Monday, February 28, 2011

Really big coasters, ahem, centerpieces

This turned out to be quite a weekend for sewing, which was really good for two reasons: (1) I have a lot of my sewing to do list right now and (2) it looks like I might not get to do much sewing for the next few days (if you're not sure why, check out this post). Anyway, among other things, I was finally able to finish the centerpieces for my sister's upcoming wedding!
I was really happy with the way they turned out. There were 25 of them, and I used three different teal patterns for the fronts, with a solid teal on the back. The lining was a cotton flannel.
They're essentially really big coasters, which is just what she wanted.
They'll be in the middle of the tables with a vintage mason jar of flowers on top, similar to this (only with flowers, of course, not Sharpies, and the jars are blue):
But you get the picture. :)
{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Tornado? 2011

As I mentioned in today's Thankful Monday post, last night we had a terrible storm rip through our neighborhood. There were no confirmed reports, but the news was speculating it was a tornado.
 This car two doors down from us wasn't so lucky.
Apparently, the storm system created several tornadoes that just briefly touched down. Based on the damage, it wouldn't surprise me if that's what happened.
This is what's left of the tree that fell on the car.

It was definitely the scariest storm I've ever been through, and I'm from Texas, so I'm no stranger to tornadoes. I've never been so thankful to have a basement, where we huddled down until it passed. Thankfully, our house and cars were fine, but I can't say the same about some of our neighbors. We also don't have power, and based on what it did to our power lines, I'm thinking it might be a little while before we do.
 I'm pretty sure power line poles aren't supposed to lean like that.
 And they're definitely not supposed to do this.
 And I'm thankful for our wonderful landlord and his generator.

Thankful Mondays #3

Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week three. Read more about it here.

31. (after last night's storm/tornado?) basements
32. every scrap of fabric I touch (and the ones I don't)
33. margaritas
34. musicals
35. Etsy
36. handmade goods

37. the Texas State Fair
38. painted toes
39. sweet iced tea
40. movies

41. flip flops
42. walking dogs at Stray Rescue

43. football
44. cameras

45. anything teal

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finally, let it begin

If you've been following me from the beginning, you may remember this post from November, when I announced I was soon to be starting my first quilt. Well, Christmas hit, followed by my sister's bridal shower and wedding, and it wasn't long before February rolled around (and almost out the door), but now I FINALLY have a chance to revisit my little (read: big, exciting) project. And this time, I'm really going to do it.
The fabrics (Cosmo Cricket's Early Bird collection) are the same, but I've decided to change the pattern. Back in November, I'd decided to do Elizabeth Hartman's birthday quilt for my first one. I still really like that quilt, and if this one goes well, perhaps it'll get made at some point, but a few weeks ago I finally bought Elizabeth's new book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork.
It's wonderful. Total eye candy throughout, just like Elizabeth's blog, Oh, Fransson!, and she does a fantastic job of explaining the entire quilting process, from choosing fabrics to assembling and binding the quilt, which was especially important to me as a newbie quilter. Then, I started flipping through the quilt projects in the back and found this one:
After debating between this one, the birthday cake quilt, and another project from the book (and asking multiple opinions), it was clear that this was the perfect quilt. The book says it's for a "confident beginner," and while I'm not sure I'm that, it doesn't look too overwhelming. It's a good size, and I like how it uses big blocks of fabric, so you'll really be able to see everything, especially my favorite print:
The fabrics are washed and ironed, and this weekend I'm heading out to find the solids for the sashing. I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday #2

I'm following along with Freshly Pieced's W.I.P. (Work In Progress) Wednesday series as a good way for me (and you) to keep track of what's going on around here.

Completed this week:
Coffee sleeve for me
Sewing room clean-up
More of my sisters's wedding centerpieces (pictured)
Second Style Stitches bag

Started this week:
My first quilt! (more on that soon, but here's a hint:)
Hemming my bridesmaid's dress for my sister's wedding
Anda dress (more on that soon, too)
Sweater re-vamp

In progress:
The rest of my sister's centerpieces (they're really coming along — just 9 more to go!)

Now go get inspired — click on the button to check out other WIPs!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One for me, too

After I made these coffee sleeves, and then this one, it only seemed right that I should make one for myself, especially because after making the others, I seemed to keep finding myself at coffee shops, and I felt terribly guilt every time I'd reach for a cardboard one.
Plus, this is way cuter, no? I kept this one pretty basic, with no patchwork, but I like it. The back is a chocolate brown solid (forgot to take a picture).
Recognize my Dr. Pepper lunchbox? He's come in quite handy with sewing room storage.

Style Stitches Challenge 2: Reversible Everyday Shopper done!

It was a productive weekend in sewing land, and among other things, I finished bag #2 — the reversible everyday shopper — for the Style Stitches sewing challenges at Jem Jam and My Crafty Crap (did I mention I found another blog doing the same challenge, so now I'm following both?).
This bag was so much easier than last month's Cosmo bag, which was a nice break. While there were still a lot of pieces to cut and interface, they were all rectangles, which made things so much easier. The actual construction of the bag was super fast.
I didn't have any major problems with this one. However, I got a little ahead of myself when I started sewing things together. There's only supposed to be one pocket on the outside of the bag (with the other big pocket on the inside), but instead I accidentally put them both on the outside, one on each side. I didn't realized my error until it was too late — I started reading ahead in the instructions about how to put the final bag together, and it said to place the exterior bag inside the interior bag, making sure the pockets were on opposite sides of the bag. Mine, of course, already were, but not in the way she meant. :)
I think it turned out ok, though. I like the look of the pockets on the outside, and it gave me an excuse to add a smaller pocket on the inside, which I'd been contemplating adding anyway. I think it'll be handy for lip gloss and keys. I also decided to stitch a line down the middle of one of the outer pockets to divide it (I saw several others participating in the challenge do this and thought it seemed like a good idea.).
I think the bag will be super handy for picnics and car trips. It's quite large and very sturdy, and the padded handles are a nice touch. Oh, that was the one other mishap. You're supposed to fold over than handles in the middle to create a flattened part that's a better grip surface, but my machine seriously rebelled when I tried to stitch through all those layers, so after I (barely) made it through one handle, I decided to pull out the stitches and not do the other one. I think they work fine without the grip.
I decided to do two rows of topstitching along the top edge, and this is where my bobbin decided to run out:

And this one's just for fun:
Yes, that is my usual workday attire (I'm a freelance editor, and I work from home.).

Two down, 10 to go! (You can check out pictures from other challengers at the groups' Flikr pages here and here.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thankful Mondays #2

Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week two. Read more about it here.
16. Sharpie ultra fine pens
17. Top Chef
18. game nights
19. a sunny day, especially after weeks of snow
20. finally getting a chance to clean up my sewing room this weekend
21. Ikea
22. smiles genuinely given
23. free trips to the zoo
24. meals lovingly cooked by my husband
25. reading at coffee shops
26. offers of help, even when I'm too stubborn to accept them
27. the love and grace of God
28. dancing with my dad at my wedding
29. craft days with friends
30. traditions

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bridal shower fun

So I realized after all the build up with the coasters and everything else, I forgot to tell you about my sister's bridal shower. It went great! This is me and my sisters:
I had such a fun time hanging out and prepping for the shower. I got major help from my mom (baking and prep), step-mom (prep, linens, and those great coffee mug favors, which went with the coasters), and little sister (general prep and cuteness).
I hate living so far from my family now, so it was wonderful to have a weekend with the girls to celebrate the exciting addition of a new brother, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was a big success. And check out this spread:
I'm just bummed I accidentally cut off the tops of the flowers in the picture; they were beautiful. You can see the mugs and coasters on the far end of the table and the coffee sleeve prizes in the middle.
Believe me, it tasted as good as it looked. Those are blondies from my favorite America's Test Kitchen cookbook, salted caramel cupcakes from here (definitely the crowd favorite), and Nutella scones from Baked Explorations, one of the cookbooks I got for Christmas, along with lots of other goodies.
And we got to drive and drool over my sister's Christmas toy, a teal Fiat Cinquecento. Isn't it adorable??
My grandmother wasn't trying to escape. I promise. Really.

I can't wait for the wedding in less than a month!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First a cozy, then a cleaning

A few weeks ago, I attended a free seminar at my local sewing shop about sewing machine basics. It turned out to not be hugely helpful (I already knew most of what they talked about), but it did light a fire under me to finally clean my sewing machine. I've had Stella for more than a year now, and I've never done more than a cursory dust sweeping from the exterior. Eeek! (Although at least now she has a cozy, so helpfully that'll help in the future.) In fact, part of the reason I kept putting it off was that I was afraid of how bad it might be (which, of course, meant that it was only going to get worse, thereby justifying my fears). Well, it wasn't as bad as I feared:
See those dust/lint bunnies? Yuck. But at least they weren't just everywhere, like I expected.

I'm now freelancing from home, which means I can take advantage of lunch breaks by spending a little time in the sewing room. So I decided to take some time today to finally bust open the machine. It was only a little scary (isn't there something really intimidating about unscrewing and pulling apart your sewing machine — what if I can't get it back together? AHHH!!!).
Anyway ... following my manual instructions, I successfully dismantled the basic parts. Then, I took out my handy dust brush (which came with the machine) and some Q-tips, wiping it until it was clean as a whistle, helped by the smallest attachment on my vacuum.
Ooo, la, la!

Whew! I (and Stella) feel so much better now that I've actually conquered my fear. Hopefully, it won't take me another year to do it again.