Things that go

My LQS had their anniversary sale last weekend, so I broke my self-imposed buying ban to get these fun firetruck, tractor, and airplane fabrics. I'm thinking that once we move to our new home, I want to decorate the Monkey's room with a "things that go" theme, and these will be great for the quilt for his big-boy bed. Already, he's been playing with all the fabric (can't you tell? That's why it's so wrinkled!), so I'm thinking this was a good idea. Will have to keep my eyes open for the right patter for these. I'm thinking simple, so it doesn't look busy. Any suggestions?



Today has been a little bit of a blur. The Monkey had a difficult night last night, which hasn't happened in months, so we are all dragging in our house. Thankfully, he's in bed now, and will hopefully stay there til 7 am tomorrow morning!

Usually, I am off sewing around this time, while my husband tucks the Monkey into bed. But not tonight... My sewing machine has been put away, the floor has been swept free of those pesky threads, and all fabric has been folded and put away because my Mom is coming to visit! So no sewing for me for the next week or so, which is just fine because we'll be having too much fun to sew anyway.

I had thought she arrived tomorrow (thank goodness I double checked her itinerary last night just in case because can you imagine how awful if she'd arrived tonight and no one had been there to pick her up?!), and had planned to finish up the 2nd round of the March project tonight. Since it doesn't look like that's going to happen, I'll have to post it once she leaves next week.

Instead of working on my March project, as I should have been, I decided I wanted to join Rachel's (from p.s. i quilt) Pinwheel Sampler Quilt Along, and am so glad I did. This is only my 2nd time working with half square triangles, and definitely my first time putting together such complex blocks!

It has forced me to really work on using accurate 1/4" seams and to work on my rotary cutting (both of which were mediocre, at best... but when you're making up the pattern as you go, it doesn't matter much!). I went to get a 1/4" piecing foot for my machine a few days ago, and you wouldn't believe what a difference it's made. The seam ripper stays in my sewing bag a lot more now!

When I decided to join in on the quilt along, I also decided I absolutely didn't want to go out and have to buy fabric for this. Thankfully, I had purchased a Woodland Bloom layer cake that I had no idea what I'd use for, so this is what it's becoming. :) I paired it with some white kona cotton, which I think really lets the colors pop... not that you can tell in these awful photos, because they were taken at night...

Anyway, I'm off -- have a great night!


Love this quilt

When the Monkey was born, we lived in a very small 2-bedroom apartment and my plans for nursery decor didn't go too far beyond putting up a few animal prints. I had fallen in love with these adorable eBoo bird cards, which seemed like the perfect theme for a gender neutral nursery. My Mom, who is incredibly creative, used one of the cards as inspiration for this gorgeous quilt she made (her first!!). The center panel applique is of my absolute favorite birds in the card set.

I was thinking last night that when the Monkey was born, I had no idea how much a part of our every day life this quilt would become. Before the Monkey learned to walk, it was constantly on our living room floor, as his designated play space. It was the place where he did his tummy time, and the place where we'd try to take naps together when nothing else worked.

Once he started crawling, we'd still use it in the living room, but it no longer stayed in one place all day. Instead, it became his favorite peek-a-boo blanket and a favorite place to read books.

Then summer came, and the quilt followed us from park to park as we soaked up some sun and played out on the grass. Once he started walking, we spent less and less time sitting on the quilt, as the Monkey preferred to run and swing and slide. The quilt has lived in our linen closet since then.

And then yesterday afternoon after a fun day in the sun, the quilt made an appearance again. This time, it became the roof of his first fort. It makes me so happy to see the quilt out again, and even happier to see him so engaged in pretend play.

His favorite fort game: playing store. And the item he loves to sell to us: key lime pie. :) And it's the very best key lime pie we've ever had.


Pretty flowers

On Saturday, I hosted a shower for baby Oliver and his Mama, and we had such a nice time. Of course, I completely forgot to take any pictures, which makes me sad. I'm taking it to be a sign of a good party and not a sign of a bad hostess...

I really wanted to have some pretty flowers for the shower, but I've never actually arranged flowers, believe it or not. My Mom and my Aunt are the ones with a talent for that. Still, I figured it was worth a shot, and if all else failed, I'd just place them in water in one of the vases we got for our wedding, which mostly collect dust these days.

I really wanted to use some beautiful blue hydrangeas and white ranunculus, but they were a little out of my budget. Instead, I settled on some yellow spray roses, white tulips, white daisies, and some green mums (do they dye those?). I had enough flowers to make the main table arrangement on the "It's a Boy!" wagon we received as a gift when the Monkey was born, plus 3 smaller arrangements. I used some pretty green wine glasses for those, and those were placed around the room for little touches of spring here and there.

The flowers are still looking really good, making the inside of the house look as spring-y as the outside. I hope they last a few more days. It's amazing what some pretty flowers will do for your mood and for dressing up an otherwise very plain dinner table!


Baby Oliver's Quilt

Our dear friends recently had their second child, a beautiful baby boy named Oliver. They didn't find out whether they were having a boy or a girl, so when I decided to make a baby quilt to give them upon baby's arrival, I really tried to make it gender neutral. I tend to prefer deeper colors for baby quilts, but I was afraid it would look too boyish or girly, so I went with pastels instead.

I only had a little bit of the Japanese nursery rhyme fabric that I had ordered for the Monkey's burp rags left, so I decided to make that the center of the blocks. The rest of the fabric I used was left over from the very first quilt I made (a gift for another friend's baby, which I'll share some other time). I had previously trimmed the pastel prints down to 2 and 4" strips, so piecing the quilt top went really fast.

I decided to try my hand at freehand quilting with this quilt top, and, to my surprise, it was a lot of fun (but I need lots more practice!). I tried making loops and squiggles, but I think I went a little crazy and it ended up being a little too densely quilted. I like a little bit of texture, but after washing the quilt, it was just too crinkly for my taste.

Still, I really like how it turned out, even if it's all pastels and too densely quilted. I decided to back it with minky fabric, and used Amanda Jean's tutorial (for the most part). The only difference is that I ended up not using binding, but rather top stitching all around the perimeter of the quilt after attaching the backing. I would have loved to add a pretty binding, but, as it turns out, Oliver couldn't wait to meet his family and he arrived 3 weeks early.

The best part about him arriving early? He was able to come to his own baby shower and take his new quilt and bunny home with him. :)


Happy First Day of Spring!

Hope you had lovely weather where you live. We've been lucky the last 5 days or so, with gorgeous Spring weather. Today, though, was absolutely beautiful, with clear skies, sun, and temps this afternoon near 70!

So of course that has meant lots and lots of outdoors time for all of us, which the Monkey has been loving. In the last few months, he's really become something of a nature explorer and collector. Anytime we're outdoors now, we've got to stop and touch the flowers, pick up a rock or a pinecone, or play with a twig.

It's pretty cool.

The back of his car now looks something like this... Actually, this was taken a couple of days ago. Now his collection is about twice this. I'm thinking April's project will be making him a mesh treasure bag, like that in Amanda Soule's book, Handmade Home. He'll love that.

Speaking of which...

You probably thought I forgot all about my March project, didn't you? I didn't forget, I've just been dragging my feet til last night, when I whipped up a cute banner for a sweet baby boy whose welcome party I hosted today. You'll have to take my word for it that the banner was downright adorable, because I didn't take any pictures at the party and it has now been sent home with the new Mama and baby. I enjoyed it so much, though, that I'm making one for our family which I plan to photograph and share before the end of the month.

For now, I'm off to relax. Happy Spring!


Art Roll-up

Don't you just love free online tutorials? I am always amazed by the generosity and creativity of folks out there who are happy to share patterns and ideas with the world. One such tutorial posted on one of my all-time favorite blogs, Mr. Monkeysuit (I'm so sad it's no more!), is that of the traveling art show. We call it the Art Roll-up around here.

I've seen similar art roll-ups for sale at craft fairs, but always thought to myself, "oh, I can make that!"... and yet I never did. I guess I just didn't want to go through the trouble of figuring out the dimensions necessary to fit in all the goodies inside the pockets. So when I came across this tutorial, I was thrilled.

I love that there's room for a new box of crayons or markers or pencils, stickers, and a little notebook; it's always a thrill to get new art supplies. This particular roll-up was made as a gift for a very special little girl who turned 4 last month. I used some really cute Japanese house fabric I was saving for some project that I now can't recall. And since our little friend loves pink and purple, I decided to use pink grosgrain to keep it secure.

Our little friend is a girl that loves her princesses and anything sparkly, so I thought I'd add some pretty beaded barrettes to the roll-up as a special treat. These are incredibly easy to make; the instructions are from an older Martha Stewart holiday special issue. Will have to dig it up to make some more... Wouldn't they make cute Easter basket treats?


Boy Coins

Right before we went away on our trips back East, I managed to finish this stacked coins quilt for our new nephew. I used the prettiest fabric, which must now be out of print, because I can't find it anymore. The day before we headed out on vacation, it was awfully rainy and overcast, so forgive the awful photos I have today. They're the only ones I managed to take before giving the quilt to its recipient.

I decided to keep it light on the quilting, because I wanted it to be soft and squishy... just right for a baby to do lots of tummy time on it (and because I hadn't mustered up the courage to try free hand quilting yet!). I ended up just quilting about 1/8" to the inside and outside of each stack of coins. It seemed like a great idea: keeping it simple and allowing me to spend the extra time hand-stitching the binding.

In hindsight, though, it really wasn't a good choice for this sort of quilt, with the long and narrow stack of coins. I'll blame my poor choice in my lack of quilting experience. You can see in this bottom picture how, once washed, it just wrinkled up to look a little like little ruffles sewn together. It was soft, which is what I was going for, but I really didn't love how it turned out. Sadly, I didn't have enough time to rip it out and hand-quilt it, but I guess that's alright.

I ended up using some really pretty, dark blue "marbled" fabric for the binding, which I think works well as it frames the quilt. I'm a big fan of really dark binding... and it worked well with the darker blues and purples of the coins.

The backing is, perhaps, my favorite fabric of all the ones I used... Those froggies just melt my heart and make me smile. I only had a yard of it on hand, so I had to piece the backing and ended up adding a strip of deep marbled purple in there. I don't have a picture of it, but I promise it looked good. Since the quilt was about 32"x44", I just barely had any froggy fabric left over. But you better believe I saved even the tiniest of scraps, and am hoping to use some of the larger pieces in an "I Spy" quilt for the Monkey.

Despite the awful quilting, I was really happy with the baby quilt and especially happy to have made something for our newest family member. Another bonus? All fabric used was from my stash!



I find it somewhat ironic that almost immediately after writing my last post, the weather changed in our corner of the world. It went from the unseasonal, yet gorgeous, Spring weather we'd been enjoying back to our typical grey, rainy days. And cold, very cold (well, after 65 degrees, 40 feels very cold!). And so we're finding ourselves spending more time indoors, entertaining ourselves.

There's lots of time pretending to cook or clean or "driving" his cars. There's also lots of time reading and lots of time dancing. But lately there's also been lots of time painting. We got Baby M finger paints for Christmas, but he had absolutely no interest in getting his little fingers dirty at that time. Little by little, he's been getting more and more interested in the paint, though.

He's still not a fan of getting his fingers dirty (thus the paintbrushes). But now that he knows his colors, he loves to request each one by name as the little cups get a little squirt of color in each. Always the little helper, he's keen on opening the bottles to help Mama squeeze out just the right amount. I always worry he might burst with excitement if I take just a little too long getting everything ready.

And this apron? It has made a fun little addition to our painting routine. The Monkey now knows to put on his apron before we can paint, and he helpfully hangs it up after he's done. It came together very quickly using Meg's tutorial found here. He and I love it so much, in fact, we might have to make a couple more for each of our messy indoor activities!


Last hat of the season

We have been having some really warm, mild weather around here. So mild, in fact, that our trees are in full bloom and looking gorgeous. I guess that means no more hat knitting for me (so sad!).

Before the weather got this warm, though, I did manage to squeeze in one last hat for Baby M. No wool this time, which is good, so it can be his spring hat. I saw this lovely hat on the Tot Toppers blog (she's SO talented!), and I had to giggle because I had the exact yarn in my stash. I'd purchased it shortly after my Mom left after Thanksgiving, because I wanted to make a hat for Baby M that matched his new fleece from his Biti. I hadn't thought of what pattern to use for his hat, though, and it sat untouched until January.

Once January rolled around and I realized he would soon outgrow his orange and gray fleece, I knew I had to get cracking. And I immediately thought of the Tot Toppers hat. I loved the pom-pom. the predominance of the gray, and the simplicity of the Fair Isle pattern. But I knew that I didn't want ear flaps, as this was to be a Spring hat. So I kind of made up a pattern as I went along, using Amanda Keeys' book as inspiration (best purchase EVER! I've used it so much!).

I totally love how it turned out, and so does Baby M. Every time we go out now, he requests his "bam-bam" hat, even if he's not wearing his orange and grey fleece.


February Project: Finished just in time!

February has been full of travel, family time, and togetherness, all things that help to revitalize one's soul. Our little family traveled to other coast to visit some very loved family members and to meet the newest addition to the clan. He's just precious, and I cannot believe how tiny he is. How quickly one forgets how tiny babies are when they are first born! Baby M and I continued our trip further south, to visit even more family members and help him connect with a part of his heritage I hope he never loses. It was such a wonderful time for all, but it went by much too fast.

We are now back home, trying to get back into our old routine and trying desperately to get Baby M back into the right time zone. I've also been working hard to complete February's project: the bunny from Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys. This was my first time knitting a toy, and I was surprised at how quickly it came together. I did most of the knitting while on our trip, as we enjoyed our relatives' company, sipping some good coffee, and watching the Olympics on tv. Much to my surprise, it didn't take more than 3 or 4 days to have the bulk of this little guy knit up.

A dear friend is expecting her 2nd child this Spring, and Bunny will be a gift to the expectant Mom at her shower in a few weeks. Because I wanted to use yarn I already had in my stash and because I wanted it to be washable, I used Reynolds Play Time yarn (1.75 skeins of the white and just a touch of the pink), which is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. It's got a nice feel to it, but in the future, I might use something softer (especially for babies!).

I didn't even consider keeping Bunny for Baby M, since he is into all things boy: trucks, dirt, balls, dirt, trains, dirt, dinosaurs, dirt... oh, and did I mention dirt? While I was cleaning the living room this morning, he found Bunny, and wouldn't give him up until I promised to make one for him. His response? "Bue. Bunny. Pease." I just melt when he requests Mamma-made anything, especially when it's followed by a please.