Monday, February 27, 2012

Finally a finish

I have been chugging along here, trying to keep my head down and SEW.  I am hand quilting my son's quilt (his first, at 2 years 3 months, can you believe it? I'm such a bad quilty mommy) and I do that at night when I'm sitting on the couch watching tv.  I have some birthday presents on deck that I need to get done soon - I have the fabric picked out, bought, washed and ready to go.  My friend Lesley's house-warming quilt is half quilted and waiting for the second half and binding.  But the sewing that I am most ashamed of? The CHRISTMAS gift for my friends' daughter.  See, when Christmas started sneaking up on me way back in November, my friend graciously said we could exchange our gifts after Christmas.  As I make most of our gifts, I was relieved and thought I would just finish up the first week of January.  Welllllllll, here we are sliding on into March and I just finished her daughter's present.  Embarrassing, right?  We won't even discuss the fact I haven't even started my friend's gift!  To be fair, we did talk about exchanging gifts in person, since they are flying here for a visit mid-March, so I guess I'm ahead of schedule, right?

Here is the backpack that I finished up just yesterday. I made it using this Toddler Backpack pattern from Made by Rae.  The fabric is Tula Pink's Parisville, both the outside and the lining.

This is the second time I've made this pattern, and it was definitely easier the second go-round.  Like the first time, I used Pellon Shape-flex interfacing (my favorite!) on the outer fabric to make it a little sturdier and added extra stiff sew-in on the bottom.

I used plastic buckles on the straps, instead of the metal D-rings I used before.  I think I actually like the look of the metal rings better, but the plastic ones look good, too, and are a little easier to use.

And of course I had to fill it with some goodies!  A book from our favorite series - Elephant and Piggie - and a cute little elephant friend.  This backpack is the perfect size and I love that Estella can carry around all of her treasures or mom can pack it with things to keep her busy on a trip.

I have got to make one for my own little munchkin!  Next, definitely next.

Anyway, I can finally scratch this off my list.  And everything I used came from my stash! Bonus!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Make the Bread

So I thought I'd be a little better at this whole posting frequently thing.  It definitely makes me appreciate the bloggers I read on a regular basis and not feel so disappointed when there's not a new post up!  I have been doing lots of sewing and knitting, but I'm afraid no finishes yet.  Got too many things going at once, I think I just need to focus on one and finish it!  I did get this book for my birthday from my husband.

I love it!  Part cookbook, part food journal, the author looks at the various foods and drinks we consume and asks whether they are better bought from the store or made at home.  She not only compares price, but also hassle and taste. Most are apparently best made at home, as you'd expect, but there are some surprises and a few things she recommends making once, just to have the experience. You also get several anecdotes about her attempts at suburban farming and numerous recipes - I plan on trying just about all of them.  I will never buy peanut butter again. Who knew it was so easy to make?

Gratuitous cute boy pictures - this guy has discovered he can eat an apple "like a big boy":

Now he's an apple fiend!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hand basting - hate it, love it

 I'm not sure where I stumbled across the link, but last fall I found this post on the blog One Piece at a Time. Now, I haven't been quilting for that long, but I thought I had figured the basics out. When it came time to baste my quilt, I always used curved safety pins. I had heard of spray basting but thought that sounded a little too messy and expensive; I tried hand basting in the traditional circular fashion, but found it too time consuming, without much improvement over pinning. But this - this was intriguing. I bookmarked this link right away - I wanted to try it, to see if this would be faster or better, or maybe even both. I used it for the first time on the quilt I made my mom for Christmas.

And I hated it.

It seemed to take forever, the thread I used was too small and it gave me bruises on my index finger and thumb.  T
o be fair, the quilt was twin sized and I was doing this about 3 days before Christmas. 

Major crunch time. 

But it kept the quilt sandwich together so well, I decided it deserved a second chance. So when it came time to baste the log cabin quilt I am currently working on for my friend Lesley, I tried it again. And you know what? I loved it. It was fast and it holds the quilt together beautifully. This time around, I used DMC pearle cotton, which I think made a big difference. I basted it in 2 sittings - just put on some tv episodes I needed to catch up on and away I went. I probably could have done it in one, but the nap is a fickle thing. 

The board thing is genius. Not only does it keep everything straight and manageable on the table, but it makes it easy to roll up and put to the side to work on later. I'm pretty sure this is the way I will be doing it from now on.

Let's hear it f
or second chances!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A little crafty history.

As usual, I have a ton of projects in various stages of completion here that I have yet to take pictures of. So I thought I might start by looking at what I've done so far. I guess it's kind of a cheat, since I already have pictures, but I also think its kind of fun to see the improvements.

First quilt

This is the first quilt I ever made. It was a gift for my best friend's daughter when she was born, and I think it turned out pretty well. Like most people who quilt, this first one was made before I discovered designer fabrics, from flannels and quilting fabrics from Joann's. The backing was a solid piece of fleece, which made the quilt heavy and warm, but kind of a pain to actually quilt. It got a ton of use, mainly as a play mat.

Liz's quilt

I know the quilt in this picture isn't finished, but this is my first designer fabric quilt. I used a layer cake of Rural Jardin from French General, and it was a Christmas present for my french-country-loving sister-in-law. This is a pattern from the book "Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts" and I can only claim sheer ignorance in trying a triangle pattern as my second quilt. I'm afraid there were many, MANY errors, but none glaring and she seemed to like it. In fact, it started her quilting, too!

Jack's blanket

And here is my first knitting project. Kind of ambitious to go straight to a blanket, but it actually was a very good place to start. An entire blanket entirely in garter stitch is fabulous for working out your tension and I learned color change as well. This was for my son when he was 3 months old and he still sleeps under it. The pattern is the Super Easy Baby Blanket by Purl Soho, and while I drooled over their yarn choice of Alchemy Temple, I ended up finding the perfect colors and washability in Spud and Chloe Sweater.

Well, there you go. my 3 major firsts. I've got lots more for show and tell, but hopefully I'll get some newer pictures in here soon!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A beginning.

Here is the post nobody ever reads on a blog - the very first one. But you've got to start somewhere, right? So, here goes.

My name is Beth. Hi! I am a stay-at-home mom to my super-busy, super-talkative 2 year old son. We recently moved to central Pennsylvania from New Mexico so my husband could become a professor of mechanical engineering. We lived in New Mexico for 7 years, and while there are a FEW things I miss, for the most part I am much happier on the east coast.

I used to be a veterinarian. Well, I still am a vet, I am just taking a bit of a break. It is a very long story involving an unhappy job experience - maybe I'll tell you about it sometime. For now, we'll just say that the moment I found out I was pregnant with my son, I knew I would be staying at home with him.

Like most SAHMs, I found myself in need of some hobbies to keep me sane. I've always enjoyed being creative, so its not a huge surprise that I pulled out the VERY basic Singer my mom gave me when I went to college and started trying to remember the home ec skills from middle school. Though I started with some pillows, I have been quilting for about 2 years now, and I am mainly self-taught from blogs and books. I think I do ok!  And though my grandmother taught me how to crochet at a very young age, I took a few knitting classes last year and have added that to the repertoire.

Why blog? I know there are already a ton of blogs written by people much more talented and personable than I. The main reason I decided to start blogging is that I already "think in blog"; that is, I find myself writing blog posts in my head while I'm working at the sewing machine or knitting needles. Pretty sad, right? I decided that actually writing blog posts would at least be a little less sad than just thinking them :)

Soooooo. I would like this blog to be about sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting and whatever other hobbies I pick up along the way (I tend to collect them!) There will probably be other, mommy-type things thrown in, too. I will try to put lots of pictures in, because I know that's what I like in the blogs I read. I'm not sure I will ever be confident enough in my skills to create tutorials, but I will be happy to link to the ones I am following. And I would love to know someone out there is reading this and finding some value in it, but if not, that's ok too. Because I'm mainly doing this to get the blog posts out of my brain!