Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crochet: Felted Flowers for Thanksgiving

I was wondering what to wear for Thanksgiving when packing for our trip to Phoenix, it's not exactly "over the river and through the woods..." weather there and we always have Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio. So the traditional Fall wear won't really fly--no tweeds, bulky sweaters, fur trim, etc.. So I decided I wanted some color. I thought of the sweaters I recently purchased to embellish and packed the raspberry one along with my Cartwheel yarn for making felted flowers.

I wasn't sure I'd really find the time to crochet the flowers and sew them to the sweater but tonight after the girls went to bed I pulled it off! These flowers were faster to crochet than I remembered. The last time I did them I created a bunch of flower corsages for friends' December birthdays and some family Christmas gifts.

I used two skeins and made flowers in different sizes as I wasn't sure exactly what configuration I wanted on the sweater, and need some left over for a cardigan I am planning for Audrey.
As it turned out I went with one large, one medium and one small flower in a little cluster. I liked it! I think it works. I like having them attached to the sweater--less fuss. Makes me excited to try embellishing the others.
The pattern for the medium and small is here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sewing: Dalmatian Dog Applique and Girly Strip Skirt

My darling daughter is a dog. I mean she has been pretending to be a dog for the past year. She barks in response sometime ("arf" is "yes" and "rrruff" is "no"), she calls herself "Olive" (as in "Olive the Other Reindeer," she often holds her hands in paw position under her chin. She loves all things dog. We just gave in and bought her yet another stuffed animal at the toy store last weekend. We were supposed to be scouting for items to put on the wishlist for Santa but instead walked out with a stuffed Dalmatian puppy. Audrey has been fascinated with the Dalmatian variety of late. There has been some 101 Dalmatians and some firehouse Dalmatians and then finally when we went to the fabric store a couple weeks ago to pick strip skirt fabric, Audrey insisted on the Dalmatian spot print. I thought, "fine, perfect, if she'll wear it I'm happy." It might have not been my first pick but I love graphic black, white and red prints. In fact, that was my original concept for Audrey's nursery.

So this project started with a pretty pile of prints, mostly from R&R. but the pivotal Dalmatian print is #5756 from the Blank Quilting "Black and White and a Touch of Red" collection. My favorite is the floral--love it! I decided to use it for the drop waist and hem to get the most out of it.

This is the first time I've tried a t-shirt applique. I love all the Mini Boden appliqued t-shirts and have wanted to do some myself. I thought it would be cute to pair them with Pink Fig's Girly Strip Skirt (pattern #5) and imagined a few sets for Fall play clothes but time is running out. This may be it. Maybe I'll just do more ts because that is really pretty quick.

Again, I wouldn't have selected the 101-derived Dalmatian design for the shirt, but Audrey insisted and I am learning it's futile to spend the time on something that only one of us likes. So I went with it. It's pretty cute, but not exactly my favorite thing. Fun to use the Heat-N' Bond product for adhering the fabric. Haven't figured out a good satin stitch on my machine.

I think the skirt turned out darling, but it's not my favorite either.... Turns out it's not Audrey's favorite at all. I had to really beg and plead to get her into it and it was on the floor in a pile a couple minutes later. I took it to school today hoping to slip it on over her leggings but no going. Oh well. She's just not a skirt kind of gal. Thankfully it hasn't become an issue on Sundays when dress or skirt is a matter of fact. And most of the time it's pretty fun having a beautiful little girl who is more interested in dogs, dinosaurs and animals of all kinds.

Because I had quite a bit of fabric left over (why is that always the case?) I thought I'd try something for Scarlett. I just did a quick flower applique on a onesie and then imagined two layers of ruffles around the ankles of her leggings. Because it's a big chilly and the silhouette was a little much I layered the little shrug sweater I made for Audrey a couple years ago. Altogether it's pretty cute on her but I'm afriad the ruffles look a bit like donuts around the ankles! And this look really isn't my favorite. A bit to trendy for me. I much prefer big collars and simple, feminine lines but I was going for casual play clothes.
Well, good to know. Sometimes I have to explore a bit to realize why I stick with the same types of things.

So this was a lessons learned project. It was really fun to make something Audrey was excited to wear (two days in a row actually--of course I'm just referring to the shirt!) but I hope I learn all my lessons soon. Here are some of the things I've learned or remembered the past year of sewing, knitting, crocheting craziness:

--Oh, right, corduroy has a nap (dang it!)
--Ditto for velvet
--My sewing maching does have a tension setting afterall; so helpful for gathering
--Absolutely, never, under no circumstances wrap/blot a sweater you are blocking in anything other than a white towel (I had fuschia stripes on a previously amazing tiny white baby sweater to prove this)

I am sure there are more but I can't remember them right now. One positive thing however is a new attitude towards tailoring and refashioning. Where I would have given up on a lot of clothes in the past I have put in darts, shortened hems, ripped off ruffled necks, and salvaged a few projects. Hooray!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sewing: Sweaters as a Starting Point

I picked up these gorgeously colored sweaters at Target this week and returned a couple, more expensive and not quite right sweaters I'd ordered online. I love the weight of these sweaters--almost like wearing a t-shirt but a bit more cozy. And I love the extra length of ribbing on the sleeves and long length in the body.

I thought I would embellish these to make them even more fun. I don't accessorize very well--rarely wear jewelry--so I like the idea of built in accessories. I plan to do pink-on-pink crochet, felted flowers for the raspberry colored sweater, similar green crochet flowers for the green one(looks like I'll have some great chartreuse colored yarn leftover from a current sweater project), I'm hoping to find aqua colored sheer fabric of some type to make ruffles on the sleeves of the blue, and I'm not sure what is the in store for the burnt orange sweater.

Great ideas, no? Let's hope I can get to it. Working on a chartreuse sweater for myself that is taking a while... Also have the Christmas outfits planned for the girls, which involve sweaters for each, and I have some sewing in the works. Hmmm. Buying a sweater is easier than embellishing... I am full of vision and never seem to find the adequate time to execute!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Room Design: A Little Fall Indoors

I never do a lot of seasonal decorating throughout the year--maybe change a centerpiece on the dining table or hang some different towels in the kitchen--I just haven't figured out exactly how I'd like to do something like Halloween (how to do something a bit contemporary and large enough to have impact in our very open floorplan) and it's only recently that we've had little people around to get excited about holiday decorations.

My favorite approach is to bring something in from the garden. We used to have large Laurel bushes by our front door, which I would occassionally trim and create big arrangements of the fresh greens to put on our dining table. The bushes are gone now so I have to find a good substitute this spring.

This Fall for the first time I noticed the tiny crabapples on our crabapple tree. My father had been advising me to top off the tree and encourage broader branching so in time for our family photos last week I topped it off and "replanted it" within the picture frame. Nice little trick I thought. I had an indoor arrangement in mind and this afternoon finally cut the branches and brought them in doors. I love this big wild looking arrangement. It's the perfect seasonal touch-- a little color, a little nature, and large enough to be noticed in my entry. I hope it lasts a few weeks.
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