Friday, May 10
Hallo. Miss me? Somehow yesterday got lost. VERY lost. I was still trying to find myself and those missing hours most of today. Hmph. But in the middle of the madness, I did take out the next quilt and snap some photos. So there's that.
If you're just popping by, I've been attempting to blog a Week of Quilts. Here are the other posts from the week:
And though I missed a day, everything will work out just fine since after today I only have two more to blog and that can be Saturday/Sunday, which ends the week, ta-da, everything neatly tied in a bow.
Aside: I'm listening to Tori Amos' "Tear in Your Hand". Anyone? Anyone? GOSH that song evokes emotions and memories and is a great soundtrack to my tumultuous PPD guts tonight.
Aside: I'm feeling a bit un-super and a bit raw today. Most of the week, actually. Hormones a-ragin', making it hard for me to stay upbeat. just keepin' it real and telling you guys--- I do NOT always manage to do this life thing gracefully. Sometimes I just DO IT TO GET IT DONE, ya know? And that's okay. A few bad days with the "push through them" attitude, and pretty soon the clouds break, sun comes back in, and we're back on track. So yeah. Cloudy over here for the moment.
Actually, perfect moment to show by FAR my most colorful quilty project. This is the Copycat Picnic Playmat, directly inspired by the blogger Emilie of Plucky Momo.
Best part is, the post I link you to above is a TUTORIAL. So if you're feeling like digging into a kind of time-consuming project, she's given you a great place to start. Most of the other quilts I'm blogging about this week are simple and pretty painless-- something most beginners could manage. But this one is a bit trickier. I went my own direction with a few of the activity wedges, so it took some innovating and some experimenting to get things made and appliqued on. If you love the idea but don't need all the doo-dads, a beginner could still manage to make a simple circle quilt with 8 fat quarters and no embellishments.
Anyway. So. This is mine. Copycat, and so so cheerful.
Here are some closeups of each activity I included:
Section 1: This tree is intended to be a "family tree". There are clear vinyl squares where I meant to print up little pictures of our family and tuck them in. It's never happened. Oops. The tree is still cute, yes?
Section 2: Artist's Palette- The paintbrush is movable and tucks into an elastic holder.
Section 3: A yo-yo caterpillar- yo-yos are fabric gathered circles, and have a fun texture, so this is a tactile block.
Section 4: Crinkly Butterflies- The wings flap up and they have crinkly material inside.
Section 5: Ruffle rainbow- with super soft furry clouds and fun ruffles for the rainbow arcs.
Section 6: fluffy sheep, button eyes.
Section 7: felt and satin flowers with ribbon and ric-rac taggie stems and leaves.
And below, Section 8: the book for holding books. This is made from Naugahyde and canvas, and I designed it to look like a book, but also to be able to hold a couple of small board books inside of it. The title and the "page lines" are machine-stitched on.
I'd made this for Lucy for her first Christmas, December 2011. She got lots of good use out of it, and I loved seeing her play and roll around on it. So when Quinn came along, I was tickled to have more reason to use it. So how does the baby feel about this awesomely vivid, entertaining, stimulating, cute, handmade activity playmat?
Maybe in a few more months we'll try again.
Til then, check out the way this folds up and ties... portability all the way, baby.
(In all fairness to poor Quinn, he fell asleep sitting up just minutes after those photos. Kid was TIRED, y'all. Mean mama, making him wait for his nap...)
I've moved on to Toto songs on iTunes as I wrap up this post. Someone stop me. This is getting absurd.
Also, I fully expected that I'd be able to easily manage to bind Quinn's baby quilt by the end of this Quilt Week, in order to feature it as the last post of the week. But yeah.... there it sits, unbound. CURSE YOU, LIFE! CURSE YOU, HORMONES! *shaking fist at sky*
But there's still 48 more hours. Maybe I can make magic happen.
Til then, these 80's tunes and I are gonna go veg on Facebook for a minute.
Happy weekend to all!
Posted by Emily S. at 9:26 PM
Wednesday, May 8
I've been working on blogging a Quilt-a-Day this week. We're on Day 3. Woohoo! Here are:
Today it's all about the:
This quilt is a simple little play quilt I made almost 2 years ago, after seeing my friend Jaime's version, here. Jaime helped me make my very first quilt, so it's only fitting that she continues to pave the way for my quilt journey and to inspire me with her charming ideas. My quilt is honestly basically a copycat quilt because I love hers so much. Down to the criss- cross X machine quilting through each square.
My intentions for it were to have a play quilt I could lay down in the grass, at the park, in the yard, at church, ANYWHERE really, and not be too worried about it getting dirty or worn out. The beauty of vintage sheets is that they've been worn out and washed a thousand times already, so they're ready to handle even more wear and tear.
I chose yellow for the border to make it a little less girly.... just in case I had any more baby boys one day. I know it's basically still super girly with all the florals, but I'd still plop Quinn on this. Also, gold-y yellow is such a classic vintage 70's color. It really tied the random sheet patterns together.
My favorite thing about this is that when I needed a big piece of vintage sheet for the back, I just asked my mom to keep a lookout at her Goodwill for sheets that reminded her of her newlywed years, and she found EXACTLY what I needed. Perfect 1970's colors and pattern, just made to be added to my quilt top. Awesome.
That's all I can muster today, folks... It's been rough, sleep-wise--- no one napped well today and I'm a bit exhausted from my own rough sleep last night... It's all I can manage tonight to get this post up, and I am now headed to bed. With my luck, Quinn will read my mind and wake up just 42 minutes after I fall into a hard sleep.... and then just continue doing that for the duration of the night. Awesome.
Someone leave me a cheerful comment. I think I need that kind of pick-me-up today.
Thanks. Kisses. Goodnight.
Posted by Emily S. at 9:49 PM
Tuesday, May 7
I'm attempting to blog a week of quilts here. Day Two and I'm still kicking, so that's good, right? You can find Day One here, my StoryTime quilt.
Today I'm sharing a comfy, cozy little snuggle blanket I made for Lucy for Christmas--- what we call her "softblanket". I had made her a beautiful quilt for when she was born (coming up later in this Quilt Week), but I confess-- I never used it as an everyday blanket, and it just didn't have the "cuddle factor" I kind of want for bedtime stories, etc. I still have high hopes for Lucy's formal baby quilt... but it felt like it was time to get her hooked on this new little "everyday" quilt.
This quilt was actually inspired from reading the Under the Sycamore blog. They'd brought home a sweet baby girl from China, and her attachment item quickly became this bright, colorful blankie made from vintage sheets. (She posts about it here. Her little one has a cleft lip and will eventually have several surgeries to correct it. I think she's beautiful just the way she is, and love reading about how she is thriving with her big, marvelous family.)
I had purchased from a fun Etsy shop a vibrant set of fat quarters that were all vintage sheets, so I started imagining a cozy little blanket for my own little girl. Fate sealed the deal in the form of a big heavy box that came in the mail one day from a friend in Washington DC. (Shout-out to Brenda! Woot!) She'd been making lovey blankies with soft minky fabrics, but was ending that endeavor and had lots of extra material. She shipped it all to me!! Included in the amazing box was a soft ribbed minky in a bold pink. I knew in an instant that would be the fabric to tie Lucy's blanket all together.
Also included in the package was a set of three pieces of white fleece, each machine-embroidered with Lucy's name on it in different fonts. My friend had included these pieces as a thoughtful addition to her package, in case I ever wanted to make Lucy a taggie/lovey of her own. I love that! And I had to include one of them in her softblanket. So the name piece became the center of the quilt.
As for assembly of the blanket, I cut 5" squares from each of the vintage fat quarters and assembled them in a loose pattern (you can see the rhythm: dot, pink floral, plaid, orange floral, thin pink stripe). Because the fleece name piece was already cut to a certain size, I had to adapt those two rows of squares to fit the name piece, so you can tell they're not perfect squares, but a bit shorter, making rectangles instead. It works.
I machine-quilted every other seam, right in the ditch, and tried to keep it tidy since I used dark pink thread. And for binding, I decided to try a technique my mom uses--- making the back fabric 2-3" bigger all around, every side, then folding it inward toward the front twice and pinning it. I machine-stitched it in place using a pretty small seam-allowance. I still mitered the corners, just winging it.
And there ya have it- Lucy's softblanket. Which she has quickly adopted into her heart and loves dearly. I think it helps that I used my powerful "you will love this" lovey skillz I've talked about in this post, How to Introduce a Lovey Into Your Baby's Life. I just kept bringing it to storytime and making a deliberate effort to call it by name as I tucked her in with it every night. I'd grab it to cuddle with her if she was crying, etc. It's become dear to her this way. I'm pretty much the Lovey-Whisperer. Ask Quinn.
Meanwhile, somewhere between almost-2 and 2, which just happened two weeks ago, my baby girl is not a BABY AT ALL. I'm flabbergasted at the shift. I was craving some "get out of the house" time last night and asked Joe if I could steal Lucy away and go putter and run errands for a bit. He was all too happy to have Boys' Night at home, so off my girl and I went.
I've run plenty of errands with Lulu before. But this outing felt DIFFERENT somehow. She was old enough to not sit in the cart the whole time.... She had curiosity but was able to keep it in check and wait for me to give her permission before she grabbed things. She parroted almost everything I said to her--- it's her current stage of language and it is so cute. She didn't fuss or whine, didn't ask for much. We went to World Market and I let her have a fan as her "treat". She loved it, but moved on to a rain stick toy and gave me the fan back, no arguments. Then she spied a Hello Kitty candy necklace and that was IT. She gave the rain stick back and clutched that treasure the rest of the time, asking for me to open it here and there, but being patient when I told her we had to wait. We then headed to grab some dinner and I let her stand/sit in the booth next to me instead of a high chair. She didn't have a bib on. And she did FINE.
I think it was all these little milestones combined, and me having the luxury of being solo with her to really NOTICE, that is making me so flabbergasted by her changes. No stroller. No need for the shopping cart. No high chair. No bib. No tantrums. Just my little buddy who I SWEAR was a baby just a few months ago. I mean for pete's sake, we didn't move her out of the pumpkin carseat til this winter! But here she is... spring is here, she's turned two, and she is officially a KIDDO.
I know that's a random tangent.... this is a quilt post, yeah? But looking at these photos while the memory of last night's girls' night is fresh, and it all wraps up together into one thing. I'm just grateful she still cuddles with me and her blanket and her bunny and that she still thinks I'm her universe. I am not at ALL ready for her to get too grown up on me.
Okay. Back to quilts. Tomorrow, I'll share another vintage sheet quilt I made, one that is so cheerful it ALWAYS makes me smile.
Til then.... ta!
Posted by Emily S. at 4:26 PM
Monday, May 6
Well lookie here! Who's on a roll with blogging, eh?
There is something to be said for teaching your new baby to nap on his own. I dragged my feet for two huge reasons:
1. I was scared he'd sleep less because he wasn't sleeping in my arms, and sleeping less equaled crying more and crying more equaled Crazy Mama. And no one likes Crazy Mama.
2. I truly LOVE holding my sweet baby while he sleeps, and had a really bittersweet ache at the thought of losing that time with him.
But there is a season for everything, and really, his season of being held for every nap was nearing its end. The itchy, restless part of me was beginning to emerge and the willing-to-put-everything-on-hold-for-a-baby-in-arms part of me was losing some of her hold.
So Quinn naps twice or thrice a day in his rock-n-play in our room. A few times a week I'll scratch the morning nap routine and take him and Lucy somewhere, lulling him to sleep in the Moby wrap... so I still get some holding naps and that sweet snuggling fix.
The rest of the time, I get at least a couple of small windows a day where my arms are free and I am able to begin inching forward with a few things in my life I've been missing. Really simple things, like tidying up the house. Sewing a little. Editing photos. Putting away laundry. Baking, maybe. Definitely more concentrated one-on-one time with Lucy or Noah. Naps of my own.
And a wee bit of blogging.
So. Here I am. Ready, (I think), to undertake a whole week of blogging in honor of my nearing completion of Quinn's baby quilt, which I began and nearly finished last week.
I'm relative new to quilting, and definitely a beginner with simple aspirations. But in the two years I've been doing it, I've managed to make 5-6 small quilts, and have never actually blogged about them. So with Quinn's quilt as the last post of this coming week, I am going to blog one quilt a day until then. Because I love them. I'm proud of them. And I actually think I can manage these small, mostly-photo posts this week.
So, up first--- one of my favorites. This is my StoryTime Quilt:
This fun lap-quilt is based off of an amazing quilt I saw on Pinterest right when I was first introduced to the site. It was the first "quilts I might be able to achieve" pin I pinned. The original quilter, Nettie of "A Quilt is Nice", talks about her version of this quilt here: http://aquiltisnice.blogspot.com/2011/03/storytime-baby-quilt.html. I am so enchanted with her version, all pink and rounded-corners and stripey edges. I still want one just like hers, even after making one of my own.
The idea is that you gather bits of fabric with characters or images that can lend a starting point or plot point for a story, and you patchwork them together into one block. I did not have very many character fabrics, so I went to an old friend who adores vintage fabric and is a collector of amazing and rare fabrics, and begged for her help. (Thanks, Jaime! You're AMAZING.)
I asked her for tiny bits of fabrics that might tell a story... I let her pick what she thought would work, and I offered to pay her for her time and her materials. She did not disappoint. Most of these darling little rectangles below are from her package she mailed me. (Opening that package was just about the most fun I've ever had getting mail. I'm serious.)
Once the quilt is complete, you have a collection of "story starters" that you can run wild with. Ask your kiddo to choose one or two of the images, and begin weaving your own story from them. You can make up a new story every time, tell some beloved existing stories (there's a Princess and the Pea on here that I love, as well as a Red Riding Hood, some Hansel and Gretel, etc.) It is a neat way to spend quality time with your little ones, tucked under the blanket on your laps, using your imaginations.... I love this whole concept.
As for that actual sewing of this project, I did not use a pattern or plan for my quilt blocks and I did not piece together story elements in any kind of organized way. I started just by trimming fabric into squares and rectangles that kept the characters/images intact with some extra for borders. I then worked to piece them together in long tall strips first. (You can see on the left, the first "strip" is the one with that red rooster next to a small princess/green polka dots. If you see green polka dots, you know that's where I filled in gaps where I didn't have a story swatch to fit.) (The second strip is the one with the soccer kickers and the green polka dots. Etc.)
I then trimmed and pieced together all the tall strips into this final rectangle. It's far from perfect. You can see on the bottom where I lost some of the image in many squares because I had to trim the whole thing up to be square. Oh well. It's close enough.
As for the quilting part, I machine-quilted it. But since I still don't have a walking foot, I decided a "safe" and funky way to quilt it would be to stitch rays radiating out from the asymmetrically-placed story section. Working from the inside of the quilt to the edges, I was able to avoid any bunching or snagging underneath because I wasn't using a walking foot. And it all kinda fits together--- funky asymmetrical quilt lines with a funky asymmetrical quilt.
It's backed in a fun stripe that pulls all the crazy colors on the front together, and then it's bound with a red swiss polka dot. I pretty much LOVE polka dots and they find their way into so many of my projects.
And there it is. (I fancy that little girl putting on Daddy's shoes is Lucy. She LOVES shoes.) There's a fun blend of vintage and current fabrics. Some boyish elements and some girly elements. There are lots of actual characters, and some patterns that lend themselves to stories (rainbows, cherry blossoms, hearts, bubbles, etc.)
Noah and Lucy got this quilt this past Christmas, and Quinn has even enjoyed it recently as a play quilt he can lie down on. I expect it will see lots of use and love as time goes by, and will get that loved-in look eventually.
For now, it's still pretty fresh and new, and is easily one of my favorite sewing projects I've ever done.
Up tomorrow--- I'll share Lucy's "soft blanket" I made her for her Christmas present... all girly with vintage sheets and pink minky backing.
Til then.... happy Monday, happy May, and hooray for free hands!
Posted by Emily S. at 4:16 PM
Saturday, May 4
My sweet Quinn was born January 18. I knew even before he was born that I would not have the stamina to attempt a "30 Days of Quinn" project like I did with Lucy. I did know, however, that I could not WAIT to get my hands on my baby boy, and newborn photos were most definitely still in my plans. I shopped on Etsy in the months preceding his birth and commissioned a few special hats from talented friends, and by the time he came along, I had a good idea of what photos I'd want to try with my little one. I managed a few sessions in his first two weeks, and ended up with a very satisfying amount of newborn images for my third baby. Not feeling the pressure to get something done every single day, I mustered enough energy on the days I DID shoot to try a few more things, and it all evened out in the end. I even managed to go to a dear friends' home to shoot a set of these-- taking advantage of her marvelous home and natural light.
And here we are... three months later. Life with Quinn added in is proving to be a supreme juggling act, and sitting to edit personal photos has not factored into that crazy dance much. I am just starting to see that it will come back, but initially, it's been more than enough to just remind myself that at least the photos got taken... and to let go of the frustration that editing and preparing them to share has not happened.
So while life marches on and this teeny little one in the following photos is now a strong, alert, smiling baby of nearly 4 months, I am so tickled at this gallery of my sweet Quinn, back when he was but 4 days, 5 days, 11, 12 and 13 days old. When we were just getting to know his spirit and his eyes and his fingers and his toes...
Grab a cuppa... I didn't hold back for this post. There's a LOT of photos. I figure they will make it more worth the wait.
Session 1: 4 Days Old, in my dining room
Hat from the marvelous Etsy shop "BebeBeeCouture". I've used them lots and love their work).
(Quinn really wanted to be awake that first day...So I let him do it his way, and made plans to try again the next day.)
Session 2: 5 Days Old, in my dining room
Another hat from the marvelous Etsy shop "BebeBeeCouture").
(This next one is probably my all-time favorite of all of them. It will be a big print in my home for sure.)
(Next up, a baby snowman. :) He was a winter baby... so I kept trying to find ways to integrate that into his photos.
Hat from the Etsy shop "LoveyChild".)
Session 5: 11 Days Old, Erin's house
(Session 3 was used for his birth announcements and Session 4 was with his daddy. I'm saving both for other posts.)
(Hat from Sweet Pea Hats)
(Sweet hat from my friend Heather of Woolywishes)
(Hats from Erin's and my prop stash)
Session 6: 12 Days Old, in my sunroom
(Hat from the Etsy shop "Zoik").
Session 7: 13 Days Old, a lightning-fast 4-minute shoot in my yard
I REALLY wanted a true winter image of the poor baby. He was fine and cozy, I promise!
(Cozy cocoon from my friend Heather of Woolywishes)
These comprise Quinn's first two weeks, all within the month of January. I actually have more images, from his next 2 weeks.... the February photos. Those will just have to happen when they happen..... Ack.
For now, I am content. I have peace in my restless heart for finally managing to not only edit January, but get it blogged. To see his sweet face as a fresh newborn again, and to be reminded how far we've come since these early days. There really is nothing like a newborn. I miss some parts of it... But I am not going to lie--- as we move towards month 4, and things get a little more predictable around here, I'm not at all eager to trade today's Quinn for that sweet newborn in these images. These photos will do nicely, thank you very much.
Thanks for being with me on my journey.... And for letting me share things when I can... which isn't as often as it's been in the past. All in good time, yes?
Happy Sunday, tomorrow.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:02 PM