Blogger's Quilt Festival

I've been meaning to post my entry to Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival now for a few days, but a few things have been keeping me from sitting down and doing so. The first is a nasty cough that has been keeping the Monkey (and us) from getting any sort of good sleep for the last 3 days. The second is that the delightful spring weather that was upon us last week has vanished, and we've had nothing but gray, rainy skies here. So forgive the photos.

I chose to show this baby quilt, which was the very first quilt top I ever pieced. Two years ago in March, when I was expecting the Monkey, my dear college friend was expecting her little girl. I guess as part of that nesting urge, I decided to take the plunge into quilting, and this was the result.

I had no idea what I was doing... I did use a rotary cutter to cut my pieces, but accuracy was not really something that I had mastered then. I didn't know about 1/4" seams and I'd be surprised if I had consistent seam allowances at all. The seams only match here and there. Since I didn't know anything about quilting yet, I used this awful high-loft poly batting that is stiffer than the cotton batting I use now and doesn't let the quilt drape as naturally. And yet, when I look at this quilt, I don't really obsess over the flaws because it just makes me happy. It feels like sunshine and smiles and all the good things that make us think of babies.

Two years ago, I got as far as basting the quilt top, and then it sat, untouched until this month. My big belly got in the way of quilting it and my friend's little girl came early. But now it's finally done, and I hope that it will be loved and used and played with and that it makes the recipient as happy as it makes me every time I look at it.


Birthday fun

The past few days have been filled with all sorts of birthday fun for us -- and not just because of my birthday (though my boys did pamper and spoil me!). Over the weekend, we had two birthday parties to attend, and both were just loads of fun. The Monkey, especially, had a blast and loved being able to sing "Happy Birthday" over and over (and over) again.

Both of the children celebrating their birthdays this weekend hold a very dear place in our hearts. They are the Monkey's oldest friends, and were born to two of my closest friends. It was really a wonderful experience to be expecting the Monkey while my two good friends expected their babies, too.

Of course, I wanted to make them each something special and handmade for their birthday. I wasn't sure at all what to make for the Monkey's little buddy, L, since he's a very active little boy. I finally settled on a car-themed art roll-up like the one I made for his sister a few months ago (pattern from mr. monkeysuit, who has a new blog here).

And for the Monkey's little girl friend, E, I made the ruffled halter top I posted yesterday and we put together a little summer fun basket for her. It included a small crayon roll-up, some books, a National Geographic kids, a drawing pad, some gardening stuff, and a treasure bag like the one in Handmade Home (yay, May project completed!).

And now that these birthdays are behind us (too fast!), I'm off to try to get back on-task. I figure the faster I get things crossed off the ever-growing to do list, the faster I'll get back in the sewing room, right?


Kids Sewing Week

Last week, Meg issued a challenge: to sew one hour a day for 7 days, and to focus on getting kid's clothes made. I guess I never publicly joined in on the challenge (that's not entirely true. I do recall saying to Mikey that that was my plan...), but I took the challenge, quite literally. I spent 1 hour each day for the last week doing something sewing related: tracing patterns, ironing fabric, cutting it out, and finally, sewing a garment.

I made this lovely ruffled halter by Oliver + S (from the latest issue of Stitch) for a very special little girl in our lives. This little girl celebrated her 2nd birthday this past weekend, and I desperately wanted to give her something special and handmade. Thank goodness it's an incredibly easy sew and totally adorable.

I was surprised that I could make the halter entirely from stuff in my stash, which I admit is getting a little out of hand. I've had the gingham for at least 6 years (no idea what it was intended for), and the trim I got from my Mom's sewing stash at least 8 years ago. No kidding. It makes me so happy to see that it was all (finally!) put to good use.

And now, I'm off to celebrate. Today's my birthday!


Post-Mother's Day Musings

Happy belated Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there. I hope you had a beautiful Sunday, celebrating with your loved ones, showered with kisses and hugs.

We had the loveliest weekend here; lots of sunshine, lots of laughter, but best of all, lots of love. It seems that every day I find myself rushing from one thing to the next: getting breakfast ready, the dishes cleaned up, the bed made, snacks prepared, out to play, back for lunch, nap, work, outdoor time, making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, more work, and finally bed. In between, I'm very fortunate to get my fair share of hugs and kisses from my little guy, but it isn't often that I stop and savor the moment. And that's just sad.

So this weekend, my one and only wish was to spend some time just being with my two guys. All I wanted was to soak in the sun, do some gardening, take my time, and enjoy their company. Because the truth is, they are delightful people to be around.

The Monkey was all about helping with the gardening, especially if it meant sporting Mom's hat. It was pretty funny watching him running around the yard with his little watering can (spilling most of the water as he runs across the yard), while trying to keep the hat from flying off. And those little capris and crocs? Melts my heart.

Sitting back, just enjoying the day together. Really, truly, this was the best day I've had in a long time. As I sat on our deck, watching my boys play in the yard, I could hardly believe that this little person, with a blossoming personality and infectious laughter, is my son. How did he get so big? He's so much like his Daddy, and yet so much like me. Before him, I had no idea how much I would love being a Mother, how it would completely change my life and my priorities. Days like this really remind me that I need to slow down more often and savor the moment, because they're not coming back. And, really, no matter what, these really are the most precious days of my life.


Oh, happy day!

I just found out that one of my favorite quilting bloggers, Amanda Jean, is back blogging! Hers was the quilting blog that got me excited enough about quilting to try it out. Check it out here. Yay!


(a little bit late) April Project: I made a shirt!

I'm sorry this is coming a bit late, but somehow April slipped away without me realizing it. Seriously, how is it possible that Mother's Day is right around the corner?

Anyway, I had planned to make the Treasure Bag from Amanda Blake Soule's Handmade Home in April, as a fun and useful treat for the Monkey (so that I would no longer have to hold the many rocks and pine cones he seems to drag home after our walks). I was all set to start working on the bag, too, with the pieces cut out and ready to go. And then I went Spring clothes shopping for my little guy, only to come home disappointed that stuff was either a) too adult-themed, b) too expensive, or c) too generic looking.

So I decided that this was the right time to dive in to try to achieve one of my goals for this year: learn to sew clothes. I had a yard of this really cute squirrel fabric, which the Monkey loves to drag around the house. It occurred to me that the little shirt from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing would be just the place to start.

The pattern is incredibly easy to follow, even for a newbie at sewing clothes, like myself. I was scared that attaching the collar would be a horrible, tedious task, and though it was the one part of the process that took the longest, it was not bad at all. The buttonholes were a little intimidating and they turned out less than perfect, but overall, I'm very happy with how the shirt turned out.

Since I don't have a serger (yet), I used french seams throughout, to make the inside as neat looking and comfortable as possible. The only place I didn't use french seams was at the arm holes, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to do it without getting puckers or stretching the fabric out. There, I simply zigzagged the edges. It hasn't been washed since I finished it, so I'll let you know how those edges hold up.

Like I said, I'm really happy with how the shirt came together, but I think the fabric choice was a total miss. The Monkey loves it, and I guess that's all that matters (he's calling it his "digging shirt", which I think means it's his "gardening shirt"... either that or he thinks this is a construction worker's uniform). I'm hoping that paired with the right color shorts and worn outdoors on a sunny day, it will look better. Right now I think it looks more like the uniform at a cheesy restaurant or a pajama top than the whimsical, cool toddler shirt I was going for.

Still, I'm hoping to make a couple more of these little shirts for the Monkey's summer wardrobe. I'm thinking maybe some linen, maybe a gingham, or even some stripes; just have to make sure to really think through my fabric selection before cutting and diving in the next time. The sky's the limit on this one: it's so easy to make and fun to wear.