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A crafty day

Do you watch Top Chef?  If you do, you know that they always get busted on deserts, and use the excuse “but I’m not a pastry chef”.

I am like some of the contestants, in that I cook, but I don’t bake.  For one, I’d probably be 100 lbs. heavier if I baked, but really, it’s because there is a precision in the chemistry of baking.  You have to measure, there are ratios of things (see, I don’t even know what things), and you have to know the chemistry of baking.  The way I cook, I might read through a recipe, but I rarely follow it, even the first time through.  I might not have all the ingredients, or it might call for cumin, which I don’t like, or there might not be enough garlic, so I improvise based on the idea of the original.

And sometimes, there isn’t even a recipe.  I might see something on TV and say, that sounds good, and then I’ll make my own version that might taste nothing like the TV version.  The problem with that, of course, is that nothing is measured or recorded, so if you come up with something really good, you can’t reproduce it.  🙁

In knitting, I pretty much do the same thing, although I do follow patterns for the most part, but once I’ve made something, I don’t follow the pattern much if I make it again.  Or even the first time, sometimes!  And if I am counting stitches and come up short, I’ll just M1 and get it balanced and move on.

I’m starting to think sewing is more like a pastry chef than a sous chef -type pursuit, and I really need to work on that.  Not necessarily in following a pattern, but in measuring, balancing, etc.

But anyway, here’s a case of the saw it on TV but didn’t write anything down, didn’t buy the pattern, didn’t measure, just winged it.   I’m new to quilting, but I can work my DVR, so I have been recording shows like Quilt in a Day and Fons and Porter.  On the latter, there was an episode where they made a bag out of pre-quilted fabric.  I looked on their web site to see if the pattern was available, but it wasn’t.  So, I just watched the episode again, and then I winged it.

Here’s the result:

Now, those of you who are pastry chefs will be all itchy over the crazy wobbly looking pockets, but I just pinned the pockets on and started sewing.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but it’s functional!

The inside has a divider, which is just a folded piece of fabric sewn into the side seams.  I thought that might help it be more stable when the ironing pad or mat is removed.  I have no idea if that will work, but I’ll get to test it out next weekend at the LAMQG weekend sew.

Since I used Amy Butler Love quilted fabric, I decided to link into the Sew & Tell and Amy Butler challenge on Amylouwho’s blog.  I guess I’ll have to wait for next week though, as I’m late for this week. I’m linked up now.  Go take a look and see what other Amy Butler goodness is being made. 

The other project is more of the ‘read the recipe, didn’t follow it’ type.

Over here, there’s a great tutorial on creating fabric baskets.   And I read it, but I wanted a longer basket for storing my large fabric scraps, and thought I might make a few and line them up all neat on my IKEA Billy bookcase, out of reach of my toddler.

So I decided to make my fabric 22 x 16, and cut out 5″ squares, so I’d have some charm squares out of the deal instead of wasting that fabric.  And I didn’t have the type of interfacing that she had, I had a much stiffer Pellon (70 maybe?).

So, with this wicked stiff pellon, it wasn’t that easy to sew around those really bulky corners.  I was wrestling and wrestling with it, and mumbling to myself that what the heck is free about a free arm when you can’t even wrangle the thing around the thing when I thought of the solution.  Hang the end of the machine off the table, and no more wrestling!

Here it is stuffed with the leftovers from La La’s quilt, plus the fabrics I’m planning to use for an Xmas tree quilt.

I wrapped the fabrics around my 4 1/2 inch square-up ruler, and they fit perfectly in the box.

I like the nice sharp corners.

It’s not as wobbly as it looks, it’s just full.

So that leads me to an ethical question.  When someone puts up a tutorial or a pattern and you use it for inspiration, I think it’s widely accepted that it’s OK to mention the inspiration and make your modifications and move on.  Sort of like open source software.  That’s what I plan to do with the green fabrics.  I plan to make a wall hanging inspired by the one posted on PurlBee last year.

But what if you are inspired by something that’s not a tutorial or free pattern, but is just a photo of a completed work or a pattern for sale?  Is that fair game in the same way?  What about software.  If you found a program online that does some cool stuff that you never thought of doing before, but instead of buying it, you write your own code to do the same thing.  Now that you have the idea, is that OK?   What if you don’t try to sell or give away the resulting software, but just use it yourself?

The cult of the hexagon

I’m done with the flat part of my hexagon doll bed fabric, and now I have to figure out how to get nice curves on the ends to make sort of a boat shape.


I’m going to try some pentagons joined to the hexagons.  I think it will be a gentle enough curve to be perfect for what I need.  I’m going to play in white for now to see how it goes and if it works, I’ll decide whether to just join the white to my fabric or to make more in the scrappy fabric I’m already using.  I’m having fun with this!

I’m already thinking about my next project.

I have a friend with a Cricut.  I have Adobe Illustrator (but Visio will also work).  I created an .svg file of hexagons and sent it to my friend, then I brought her a new pack of blades and a stack of cardstock.  About 30 pages, with 28 hexagons per page.  That’s over 800 hexagons, for the cost of a trip to JoAnn’s for some blades.

Hey Ya!

Big ole' piles of 1 inch hexagons

I got some charm squares to be a little less scrappy this go-around.   Cut in 4, they are perfect for 1″ hexies.

Me & My Sister Favorites Charm Pack

Some solids too.  Not sure if I’m going to use them for this project or not, but I have time to decide.

Connecting Threads Charm Packs: Warm, Cool, and Bold.

La La’s Birthday Quilt

So, a few months ago, I ordered this great stack of fabric from PurlSoho, which is local to me, even though the actual store is in NYC.  If you want to see more of the fabric, it’s page is here on the freespirit site.

California Dreamin' by Jenean Morrison for FreeSpirit

I also ordered this pattern from Carolina Patchworks.  It only calls for five fabrics (for the piecing).  I had 16.

{mini} Modern Rose Garden quilt pattern from Carolina Patchworks

I also have EQ7.

I mapped it out with my fabrics

So, I loaded up the fabric images from the FreeSpirit site and laid it out so I could get a good balance of color.  The scale is completely off and I didn’t bother to figure that out, I just wanted to get a harmonious layout, and I think I achieved that.

Ta Dot Lagoon by Michael Miller

I chose a fun polka dot binding that went well with the other colors on the fabric.   I found a shot cotton for the sashing – I think it’s Kaffe Fassett’s ‘Sprout’ color, but I forgot to check the label on that one.  Finally when we went on our field trip to Michael Levine, I found the backing – a turquoise Minky Dot.

La La relaxes with her new quilt.

It took me a while to find the right thread for the top and back, but I finally did find a good variegated top thread that went from orange to yellow to green.  And the bobbin thread was a perfect match for the minky, and I was on my way!

It's good for tumbling on.

I basted the heck out of it because I’d heard that the Minky stretches a lot. I didn’t actually have trouble with it stretching, but it sort of gripped my quilting table and it was hard to work with. Luckilly for me, I was at the LAMQG weekend sew and the Quilt Engineer was there with all of her tools and gadgets.  She loaned me her SewSlip II, which is a silicon pad that you put around the plate and over the quilt table to make a continuous slick surface.  This particular one has a rectangular hole so that the feed dogs can stay up for using the walking foot.   It was like night and day!  She also let me try her June Tailor Shape Cut ruler, and clued me into this binding foot.

Let me fluff it up a bit.

When I got home that night, I ordered the SewSlip II, a binding foot, a teflon foot, and a pintuck foot, because I hope I can finally make those last doll dresses where I got stuck on the pintucks.  Maybe.  I will probably buy the Shape Cut, because it took me about 3 minutes to cut my binding strips and they came out perfect.

I spent just over two days on the piecing and quilting, and a few hours on the basting and I am really happy with the result.

It's comfy.

More importantly, La La loves it, and calls it her Muno blanket, because she has a Muno made of Minky Dot.  I think it looks more like Toodee though.

You can almost see it all.

I put a label on the back that reads “For [La La] on her second birthday made with love by Mommy 2010”. I used printable fabric and my inkjet to print on the corner of a page, then sewed it into a corner of the binding. I even remembered to put it on before I sewed the binding! I did forget to attach it before I quilted it though.

I’ve been sucked into the cult of the hexagon and have been working away on a 3/4″ hexagon project that I hope will become a doll bed for La La.  When I started it was with some scraps that I got from a Japanese fabric shop, momen+. (They are on facebook, but don’t have their own website yet.)  I wanted to see how I like it, and I do, so next up will be a 1″ hexagon something, plus an 8″ hexagon throw.  I’ve used all the hexagons in the pack of 100 3/4″, and am still working out the geometry of making the flat surface into a moses-basket-shaped doll bed.  I think I might need some pentagons, so I might create those this weekend and try that out.

I give up

I’ve been using movable type for many years, but I give up. It’s so hard to manage when something goes wrong, and I’ve just decided to go with wordpress instead. I give up a few things that I wasn’t really using much anyway, so whatever. I did the upgrade while watching the 10 o’clock news, before sports started. Slightly easier, no?

So anyway, things might look less complete over the next while, as I make sure everything is migrated properly.  And until I find a theme I like or make myself one.

Purplicious Present


It was Ms. A’s fifth birthday this week, and we celebrated a week ago down in San Diego at a great park that had an amazing view of the area.

The theme of the party was Purplicious, which is a book that Ms. A is fond of. 


At least, that’s what it said on the invite.  When we got there it was more princess-y in theme, but still all purple


So, for a few weeks, I thought of what to make.  Since I knew purple was a must, I asked what Ms. A’s other favorite color was so that I could have another color to work with.  That was pink, which I had for the sashing, so that worked out well. 

Every few weeks, La La and I would go to the fabric store and pick out some purple fabric. La La would ask to pick out a purple each time we went, and I let her.  


I think she’ll be confused when she figures out that fabric is not called purple, but is called fabric. 


I found out that Ms. A still loves her doll that I made her for xmas, and had given the doll her own name.  I decided a quilt would be a fun gift for the doll, and felt Ms. A out with questions about whether her doll had a bed or not, or a pillow. 


I had a lot of fun coming up with the pattern for this.  Each square is 2″x2″, with a 1.5″ x 2″ purple piece in the center of each block.  It took me a while to figure out the dimensions with some graph paper.


I used a premade binding for the edge, and one of La La’s flannel receiving blankets for the batting.  (They shrink so much after the first washing that they aren’t much use after a couple of months anyway.)



Then I made the pillow and pillow case too.  I just love how cute they are!



Here’s the top.




And the bottom.  Ms. A likes guitars, so it worked for me. 

The label says:  For Ms. A on her purplicious fifth birthday (with a doodle of a cupcake) From me 2010.

Best news is, I got an MMS the next day from Ms. A’s dad showing the quilt under 2 of Ms. A’s new Barbies.  Pretty good deal, if she trusts her new Barbies with her new quilt. 


My next projects are a siggy quilt swap, which is 101 squares with my name and city on them, to be exchanged with 100 other people, to make a cool quilt and maybe some new friends in the world. 

The second is a quilt for La La, from a pattern I bought from Carolina Patchworks.  But, as I do, the pattern calls for five fabrics, but I’m going to use sixteen – at least one each from this fabric line

I’m really excited for both projects. 

Other overdue post

I also promised a post of the sweaters I’ve made for La La in the past year.  I’ve made 3 and have started on a pair of mittens and a new hat but I have til next winter to finish those.  She actually picked out the yarn for the hat and mittens (and scarf if there is enough).  She picked purple Encore, which should work out OK since it’s washable and her favorite color is purple!

The first sweater I made for her is this one, in a marled Cotton Fleece in a Raspberry/Pink colorway. 

I was itching to do something with a crochet collar and so this is what I came up with. 


I didn’t have a pattern, and for everything but the sleeves, I think it worked out OK.  For the sleeves, I decided to pick up and knit down, and there are some areas where I don’t like the way the increases look.


But otherwise, I think it’s OK.  For the crochet part, I just measured around the opening and picked a motif out of a book that had a repeat that would fit in space I needed.  I then centered it and attached it to the inside edges.  I like the yarn, but I think the idea that I had would have worked better in wool than in cotton.  La La likes the sweater and often picks it when we ask her which sweater she wants to wear.


The next sweater I made is this one.


This was done a la Barbara Walker… from the top down.  It’s in KnitPicks Swish Bulky, a yarn that I really like.  I bought a few skeins that were on clearance and was bummed when I decided to make a sweater with it and the colors were all sold out.  I decided to call anyway and they were able to get me one more skein of the purple, so I went on with the sweater and used the purple for the cuffs and collar. 


I did make a swatch, and despite my measuring and working from the top down, the sweater is still to big for La La, so she will grow into it.  I thought that would happen, so I made the cuffs extra long so that they would roll up in the beginning, then could be unrolled as she got taller. 

I still need to put the buttons on.  La La picked them out at JoAnn’s.  I’m not kidding – she was only 10 months old but she picked out the buttons, in fact I didn’t even see them until she pointed them out.  They are little purple flowers. 


The final sweater I made was for her Halloween costume. 

For many, many months, her favorite animal has been the Lion, so it was a natural pick to make her a Lion sweater for Halloween. 



I started with a basic sweater pattern, added a hood, ears, tail, and foldover mittens that could be buttoned open since she’d be wearing it to school and would need to eat, color, etc with her hands. 


I had the hardest time trying to figure out the mane. I scoured my knitting books, knowing that I’d seen this stitch somewhere that left loops on the front of the work.  I couldn’t find it anywhere and was starting to think I was crazy.  I even looked through my harmony crochet guides, thinking maybe it was not a knitting pattern at all, but still nothing could be found. 


So then I turned to Google, and after much searching, I finally found something that looked perfect on Knitty.  There was a pattern for a knitted lion washcloth that was really cute and had a lion face in the middle with a mane all around.  This wasn’t the place I saw the original loopy stitch, but it worked perfectly for the mane and the end of the tail. 

Again, I used KnitPicks Swish, but this time in worsted weight.  This is a really good washable yarn and I’ve been happy with it for everything I’ve used it in. 

She wore the sweater to school and on Halloween, and seemed to love it.  She would put up her paws and RAWR!! and roar on cue.   She wouldn’t let me paint her face though, so she only got some semi-decent whiskers and nose. 

At school, they had a costume parade.  First they wheeled out cribs filled with the infants.  Next was the toddler room, which is where La La is.  Some kids walked out holding onto a rope, and the kids who wander were in wagons.  You can guess where La La was… she takes after her mother with the looking at everything she passes. 


When her wagon was facing where I was sitting at the perimeter of the play yard, she saw me and wanted to be with me and so she started crying.  This was only a few weeks after her transition to the toddler room, so she was still upset in the mornings when we dropped her off.  So, I picked her up and we sat and watched the rest of the parade, and then went to visit with her friend NickNick and his parents. 

After the parade, I took her back to her classroom and had a long tearful goodbye.  That’s always the hardest part of leaving her.  Most days she’s fine, but once in a whil
e, even now, she doesn’t want us to drop her off and she whines or actually cries.  


Here she is waiting for the trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, dressed in her PJs and her Lion sweater. 

All you need is love… and hippos


That’s what I wrote on the label for this quilt I just made… my first!

There is a new baby on the way for one of my Stitch n’ Beach girlfriends.

I started with a Jelly Roll of fabric from I think 2009 or 08 called “All you need is love”.  It was red, pink, and white, with some brown and a great green that just pops!


There are polka dots, stripes, hearts and lots of Love Love Love.  Very girly for the girl on the way. 


I was inspired by this pattern, which means, I read that pattern, and went and did my own thing.  I’m happy with the result.  (Do you love my giant red corkboard wall?  yeah, me too.  ahem.) 

It’s backed with the red hippos from IKEA. 


I don’t know what it is about this fabric that I love so much, but I do.  I have a pillow and duvet cover in the green hippos for La La’s crib and  I bought some more of the fabric because eventually she will outgrow her crib and I want to keep the fabric around. 

I quilted in straight lines, (uh, mostly) on the diagonal.  I started without a walking foot and then realized it would be better to get one and it made the rest of the lines much easier. 

I machine stitched the binding to the front, and hand stitched the back and even mitered the corners.  I got some advice from fellow SnB gal Carole who is an expert quilter, and I’m so glad I asked because what she showed me looked so much nicer than what I was trying to do at first. 

I started working on this quilt in February at the LA Modern Quilt Guild‘s Sewing Saturday.  They have a space where we can spend almost the whole day with great light, a great space and everyone brings their work, their machines, a few irons, ironing boards, cutting mats and rulers and everyone shared tools and advice and I had such a great time that I want to go back in March, but may have to wait for April. 

Just like my local SnB, there were women of all ages and skill levels, and even a few men.  I wish I could join the guild but will never be able to make it to a meeting, as they meet on Monday nights and getting around LA after work is not on my list of fun things to do.  I might join anyway, just to get in on these great Weekend Sews. 


I am so looking forward to meeting the recipient of this quilt.  She’s due in a month.

I didn’t get to stay at the baby shower Wednesday night because we’ve got the plague at casa adnohr right now.  Mom, Dad, and La La all have conjunctivitis, Mom also has an ear infection and laryngitis, and Dad has an ear infection and bronchitis.  We spent the day yesterday sanitizing the house because this needs to get out!!!  We are still coughing til we’re dizzy and are just miserable. 

I am really bummed because some of the women that don’t come on a regular basis always come for a special occasion, and I didn’t get to see them.  I just ran in, gave momma the gift and left.  I felt really bad, but didn’t want to make anyone else sick, this is no fun.  Especially momma who wouldn’t be able to take the good antibiotics to kill the bugs. 

But I’m really happy I was able to complete this in time for the shower.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to start on the next project.  It’s either going to be a quilt, some more doll clothes, or a really cute book for La La.  I’ll describe that later, once I iron out the details. 

ETA:  I forgot about Sew & Tell.  I wanted to link this up so I’ve added this line so you can see what others are sewing and sharing too!

Long overdue Christmas update (photo heavy)

I mentioned I’d update after Christmas with the presents I made for my daughter and her cousins. 

I’m finally getting around to it. 

Some shoes:  DSC_2266

Some bodies:  DSC_2267

Some clothes:  DSC_2268 

Some more:  DSC_2270 DSC_2271 DSC_2272 DSC_2273 DSC_2274 DSC_2275  DSC_2277 DSC_2278

All for these little guys and gals: 


 DSC_2302 DSC_2303 DSC_2304   DSC_2307 DSC_2308

Green eyes for La La:


DSC_2310 DSC_2311

Special violet eyes for Ms. A. 


Brother and sister pairs:




The boy cousins:


The girl cousins:


The pattern is from Wee Wonderfuls, called Kit, Chloe and Louise.

But the pattern is for three girl dolls, which was fine, but I also needed two boy dolls.  Yikes!  How do I do the boys hair? 

I struggled with it for a few hours, then came up with this idea: 


I made 2" wide strips of cardboard and wrapped the yarn the short way around.  Then I sewed up the middle and used that line of stitching to anchor the hair to the top of their heads.  Whew!  I think it looks pretty good for a hack.  DSC_2305

Then I needed some clothes for the boy dolls.  The shirts were ok, I just used one of the girl shirts in boyish fabric. 


And then I needed some pants.  And shorts.  I used up quite a bit of muslin making test pairs, and finally came up with a decent pants pattern, which I then shortened for shorts.  Pretty nice!

If I sound a bit proud of myself, I am.  I haven’t really sewn in 20 years, since home ec in middle school, really.  And while I was doing this project, which I started Nov 1 and finished on Dec 26th(!!!) I realized I really enjoy sewing and want to get back into it.

I bought a new sewing machine just before starting because I thought I needed an update from my old Kenmore.  I picked up an (relatively) inexpensive Brother from Costco.  Great price, great machine and it was perfect.  And I gifted the old machine to Ms. A’s mom, who was in need of a new machine since hers broke and she has a little girl in need of doll clothes!

I also bid on and was able to get a pattern to make clothes for my daughter’s Groovy Girls dolls, which is pretty cools because Ms. A has some of them too, and I can try that for birthdays and such until they outgrow them. 

The pattern for these dolls was well written, although there were a few mistakes that I fixed along the way.  And also, I wanted to make dresses for all the dolls but just couldn’t wrap my head around the instructions for the pintucks and ran out of time before Christmas.  So I ended up with two outfits for each doll instead of three for the girl dolls.   The girls got undersuits but the boys didn’t, since the girls were in dresses and the boys had shorts or pants. 

I would definitely recommend the pattern if you are looking for a really cute ragdoll.  My daughter plays with her quite a lot, which surprised me because she wasn’t really into dolls for a long time.  She calls the doll "baby". 

I used assorted fabrics that I don’t even know the names of, I just bought stuff online that looked cute.  The hair though, was great.  It’s a tonal ombre from Lamb’s Pride and it really gave a great hair effect, I thought. 

So there it is, the long overdue update.  Up next, the next sewing project. 

The new To Do list

Love this!  Just might be the project for my Amy Butler Love. 
Or this.  Or this
And I absolutely have to make a few of these so I have a place for my fabric.  I especially like this version, which is really simple and clean. 

I know, no yarn, right?  Well, I’m taking a break, but will surely knit again soon.  It’s just difficult to knit when a little someone is always grabbing the needles out of a project, or is pulling the needle off the cable leaving me with useless circular needle.  You know. 

As the days get longer, I’ll have some light in the crafty room/office and will enjoy sewing after La La goes down for the night. 

Now that things are working again, I’ve got a few sweaters to show you that I made in 2009.  All for La La of course.  And a little sewing project I did for Christmas. 

In reality, I may make a little doll quilt or two before I dive in on a human sized one.  Not the sewing I’m worried about, but the quilting, since I’ve never done it before. 

And can I just say bah! to the Zemanta thingy that is suggesting photos of cats just because I typed the word knitting!  Not all of us knitters have cats, or even like them, Zemanta!

Moving house

I’ve moved to a new web host in the hopes of getting this thing going again.  You’ll notice that all the links to photos are bad, this is just temporary until I get everything moved over from the old host.  Please hold on!