Monday, October 31

A Halloween First… Or Not

I was so proud of myself – I finished all the costumes one whole day before leaving for trick-or-treating, instead of the usual one whole minute.

But then I got it in my head this morning that Lucy, the Sugar Plum Fairy (Cat), needed a big plum to cover over the flower on her purple top. And then we found a bigger, better, purplier shirt that did not have a flower in need of covering… but still seemed to want a plum. Or at least I did. So now I’m no longer all finished with costumes.

I was looking up plum images (my sketches were looking too much like a certain body part) while Lucy drew pictures in her little spiral notebook. Suddenly, she handed the notebook over. “Here’s a plum, Mom.”


Clearly, she got her Daddy’s GSD genes. (Get Stuff Done.)

Which reminds me of what Sophie said yesterday. Clearly, she also sees I’m lacking certain GSD genes.

I was working on the mask for her Kaylee The Neighbor’s Golden Lab costume and kept asking her if she wanted it this way or that way, etc.


She finally put her hand on my shoulder, said “No more ideas and no more switching stuff, OK?” and walked out of the room. : )

She does like the finished mask.


But I do have one more idea I want to do with the girls today: little Trick or Treat Thank You Cards, as seen on Filth Wizardy this morning.

Thursday, October 27

A Messy-Studio Epiphany

Here I’ve been thinking that I haven’t been making anything (‘cept for the skirt) because the studio is still so un-unpacked and disorganized. (Well, that and just a general lack of extra time as I still work on settling into my new groove here.)


But I got it backwards! Now, I’m thinking the studio is still so un-unpacked and disorganized because I haven’t been making anything!

What caused that shift in perspective? A birthday party invitation for my girls and the resulting gift idea for the little lover of rainbows.


I’m making something again (with help from the girls).


And it’s fun – the soul-energizing kind!

And, as I need stuff –

  • certain fabrics that I KNOW are SOMEWHERE
  • various colors of threads (where IS that box full?)
  • fray-check (that box of notions was JUST here!)
  • fusible Web (could I have put it where it belongs? Oh joy, I did!)
  • Jewel-It glue (leftover from making birthday crowns last year – sweet, it’s in the box with the paints that I’ll need too!)

– I unpack another box. Unearth another container. Uncover more fabric. And unleash more joy!


There may be hope for our studio yet!

Here’s to hoping the gift gets done in time too. The party is Saturday!

Monday, October 24

Costume Conundrums…

There are only 6 days to Halloween.

First idea (developed way back in July!):


Heidi = monarch caterpillar. Sophie = monarch chrysalis. Lucy = monarch butterfly. Daddy = milkweed plant. Mommy = monarch migration destinations (sandwich board with Minnesota on one side and Mexico on the other). They were very excited by the whole idea. But after a month of dreading all the work that would be involved to make these (plus, Sophie might look like nothing but a green blob at her school party without her sisters there), I convinced them to go back to the drawing board.

Which they did, literally.

Second ideas (developed in September):

Heidi = superhero, Sophie = princess, Lucy = asian princess


…And then I realized why I usually end up making Halloween costumes 2-3 days before (or 2-3 hours). Because they keep changing their minds!

Most recent ideas:

Heidi = Heidi (as in the little girl in the Swiss story) – she’ll wear her dirndl. No work required, other than perhaps putting her hair into braided buns.

Sophie = Kaylee, the neighbor’s golden retriever. (She is not just any dog, she is Kaylee!) She’d like ears, a mask and a tail – easy enough.

Lucy = purple fairy, because she was wearing a purple shirt today, and found the little purple wings in the dress up box, and the purple tutu. Again, no work required.

Aah, but there are only still 6 days to Halloween. Plenty of time for them to change their minds again…

Thursday, October 20

Crocheting with Company

It’s so nice to have out-of-town friends visit – I get to hang out with my friend while her four girls play with my three.

Talking late into the night with someone who knows you so well, that is sweet goodness.

The fact that this someone brought her crochet project along and you can hook together as you talk late into the night, that’s just goodness piled on top of goodness.

She’s making a lap blanket for her mama…


I’m making a hat for me probably, thought it’s attempt number two, so we’ll see…


Like how our clothes match our projects? Ha ha.

Monday, October 17

Rachael’s Soccer Cake

Has it been a while since I posted a cake? Here’s one that I made for one of our new neighbors recently, in exchange for a night of babysitting.


Rachael was so cute when she came over to ask – “maybe something to do with soccer? and I really like the color blue. want to come see my room? it’s all blue…”


Can you tell how old she was turning? Clue: look at the blue part of the soccer ball.


She plays goalie, so I added a little debossed goalie in the bottom corner.


And also added a fun play on words along the front side: “She’s a keeper!”


She loved the cake, but I think I got the better end of the deal. Not only did I have fun making the cake, but she is great with my kids! How lucky am I to have such super neighbors!


* * *

The “making of” post(s) will follow shortly, if you’d like to try this at home but aren’t sure how… (And to remind myself for any next times…)

* * *

P.S. Can you believe I gouged this cake with my finger too? Not nearly as bad as the last time, but still!

Sunday, October 16

On the Making of Jenny’s Pillow

So often, I see someone’s finished project and wonder how they made it. No, not a tutorial giving step by step instructions on how I could recreate it, but rather the whys behind it. Where it came from. How they dreamed it up, designed it, decided on each part.

In case you feel the same, here’s the story about how Jenny’s pillow came to look the way it did, including the appearance of a tiny little sticker at just the right moment…

It started when I read Jenny’s post about some wonderfully loving gifts she received, including a beautiful Kettle Grove quilt set from a group of her friends.


Along with the quilt, they gave her a piece of fabric, signed by all of them, intended to be made into a pillow. I told Jenny I’d love to do that for her.


With a sham of hers along for color reference, I headed out to the local fabric store for some additional textiles. In the entire store, I could find only two fabrics that were some combination of black and tan. TWO! But two was all I needed, especially since one was black with tan paisleys and the other was tan with light black swirls. Made my decision on which fabrics to buy VERY easy!


Next I turned my attention to the white fabric itself. It was WAY too white to blend nicely with the quilt. I’d recently read about dying using tea, so tried it out on an extra piece where someone had tested all the markers out. My sample turned out great, so with fingers crossed – I did NOT want to mess up this special momento – I dyed the piece with the signatures. And it came out so nice! Beautifully tan, just a shade lighter than the tan accent fabric I’d purchased.

Then I wondered if I should add something else – there were some large unsigned areas and I brainstormed what I could put there. Crows? Like on the accent pillow that came with the quilt?


A Google Image search for crows produced nothing that seemed right. One wine label caught my eye – a congress of crows taking flight up across the pillow could’ve been striking. But appliqueing or even embroidering all those crows seemed a bit too labor intensive for the time I had available, plus I didn’t think it would fit with the style of the rest of the bedding.


Changed the search to “country crows” but still wasn’t finding anything until I saw this clipart, which convinced me to forget about crows and do a different object instead, like a tall primitive-syle star.


And I remembered the stock photo I’d seen of the bedding, which had that same tall star on sample pillows.


I was all set to start cutting out stars when I glanced over at my ironing board and saw a small little sticker that had detached itself from a Valentine card one of the girls had given me. A tall primitive-style heart!Of course! Since the quilt was a gift of love! Why didn’t I think of that right away?!?


I cut out hearts of various sizes, appliqued five into the empty spaces, then quilted around them with tan thread and stitched some more free-motion tan heart outlines here and there. (My one regret in this whole process: drawing the heart shapes on with water-soluble blue pen first, and then dunking the whole thing in water to remove all the blue. I think the pen ink reacted with the fabric markers and tea, causing some colors to run and some tea to lighten. –big sigh– I tried to convince myself it made the pillow looked more aged and “country-ish” but I will definitely be more selective when using water soluble pen from now on and wish I hadn’t had to learn that lesson on this pillow!)


Finally it was just a matter of adding a border. I chose to “mat” the signatures with the tan fabric, then “frame” it all with the black.


The black border is actually attached as a really wide binding; the top-stitching on the front catches the edge of the binding on the back.


And since I wanted the pillow to be roughly the same size as the other accent pillow, the width of the tan “mat” border was pretty much determined for me.


So, now you know the rest of the story!

Saturday, October 15

Jenny’s Pillow

A pillow project from Pre-Move Era, made for my friend Jenny.


It looks a lot better on her bed than my sofa.


Hop on over to her blog to see more photos and read the story behind it, here.

While you’re there, stick around and check out her drool-worthy recipes (she’s the one who introduced me to cake balls!), her inspiring room redos, and her amazing photos of her beautiful family.

Then come back here tomorrow if you want to hear more about how I transformed a stark white autographed piece of fabric into the symbol of love and friendship it was meant to be. Cause right now, I have to go have fun with my own beautiful family.

Thursday, October 13

My New Knitting “And More*” Group

How fun! I saw a blurb about a knitting group that meets weekly at a church right near my house. So I called the contact person listed.

Me: “I don’t knit (yet), can I bring my crochet instead?”

Her: “Sure!”

Me: “I’m still unpacking and can’t find my crochet (yet), can I bring some mending instead?”

Her: “Sure!”

So I packed up our holey shirts and buttonless pants and, while looking for thread, managed to find my roomy red bag of crochet WIPs too.


What a friendly group of women! I was good and did the mending first. But then I dug into the bag to see what was in there.

Woo hoo, the girls’ scarves! To match their hats I finished last year. Pink one is long enough now – next week I’ll add the white and grey border.


The purple one just had loose ends to weave in. It is DONE now!


By the way, I found the pattern—minus the border—on Ravelry (Check Stitch Scarf), but it’s also available here. I loved the little slits so the scarf doesn’t have to be so long yet will still fit snugly around a little one’s neck.

And the aqua one is at the same stage as the pink one now, just needs a border so it matches the hats better.


I hope we have a few more weeks of “Knitting” meetings before the weather really gets cold so I have time to finish them up for my girls.

*The veteran group members did mention it’s maybe time to change the name of the group – I was not the only non-knitter there. So for now, it’s the “Knitting and More” group…  : )

Tuesday, October 11

Sophie’s Slit-and-Panel Skirt

The studio is still the least finished room in the house, but I did manage to work around all the boxes to make one thing – a skirt for Sophie.


Not sure how it started – we were at the local thrift store and next thing I know, Sophie has picked out two skirts and I’ve promised to make them fit her. (She has a thing for full ankle-length skirts right now. And they are practically impossible to find in any store!!!)


Picking the easier, navy one to work on first, I knew I could just fold over the wide waistband to make a casing for some elastic so it would fit Sophie’s waist, not an XS adult’s one. But then Sophie said how excited she was about soon twirling in her new skirt.

Uh oh.

The skirt, as it was, had NO fullness and would NOT twirl well, unless I made some more changes to it…

I let Sophie go through my box of Clothes-To-Be-Used-As-Scraps to find another knit I could work with and she picked this stripey number.


First, I changed the waist to fit my peanut, according to my plan mentioned earlier.


Then I folded the skirt and the shirt in half. One cut up the middle of the folded skirt gave me four tall evenly-spaced slits. And two slanted cuts up the sides of the shirt gave me four tall triangular panels.


Pulling each slit apart (like in the photo above), I put a triangle behind it, with the bottom already-finished hems lining up. Then I top-stitched close to the edge of the slit, catching the triangle underneath. Sort of a messy-edge, reverse applique.


Four easy panels added, and the skirt was done. When she stands still, the striped sections often disappear into the folds and it looks like a plain blue skirt….


…but when she moves and jumps and twirls and twirls and twirls some more, the green and white part peeks out.


So glad you love it, Sophie. Not too long and you’ll be making stuff like this yourself. Seems like every paper I pick up has your fashion sketches on it. Project Runway, Season 59, look out!


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