If you want to have anything new to post on your blog
OK, I can’t blame my entire lack of blogging on my friend and fellow crafter, Annmarie. But it is true that during our most recent get-together, I sewed a bunch of the squares for my postage stamp quilt together the wrong way and didn’t get nearly as much done as I thought I would. But I don’t mind a bit because we had fun, as always!
So here is my unfinished quilt top … I think I’m about two-thirds done and I really like it so far!
Since I don’t have any other projects to share, please indulge me in a bit of spouse promotion. My husband’s next cookbook is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
And here’s a little promotional video about it, featuring Rachael Ray. She has a new imprint with Atria Books, and Jason’s book will be the first to be published as part of that new venture.
My best friend has a young daughter whose late-March birthday always catches me by surprise. I have no idea why, but I always forget it’s coming. So my gifts are always late. (See the cute bear carrier from two years ago, or last year’s Cabbage Patch Kid doll clothes).
This year was no exception, but I’m glad I procrastinated. It turns out that the birthday girl got an American Girl as one of her gifts, so I decided to make her an outfit for her new doll. I had purchased Simplicity 3547 and another similar set years ago thinking I would make clothing for my niece’s doll, but I’ve only ever made one set of pajamas. So this was a great chance to cross off another “use it or lose it” project and actually use some of the many patterns I bought on impulse when they went on sale. I also knitted a little sweater/shrug to go with the dress using this pattern.
Not bad for my first knitted “garment.” I had the yarn leftover from another project, so altogether, the only thing I bought for the entire outfit was the ribbon for the sash on the dress.
This is one of my niece’s dolls modeling the outfit. This doll is actually a bit larger around the middle than an American Girl doll, so the dress doesn’t fit exactly right, and the shrug is a bit snug. But it gives you a better idea of how it looks.
I finished my thrummed mittens for my sister! March 28 may seem late for new mittens, but we do still have a bit of snow on the ground, so they will be an appropriate Easter gift! The mitten on the right is turned inside-out, obviously, so you can see the bits of fleece roving that are knitted into the mitten.
This is my first pair of completed mittens, so my standards are low. Are they perfect? No. (The little white “puffs” of fleece on the right hand glove are much bigger than those on the left, so they don’t actually match very well). But are they warm and wearable? Yes.
Parker wanted to do some crafting with me last weekend, and though I would’ve loved to make some kind of cute, pastel, Easter decorations, he wanted more Angry Birds accessories. (I previously made him a few birds and a pig using the patterns and tutorials at Obsessively Stitching). I used the baby pig pattern from there, and an egg pattern from Martha Stewart.
You will note the eggs are rather lumpy. I was determined to make sure Parker actually helped, so I had him cut out the pattern and trace it onto the fabric, and he handled all the stuffing for both the eggs and piggies.
We also made a nest, loosely following this tutorial at AlphaMom, though we didn’t cut our paper into such tiny strips. In retrospect, doing so would’ve looked a lot better, but Parker was thrilled with our version anyway.
A few months ago we bought these pretty floral, sheer curtains from IKEA, finally replacing the plain linen curtains our cats have torn and shredded in our home office. And doing so seemed to spark a house-wide curtain-replacing campaign. Next up was the living room. Even though I made curtains not too long ago, I just didn’t love them. It doesn’t really show up in that photo, but the fabric is fairly shiny and it just bothered me, as did the fact that they probably should’ve been a few inches longer.
So I bought new curtains when they went on sale at West Elm. (My husband didn’t like them when I showed them to him online. But it’s his fault… he wanted a silly, pretentious mason jar/cocktail shaker from West Elm for Christmas. Otherwise I would’ve never seen the curtains).
In both cases, I had to hem the curtains. The living room panels were just a few inches too long, but the office curtains were a good 18″ or so too long. So I used the leftover fabric, paired with leftover fabric from the curtains I made for our camp last summer, to make new curtains for our guest room. (Again, the cats had wrecked havoc with the muslin curtains up there).
The old living room curtains ended up in our bedroom. I hung them doubled up, i.e., two panels held up as if they were one, so they would be a bit less sheer.
And then Parker felt left out … so we bought him some new curtains from Target to replace the faux Roman shades I made for his room a few years ago. I really liked those shades, but some of the grommets I used had torn loose and the fabric had faded. I actually didn’t realize just how much they had faded until I looked back at that old picture!
All that curtain hanging made me realize two things: My windows are really dirty. And curtains are very challenging to photograph (particularly if you are too lazy to clean up the rest of the room and take wide-angle shots). Ha!
In other crafting news, I’ve now knit three different mittens. Hopefully soon I will complete a pair. The first was just a test out of cheap yarn to see if I could actually manage to follow a pattern. Check! The second was a slightly more difficult pattern, using nice thick wool, that includes a flap so you can fold down the mitten top. (very handy if you’re a reporter like me and need to be able to write outdoors!) But I ran out of yarn while making the second mitten in that pair, so that’s on hold. The third mitten is for a loved one who was just diagnosed with Raynaud’s syndrome, which affects circulation. This pattern involves incorporating bits of fluffy fleece roving inside the mitten to make what is called “thrummed” mittens … so far, it looks a bit like an oven mitt/boxing glove, but I think they will be super cozy and warm.
And I’m making progress on my “use it or lose it” postage stamp quilt! As I’ve been putting the blocks together, some look really great and others… not so great. But I keep telling myself it will all look OK once the whole random mess is together.
Here’s a quick craft project that can pull double duty for both Easter and April Fool’s Day, which are just one day apart this year. Faux chocolate eggs!
I have seen a few other tutorials online that involved painting plastic or papier mache eggs to resemble chocolate, but I wanted to go a step further and include foil wrappers. I was thrilled that my local candy and cake decorating shop sold several colors of foil for an extremely inexpensive 35 cents per foot. You can find the full tutorial here in the article I wrote for AP.
Here are some past Easter projects. Click on the pictures to go to the post. (I must confess that my cats got ahold of some of the felted eggs and they are no longer so pretty!)
Last week we took our annual trip to Miami for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. My husband writes about it every year for AP, and I tag along to help out. It is such a nice break from the long New Hampshire winter, though the celebrity food scene isn’t really my “thing.” This trip coincided with the official announcement of Jason’s next cookbook, which will be the first book published by Rachael Ray’s new imprint with Atria Books. Very exciting! Here’s Rachael with Jason and Parker, who insisted on “dressing up” in his button-down shirt and tie.
I, meanwhile, was wearing my latest “use it or lose it” creation. This skirt allowed me to accomplish two goals: finally using this pretty fabric that my friend Annmarie gave me more than a year ago, and finally making something out of “Sew What! Skirts,” a book I purchased even longer ago than that. I forgot to take a picture of the other side, but this is a reversible, wrap-around skirt. Though this book is all about using your measurements to make a pattern, I cheated a bit and used a pattern from another book (more on that later) since I already knew it was the right size. I wasn’t originally going to make the skirt reversible, but I worried that the floral fabric was too thin, and making it reversible not only gives the skirt a nice weight, it’s easier to sew (no hemming!), and I get two skirts in one! (The other side also helped my stash-busting goal… it is leftover light gray fabric from the whale pillow I made almost two years ago!)
Rachael Ray actually complimented me on this outfit!
Here’s a better view of the whole skirt from a different day.
I also wore another skirt I made using the bias skirt pattern from the book “One-Yard Wonders.”, again using fabric from my friend Annmarie. I actually made a different skirt with this fabric last year using an online tutorial, but I was never happy with the way it hung, so I ripped out the side seams and waist and re-made it using the One-Yard Wonders pattern. Very, very simple. It’s a tad short because I had to cut off the original waist, but the shape is much better.
But now we’re back home in snowy New Hampshire. Though our favorite ice cream place re-opened for the season while we were away, so spring can’t be too far off!
About two weeks ago, we had a special family movie night and watched “E.T.” It was Parker’s first time seeing it, and my first time since I saw it in a movie theater when I was nine years old. It was just as good as I remembered, if not better. But unlike when I was a kid, this time, I cried and cried … and cried …. at the end! Parker was not so emotional, but he did really enjoy it, so I decided to make him a shirt similar to the E.T. movie poster.
In keeping with my “use it or lose it” resolution, I used a black t-shirt I picked up at Michael’s when it was on sale for $2.50 and some textile paints I purchased a while back but had yet to try out. I also used some adhesive vinyl to make a stencil using my Silhouette machine. (Had I known it would come out so well, I would’ve taken step-by-step photos!)
Making the stencil was easy: I found a picture of the E.T. poster online, copied it into Photoshop and enlarged it to the size I wanted. I then used the “magic wand” selection tool to select just the silhouette of Elliott and E.T., smoothed the edges a bit and filled it in with black. This step makes it easier to trace in the Silhouette software.
So what I ended up with was a vinyl stencil, with a big circle cut out for the moon and the letters “E.T.” cut out underneath, and a little “sticker” in the shape of Elliott and E.T. Once I had it stuck to the shirt, it took less than five minutes to paint. Really, all I did was dab white paint on the shirt, almost randomly, with a few dabs of blue added at the end. The way the black shirt shows through really made it look like the surface of the moon! It was so easy I’m tempted to make another one for myself.
And here’s a silly picture of our cat Marmalade. The morning after we watched the movie, I happened to throw all of Parker’s stuffed animals on his bed so I could vacuum, and Marmalade jumped up in the middle. It reminded me a bit of the scene from the movie when E.T. is hiding among all the toys and stuffed animals!
Not that we ever go crazy, but my husband and I decided not to spend money on Valentine’s Day this year because we are taking a few extra days of vacation later this month when we go to Miami for the annual Wine & Food Festival he covers every year. But I did make him a card featuring the lyrics to the song we danced to at our wedding. (“Somebody” by Depeche Mode, though the version we used was an a cappella song recorded by the UNC Clef Hangers). I rearranged the lines so that I could highlight letters spelling out “I LOVE YOU.” Obviously this wouldn’t work for every song, but I actually found I had several options for spelling it out. It’s kind of hard to see, but I used a “chalkboard” background and a font that looks a bit like it is sketched on.
For the “Valen-slimes” for Parker’s classmates, I found some little plastic cups (sorry, I don’t know where they were purchased. My husband had them leftover from a photo shoot for his next cookbook), so I tweaked the card a bit, punched holes in them, and stuck the mini cups of “slime” in. The hole punch made a hole just big enough to hold the cups pretty securely.
After all the snow we got last weekend, I’ll be glad to head south next week! We ended up with 24 inches of snow here. It was not a huge deal here, we are used to snow. Though now that I have to shoot video as well as write for my AP job, it meant I had to go out in the storm … that wasn’t fun! I actually couldn’t open my front door, luckily we have a back porch door that opens inward.
Here a few pictures from Saturday, once it died down a bit!
This is a bit late for a New Year’s resolution, so let’s call it a Ground Hog Day resolution? I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much crafting STUFF I have … so many bits and pieces of things I save because I know they’ll be good for SOMETHING. So I’m trying to challenge myself to use what I have instead of buying new materials for new crafts. I have also been thinking of challenging myself to make at least one thing from each of the many, many sewing and crafting books I have (many of which were kindly sent to me by publishers through my AP craft writing work). Or at least making the things I pin on Pinterest before adding more and more…. you get the idea.
My first project as part of this plan is a Postage Stamp quilt, using this tutorial at Red Pepper Quilts. I spent a few evenings going through my scraps (I have a set of small shallow drawers where I store leftover fabric, mostly scraps and pieces less than a quarter yard, divided by color) and cutting them into 2X7″ strips. It soon became apparent that I have mostly bright colors, and a lot of polka dots and small scale floral prints. I didn’t cut up any multi-color fabric, though I don’t tend to have a lot of that anyway. The tutorial calls for 432 strips. I ended up cutting about 675, or roughly 75 each for each color group (I lumped brown/black/gray into one color however since I didn’t have many scraps of those colors), and I’m going to use 50 of each color for this quilt, and the rest for something else. I pretty much wanted to use up as much of each little scrap I had rather than save tiny bits.
As I was cutting, I recognized some of the fabric from baby quilts I made for children who are now in double digits, so I think it’s about time I used up the rest!
I knew it was going to be hard for me to not over-think this quilt, so to make it truly random, I dumped all the strips into a box and mixed them all up. I then grabbed two strips, and as long as they weren’t the same color, I put them right sides together and started a pile that I could then take over to the sewing machine and strip piece. I finished that step today, so now I have 216 strips to sew together into sets of four.
My friend gave Parker a “make your own slime” kit for Christmas, and it has been a huge hit with my aspiring mad scientist. So using that as an inspiration, I came up with these Valentines and wrote about them for AP.
You can read the article HERE (if the link goes dead, just Google “Holly Ramer” and “Valenslime”), but basically this a cooked mixture of Metamucil and water. Easy! And nontoxic (not that you’d want to eat this, but just in case….). I did notice that a batch I made and stored in a plastic bag was starting to get a little moldy after two weeks, but the batch I kept in the fridge was fine. I think it would be fine to keep them out of the fridge if you made them right before giving them out.
And I’ve uploaded a PDF with the printable card I designed if you want to make some yourself. Just click HERE:
Not feeling slimey? Here are my past Valentine’s Day projects. The light saber/glow stick Valentines BY FAR have been the most popular, though I’m partial to the little polymer clay charms.