(Re)Creating Memories

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I’ve always loved this picture of my husband with his mom. When Dexter was teeny, I always wanted to try to recreate that scene. We just remembered to try, and we didn’t manage to capture the serene moment Alex had with Karen. Dexter is a little older, a little more self-aware, and quite the ham 🙂

But thanks to the digital era, we were able to play around and were able to get lots of fun shots!

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Mailbox Magic

Yesterday, I came home from a play date with my friend Stephanie, to a mailbox full of happiness!

First of all, I got my first copy of Parents Magazine. Who doesn’t love magazines, especially when you get a year’s subscription for $3? And I got a disc from Netflix to replace a broken DVD, which I’d been waiting on for almost a week.
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But the best thing of all was from The Curious Quilter!!!

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A tiny, wonderful package of tiny, wonderful 2 inch squares for my postage stamp quilt!

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I sat down right at the door and started playing with my new present 🙂 There were so many really awesome clippings, but I wanted to show off a few of my favorites!

Ok, geekery abounds in this house, so this could not have been a more perfect addition to my quilt 🙂

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I just loved this little polar bear!

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And I love gnomes!!! When we owned our own house, I wanted a garden gnome so much! But grumpy Alex told me no. I’ll wear him down at the next place 😉 Or who knows, gnomes have a way of just wandering in and making themselves at home…

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This square is just the sweetest!

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I really liked this one, especially since Mary calls these 2 inch treasures.

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How awesome is this set?? I had wanted to sneak some skulls into my quilt, but I didn’t think I wanted so many as to go buy a length of fabric. Two is the perfect amount 🙂 And I LOVE that star fabric.

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So after grouping those 4 together, I started thinking about other groupings. There were lots of little animals, which made me want to do a Critter Quilt for Dex. I LOVED the bee square, but felt really guilty about wanting to keep it because I know Dexter LOVES bees too. (We LOVE a lot in this house lol. We’re not very neutral people!)  But maybe I’ll trade him the polar bear for the bees…

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And then I have to decide if animal print is a fun girly addition to my quilt, or if it ultimately belongs in the Critter Quilt.

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And then I came across this “square”… made up of 2 tiny triangles. I’m saving that one. Because I’ve got a lot of scraps that are too small to make 2 inch squares, and I feel a Tiny Triangle Quilt may be in my future…

A Gift From Grandma Ona

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I was preparing to fold laundry the other day, and I like to put down a quilt so my laundry isn’t picking up the crumbs Dexter tosses around like confetti. After I spread out my quilt, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to photograph and showcase it!

I have several quilts, but this quilt from my Grandma Ona and another from my Grandma Lucille are currently my favorites, and I use one or the other every single day.

About a year and a half ago, my Grandma Ona led Deborah (my sister), Michelle (my sister-in-law), and me to a room in her house and let us each choose quilts from her stash. I really loved this one, black and red squares always make me think of Alice in Wonderland, so I was really excited when I ended up with it.

After having a chance to explore the fabrics in the quilts (which I do over and over again), I’m just really struck by the beauty of the fabric pairings and the lessons of resourcefulness I find in various blocks. It doesn’t really show up in my pictures, but there are no less than 3 shades of red fabric making up this grid. In the past, I would panic and fret if my fabrics didn’t quite match. But my grandmother probably didn’t even flinch when faced with making do with what she had. It just makes me love the quilt more, and realize why my grandmas are so awesome. And it is a great lesson to internalize and put into practice.

Here are my favorite combos in the quilt:
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Below is an album of the 20 individual blocks if you’d like to explore them!

WIP: Postage Stamp Quilt (Cutting and Calculating!)

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Isn’t this project supposed to be a scrap-buster? What am I doing bringing new fabrics into this house??

I cleaned out my tiny scraps and had only 450 of my proposed 4096 squares. And I get a little impatient sometimes, and do impulsive things. I went to Joann’s looking for Thomas fabric for a birthday gift. I didn’t find any Thomas the Train, but I did find LOTS of fabrics that would look great in my postage stamp quilt.

My rationality: I planned on getting a few fat quarters. But it occurred to be me that 4 fat quarters would come out to $8. so, why shouldn’t I just get lots of 1/8 and 1/16 cuts of lots of fabrics for the same price? Yes, this is very sound logic indeed.

But it turned out to be a great choice. For $5.50 I got 13 different fabrics (just over 1.25 yards) as opposed to 4 for $8 (1 yard).

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I loved all the fabrics I chose, but I was really excited about a few. This green fabric was around 60% off because it was a St. Patrick’s Day print. Awesome!!!

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Novelty fabrics were 30% off so I threw in some mushrooms and owls! (BTW, somewhere along the line, I decided this quilt is definitely for me. I’m apparently not interested in sharing a “Big Hug”.)

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I fussy-cut the owls, which is something I’ve always wanted to do! But, as they were almost 2 inches tall, they’ll still get a little cut off at the edges.

So I’ve been cutting up a storm, between other projects, “cleaning” (ha!), and going to birthday parties (2 this weekend). And I’ve now reached 1104 pieces. Proof:

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I’m doing my calculations right on the box, lest I lose them and become desperate and frustrated later. It’s a lot of gibberish, but I know what it means. For now… (Update: I took down the picture of my “calculations” because something was way off.)

My quilt will be roughly 74”x90”, modeled after a quilt that I already use all the time. I’m currently planning to do 1/4 seams, because that’s what I normally do when sewing, unless a clothing pattern calls for something different. So that means my finished squares will be 1.5” instead of 1”. After all my calculations, I will need 2296.875 squares… as you can see, my calculations still need to be tweaked 🙂 (Update: I have done some crazy-bad calculating it seems… As Mary says on her blog, you should have 64 squares per 12” block. For some reason I came to the conclusion that she was using 1/2” seams, but she is also using 1/4” seams. NEVER TRUST MY MATH 😛 ) But I’m excited to have a semi-functional plan!

Postage Stamp Quilt (Am I Crazy???)

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I’ve always wanted to do a block quilt, possibly out of 4” squares… sometime in the distant future, because that would take forever, right??

But then I saw this beautiful postage stamp quilt over at The Curious Quilter, made of 2” squares, and I felt I must rise to the challenge.

I told the creator (borrowing from her comments section):

“one of my favorite parts of the process is dreaming up my new creation. i do enjoy piecing (by machine) but i don’t enjoy the technical planning stage (figuring out how much fabric i need and how big everything needs to be), it just seems like it takes all the fun out of it. i just want to create!!!”

And she replied with this great advice for getting started:

“Thank you! Actually this is a great project for you then. Every time you make something, cut yourself a few two inch squares. When you have a pile, start sewing them into squares of 64 each, for a 12.5 inch block. You can assemble blocks using the Classic Squares Tutorial, but with two inch squares instead of ten inch ones. Over time, you will build a healthy pile of blocks!”

So I recently got started! I cut up tons of scraps into two inch squares while I was watching tv. (Got to love a simple, mindless task!) After a while I thought maybe I had enough for about half a quilt. I counted my squares… 420.

I checked Mary’s blog again to see how many squares I’d need. And I realized I didn’t pay enough attention before. That beautiful quilt is made up of 4096 pieces!!!!

At least I’ve made a dent 🙂

Anyone up for a quilt-along? If so, hop on over to The Curious Quilter and check out her postage stamp quilts. She calls them “Big Hugs”, and really, after that much work, that is exactly what they are! And the quilts can be very personal, made up of favorite fabrics or bits of old, well-loved clothing.

She also has great storage tips for all those teensy squares.  Don’t do what I’m doing… you can see mine are all thrown into a box and that I didn’t even iron the fabric before I cut it.

Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Couture Techniques: The Home Sewer’s Guide to Creating Designer Looks

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I’ve been given the opportunity to review a few books in this line, and I chose Couture Techniques first because I knew I didn’t have the slightest clue about what constitutes couture. And I was right!

I thought couture was just a fancy schmancy term for “expensive clothing made by famous designers.” But really, these garments are set apart for a reason. So much thought and care goes into how these pieces are created, resulting in well-fitting, long-lasting, beautiful clothing.

This book was surprisingly easy to understand. I wondered if I’d just be wading through fashion-industry-gibberish accented by pretty pictures of clothing. Instead I found user-friendly charts and lots of great diagrams that teach you how to do everything, from choosing the right fabrics for your purpose to trouble-shooting common problems in clothing design.

You won’t learn how to draft patterns here, but you will learn a lot about fitting existing paper patterns to your measurements. It has never been quite clear to me how to execute those changes, and I’m certain this will be a valuable resource next time I’m working on my pieces.

The only thing I actually missed were more pictures of the final products. Partially so I’d have a better idea of whether or not I’d like to attempt some of the techniques (a tie collar?? I’ve got to see someone looking cute in that before I’ll attempt it!), but mostly because I like to look at pretty pictures 🙂

I’d be surprised if any intermediate seamstress was disappointed in this book. It might be overwhelming for newbies, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out. I could have benefitted from some of these tips long ago!

*Note: When looking for this book, I’ve seen the title listed 2 different ways. On the cover it says “Home Sewer’s Guide”, but it is listed everywhere as “Home Sewing Guide”. I don’t know how important this distinction is, but I thought I should point it out. I went with what was on the cover!

The Transformation of Mr. Hunny Bear

Dexter has finally chosen a comfort item.

When I was pregnant, my husband sent me a beautiful (and yummy!) fruit bouquet for Valentine’s Day. A soft white bear happened to be attached, so I just added it to the tiny but growing basket of Dexter toys. In the first 21 months of his life, he barely paid attention to it.

Then he became socially  aware.

He now recognizes that his cousins, Ty and Micah, sleep with bears. One day we were talking about it while I was rocking him (Actually, I was singing about it. Yes, we have a Ty and Micah song.) and afterward Dex really wanted a bear to sleep with. I pulled out the girly white bear and he has slept with him ever since.

A few days later, we were having lunch with my friend, Lisa, and her daughter, Alex. Alex’s favorite toy is a bear named Sunny. Dexter was really excited about “Sunny Bear”, and talked quite a bit about her. And eventually he started calling his own bear Hunny Bear.

Since the attachment is growing stronger, I decided I’d risk ruining Hunny Bear early on in order to make him more boyish. And less dorky. Let’s face it, random bears that come with bouquets aren’t made with aesthetics in mind.

Here is Hunny Bear’s journey:

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Meet… Anya.

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I really think my least favorite part is the ugly floral embroidery on the foot. But we’ll get to that. Easiest first step: Lose the bow!

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What I really wanted to do next was get away from the white fur. If this becomes Dexter’s permanent buddy, white is going to look gross fast. I was hoping to warm it up to a honey tone, but a few things were in my way. 1. I know almost nothing about dying. I knew the tone I wanted, and I knew it needed to be child-safe. But I didn’t really know what would work on the mostly synthetic fur. Which leads me to my next point… 2. I am IMPATIENT and I wanted to start dying NOW. So my options were pretty much limited to a tea bath.

I boiled a bunch of tea bags, added some vinegar for good measure, and gave Hunny Bear a bath. Dex enjoyed watching the process from his high chair 🙂

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Poor Hunny Bear really went through a lot. I hope for his sake that Toy Story isn’t true.

The pre-dye soak:

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Into the boiling hot water:

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The “Poor Wet Rat” stage (btw, THIS is the color I hoped he’d be.):

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Rinsing and wringing:

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After this, I realized that the dye was just barely taking and that the tea bits were not going to come out of the fur with a hand rinse. I think Dexter’s favorite part of the whole process was to personally throw Hunny Bear into the washing machine 🙂

While he was washing and drying, I made a tie. If I had to do over, I’d research the actual proportions of ties and plan the length a little better. But remember the impatience we discussed earlier? I decided to just go for it. I cut a folded length of fabric into the approximate shape of a tie.

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I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into it, and I didn’t mind if the tie frayed, so it is just a single layer.

I unfolded the tie and machine-stitched around the edges. I did two rows to help ensure that the fraying didn’t get entirely out of control. I really like the way it looks!

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After failing to understand several diagrams, I used a tutorial video to learn how to tie my necktie. I stitched at the knot so the necktie wouldn’t come off.  I think, since I made a weirdo little tie, that it almost looks more like a scarf than a necktie. But it’s way better than that purple bow.

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After he was dry, I could tell the dye was just *almost* a waste of time. But at least now he is a gentle vanilla shade instead of stark white. So ultimately it was worth the effort.

Dexter was happy to see Hunny Bear again and didn’t seem to mind the new changes.

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Phase Two involved covering all traces of purple. I used scraps of chocolate brown fleece to patch over the nose and feet. So so cute!!!! This was my favorite change!

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One last step… Goodbye forever, Anya!

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And officially hello, Hunny Bear!!

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