Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wedding Quilt

Jack and I were so lucky to receive this beautiful quilt made by my Aunt Toni as a wedding present.

A close up of the backing:

The backing matches all the colors of the top perfectly, and I love the heart-shaped quilting pattern:

I love the quilt top pattern, with one large block to show off the fabric and an asymmetrical border of smaller blocks:

Thanks, Aunt Toni! We appreciate your lovely handwork and we will cherish this for many years to come.

You can see more of our beautiful handmade wedding gifts here and here. I will be posting about more of our handmade gifts soon.

Halloween Needlefelts

I know we are in the midst of the Christmas season now, but I thought I would show you my Halloween needle felts anyway.

I was beside myself when I found out that the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat was going to be held in Manchester this year. Called SOAR for short, it's usually out west. I'm pretty sure that it hasn't been in New England in the past 7 or 8 years. I took Spinning on a Drop Spindle with Maggie Casey and it was wonderful. She is a fantastic teacher and a very interesting woman to talk to. I learned so much and feel much more comfortable using a drop spindle. It's great to have learned this portable technique for one of my favorite crafts.

Of course there was a fabulous vendor's market at SOAR, and I behaved myself for the most part but I couldn't pass up these great needle felting kits from Blackbird Crafts Needlefelting (part of the Mocha's Fiber Designs booth; the items are also usually available on Mocha's website). Link
I got all four designs because I couldn't choose between the ghost;

the fabulous cat;

the adorable pumpkin;

and the spooky moon with a bat. Plus, they all look great in a row as a banner!

I like the way they came out, although they don't look like the pictures and that bothered me while I was trying to make them, but I got over it. This was my first time doing flat needlefelting (previously I've made 3D objects like the gnomes), and it was a little challenging but still fun.

Now back to my Christmas knitting and crafting! Several items are gifts, but I will show you things as I can!

Autumn Leaves Stitching

I started this embroidery project last fall with my stitching group, and I finished it up and had it framed this summer. I currently have this embroidery for fall, and my "Smells Like Snow" embroidery for winter. Eventually I'd like to have one for each season.

This was an interesting project. We collected leaves from our yards (I ended up taking some of my mom's leaves, from the Japanese maple in her front yard), and traced around three of them on the congress cloth. Then we took those same three leaves and rolled paint on them to print the full leaf near the traced leaves. We used hand-dyed thread to work blackwork stitches inside the traced leaves, then metallic copper thread to outline all of the leaves and their veins. It was a great introduction to some of the blackwork stitches and a fun project.

Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer Wardrobe: Reverse Applique Kerchief

Ever since I saw the book Alabama Stitch Book, I was intrigued by the idea of reverse applique, along with many other stitching techniques presented there. This form of reverse applique is a little easier than the traditional version, where you have to turn the edges under (as I was told by a quilting friend).

In this project, you paint on the top fabric with fabric paint (I used a stencil included in the book) and then use a running stitch to secure it to the bottom fabric. After that, you snip out the inside pieces with embroidery scissors, leaving 1/4" of fabric between the stitches and cutting line.

I'm very pleased with how it came out. The running stitch is hand-stitched, so it can be a bit time-consuming, but it's a great TV project because you don't really have to think about what you're doing, besides trying to keep the stitches somewhat even. And really, the obvious handmade quality is part of the charm, so there's no need to rip out less-than-perfect stitches.

It's great for keeping my hair out of my face during the summer months, but I plan to wear this well into the fall!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Summer Wardrobe: Summer Socks

Just a plain vanilla sock, using Sockotta sock yarn, which makes the fair isle design. The yarn also has cotton in it, which makes it much more comfortable to knit with in the summer heat than wool, although the cotton can be hard on your hands. I bought the yarn five years ago to make my first pair of socks, and everything went great except I didn't measure the length of my foot or stop to try it on, so it turned out too small (I'm a size 9 and the pattern was written for a 7 or 8). I got much better at sock knitting after that, but by then summer was over and it seemed like I should save this project for the warmer months. I didn't expect so much time to go by, though--other projects just jostled their way in front of the socks. I was going to make ankle socks originally, but when I picked it up again recently I decided I'd rather have full-length socks.

Pattern: Classic Socks for the Family by The Yankee Knitter (an awesome pattern, I highly recommend it)
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Sockotta, 1 ball
Needles: US Size 1

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Wardrobe: Wiksten Tank

As part of my plan to sew at least one project a month throughout this year, and as one of my goals to make more of my own clothes and accessories, I decided I wanted to try to make a garment. I am a big fan of Jenny Gordy's blog Wiksten Made and her clothing line, Wiksten, so I was thrilled when she released her Tank Top and Dress pattern.

This is my first sewn garment that fits, and it fits well. I was a little nervous about how the tank would look on me, but I'm thrilled with the fit. I think it's universally flattering and it is so comfortable.

Jenny's instructions were very clear and helpful. There were a couple of times when I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, but I trusted her directions and did what she told me, and eventually everything became clear. I'm not a very experienced seamstress but I had no trouble following these directions, and I can't praise the pattern the pattern enough.

The adorable pocket detail is one of my favorite parts. I think the fabric is vintage--I got it at a barn sale last summer. I was happy to find such great fabric for this project in my stash.

I'd like to make the dress version, and I also have Jenny's Tova shirt and dress pattern that looks perfect for fall. So much to sew, so little time...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Wardrobe: Tote Bags

As part of my plan to sew at least one project a month, I made two tote bags in July (I'll catch up on April through June soon). I'm also trying to craft with the seasons and create more of my own clothes and accessories. Even though I was busy this summer I managed to make several things for my summer wardrobe. Link

The first one was the Broadturn Bag from Amanda Blake Soule's wonderful book Handmade Home. This is one of my favorite craft books. It's a wonderful blend of personal history, beautiful photographs, clear instructions, and projects that fit my aesthetic, budget, and lifestyle. This is not an easy feat! One thing I love about it is the frugal Yankee mindset that runs throughout it--this is something that runs in my family as well, and it's very inspiring to see it executed so beautifully in this book.

I had a little bit of trouble sewing the oval bottom to the body of the bag, but i often have trouble with that. I dug into my stash of fabric and found a large piece from my grandmother that had panels of coordinating fabric already sewn together. I separated the two fabrics and used one for the strap and the other for the body and bottom of the bag. I was pleased with myself for using stash fabric and for completing this quick and easy bag! It's already come in handy for corralling books, craft supplies and other random items for day trips.

I also made the Inside Out Bag from The Purl Bee. I love this blog so much, and over the years I have been able to make so many things from my stash thanks to the inspiration I've found there.

Instead of bias tape, I used extra-wide ribbon I had lying around. There is a great fabric shop around the corner from me and they sell huge rolls of ribbon for a dollar. A dollar for the entire roll, not a dollar a yard! This means I end up with a lot of ribbon. I also used some great red fabric from the stash that I had originally intended to make curtains with, but I've been using it for other projects here and there. This bag has also seen lots of use--the magazine pocket and smaller pockets are genius! I'm always carrying magazines with me and I hate when they get wrinkled, but that doesn't happen with the special pocket.

I'm still learning about sewing, but I'm glad I've been pushing myself to complete sewing projects every month. I even made my first garment, which I'll share next time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Afghan from Aunt Nancy

This is the last of the handmade wedding shower gifts--a hand-crocheted afghan by my Aunt Nancy.

As you can see, it covers our queen-sized bed, so it was definitely a labor of love. (The quilt underneath was made by my great-grandmother.)

It has already been cat-approved. (Luckily, it's also washable.)

If you look closely at this last picture, you can see the two cherubs and the interlaced hearts above them. We love this beautiful afghan! Thanks again to all of our generous friends and family who gave us wonderful gifts.

The heat of summer hasn't slowed down my crafting, but I have switched to embroidery and cross stitch for the moment, along with sewing at my sewing machine. Sewing can be a little tricky in the heat, as it usually involves ironing. I do have a couple of finished projects to share with you next time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Handmade Wedding Shower Gifts

I really meant to share these much sooner, but wedding crafting and planning got in the way. We had an amazing wedding and we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate with our wonderful, funny, and generous friends and family.

But more about the wedding later! Back to the wedding shower. If you were wondering where my crafty skills come from, here is proof in so many ways:

Dishcloths crocheted by my Aunt Carol

A bottle cap trivet (yes, those circles are bottle caps), also crocheted by my Aunt Carol. I especially love this because she has a similar one hanging in her kitchen that I've admired for years.

Hand-embroidered dish towels, also made by my Aunt Carol. I'm not sure if you can read it in these pictures, but the stitching along the bottom reads "Caitlin's Kitchen." Love!

A lovely table runner, also crocheted by my Aunt Carol.

Hand-embroidered monogram pillowcases, also made by my Aunt Carol (she was busy!)

Hand-crocheted edging on a beautiful set of sheets, made by my Grammie Stevens.

A handmade pillowcase/bag, sewn by a member of Jack's extended family.

My Aunt Nancy passed on these heirlooms (the doily above, potholder and basket below) to me. I have the tags that tell me who made what somewhere but I can't find them at the moment--everything was made or belonged to my Great-Grammy Audrey or Great-Grammy Atwood (I think).
I can't believe how tiny the stitches are in the lace doily.

A hand-sewn patchwork potholder.

This excellent basket, which now lives in my craft room. In it, my Aunt Nancy gave us a hand-crocheted afghan, but the pictures are on Jack's camera.

I love all of these wonderful gifts, and they make me feel so connected to the women in my family--past and present. I like to think that some of my crafting skills are just in my genes, but I'm also grateful for all the help I've received from these amazing women over the years.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Home Again

Jack and I are now married and back from our honeymoon!

We went to Glacier National Park in Montana--it was beautiful and relaxing and fun, but I'm glad to be home. (The picture above is my hiking boots on the steps of one of the cabins we stayed at.) I'm especially glad to be home and without any wedding projects or checklists to work on! I loved that we did a lot of wedding stuff ourselves but it was also a lot of work.

(This picture is my boots on our front steps.) I have lots to show you--beautiful handmade gifts from our shower and wedding, the crafts I made for the wedding, and the great craft materials I picked up in Montana. I'll be back soon!