Hands-On Quilting

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words about my big announcement. All the comments, emails and tweets gave me lots of warm fuzzies and mean more to me than you can know. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to “like” the book’s page.

The end of the school year is a lot like a mini-holiday season for the crafty, since there are so many gifts to make and give. This year was especially special, since it was Miss L’s final year in preschool. Yep, extra gifts to make.

I’d love to show them all to you — but I can’t. “Why?” you ask. Because a certain someone (that’d be me) had to go work out graduation morning, then run to the store to buy gift bags and tissue paper before dashing home to shower, dress and wrap everything so we could leave five minutes late.

So what you’re not seeing are the cute monogrammed travel mugs I made for the two pastors, Spanish teacher and music teacher. Or the embroidered tote bags I made for the preschool director and the other room mom (who is truly the best room mom in the entire world). Or the cute tote bag I made for the assistant teacher, which was based on the quilt pictured here.

The teacher and assistant teacher’s gifts were from the class. I knew I was going to make this small quilt since the teacher called me last summer to tell me she would be teaching the 4s. We’d had Ms. Kathy when L was in the 2s and just loved her. She really is one of those teachers who just gives it her all and I wanted her to have a one-of-a-kind gift.

One of the things she does with the class are color days. The kids are asked to wear that color to school and she structures the whole day around it. It’s really a fun thing and I wanted to reflect that with the quilt.

I chose six rainbow colors (1/3 yard cuts) from batik fabrics and cut them into 6″ strips x the width of the fabric. The strips were then sewn in ROYGB(I)V order along the long edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The handprints were made by tracing around each student’s hand, then tracing that outline onto some Steam a Seam. I ironed each one on to some of the leftover batik (two in five colors and three in the sixth, since there were 13 kids in the class). Each student used an extra-fine tipped black IdentiPen to write his/her name on the corresponding handprint.

The handprints were sort of randomly arranged on the quilt top. I say “sort of” because the truly random pattern I started with and then tried to refine for 30 minutes looked pitiful. I ended up arranging half of the hands on the diagonal across the middle of the quilt, then made two rows of three hands on either side of that. The “odd” hand was plopped in the lower left corner. Looking at it now, I realize I should have made the middle row from five hands so I could put a hand in the top right corner to balance it out. *sigh* Hindsight.

After appliquing the hands to the top, I made a tasty quilt sandwich before hooping the hands and echo quilting around each one by hand. By hand, I said! Be impressed. A lot. (See detail of the echo quilting here. Lots of ooohing and aaahhhing welcome.) Sarah actually suggested the quilting and I really like how it turned out, even though it’s probably all kinds of jacked up.

She also picked out the binding for me, a really fun stripe from the Maisy fabric line. It was just perfect with the colors and playfulness of it. It’s also the best job I’ve ever done on a binding — not that I’ve done all that many. You’ll just have to trust me that there was plenty of room for improvement.

Oh, and you can’t see it but the back is this super cool green ombre fabric. I used the pen to write the name of the quilt — “Ms. Kathy’s Handful — and the date and dedication along the bottom edge near the binding. I’ve never done anything like that before and wasn’t quite sure of the “right” way to do it, but I thought it was important to include it.

This is likely awful to admit but I really hoped the gift would make her cry. She is *so* not a girly girl but I thought I might drive her there.

I was right.

Cupcakes to Share

Hungry yet? LOL!

So much fun to make and package up these cupcakes for the bake sale. I found these cute individual cupcake boxes at Party City; they’re made by Wilton and I’m sure can be found other places, too. I tend to have tulle on hand (wonder why? ha ha ), so I used some to pretty up the boxes a bit. The labels I made on the computer and cut out with my favorite ginormous circle punch, then hole punched them and tied them on the tulle with some embroidery floss.

The recipes for the cupcakes and frosting came from the book Little Cakes From the Whimsical Bakehouse, one of my favorite, favorite books. I have the original Whimsical Bakehouse book, as well as the Christmas cookie book, and all three are much loved and used. They would get the Craft Addict Seal of Approval, if there were such a thing. LOL!

If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know about the calamity that struck in the whole cupcake-making process. For those who don’t … I baked the cupcakes and put each into a box, then put all the boxes in a larger cardboard box that I planned to use for transporting them Friday morning. I left the box on the kitchen counter and intended to decorate them before we left for school. While I was waiting to grab an Etsy Treasury on Thursday night, I heard a sound in the kitchen and made the brilliant decision to ignore it. After a few minutes, I decided to investigate.

One of our very helpful cats — and I do know who it is but will spare him the humiliation of being called out online (but his name rhymes with Froccoli) — knocked the big cardboard box of cupcakes off the kitchen counter. Our dog, always the opportunist, decided the perfect chaser to a meal of crunchy dog food was a cupcake. Or three.

Have you ever caught a dog in the the act of doing something s/he knows s/he’s not supposed to be doing? If my dog could talk, I’m pretty sure she would have said, “It wasn’t me!” Which is ridiculous because she had cupcake crumbs all over her face and evidence to the contrary strewn about her feet. I have a sneaking suspicion the cat may have had an ulterior motive in all of this, since he’s not a huge fan of the dog and would like the peace and quiet that goes with having a dog-free home.

All told, I ended up losing three cupcakes and boxes (out of 12) to the furry fiasco. It isn’t that bad but still a bit of a bummer. And I relocated the remainder lest any of the furry troublemakers decide to make my blood pressure rise even higher.

No idea how much the preschool sold them for because they were all gone by the time I got there (not surprising since it started at 9 a.m., I taught until 4 and didn’t get to the Oktoberfest until almost 6 p.m.). But some of my friends bought them and said they were fabulous.

Who Needs a Plan?

This week marks the official end to the back-to-school cycle here in the Craft Addict house as the littlest one returns to preschool. It’s one of those mixed-feelings milestones for me. On the one hand, it’s yet another reminder that she’s growing up. On the other, it’s a significant chunk of alone time for me.

What’s making it a little tough is that I’ve increased her attendance from the planned three days a week to four.

The sweet Miss L has an October birthday, which means she’ll be almost six years old when she starts kindergarten. Since she’ll be facing a good 16 years of schooling, I decided to phase in the whole preschool thing and add one day a week until she was going five days at kindergarten. Last year, she went two days and this year, she was scheduled to go three.

I mentioned this plan to her teacher from last year during gymnastics this summer. She pointed out that Liesl would really want to be at school all five days next year, given how much happens in the 4-year-old classroom. And thus the seed of doubt was planted in my head.

After our meet-the-teacher visit last week, all doubt was removed from my mind. This girl of mine is desperate to be at school. She has been looking forward to it all summer and the only thing I could do was march down to the director’s office and ask if we could add another day a week. She is so happy that she’ll be at school with her friends “all the times” and I know it will be good for her to spend more time with people her age and size.

In fact, I told Honey on the phone this morning that I thought she’d be over the moon if she could go five days a week — but I’m not ready for that yet. She’ll just have to stay my little girl for just a wee bit longer.