Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blast Off!

This weekend we are traveling to St. Louis to celebrate a couple of very special birthdays!

Earlier this month, my sweet nephew Eli turned four-years old.  We think "the world" of our little congenital heart defect (CHD) survivor, and with each birthday that passes we pause to remember the many blessings that God has poured over this kiddo and our family.

Like many four-year olds, Eli has recently turned his attention to superheros.  So, to show him what a "super" nephew I think he is, I  created him his very own superhero cape.

"It is good to renew one's wonder, said the philosopher.
Space travel has again made children of us all."
~Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

"Launch" by Lesley Grainger Designs for Robert Kaufman

For this reversible superhero cape I used "Launch" by Lesley Grainger Designs for Robert Kaufman that I found at my local quilting shop.  (I told you I've recently become obsessed with fabric...especially designs for children!)  See more of Lesley's work here.  For the inside I lined the cape with "Milky Way" by Mark Hordyszynski for Blank Quilting.  I love how the two fabrics complement each other so well, and I think Eli is really going to love the brightness of the patterns.

This star patterned fabric is called "Milky Way" by Mark Hordyszynski for Blank Quilting.

A superhero cape fit for a true adventurer!

I'm waiting on the tutorial because I've been trying to find an easy-sew solution to securing the cape at the neck.  While for both Benjamin and Eli's capes I used ribbon gathered and secured through a "collar" at the neck, I worry that it is a strangulation hazard.  I just haven't been able to find a Velcro solution that I find attractive so my neighbor has offered to help me create one.

"God has no intention of setting a limit to the efforts of man to conquer space."
~Pope Pius XII

Happy (belated) birthday, Eli!  Auntie Val, Uncle Chris, Mary, Ben & Luke love you so much.  We feel blessed beyond measure to have you in our lives and know that your adventurous spirit and will take you far in life...maybe even out of this world!
Be sure to visit next week when I share with you pictures of our little birthday superhero in action and how we celebrated my mom's upcoming birthday.
Happy Saturday,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Quilted Blanket for Dolly

I've had a "charm" pack that I've been dying to use for some time now, but just didn't know what to create with it.

Here's a little description I found on-line about Bonnie & Camille's line called "ruby" for Moda Fabrics,

"Ruby is a small town girl with big dreams, and even bigger style. She works at the town ice cream parlor in her favorite red polka dot dress and can be found doing the jitterbug with her best girlfriends at the Country Diner on the weekends."

I just think that is the cutest fabric description!

Anyway, a "charm" pack is a collection of 5" x 5" squares of fabric, also often referred to as Charm Squares. They are super easy to work with...especially for the beginner quilter. Typically, the charm pack includes one square of every fabric from an entire collection which takes a lot of the guess work out of choosing coordinating fabrics if that is an overwhelming task to you.  (Personally, I struggle more with the ruler than I do the fabric coordination!  ha!)

Since you usually only have a couple of squares that are duplicates (in this case they are all of the tiny polka dot fabrics), I decided to create a small doll quilt for Mary.  While not yet finished, here is what I've completed so far with the piece work...

I pieced together a simple nine patch block, but decided that I wanted to make the doll quilt a bit larger to fit Mary's 18" American Girl doll, Suzanne.  (Mary named her...which makes me laugh because "Suzanne" is a total "1960s" name.  I grew up with a couple of "Suzannes" myself!  Mary nicknamed her "Suzy".  Cute.)  

To make the quilt larger, I added border to all four sides.  This is where things got a bit tricky for me for a couple of reasons. One, for two of the sides I used a geometric print that used straight lines.  I noticed after sewing my quarter-inch seams that fabrics that use lines are not quite as forgiving as bold, floral prints or tiny polka dots!  I also failed to take into account my four corners...which required me to cut 2.5" squares and then piece them in.  For a novice quilter, this was a bit tricky and thus my corners look a bit sloppy.  Not to mention, my corner fabric has roses running in a directional pattern which I also failed to take into account, thus I've got roses going both horizontally and vertically!

But here is the thing...this is my first "doll-size" quilt, a project much larger than a mug rug.  With each mug rug I created, my piecing and seams got better.  And while I have torn out several rows and restitched several times...I am going to leave my errors on this little doll quilt.  I feel like if I run across the street to my neighbor with it ripped out and have her stitch it for me, then I won't have gained some valuable insight as to why you piece in the order you do or why 1/4" seams are so vital to the finished product.

Here is the doll quilt fully pieced...


Note to self...never trim off strings while supervising small might cut the corner of your fabric and cause yourself a minor heart attack!

So, I have three important steps left...
I need to find and purchase a coordinating fabric for the backing...
I need to actually quilt this little doll blanket, and 
finally, I will need to finish the quilt by binding the edges.

Hopefully, I will get this project finished over the weekend and can then sew a very special toddler his very own superhero cape!  We are projected to be back into the upper 70s by the weekend and my (super)kids will need to get outdoors after five straight days of rain!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Newest Fabric Acquisition

Happy Sunday!

I'm hoping everyone has had a wonderful start to the new week.  We've been blessed with an abundance of sunshine and warm days and I couldn't have asked for a better Spring Break with my three kiddos.  One whole week of lazy days spent reading, baking, sewing, and visiting with friends...both the kids and me.  Definitely looking forward to summer!

Since I really haven't had the opportunity to capture some cute photo shots of the kids, I updated my blog header with a snapshot of my newest fabric acquisition  It's called "terrain" by fabric designer Kate Spain for Moda...and I think it is just divine!

These bright colors caught me eye a couple of weeks ago when I was with my friend Caitlin at our local quilt shop.  I kept eyeing and fingering the fabric and she must have noticed!  Caitlin texted me on Saturday that the quilt shop had one jelly roll left.  I hopped in my car and snatched it right up!  Caitlin is going to begin teaching Alicia (another friend) and me how to quilt.  We are calling it "Girls Nights In...Quilting"!  I'm so excited.  We are going to be creating a "Sampler" quilt which will display the traditional pieced quilt blocks such as Nine Patch, Rail Fence, Log Cabin, Flying Geese, etc.  It will be a great way to learn the "basics" that I think are the key to quilting success.

In "non-sewing" news...we were busy in the yard this weekend.  While we would love to move out to the country on 5 or 10 acres, that is probably not going to happen for some time...just due to the economy.  (Doesn't mean we aren't always looking...or updating the  ;)  So, in the meantime we are working on turning our 1-acre subdivision, suburban lot into our own little personal "homestead"!

A couple of weeks ago, our family went to visit some friends of ours that are also suburbanites, but avid gardeners. They grow quite a bit of their own fruits and vegetables and invited us out to see their planting beds and fruit trees.  We were impressed with their variety and success of fruits and veggies that they have grown over the past several years.  With Caleb's advice (the husband) we purchased three different varieties of apple trees and HE planted them along our backyard fence line!  Mary's over the moon excited (she's our apple eater), but I didn't have the heart to tell her that it will probably be several years before we get fruit!

In addition to the apple trees, a good friend and co-worker of Chris' also came over this weekend and helped us build our fourth planting bed!  We've had mixed success with our raised planting beds with the biggest struggle being access to water. Well, I am pleased to say that the water problem has been fixed, and I now have a spigot off of my porch for easy watering access.  My planting beds are currently sitting empty because we are getting ready to relocate them...but before we do we are leveling that side of the yard.  We've already had the utility company out to mark and now we are just ready to do the digging.

Like I said, we busy as bees this past week with lots of socializing, gardening, and sewing.  Now it's back to the school-week routine.  *sigh* 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A REAL Superhero Cape (Fire Fighter)

A couple of years ago, Mary and Benjamin were superheros for Halloween.  (Yes, I have this thing for coordinating costumes...which can be tricky when your brother/sister.)  I thought they looked pretty darn cute that year!

Superhero Halloween, 2009

Anyway, Ben l o v e d  that flimsy little Superman cape that attached with velcro to the body of the costume.  Two years later, he is still trying to wear that little cape with a bodysuit that is waaaaay too tight.  And, in more recent weeks, he has really started looking up to/modeling behavior/and role playing fire fighter around here. 

Makes sense, right...when daddy's a fireman?!!!

So, I decided to try my hand at creating a superhero cape for my "crazy about fire fighters" boy.

Here's how it turned out...

I plan to type up a short tutorial on this simple and super easy-to-sew cape and post soon.

In the meantime, many thanks to all of the REAL heroes in our lives...our service men and women who serve at home and abroad so bravely, police officers, paramedics, and of course fire fighters! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Love This Girl!

I loved when she was just minutes old...

...I loved her at age three...

...and my heart just keeps getting fuller and fuller with love for this first born of mine!

Here is a letter I found in her bedroom.

Always, my, crafts, parties.

(I think I know her calling in life!) ;)

"Rough Draft" (In Her Own Words)

Dear Kim C. and Ella,
Im throwing a summer and animal club
its supper fun every day of summer brack and every week we will go somwar
its no biggy if you mis it
I todaly understand
its allmost like school
so in the weekend you dont hafe to bethar your of those days

Mama's translation...

Dear Kim C. and Ella,
I'm throwing a Summer/Animal club.
It's super fun!  Everyday of Summer Break and every week we will go somewhere.
It's no biggie if you miss it.  I totally understand.
It's almost like school.  
So, on the weekend you don't have to be there either of those days.

Don't you just love childhood?!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

diversi-TEA (A Quilted Mug Rug)

Last Thursday night, I attended my first "quilt guild" meeting of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild.

I had such a wonderful time.

And except for bloggers, I can't say that I've ever met such a fun and welcoming bunch of ladies in one place at one time!

Their heartfelt welcome was overwhelming.

In fact, my friend Alicia and I, both new to quilting and guests of our friend, Caitlin, received a standing ovation from nearly 100 women for participating in the "mug rug swap".

I won't even lie...I teared up.  (I guess I really was more anxious about participating in the swap then I let on to be!)

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you the beautiful "mug rug" that I received.  (Each mug rug was wrapped up so you didn't know what you were choosing!)  The time and energy that was put into the creation I received is incredible.  Probably the same amount of time and energy I put into mine...only mine looked more like something a preschooler created and this looked like someone got their Ph.D. in Quilting!  he he)

Truly, though, this "mug rug" is a work of art.  I can't bear to think of placing a cup of coffee or greasy crumb cake on it.  Instead, I think I might frame it and hang it up in my new sewing room.

Even the quilting is exquisite!
Love these little birdies!

Beautiful backing fabric and binding!
And, in case you are unable to read the quote at the bottom it reads, 

"diversi-TEA...Understanding and accepting each individual is unique."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quilting...The Mug Rug

So, you know my "Sewing on Saturday" posts?

Well, if you've been wondering why I've been so quiet lately, it's because I've been doing a bit of sewing on more than just Saturdays... every single day of the week.  And if I know that I have a particularly busy day ahead with personal commitments or shuttling kiddos to and fro, I make it my business to get up between 5 and 5:30 AM just to get in some sewing!

I know...I think I've lost my marbles, too!

I've become quite addicted to quilting.  I've started small and been practicing a ton with lots of little "mug rug" projects.

What's a "mug rug"?

Well, it's sort of a mini place mat that can hold a cup of joe or your favorite hot tea mug and perhaps a sweet treat or two!  Mine measure about 6.5 X 9 inches, and I've been experimenting with all sorts of fun fabrics and designs.

The little mug rugs I am sharing today are more "modern" in appearance.  To me that means the fabrics are a bit edgier/funkier/brighter than traditional fabric designs and colors.  But to be honest, I love all types of fabric from vintage to modern, solids to prints, muted to bright.

My neighbor has been giving me some private quilt lessons and she is amazing.  She started quilting about two years ago and you can catch a glimpse of her work here! (And I just love the name of her blog, "I Don't Do Dishes" because I can totally relate!  One can get so caught up in creativity that those ever-important household chores get pushed aside.)  :)

So, without further ado, I present my "Mug Rugs".

The series of above photos illustrate my FIRST-EVER quilting project.  Although I am highly embarrassed by my seams and "quilting" (for non-quilters that is the actual stitching design you make on the three-layer quilt "sandwich"...and yes, it really is called a "sandwich"!) I wanted to show you my new found love of modern fabrics.  In the past, I probably would have shied away from the bright green chartreuse geometric print, but I think it really complements the hot pink floral fabric.  I also love the bright red polka dot fabric that my neighbor encouraged me to use for the backing.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous about my sandwich bunching up under the needle that I kept pulling the fabric taut which led to the stretching and misshapen look.  Lesson learned!

This 2nd series of photos show project #2, a little mug rug using blues and greens.  I especially love the dragonfly print!

And finally, this last series of photos show project #3.  Now, I know it's crazy to be thinking about Halloween 2012, but these fun little Halloween fabrics were in a "stash" of 25 "fat eighth" pieces ( 9 x 21), and I thought they might be fun for a little mug rug project.  (Think Fall with a steaming hot mug of apple cider and a slice of pumpkin bread!)

As you can see, each time I create a  mug rug, my seams look better and the actual "quilting" gets better, too.

These next couple of photos show a totally finished project.  That means that after I created my quilted sandwich, I made the finished edge or "binding".  Making binding and mitering corners did take some practice for me, but it seems to be the actual hand sewing of the binding to the quilt sandwich that is causing me the most trouble. 

Because I have too much pride, I am not sharing my first two attempts at binding...but I will share #3.  I think the top of the mug rug turned out great for a newbie quilter...the back not so much.  I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to see all those hand stitches.  I've watched a zillion You Tube videos on hand binding, but really just need my neighbor to give me the one-on-one tutorial...again. (It takes me a few about "visual" learner...)

Here it is completed...

Sadly, for me, I will be giving this mug rug away.  Tonight, I am going with my neighbor to my first-ever quilt guild meeting.  I decided to jump in with both feet and participate in the mug rug swap that they are doing at the meeting.  While a bit of anxiety is setting in over my imperfections, I'm fairly confident that most creative types are forgiving and encouraging of novices.  We've all been there when trying a new endeavor...right?!!!

Finally, I have created a "quilting/sewing blog" dedicated solely to my new hobby.  Feel free to visit me over at Wrapped in Love .  I plan to add a link to my sidebar soon!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March 1st!

Spring is here!

Well, not officially, but every March 1st, I put out the forsythia wreath and pack away the snowmen that have taken up residence after Christmas.

Will be back soon to show you what I have been working on.