Summer Camp, Revisited

It’s been a couple of years since Miss L attended my Little Stitchers Camp at Intown Quilters. Half-day camp was ideal for her, although she was slightly disappointed that the camp focused on hand-sewing projects rather than using a sewing machine.

Ah, but time flies. And this year, my sweet girl was old enough to attend my full-day Fashionista Camp at IQ. I’m not going to lie: I was a little nervous about having her as a student. Teaching your own kid is usually tougher than teaching someone else’s kid. But we both had a blast and I was so proud of her for what she accomplished during the week.

Even though L has owned a sewing machine since she was five years old, I’ve never given her the same types of lessons that I do with my regular students. Instead, she’s mastered threading it on her own (including winding and installing the bobbin) and spent endless amounts of time sewing together scraps she’s collected from my sewing room.

With some guidance from her camp teacher, she cut out and sewed a pocket tissue cover, some pajama shorts and the cutest cat purse ever made.

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Simplicity 118 has the cutest animal face purses I’ve ever seen. The pattern calls for using vinyl but we substituted Kona cotton with foam interfacing for the exterior and heavyweight fusible interfacing on the lining. The bag is essentially flat lined with a zipper in the gusset plus a zipper pocket on the outside and patch pocket on the inside. I changed it up and swapped the zipper pocket for a second patch pocket because I’m not sure she was quite ready for the zipper. Plus, at only 10, I’m not sure she would have the patience to plug along on a two-day project.

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I helped her fuse down and stitch around the appliques for the cat face. She picked colors that reminded her of her brother’s cat, Max. She really took her time on the stitching and I looked over several times and saw her with a seam ripper in hand because she was unhappy with her stitching.

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After seeing her work, I think I could have let her do the zipper. She’s far more careful than I was at her age, and really took her time with sewing. I actually let her use my Janome HT2008 for the week instead of her Janome Hello Kitty because it has a computerized speed control, which I knew would come in handy.

IMG_7353She especially loved the mouse applique on the outside pocket. I think it’s her favorite detail! L is so happy with how her purse turned out and has worn it everywhere since she finished.

 

‘Tis the Season

This year’s family Christmas card was inspired by a photo I took in August of Miss L with her cousins. It was such a fun shot and seemed well-suited for our card.

Of course, actually taking the photo was more of a challenge. The oldest was home for the blink of an eye over Thanksgiving, spending most of the visit with his friends. I quickly set up this shot and fired off the camera maybe 15 times before he bolted out the door, back to school. Harrumph.

Lucky for me that I ended up with several contenders for our card. Honey and I picked this one and I set off on making it into a card. That turned out to be the biggest challenge. Everything was too…something. Too busy. Too sweet. Too wrong. I played around with it on and off for about a week before I stripped out all the elements and started fresh, just the black-and-white photo. Added a wide border of white. The scalloped circle in red. And I knew: This was our card.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Don’t miss the blog tour stops that have already been posted (Lisa, Susan and Jessica) and be sure to comment for you chance to win a copy of Little Girls, Big Style!

Six

Miss L’s sixth birthday fell on a Saturday this year. Between Halloween, Quilt Market and bad weather, I didn’t get around to taking her birthday portraits until last week. Exactly one month after her birthday, to be precise.

It’s amazing how much she’s changed in only one year. Two new teeth. Less of that baby face. Reading. (Reading!) And much better at taking direction during these little photo shoots of ours, which has made them far more fun for the two of us.

The weather was a little on the cool side and a wee bit drizzly, but it also made for some nice light conditions so I’m not going to complain. The skirt is made with the Dr. Seuss fabric line from Robert Kaufman; the pattern is my On-the-Border Skirt, sans the ruffle. Basic Target white tee paired with a too-small denim jacket from Gap that L refuses to give up. Dr. Seuss Converse that I bought in anticipation of putting them with something I made from the fabric (oh, like you wouldn’t have done the same thing).

I’ve already printed about two dozen of our photos from that day and have plans to blow up a couple for the house and give some to grandparents as Christmas gifts. And loved on that model a whole bunch, since I know how fleeting these moments are.

Checker This Out

Probably the biggest challenge of my crafty Christmas has been coming up with gifts appropriate for the guys in my life. And of that category, the next challenge was coming up with something for little boys — specifically, my almost-7-year-old nephew. Last year, I made him a cool knight’s cape and shield, so I really didn’t want to make him any dress-up stuff for this Christmas.

And then … epiphany. I remembered a neat play quilt I saw on the floor at Intown Quilters. I hadn’t looked at it too closely but I did notice that it featured a checkerboard, complete with fabric checkers. (I found out later from Sarah is that it’s a free pattern from Michael Miller Fabrics, Checkers in the Garden.)

To make your own checkerboard blanket, you’ll need three fabrics. I think I bought one yard of the main fabric (used for the border  and the back of the blanket) and a half yard each of the other two fabrics (used for the checkerboard and the closing straps). You also need fusible fleece (my piece measured 26.25″x26.25″) and Velcro (I bought a package with three sets of pre-cut squares).

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut your two fabrics for the checkerboard into four 3″ strips. Set the excess fabric aside.

Lay out your fabric strips, alternating the two fabrics. Stitch together with a 1/4″ seam and press all the seams in the same direction. Use your rotary cutter and ruler again to cut eight 3″ strips across  your sewn striped panel.

Pick up every other strip and turn it to the opposite end so that you form a checkerboard pattern with the strips. Sew the strips together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams in the same direction.

From your third (main) fabric, cut two strips that measure 3.5″x20″ and two strips measuring 3.5″x26.5″ (before cutting, you may want to measure your checkerboard to make sure the numbers are correct for your project).

Match the long edges of the 20″ strip to the left and right sides of your checkerboard, then sew together with a 1/4″ seam. Press the seams toward the border pieces. Next, match the long edges of the 26.5″ strips to the top and bottom edges of the checkerboard and shorter border pieces. Sew them together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams toward the border. Set aside.

Use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut two 3.5″x12″ strips from one (or both) of your reserved checkerboard fabric. Match the long edges of one piece, right sides together, and sew with a 1/4″ seam. Position the seam in the center of the tube and press open. Repeat with the other strip. Put the sewn tubes on your cutting mat and use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut 4″ from one end of each tube. Sew closed one end of each of the four pieces, then turn each tube right side out and press.

Place one short and one long tube together, right sides together, and match the raw edges. Baste near the raw edge. Set aside.

(Before cutting these next pieces, measure your bordered checkerboard to make sure the numbers match your project.) Cut one piece of fusible fleece and one piece of your main fabric to 26.25″x26.25″. Follow the fusible fleece directions to adhere it to the wrong side of your bordered checkerboard.

Next, lay the fleeced checkerboard right side up on your worktable. Grab the pair of attached tubes and place the first pair so the inside edge lines up with the right edge of the second row of checkerboard. Pin in place (the raw edges of the tube should line up with the raw edge of the border). Place the remaining pair on the opposite side of the checkerboard, with the inside edge lined up with the left edge of the seventh row of checkerboard. Pin in place, then baste both straps to the border.

Place your main fabric square (the one that allegedly measures 26.25″ square) with the right side on the top of your checkerboard. Pin together and sew with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 4″ gap on one side (no more than 2 inches from any corner) so you can turn your board right side out. Trim the corners, making sure not to clp into the stitches. Pull the fabric right side out through the gap, then press, making sure to turn under the edges of the gap. Topstitch around the perimeter of the blanket, close to the edge. (Be sure to move the straps out of the way as you topstitch!)

Measure over 3/4″ from the edge of the shorter strap and pin one of the Velcro tabs to the piece, then stitch it down. (The seam of the tube should be on the underside of the strap.) Repeat with the other shorter strap. Repeat the measurement and Velcro application with the longer strap, except you’ll need to sew it to the seamed side (and make sure that you pair up the hook and loop pair appropriately, or else the straps won’t hold closed). Now you’re done! You can roll up the checkerboard and fasten it closed with the straps.

I made my checkers by tracing 2.5 inch circles on a piece of fleece, then embroidering a crown (the design came with my Babylock Emoré)  in each circle (actually 12 crowns on each of two colors of fleece). I stacked the embroidered fleece on a sheet of plain fleece, then sewed within the circle to secure the pieces together. I used the traced circle as my cutting guide for each checker.

Evolution

Now that’s a genuine smile …

Come a little closer, brothers …

Those wandering eyes …

Finally! Success! (Card template by Shabby Miss Jenn Designs.)

Grow

I love this little corduroy dress. I sewed it (and shared it) back in August, shortly after finishing it. Of course, I knew it would be a while before that sweet Miss L could wear it, since fall doesn’t arrive in Atlanta until mid-October — and even then we still get plenty of 80+ degree days into November.

Kids have a funny way of growing. Even my little pea, who is so tiny and grows so slowly.

I put this cute, round-neck dress on my sweetheart this morning and found that it is no longer a dress. Nope, it’s now tunic length. It once hit right below her knee caps. It is now 1.5 inches above her knees — and if she raises her arms, it’s like a night on the town with attention-hungry TV reality stars.

Good thing she can still wear it over pants — although I may need to make some more of those, now that I think about it.

Fledglings

We are a year away from our first child leaving the nest. I think about it often because I know how quickly that year will fly. And I do have mixed feelings about it, simultaneously excited and dreading it.

Of course, it will be years before our nest is truly empty, given the age spread of these kids. What will happen first is going from three to an only. Just three years until that becomes a reality. I know they’ll pass just as quickly as the coming year. Time speeds up when you want it to slow down so you can savor it.

I’m trying to savor these few days while the boys are gone. They have lamented the lack of vacation this year. For many years, they were gone most of the summer, visiting their grandparents in other states. The older the boys get, the less time they have for traveling. This summer, they’ve been home the entire time.

It finally dawned on me last week that there was no reason I had to accompany them — or even drive. I mentioned to my older son that he and his brother should just go when his work schedule permitted. Lo and behold, he’s off from Sunday to Wednesday this week. Perfect. (It was only later that I realized that I never ran this idea past Honey. Whoops!)

This is new territory for us, the interstate drive. It’s one thing to watch your kids drive off to the store or cross-country practice. It’s another thing entirely to know they are on the road to a destination 4.5 hours away in another state. Have I told them everything they need to know? Do they have money? A map? Directions to their Grandma’s house? Is the cellphone charged? Can they get along with each other for the duration of the trip, since they can’t be in the same room 15 minutes without arguing?

I resisted the urge to call while they were en route, since they left hours before I got out of bed. By mid-day, when neither had called to say they’d made it, I fired off a text message to inquire about their whereabouts. My oldest quickly called to assure me they were safe and sound with family. And apologized for not calling sooner.

Good boy.

Back in the Saddle

I’ve been taking a sort of mini vacation from sewing. It’s not that I’m growing weary of it, not by a long shot. More like I needed some time to recharge the batteries before I get a bad case of the burnouts.

Plus, with all three kids home for big chunks of the day during the summer, it’s hard to find the place in my head I need to be when I sit down in front of the sewing machine. Someone always needs my attention, whether it’s to locate running shoes or note that we’re out of milk or to complain about a sibling. Or sometimes to tell me how unfair I am for expecting beds to be made every morning.

Today, the youngest one was off at VBS, the middle one at summer school and the oldest at work. Approximately two hours of peace and quiet where I could do anything I wanted. After doing a little Internet surfing, I headed downstairs to sew.

I made it about halfway through my project, the Little Prairie Dress by Favorite Things. With any luck, I’ll finish up tomorrow and snap a picture to share. But right now, I’m just enjoying the process and the peace of mind that comes with creating.

And the peace that comes with having the house to myself, at least for a little while every day.