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Friday, June 29, 2012

Awesome Girls' Night Out

Last night three of my very dearest gal pals enjoyed a fun night at Applebees courtesy of a certificate one of us received to celebrate their "Girls' Night Out".  And celebrate we did!  Two Cosmos, two Bahama Mamas and four peach sangrias later, not to mention a yummy dinner, we were having a rollicking good time!  I was having such a good time I forgot to take pictures!

The highlight of the evening (and there were many) was creating our "princess" aliases. (Even big girls have dreams of princesses.)  So to Princess Starlene DeLauria, Princess Leah Charms and Princess Lorelei Grace, thank you for a lovely evening.  Who needs high tea when Applebees makes killer Cosmos?

cindy (Princess Penelope Calliope)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dress Making Madness

I'm in a dress making mood.  I made one for Mackenzie because she's been asking for something "stretchy" for casual wear.

I love the fact that I was able to "play" with the pattern and the embellishments.  Mackenzie loves it:

It was that ability to "play" that got me going.  I bought a book Absolutely A-Line by Wendi Gratz that has 26 variations on a basic A-line dress.  A-line dresses are my all time favorites - easy to make and easy to wear.  I gave it a try:

Here's another one with a ruffle

I tried a pillowcase dress:

And, I found a cute ladies white gauze skirt at Goodwill that I turned into a little girl dress.  I'm especially happy with this one.  It's not quite done - see the pins?

These are all going in the new Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy).  I'm having a great time breaking into my large fabric stash.  Now can you see why I haven't posted much lately?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Raggedy Rag Quilt

Do you really like rag quilts?  Love that look of raggedy edges?  This is the rag quilt for you.

I'm still using my favorite fabric (flannel) and I used another piece of flannel in the middle of the square "sandwich."  I used 5 inch square blocks and a 1" seam allowance on each side.  Yes, that means the end measurement of the block was 3" square.

It produces a dense, warm (heavy) quilt with lots of rags.  I'm not sure I would do a 1" seam allowance again, and if I did, I would definitely start with a minimum size of 6" square block.  This is still a very pretty quilt, but it takes a lot of squares to get to a crib or toddler bed size.  

One very cool trick I learned was the stitch I used to make the "X".  I used a "S" curve, which I bet is a stitch on almost every sewing machine.  By using the "S" I ended up with an effect on the smooth side of the quilt that I really love (and didn't anticipate).

My picture is not great, but each block matched curves and I didn't do anything special in using the "S" stitch.  Here's another view that might be a little better

I still like these rag quilts and can't wait to try more variations.  Next time I'll try some big squares.  My sewing machine will thank me.

If you are looking for more basic tutorials on rag quilts, check out my post here.  I also have some additional tips on making rag quilts here.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Craft Room Reveal - Sewing Area

I've been showing off parts of my Craft Room over the past few weeks and today I want to show you the part that is near and dear to my heart.  It's the sewing area.

It's really one entire side of the room, across from the scrapbook area.  I love JoAnn's generally, but really regret two (expensive) purchases I have in my craft room.  First, this sewing table - almost $200.  It's small, and the drawers don't open well.  The other thing that is more frustrating (especially tonight) is the ribbon storage unit I bought.  It wasn't well made and I struggled with it until I finally gave up tonight.  (See my solution below).  I am happy with the painted pails that hold needles, bobbins, pins and buttons.

This is the corner next to the main sewing table.  It has my serger and some items I bought at a garage sale. I'm using the lanterns for supplies for headband making and elastic.

As of tonight it is also storing my ribbon after the epic fail of the ribbon holder.  I have some styrofoam balls recycled from Christmas ornaments that I used in another craft.  I took the dowel rods from the ribbon holder and sunk them vertically into the balls.  I put the ribbon on and lined them up on the table shelf.  (BTW, that little table was made by my dad in high school back in the 1940s.)

This is my cutting table.  I bought it at a Blockbuster that was closing for $30.  It's 6 feet long with a durable plastic top.  I covered it with two curtains I bought on sale at Target.  I covered it so I could use the area underneath for bin storage for scrap fabric and yarn.  It works really well with a plastic cutting mat on top of the fabric cover.

Last but not least is my fabric storage.  I described the shelf fabric storage in another post, but I've combined it with the shelves in my closet.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I have too much fabric and need to start using it before I buy anymore.

So, that's it!  It is my new favorite place - where my family knows I'm at when they can't find me.  Yep, I have everything but a bed in here.  Let the creativity begin in earnest!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Project List Update

We're more than halfway through June, so I thought I should make myself accountable and check on that June project list.  As of today it looks like this:

1.  Finish the baby rag quilt/lovies.
2.  Open my Etsy store
3.  Make two dresses for my daughter
4.  Make a headband
5.  Finish the two step afghan
6.  Finish the checker afghan.
7.  Make a pincushion
8.  Finish the craft room
9.  Scrapbook enough pages to get my kids to age 3 (they are 9 and 11 now)
10. Make a new rag quilt

Hmmm, about 40% done.  Now this is the point I rationalize.  I did finish the baby rag quilt (which I will post about soon), but I didn't make any loves.  I did make one dress for Mackenzie (which I will post about soon), but didn't start another.  I did, however, make two other dresses for other kids (which I will post about soon), so if I don't get another dress for Mackenzie before the end of the month, I'm going to count those.  I'm sooo close to opening the Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy), I just need to give my photographer a little time to take pictures.  The "two step" afghan is the never-ending-project, but I am seeing light at the end of that tunnel.  Pincushion?  Scrapbook?  New rag quilt?  Ummm, looking dim.

I do like going through this exercise because it brings some sense to my creative wanderlust.  Yes, there is some method to my madness.  Let's see how much I can cram in finish before July.

On a side note, I started a new little blog on Tumblr.  It's called Just a DIY Junkie and you can find it HERE.  It's a blog where I compile the awesome DIY blogs I have discovered into lists and categories.  I already have a post about quilting tutorials, so if you want to find the best blogs for quilting tutorials, head over to Just a DIY Junkie and check them out.

Stay cool in the summer heat!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Yes, I know I am late to the game, but I want to wish everyone a belated Father's Day.  One of the main reasons I didn't post this sooner was because I didn't want my husband to see his gift online (he actually reads my blog - at least sometimes!)  Last year, one of my first posts was about my dad, who would be 90 this year.  He's been gone for 28 years now and I still miss him.  Somehow, I don't think he would like 90 though.

Every year Kent laments that because Father's Day falls in June, he doesn't get the cool personalized stuff that the kids give me for Mother's Day (because they make them at school).  He has a point, so this year I tried to get the kids to work with me to make something that would express how they feel about their dad.  I also wanted something he could put on the wall and see all the time.  This is what we made:

It's drawn on stretched canvas.  The words which make up the bigger word "DAD" are words my kids used to describe their dad.

Kent's favorite is "Good Cleaner" while mine is "Comes up with money for vacations".  It was so easy to make, but it's a keeper.  Although I don't think the project needs much instruction, I used alternating colored markers on the stretch canvas.  I outlined the letters for DAD and then wrote the words to make the shape.  I made sure the kids wrote their own names and put the occasion and date on the bottom.  (I hate when you find things made by kids, but don't know what year it was.)

We had a great day with Dad and Kent's parents.  Christian and Mackenzie love their Dad and so do I.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Chance Encounters

I've mentioned before that I ride a commuter bus every morning.  I see the same people most days, but the bus is generally very quiet while everyone reads their Kindles, looks at newspapers or phones (or in my case crochets).

There is a young man who is there every day.  I've never spoken to him, and I have never heard him talk to anyone else.  I know his name (at least his last name) because it's printed on the hat he wears every day.  In fact, he wears the same clothes, hat, boots and carries the same backpack every day.  This would sound weird except his clothes are camouflage.  He is a member of the U.S. Army.

I believe he's a recruiter, but when he gets on that bus with his close cropped head, full fatigues, army boots and camouflage backpack, I can't help but feel a sense of pride.  He exudes dedication and dependability.  It's all right there in his uniform.  I have never spoken to this man, yet I admire him.

Funny thing about admiring soldiers.  Somehow people believe that to admire a soldier means you admire the current military policies and actions.  On the other hand, if you don't like the current military policies or actions, some people accuse you of failing to support the troops.  I don't want to debate whether recent military actions are good or not.  What I do want to say is that I admire that soldier on my bus.  Period.  Has nothing to do one way or another with whatever military action in which he may or may not participate.

I am offended at the suggestion that the litmus test for supporting military personnel is support of a military policy.  This soldier I see everyday has put his life in the hands of his country and its leaders.  It's not his job to make decisions about military policy or where he will live or what he will do.  He may be a recruiter this week, but next month he could be halfway across the world under fire.  All he knows for sure is that he has put his life in the hands of his country and has a job to do.  Does his position on the politics behind a particular military action have anything to do with his valor?  No.  In fact, I think a soldier who doesn't agree with the military decisions/policies yet does his job may show even more valor.  He made a commitment to do a job and he follows through.  That's honor.

Tomorrow I'm going to look right at him and tell him thank you.  Not "I thank you because I support the policies which might send you into battle," or "I don't like you because your job represents a war I don't like."  Just "thank you for your service."

I think that's all he wants to hear anyway.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Coming to Etsy: Raspberry Sherbet Afghan

I originally described this project back in March.  This was the afghan I made that convinced me to open an  Etsy store.  I love this piece - it is so soft and the color combination is positively soothing.  I realized how much pleasure I got making it and picking colors and designs.  This will be available very soon, or if you would rather to make your own, you can see how below.

This was my first attempt at a Catherine Wheel stitch and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  I would say that it is a pattern for an intermediate crocheter, but once you get the pattern, it's not bad at all.  You need to know a chain stitch, single crochet and triple crochet.  I used two colors because it creates a little more contrast.  I would not suggest using more than two colors to begin, because it can be a little hard to keep track of the rows.  With two colors, it's pretty easy.

You will need 12 chains for each wheel you want to make, plus two extra for the first stitch.  In this example, I have 10 wheels across each row (12x10=120), plus 2 for the base chain (=122).  Each wheel has a bottom half in one row and a top half in the next row.  The only exception is row 1, which looks like the top of a wheel.  The pattern also refers to the "joining stitches".  This is the stitch which is worked with multiple triple crochet stitches, or a single crochet between wheels.  Both are referred to as joining stitches.  I used the pattern from Crochet Geek which is reprinted below.  I also highly recommend the tutorial video, also from Crochet Geek:

Here's how I made this blanket:

SC=single crochet; TC=triple crochet  CH=chain YO=yarn over (wrap around hook) (In my afghan, Color A was the cream and Color B was the rose)

Chain 122.

Row 1 (top half of wheel in Color A):  1 SC in the 2nd chain from the hook *skip 5 chains, 9 TC in the next chain, skip 5 chains, SC in the next chain, repeat from * across for each wheel.

See how the 9 triple crochets are all stitched into the same chain?

Don't worry that the hole might get big or look loose.  It all looks right in the end.  I'm giving the directions below with pictures, but if you want just the directions without the pictures, you can find it here.

Row 2: (Color B)(Bottom of Wheel) - CH 5, work a TC in each of the next 4 TC from the first row, leaving the last loop on the hook for each TC.  (In a normal TC, you will pull through 2 loops 3 times.  In this row you will pull through 2 loops 2 times and only 1 loop the last time)  You will have 5 loops on the hook.  

Yo over and pull through all 5 loops at once.

YO again and pull through to secure.  You now have a 1/4 wheel for the right edge.

CH 5, SC in the next SC (5th TC).  

*CH 5.Work a TC in each of the next 4 TC, then 1 SC, and 4 TC, leaving the last loop on the hook for each stitch (including the SC).  You should have a total of 10 loops on the hook.

YO and pull through all the loops in a single motion.  YO and pull through to secure.  You've now created 1/2 of a wheel (the other 1/2 will be on the next row).
CH 5, SC in the next SC (5th TC).  Repeat across from * across for each wheel.   At the left edge of the row, CH 5, work a TC in each of the last 5 TC, leaving the last loop on the hook.  You will have 6 loops on the hook.  YO and pull through the 6 loops in a single motion.  YO and pull through to secure.

Row 3 (Color B):  Right edge:  CH 5, work 4 TC in the joining space.  (The joining space is the "hole" in the middle of the wheel.  In the picture, I'm pointing at the joining space where you will work 4 TC. (You are NOT leaving the last loop, just doing regular TCs.)

SC in the next SC.  (I'm pointing at the next SC and yes, it's a stretch from the last stitch.)  *9 TC in the next joining space to complete the top 1/2 of the wheel.  SC in the next SC.  Repeat from * for each wheel.  On the left side 5 TC in the last chain joining space

Row 4 (Color A) - CH 1, turn, SC in the same stitch * CH 5.  Work a TC in each of the next 4 TC, 1 SC, 4 TC, leaving the last loop on the hook.  You will have 10 loops on the hook.  YO and pull through all loops.  YO and pull through to secure.  CH 5, SC in the next SC (5th TC on previous row).  Repeat across from * for each wheel.

Row 5: (Color A)  CH 1, turn, SC in the same SC. * 9 TC in the joining space of the next stitch.  This will complete the top portion of the wheel.  SC in the next SC.  Repeat across from * for each wheel.

Repeat rows 2-5 for the remainder of the length of the pattern.  To finish, create an edge using Row 5 around the afghan, matching up the wheels on the edge.

This afghan is about 44" square.  I did 10 wheels across (plus the half wheels on the pink rows) and seventeen wheels high.  That's not rows, because it takes 2 rows to make one wheel.

Remember, if you want to see the complete instructions without the pictures, you can find them here.  If anyone tries this, I would love to see pictures!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Scrapbook Station

I've been so busy trying to finish a few projects before opening the Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy), I haven't had time to post, but I'm excited about showing one of the best parts of the new craft room - the scrapbook station.

 I started with this armoire/computer station which I didn't want to move out of the room.  The first challenge was getting the corkboard to stick to the back of the cabinet. After a lot of fits and starts, I came up with VELCRO!

Next was finding a place for all my stamps.  This cabinet has a double pull out tray, one for the computer keyboard and the other a work area.  I used the computer keyboard tray, put on some non-stick/non-slip shelf liner and arranged the stamps in a small antique drawer in a way I can see them all.

Next, I had this old two-sided hanging thing for jewely. I turned it into a sticker/embellishment holder. Again, I can see everything and it's double sided!

I moved on to these plastic baskets I found at Goodwill and attached them to the corkboard with push pins -perfect for little items.

I used an old letter holder to keep bigger items.

I found these 4 glass candle holders at a garage sale and turned them into cute storage for ribbon and adhesives.

I bought a scrapbook/photo album and used it to keep all my letter stickers. You guessed it, I can see them all.  If you have a lot of letters, buy two books -mine is a little too full.

This was the one item I splurged on - a turning caddy. I bought it at Michaels, but I used a 50% off coupon to make the sticker shock go away.

I bought some pretty baskets at Michaels (on sale) and stored assorted items I want to keep out of sight.  An extra bonus is that the shelves are just a little deeper than the baskets, so when I pull out the basket, I can tilt it on the drawer so it stays accessible while I look through it.

Here's another item I am proud of.  I converted a shoe keeper we never used, took out a divider and it became instant paper storage!  I've heard that the best way to store paper is upright, but I'm not sure how to to that.  I did spend a tremendous amount of time sorting the paper by color.  You're looking at about 30 pounds (or more) of paper.  I need to give some away because I couldn't possibly use it all.

Well, that's it.  Here's the funny thing - although I have a good amount of scrapbooking stuff, I don't really get a chance to scrapbook much.  I've always worked out of travel containers on the dining room table.  My kids are 9 and 11, but in their scrapbooks they are 1 and 3.  I have more scrapbooking on my project list for June.  Now that I have an awesome place to work, maybe I'll get inspired.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Craft Room Reveal!

The day is finally here - my new craft room is DONE!!  I've been working in there and I love it.  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll show some detailed features of the new craft room, but in the meantime, here's some before, during and after pictures:



I have too much fabric!




My new cutting table where the couch (and mess) used to be.  There is storage under the table for scrap fabrics and extra yarn in bins.  The table cover is made from two curtain panels from Target.  The beer can collection is gone!




Finally, a functional sewing area!  Now I don't have to drag my sewing projects into the dining room and keep them spread out for weeks at a time.  My favorite part of the room.



I'm really proud of this part.  I've never had a place to scrapbook and now I have a scrapbook section of the room!  This was another big revelation - I have WAYYY too much paper!  I think I have enough for 20 scrapbooks, maybe more!

So there it is!  I'm so happy it's done, and frankly, so is my family.  It's my very own room for creativity.  Over the next couple weeks, I'll show all the sections of the room and how I organized them.