Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

In a few minutes, I'm off to my parents' house to make lasagna with my mom - it's about time she passed down her recipe. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I have a little DIY over at Savannah Smiles for a Christmas tree topper star. I showed how to make the two top layers at Savannah's blog, but that was getting pretty long so I'm showing the other layer here.

When I set out to make my own star, I was sort of inspired by this one. I wanted to see if I could make something roughly similar with paper.

My tree topper
Start with a piece of paper about 2" wide by 4" tall (I cut a strip of 12 x 12 paper into 4" strips, then cut those down into smaller rectangles.) Imagine a 1/2" wide (give or take - I didn't measure this layer!) section in the center and fold "around" it, like this:

Now the little "wings" on the side need to be folded under the center section and back out to be about the same width. Your fold will look like a Z:

Next, you just need to clip the points. Cut at an angle from the outer edge just on the outer flaps; cut underneath the center section to hide the vertical cut, which doesn't have to be perfect.

Snip the corners of the center section only to make a point. The final product will look like this:

It's not complicated once you get the rhythm down, but it's a little weird to explain. Hopefully the pictures help! The last step is to glue all of these into a circle - I just hot glued them to the same circle of cardboard that I glued the center accordion layer onto.

Then, I covered it up with a circle I cut out of decorative paper and glued a piece of cardboard tube from a paper towel roll to make it easy to set on top of the tree. The decorative paper is just to make the back look decent if you're going to see it from that angle - plain paper would work just as well, or leave it out if your tree's against a wall.

Feel free to share photos of any tree toppers you've made - like this one or totally different!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thrift Share Monday

I'm just barely squeaking in for this to actually be Thrift Share Monday, but better late than never! I did a bit of thrifting this weekend. I specifically went out to find vintage wooden spools of thread (I feel like there should be a shorter way of saying that...) and picked up two other items as well.

The thread spools were made into ornaments:

I was excited about this idea when I first thought of it a few weeks ago, and I'm so glad it turned out the way I expected.

I also found two Christmas decorations that I'm leaving as is (for sale in my Etsy shop). I wasn't planning to buy anything else, but these were too fun to pass up and I've been thinking about adding some vintage items to my shop... this is kind of an itsy bitsy trial run, I guess. The first thing was this glass tree topper:

It's worn and speckled with silver showing through the pretty green, it's shiny, and it has glitter - win-win-win.

The other thing was this set of glass ornaments, unopened in the original packaging. I love seeing how different styles can be so reminiscent of different time periods. These ornaments are actually older than I am.

Well, that's it for me this week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

December's Here

We got our Christmas tree. It still looks like this:!/SmithAndDaphne/status/143506713260199938 (undecorated). I swear it grew when we carried it through the door.

I found my camera + tripod connector foot thing, but haven't been taking many pictures.

I sewed one Christmas stocking last night, hopefully I can make the other tonight and also add a bit of width to our tree skirt.

It's officially winter - we have eaten both Brussels sprouts and clementines. I'm finding myself eating more seasonally - coming back to certain foods at certain times of the year. Paying more attention to what's good when.

I planted a few bulbs yesterday - it was tough to dig some of them far enough into our "soil" - not because it's frozen or anything like that, but because it's basically rock and cement chunks after the first few inches. Another reason I want to sheet mulch. I may try forcing some of them indoors - need to figure out how you're supposed to do that.

It's starting to become that busy time of year. I'll have to remember to pull out the camera and record some of it. So bad at that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Usefulness of a Tripod

I have things to share, but no pictures of most of them... I can't find the little thing that holds the camera onto the tripod, so it's kind of difficult to get decent pictures right now. It's getting too dark by the time I get home from work to have any sort of natural light anyways, but I can't even take pics in the morning. For example, I finished my pink jersey skirt and wore it the other day, but... no pictures. I also finished my crocheted neckwarmer, but no pictures... See the theme?

I also picked up a bunch of supplies for Etsy goods this weekend, which are in various states of being washed/dried/just waiting. I use quite a bit of reclaimed materials, such as the vintage (and non-vintage) handmade doilies, wool sweaters for felting, even fabric remnants. I think it's great to use second-hand materials when possible, but I only use things that I can clean and feel that the quality is like-new. I do use a lot of brand-new materials as well, and I like that mix of old and new.

And on a third unrelated note, we're working on our front yard. That is, it's sort of on pause right now, because I'm waiting on other people. But two weekends ago, I spent a good part of my Saturday hauling bags of leaves from a local school to my backyard. I'm planning to sheet mulch our front "lawn," which is basically layering organic materials over it to smother what's growing there now (mostly weeds) and provide a base for new plants above. The stuff we lay down will decompose, and on the very top will be wood chips to be a little more attractive and weigh everything down. So, right now my back yard has:

forty-three bags of leaves. All nicely bagged by volunteers at a school clean-up day. Win-win.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Color 2011 Weeks 5 and 6

Well, I'm making progress on the challenge, but nothing is entirely finished. My rose skirt now has 3 out of the 4 panels stitched - after that I just have to cut away the centers of the appliques and actually assemble the skirt. I like to think that I'm 3/4 of the way done, but obviously that's not really accurate.

I also tea-stained the pink fabric I got for a jersey maxi skirt, because it was a little brighter than I'd wanted. I also decided I should probably get more fabric because it's a little bit sheer, so I ordered yardage in a different shade that's hopefully much closer to what I really wanted. Once it gets here, I'll decide for sure, but I think I'll make the skirt in two layers, with this one on the inside and the new fabric on the outside.
I also crocheted this scarf, in a yarn that I bought up in Truckee in January, but I can't remember just what it is... I need to look for the wrap thing, I usually keep those. I do know that it's handpainted, and it's such a gorgeous blend of colors... sort of a smoky blue, rusty orange, eggplant, cranberry, and a creamy white, plus a million other shades that exist where two or more colors overlap, like a deep purple that I'm pretty sure isn't an individual color, just the red and blue combining. It's perfectly autumnal. It's not done, though - I need to fasten it off and decide how I want the ends to connect - it's not exactly a scarf, it's more of a cowl that needs some sort of closure.

And then there are (always) a ton of other projects that I start to plan, or wish I had time for, etc etc. And things I need to finish, like altering my Traveler dress, lining my hoodie, making a dog bed... and making pillows from that Michael Miller fabric up with the pink jersey. I love that fabric. Hmm, the list keeps getting longer. Never shorter. Why is that?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And then there was MY anniversary gift...

For our anniversary this year, my husband bought me a Kindle! I haven't used it much yet, because I was trying to finish Lonesome Dove - that book is almost 900 (!) pages, but since I borrowed it from the library, I only had 3 weeks to read it. I kept it, um, longer than 3 weeks, but I finally returned it today. Still didn't finish... I think I'm just going to buy it used.

Anyways. What I really wanted to share was the case I sewed up for the Kindle. Ignore the blurriness of the pictures - the only day I actually remembered to take pictures, by the time I got home and took them it was getting dark and my camera wasn't liking that.

I used a black and cream, large houndstooth print, home decor weight fabric that I bought a long time ago as a remnant. I lined it with wool felt from a failed Christmas tree skirt project (also used in my wreath). FYI, if you try to felt felt (re-felt it? extra-felt it?) it might come out a bit ruffly and wavy. I tried to iron it, block it, etc and nothing really worked. Small pieces are OK, but nothing big. It is nice and thick, though, so it was perfect to give some protection here.

I'm rather proud of just how nicely the Kindle fits. It's snug but not tight, completely different than my past attempts at similar things. I tried to make a little case for my cell phone (at least two or three times) and it always came out way too small. WAY too small. This came out nicely, though. Snug and cozy... nice and autumn-y.

Friday, September 30, 2011

And the 6th Anniversary is for...

Last Saturday, my husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. I wanted to make him something small (his "real" gift was some computer-related item), so I looked up the "traditional" anniversary gifts. Depending on who you ask, apparently, the 6th anniversary deserves sugar/candy, iron, or wood. So obviously, I decided to make him some coasters.

Well, they have cork which is like, wood-ish so I figured it worked. Also, they fit my short time frame, I had all the materials, and he needed them for his office.

Super simple: trace a circle (ie another coaster) onto cork. Cut out.

Trace circle onto felt. Cut out.

Trace circle onto something pretty, like a map from your recent trip to Paris. Cut out. (See the theme?)

Glue everything together. I used Alene's between the cork and felt, and Mod Podge for the cork and map. Although apparently something kind of gets gooey when they have condensation on them, so this might not be the best mix. I'm not saying you should make these yourself, exactly. Might be better for hot drinks, I don't know.

But there you have it!

UPDATE: It's now mid-November, and my husband has been using these. They're still getting kind of... oozy when there's condensation on them. I'm assuming it's the Mod Podge, although I was hoping it just needed to cure a little more. At this point, they're good for hot drinks but not necessarily cold. I'm thinking maybe I can just somehow seal the top. I just noticed that the Mod Podge bottle mentions some sort of Clear Acrylic Sealer, or my husband mentioned maybe just putting contact paper over the top. If I change something up and get good results, I'll post another update!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Little Things for Little People

As I mentioned, I've been making things that aren't for me, which takes time from making things for myself... but I like doing it. Plus, I have fabric for myself on its way to my house as we speak, so...

I already shared the sweater I made (and the, um, half a sweater I have sitting here). The next thing, which finally got mailed last week, is for our friends' kids. Inspired by these felt flash cards from Sew Much Ado, I made a pair of full alphabet + numbers 0-9.

I used grey felt for the backgrounds, a rainbow of colors for the letters and numbers - red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, brown, and white - and a multicolored thread to sew the letters and numbers on. The stitching around each piece is basic grey to match the felt. The curves were a little tricky on some of the letters, maybe just because I'm not used to sewing felt and it moves differently under the presser foot than fabric. Overall it was a fairly simple project, just took a while to complete. I did things in batches; a group of letters, then a long pause, then another set, etc. I also ran out of grey at the very end. I used yardage for the grey instead of buying a bunch of sheets of felt, and I ended up one sheet's worth short. Of course, that's easy enough to buy, but beware that depending on how well you cut the felt, if you use yardage you might end up a little short. I used a rotary cutter but still had some narrow pieces that wouldn't work, either due to my measuring and cutting or due to discrepancies in the felt itself, I don't know.

I didn't mess with the grommets from the original, but I did make simple little bags to put them in.

I also added a few books to the box, and a little blanket for their baby girl. I somehow forgot to take pics of the blanket; I was sure I had already done that but I can't find any... you can sort of see it through the tissue in this picture:

The front is a brown flannel with multicolored hearts on it; the backing is a green dotted minky. That minky... so soft but such a pain to sew. I'm sure I'll use it again, but this was my first time and I didn't quite realize what it would be like. Any tips to make it easier are welcome!

Also, I've decided to switch out the plaid Traveler dress for a jersey maxi skirt for the Fall Challenge. I'm still planning on making the dress, and I ordered the fabric, but right now the ETA is mid-October. I also ordered a rosy pink jersey, so that will let me stay with my goal of 3 items. And the 2nd panel of the hand-stitched skirt is *almost* done.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Sweater in Pink - Celebrate Color

Here is my first item for Celebrate Color! I crocheted this pink sweater for a friend who's due with her first baby next month. I try not to always do "pink for girls" but I loved the color of this yarn. It's a very soft pink, a little muted rather than bright. I added a brown button, and I think the colors are perfect for fall. It has a little more subtlety than a lot of pink yarns, and somehow that's what I lean towards for this season. Subtle but deep - even though the trees put on bright colors, they have that gradient effect to them that adds something the bright green of spring doesn't have; the light changes in autumn, too, making these colors just "fit" better.

Back to the sweater - it's the Bombay Love pattern; my Ravelry project page for it is here if you want to see that; the actual pattern is at the Yarny Days blog.

I don't know what size this would be, since I don't have a baby to test anything on. I love this yarn though; it's an organic cotton by Lion, and it came out so soft and squishy in this simple double-crochet stitch. The original pattern called for a contrasting edging, but I didn't have anything that really worked with this and I like it without the contrast. In fact, I liked making it so much that I started another one with no recipient in mind.

This one is striped, but I'm stuck at this point because I ran out of yarn. Now I have to figure out where I bought it and if I can get more of it.

This sweater also feels very autumnal - something about these stripes makes me think of old-timey football games and wearing your team's colors. There's an Anne of Green Gables memory floating somewhere in my mind tied to this, but it's soft and fuzzy so I'm not sure if it's actually relevant or not.

And finally - I have these small dishes (as seen above) that I bought in Mexico years ago that I use for loose ends and such while I'm sewing, but I recently discovered they're great for holding a ball of yarn. It's rather annoying when the ball of yarn is rolling around or falling on the floor or getting stuck under a blanket, etc etc; with this little dish it stays contained and rolls nicely on the smooth surface. Anyone else do something similar?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn Color 2011 Week 3

Well, I think this is week 3. I thought I'd share my patterns first, since I sort of mentioned them but didn't give any detail. Except for the Alabama Chanin skirt - that's in the Polyvore board. Also, more on that below.

The dress is the Lisette Traveler dress, aka Simplicity 2246. I want to make something like View B but with the regular collar from View A in a plaid flannel. I love a certain fabric I found online but I wavered on my decision and now it's backordered until mid-October. (I have a feeling I might be stretching my timeline for this challenge.)

Lisette Traveler

The jacket (which isn't on my official list) is from Simplicity 2443, a Cynthia Rowley pattern with a knit dress and a jacket. There's a version of the jacket that you can see here that's a little more like what I'm thinking... I want to try it in a tweed or something like that, without the pockets and plackets and bits on the front.
Simplicity 2443

I just want some big buttons instead of the ties, and I'd leave the band off the sleeves to make them a little simpler. My inspiration (from J. Crew) shows the idea I'm going for that I think I can get from this pattern.

And no pattern needed for the scarf, but here's the fabric:

I think I'm going to make a circle/infinity scarf from this. It's very light, I think it might be a Swiss dot? It has those little raised polka dots on it... don't know if that's the right term though.

And I've been working on the reverse-applique skirt. Not too quickly, I'm not quite done with the first panel, but making progress. It's gone from this:

To this:

As you can see, I'm using a navy blue jersey for the top layer. The bottom layer is a white jersey that I may or may not have washed with the blue causing it to become a very very pale blue itself... And the stenciled parts are a sort of metallic champagne with natural colored thread stitching it all together. I think I'll go for a blue thread for the seams, though. I haven't done much hand-stitching before, and I'm really liking it.

On a side note, did you know that the kit for the rose applique skirt is $140?!

I've also been making not-for-me things that I'll share later on.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Autumn Color

I have color on my mind lately - Colette Patterns is having a Fall Palette Challenge and Rachel of Stitched in Color is hosting "Celebrate Color." They're a little different from one another, but both have gotten me thinking about colors for fall. I've noticed that I gravitate towards different colors at different times... almost like personal trends, in a way. I'll end up with several items in different shades of the same color without even thinking about it.

The colors I keep finding myself interested in lately aren't necessarily traditional "fall" colors, but I think they do remind me of fall in a way. They're earthy and grounded. They're deeper and work differently off of each other than the brighter colors of summer.

So, all thing considered, here is my palette and a bit of an inspiration board:

Fall Palette Inspiration 2011

Plaid and tweed + florals? Yes please. To be realistic, I'm going to plan on three items to complete: a reverse-applique rose swing skirt from the Alabama Stitch Book in navy and white, a plaid tunic/shirtdress (using the Lisette Traveler dress pattern) in loden plaid, and a scarf. I would LIKE to make the new Peony dress from Colette in a solid with a patterned belt, and I'm planning to make a tweed version of the Cynthia Rowley jacket from Simplicity 2443 at some point, and I would also really really like a jersey maxi skirt. Those shoes will be bought at some point in the (hopefully near) future.

The skirt is one thing that I've actually started. And I have fabric for a scarf - a couple of scarves, actually. I also have three dresses that I made and wore in Europe but need to be altered. The Traveler dress is one of them - I only halfway made a muslin, so I didn't realize quite how LARGE it ran. I'd like to use the pattern to make a shorter flannel version, more of a tunic than a dress. The "want" list is probably too ambitious to get done, but I'm certainly thinking about them a lot lately.

Can't wait to see what other people are doing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the Meantime...

I found my camera cables and charger. When I was packing for our trip to Europe. Did I mention we were taking a big family trip to Europe? No? Well, we went and it was a very. good. trip.

In sewing and other news, I made several things for the trip, including three dresses with varying success rates that I will share in future posts. I've also made a few other things, and I'm working on a skirt from the Alabama Stitch Book. I've been busy. Still am, but I feel a little more settled now. I also need to settle in to my office a little more - it's amazing how the stuff I fit into a 1 bedroom apartment still doesn't quite fit into a 3 bedroom house. It feels like when you cram a bunch of clothes into a suitcase and squish everything down to zip it up... and then when you open it, everything kind of explodes out and you wonder how you're going to fit it all back in. I'm at that wondering part here.

Speaking of suitcases, I was quite proud of myself for packing for a 17 day trip in one carry-on suitcase and a backpack. Not my typical packing style. As for the vacation itself:

We visited Rome - this is one of several obelisks we saw on our trip. They're crazy and amazing and I didn't realize there were quite so many in Europe.


Then we hit Venice.


And Verona ("fair Verona, where we lay our scene...")

From there we took the train up to Munich - what a pretty train ride. And what a pretty place. This is the view from Hohenschwangau Castle.


And we ended with Paris.

Good times.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

It would really help if I had my camera charger, but it hasn't been unpacked or come across so far...

Since it's Father's Day, I'll share a pic of my dad and I:

This was in Virginia (actually, I think this picture was in North Carolina in the Outer Banks somewhere) when my parents came to visit me one time while my husband was out to sea or somewhere not in Virginia for whatever reason a few years ago.

I thought we were done with this being apart business, but he just got back from a 3-week training during which he was gone all week for each of those three. Oh well, I'm used to it, and he's back now so it's all good. I'm getting my office set up and trying to find time to sew... Hopefully I find that charger soon! I can't take any pics right now due to a dead/almost dead battery. Boo.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How's the Weather?

I'm still busy unpacking and getting settled into the house, and my camera hasn't been used in quite a while (so no updates to share). I remembered that I had some old pictures that I uploaded to my computer a while back but never put up here, though. The weather here in Sonoma county has been a little confused... we're getting rain, and quite a bit of it, during the first week of June. JUNE, people - I like the rain, but I also like my garden, and the sad little plants would like some sun.

That being said, I recently pulled back out a hat that I thought was in storage for summer (ha), and it's actually one I made for our Tahoe trip way back at the beginning of the year. I used the Pretty Puffs slouchy hat pattern (on Ravelry here). Ignore the weird look on my face - I have a bad habit of making super dorky faces in front of the camera, but by myself and with the timer I apparently make sad and/or angry looking faces. But the hat looks cuter from the front than the back, so I had to show my face. All of which reminds me of this post by Moorea.

So, the hat:

Voila. It's comfy and I like the fact that I made it myself. :)