Thursday, August 21, 2014

My newest hobby

Cross stitch is one of those things I thought I'd never get into. I remember doing one as a kid, it was this cutesy scene of Amish farmers with their cows I think. Weird thing for a 10 year old to stitch, but I was probably a really weird 10 year old. Anyway, I'd never given it another thought after my great Amish opus, even though I see lots of quilters on IG enjoying it. I didn't think I had the patience or attention span. (I thought the same thing about quilting.)

But then my friend Kara posted a picture of this Forest pattern she was working on, by Jody Rice of Satsuma Street. Love at first sight. I HAD to relearn cross stitch just to make this pattern immediately. (Really, cross stitch is amazing simple- not much to learn) And then a whole bunch of her other patterns. Honestly, if there was no Satsuma Street, I would feel no need to take up this craft. But I'm glad I did.

I promptly made up a zipper pouch for my stitching projects, shown above on the left. It's scraps from a 16 patch quilt top I made around Christmas time last year, and it has room for all my goodies inside.

I didn't get a picture of the finished Forest piece, but I did finish it (in March maybe?) and wrapped it around a canvas and sent it to a good friend.

I was still hooked on stitching Satsuma, so I immediately began this Voyage pattern. This one took even longer to finish, but I loved every stitch. The colors are just so genius! I love how I can stitch while watching evening TV with Nick or while on a picnic with the kids. I also love having an excuse to use these adorable stork scissors from The Fabric Studio here in Nashville.

It's all finished now, but I still haven't decided on what to do with it. I had considered sewing it into a tote, but I usually get tired of bags eventually, and I never want to get tired of looking at this. Plus bags get grungy. Yup, this one needs to hang on the wall, but I don't know if I would rather wrap it on canvas or frame it.

My most recent finish was this phone case. I used some of my favorite colors I already had from other projects and just kinda made up this hexagon design. I found the stitchable case at a craft fair in my Cincinnati neighborhood from a booth set up by the Hoop and Needle. I don't know if you can order it from their online shop, but you can find lots of fun pdf cross stitch patterns with profanity and Big Lebowski quotes and the lyrics to Dayman. (Have to make that one!!) They've also opened up a brick and mortar shop on Main St. in OTR. Definitely go support them if you are local. Can't wait to visit next time I'm in Cincinnati.

Currently I'm working on Arcadia on this happy polar ice blue Aida. This isn't even a quarter of the pattern done, but now that I've joined the ranks of moms in the car pick-up lane, I get some stitching in every afternoon. I think I love her patterns because of how she groups the colors in those large chunks. It speaks to my style much more than Kawaii or those cross stitches that are so detailed they look like paintings. It feels really modern, like a quilt in pretty solids.

And: you can't really tell in the picture, but this one has some metallic threads in it. Oooooh, fancy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fanfare Blog Tour: City Gym Shorts x2

We are wild about Fanfare flannel! 

I never thought I'd do it. The whole matchy-matchy with my daughter thing. But it was necessary with this foxy Fanfare flannel by the amazing Rae for Cloud 9 fabrics. It would have been a crime not to!

Like everyone else, I've been wanting to make Purl Soho's (FREE!) City Gym Shorts pattern ever since I first laid eyes on it. And I've been desperate for new PJ shorts for me, so a free pattern definitely hit the spot. I also have that whole weird thick-mom-waist-skinnier-hips proportion going on, which has always made me afraid to sew my own shorts or pants. But simple elastic waist shorts weren't intimidating at all, and turned out just as comfy as you would think. 

After mine were done, I had enough foxes and solid purple (sent courtesy of Cloud 9- thank you!) to make Elsie her pair. Everything's cuter on a 3 year old, but most importantly, this pajama party photo-shoot desperately needed the 3 year old. I'm sure my awkwardness modeling shorts alone would have known no bounds. So thanks to Cherie for the fun inspiration from her Lotus Pond pictures

Let's talk about this fabric. It's a really super nice flannel, much softer and higher-quality than the stuff you can buy in the big box stores. And the new colors of the Fanfare re-release are so fun. I love that the prints are still so sweet for baby projects, but the brighter colors make it irresistible for any age and a whole range of projects. 

Even though my shorts will mostly be worn an home, (ahem, we did both wear our shorts out to the county fair last night!) I went ahead and used chambray trim on Elsie's so that they looked a little more like "real" shorts she can wear to preschool. I love the combo! Let's all ignore the fact that her waistband foxes are upside down though. 

My husband was nice enough to take pictures for me, and after a while of watching from the sidelines, Hendrix couldn't resist the mom-sanctioned bed jumping. But it's cool, he happened to be wearing his Rae fabric as well! Rae fan club.

Then I missed the memo about the superhero poses being over. Try and keep up mom, so uncool. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sewn Studio Summer Swap

It's been a while since I participated in an online swap, but this one did not disappoint. My buddy Heidi organized it for Sewn Studio, where I used to work part time before moving from Cincinnati. Oh man, do I miss that place! So even though it was online and anyone could participate, a lot of the swappers were Sewn customers. 

When I got my partner's info, all she specified was that she liked both modern and traditional stuff, and she didn't like girly purples and pinks. But she also said she really likes baking and canning, so I decided to make her a table runner. It's shown here as a wall-hanging, which it could easily be used as, if she's not into table runners.

My mom and I have been working on a quilt together of all the Anna Maria Horner fabrics my mom bought at her studio when we went to the MQG Sewdown together in April. (I neglected to blog about that, but it was amazing- workshops with Carolyn Friedlander, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Angel Walters, and AMH, plus dinner music and studio tour at Anna Maria's home here in Nashville. So wonderful!) Anyway, there were a bunch of tiny scraps from that project that I just started sewing together into improv-y little patchwork panels. Then I decided to add Essex linen in steel (I think?) to make them into modern crosses with slight variations on size and positioning.

It's one of those projects that just grew organically without a clear plan and I absolutely love the end result. Every time I sew that way, I enjoy it so so much. I don't know why I don't do things like that more often. Sometimes it feels easier to just reach for a pattern and follow it without having to think too much, but really, when I take more control of it myself and put more thought into the design, it's that much more pleasing at the end and all though the process.

The back is just the leftover patchwork bits along with bigger pieces of True Colors. The quilting is wavy organic lines with my walking foot, and the binding is a Julianna Horner print from Joann. I love how well the mother/ daughter fabrics go together! This one was a little difficult to send away, but at the same time it always feels good to send your best out for a swap partner.

I also whipped up a quick Heather Ross zipper pouch and stuffed it with scraps to send along. (Cutting measurements: 12"x5.5" and 12"x4.5 contrast for the outers, 12"x9" for the lining and interfacing, and a 3" wide boxed corner.)  This is my go-to pouch size for gifts.

The day after I finished up my swap items, I got my amazing package in the mail from Amanda. I could not believe all the work she put into my gift, and she picked the perfect fabrics for me from the Indelible collection. Plus I was so happy to receive from Amanda, a friend I know from Sewn. The bag is the Senna Tote by LBG Studio, and it's a GREAT tote. So roomy with convenient outside pockets- this one will get a lot of use Amanda, so thank you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Teacher Quilts x2


This morning as I was sitting down to write this post, I got a very sweet comment on my last post (from over 2 months ago) asking if I was taking a summer break and saying my posts were missed. Well gosh. That made me feel great! So at least one person will be happy to read this. That one person, and my mom.

I guess you could say I have been taking a summer break, though I didn't really try to, it's just the way things go during a time of lots of transitions. And I mean LOTS. We have moved to the Nashville area from Cincinnati, my husband just started a new job, Hendrix just started Kindergarten, Elsie is in full-time preschool, and I'm signed up for some courses and going thru the many ups and downs of searching for full-time-work-after-stay-at-home-motherhood myself. Phew. Of course I've managed to sew a few things during all this time, (how do normal people cope with changes if not with furious stitching?) and now I have quiet mornings alone in the house and I've got that cyclical "I'm gonna blog again, gosh darn it!" feeling going on. Life is made of seasons, so are blogs and ideas and relationships and ambitions and run-on sentences, turn, turn, turn.

Obviously, when you are a slow and seasonal blogger, not all the makes get posted about. (Most of them are on IG though, @alittlegressica.) But I always feel like I owe it to the quilts. The quilts must be honored! Well yeah, they take a long damn time to make.

Back in May, I set out to make a throw quilt for both of Hendrix's preschool teachers from last year as end of the year gifts, just like I did the year before that. I made the same designs, just 10" squares in 6 rows of 6, and I used the opportunity to use up some larger scraps and tie them together with some other fat quarters in my stash.

So with a simple design like that, I always assume it will be quick and don't leave enough time. But then I think I have enough time, so I irrationally think, hey! Let's use this quilt to practice a different free-motion design in every single square! Yeah, that really adds to the work time. I was kicking myself and whining about my shoulders like a big wuss, but it was fun, and definitely good practice. It was great to learn which designs I really enjoyed doing, and which ones were just good to know, but not my go-to's. At first I thought the patchwork of quilting squares you can see on the back was too weird, but after washing, the crinkle brings it all together in a coziness of rad quilting.

This teacher got the more teachery looking quilt- with the primary colors and typographical prints. Those are from some Moda panel I got on sale ages ago, and it ended up being perfect for this purpose.

I wised up on this one and did a quick and simple quilting design. This design really is easy for free-motion quilting, but I loooooove the way it looks and feels on any quilt. Definitely a go-to. 

Now that Hendrix is in school school for like the next 13 years, I'm not sure if his teachers will keep getting quilts. But Elsie's preschool teachers might... I just love giving special people quilts more than anything, so I'm sure I won't be able to resist.

These quilts end up about 57" square. The first is bound in a Lotta Jansdotter Mormor print, and the second in a Carolyn Friedlander Botanics print. Man, those are some sexy bindings, now I need to go bind something...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lotus Pond Geranium & Sketchbook

This is essentially the ONLY face/pose I can get out of this kid anymore. He was being the Hulk, I think. Or maybe he was trying to smile nice. There is no difference between those two looks. 

So welcome to my spot in the sunshiny glow of the Made-By-Rae Lotus Pond Blog Extravaganza! I mean really, does this fabric line make you happy or what? The colors together are an unstoppable happiness force. Don't fight it. See Tara's blanket, if you doubt me. And if you just don't know what I'm talking about, check out Rae's brand new line of organic quilting cottons from Cloud 9. I was so excited to get to play with this gorgeous fabric!


I made Hendrix an Oliver & S Sketchbook shirt using Snail Trail in gold and the Lily Pond print for a contrasting yoke. I made a size 6, but I think my just-turned-5 year old actually needs a 7 now. It just didn't quilt fit his chest right when it was buttoned and seemed a little short to me. Must be the Hulk muscles. But it's still pretty darn cute with that lily pad blue yoke. He bought the whole concept only because he has recently seen the movie Turbo, which is about a snail who wins the Indy 500. (huh?)  And these days he is mostly really happy just to have me making him anything. I should do it more. His sister accumulates my makes only because of the sheer volume of cute little girl patterns and fabrics, but she never shows that kind of gratitude. Hrumph.

Speaking of sass-master, she got herself a new Meadow Blossoms Geranium dress, made just a day or two after the fabric arrived in the mail. Which also happened to be the day before Easter. The Instagram was appropriately tagged #raesaveseaster. Really, could there be a more perfect Easter dress? (Besides this one. Geez Cino Jess, just had to be a genius with the trim, huh?) 

I really enjoy cute buttons on the back of a dress. One of life's greatest satisfactions.

I tried really hard to get those cute little hand-holding shots that one would expect from a perfect blogger like me with perfect kids like these, but this is what happened instead. I'm not complaining. 

Thanks so much to Rae and Cloud 9 because now these little weirdos have some extremely cute new summer duds. Check out the rest of the Lotus Pond projects over on Made By Rae, you will love them all to pieces. And if you are local, we should be getting the whole collection at Sewn Studio any day now! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hide & Seek Tunic

I made Elsie this Oliver & S Hide and Seek tunic about 6 weeks ago. Sooooo it's been washed and worn a lot before being blogged, as is my pattern lately. Still as adorable as ever, but that shot cotton I used on the yoke refuses to iron well. At least you can't see the spaghetti sauce stains near the birds, so there's that.

It's pony-tail weather now, which makes Elsie look like such a big kid. She loves this shirt a lot. She's more of pants girl than a dress girl, so it's great that most O&S dress designs come with tunic or blouse options. I loved putting this one together too. It didn't take too long, but it's a unique construction that lends itself to really cool color blocking options.

The bird border fabric is from Carrie Bloomston's first line Collage. I actually just saw her new Paint collection in person at Quilt Market over the weekend, and it's just as great as the first! There are some really cool prints that can be used uniquely in garment sewing. The yoke fabric isn't quite this dark in person and it's a Studio E Peppered Cotton. The tunic is sewn up in a size 3. 

Thanks so Liesl for sending me this pattern to try. As always, it was a joy to sew! You can pick yours up online here, or if you are local we carry the full line of paper patterns at Sewn Studio

Come back next week to see what I made for both kids with Rae's beautiful Lotus Pond fabric. After that, I really need to let the kids wear out their summer hand-me-downs and focus on finishing some quilting projects AND sewing more clothing for me. I've actually just finished up 2 Liesl & Co Metro tshirts that I love, so hopefully I can get pictures to share those soon too. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Autobot Raglan and After School Pants

I have the hardest time lately with blogging my kids' clothes before they get dirty and slightly trashed. So why not embrace the reality of kid slime? No ones kids actually look that clean by lunch time in the spring anyway. And goodness knows I'm not together enough to get blog photos taken in the morning. 

So I followed the kids (with cutey little school friend on the left) on a walk yesterday when they set out to make treasure paths on the sidewalks. I made Hendrix this Autobot tee to wear to his fifth birthday party a couple weeks ago. The Autobots are the good-guy Transformers, led by Optimus Prime of course, and that's their symbol.

I made the raglan with some cheap interlock from Joann (I prefer the nicer stuff normally, but birthday parties are expensive. So I was being cheap.) It's the raglan pattern out of the Sewing for Boys book, in the size 7/8. That pattern worked fine on him when he was smaller, but I'm not crazy about the fit of this one. I need to switch to Field Trip raglans for my kids, not sure why I haven't yet!

Of course, the freezer paper stencil was the fun part. I gave Hendrix the shirt right before his birthday party. He was trying to watch something so he mumbled a thanks without barely glancing at it. I told him to look at the front and he exploded off the couch in excitement, "I LOVE IT!"

The pants are Oliver & S After School Pants, once again. Still my favorite pants ever. They are in teal Robert Kaufman Shetland flannel, which is the coziest ever. I made these a couple months ago, when the weather was still very cold and Hendrix had already worn through the knees of his store-bought jeans. I hate that! This flannel, along with the relaxed fit of the pants, won't do that. I decided to get a little crazy with the pockets in Alison Glass' Sunprint. I hate how his outfits tend to get so dark and boring, partly due to the dismal color selection in the boys' department and partly due to the fact that his favorite color ever is black. Little touches like chartreuse pockets make me happy. 

He thinks his spacey rain boots match everything perfectly this spring. Ok, I like your style kid.