Monday, February 18, 2013

Art-Bombed: A Little Sewing Machine Art from Little Miss

Little Miss is constantly drawing.  CONSTANTLY.

You think your 5 year old draws a lot?  I'm sure they do.

But not as much as she does.  Mama brain has replaced my memories with mostly fuzz, but I'm *pretty sure* she was born with 10 toes, 10 fingers, and a pen in her hand.

She likes to work on something in secret and then just drop it on me and run.  The other day she art-bombed this guy on me:

Mommy's Sewing Machine
I love the sounds it's making.

I added it to all of the other sewing pictures she's made for me in the past.  I've got quite a nice little collection going. 

Here's another one she did for me around the time I finished up my patchwork closet curtain for my sewing room:
Mommy & Her Sewing Machine

You gotta hand it to her.  Girl knows what I like!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Easing into Some New Skills - A Little Birdy Pillow

With 3 little kids around who require so much of my time and energy I have hesitated to set any actual creative goals for 2013.  I'd rather accomplish some stuff and celebrate it rather than look back at my list come January 2014 and see all that I wasn't able to get to.  With that being said, there are a few things that I've put in the back of my brain that I really would like to do this year.  These are loose creative wishes . . . don't hold me to them.

  1. Finish up some WIPs - - namely, 2 quilt tops that are completely put together that need to be actually made into completed quilts.
  2. Join another quilting bee.
  3. Work on my embroidery/hand sewing skills.
  4. Make a few cute dresses for Kiwi to wear this summer.
  5. Figure out what design would work for my needs and make myself a new purse.
  6. Sew up a few different table runners to spruce up my dining room table.
  7. Stitch up some new pillow covers for our couch.
  8. Make Little Miss a new quilt for her bed and some new curtains for her room.
  9. Crack into my growing stash of sewing books and actually make some of the stuff in there.
  10. And last but not least . . . USE WHAT I HAVE.  This doesn't mean I am going on a complete spending embargo, but I would like to work on getting creative as much as I can with the resources I already have.  It's starting to feel like a beautiful hoard in the sewing room.
While some of these things are going to be pretty quick projects (pillow cases take like 0.2 seconds to make, but I haven't figured out my fabric direction yet), some will involve a lot more time and mental energy.  For instance, in the case of my quilt tops that are sitting in a drawer - - I'm hoping my recent glee over finally putting together Kiwi's baby quilt will spur me on to finish the others.  In the case of #3, it's really vague so it's not immediately apparent how I will get that one accomplished.

I've blogged before on my love of fiber art.  This includes mixed media pieces as well as just seriously wicked embroidery.  It fascinates me, which is why I'd love to try some more of it.  I don't want to bite off more than I can chew on it though so I've kept it really easy so far.  I started with my little Works of Peace fiber art piece, and last month I finished up a little pillow that is currently living in my sewing room:
Bird and Flowers Pillow

Let's not get too excitable.  I used a kit I found at JoAnn . . . it was a $16 kit that was mismarked for $3.  I kind of *had* to get it.  ;)

Someday I'll do projects where I make up my own designs.
Bird Embroidery Detail

But right now I'm just focusing on technique.
Flower Embroidery Detail

I think I finally have french knots down!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Frankensteining . . . and a Vintage Sheet Baby Quilt

The other day I attempted to take a few pictures of my sewing room.  It has been 10 months since the sewing stuff was relocated to the large bedroom downstairs, and I've never properly documented it.  The problem is that the lighting sucks this time of year so the pictures I've been taking are less than stellar.  Spending a bit of extra time in there recently did, however, draw my attention to something in the room that needed to be addressed.


Design Wall
The batting situation needs to be addressed now that my "wall" is bigger . . . but that's not what I'm talking about.

Yes - - this is my design wall, filled to the gills with blocks from Bee Vintage (my last quilting bee which ended in 2011).  While they are cheery and fun and pretty up the space, it was making me a bit said that they were not fulfilling their ultimate purpose in life.  Which, you know, was to BE A QUILT.

So I made a quick decision.  Right there.  After over a year of staring at them I made a "quick" decision - ahem.  I started pulling them all off the wall like a mad woman and trimming them up so they were uniform.  Then I quickly walked my fingers through my fabric shelves and pulled out a pale pink piece of cotton.  I say "piece" in a very literal way.  I have no idea where it came from, but clearly it was left over from some other project.  And there was very little left on my little makeshift "bolt".

No matter!

We're not over-analyzing this whole thing anymore, remember?  I eyed it up briefly and decided I would "make it work" by just making the sashing pretty minimal, and if necessary cut and sew pieces together if they were not long enough.  I decided that I wanted to keep 3 of the blocks out for this project so I could make a smaller quilt for Kiwi's bed.  I had yet to make this little girl anything other than a stocking so it was high time.  I cut 1 inch strips from my little scrap piece of fabric and worked quickly adding them to the blocks lest I take my time and start thinking too hard about what I was doing.  If you'll recall the blocks have all been made by various members of Bee Vintage and though I love them all, they were not completely uniform.  Some of them ended up having better points after being sashed, some not so much.  This doesn't bother me at all.  These blocks looks so wonderful and sweet together . . . they are just perfect for Kiwi who is a very laid back and easy going little girl.

This was all I had left over after the sashing was done:
Scrap Pile
To give you some perspective, the largest width represented here is only a few inches!

I had a special sheet that I thrifted awhile back waiting to become the back of a quilt . . . I cut into it without hesitation:
Despite the lighting making it appear yellow, it's actually a nice bright white with some dainty little pink flowers strewn about.

Keeping with my unofficial anthem of 2013 (USE WHAT YOU HAVE - - for real . . . MAKE IT DO!) I dipped into my bin of batting fabrics and came up with a piece that was long enough, but not wide enough for the quilt.  Not to be deterred, I cut the appropriate width and then used the leftover remnants to frankenstein the pieces together to get one large-enough piece of batting.

You do know how easy this is to do, right?  You take your pieces like this (I swear this is so forgiving your edges don't even need to be perfectly straight):
Batting Pieces 1
These pieces are straight because I drew them in MS Paint (you're welcome).  My actual pieces were kind of wonky and I didn't bother trimming them.  It was fine.

butt them up together where you need to join them:
Batting Pieces 2
If you've got several smaller pieces to join to match a larger strip, do those first.

and then just zig zag right over the center there:
Batting Pieces 3
MS Paint FTW!

NO ONE WILL BE THE WISER.  This is the sewing equivalent of that old saying, "what goes on in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen."  Or for the non-cooking set, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."  Seriously, it's a piece of batting that is destined to be sandwiched between the quilt top and the backing.  No one is going to see it, and I assure you it will not change the feel of the quilt when it's done.
Kiwi's Vintage Sheet Baby Quilt

I hesitated slightly when it came to binding, but in the end decided I didn't want to fuss with it too much and just cut the backing a bit larger so that I could fold the edges around to the front and bind it up that way.  I think it would have looked cute with a green binding that would have played off of some of the squares, but I didn't have one on hand that went well, so I just let it be what it was.  Remember - - MAKING IT DO!
Quilting Detail

No one has ever accused me of being a great quilter, but I think the quilting turned out kinda fun.  I did a simple box in the center of each block and then shadowed the innermost "star" on the outside by a presser foot width.  It gives the back a little bit of interest this way too.  I haven't washed it yet, but it's already super soft . . . working something up in old sheets will do that for you.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the remaining blocks yet . . . I'm thinking maybe throw pillows for the girls' room?  We shall see.

In any event, it feels good to bring this project to a close.  Not to mention the fact that I now have a blank wall to work with!  Makes me feel better about moving forward on other blanket-y projects now that this one is completed.  Of course, I do have 2 more quilt tops sitting in a drawer waiting to be finished off once and for all . . . :P

Anyone finally getting around to some WIPs?  Tis the season.


Better Off Thread

Linking up with some great parties RIGHT HERE.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

And the Stockings Were Hung - Finally

At my friend, Jane's, encouragement I'm sharing a post with you that I started sometime in December.  I doubt most people will be interested in Christmas projects anymore since, you know, it's February and all.  Nevertheless, it was a nearly completed post and I wanted to toss it out there to put it to bed.  Here she blows:

Being that this is Kiwi's first Christmas, baby girl needed a stocking.  And I couldn't just *buy* her one.  I made stockings for Little Miss and Kee-ku in 2009, and I was determined that Kiwi wasn't going to get the shaft just for being the 3rd born.  The problem is, the other two have stockings that match.  I used the free elf stitchette pattern from Wee Wonderfuls and made up the construction of the stockings (I just looked inside them - dang, but if they aren't kind of a hot mess of construction I don't know what is).  Luckily you can't tell unless you get up close and look into the top (which, who does that?!):

As much as I have loved putting up those stockings every year, they always bothered me because I made the sock part a little too narrow at the top and it was hard to get much in there.  We're pretty minimalist Christmas gifters around here (it's a philosophical as well as an economic choice), but when I can barely shove even a few little cookies and a juice box down in there it feels kind of lame.

I suppose I could have just done a replica of the girl elf for Kiwi and called it a day, but I just didn't want to.  Because I like to make things complicated.  :P  I still wanted hers to go with theirs, so I figured out a solution.  And it included me yoinking the stockings I had already made for the older two and adopting them for Mr. Skooks and I.

Believe me - - this was not the easiest thing to do . . . LM was apparently a lot more attached to her stocking than I realized.  However, when I presented my new idea to her and after she had a few days to think it over (you think I'm kidding, but this was a process), we were off.  [Ditching the stockings that Mr. Skooks and I have had for the last several years was no big deal.  They are very nice, but I bought them at Target so they're not terribly sentimental.]

Wanting to keep things in the same family and keep all 3 of the new stockings similar (you see how I made that more complicated . . . making THREE new stockings instead of just making ONE new one for Kiwi??), I picked up another pattern from Wee Wonderfuls.  It's called the "Christmas Wishes" Stitchette:

LM came 'round to my side because I promised her that she could pick whatever combination of hair, bedding, and sweet dreams she wanted (there are 8 designs included with the pattern).  Choices thrill her, so here's what she picked:
Stocking 1 - for LM

Kee-ku got to pick his too.  He was not nearly so particular (which, he is 3 . . . no big shock there).  He loves trains, particularly "Thomas Friends" (as he calls them), so despite the other fun options (sock monkey, dinosaur, robot, etc) that is what he picked:
Stocking 2 - for Kee-ku

LM decided for Kiwi what would be best . . . once again this was mix and match from the patterns.  :)  I like the way it came together.  This photo isn't the best . . . the sun is shining through the stocking so you can see a little of the liner fabric I used (some patterned Christmas fabric with some mod trees on it):
Stocking 3 - for Kiwi

Considering that I have a lot more experience NOW than I did when I made those first 2 stockings 3 years ago, the actual construction of said socks turned out much better this time.  If you want to make some simple cuffed stockings there is a very straightforward tutorial on it right here.
Stockings Hung

Whew.  I said I would do it, and I did.  I finished them with a week to spare!  Not saying we will or will not have more kids someday, but if'n we do I've got patterns at the ready.  ;)

Do you use handmade stockings, or do you rock store bought?


Friday, February 1, 2013

The 2012 Creative Year in Review

Starting to post in a new year is always difficult without putting some sort of ending on the last year.  In fact, I still have posts sitting in the queue (unfinished) from CHRISTMAS making.  Does anyone still want to hear about those things anymore . . . or have we all moved onto Easter already?  Anyway . . . I want to get this show on the road, but we need a little wrap-me-up.

So, without further ado*, here it is . . . the Skooks' Playground 2012 Year in Review!

Toy Sewing Machine Shelf

  1. A massive haul of Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric, a slice of Heather Ross Mendocino, and a sweet print from my friend, Sarah.
  2. A few new toy sewing machine to add to my collection:
    1. My McCall's Toy Sewing Machine
    2. Sew-ette Toy Sewing Machine
    3. Holly Hobby Toy Sewing Machine
  3. Some more fabric I meant to make into pillows but then never did.  Should revisit this . . .
Pinky Charms

  1. A few charms via The Charming Travelers swap
Fancy Bow Clutches - all in a row

  1. Button Heart Clutch with Removable Wrist Strap - - nevermind that I made it years ago.
  2. A whole mess of fancy clutch purses.  Ok, 5.  Which felt like 50. 
  1. ME!  I still have no idea how this happened, but it was the most annoying thing and it sapped my blogging fervor quite a bit.
  1. HOSTED: None.  BOOOOO.
  2. WON:
    1. The August Finishes Giveaway from Such a Sew and Sew . . . a Kate Spain layer cake!
    2. On Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day I won a really sweet art quilt kit and photo holder from Believe Magic.  I'll have to blog about that sometime.  I haven't dug into it yet, but it was packed with lots of cool stuff.
Office Revamp

  1. THE SEWING ROOM!  Downstairs.  To a bigger room WITH A CLOSET.  This was epic.  And I haven't even shown it to you yet!
  2. As part of the sewing room moving, the office space got relocated to the landing upstairs.  I actually *just* totally threw away and reorganized all the paper and clutter here *yesterday*.  This work never ends I tell ya.
  1. The hutch in the sewing room.  Again.  Don't worry.  I just changed it again last week.
  2. I organized a bunch more stuff in my sewing room, but haven't taken time to document it yet.  The lack of sunshine here makes for some really deplorably bad photos so I'm holding off to try to do it justice.
Books Reviewed:
  1. 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips by Deepika Prakash
  2. Not formally, but a prelim review of All Sewn Up by Chloe Owens was done here.  Aaaand, I bought it with some Christmas gift card money so an actual review is forthcoming.  :)
Sewing Notions Reviewed (You can check out all the "Tools of the Trade" posts I've done since this blog's inception right here):

4 Things Friday:
I was Nominated:
  • Somehow . . . for Rik Rak Studio's Favorite Blog with a Handmaking Focus.  I was absolutely nowhere close to winning, but my inner self who wonders if anyone actually reads this blog anymore got all glad about the 2 sweet people who found my blog worthy of such a thought.   And no - neither of them were my mom.  Double WOW!
I was Featured:

I Made Some Treasuries:
  1. A Sewing Machine Gallery - - in case looking at your own machine isn't enough . . . and you want to hang pictures of sewing machines everywhere.  Like I do.
  2. Stop Trying to Sell Me Crap - - I've had it up to here (UP TO HERE, I tell ya) with all the solicitors knocking on my door and waking up my babies.  This was my way of making a silent stand.  When that didn't keep them away, I bought this sign and haven't had any problems since.
  3. I Love My Kiwi - - I do.  She's the sweetest little girl I ever did see.
And as is the custom (apparently) . . . The Down and Dirty Projects Completed 2012 Stat Sheet:
1. Fresh Flowers Contemporary Table Runner, 2. Cork Board Makeover, 3. Chair - Phase 2, 4. Embroidered Family Handprints, 5. Daisy Chain Changing Pad Cover, 6. Pop Daisy Ironing Board, 7. Serger Cover 2, 8. Pink Owl Lunchbox, 9. Sewing Room Curtain - Detail 2, 10. Flower Canopy - Finished, 11. She Loves Her Lunchbox, 12. Mother Teresa quote, 13. Knuffle Bunny with Book
  1. Quilts/Blankets: NONE.  Can you believe this???  Me neither.  Apparently 2012 was the year of "I want to make this cool quilt so much that I will actually never even start it".  (Case in point:  Here was my first idea for the Happy Mochi Yum Yum - - the Oh My Stars quilt-along)
  2. Clothing:
    1. Not from scratch, but I did hem a tie this year.  I know, weird.
    2. Do masks count as clothing?  Because I made a bunch for my niece.
    3. L.M. wanted to be Trixie (a la Knuffle Bunny) for Book Day this year.  So I made quick work of assembling a Trixie Costume.
  3.  Softies:
    1. Knuffle Bunny, LM's accessory for Halloween this year.
  4. Christmas Decor:
    1. Ornaments for LM and Kee-ku.
    2. And Kiwi.
    3. A lone wise man.  Apparently the other 2 didn't get the memo.
    4. A felt PEACE banner that I never got around to blogging about.
    5. 3 new Christmas stockings for the kids . . . never blogged that one either even though I was very pleased with how they turned out. (edited: the post is up!)
  5. Home Decor:
    1. Something bright for my awesome mother-in-law: Fresh Floral Contemporary Table Runner 
    2. I gave the corkboard that lives over my desk a little refreshment.  It's now serving as a backdrop for some treasured family photos.
    3. The cushions on my old porch chairs got a facelift.  Hopefully this spring I can actually finish the makeover and spray paint those bad boys to match the little table out on the porch.
    4. I made Kee-ku a headboard so he wouldn't push out the back of his cheap-o Ikea bed while he sleeps.  I cushed up his bedrails too . . . but ended up not using them.  Kid ends up sleeping on the floor with his face in the hallway half the time anyway.  Not to mention the fact that though they were once stable enough for Little Miss back in the day, they no longer seemed workable for Kee-ku's crazy active self.  Safety first, people.
    5. Family Hand Portrait - - I had to after Kiwi was born.
    6. A new cover for the changing table.  Because as cool as it is to know your little buns are touching the same pad as your siblings before you . . .
    7. Pop Daisy Ironing Board Cover - it was long overdue
    8. Serger Cover (apparently I just want to cover everything I own in fabric)
    9. A Breezy Patchwork Curtain to cover the door to my new sewing room closet.  It's like a bomb went off in there right now but with this dandy curtain no one is any the wiser.
    10. A Flower Canopy for Little Miss' bed.  Which she LOVED. 
    11. Some giant flowers on the wall for the girls' room.
    12. Works of Peace Fiber Art
    13. Re-imagined Message Board for my front entry way.  This has revolutionized my whole life.
  6. Bags:
    1. 5 - - yes, FIVE Fancy Bow Clutch Purses as a custom order for a friend who was getting married and needed special bridesmaid gifts.  
    2. A lunch bag for Little Miss now that she's in Kindergarten.  
    3. And yet ANOTHER lunch bag for LM . . . because the first one didn't hold enough stuff.  :P
    4. Ok - I didn't make this bag, but I did tweak LM's backpack so it would coordinate with her new lunch bag.
  7. Babies:
    1. One - - Kiwi.  She is the sweetest little girl on the planet.  I can't believe she is going to be 1 in a few months.   Considering the fact that I was pregnant with her at the beginning of the year, had her in May, and have been juggling life with 3 since, I can honestly say that I'm somewhat impressed that I had any finishes at all this year, let alone this many.  Go me!
Happy Craft-y New Year, everyone!  (February is the new "New Year", didn't ya know?)

*it's 'ADO' not 'ADIEU' . . . this is a typo I see constantly and it drives me a little bananas!

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