Friday, September 23, 2016

I think I'll Blog Now

I might reference Forrest Gump more than any other movie in my life. Do you remember that part when he's on this amazing adventure running across the country and suddenly one day he stops, pauses, turns around and says "I think I'll go home now".

That's how I feel about my life, our life, really lately. One big, long run filled with beauty and fun and wonderful people, but also messy days and rain and bumps in the road. In any case, I. am. tired. And, today, I feel like pausing, turning around like Forrest Gump and deciding to spend my days differently. I'm not sure what that entails, but I feel like the arrival of Fall will give me some cues. This morning, I decided a short blog post would do me some good.  

Artifact Uprising was having another 25 free prints sale, which if you have never taken advantage of you absolutely, positively should! The quality of their prints is exceptional and I find it always forces me to sort through my recent life's photos a bit. Of course, last-minute Laurel was up late last night picking out my 25 favorite pictures that encapsulated our summer. Most of them were iphone pics, but I found a few gems that I took with my big camera. It's always, always a good thing to look back at your life and pause to remember how wonderful it's been. I think I'll finish today sharing a few of my favorites. And, no, we, did not get a dog, but met a very sweet one on our trip to the river in June. Happy day, friends. I hope to be back here again soon!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

That Pink Tiger Dress

So, alas, I finally sewed up Lyla's "pink tiger dress". It turned out so cute! I decided to try the Roller Skate Dress pattern by Oliver + S. I've always loved the shape of this dress and the cute neckline detail. I'm excited to check another Oliver + S pattern off of my list - they are all so well done and I learn something new from every pattern. 

These tigers are one of my all-time favorite Cotton and Steel prints, from Alexia Abegg's Hatbox collection. I can't seem to stray far from fun prints when I'm making dresses for Lyla. For the neckline detail, I used this Kauffman dot chambray in indigo. I also lined the dress with chambray, but a different one that I don't love quite as much (saving the rest of the dots for another dress).


I sewed Lyla a size 2T, based on her measurements but added about an inch to the length. I'll be honest, I don't love the overall fit of this dress on her. The neckline is a tad big and I found that the dress tends to ride up if she's sitting. Also, I probably didn't need to add the length (it's a bit on the long side), but it will give her lots of room to grow. Maggie used to grow out of things so quickly, that every few months she was changing sizes. I could never keep up! Lyla, on the other hand wears her things forever, especially dresses!

Overall, this was a great pattern to sew! I believe actually that the fit is pretty accurate and this is just the style of the dress. I think if I were to make another roller skate dress, I'd use a more fluid fabric, like double gauze or rayon and/or I'd consider going down a size. The riding up business bugs her a little, but I'm hoping the tigers will win her over and she'll still wear it. In any case, it is a really, darn, cute dress!

It was 70 degrees here yesterday, so we took a walk to the little lake in our neighborhood. Lyla is such a good little hiker and will walk all the way around the lake. She stops to take a break and occasionally asks me to pick her up, but doesn't whine too much when I refuse. I love adventuring with her!

I'm really looking forward to Spring. The days are getting a little longer and brighter down here! Hope you're all enjoying some signs of Spring as well!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February Blues

I really have no business feeling blue this February. It's been a relatively mild winter here. But, it seems there have been more gray days than not, and it's been just cold and dreary enough that I'd rather stay indoors. I'll admit - and this is a tough one for me to admit - I'm getting bored.   

That said, my time at home with Lyla has been so nice recently. She seems to have jumped leaps and bounds with her speech over the past month and it has made a world of difference. She talks, I understand (!), I respond and her face lights up with joy. We're having actual real conversations! 

We've been talking a lot about dresses lately. She loves the dresses I've made her and wears them (plus a couple more I've made over the year) regularly. Seriously, this girl is my biggest handmade supporter. So, of course I've told her I'll make her a new dress (or four). She wants "pink tigers" on her dress and she wants it done in about 30 seconds. She says "you make my dress now. OK, Mommy? I paint hearts." She paints a bit, turns to find me watching her and says, "s'ok, Mommy, you just make it." Sure thing, sweets. 

I think that soon enough, I'll be able to sew a bit with her by my side. Up until recently, I would never dream of us sitting here creating together, knowing she'd likely wander off within minutes and get into things. But, I'm noticing her becoming more independent and engaging in her own play just a little bit more lately. It's wonderful on so many fronts. I love those moments when she drifts off into her own little world, seemingly unaware that I'm nearby. What a bright spot she's been this February.

And, then, there were other bright spots, of the the impulsive purchasing type. I hope I'm not the only one who does that. Last week I added this pretty stack of indigo fabrics to my stare and gaze at on my shelf stash. Mostly all from Handcrafted by Alison Glass, but a little of Cotton and Steel's Bluebird as well. Good gracious, they're beautiful. But, what shall I do with them? That's what I'll be pondering this March while I sew dresses for my little girl.

I hope you've found some bright and beautiful spots this February!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Bluebird Poolside Tote

I knew when I made my first Poolside Tote that it wouldn't be my last. This pattern by Anna Graham of Noodlehead is one of my favorites. It's a fun one to put together and makes a super functional bag. I especially love the shape and all of the details Anna has added to the pattern. 

The exterior of this bag features a fun print from Cotton and Steel's recent Bluebird collection. I'm slightly obsessed with this collection of blue fabrics (more on that soon). To me, this print screams summer, pool time, beach, and sunny travels. This particular fabric is printed on an unbleached cotton, which gives it a lovely natural look. Since it's a lighter weight cotton, I basted canvas to each of the exterior pieces. This adds some sturdiness and weight to the bag. It's just a bit on the floppy side, but I kind of like it that way.    

The handles of the bag and the interior are yarn-dyed Essex linen in black and chambray. The accents are Cloud9 Fabric's Cirrus Solids in Coral (which I was ecstatic to discover at Joanns!!). I interfaced all of these fabrics with Pellon SF101.

This bag is so roomy and can hold so much! I included a little leather clip on the interior for those keys that tend to disappear.

This bag was a gift for my friend Kendra's 40th birthday. This is the year my closest friends (and I) turn 40 (I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one) and I decided I wanted to sew something for each of them. Maybe Poolside Totes for everyone and then a group trip to the beach! Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Linden Sweatshirt

I've been having fun sewing Linden sweatshirts (just one of many appealing patterns by Grainline Studio) over the past couple of weeks. I finished this version over the weekend when we were snowed (or, iced, actually) in. It was a good weekend to sew something super comfy!

I really love this pattern! It's been a happy starting place for my year of garment sewing. It is really such a straightforward, quick sew, and I still learned a bit from sewing it. For starters, I've finally switched over from using a narrow zigzag stitch to using the stretch stitch on my Bernina. This stitch uses a lot more thread but also seems a lot stronger. I also learned to use a double needle to give the neckline a nice professional finish. 

It seems that this top would be great in a wide variety of knits. My first version, in french terry (from Imagine Gnats shop) has a distinct sweatshirt look. While this version, done in some lovely new Cloud9 knits, is a little less sporty, but still so comfortable. For sizing on both tops, I went with the sizing indicated for my bust and then graded the pattern piece out to my hip size. I found my first version was a tiny bit short, so I decided to add about 1.5 inches to the length on this one. I love how the pattern pieces indicate where to lengthen/shorten!

Growing up as a brown-eyed girl, people always told me that brown looked good on me, so I went with it in many of my wardrobe choices. I recall having a closet full of brown, actually. But, then brown started to disappear and everything was grey, black and white. Recently though, I've started to see brown sneak back into fashion and color trends. So, anyway, I was pretty excited when I found these pretty brown prints by Cloud9. It's such a lovely soft shade and I love the floral + stripes pairing!

I definitely see more Lindens in my future. Right now, the two I've made are on a steady rotation. I'm looking forward to the garment pattern I'm going to try next though! Something a little dressier. I can't wait!  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Picnic Plaid Quilt

About a year ago my friend Mary, expecting her third child, commissioned me to make a baby quilt. The gender was to be a surprise, but she gave me full reign on the pattern and colors. I was excited to dream up this one as I felt like I had a good sense for Mary's style (and I liked it!).  

I sat on the project for a few months, trying to drum up some ideas. I was in a bit of a quilting funk. But then I got Anna Graham's Handmade Style book and found the Picnic Plaid Quilt pattern. It looked like a great fit for Mary - modern, yet simple, a quilt where you could really highlight some fun prints and colors, and still have a unique pattern. I texted a picture to Mary and she loved it. Yay! 

I really wanted the colors of this quilt to be calming and soothing, so I started with a palette of grey, white, and mint/teal. To that I added a couple of soft orange/peach prints to vary the colors a bit. I was a little obsessed with picking the perfect prints (like this, this, this, and this for starters), that I perhaps didn't do the best job at choosing fabrics with the right color value. Anna does a great job emphasizing the importance of value placement in this quilt pattern and how it will influence the final look of the quilt (in fact, she shares a great version of this quilt along with some discussion on value here). I recognized that some of my foreground prints were a little low-value, but decided to go with them anyway. I still love how the quilt turned out! It was a super fun pattern to put together. This is the lap size (59" square), but the baby size would come together in a flash!

The back of the quilt might be my favorite part! I made a simple string of flying geese in some scraps I had left over from the front. I love how it shows off the color palette. And, I've been thinking that I would love to make another quilt just like this.

I quilted this one with horizontal straight lines, spaced randomly. They are more dense in the middle of the quilt and spread out towards the top and bottom.

This quilt made it's way to sweet baby Emily (a girl!!!) last September. I have to say, I was super excited when Mary told me she'd had a little girl. For her, of course (she has two boys already), but also because I think this quilt just looked more fitting for a girl. 

Mary is an amazing photographer and keeps me smiling with her sweet pictures of Emily laying on this quilt (or anywhere really - she's ridiculously adorable!!!). Just check out the one in this post on her blog (which, by the way, is jam packed with beautiful photos, thoughts and words). Ahhh, so cute, right??? There is really nothing better than to see a quilt you've made being used and loved and cherished! I'm so happy I had the privilege to make this one!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Make List :: 2016

You may be surprised that I have just one quilt on my "make list" this year. With the exception of one overdue charity quilt, I'm going to abandon my work in progress basket (really only a couple of projects in there anyway). I think I'm at a point with my quilting where I really need to start fresh and just explore on my own - see where the fabric and my mood takes me. I am very interested in doing more improv sewing and also working more with solid fabrics or unusual substrates. I'm also very inspired by all of Carolyn Friedlander's Slow Sewing Studio patterns. Her work is truly amazing and stands apart, so I would love to take some time to explore one of her patterns or methods - like these pincushions, maybe!!  

The one quilt I do intend to finish this year (along with that overdue charity quilt!), is this feather bed quilt. I started it back in November. The feather sides have all been cut and pieced, so my next step will be to cut the background pieces and piece the feathers. I expect this part will actually be quite time consuming, since I have 38 total feathers. That's enough feathers for a twin size quilt (per the pattern), but I plan to add wide borders and make it queen size. My dream is for this to be a quilt topper for our bed in the winter.         

The area in which I do have a list this year is garment sewing - not for my children (although I do still intend to sew for them), but for me! I've been so inspired by the world of garment sewing over the past year - especially the range of patterns and quality fabrics that are available. I've seen amazing dresses, and tops, and even jeans! I'm tired of searching for and being disappointed with store-bought clothes that I don't love, so I'm going to give this handmade thing a whirl and see how it goes. I've been slowly building my pattern list, stashing some fabrics, and pinning ideas. Here's what's on my current list:

:: Linden Sweatshirt by Gainline Studio (already made one I love!)
:: Women's Tunic from Handmade Style by Anna Graham (Noodlehead)
:: Beatrix by Made By Rae
:: T-shirts (I've been intrigued by Cal Patch's classes on Creativebug)
:: Morris Blazer by Grainline Studio
:: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielson
:: Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns
:: Phoebe Dress by Colette Patterns
:: Jeans

I'm sure this list will grow and change as the year goes, but I do hope I can make time to try something different each month. This month I'm tackling the Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline. It's a simple, pattern for a very practical top. I've finished one that I love and have a couple of others cut out and ready to go!

I don't really have much of a knitting list, but I almost always have something on needles. I started this Pine Bough Cowl over the holidays and I expect I will be picking away at it most of this winter (and perhaps next). I'm really loving this project and have been surprised by how much I love colorwork. I have finished just about a quarter of the cowl, so for me (a complacent slow knitter) this is a pretty big project. Along with this, I'm eager to knit up some new hats for my girls too, and maybe a sweater for Lyla. 

I didn't even get to bags, but I'm sure that I want to sew up both a Gatherer Crossbody Bag and a Maker's Tote - both patterns by Anna Graham. Both of these look pretty amazing - just waiting for a nice cold, rainy weekend to squeeze in the time to make them. In the meantime, I'm figuring out how to work a little making into my day-to-day, which has been great! I'd love to hear what your creative list look like this year!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Out with the Old, In with the New!

Hi friends, a very Happy New Year to you! This was my favorite photo of 2015 and Lyla's dress (a geranium I made in December) was one of my favorite makes (decidedly tied with my Poolside Tote). 2015 was not my best year, but I think I came out of it a little wiser and happier than I went into it. With that in mind, I have some pretty big hopes and dreams for 2016.

Last year I found that one of the things I was lacking the most was quiet time to clear my head. The days with my three kids were longer, busier and seemingly more complicated than ever. Over the course of the year, I discovered some ways to find quiet and sort through my thoughts...running was a biggie, also reading, knitting, and taking social media breaks. Without a doubt, I'll be doing more of these things in 2016 and hopefully other things as well. The fact that I'm getting a new bike soon and have already signed up for my first mini triathlon should be some pretty great motivation.     

I also regret that I didn't document more of my life in 2015. I didn't blog as much or take as many pictures with my DSLR and gosh, I missed it! I've already talked about how much I love sharing in this space. Long ago, I used to enjoy journaling (ya know, with pen and paper) and I loved my planner and keeping lists. I did a little research over the holidays and decided to try a Passion Planner for 2016. I love the simple design (side note: being a lefty, I totally appreciate a planner without a giant spiral binding!), the features for making and tracking goals, and the creative space, especially the graph pages. I'm hoping that getting all of these things and ideas flurrying around in my head out and onto paper will help. Although, I am turning 40 this year, so we'll have to see whether my brain is really fixable. 

Lastly, I kind of felt like I fell off my creative game this past year. I couldn't quite figure out how to fit it in and honestly, how to truly enjoy it again...moving to a new home, and falling behind on sewing obligations didn't help. I also found social media to be completely overwhelming at is a wonderful resource that I love and gather so much inspiration from, but I found myself lost at times in other peoples' {amazing} work and paralyzed to get up and make my own things. I guess my true goal with sewing and making this year would be to find my place and style again. I want to try to make time to create every day, even if it's just a few stitches, sketching out an idea, or knitting a row. I have an amazing space in my new home that I'm super excited about! I painted it a clean white over Thanksgiving. It feels so fresh and inviting. I set up some space for the kids in there to create too, but don't think I won't close those doors and be alone when I need to. I have a fun new list of things I want to make this year but I think I'll share that in a separate post!

Thanks to those of you who stop by my blog, leave kind comments, and brighten my day! I wish you all the best as we embark on this bright, New Year! I'm off to enjoy a campfire with my sweet family - our New Year's tradition.