Monday, December 27, 2010

Echoes in Walnut Dye

Yesterday I finished echo quilting the hand-pieced walnut dye quilt the third graders are making for our school's fundraiser auction. Pictures can be found here!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Handwork

After so much sewing, I thought I'd create something new.

"Have you ever built a fire before?"

"No, but I've assisted countless times."

Behold, my first fire! Complete with newspaper, kindling and a hickory log or two.

Gifts have been opened and received with joy, and that means I can share a few process pics of my favorite gift to give. (Unfortunately I wrapped the completed piece before taking pictures and neglected to photograph it yesterday).

I started with yo-yos.

I arranged them into a front...

And a back! After hand-stitching each side, I mounted them on chocolate brown wool suiting and put a pillow inside!

Another gift came into being from my granny squares. I just single crocheted around the edges to connect them into a scarf. It embodies kitsch, but in the end I think it's wonderful, so it went to my best friend from college.

And now for a new project! Below are photos of the walnut-dyed quilt top created (i.e. hand-dyed and hand-pieced) by the third grade. The quilt will be auctioned off at our school's charity gala. My contribution is the quilting.

This is where my free-motion practice is coming into play! With the exception of one square, I intend to echo-quilt the piece. The excepted square was solidly dyed, and I intend to "write" the quilt's origins on it. The whole thing is set up at my parents'. I got a few squares done yesterday with the intention of completing more today. We will see how icy the roads are.

Because the quilt is so olive-y green, it was decided to add color in the binding. I made yards... and yards... of binding, some for this quilt...

And some for my own walnut-dyed piece!

Hope your Christmas was delightful, and may your new year be bright!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Fabric Fast


I have too much.

Maybe you're the same way. Maybe you've noticed that your stacks of fabric look like this.

That you have pieced quilt tops you'd like to sandwich and quilt.

That family heirlooms-in-the-making are awaiting your TLC.

That people have given you pieces you'd like to finish.

That treasures are lying around in storage bins.

That you've said, "Oh, sure, I'll take 'em. I'm sure I'll find a use for 'em eventually," one too many times, but "eventually" never seems to come.

That you just don't know what to do with it yet, but you might as well hang on to it.

That your stash is pouring off shelves and out of drawers, awaiting realization of half-formed dreams and doodled designs.

Oh, and your closet is overflowing, too.

But you wind up at the fabric store anyway, and those colors look so tempting, and that print is so cute, and it's on sale anyhow, so you come home and add to the mountains and piles and bins, that list of to-do's that always seems to have a couple of things you forgot but were really exciting to think about at the store.

Well, I'm done. I've been thinking it over, counting the cost, weighing the gravity of such a decision, but finally I've come to it.

I am fasting from buying fabric for a year. (And that includes clothes, too!)

It's not the budget that's inspired me, although I'm sure the extra cash will be put to good use. It's not the eco-friendly connotations, either, although a "reuse/recycle" rather than "consume new" attitude certainly fits there. It's not even an issue of space and storage. I'm just ready for more completions. I figure the best way to complete is to exercise restraint on the front end.

2010 has been a banner year for sewing for me. I started this blog to document my work, but I had no idea how much I'd create. I started with a few pieces by hand, but have since completed my first quilt, created clothing without patterns, designed my own toys, had my sewing machine permanently set up, been commissioned to tailor, mend and design... It's been far more than I could have imagined. And I believe 2011 will be no different. I look forward to my creativity being stretched in ways I've not thought possible.

I'm working on creating a button if any would like to join me in this venture. I'm not looking to start a movement, but the journey is better when shared!

So here's to January 1, 2011, and a year free of fabric purchases. Happy fasting!


I have a button thanks to this tutorial!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spoilerish Gifts

If you are my grandmother or a dancing physicist, this post pertains to gifts for you. Your choice to continue reading may result in the spoiling of your Christmas surprise. Consider yourself warned.

Now... hooray!

I made a neck warmer for Grandmother! Why a neck warmer? Well... they're less bulky than scarves, they're great for scrap yarn, and since my grandmother is très chic, she will be on-trend. (Examples can be found here and here.)

The pink part is a removable crocheted t-shirt yarn pin.

I think she will like it, however she chooses to wear it!

And now for something completely different... sort of. I wasn't intending on creating anything special for the dancing physicist (yes, friends, I know a physicist who dances. And he's a great leader, too! Don't get me started...), but then we we were having Chinese one afternoon, and I watched him open his fortune cookie and disregard the fortune. And by disregard, I mean that he dropped it on the table in front of him but was so oblivious to what he'd done that when I asked him what his fortune said, he could not remember where he'd put it.

I had to laugh. And as it turns out, we both had great fortunes.

Now he gets one with more permanency! And as he won't be eating this cookie, and the fortune is sewn in, there's no chance of losing it this time!

'Cause that's a fortune I'd not want to lose, either. Fo' reals.

A little something for me. Until recently, I had one cozy headband to keep my ears warm. Now I have two! Do men wear cozy headbands? I love the color scheme for myself, but I realize dudes may dig it, too.

Yes, that's me. Last bit of spoilers: new 'do. :-)

Happy last-few-days-before-Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Sewing is starting to be like painting. That is to say I start with an image of what I want and set to work, but what comes out is supremely greater than what I thought would happen. It helps having the most creative Genius in the universe whispering in your ear (just sayin').

My coworker commissioned a Christmas dress for her daughter. "Y'know, it can even have manger scenes on it, or maybe a star in the middle..." Well, I found the fabric and love it. I love its Van Gogh-esque colors and softness. I love how the blue cuts the other Christmasy colors, and yet it's special and sweet.

And how's that for a star on the chest?

My coworker loved it, exclaiming over the eyelet (not part of the original pattern--found here), the ruffles, the fabric... What a great learning experience. I'm looking forward to seeing it on that sweet girl!

Speaking of anticipated sweetness, the following bit of mending gets delivered this evening. Imagine shredded coat lining instead of teeny whip stitches. Seriously, I am only posting this because I am amazed at how it turned out--and how easy to boot!

The collar was detaching for several inches in two places in the shirt below. Can you tell where?

How 'bout now?

Blanket stitches and millimeter-long back stitches, again with the amazement of what came out of my fingers.

Couturiers' seamstresses are said to have "fairy fingers". I think Holy Spirit fingers trump them (just sayin'). :-)

Thanks for listening to me brag! Have YOU ever created something and were amazed at your own work? Surely I'm not the only one...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Much Ado About the Holidays

Happy Chanukah! Light the lights! If you don't have a menorah, or if, like me, you are letting a friend borrow yours, tea lights and cheery saucers make a wonderful chanukia in a pinch.

I am seriously contemplating a fabric fast for the next year. I have so much that I want to do with what I already have, but then I buy more... and more... and the list of "to-do" grows longer and the list of "complete" remains short. And then I have these bursts of inspiration, or someone asks me to do something and I get excited about that... For example...

Holiday "finger fidgets":

Shell granny squares à la Meet Me At Mike's from garage sale yarn. Purpose TBD.

Aunt Bess ornaments, requested by my mother's sister. Below is a reference photo of the original (I have my mother's hands), followed by my progress.

Fabric fortune cookies + holiday cards for coworkers, inspired by Lady Harvatine.

And something is being felted.

Add to this the Christmas dress I'm working on for a coworker's daughter (due tomorrow), alterations requested by my sewing machine student's mother (due before school lets out), a few inches of mending for a friend (due ASAP), and a walnut-dyed quilt top being assembled by eight-year-olds lurching towards my sewing machine (due by the end of the school holiday).

It's snow flurrying. Rosemary latkes and pomegranate arils for breakfast. Two cups of coffee, a box of sufganiyot, Misty Edwards on repeat... Life is not too busy to spend time enjoying and being enjoyed. I believe God's love language is quality time. This Feast of Dedication (a.k.a. eight nights of dates with God) feels all the sweeter in the midst of all the doings of the season.