one...the bodice is done and a perfect fit! 

Beyond Puerperium Sweater

Now...something knit!  I really only knit in the car these days, on long trips and in carpool.  This is another Beyond Puerperium sweater in stripes (Ravelry link here).  It's just a quick and easy knit.  All I need to do is add some short sleeves and buttons and it'll be ready for her to wear this Fall.  I loved the first version of this sweater that I made - she wore it for a long time and the yarn held up great.

Beautyberry Palette

Lastly, that dreamy pile of fabric + a little branch of beautyberry bush.  Of course as I'm finishing up one quilt, I'm dreaming of my next.  Denyse Schmidt's Shelburne Falls collection might be my favorite fabric collection this year.  I just LOVE it!  I ordered just the Lilac palette a while back and have been sitting on what to do with it for a while.  I paired it up the other day with that grass green quilter's tweed (by Robert Kauffman, but I don't think it's available anymore) and was feeling unsure.  But, then I walked down my driveway today and saw the beautyberry bush.  Bingo!  Confirmed by nature.  Now what quilt to make?  I'd like to try the Cog and Wheel quilt, but I'm afraid I'm going to chicken out - lots of pieces with lots of curves.  This Between the Lines pattern would also work well and would be much easier.  Hmmm...Either way, I will add some of the Willow palette prints from Shelburne Falls to bring out that green.   At least that's the plan.

Whew...well that was quite a lengthy post!  September is going to be a busy month here, so I'm looking forward to tying up these small projects and potentially starting a big one.  What kinds of projects are you finishing up or brewing up these days?