Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nine Happy Years

Michael and I just celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary.  (And by "just" I mean two busy months ago, oh well.)  We have held up the tradition every year of giving each other the traditional wedding gifts.  Mainly this originated because I found this great book, The Bride's Book, before we were married and it had the list of gifts in the back.  It has been fun to think up creative gifts for each other, as well as fill in the blanks through the years. 

This year the suggested gift was willow.  What a weird category.  The only thing we could think of at first that was made from willow was a basket, and that seemed pretty boring.  Maybe if we owned a house we could have planted a willow tree, but I'm sure we couldn't fit one on our apartment balcony. 

Then I was stuck by inspiration when I was at The Tattered Cover in downtown Denver with Colleen and Katie.  One of Michael's favorite books is The Wind and the Willows.  I knew we already owned 2 copies of the book, so it seemed redundant to buy another.  However, I did find a DVD version of the old TV show.  I didn't even know that the show existed.  So this was a perfect find. 

Michael and I have watched a little bit of it and it's quite amusing.  Michael loves it whenever woodland creatures dress up in proper attire and speak in British accents, so it was really a perfect gift.  However, as great a gift that it was to give, it could not compare with the AWESOME present that Michael gave me.  He found a giant metal willow tree to hang on the wall. 

I love it!

We hung it up in our bedroom.  Our apartment is quite cutely decorated but the bedroom walls were pretty boring.  Now I think it looks so fun in there. 

Yay for fun presents and nine happy years.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thrifty crafty sister

Hello folks, I was chatting with my sister Emily and she volunteered to write a blog post for me.  I thought this was a great idea, especially since I've been crazy busy lately.  So, here she is, in all her thrifty goodness:


As Karen has mentioned, Henry is the newest addition to our family.  As with all babies, this has meant an addition of stuff to the household as well--like this cute giraffe!

I love this because not only is it cute, but, unlike a lot of things that Henry owns and couldn't care less about, he is actually really amused by it.  It plays "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and helps him stay happy during "Tummy Time." 

The other night, I had just put Henry down to sleep in his crib and came downstairs.  I heard the faint chiming of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from the back of the house.  That's weird, I thought to myself.  And then it all clicked: Reuben!  Reuben is the former latest addition to our household, my husband's hunting dog. 

We had left the giraffe on Henry's playmat on the rug and Reuben had stealthily swiped it!  I called Reuben and he came trotting up, looking pleased with the giraffe in his mouth.  He obediently turned it over when commanded, and I inspected the damages.

Oh no!  My husband and I decide that the poor giraffe should not be earless or hornless, so I start scrounging for scraps.  I didn't want to take the time and money to go to the fabric store, so I was hoping to find free materials that would be a good enough match for color and texture.

I ended up finding different items in the house to "borrow" replacement parts from.  The horn was the easiest match.  It looked very similar to the cover on my body pillow.  I turned the case inside out, found the fattest seam portion, and started snipping.  I cut out enough for a horn and zig-zag stiched along to the cut to make sure it wouldn't unravel.  Once the case was turned right-side-out again, you couldn't tell any change had been made.

For the ear, I looked at a variety of washcloths and bibs.  The orange washcloth had been a gift from my Grandma to use when traveling for taking off make-up without worrying about staining someone's guest towels.  I didn't mind altering it since it wasn't a part of a set that we regularly used for ourselves or guests.  The best color match for the back of the ear came from a cheap bib.  I was also able to cut a portion and still keep the useable function of the bib.  After I swiped my chunks from each, I sewed up the lose ends to keep them from unraveling.  Ideally I wouldn't have altered the look of any of the "parts" pieces, but as I couldn't avoid it, I was willing to change the bib and washcoth as I valued the giraffe a lot more than either of those items. 

Now it was time to work the magic.   Truth be told, Henry didn't really care that his giraffe was missing an ear.  He still liked it.

I sewed most of the ear on the machine.  For the handsewn portion, I was able to use some thread that Reuben had... er... loved at an earlier date.  Now that's thrifty!

I attached the ear, and Henry decided that he REALLY didn't care, so we took a break to nurse, get the oil changed, and use my "$10 off a purchase of $10 or more" coupon at JC Penny--I love when those come in the mail!

Back to business!  I hand-sewed the horn, attached it, and voila!  Giraffe makeover complete!

I thought it looked pretty good.  Henry was happy, too!  Success!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Henry's Quilt

I was really thrilled to make a quilt for my sister and her baby, Henry. I have made a number of quilts in the past, but for me personally, this was probably the most important quilt I've made.  If you paid any attention at all to my previous posts, you could figure out that Henry was born about a month after my baby was due to be born.  This was a time of truly mixed emotion for me, and probably still is to be quite honest.  I am so very thankful and feel so very blessed to have quilting in my life.  It allowed me to pour all the love that I have for my sister and for Henry into the quilt, when I was having such trouble expressing it in other areas. 

Did you have to stop reading for a moment and find a kleenex?  Me too.  Man, between this and the Harry Potter finale, I might never have a dry eye again.

Let's move on to the fun stuff, the quilt.  Yay! 

When I lived in Saratoga I made this fun quilt for myself.  I bought the kit for it at the San Diego quilt show and it was one of the first "real" quilts that I ever made.  I had such fun putting it together and I loved how it looked when it was finished.  I love all the randomness of the blocks.  Ever since then, I have always wanted to take a part of the pattern and make it into a baby quilt.  When I heard that baby Menz was on the way I knew he would be the perfect recipient. 

Emily did a lot of cute things putting together Henry's nursery.  With the help of my mom she made the bed skirt, curtains, rocking chair covers, and pillows (for the chair, not the crib).  Most of the fabric she used had been given to her by her mother-in-law, after she'd made a dress for Emily's niece.   I asked her to send me all the extra fabric.  (P.S.  Another thing I love about quilts is that the fabric itself often holds so many stories.)

When if finally arrived, I was so excited I started the quilt the very next day.  Luckily, I had the day off from work so I could spend the whole day working on it. Mr. Paws of course felt the need to help me with it, nothing new there.

I actually finished piecing the top that night.  I figured I was making good time since I wasn't leaving for Michigan for about 3 more weeks.  Sadly, my mom called a few days later with the news that my uncle had died.  (It's really sad folks, but I've used up my sad quota for this post already so I'm not going to expound.)  Anyhoo, instead of 3 weeks I now had 2 days to finish the quilt.  Lucky for me I work at a sewing store.  So, after working with a quilter all day, I threw Henry's quilt on Bella (our long arm quilter) and did the quilting, connecting the pieced top with the batting and backing.  The backing was a sweet piece of ticking fabric that my friend Debby gave me that had belonged to her grandmother.  I took the newly quilted quilt it to Bible study that night so I could work on pulling out all the basting stitches.  I was very tickled to see that my friend Dan was wearing a shirt made of the same exact fabric as the backing.  I have no idea why but it made me really happy.

Two days later, I sat in the airport, sewing on the binding as I waited for my flight.  (I'm so glad TSA didn't confiscate my needle.)  I finally finished it when I was in Michigan and here is is: 

I love it!  Here's a closer view of some of the blocks.

I love this piece from a striped shirt.  I found it in a scrap bin from Mama Said Sew.  I really like including unexpected pieces of fabric into quilts. 

Here is some fabric from The Sewing Circle (best job ever) and some leftover from the original pink quilt.

The little flowered piece in the nine patch was also from a fabric swap at Mama Said Sew.  I probably wouldn't normally have included that design in a boy's quilt, but finding this fabric was a super great score.  My mom had made Emily and me a baby dress and doll bedding from this same material.  It seemed fitting to include it in Henry's quilt.

This plaid piece was from my (great) Grandma Goggy's stash.  I thought it was so cool to incorporate some of her fabric. 

My friend Glenda from work was awesome enough to machine embroider a label for the back for me.

Here is Henry's already cute, pre-quilt nursery.  

Here it is after.  

I love it!

And here is the proud quilt owner himself.  Now, who wouldn't want to make a quilt for this cute little guy.  One sweet quilt = lots of love to Henry from his Auntie Karen.