Wednesday, March 20, 2013

hourglass block baby quilt

Have you missed me?

Life has been crazy in this household... the wonders of a newborn have combined with the challenges of a still sick Momma, so blogging has definitely taken a backseat to life. Sorry!

I'm hoping to seriously start back up again because I've missed you, oh faithful readers, and I still see my page views climb even as my sabbatical continues... so my absence will not do.

I'm back today with a quick tutorial and lots of pictures. I made a quilt for a dear friend of mine this past weekend. She is due with her fourth (FOURTH!!) baby this May, a boy, rounding out her beautiful broad with an even two boys and two girls. In celebration, we all "sprinkled" her and baby James with love and gifts.

I love giving homemade gifts to people. I spend a lot of time on the things I make, both in the actual construction of the project as well as the brainstorming part... Simply making something with my hands doesn't amount to much if the gift isn't a reflection of both me and the person I am giving the gift to.

I decided on a baby quilt for little James. I love to sew, and am rather good at it (ahem, horn toot). As I said, James is due in May, so I didn't want something too super heavy to last him through the summer months. I decided on flannel for the material for two reasons. One: It's sooooooooft. Two: my local Jo Ann's has a pretty poor selection of cotton baby material, so if I wanted variety, I had to go with flannel (get with it Jo Ann's!!)
Instead of doing a traditional quilt batting middle, I simply did a patchwork quilt front and a solid back. No middle at all. This kept the otherwise super warm and heavy flannel quilt to a manageable thickness. I know from experience that babies cant really be wrapped in something thick...

Here are some pictures on how to put together an hourglass block. At the end I brag with how lovely it came out. I really am super pleased with it. LOVE

What you'll need:

For this quilt, my blocks were 9" unfinished (like you see in the first picture below). To follow my pattern, you need:
  • one yard of solid flannel for the front (this will be cut into squares)
  • one yard of coordinating solid flannel for the back (this will be one solid piece)
  • 1/4 yard of 4 different prints (for a total of one full yard... make sense?)
  • 2 packages of quilt binding. You can make your own, and there are lots of great tutorials for that floating around the blogosphere.
  • Coordinating thread... you will see your thread, so make sure you pick a color that goes with the front and the back. I used grey. 
  • sewing tools: ruler/quilting tile, scissors/rotary cutter, self healing mat
How to do it:
  • Cut 9" square blocks out of both your solid front flannel and all of your print flannel. You should have 12 solid squares and 12 print squares.

  • Grab all your solid squares. Draw a line diagonally down the center on the wrong side of the fabric. Grab your print squares. Lay a print and a solid right sides together (making sure the line you just drew is on the outside)

CANNOT get this picture to flip! Oh well, you get the idea?

  • After hours (literally) of the two previous steps, now you can sew. Pin your two squares together and sew 1/4 on EITHER side of the line. Cut down your line, but don't take apart your square. Next, cut diaganally from the other two corners to make 4 small triangles. Iron your seams towards the print fabric.

again, what the HECK Blogspot? What are you doing to my pictures??

  •  Open your triangles and lay them out:
You will get two of these blocks from each original square. 

  • Center your seams and pin. Sew your large triangles together to create one hourglass block. Do this to the rest of your squares.

  • Square up your blocks (cut them to make perfect squares... sewing will make them kind of wonky) Lay out your squares in a pattern you like. I did a perfect square, but you could do a rectangle, too. Stitch your squares into strips, then sew the strips together. Lay out your solid back and your quilt front right sides out (wrong sides on the inside together) and zigzag stitch down each strip of blocks to secure the back to the front. Bind.

Now fold it and wrap it up pretty! Add a tag, and you're all set for gift giving!

I've been thinking about starting a mini business. Nothing too formal... I don't want to pay rent on an Etsy space or anything. I've been thinking about it for a while, but have basically been lacking the confidence to put myself out there. I get stopped all the time for my ring sling and car seat cover, and people have always seemed to like the blankets I make... What do you think? Go for it?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

waiting for baby... the nursery

So I have seriously slacked in my blogging for the month of December.

Baby Wonder and I returned from California and I didn't have much down time to sit and write anything. When I did have down time, I slept.

Now we are anxiously awaiting our Wee One's arrival (and she is currently TWO days late).

Since the kids are sharing a room for the foreseeable future, I had to figure out a way to turn Baby Wonder's room into a space that both a girl and a boy could share.

We decided to leave the walls blue (since I knew that I would be the one painting and I had no desire to tackle that on my own!). Because of this, I was immediately dealing with a not-so-neutral palate, so I knew I had to find bold ways to add both neutrality and femininity to the space. 

Want to take a peak?

My mom and I found the PERFECT bedding for her crib at Babies R Us. Light pink and navy, with a little splash of Paris? Yes please :)

We kept Baby Wonder's crib the same, just moved it to a different spot. We loved this bedding before he was born (Mr. even picked it out before we knew if he was a boy or girl!)

There used to be a red mirror here, back when the accent colors were red. I like the frame-less look of these, since they accent the narrow space here great but don't add a lot of visual weight.  

The room isn't big enough for two sets of furniture, so we have one tall dresser, a changing table dresser, and some closet space for both kids. After some SERIOUS purging of Baby Wonder's obscene amount of clothes, we now have a very manageable amount of storage, and neither child is wanting for outfits. Most  of their clothes are folded, but both have a small amount of room on either side of the dresser for things that need hanging. We took the doors off the closet to fit the dresser, which meant that I had to find a way to keep it organized and tidy at all times, with as little effort as possible. I found these pink canvas bins at Babies R Us and the fabulous woven basket was given to us by a friend at our baby shower. With the walls heavy with blue, I decided to add a pretty solid girl color with the bins. And yes, that is Baby Wonder's camo blanket in the basket... and a camo dress hanging in the closet :)

I made this subway art for Baby Wonder on Microsoft Word and framed it. Took very little time, and only about $10. Wee One will have one too, in different shades of pink, once she makes an appearance and I actually have information to print!

These originally used to be bright red (again, that was the "pop" in Baby Wonder's solo nursery) but after some collaboration with the Aunties, it was decided that a clean, crisp, white would make a great change to tie the room together. All letters, A-Z, have been painted with 97987450239485 coats of white paint and rehung all the way around the room. These letters are probably one of my favorite parts of the room!

Again, we went with white (and light blocking blinds) here! Frilly, ruffled curtains are girly enough without being overbearing because of the white.

This kid never has pants on...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

homemade holidays: color pegs

The Mr and I have bought a few things for Baby Wonder for Christmas this year, though we are keeping the presents from us minimal. Part of this is because he has so many toys that any more will end up being donated, as we have no more room after his birthday at the end of October. The other part is that, although he is young, it is important to the Mr and I that Baby Wonder (and his upcoming sister) doesn't get absorbed in the selfishness that can overcome children when a gift giving holiday approaches. The earlier we instill the less materialistic side of Christmas in our children, the sooner we can explore together as a family how to celebrate this blessed and magical time of year.

We are using this year a model for "Santa's" gift giving that I really like. Our goal is to focus on things other than presents, but let's be honest, there are few things more magical than waking up on Christmas morning to a tree full of beautifully wrapped gifts. We may double this in years to come... I am not bent on following this strictly, though the idea is wonderful.

We've adopted this outlook for Christmas:
1 thing I want
1 thing I need
1 thing I'll wear
1 thing I'll read

We'll use this year as a trial run since he's still a little young to understand what that all means. With any luck, this will encourage our children to prioritize and think about what they truly would like, as well as leaving room to focus on other aspects of the holiday season, as opposed to viewing Christmas as a free-for-all.

I have really wanted to focus on learning with Baby Wonder recently. I don't know what has made me fall so far behind where I thought I should be in teaching him, but that's where we are. Only going forward!

Baby Wonder's "1 thing I need" this year will be color matching pegs. He knows some of his colors, but still gets them mixed up occasionally, so I thought this would be perfect!

I like that it is a hands-on way to identify different colors.
We can play multiple different learning games with this set.
I made these for him (another thing that I love about them)

These are pretty straight forward to make.

Here's what you need:

Acrylic paints, as many colors as you would like to introduce
Sponge brushes (I found these were easiest to work with for this)
Wooden pegs
Wooden pots

This is how the pegs come. I found them in JoAnn's unfinished wood section. They come 2 to a pack for $1.99 each

The pots come similarly packaged, though they come 8 to a pack. You can buy multiple packs if you want to add more colors, but I was happy with the variety I had. The pots are $4.99 per pack, but I used a coupon so I got them for 50% off.

(Commercial: if you don't have the JoAnn's app on your phone, download it! And Michael's and Hobby Lobby, too... It's like constantly having a coupon in your pocket.)

Paint one peg and one pot matching colors. You'll need several coats, so give yourself an afternoon to keep coming back to this project.

The concept is pretty straight forward, but I'm so excited to show Baby Wonder. He loves games like this, and I know he'll have his colors down in no time!

Monday, November 26, 2012

homemade holidays: rag quilt

I have always wanted a Christmas quilt.

The cold weather of the Christmas season begs for warm blankets and hot apple cider. My favorite part of the season is when the Christmas tree lights are the only lights on and I'm curled up on the couch, peaceful and content with peace (and silence) of my home.

In order to accomplish this fantasy in the most ideal setting, I decided I needed a Christmas quilt.

I made two different kinds, and I'm still not sure which one I will be gifting and which one we will keep for our couch. It will ultimately come down to my husband, I'm sure.

I only have a tutorial for the rag quilt I made, since the other quilt is less complex and I didn't take any pictures.

To make a THROW sized rag quilt, here's what you need:
  • 1/2 yards of 9 different types of Christmas FLANNEL. This project will not work with cotton; flannel is a must. I bought all of my flannel at JoAnn's. I was lucky and found material I LOVED, so I ended up using only 6 different types of fabric and doubling the measurement to a full yard for 3 styles.
  • 2 1/2 yards of solid color flannel. I used white, but you can change it depending on your color scheme. 
  • 6 yards of quilt binding. You can buy 2 packs of pre-packaged binding (that's what I did) or make your own.
  • A sewing machine, coordinating thread, ruler, & rotary cutter or scissors. 
Here's how to do it:

Cut each half yard of your Christmas flannel into 2 six-inch pieces and 2 three-inch pieces. If you're doing any full yards, like I did, you'd just double that. I went back and bought my extra fabric after I had put together the quilt originally... it was then I decided it was too small and wanted more strips. That's why the first few pictures don't have all the material shown. Don't get confused!

Cut your solid flannel into 9 three-inch pieces and 9 six-inch pieces. You don't need to double these, as they are going to be in the middle of each patterned set. See below!

Sandwich one piece of solid flannel in between two pieces of patterned flannel. Use the same pattern; one side is the front, one is the back. It should look like this:

Pin down the center of your sandwiched pieces. Don't be stingy with your straight pins :)

Repeat until all of your 3 inch and 6 inch pieces are sandwiched and pinned. Lay out your quilt in a pattern you like. *It was here I decided it would be too small, so I went back and bought and additional half yard of the grey, white, and red snowflake flannel. Those additional stripes aren't shown here*

You'll have to use picture clues to figure this part out, as it is hard to explain. You'll want to pick one side of your quilt to be the FRONT and one side to be the BACK. One side will have the "rag" look, and the other will be totally smooth (like a standard quilt). It is important to pay attention to which side you are sewing together so this stays consistent. When you sew, be sure to leave a seam allowance of about a 1/2 inch. you will snip this part later to create a fringe. 

this is how to lay out your fabric to sew together

the rag side

the flat side.

The next step is the most time consuming thing you will ever do in your life. Get comfortable. After your blanket is all sewn, flip to the rag side and clip the fringe left behind on all the rows. You want to do this at about half inch intervals, though there really isn't a science behind it.

Bind your blanket around the edges.

Wash and dry! This part will really fluff the rag side, giving you a finished look.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

homemade holidays: paint stick ornaments

I KNOW it's the beginning of November.

I haven't taken out the Christmas decorations, and I've continued to hold back from the Silent Night verses I want to listen to so badly. But crafting? That cannot be stopped.

This is our first year as a family in our own home for the holidays, and while Baby Wonder and I won't be home for Thanksgiving, since I am "resting and recovering" with Nana and Poppy for month number 8 of this pregnancy, we will be home in plenty of time to enjoy our tiny townhouse for the Christmas season.

Because of this, I have a ton of projects I want to do this year. Nearly everyone is getting a homemade gift this year, and there are quite a few crafts for our home I want to make as well. Beacuse of this, I decided to get a head start this month. I want to be able to ENJOY the sesaon of Christmas, to help my tiny tot (and busy husband) remember the true reason for Christmas, and for our family to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of December.

I am finishing up my Christmas shopping no later than Black Friday (though it is strickly online shopping for me), and most of my gifts I plan on being done before that.

I am doing as much as I can while I am here with my parents; I intentionally left room in my suitcase to get all my projects home! It's silly to stress about it when I get home in December, and this is the situation I was delt. Cry or deal.

Unfortunatly, there isn't much I can share on here, as no one I'm crafting for has gotten their presents yet! When I get around to Baby Wonder's Homemade Holidays, I will of course share. As of now, I can share these little gift tags/ornaments my aunt and I made. I plan on attatching them to family & friends' gifts, as well as to our neighbor gifts... and probably keeping a few for our tree, too! I certainly made enough.

 The tutorial and free printables are here, and I won't steal her thunder by reposting how to do it.

I just LOVE it when a craft turns out exactly like I wanted it to. The shots below are some of my favorites; but this is no where near how many I actually made. These make me happy :)

told you I made lots!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a walk on the beach

We went for a walk on the beach because, well, it's November and I don't exactly get to do that very often.

It was nice to get out of the house or off the back patio for a while. Don't get me wrong, the view from the back patio is spectacular, but it is still nice to rearrange your surroundings for a little while. Doesn't make you feel as stuck.

I'm still managing, though reports of "I'm doing great!" or "Look at me go!" are still a couple months away.

My midwife warned me that it would get worse before it gets better, and she was right (imagine that). Still, I'm not on mandatory bed rest, I am able to walk around, albeit slowly and somewhat comically, and for these things I am grateful. I can still get on the floor to color with Baby Wonder (though that's pretty much where I stay for the rest of the afternoon). I can still help my mother fold laundry and I am perfectly capable of sitting at the table for family dinner. Even though I have my own family, and we do family dinners as well, it is still nice to be the kid again every once in a while.

These are my blessings.

Our Wee One is a little acrobat. She moves more than Baby Wonder ever did, and it still brings a goofy smile to my face (and a grimace all at once) when I see my belly rise on one side or the other, as I imagine her stretching, trying for more space, when it feels like she's taking up enough of it as it is!

My parents and brother are supportive and beyond helpful. They've taken this road bump in stride and exhibit every measure possible to make sure I don't feel it. They've gone above and beyond what I ever would have asked of them in order to help me and my family through these last couple months.

Baby Wonder is a joy. He is so smothered in attention and love that his happiness is contagious. He smiles and gives kisses and is a constant reminder of the blessing and joy brought about by my children. It is not hard to remember why the pain of this pregnancy will be worth it when I look at him.

My husband is a rock. He takes my frustration and mood swings like a champion and never falters in his love for me. He is patient and kind even when I am not. He understands my pain, even if he cannot feel it, and makes selfless decisions in order to help me. I am humbled by his steadfast dedication.

- - - - - - - - -

Sleep is hard to come by lately, though I suppose that's God's way of reminding me how much "fun" it was with Baby Wonder. A joke, right?  The last few months before you'll be up all night is the time you really want as much sleep as you can get!

Anyway, I got my feet out of the house and into the sand for an hour. My mom and aunt came with us (though technically, I went with them, since I'm the crippled one!). I was lucky to overlap a visit from my aunt, and as I badgered her with baby questions, Baby Wonder enjoyed yet another person utterly devoted to making him smile.

Baby Wonder had a fabulous time this afternoon; a far cry from when he first met the ocean. What was then a fear of sand and sea alike is now a feverish attempt to escape any hand trying to hold him back from running into the waves.

It is a joy watching him in such complete euphoria over something so simple as wading through the water and chasing sea gulls.

saying bye-bye to mommy before he goes to play

little boys are born with an ingrained desire to chase seagulls

He played so much and got so wet and dirty that he gradually started to loose his clothes; by the end of the trip we had just stripped him down and wrapped him in a towel for the 3 minute ride home. I did get a pretty good shot of a naked baby butt trying to escape on the beach, but that's for his first girlfriend :)