Monday, April 28, 2014

Let There Be Light!

The nesting instinct is continuing to drive me crazy as I notice more and more that needs to get done in the next few weeks. This weekend I mentioned to my husband how our dark living room just makes me crazy. Our house is old and therefore, there is no hardwired lighting in our living room. We simply rely on the lighting of one little table lamp that we bought at Walmart when we first moved in. 

It isn't so bad for whomever manages to win the corner of the couch closest to the light (lately it has been me) but now that we are getting more involved in fun activities as a family it has really become a bother. It finally bothered my husband on Friday night as he and my son were trying to work on a puzzle and were having an impossible time seeing the colors. A glorious moment occurred when he turned to me and said, "so what was your idea for the living room". "Plug-in wall sconces," I responded with glee as I immediately hopped on the computer to start price shopping for the best option. 

Lucky for us, we had a Home Depot gift card left from Christmas and Home Depot just so happened to have the best priced wall sconces by Hampton Bay. My husband went and picked 2 up on Saturday morning and by Saturday night they were up in our living room.

I was beaming with pride when he walked in the room on Saturday night and said, "Wow, this is like a whole new room!". Success, I thought to myself. But Sunday morning I just didn't have that same enthusiasm as I zeroed in on the only thing I disliked about the lights . . . 

Don't get me wrong, they aren't terrible but they also are totally not me. They had a paper type material pleated look that made it look like the lampshades were a total after thought of the company. I mean, I didn't expect much better for the great price but I knew I could do better without having to go spend anymore money. So the lampshades and I got comfortable on the living room floor and I began dissecting them. 

Thank goodness they came apart beautifully. And I had been lucky enough to score a bunch of material at the thrift store this weekend (the brown tagged bag was actually only 69 cents)!

Inside one of the bags was some white linen material and some white lace that just inspired me to continue on. I covered the lamp shade with the white linen and trimmed it off with some thrifted double fold bias binding that I had on hand. 

It looked a million times better but still wasn't exactly my style. So I began to play with some ribbon that matches our living room ceiling, some burlap to keep my shabby chic style, and of course, some of the beautiful lace that was in those bags of thrifted goodness. A few fabric flowers for a pop of femininity and I finally had some lamps that I could be very proud of. 

They are far from perfect (I had no idea what I was doing) but they are much more my style and didn't cost me anything other than a little bit of fabric from my "collection"! 

And now I will be able to see what I am doing when I sew in the living room! And I do hope to be back to sewing this week. Until next time . . . happy quilting (oh how I hope to get back to quilting)! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Playing With Fabric

I cannot believe it has been 2 weeks since my last post. I have been extra tired as I approach the end of my pregnancy and have been focusing more on what I need to do to prep the house for baby's arrival. But I have been missing quilting. I still tried to quilt though. I continued to work out my love-hate relationship with the bluebird quilt. I got through piecing all 13 star blocks. 

Turns out I was really inaccurate at everything when I was first starting out. Love knowing that I am now more skilled and a lot more precise (I think after pulling this project out again, I may even consider myself more intermediate now)! But, after piecing these 13 blocks, I have also concluded that there is no love here. It is all hate. 

Don't get me wrong, love the stars, just hating the stress of dealing with such inaccurate pieces. So I think it will be time to take the fabric and try to turn into something else instead of the original quilt that I had planned on. Back to the drawing board, or rather my quilting sketch book. 

Oh my, this book is where I keep all my ideas and yet it is so uninspiring. And here is where I realized that my nesting is kicking in. Suddenly everything in the house is needing improving. Including my sketch book. So at 10 p.m. in the evening one night I pulled out some fabric and a glue gun and got to work. 

Much better, wouldn't you agree? Now it is something pretty to look at while designing pretty quilt ideas. I am still thinking that I might use some fabric paint to paint something pretty on the front but I am still debating. But I did keep playing with fabric because now that my quilt book looked so pretty I knew that my free motion quilting sketch book was looking really shabby in comparison. This time I pulled out some felt to play with and I must say, I am even happier with how the second sketch book turned out. 

I like the second one so much that I nearly went back and ripped off all the fabric off the first book so I could do it over with some fun embossed felt but then I told myself that would be a huge waste of fabric. So instead, I will just work on a third book this week for my embroidery sketches! And now I will be inspired to quickly fill up the quilt idea book so I can start a new sketch book once I am out of pages. 

The nesting stemmed into every area of my house. The biggest being the kids' room. After a 10 hour day of cleaning, laundry and re-organizing, I can finally say that their room is ready. Plus I finished the final decorative square for above the baby's crib. 

No, there is no random pink just slicing through the printed fabric. I have used photo editing to cover up the baby's name since it is still a surprise. But I did spend a lot of time hand embroidering the elephant and personalizing it with her name. 

I am really happy with how each section of the room turned out. I wanted the kids to feel like they had their own personal areas despite sharing a room and I think it worked out very nicely! Of course, upon finishing their room I realized I should probably start organizing what I want to pack for the hospital. Which led to picking the baby's coming home outfit which led to the realization that she needed something pretty to put on her head. So out came some ribbon to match her outfit and I got to sewing. 

There is velcro on the back of the flower so I can switch it from headbands to hats depending on weather and such. Of course, then I worried that the flower could possibly be too big . . . so I made a complimenting one a bit smaller just in case. 

I am loving these ribbon flowers! If I have enough energy this weekend I may have to go to the craft store to see if they have any other super cute ribbon to turn into flowers for her. Or for anything for that matter . . . they could be super cute on other fabric projects too! And because I like variety, I also took some time to make a smaller version of the dahlias that are above the crib for on a headband as well. 

I hope to squeeze in some actual quilting this weekend but I also have a big home decor project planned and I would love to make a few more flowers that can be switched out to match baby outfits! Boy do I hope the ultrasounds were accurate in predicting the gender!!! 

Until next time . . . happy quilting!   :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Using Fabric to Decorate

This week has been a little less about sitting at the sewing machine and a little more about getting some decor finished up for the kids' room. I want my son to feel like he has a cool new space since a baby will be moving into half of his room. So I decided to make some 12 x 12 squares of fabric decor for over his bed that would match his new quilt. My husband pieced wood squares for me and I stretched the leftover fabrics from his Thomas the Train quilt over the edges. 

I also decided to have some more fun with hand embroidery and personalized some squares for him. 

The squares turned out really nice (I just am not loving the "J" but I can always update that in the near future). I love that they pull the design of the quilt up onto the wall!

My husband also made 3 extra squares for me to use over the baby's crib. For 2 of these I decided to create some 3-D fabric art by making felt dahlias on them. I started off with a square of fabric that matched the fabrics in her crib quilt and added a 7 inch diameter circle of felt to the middle of the fabric. 

I loosely followed a tutorial that I found at Not Martha for a felt dahlia brooch. I simply decided to create it on a larger scale and by hand sewing instead of hot gluing. I cut my petals out of 3 inch squares, 2.5 inch squares, 2 inch squares and little 1 inch squares. 

I simply pinned my folded petals onto the circle and hand sewed around the circle. 

I continued this way for all 4 rows. 

Then I added an inner circle with edges that I pinked. On top of that I added a rolled up piece of felt that had been cut every 1/4 inch or so along one side. 

I just love how beautifully these turned out. Definitely going to get to work on some small scale versions to put on headbands for the baby! I hope I can get them done in time!

Then I attached my fabric squares to the squares my husband had created and they were ready for hanging!

I am working on a special embroidery piece to hang between the 2 flowers but I won't be sharing a picture of it until baby comes . . . we have managed to keep her name a secret and this square will have her name on it! 

I just love how everything is coming together! It all matches so nicely!

And I just have to share the beautiful quilt ladder that my husband made for me as my Valentine's gift (yes, we are very slow to complete projects lately)! Haha. 

He used the tutorial shared by Shanty2Chic for their $10 Blanket Ladder. He painted it to match my living room decor and added a quote from our favorite band!

The quote is from Dave Matthew's Band, "Crush".

I absolutely love that he made this for me and I already cannot wait to make some more quilts to adorn it!

Until next time . . . happy quilting!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Feeling the Blues: A Love-Hate Relationship

This week has been a little all over the place. I am working on a few projects at once, including one that I dug out from my unfinished projects from last year. Back in July I started working on a quilt that I was referring to as my Blue Bird Bed Quilt. I only ever got the pieces cut and some hourglasses and strip sets pieced. This week I pulled out the 53 strip sets. 

I know when I had planned this quilt that I had loved all of the fabrics. But now, as I relaid them out to cut those 53 strips into 530 2-inch pieces, I cringed. Suddenly I am hating everything about it. I don't know if my taste in fabrics has just changed or if I am becoming more in tune to choosing values and hues a little more wisely. I also noticed that I was not as good at my piecing then as I am now. So on the plus side, I have seen that I have improved greatly. But it is going to be hard to stay motivated to finish this project. However, I am determined to catch up on my projects this year so I must see it through.

And so the strip sets made their way to the cutting mat and I cut and cut and cut and cut.  

Until I had 530 pieces. 

And then they all went to the sewing machine where I sewed and sewed, then pressed and pressed, until I had 265 four patches. 

(Sorry, the pieces all blend in with the ironing board . . . yep . . . it's the same fabric)!

I hope to keep chugging along on this project every so often. It would be wonderful to actually finish it this year and I hope that as it comes together we will transition back from a hate relationship to a love relationship. 

But I do have a love relationship with a tablet case that I created a few weeks ago and forgot to share. 

The funniest part: the strap that closes the tablet uses some of the same fabric that is in the Blue Bird quilt, and is the fabric that inspired the name. 

I think I just love the embroidery most of all. I ordered the embroidery design from Urban Threads, my favorite place to find embroidery files. 

I am also still working on some decor for the kids' room but I am not finished with it quite yet. But it does involve some hand embroidery which I have been loving so much lately. In fact, I think when I finish with their decor I may head over to Urban Threads to order some hand embroidery patterns to play with! 

Until next time, happy quilting!