At the end of last May I read this blog post about Me-Made-May, a yearly event dreamed up by blogger Zoe Edwards that encourages makers of all sorts to celebrate their hand made creations by wearing something handmade each day during the month of May. It was too late for me to participate last year by the time I discovered this awesome idea but I did mark it on my 2016 calendar so I would not forget to do so this year. So, I've signed up (and hope you will, too) and have pledged to wear something each day during May that I've created. I will also endeavor to periodically post some pictures of what I'm wearing here on my blog. I've got several newly completed pieces that I need to introduce you to so this will be a great opportunity to do both. Check your social media sites for #MMMay16 to see what participants are wearing and be inspired!
Every day that passes without a new blog post seems to sink me further and further. So, in an attempt to get back on my horse, I'm writing this post and filling it will lots of miscellany which is what my life is all about these days. I have been finding tiny chunks of time to sew, much of it by hand in the evenings. I've got some projects that are *almost* ready for blogging and am hoping that I can keep a more regular schedule soon. Much of my time recently has been spent in the ongoing project of organizing my studio. I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel, and will share the "big reveal" here when I'm finished.
Technology is a wonderful thing, except when it's not. My old laptop died a few weeks ago and I had to replace it. Which also meant reinstalling all of the various programs I use. Photoshop needed to be installed before I could hope to post any pictures so I set about that task today. Except that my new laptop doesn't have a CD drive, so I had to download all of the necessary files and then spend an hour on chat with Adobe before they finally told me I'd have to upgrade to the latest program to be compatible with my new operating system. Sigh.
Christmas came and went. Along with making multiple batches of my usual Salted Caramel Chex Mix and Rosemary Pecans with Cranberries I sewed my boys a couple of walking capes which can function as attire for Jedi, Hobbits, Medieval peasants or whatever takes their fancy. Here's a shot of the two capes, front and back.
The fabric was rayon/linen and very nice to work with. I flat felled all of the seams which makes for a nice, clean and sturdy finish.
I'm still working on a couple of "big white shirts" (think pirate) for them as well. I've got to set the grommets still but they are nearly finished.
We had a big snow storm in January and the newest member of our family, aptly named Winter, really enjoyed it along with my kids. I, however, lost a week of my life. :-)
A few years ago I blogged about making King Cake for Mardi Gras. This year I tried a recipe from Southern Living. The Southern Living cakes (the recipe makes 2) are assembled jelly roll style rather than braiding like the recipe I've always used in the past. I made a different flavor for each of the cakes. The first was the traditional cinnamon-sugar filling complete with green, gold and purple sanding sugar.
The second had a cream cheese filling and cherry preserves (the recipe for the cream cheese filling is included in the Southern Living recipe). I skipped the sanding sugar on this one.
This recipe was nearly as good as my original and much less work. The best advice I have is to make sure you don't overbake the cakes which will dry them out. Also, the area where the two ends are joined together to make the ring is always a little skimpy so I used a bit of extra dough and wrapped the join to add a little substance to that area. Make sure that all of the seams are well sealed so the filling doesn't leak out while baking.
I invited a group of my friends over to celebrate Mardi Gras and help me eat up these sweets.
Next up is Valentine's Day. My kids are busy making cards for their friends and I'm gearing up to lead the craft at the class party (no surprise there). We're going to make a cute card holder for the delivered valentines. I found this idea on Pinterest. Here's my version:
It's simply two paper plates, folded in half and then stapled together in a heart-shaped configuration. Decorate as desired, punch some holes and hang with a ribbon.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day.
I recently returned from two weeks at our fishing cabin in Eastern Maine. The weather was mostly gray and cool (we had a fire in the wood stove two days) but my kids enjoyed getting in the (freezing cold) lake every day. We enjoyed time with my family, took a trip to Canada, enjoyed various water sports and generally unwound. I love my time on this little island. If you'd like a more complete story about my special place, read this post that I wrote several years ago.
I didn't get a lot of stitching done but I did take some nice pictures so that's what this post will be about. I'm heading off to a sewing retreat at the end of the week and hope to have some projects to share when I get back.
It's been a long time since I've done much heirloom sewing. But a few weeks ago when I received an email from a church friend I knew it was just what I was intended to do. I've been participating, sporadically, in the prayer shawl ministry at my church over the last year. When a request went out for someone to make prayer blankets for twin baby girls with cystic fibrosis (CF) I knew pretty quickly that I was the one who was supposed to take on this project. For ten years I worked in a hospital lab doing breathing tests on patients, and took a particular interest in the ones with CF. During that time I met a college student, Chris, who was beating the odds and doing very well managing his disease. We remained friends over the years and the miles. I have a friend from my college years who lost his teenage daughter to this disease, and just this spring my family traveled to Richmond to attend a fund raising dinner in Lucy's memory. CF has touched my life many times over the years. Those of you who know me well will have also made the connection to twin baby girls. I lost a set of twin girls at 30 weeks gestation almost 7 years ago. You can see now why I was sure that I was the one to make these blankets. At first, I hesitated, thinking about how slowly I knit. Then I had the flash thought that these blankets did not have to be knit, I could sew them. And I knew immediately what form they would take.
Years before my kids came onto the scene, I used to travel with my sister to various sewing events. We attended lots of American Sewing Guild conferences together but our greatest times were spent in Huntsville, Alabama attending Martha Pullen's School of Art Fashion. There I learned to sew delicate, lacy things in the heirloom tradition. One of my favorite teachers at these schools was Carol Ahles. Carol is a wonderful teacher who shares her knowledge and encourages students to do their very best. One year my sister and I took a class from her on making a lace-edged, hemstitched baby blanket. She provided luxurious cashmere flannel and Cluny lace for the project. The edges were corded and hemstitched, which gave a lovely and sturdy finish.
Here's the blanket I made in that class
and a close up of the lace edge.
I wrote to Carol and ordered several yards of light pink flannel for my project. I decided that monograms on the blankets would serve to distinguish them from each other, and I used Hope Yoder's Fancy ABC's for the letters. The Cluny lace came from my stash.
The blankets measure 36" x 45" and have rounded corners.
The edges are hemstitched using the Parisian hemstitch and a 100 wing needle. The cording is size 5 perle cotton. Here is a close up of the hemstitched edge:
Carol's instructions for these blankets originally appeared in the November/December 2001 issue of Creative Needle magazine. You can purchase the instructions, along with all of the necessary supplies, from Carol's website.
While I was working on these blankets last week my friend Chris lost his battle with CF at the age of 41. He lived longer than many with this disease, and the timing of his death in the midst of my project was especially poignant. I pray that the babies who receive these blankets will grow up in a world where there is a cure for this disease. If you'd like to help support research into a cure, please consider donating to the CF Foundation.
Thursday is typically DIY-day over on the Alabama Chanin Journal so today I'm posting one of my own DIY projects, AC style.
A while back I was tempted by some wool felt placemats on the AC site but waited too long and they were soon sold out.
And in the way my brain usually works I started thinking, "Hey, I could make my own". About this time I also took a trip to Ikea and found packs of cork placemats which I thought would be perfect for stenciling.
Here are two of the placemats all laid out on my drop cloth-covered table
and here they are with the stencil I used.
I was able to stencil two mats at a time with the large stencil. I used a spray adhesive on the back of the stencil to minimize the bleeding around the stencil shapes and pressed the stencil securely onto the two cork mats.
Last week my friend Jane came to visit, and we played with my stencils and air brush. We encountered several equipment failures during the course of the day but by the end we'd figured out the best method for spraying. Here's my mini air compressor and air brush all ready to go.
Trust me, once you experience the ease of painting with a small airbrush you will never go back.
It took me less than 5 minutes to paint both placemats. Ready for the reveal?
Once these two were set aside to dry I hosed off my stencil, let it dry and repeated the process on the remaining two placemats.
Here they are, gracing my dining room table.
I'm super happy with how these turned out. I've got four more mats that I am planning to stencil with a different design and in a different color. I'm also considering stenciling the back side of all of the mats so I can have four different mix/match options.
My gardening tasks are slowing down as the weather gets warmer. I've actually had the chance to venture into my studio a few times in the last week. School will be out for my kids in about 3 weeks which will make time to myself a lot more scarce but I'm hoping to get a few projects checked off the list this summer.
If you like this project, click on the Alabama Chanin option in the Category listing along the righthand side of this page.