Friday, April 29, 2011

Maddie Quilt in Action

Remember this quilt?

Well I was finally able to present it to the lovely little Miss Maddie the other day. 

I'm pretty sure she likes it since her mom later told me, "Maddie has not let go of her blanket since we got home.   She got in the car and said 'Emily makes the best presents ever!" 

Maddie is such a cool kid, she even has her own blog.  You can follow her adventures here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love for the Dead Feminists

I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog yet, but my lovely and wonderful sister Abby is getting married in a couple of weeks.  I'm making a lot of the decorations and will be creating an eight and a half foot dessert table, so my life is pretty much consumed by that right now.  Some of those projects might be sneaking on to the blog here and there :)

Anyway, Abby had her first bridal shower a couple of weeks ago and while her big present will be revealed at another shower later next month, I still wanted to get her something special for this one.

I personally think that letterpress prints make lovely gifts.  It might be TMI, but I actually find them quite sexy, lol.  I stumbled across Amagram Press not too long ago and fell in love with their Dead Feminist Series, which is described as...

A series of collaborative, limited-edition letterpress broadsides created by Chandler O'Leary with Jessica Spring. Each broadside features a quote by a historical feminist, ties in with current political and social issues, and is letterpress printed from hand-drawn lettering and illustrations.

"To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the sun lines of the continents for untold thousands of year ... is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be." 
My sister and her fiance live in Florida and have a deep love of the ocean, so I thought this print fit them perfect.  (You can see it larger here)

The thing about this series is that each print is only in production for a short period of time and when they're gone, they're gone.  However they do offer oversized postcard reproduction prints - and at only $1.75 each, you can afford to put them all over your house!  

But to fancy it up a bit, I matted it on some cardstock, stuck it in a clip frame, and glued some vintage crocheted trim around the edges.  I think the entire project cost me about $7.00.

"One tends to give one's fingers too little credit for their own good sense."
Next on the list is to frame this one that I picked up for myself which I loooooooove.  But it will have to wait until after the wedding.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last bit of Easter sewing

daschund necklace

I never got around to sewing an Easter dress for Phoebe, but it was okay because her Liberty of London dress (which I loooooove) that I got her last year at Target fit her perfectly.  But I had to have something mama-made in her Easter basket, so I whipped up this cute little dachshund necklace from Wee Wonderfuls.  You can see my review of this book and another project I made from it here.

Super simple, cute as a button, and I finished it in one sitting.  Gotta love that.


Speaking of cute as a button.....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Naturally dyed Easter eggs


This is the third year I've experimented with dying Easter eggs using natural ingredients.  You can see the results of my very first batch here.


This year I made the dye baths from some ingredients I haven't tried in the past.  The top left corner is blueberries, bottom left is spinach, and the right is cranberries.  Please pardon the messy stove - I have better things to do with my time than clean :)


After boiling down the ingredients, I let them cool, strained out the plant material, and added a couple tablespoons of vinegar.  Clockwise from top left: spinach, cranberries, blueberries, and some pomegranate blueberry juice I had on hand.


I always use eggs that have been hollowed so I can give them as gifts and keep them from year to year.  I had planned on using these eggs for another project, which is why they have extra large holes - but I never got around to making anymore so I just went with it.

I wrapped the eggs in bits of lace trim and also plant material that I secured by wrapping the entire egg in nylon.


Here are the results from left to right:  Spinach, cranberries, pomegranate blueberry juice, blueberries, turmeric, blueberries, cranberries.


The blueberries definitely made the darkest and most vibrant dye, and the turmeric came out pretty nice as well.


I was surprised at how light the spinach dye turned out, but I found that you need heck of a lot of spinach to get a good green color.

May you have a happy and blessed Easter!  Love from RJ, Emily & Phoebe

I let Phoebe, on the other hand, go crazy with a good old fashioned, tablet-style Easter egg kit.  Bright colors and instant results for her toddler attention span.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Too busy to think of a title

Lots of sewing going on here - and all projects have deadlines attached.  Here's a sneak peak of tonight's project using the lovely DS Quilts collection (by none other than Denyse Schmidt, of course :) that can be found at Joann Fabrics.  I know I've ragged on the quality of fabric sold at Joann's in the past, but I'm quite impressed with how soft and lovely this collection turned out.  Hopefully the trend will continue?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Big shirt, little dress

You've got to love the clearance racks at Target. 


Where else can you find this much knit fabric for $3?


And turn it into this....


gotta love that face!
This was made using my trusty Tee for Two Pattern, (you can see a shirt version I made here) but I sewed it inside out so that the raw edges are on the inside this time.  I went up a size and made the 2T so Phoebe will (hopefully) be able to wear it for quite a while.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Daffodils, two ways



I prefer my daffodils minus the snow - especially in the middle of April.  I bet this bunch is thanking their lucky stars that I picked them yesterday and they didn't have to touch the stuff. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two thousand, five hundred and thirty five

That's how many unread posts are currently in my blog reader.  I guess that's what a super-sick kid, a hospital stay, and three nights of nearly no sleep will do to you.  But thankfully we're back home and on the mend and trying to catch up on everything we've been missing. 


Here's a (rather large) sneak peak of a quilt top I finished right before all this drama started.  It's the biggest quilt I've ever made, measuring 95x85 inches.  Now the question is - how the heck am I going to get this thing (plus backing and batting) through my machine?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quilt for Maddie


I usually don't post quilts before they've been given to their recipient, but I highly doubt that four year old Maddie follows my blog too closely.


Maddie has to have some surgery next month, so I thought I'd make her a summery quilt to cuddle with while she's stuck in the hospital.

Everything was from my stash, and shows off my "style" perfectly - vintage prints mixed with modern, and of course some vintage sheets mixed in there as well. 


I backed it in a soft flannel so it would be nice and cozy.


I found this little bit of spring during my photoshoot.  Since we moved into our house in November, we have no idea about what has been planted where.  We keep finding new surprises every day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Past Project Friday - Easter Edition

Every Friday I will be posting some sort of crafty project that I have completed in the past.  It could be anything from baking, to sewing, needlecrafts art, decorating, etc.

Hand-dyed easter eggs

I'm one of those nerds who has always made it a point to dye Easter eggs every year.  Throughout high school and college when my friends and even my sister found it to be incredibly lame, I've always enjoyed it.  Even after I got married and moved out I would dye them by myself while my husband put in long hours at the hospital.

These were made in 2007 and it was the first year that I experimented with natural dyes, and when I began to hollow out the eggs so I could keep them from year to year.  

Easter Eggs

I can't remember the exact tutorial I used (probably something from Martha), but I basically collected a bunch of different types of plant materials; placed them on the egg; then tightly wrapped a piece of nylon (cut from some pantyhose) around the egg to hold the flower or leaves in place.  Then I just threw all of them in the dye bath and let them simmer for about an hour. 

There are all different kinds of things you can use to make natural dyes - from grape juice to boiled spinach leaves to coffee.  I like using this site as a resource.

Hand-dyed Easter Eggs

For this batch, the dark amber eggs were made from boiled red onion skins and the yellow ones were made using turmeric powder.  I also experimented using both brown and white eggs.

The following Easter I used this same method again, but used boiled red cabbage leaves and achieved a lovely blueish-lavender color - but for the life of me I can't find any pictures to show you - argh!  I'm actually getting down to the end of my collection of Easter eggs because every year I keep giving a bunch of them away as gifts, but I've got a nice little line-up of at least a dozen empty eggshells on my windowsill waiting for this year!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An easy toddler easter craft and really harsh lighting conditions

Do you read The Artful Parent?  This blog rocks my socks off.  She has the most fun and creative art projects for kids, and her youngest daughter is around the same age as Phoebe, so she shows a lot of great ways to get your toddler involved in the creative process.

This project was inspired by her Toddler Suncatchers.


Step 1 - Trace an Easter egg shape onto a piece of clear contact paper.  Peel off paper backing and tape to the window - sticky side facing you.


Step 2 - Have your toddler tear off small pieces of tissue paper and stick them to the contact paper.


Step 3 - Repeat step 2


Step 4 - Throw pieces of tissue paper in the air and dance around.  Wheeeeee!


Step 5 - Take a break and come back and finish the project tomorrow.  Make sure cat mentor Odin approves.


Step 6 - When your toddler proclaims "all done!" and has added the maximum amount of sticky fingerprints, place another piece of contact paper on top of the first so that the tissue paper is sandwiched in between. 


Step 7 - Cut out your Easter egg shape.


Step 8 - Walk around the house for the next ten minutes with your completed Easter egg in front of your face.


Step 9 - Now go outside!  It's too darn sunny to be hanging around in the house!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just don't call it a mug rug





I was not one to join in the Mug Rug craze.  For one - I hate the name mug rug.  For two - I just don't have a need for one.  I have a toddler that destroys all of my possessions for me - if I get a mug ring next to the crayon scribbles on my priceless Ikea furniture, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.


But last week we had a mug rug swap at our monthly meeting of the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild, and I wanted to join in the fun.


So they're actually pretty darn fun to make.  It's pretty satisfying to be able to finish an entire project from start to finish in one sitting.  Plus, my quilting looked so darn gorgeous and perfect since I wasn't battling with a shoving a ginormous quilt through my machine.


We exchanged Yankee Swap style, which was a ton of fun, and this little beauty is the one I got in the end - made by the lovely Jenna - who finished making this only a day or so after getting home from the hospital after giving birth to her second baby.  Now that is a hard core quilter!

I'm still not feeling the whole mug rug thing, but do you think it's too late to jump on the doll quilt bandwagon?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Do NOT try this recipe

 The oven has been going all week long around here.  After finishing the cake pops, I got straight to work on these 100 wedding cupcakes.


All of them are covered in hand piped flowers that match the colors of the bride's bouquet.


Half yellow cake, half chocolate cake, all covered in cream cheese icing.


The frosting I use most often is a Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC).  It definitely takes a bit more finesse to master, but it's seriously the most deliciously silky, light, and not-too-sweet icing in the world. 


So when the wedding couple asked for cream cheese icing, I figured that I'd just toss in a pound of cream cheese to a batch of SMBC and we'd be good to go.  Well, Thursday night after 6 cups of sugar, 2 dozen eggs, 10 sticks of butter, and 3 hours of listening to the mixer run nonstop, I finally came to the conclusion around one in the morning that cream cheese and SMBC do not get along.  At all.


SMBC is a really finicky type of buttercream and goes through many stages where you think you've totally messed it up.  It starts off as a fluffy meringue, then goes through a really soupy stage, followed by the curdled, cottage cheese look, then finally just when you think you've ruined it, it comes together as fluffy buttercream.

The basic recipe would come together fine, but the second I added in even the tiniest bit of cream cheese, the icing would immediately separate into a curdled mess.


After trying to google some damage control and reading about other people's SMBC/cream cheese disaster stories, I threw in the towel and went to bed - knowing that I had no frosting made, 100 undecorated cupcakes, and a client coming to pick them up in less than 24 hours.


I woke up early and resorted to a good old gooey cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar icing, and a wonderful mother who babysat my daughter all day long.

Take that, buttercream!