Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Attempt at a Stuffed Animal

Sometimes I get a wild hair to sew something "creative"...meaning, without a pattern.  I get this sudden burst of energy (and confidence), and think I can make anything in just a few minutes.  Ha.  A few weeks ago, this wild hair resulted in a stuffed animal...a wild hare, if you will.  Bu-dum-chhhhh!

Really, it's a dog.  But everyone else sees it as a rabbit, so I've come to terms with this reality.  I made a floppy-eared pink rabbit.  My mom had a thing for stuffed rabbits when I was a kid.  We always had a few of them sitting around the living room, in their prairie dresses.  Some of them were lucky enough to be sitting on their very own bunny-sized bench or wagon.  And here I am as an adult, sewing my own bunny. Everything comes full circle, I guess.

Making the rabbit was fun--at first.  But then I figured out I was doing it all backwards, which resulted in me hand sewing (ew!) all of its appendages on.  By the end of this endeavor, I was muttering mean things under my breath towards the bunny.  But I was pleased enough, and learned how to make a proper stuffed animal for the next time around (which, let's be honest, probably won't happen for a LOOONG time).

I knew I wouldn't be sewing a prairie dress for my bunny and sitting it on the mantle in the living room (although I'm sure my husband would have loved this), so I decided to give it away as a gift.  Luckily, I have a 9-year-old sister.  With much anticipation and excitement, I handed her my bunny, complete with blood, sweat and tears.  Her giggly reaction: "Uh....what is it?"  "A dog," I told her.  "No it's not.  It's a rabbit.  And its arms are crooked!"  Hmm...not the reaction I was hoping for.  But it makes sense.  She had a similar reaction to the last thing I made her: a nightgown...ahem...muumuu.

Patterns aren't always a bad thing, it turns out.  But I am secretly proud; I recently found the pink bunny amongst Karli's other prized stuffed animals on the bookshelf in her room.  It was the only one that was homemade.  And, since the stuffed bunny thing is apparently genetic, I know she really loves it deep down inside.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feather Explosion

I usually sew things because I want to, but occasionally there comes a time when I do it because I have to.  Here's what we came home to one day a few months ago:
A feather explosion.  At this point, we hadn't had Paul Terry (P.T.) for very long and he was still adjusting.  His angst was directed toward our pillows that day.  We may still have a few of those feathers floating around our house somewhere.

Time to sew some replacement pillows.  However, I wanted to do it on the cheap, for a couple of reasons: 1) Who knew when P.T. would get the urge to start another pillow fight? and 2) I love to NOT spend a lot of money.  But, pillow forms and sturdy fabric are not cheap.  Hmmm...

Light bulb!  My dear friend Amanda (future link to her blog, Part-Time Homemaker) hosted a Shopping Spree for Free, in which girls bring their gently used clothing/household items, everyone swaps, and you go home with a bag full of new-to-you items for FREE.  So much fun.  So I picked up a couple of pillows there.  Then, one day, while perusing the aisles of Joann Fabric, a couple of wire bins caught my eye.  Wait...did that sign really say what I think it said?  Home Decor fabrics: 2 for $1.  Sturdy fabric...dirt cheap.  Amazing!  So, I happily went home with four beautiful swatches of home decor fabric for $2.  

I immediately went to my sewing room, ripped off the covers of the two free pillows I got at Amanda's house, and sewed away.  15 minutes later, I had two brand new "reversible" pillows for my couch.
Side A
Side B
The best part is that they're still there.  P.T. is now feeling comfortably at-home, which is what makes me the happiest.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"What time do we eat?"

Well, I started piecing together my quilt and it's going well.  I have four little quilt blocks all sewn together, and the rest are waiting their turn.  They'll have to keep waiting till we get back from our trip to Minneapolis and Chicago.

So in the mean time, I wanted to share a little bit with you about someone I miss.  Someone who pops into my head every now and then, and whenever she does I always smile.  Her name is Roberta.

Before my days as a piano teacher/amateur quilter and seamstress, I worked as a Life Enrichment Manger (still not 100% sure what that is) in a senior community.  I got to spend my days visiting with and helping the residents with dementia (Alzheimer's, etc.).  These are "my people".  I love them.  Various memories and anecdotes may find their way into this blog occasionally, like today.

Back to Roberta.  Roberta repeated herself a lot.  Probably the phrase she repeated more than any other was, "What time do we eat?"  Sometimes at intervals of 15 seconds or so, sometimes while she was eating...always demanding an answer.  Somehow, by the grace of God, this was endearing to me.  I couldn't get frustrated with her.  I felt a strong connection with this woman who loved to dress in red.  She was a bit of a pistol, and I loved her.  

Next to her constant inquiries about the time of our next meal, the only other request she made was for her lipstick.  "Where's my lipstick?  I need some lipstick."  Again, repeatedly.  But how could I refuse?  Even when it was clearly smeared on her lips already.  So, off we would go to her room to look for a tube of lipstick.  If it wasn't in her bathroom, then I would rummage through her coat pockets lined with old kleenex and the occasional half-eaten cookie, until I found that precious tube of brightly colored lipstick.  She would always respond with, "Ooooh, it looks so pretty! Thank you, thank you, thank you."  A few times.  :)

In her final days, I relished the moments I could spend with her.  Brushing her hair, painting her nails red, and singing her favorite song to her (to which she always remembered every word):
Show me the way to go home.
I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
I had a little drink about an hour ago
And it went right to my head.
No matter where I roam,
Over land or sea or foam.
You can always hear me singing a song.
Show me the way to go home.

I love that her favorite song was an old drinking song.  Makes me wonder what she was like back in the day.  Here's to Roberta, my old friend.  Cheers!  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Starting My First "Real" Quilt

Today, I did something crazy. I started my first "real" quilt. I say "real" quilt because it's my first big quilt. Recently, I made a small, oddly-sized one just to see if I could do it or would be interested in going all out to do a real quilt.

Here's how that one turned out...Not too shabby, for a first-timer. The quilt top sat in my sewing room for 10 months or so, until I finally got the guts to finish it last month. It was definitely a learning experience, hence the far-away view in the picture so you can't see all the mistakes. :)

Shortly after I finished it, I was invited to a St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild meeting by my friend Laura. I must admit, I felt like a total rookie...especially during the show-and-tell portion of the meeting. I was in awe of the amazing craftsmanship that these women, young and old, displayed. I was blown away by the complex patterns, intricate stitching and jaw-dropping fabrics. However, when my turn arrived to stand in the middle of a circle of 50-ish women and show my tiny first-ever quilt, I received a warm and encouraging round of applause from these modern quilting masters. And I was hooked. Side note...there aren't many things these days that draw the older and younger generations together. But I think quilting does that, which is another reason why I am so excited about it all.

So today, I made my first cuts into the fabric that will become my first "real" quilt. You better believe I already made mistakes, but I am beyond excited to meet this challenge. With a lot of patience (and help from this book, loaned to me by Laura), I will sew, press, and sew some more, and eventually cozy up under my quilt to watch Harry Potter movies with my husband. And then I will start on my next one...

Here's a sneak peek at my favorite fabric that will appear in my quilt (by Jenean Morrison):